Not Just another Happy Ending

15th June 2001

I watched the famous Bollywood flick called Lagaan that night. You know the story; they win the cricket match at the end of the movie. I mean it’s a Bollywood movie so you know it’s almost definitely going to end in happily ever after. You know that Aamir Khan is going to hit a six on the last ball and then celebrations will have to wait while the villagers scram around falling on top of one another and screaming and then all of a sudden! Darkness in the form of clouds emerge and after three straight long hours of praying to please the rain gods and singing of songs for the appearance of clouds to feed our starving yet heroic farmers in the movie, it FINALLY starts to pour and of course not without music playing in the background. Your head begins to feel familiar and ‘ah yes this is a Hindi movie after all isn’t it’ and your heart starts to think ‘Omg this is like the best movie ever, it better make it to the Oscars”. You are all smiles and teeth galore because you have won, I mean the villagers in the movie have won, but it felt like your win didn’t it? Just at least for that moment in time, it did.

 

 

 

19th March 2011

All across the world so much was happening around this time, my friend got me a book called the Zoya Factor (a story about a woman in her twenties who becomes the lucky charm of the Indian cricket team and leads them to victory with the world cup in 2011). My friend signed the first page of the book which read “Gifted to the lucky charm of the Indian cricket team on 19th March 2011, the year India finally won the world cup” I blushed and giggled and took the book from his hands, my heart pounding with hope for the next few matches to come. Yes! I thought; ‘please please do this for Sachin Tendulkar’. Similarly across the world, books are gifted, bets are wagered, sacrifices are made, all night prayers are held; forget the rural masses even the messed up urban youth is cursing against Team India only because they secretly want them to win and they do actually unfortunately still believe in jinxes when it comes to this particular sporty religion.

 

 

 

2nd April 2011

Nothing beats that day. It was a Saturday. Night or day, wherever the hell you were, if you are an Indian you have got to be watching the match that will go down in History (unless you are part of that urban youth that believes in jinxes in which case you are probably shutting your eyes in front of the TV screen because god forbid you open an eyelid and Sachin’s wicket falls). It ended, people screamed, people cried, people danced on the streets; it was a night not to be forgotten. I was smiling throughout the week but then time passes and the smiling eventually fades, lingering on as just a happy memory…

 

 

 

Today

That memory was a while ago. Seems almost surreal doesn’t it? It may have just as well been Mahendra Singh Dhoni starring as our very own Aamir Khan and hitting the last ball across the boundary to win the Cricket world cup for us 28 years later. It may have just as well been another Bollywood movie on the TV screen and we a part of the Indian audience praying for our favorite actor to succeed in the movie, it may have just as well been that moment when it rained at the end of the movie with everyone staring up at the sky and thanking God for this blissful occasion.

I don’t want to describe that feeling in words, actually no wait, I CAN’T describe that feeling in words but just for the future, I want us to remember one thing, that when someone makes fun of our Bollywood movies and teases us about how our actors miraculously wake up from the dead or how the villain never gets away with the girl or how the Indian joint family does eventually unite at the end; let us show them the movie called Lagaan (released in 2001) and hand them the book called the Zoya factor (published in 2008) and then shove the 2011 cricket world up statistics down their throats and say.

“Yes, You Cynics! Its cause we do believe in Happy Endings”

Not just another Cricket World Cup

Yet another ongoing cricket world cup has connected the world this year. Some people follow it to the ball, some people just watch the matches their countries play in and some people cannot be bothered at all. I, on the other hand am just one of the billion Indians watching and rooting for my country to win every game till date. Sure they won some, they drew one and they lost one. And boy did that one loss hurt.

India last won the world cup in 1983 in England; well you know what, I wasn’t even born then, so I really can’t say I’ve seen India win the cup in my lifetime. But know something else; Sachin Tendulkar really can’t say he’s seen India win the cup during his cricket career yet. I might still live a couple of years and hopefully witness a win but this is probably the last World Cup Sachin is ever going to play in (I know some of us said that for the last one as well in 2007 and notice how miraculously he shut us up and came back in a better form than ever). Everyone remembers the match between India and South Africa on 12th March 2011, yup the match we lost (funny how we don’t remember the wins ever do we?) The top 3 openers scored 267 runs for India and the remaining 9 players contributed the remaining 29 runs. Sigh, another let down for us. We’ll get over it, we have a life guys come on, we go to work, we hit the gym, we go out dancing, we spend time with our family and friends and we’ll soon forget about it until the next world cup comes along in 2015. But what about the man whose career is cricket? What about the man who goes anywhere in the world and is recognized for what he does? What about the man who has always given it his 100%? Whose day begins with waking up in the morning and taking a jog on the cricket field and whose day ends with taking a shower after scoring a century for a match? What about his 22 years in Cricket and the numerous so called unbreakable records he has broken till date? He’s made us cry when he gets clean bowled at 99, he’s made us furious when he was under a duck spell for a while and he has given us oh so much joy when he sets the field on fire and much more to be proud of; for us he is the epitome of cricket and not just a form of entertainment. Harsha Bhogle, an Indian sports writer commented on the match with India vs South Africa and said “The Indian Cricket team owes the world cup not just to India but to Sachin Tendulkar as well”. As for me, I believe the whole of India and not just the Indian Cricket team owes this 2011 world cup to Sachin Tendulkar. True there isn’t much we as fans can do about it, we can cheer at the stadium, we can scream from our comfortable couches at home, we can swear and curse the day Ashish Nehra was born (yes I was so tempted to throw that one in) and we can let it all sink in and still continue to keep that faith in our Cricket Team.

Some of my guy friends lately have not been unfailingly trying to convince me that Sachin is an omen for the Indian Cricket Team; what’s their logic? “Every time Sachin scores a century, the team loses the game”. Chi’s response to that one was “Maybe the entire team is in awe of Sachin and takes the victory for granted once he has performed brilliantly”. That’s no reason is it? Can it be? Can a curse have befallen on one of the most adored and prized possessions of our beloved sport? Or can our mindset be so restricted and limited to believing in omens, curses and unlucky charms? Does performance mean nothing and does luck really have a lot to do with it? Is it really fair to blame Sachin for it? The funny thing is, theories keep changing after every Indian cricket match, “Indian cricketers cannot perform well under pressure you know” my mom will say innocently to my dad during a match, my dad will then scoff at her lack of knowledge of cricket and start to list down all the games where India have chased teams in the second innings and performed beautifully under pressure. ‘That’s the beauty of the game, you just can’t predict’ my dad always says. Ireland beat England. Who knew! The kiwi’s coughed up 100 runs in the last 5 overs in a game against Pakistan leaving us all bewildered. Who knew! My dad was right, you really just can’t predict the outcome and to everyone out there I say, shut up and stop trying to look for a reason to blame India’s losses on, no it’s not fair to say because Sachin scores a century India never wins (I don’t care what statistics say Chi) and no it’s not fair to say that India never wins when they are stressed out Mom and no it’s not fair to say that we lost the game because Ashish Nehra bowled the last over Vee and worst of all it’s not fair to say if India can’t win with the strong team they have this year they never can and never will @ KK.

In my world, I see India in the finals, I see Sachin scoring a century and I see India Lifting the cup once again 28 years later. No more omens, no more unlucky charms, no more blaming Sachin Tendulkar. His and my world makes sense again, a world we simply like to call, poetic justice.