Monday, August 27, 2012

One Night at Office

There comes a day in everyone's life which leaves a lasting impression. Perhaps God has been kind enough to grant me that wish today. Though a bit late it had to come one way or the other. But the irony is instead of a day, it's a night for me. "Sleepless in Bengaluru"; that’s what I feel now sitting all alone in office with some occasional movement here and there breaking the silence. The beep of the card readers, the tone of the lift buttons or the snore of the security guy outside the door are quite unfamiliar which I never experienced in the middle of the night. To make things clear, I am least afraid being all alone sitting in my desk writing my thoughts. One thing is for sure, nothing can frighten an IT guy other than recession.
Being someone who likes to work late in the evening, it was not unusual for me to stay in office till 9. Finding nobody around to give me company and almost getting frustrated with the idleness of the software tool which is supposed to be the lifeline of my work, I decided to call it a day. But when I looked out of the window pane it was raining cats and dogs. Again, it’s normal for somebody staying in Bangalore for a considerable time to be welcomed by the evening showers. It's just a matter of time when everything will settle down and I will somehow find my way back home through the heavy pile of traffic. But this time the wait was a never ending one.
Unable to keep myself calm and composed after a long tiring day, I decided to venture into the showers which had settled down a bit by that time. As soon as I got out of my office premises, I was welcomed by a few splashes of rain water on the road. As I moved further and further, the drops began to become bigger turning into small tributaries. Still I could manage to find my way across the streams using a few tricks of the trade. But as they say nature always has the upper hand in these kinds of situations. So the streams slowly turned into rivers and then might have merged into some ocean on the way. Of course, the Rain Gods can't take the credit for this artificial rivers and lakes. Here the rich tribute has to be given to the world class drainage systems in Bangalore which have such a big heart that they start to overflow with even a single drop of emotion.
Now after driving or rather sailing my bike though a couple of small rivers I realized that it would be a pointless exercise to sail further in my two-wheeler which is basically non-aquatic in behavior. It's a different thing that few others failed to realize the same and their gut feeling forced them to dive into the rivers on their so-called water scooters. But you just can't make a horse fly because it can leap in the air. So their tragic situation in the middle of nowhere was waiting to happen. After seeing few of these sunken ships my resolve to get back to office grew stronger and stronger. So at last I managed to get back to my office after crossing a few more hurdles. Being the foodie I am, I had to grab some food items on my way back as the ration for the long night back in office. Thanks to McDonalds, I got what I wanted to keep me going.
Back in office, it has been a mixed bag of feeling. All these years I wanted this to happen someday. But I had never thought it would come this way. I had never expected to experience it sitting all alone. For a while, I tried to break the monotony by indulging with my FB friends sitting in different time zones. But they couldn't stop my own voice echoing through the empty corridors. I wish somebody would have been here to share my feelings. All I wanted was a new experience, but not being the only one experiencing it. As the night is slowly progressing and the dawn getting closer, but there is no hint of sleepiness. Surprisingly, I got the key for the medical room right on my desk. I have heard a lot about the nice cushion and the bed in there which guarantees the comfort of any palace. But somehow it doesn't impress me now. So I will wrap it up here and try to explore what the night has in store for me till the sleep takes control of me. One thing I am eagerly looking forward to see is the expressions on the faces of my colleagues tomorrow. But all I need now is peace, inner peace....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Art of Changing

When it is BAU (read as business as usual) in my life, one question hits hard on my face. Why on earth are you still in the same company? With each passing day it is more sounding like, why on earth are you still alive? In case you have thought that by this time I have found the answer to this million dollar question, then I would be disappointing you. But I would not totally blame them for asking this question. For a country obsessed with package, it is quite uncommon for a person to continue in the same company for a sizable number of years. And in case he/she continues for that duration, it should be aptly compensated by the remuneration. Now what is the underlying equation that drives this situation? It was never taught or written in any text book that once you get job, you need to hop from one to another. But eventually this is what, which will define the laws of dynamics in your life.

During the early phases of life everyone holds an ambition which may not be necessarily their own and are very much influenced by their parents and peers. Before going forward let me make it clear that I will confine this topic to the majority of the people who don't have any serious ambition in life or are too much confused to keep one. There comes a phase in life when they realize that their aim to become a fighter pilot or a rockstar or a cricketer or a scientist in NASA is no longer feasible. There is no further point in fooling around and it's time to get back to the harsh realities of life. And when this self-realization comes, they are left with the choice of becoming either an engineer or a doctor. And the sole purpose of being an engineer or a doctor is to get a decent paying job and earn a respectable position in the society. But after graduation once the ultimate aim of getting a job is achieved, the story doesn't end there. It’s just the beginning of another phase in life which was never a part of the plan in the beginning.

Of all the jobs currently heard of, the job of a software engineer is the most dynamic one. There is always an element of change; be it the project or the technology or the manager or the company itself. In case none of these is happening there is some serious flaw in the process. Though the frequency of change may vary from person to person, but it has to come at some point of time. But still if somebody gets stuck at a place, the noises start to get louder and louder behind the back. Everyone at the workplace or in the peer circle looks upon him with suspicion. And one question suddenly pops up in everyone’s mind. Kitna Deti Hai?? How much the company pays to keep him glued to his current position? While the faces around him keep on changing, the question always remains the same. He needs to find a convincing answer if he has any chance of staying on his feet.

Now after experiencing enough of this ordeal, one fine day he looks forward to a change. He also wants to feel the ecstasy of being a part of the whole process of metamorphosis. So he decides to sit for the interview, but gets a shock of his life when the first question gets fired upon him from the person sitting in the panel. “Why are you looking for a change? Are you not happy with your current position?” This comes as a serious jolt. All these years he was asked the question the other way around. “Why the hell he is asking me this? Does he really belong to this planet or simply he is pretending to be ignorant. This was never a part of our terms of agreement. You are expected to ask me about my work, my salary, my location preference; but not this. All these years I was looking for the answer for not being able to change and now that I have come here to silence my critics, is this the proper question you should be asking me?” So being unable to convince the guy at the other side of the table, he quietly makes his way back to the old place. A place quite familiar, a sense of home away from home.

Change is always a part of life. But when life becomes a part of change then the trouble begins to start. The job of a software engineer is quite reminiscent to the later phrase. When there are no changes happening, it can raise eyebrows and make your life quite miserable. There doesn't have to be necessarily some reason behind the change, but the irony is that you need to find one to make it happen. It can be anything from current pay scale (you can't put it straight though) or location preference or better work ethics or a more reasonable manager. In case none of these criteria fit your situation, then change has to happen for the sake of change, provided you can put it in a more conceivable manner. But when it does happen the celebrations cease to settle down. With each additional digit being added to the salary the happiness quotient gets multiplied by an exponential factor. Perhaps this was the aim which he had nourished since his childhood. After all, isn’t what he wanted that his work bring out some change and the effect is visible on the salary slip.

To sum up, the cycle of change goes on and on forever. But there needs to be some alignment between the change and the aim in life. If the change is inevitable for achieving a larger goal it has to happen quickly. But if the change is a reaction to some other change, then it will not solve its prime purpose. Coming back to my take on this, in the last seven years of my career I have witnessed many changes. Whether it’s good or bad, it has been a steady learning curve. Working in the same organization, I have experienced change in workplace, in work culture, in my colleagues, in domains and in my managers, to name a few. As it is said “change is the only constant”, I am not exempted from this feeling. Of course, these changes had least significant effect in terms of my compensation. But they have made me wiser and better. They have changed the way I look at things. The one thing which has not changed is the agony of facing the same question. So till the winds of change sweeps me across to some greener pastures, I will be in constant search of some better answers. Next question please…

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Journey of a Foodie

When a cosmopolitan city doesn't have nightlife to boast about, it needs to be compensated by its bustling evenings. The same is the case with the IT capital of India, Bengaluru. With the start of the Cinderella hours at 11:30 pm, most part of the city wears a deserted look with everyone back in their huts. The exception, of course being the IT professionals who don't have a fixed time zone to call as their working hours. Now one of the aspects contributing to this hustle throughout the day are the eateries. These are the places where people from all strata of the society sit together under the same roof and try to satisfy their taste buds. While mostly food acts as the means rather than the end, there are definitely some exceptions.
Being a witness to the changing face of Bengaluru in the last seven years, the most prominent thing to have multiplied apart from the vehicles on road are the restaurants. Before a decade, having food outside was synonymous with the Darshinis, the vegetarian chain which mainly serve south Indian breakfast dishes. Though there were a few other selected places, the visit to those was restricted to some very special occasions, thanks to the affordability factor. But in the last few years the situation has changed by leaps and bounds. Now you can find an eatery at the corner of each street. A major factor for this change is the growing number of people who come to the city for jobs or in search of it. Coming from different parts of the country, the available choice of food doesn't cater to their taste buds. So in order to satisfy their specific needs, the eateries start to sprout.
The eateries in Bengaluru vary from the small mess in your very own street to the star hotels which serve food throughout the day. Apart from them, there are a whole lot of fast food chains, pizza joints, coffee shops, theme restaurants, food courts which leaves a person, planning to eat outside, spoilt for choice. Some of these restaurants even offer delicacies which are popular in different parts of the world. But the description about the garden city will not be complete without the mention of the pubs, lounges and resto-bars which are the favourite hunting ground for the young crowds. Though these places were considered as exclusive before a decade ago, currently they have the largest number of loyal patrons in the city, quite unlike the other restaurants which offer a quite dinner with some occasional instrumental music. During my stay in the IT Capital, I have been blessed with the presence in each of these places and experienced the crowd, music, ambience and of course the food. But here I would confine myself to a few peculiar aspects of eating in a restaurant which I personally found quite interesting.
People consider different aspects while choosing an eatery. While affordability and accessibility are the two major factors, there are some subtle differences which make one more preferable than the other. These things become more significant when there is a problem of plenty, which is always the case in my city. One of these small yet prominent factor is the customer service. The restaurant is usually sub-divided into different territories with a waiter in-charge of each of them. Once you are seated at a table, the waiter or rather the king of the territory is in-charge of all the proceeding to follow. This is quite different from the other scenarios where customer is considered to be the king. Here if the king is kind and just, then you will have a pleasurable time with your co-diners. But in case he turns out to be a tyrant, it can leave such a bad taste in the mouth that the taste buds may fail to recover from it.
The scene starts when you call up the waiter for taking the order for which the acknowledgement may not be guaranteed in the first attempt. Now the situation becomes interesting when you are not sure what to order or the whole menu appears alien to your eyes, thanks to the ornamental names of the dishes. Here comes the opinion of the king who may be kind enough to suggest something as per your choice or might just go by the best-selling recipe of the restaurant. Being the busy guy, too much alteration in the order might upset him and you may have to end up not finding him beside your table. Once the order is placed, you have the option to enjoy the ambience of the place, provided there is one. But the interesting things slowly gets boring and repetitive after some time when you find the plates are still empty with the spoon and fork neatly placed beside it. Now you start searching for the majesty who might be very much pre-occupied with other subjects. Any attempts to call a different ruler outside your territory will not bear any fruit. The jurisdictions have been so well defined that one ruler rarely pays heed to subjects outside his/her territory.
After the long wait when the food finally arrives on the table and served on your plate, you start devouring into it. But before you reach even half way through it, the majesty is at your side asking for your last orders including those for desserts. This might very well put you in a dilemma of whether to end the main course or go for the dessert. After much reluctance, you place the order for the dessert taking into account the estimated time of arrival and the rate of your own digestion cycle. So when the food is finished and the dessert arrives, there is just one last pending request, the Cheque. The cheque can be very much expected before the dessert if you are close to the start of curfew hours at 11:30pm. But if you are in the middle of the day or evening, then the time to bring the cheque might give a tough competition to the time taken to get your order for food. Lastly, when everything is settled, it is the quality of the time spent which decides how much the subjects reward their King, better known as tips. If the memory of being in that place can be cherished, it guarantees continued patronage. Else it might well become a forbidden kingdom.
My own experiences with the eateries in the city have been a mixed bag. While few of them have given me the time of my life, some others have left some bad taste in the mouth. But personally going to a new place and trying a new recipe always excites me. Exploring a couple of new restaurants over the weekend had been a routine which I had once followed religiously for a considerable stretch of time. The coffee n snacks at the popular coffee chain, Sunday brunch with the barbeques, evening madness at the pubs n lounges and the midnight buffet at the star hotels have been some memorable experiences which I have lived through many a times. Though it's now very difficult to keep up with the routine, the news of a new restaurant opening in town still gives me goosebumps. Nevertheless, it's the company, the ambience and the service which make the food even more palatable. So the foodies out there who have a weakness for delicious items and have zeal to try out new things, I would be happy to share the table with you. Waiting for the call...

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Great Indian Alliance

The most important or rather most talked about topic in our country after cricket, is Marriage. And there comes a juncture in life when its importance supersedes that of cricket. Being standing at this crossroads, I would like to put here my perspective towards marriages in our country. It is said marriages are made in heaven. But after seeing the recent commercials on heavenly apps for one of the mobile operators on television, I seriously doubt its credibility. And in case it is still made in heaven, it has to go though some stringent quality checks before it is acceptable for general use.
In our country once the boy or girl attains marriageable age, which is not a fixed number; parents get anxious to get their children married off to the most suitable bride or groom available on the planet. Usually the process starts off with fixing the criterias for the partner. Its begins with the looks, complexion, education, profession, age and goes upto family background, number of siblings and their education, profession etc. etc. The list sometimes gets endless when number of people giving their opinion are plenty. Though fully aware of the fact that there is no living species on earth which can satisfy all the above mentioned criterias, the search for the unknown goes on for a while. Now when the sense prevails and search for the God particle bears no fruit, the list of criterias get compromised a bit. With each passing year of the search, the degree of compromise gets stronger and stronger.
A major aspect of marriages in India is the caste and religion. As per the ground rule, a boy and a girl can't get married unless both of them belong to the same religion and caste. But once a suitable match is found after crossing these initial hurdles, there comes into picture the all-powerful source of match known as the horoscope. It acts as the Oracle which foresees the future of the alliance in all possible aspects. The major input to this prophecy is usually the date and time of your birth. Now the question that arises here is, does it really take into account the factors which fixed the day or time of birth. It may so happen that the doctor was having a bad day and he turned for the surgery 15 minutes late from the pre-scheduled time. Or it may be the case that the nurse forgot to wear her watch in a hurry and asked for the time to the attendant whose watch is set to a different time zone. These are just few possibilities whose probabilities have not been seriously looked into. And the consequences being, your ideal partner for life changes with each position of the second hand of the clock. So it leaves us with an astronomical figure of 3600 distinct matches per hour. But the irony is that our country doesn't have a sex ratio to match up to this statistics.
Now the most important aspect of marriages in India is the choice between love and arranged marriage. Though love marriages are increasingly getting accepted in the society, arranged marriages still holds the fort. But it’s basically two sides of the same coin. While one of them is about arranging the love, the other one is about loving the arrangement. So when they say marriages are made in heaven, the arrangement has to be done down on the earth. Coming to the first option, arranging the love is not everyone's cup of tea. It requires considerable investment of time, money and emotions. And in case you end of successfully investing in all of these, it doesn't necessarily end up in a marriage. What starts with the boy loving the girl or vice versa, has to end up in their families loving each other. The situation gets more chaotic when the two people differ in their caste, religion or region. All the praises about national integration goes for a toss when it comes to marriage. The whole country support and cheer for the batsman who hits a last ball boundary to win the match for India, even if he belongs to a different religion, caste or region. But when it comes to finding an alliance for their children, it has to be from their backyard.
The second option which is about loving the arrangement is a bit straight-forward compared to the first one. Here the arrangements are done in the beginning taking into account all the criterias mentioned previously. The love plays the second fiddle. After all the necessary negotiations, partners are given the choice to give their opinion about the arrangements. And if you are not so lucky, you don't even get the privilege of availing that option after a few unsuccessful attempts. This option has a higher probability of ending up in a marriage and the investment on time, money and emotions follows afterwards. Unlike the first option, where the partners previously know each other, in this case they have to start from being complete strangers to becoming partners for life.
Let’s end this topic by sharing my own take on this sensitive matter. There can be instances where both these arrangements can coexist. But the probability of such a scenario can be equated to the probability of Sachin Tendulkar retiring from cricket before the next World Cup. But whatever might be the arrangement, it is irrelevant as long as the person discovers a friend in his/her partner. With the start of the new innings in life, there comes a whole set of challenges, and the success in tackling those depends on the strength of the partnership. As it is said, “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”, it requires some intergalactic force to find a suitable match in a lifetime. So those of you who have found their friend for life, you should be thanking your stars. And for me, the search still continues…

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Diary Of a Moviefreak

After giving it a thought for some time, I realized that I will not be doing justice to my blog if I don't write something about Movies, my second love. It's a different thing that I am yet to find my first love. And being the self-declared freak, I had to write it out of compulsion from some of my not-so-freak friends. But hold on, I will not be writing here about the history of cinemas or some run-of-the-mill movie reviews. There are a lot more people sitting out there for the same job and some of them in fact get paid for it. But instead I thought of sharing some of the aspects from my past and present experiences related to movies.
My earliest remembrance of the movies dates back to the time of video cassettes when the compact discs had not seen the light of the day. The sight of the VCR with black colored cassettes in my father's hand on a Saturday afternoon used to bring in a sense of joy which is very hard to replicate. The movies used to be a mix of my regional and Hindi language. And the icing on the cake would be the horror flick from Ramsay Brothers which would be kept at the end to be played after dinner. I can still visualize myself sitting literally at the edge of my father’s seat anticipating the ghost to come out of the VCR. Perhaps this was the thought process which went on to be made as the Ring Series of movies. The first movie I saw at the theatres sans my family members was after I entered into my college. Soon after, there was no looking back and the passion grew stronger and stronger.
The movie audience in India can be broadly divided onto three categories. The first lots are those who absolutely love movies and don't want to miss out on any. They follow their instinct for choosing a movie to be watched at the theatre or not. The second category consists of people who think twice before watching a movie at the theatre. They usually go by the reviews in newspaper, internet as well as from the people in the first category before arriving at a decision. Their probability of watching a movie at the theatre can be deduced from a complex polynomial equation with a lot of variables. Now we are left with the third category of people who actually never give a damn about movies. They are least concerned about the abs of the heroes or the hot bods of the heroines. But being related to the first two groups in some way or the other compels them to experience the reel life once in a while. 
Movies on their part have undergone a sea of transformation in the last two decades. But given a choice I would put them into three different genres. The first ones are those which are best enjoyed with friends. There is no dearth of such movies nowadays. The second are the ones which are best enjoyed with someone special beside you. Such movies from the house of Johars and Yash Raj banners create a sense of urge to experience the reel life in real life, being fully aware of the fact that, it would never be the same. The last category are the ones which you can enjoy with your family. This variety has become a rare species during recent times. The probability of such a movie at the theatre can be equated to the probability of Advani being the Prime Minister of India. But any attempts to mix or switch between genres can lead to irrecoverable damages. It can leave such bad taste which is very difficult to wipe out from the memory.
Another aspect of the story is the movie viewing experience in the Multiplexes which are spreading like mushrooms in every nook and corner of the town. Compared to the single screen theatres, the multiplexes leave the movie-going audience spoilt for choice. But the irony being sometimes none of the choices is worth going for. Still the movie freaks manage to find their way into one of the screens. Now inside the theatre the seats are symmetrically arranged like a matrix with numbered rows and columns. But the people still fail to solve the regular matrix and end up in a different row. The situation gets more chaotic when the mistake is realized after the movie has started. But the tragedy doesn't end up there. Once into their designated seats, the mathematics of settling into the final positions goes for a toss when the person next to you is of opposite sex. Here comes into action the theory of permutations and combinations with the prime condition that two persons of opposite sex can sit together to watch a movie, provided that they are related in some biological way. Now I will not be going into the deeper chemistry of this and leave it for you to decipher.
Once everybody settles down and the light slowly fades away, the next sequence of events is fully governed by the turn of events on the movie screen. In case the plot is interesting, the people stay glued to their seats with some occasional cheers and claps. But if the movie fails to tickle their bones, the smartphones and BBMs come to the rescue. The events on the giant screen get superseded by the ones on the mobile screen. The half-time reviews, the current GPS location, the identity of the companion sitting next etc. etc. gets flashed across all social networking sites. And in case some freak happen to read and comment on the post in real time, the chain of conversation goes on till the end of the on-screen events. And if the situation gets quite unbearable, some of them take the bold step to walk out of the exit door. They keep on cursing the movie and the amount of time and money on it till they end up at the theatre for a fresh movie in the very next week.
Now to sum it up, the movies have been a part and parcel of my life in some way or the other. It has become such an integral part that I manage to relate any real life situation to some movie dialogue or song sequence. Perhaps that’s what it takes to qualify as a freak. The urge has become so strong that a week without movies seems like a void. Missing a movie at the theatre feels like missing a train at the station. Now this is what I meant about relating reel life to the real life. Though some people find it as an amazing talent, it has become quite natural to me.  It’s like you can take me out of the movies, but not the movies out of me. Ok it seems like I should stop here before it gets too filmy. Hope to see you all at the Movies....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Road Rash

The other day my colleague at office told me that “A driver is a good one who can avoid the bad ones”. After pondering over it a bit, I found that it completely defied my logic of driving. Till date, I was having the idea that there were two kinds of people on this planet, those who can drive and those who can't. And in case the driver tuned out to be the so-called bad one, why on earth he would like to get avoided by the good ones. It might in turn affect his degree of badness.
Being a Bangalorean for close to seven years now, traffic has become a part and parcel of my life. An average Bangalorean spends a considerable part of his life span on the road, whether being a part of the pile-up or waiting for it to get cleared. Be it travelling to office, meeting friends, going out for shopping or movies, traffic plays an integral part in our lives. The matter gets even worse if it’s a rainy day. Whether you are sitting in the comfort of the AC of your car or getting drenched sitting on the bike in the most untimely shower, the common thing binding all Bangalorean on the road is traffic.
Just like the jungle, the roads in Bengaluru can be divided into separate jurisdictions. The BMTC buses are the undisputed king of the roads. In case you are anywhere closer to it, the best way is to give the way to it or get sacrificed at the altar. The next-in-line to the throne are the autos who don't have a fixed territory of their own and usually follow a meandering approach while switching between territories. Quite unpredictable in their ways, they always aspire to be ahead of the others in which they fail miserably, thanks to their limited power, or rather horsepower. The other beast to hit the roads are the bikes who have the single most advantage of having lesser pair of wheels than the others. They completely change the equation on and off the demarcated territories. Though smaller in size and built, their area of hunting is quite bigger and broader. Now the most civilized of all the creatures are the cars and others in the same category. They are the most law abiding inhabitants of the jungle. Any attempt by them to break the rules leads to serious repercussions in which they usually suffer the most.
So this leaves us with the most deprived and poorest of the mortals in Bengaluru, known as the pedestrians. They have no other option than to live at the mercy of the predators, both on and off the road. Though there are some territories demarcated for them, they can't actually own it because of frequent encroachments. The situation becomes more chaotic when the poor fellow wants to cross the road. The other side seems to be an oasis in a desert to which he is desperate to reach. This desperation in turn leads him to the territory of the other beasts who are always hunting for their preys. As a means of self-defence he makes use of the most obscure yet powerful weapon at his disposal, the hand (brake) signal. This miraculous weapon works like the Iron Man's suit and stops every vehicle moving toward him on the road. So at the end of it, he gets successful in his mission, not all the time though.
This topic can't be complete without the mention of the traffic cops in Bengaluru. Being the protector of the laws of the jungle, they are the most powerful among the lot. But with more powers come more corruption. Every Bangalorean encounters this hurdle at least once in his driving career. And the hurdle becomes a steeplechase race on weekend evenings when most of the denizens hit the road under dutch courage. But there is a price for crossing each of the hurdles which can be altered, subject to sound negotiation skills. The traffic cop on his part is well aware of the loopholes in the ecosystem on the road and makes the most out it whenever there is a breach of territorial integrity.
Now coming back to the topic of the good and bad driver, it becomes a tough challenge to maintain being the good one when there is no escape from the bad ones. Being the good one in turn disturbs the equilibrium of the whole system and the driver becomes misfit to the whole setup. As the Darwin's Theory of Evolution says, the natural selection acts to preserve the species that have a functional advantage which helps it to compete better in the wild. And in the process it eliminates the inferior species gradually over time. So until and unless the driver adapts itself to compete with the other species on the road, there is a big question mark upon his survival tendency. So the next time the signal countdown reads a single digit, you better turn on the ignition and press the throttle, otherwise wait for the sea of horns to sail you forward. Get Set Go...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Great WALL of India

They say cricket is a gentleman's game. But given a task, it would be a really difficult proposition to find some among the current era of cricketers. In the age of IPL and other cash rich leagues, the gentlemanship is put to the toughest of the tests. There is distraction at each corner and shortcuts to success are plenty. So what it takes to maintain the dignity of the sport we love so much and grew up watching to. The answer lies with one of the stalwarts to have played the game who sadly hung his boots recently.

My earliest memory of this guy goes back to the time when he was criticised for being a slow run getter. I even found myself cursing him a number of times when he was on the crease. Of course, the only thing which is still persistent since then is, he is still one of the favourite sportsperson among gals, thanks to his looks and personality. But to rise above those criticisms and score more than 10000 runs in ODIs at a brisk average speaks volumes about his commitment and hardwork.His record in tests, both in batting as well as catches, have few parallels in the history of the game.

Now the question that arises is why there are so many tributes flowing in from all quarters after his retirement. This guy was never in the limelight, be it celebrating the success of a stupendous victory or the blame game of a crushing defeat. So off late what made everyone realize the true value of this individual. Perhaps the answer lies in his conduct on and off the field. Be it his ability to rise to the demand of the situation and accept any role given to him in the interest of the team, his performance in the most difficult of all situations when everybody else crumbles around him or his eloquence which has won the hearts of many fans all around the world, there is a mark of dignity and respect.

In a cricket frenzy nation like India, where cricketers are given a stature similar to Gods, it is hard to avoid the media glare on and off the field. But this true gentleman of the game was never the talk of the town, apart from some exceptional occasions when the critics had no choice than to give a standing ovation to this champion of the game. But as the talk about his retirement grew louder and louder with each passing year getting added to his age, there was a sense of grit in his performance on the field. The century at lord after 15 years of international career followed by a couple more in England and WI under the most difficult of circumstances against some spirited attacks, are the testimony of his indomitable spirit.

Personally, my view about this person has gone through a sea of change in the last couple of years. He was never a part of my all-time greats in cricket or a poster boy to be cherished in my living room. But in the recent times, this man has proved me wrong time and again with his true character, attitude and not forgetting, his performance on the field. While a century of Sachin gave a sense of achievement, his century provided a sense of satisfaction and solace. His love for the game reflected my own views. But the emotion was quite short-lived as he had to bid good bye to the game he loved so much. It might not have been an overnight decision to hang-in his boots. Perhaps the recent Australian tour was a turning point in his career where the Indian team suffered one of their worst series defeats after being named as the favourites to dominate Australian summer. The Wall which was once considered as invincible suddenly looked quite vulnerable. This combined with the pressure mounting from all corners for the retirement of the senior players may have been the reason for this tough decision.

It has been little more than three weeks since he bid farewell to cricket. A lot of felicitation functions have been arranged for this great ambassador of the game, both by BCCI as well as State Associations. A lot of kind and encouraging words have been said by the past and present greats of the game. But the question which is very difficult to answer is whether this is the swansong he had planned or rather deserved for himself. As rightly put by him, living the dream of his father for sixteen long years, he could not have asked for more. Perhaps that’s why there is a sense of sadness but pride.

Salute to the WALL...