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...