Saturday, 27 February 2016

Cricket in the late70's and early 80's

Cricket in the late70's and early 80's
Anybody remember the cricket telecast during the black and white era. The camera quality was atrocious in those days. The zoom zoom at all. The spectators in the stadium had a much better perspective than people sitting at home and watching the match on TV. The fielders appeared at a long distance flailing their arms and legs. First of all, the batsman hitting the ball  was a rarity for most of the batting was a lesson in defensive play. And if a batsman did hit the ball, the camera was  swivelled to the opposite side. Suddenly the cameraman realised that the ball had gone in a different direction. So with one jerky movement, the camera was somehow moved to the place where the ball was hit. By that time the ball had already been returned to the bowler. But one thing was a blessing, at that time we never realized but now you can advertisements at the fall of wickets or at end of each over. So at the fall of a wicket, the camera used to follow the dismissed batsman all the way to the pavilion and then follow the new batsman all the way to the pitch. The camera used to follow the bowler to the start of his bowling stride. The West Indian bowlers had a long run up, so I remember Malcolm, Holding, Garner , Roberts run ups. There was one more huge West Indian bowler...Patrick Patterson who had a eccentric run up. But you could recognize all these great players only by their body language since each had his own peculiarity. If Malcolm was a small man , he put the fear in the batsman's eyes, by the speed of his runup before delivery. Holding and Roberts had a very lazy runup but they  stung like cobra. And Joel Garner had height advantage. Patterson intimidated with his huge physique. But there was one batsman who seemed to have an answer to all their questioning deliveries, his name - Gavaskar, Sunil Gavaskar. A small man but such mental abilities and a straight drive, out of this world. Just see any of his innings on YouTube. His head very still when he batted and hours and hours of concentration. And what can one say about Vishwanath - the square cut and the late cut being his specialities. Vengsarkar stood tall with his square drives. And what a spinning quartet - Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkatraghavan. If Bedi had a pure left arm spinners action, then Prasanna asked difficult questions with his loopy, flighted deliveries. Venkats offspin was exquisite. And what can one say about Chandra's action...those wiry hands were capable of bamboozling the best batsmen. It is said that even he did not know what he was going to bowl next. Again watch his YouTube videos. Seeing is believing. And all of them were great fielders , if the ball came within their reach, that is. Especially Bedi and Prasanna did not believe in the chase while fielding. The fast bowlers...were not fast, their job being only to take off the shine on the ball and then hand over to the spinners. And then along came a tall, athletic lad. The man who could bowl fast. The man who could hit big sixers. The man , who , along with Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath, transformed India into a fighting unit. He was Kapil Dev Nikhanj. Suddenly India had its first pin up cricketer. The man who brought the world cup to India, to the astonishment of the cricketing world. The West Indies were stunned!! Talking of the West Indies, who can forget their great batsmen, who batted as if the pitch belonged to them. The stride of King Richards from the pavilion to the batting crease reminded you of a lion's gait. And he destroyed the bowlers, such was his brutality in batting. Clive Lloyd, the Super Cat - the bat appeared like a toy in his long hands. If you have seen any father wielding his toddler son's plastic cricket bat, you will understand. The greatest opening pair - Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes - the opening bowlers were dispatched with aplomb to all parts of the ground. Then there were the Indian artists in West Indies team - Alvin Kallicharan and Rohan Kanhai. In Australian team I remember 3 bowlers who grabbed attention - Lillie, Thompson and Len Pascoe who looked like huge steam engines thundering in, to bowl. Bruce Willis was a great fast bowler for England, I can still remember his slanted fast run up.
And then there was Pakistan cricket team. It was a team of great individual performers who always played great when playing against India. There fast bowlers were next only to the West Indians, led by the pathan himself - Imran Khan. He looked like a Roman god playing  cricket. He destroyed Indian batting line ups so many times ably supported by the likes of Sarfraz Nawaz. Abdul Kadir was a spinning great, putting Indian batsmen in a spin. His run up was so peculiar, you hoped that the batsman would survive. And what can one say about their batsmen led by the flamboyant Zaheer Abbas. When he batted, it felt that force was not at all required to despatch the ball to the boundary, such was his exquisite timing. Within no time he had crossed his hundred and it happened many times against the hapless Indian bowling attack. Javed Miandad and Muddassar Nazar - when they were at the crease against India, we hoped that the partnership did not cross the 200 mark, these partnerships being so common.
The Indian fielding was divine, that is, the fielders stood rooted to their assigned position like divine idols. Though the catching was good, the athleticism was lacking. With great reluctance anybody chased after a ball or dived. The white clothing remained in pristine conditions throughout the day, except for some sweat. Diving for a catch or to stop the ball from racing to the boundary, was an exercise indulged in by the wicket keeper, Syed Kirmani and the slip fielders.
Coming back to the camerawork from that era - we could only see the the whites of the attire and the visible face and hands, appeared black. The facial features could only be deduced, you could never be sure who it was on the TV screen.
The Indian team and the TV technology has come a long way from those vintage years and is now real world beater which does falter many times.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

A horse riding experience

The next day we got up and took our own time to get ready. We had a sumptuous breakfast, which like the dinner of the night before, was tasty too. The hotel receptionist advised us to go for horse riding and so there we were outside the hotel, haggling with the horse jockeys to decide the rates. Once it was decided, 11 horses for us 11 individuals were arranged and we set off on our horse riding experience. No one had earlier rode horses for much time, and we embarked upon the slowest horse journey till date. If any one from outside had seen me riding the horse, he would have mistaken me for a Maratha horseman, but on the inside, I was very apprehensive. The other experience of horse riding we had had, was in our friendly neighbourhood Matheran. But the horse owners were very patient with us, I think most of the tourists they had experienced, must have been similar expert horse riders like us. We had a very long ride, not in terms of the distance covered, but in the amount of time spent on top of the horses. All along, all of us, except the children, were very much intent on maintaining our balance. A slight trot of the horses was enough to make us very jittery. And the ride on the slopes was another nightmare, especially if you are going downhill!! The front legs of the horse are at a lower level whereas the hind legs are at higher elevation, you are not sure whether you should be bending forward or stretching back to maintain balance and on top of that, you can only see the steep incline before you. And god save the people like me who suffer from Vertigo. Anyhow I managed the incline without falling off the horse. Suddenly my friend decided that he was going to emulate the Chambal dacoits, in showing off his riding skills and his horse shot out beyond us. We were marvelling at his horse riding and I was telling others about his cycle riding and bike riding skills in his college days, and as we turned the corner there he was sitting by the side under a tree, nursing his injuries, his horse nearby, happily chomping away on the grass. Concerned we immediately got down from our own horses to check on him and very relieved that it was just a few bruises but obviously he was in pain. The rest of us, except the children, thought it better to walk along side him to take him to a medical shop, but obviously we thought it better to save ourselves from meeting the same fate as our friend. So ended our first horse riding experience in the valley of Kashmir, culminating with a visit to the medical. Of course, later on we had a good laugh over it, the friend who fell, enjoying it the most, such is his great sportsmanship.

Sunday, 21 February 2016


Many times on social media, I have seen posts about how the generation in their 40's and 50's are the luckiest since they saw the best of both worlds, the old world and the new. That set me thinking, what are the things of the old world which are now, but memories. So lets go down the memory lane.
The very first thing which comes to mind is, both my parents were working and both of them came home on time in the evening. Mother was home from her teachers job by 5.30 and father was home by 6.30. Very rarely were they late. This facet of family life is now totally lost and a part of history. Now if you leave office at 6.30-7.00 the colleagues look at you with surprise and jealousy. Someone will even ask, "are you going half day today".
Radio - I remember, there was no TV in our house and the only entertainment was the radio. And mind you, it was the big radio set , an antique piece, which had 2 big knobs, one for volume and another was for tuning, the tuner being so bad that the Radio Cylone channel was very hard to get. Other Bollywood music programs were the Binaca geet mala and Aap Ki farmaish, that's all. Otherwise it was all about classical music or some Marathi programs, which my mother enjoyed. I remember my mother listening to one such program with such dedication, it can only compare with today's obsession with daily soaps on TV. To catch all these programs on the radio, there was a long wire which went into the balcony, where it was attached to a wooden strip on which the antenna was attached.
The antenna reminds me of the TV antenna. The TV itself came to our house in 1975, the period before that, we used to watch the Sunday movies and Thursday Chitrahaar, at our neighbours place. The first TV was a nice one, black and white, by CROWN. Any bad reception and we used to rush to the terrace along with our father, to adjust the antenna angle. And there was a lot of shouting between the terrace and our balcony to reconfirm that the reception is fine. These frequent visits to the terrace and the shouting was like a picnic to us children and we enjoyed these interludes. One more interesting contraption on the old TV's was the wooden sliding shutter, which used to be closed in the night. This was to protect the screen.
There used to be a flour mill in almost every house hold. The ladies of the house used to sit around the mill, taking turns to rotate it and gossiping away to glory.
Tops and marbles - Remember playing with the tops? A thick cloth strip was wound round and round on the top and then with a fast action, it was unwound to make the top spin. Top championships were held within the building and outside to decide who wielded the tops best. I don't exactly remember, but I think the championship was known as 'kopcha'. The tops have now been replaced by Bayblades. And then there were marbles - glass marbles of rainbow colours and the bigger ones known as 'daff'. Sitting on the haunches, playing away a particular game, again don't remember the name, which started inside the building compound and could go out of the compound, on the road, we children engrossed in it....
Lagori - it was played on the road or in the building compound and involved piling up of one flat stone over another, 7 such stones in the pile. One was supposed to break that pile with a ball and once broken, the team breaking the pile had to repile the stones before the opposing team hits you with the ball. It was one exciting game.
Cricket on the road and underarm cricket - played in the quiet lanes, this game is no longer seen, since there are no quiet lanes anymore. Whole tournaments were played on the road.
And 'viti-dandu'? Who remembers it now. But in those days, the one who was an expert at it, was looked at with the same admiration, which is now reserved for Tendulkar and Kohli.
God bless the visionary who thought about making Kabaddi a viewer friendly game on TV. Otherwise it was headed for the same fate.
Weekends visiting uncles and aunts' place - come weekend, and we would be packing a small bag for a quick visit to, sometimes Mama and sometimes Kaka. And same was the case when their families visited your house. Nowadays this time is reserved for visit to malls and restaurants.
New clothes purchases were done only on the occasion of a birthday or during Diwali. Especially during Diwali, the anticipation of new clothes excited us. Nowadays shopping doesn't require an occasion and mostly depends upon any Sale announced in the neighbourhood Mall.
Visits to other family members were mostly by public transports like BEST buses and trains. Nowadays people prefer service providers like MERU, OLA, TABCAB, if they visit their relatives, that is. I remember, in those days, if father or mother decided to catch a taxi, it used to be the happiest day.
Many other things are now a part of history, no longer seen, maybe I am not able to remember now.
So guys, the feeling of anticipation and excitement has gone out of our lives and replaced by anxiety and stress.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Water !!

Water!! That's the thought which always crosses my mind whenever I see a new housing complex coming up. After all, there is not much new land in Mumbai on which a new housing complex is coming up. So the only way is to re-develop old buildings. Mostly, in the city of Mumbai, the old buildings vary from 2 to 5 floors in height having a maximum of 2 families on each floor. The old buildings go for re-development and the new buildings which come up, are usually sky scrapers ranging from 10 to 35 floors, depending upon the clout which the particular builder enjoys. Most of the ventures are given the go ahead by the authorities. But is due diligence done while passing these projects? Proper area for parking, roads for the new vehicles, electricity load, gas pipelines, etc. are all things which can be provided. If not provided or if these things are scanty, still people can manage. But what about water? Are proper arrangements made for ensuring water availability? After all Mumbai has finite water bodies for its infinite citizens. This limits the water supply per household. At the same time, the water has to be brought through pipelines from the water bodies situated at a great distance from the city, to each city suburb. In the old city of Mumbai, these pipelines are from the British era. Though the British were certainly far sighted, even they could not have imagined the current scenario. If previously, 6 to 8 families occupied a piece of land, now the same piece of land is occupied by almost 100 odd families.
In the past, wars were fought for land, currently wars are fought for so-called religion or oil but in future, wars will be fought over water. Water, especially drinkable water has a expiry date, what with global warming causing the fast melting of  glaciers. This water is fast emptying itself into the vast oceans, all across the globe. One day, the current rivers are bound to trickle off. And the only water remaining, will be ocean water. Hence the race across the world to find ways to convert the saline ocean water to potable water. But this is easier said than done. Currently the technology exists but which is too expensive. And humans don't help matters by considering the oceans as one vast dumping ground for all waste and chemicals. Hence the rush to find cheaper means to achieve this. Recently I saw on the internet, an invention to convert the water present in the air, to potable water by condensation process. Such initiatives should be supported by all, especially the corporates and governments.
A future scenario plays before my eyes - all cities near the sea are under water, people rushing from one place to another by speed boats but not a drop to drink. Potable water is bought by the people for the current price of oil and the biggest corporates and strongest countries are those that control the few sources of potable water!!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Kabootar jaa jaa jaa

Kabootar jaa jaa jaa...
Kabootar jaa jaa jaa..." Said the iconic song from the 1989 movie "Maine pyaar kiya" which was released during my Engineering college days. The movie introduced Salman Khan as a lover boy in style and was his second movie. And we, the engineering college students were enamoured with the very pretty & cute Bhagyashree. She looked like a girl next door who stole the hearts of all young boys. The smile floored us.
But sorry folks! This write up is not about the ever lasting Superstar with the undeniable charisma nor about that pretty heroine, neither is it about the movie. Its about the pest, we call  kabootar, the pigeon. Any new building constructed, it is first occupied by the pigeons and then the humans. The humans invest in a flat for themselves, when there is actually nothing on the site. And as the building starts coming up, they part with their hard earned money to the builder. Then the day arises when they are handed over , the keys to the flat. They pick an auspicious day to do the gruh pravesh. And on this day, along with their most near and dear ones, they enter into the flat. And what do they find...a pigeon or two, who are already sitting in the window and indulging in PDA! And crying out to each other and to the other pigeons in the vicinity in their very peculiar intonations. Are they actually making fun of the humans who have paid through their noses to occupy the flat? I am not sure.
And the situation starts deteriorating further as the days go by. Every 12 hours, the lady of the house, has to go on a cleanliness drive, such is the pigeons' propensity to indulge in their acid laden droppings, especially in the balconies. And when the time of the year comes for them to mate, they start bringing in assorted twigs, sticks, et al, preparing for additions to their families. After some days, an egg sits in the nook of the balcony, or whichever other area, the pigeons take a fancy to. I for one, take no chances, the minute the egg is spotted, it is thrown out, so that there is no addition to the menace of these avians. Some may call it cruelty to animals, I call it prudence. If you are not careful and leave the balcony or the windows open, god save your beds or sofas, for you are sure to find beautiful designs on them, once the pigeons are done. And if they fly inside your room, it is given that by the time, they make their way out, they would have shed a lot of grey feathers inside. Your hair will also turn a shade of grey just looking at all the mess they have made. One thing I discovered is that they cannot see the transparent glass windows and many times they will crash against them, on their way out.
A few people, especially the kiranawallas, like to feed them grains. This feeding is not to  one or two but to the entire community of neighbourhood pigeons. A whole flock of them will descend on the ground for this feast. In fact, all the old cities, had always had kabootarkhanas, which were meant for exactly this feeding frenzy. The Dadar kabootarkhana, feeds about 5000 pigeons who consume about 1500 kg. of grain daily! New cities don't have any area known as kabootarkhana, but the activity is still in vogue. If you don't believe, go to any new neighbourhood, especially in morning time, you will find the nearest kiranawallah, spreading out the grain feast for these pests. I think this is done for getting the lord's blessings but why not feed hungry and poor humans instead?
 More and more cities, especially in the western hemisphere are waking up only now to this menace and have banned all such feeding activity to try and control the abundant local pigeon population. Till this happens in India, please be ready to hear the daily "gutur goo..." and feel nostalgic with the lyrics"kabootar jaa jaa jaa..."

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The brave hearts

The brave hearts
"We do the difficult as a routine; the impossible may take a little longer" - so says a plaque in the Indian Army base on the Siachen glacier. After all such is the mind numbing and excruciatingly challenging conditions on the glacier. 5000 metres height and temperatures reaching less than minus 50 deg. , you have to be either mad or highly motivated to serve time there. And the Indian Army is the most highly motivated. We have experienced it umpteenth times, again and again. Even the best of the mountaineers try to scale the highest peaks, only when they feel assured of the best possible weather. But the Indian army man has no such liberty. He has to be highly motivated. Fresh food supplies are not available to him. An orange or an apple can get as hard as a cricket ball if exposed to the cold for only a few seconds. If bare fingers touch metal of the trigger or the barrel of the gun for 5 seconds, frost bite sets in. Such frost bites can require amputation of the fingers. In extreme cases the finger can just fall off. In the normal conditions on the glacier the weather is challenging enough, it can deteriorate further in high winds, which blast off most suddenly without warning. In the last 30 years, 846 brave soldiers sacrificed their lives due to these extremes of the weather. "The land is so barren and the passes so high, that only the best of friends and the fiercest of enemies will pay a visit". Food is not easy to come by for these brave hearts. The army helicopters have only a few minutes window to drop off supplies to the forward posts to avoid enemy fire. When snow storms strike, 2 to 3 army men have to keep using snow shovels to continuously shovel away the rising snow levels, otherwise the post will become history in no time. And the worst snow storms can last not less than 3 weeks at a time. When you stay at that altitude for long, you lose weight, don't feel like eating and sleep disorders and memory loss, a common occurrence.
So friends, spare a thought to these brave hearts, their hardships enable us, mere mortals, to live in peace with our families and lets us enjoy ourselves, whenever we feel like. Spare a thought to their families, who sacrifice their happiness since their loved ones are so far away from their homes. RIP the brave hearts who fell in their line of duty.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A goat gets arrested!

A goat gets arrested
It happens only in India! An innocent goat enters the garden of no less a personality, than a Judge, for the umpteenth time and has to pay the price for the same. After all, a boundary wall is for the humans, the animals roam free from place to place. How was it to know that just by crossing a boundary fence, it was entering into the hallowed precincts of the Judge's adobe. Of course its owner had been warned many times by the judge but what was the owner to do. Was he supposed to tie up the poor one. After all the goat doesn't even bite anyone. Many goats are capable of bringing a smile to your face, just by its funny antics. Recently on the internet, I had seen a goat enjoying to slide on a slope, again and again, just like small children do. I even felt that it was laughing as it did this. But judges are not supposed to see the brighter things in life, they are itching to judge somebody negatively, unless strongly proved to be otherwise. So here was the goat, jumping into the garden of the judge and nibbling away on the assorted sweets available in the happy grounds, when it suddenly heard the police sirens wailing, but it still went about its snacks. In a flash two policemen grab the surprised goat and haul it all the way to the police station, along with its owner. Good thing , it had the owner accompanying it, or it would have ended up as somebody's dinner. Anyways, after spending a day in a lock up, it was let off with a warning and the owner was released on bail. The mugshot of the goat now graces the walls of the police station and it shares the wall with some of the most dangerous criminals in that area.
As a bonus, it became the most famous goat in the whole of India, with its photo trending on social media like facebook and twitter.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A train is seized

25 years back, the railways had taken land for laying new tracks during an expansion project. And for 25 years the farmers who had parted with their valuable land, on promise of compensation, waited patiently for their reimbursement. But in vain! But today their local court allowed them to seize a train in compensation. This happens only in India! Immediately the train babus came running to the concerned station, where the train was seized, and promised to settle all dues within 45 days. It is this attitude of the people sitting in authority, due to which India suffers. Here at least the train seizure was sanctioned by the courts, but many times people have to resort to violent means like arson on trains and buses, to make their voice heard quickly. Till things are peaceful, nobody wants to give a hearing and the moment some arson takes place, all promises of fast redressal are given in a jiffy. But people who take such extreme steps to make their voices heard, are only burning their own money, the taxes which were paid to the government had gone into the buying of the train coaches and buses. So whatever action taken, the loss is ours, the common man.
I wonder what will happen if land is acquired for airport, and due compensation is not given. Will seizure of an airplane be allowed?

Mumbai - 2025

Mumbai - 2025 I am wandering through the lanes of my place of birth, Dadar, getting nostalgic about the days gone by. Hindu colony and my ...