Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We made it here

I started following cricket during the 1996 World Cup. The first match I ever watched was the quarter-final between India and Pakistan. We used to live just behind M-block market in G.K.-I those days, and I remember walking down to the market after the match with the father to buy paan. A Maruti 800 zoomed in out of nowhere, a guy stuck his head out of the window and yelled, "jeetega bhai jeetega," and the crowd which was loitering screamed back, "India jeetega." At 11, that scene made a permanent impression in my mind.

I don't know the technicalities of the game too well, even today. I have only recently really understood what LBW actually means. If you ask me to identify various fielding positions, I will stare blankly at you. I don't have a host of cricket-related trivia at my fingertips the way half my Twitter timeline does.

What I do have are a host of memories. Emotions. Images. Sounds.

Sachin and Saurav beating Pakistan in their opening partnership itself, Sachin outshadowing Saurav with his century. No idea which year this was - is it the Sharjah one people keep going #youremember over?

The 1999 World Cup, where Sachin had to go back home midway and then returned to hit a century in his first match back. And Ganguly, my beloved, hitting 183 in Taunton.

Yuvraj and Kaif bursting out of nowhere at Lords. You remember Saurav for taking off his shirt, I remember the sheer jubilation on his face. For a team that had been shattered by all the match-fixing drama, wasn't this the beginning of the era when we started expecting our team to win? It was for me.

The despair of 23rd March, 2003. The boundary off the first ball of Zaheer's first over, and the carnage that followed. The faint ray of hope we got when the rain started - would we get another day to salvage this game? But no, we didn't. A billion hearts broke that day. Thoughts of the Economics board exam that was four days away took a flying leap from the window.

Pakistan's tour of India in 2005. Mahendra Singh Dhoni announcing his arrival, and how. The commentary I would listen to on the car radio, as I took Kyra to Jeevashram every day to be treated for renal failure. I'd pass the Rajokri village and see crowds gathered outside the mithai ka dukaan, all watching the tiny television in the shop.

The anger we felt in 2008 in that test against Australia. Anil Kumble's dignified press conference at the end of that horrid day. And the vindication when we won.

Is there any team we've disliked more than Australia? No one likes someone who has it all. Particularly when they display the kind of arrogance Australia has. So the match against South Africa, where they scored 434, and South Africa, bless them, responded with 438, was sheer joy to watch. I remember watching the highlights of that match. I knew what the outcome was going to be, but I still had goosebumps all through.

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. The first man to score a 200 in an ODI. I was in office that day, not really working, but refusing to leave till he got there. I cursed Cricinfo with all the plagues in the world, but forgave them two days later when Sambit Bal wrote that refreshingly honest apology.

The 2007 T20 World Cup, six months after the first-round exit from the main World Cup. I would stay up till 2 AM every night to watch those matches, pacing up and down in our basement. The shoot out style "Super Over" that took place when we tied with Pakistan, and how we rocked it. The final, oh sweet Lord, the final.

Despair, anger, jubilation, vindication, grief. I've felt it all the 15 years I've been following cricket. Heck, I've felt them all in the last month of following this World Cup. But we've made it this far. After a rocky start, we beat Australia in the quarter-finals, and Pakistan in the semi-finals. Both matches that had me with my heart in my mouth almost all through. And on Saturday, for the second time in my life, I'll see India play a World Cup final.

I don't like our captain; I think he's survived on luck more than anything else all these years. I'm not too fond of several of the players in this team, but they've redeemed themselves on several occasions, I'll grant them that. Some of the players I do like haven't been given the chance to play too much in the tournament. But none of this will matter on Saturday.

If you win on Saturday, dear Team India, this team will get immortalized by us forever. The despair we felt of 23rd March 2003 will get erased forever. I won't say win it for Sachin, like many others are saying. I won't say win it for the billion people in this country; we're too fickle in our affections to deserve that. We decide you've lost much before you lose, and occasionally also decide you've won before you actually win. We blame you, we victimize you, and then we forget we ever said anything to you when you win a match. And when I say we, I mean I.

Just... win it, okay? Please?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To be a woman, Part II

Three brilliantly written and interesting articles were pointed my way today:
  • The Careless Language of Sexual Violence, which reacts to this utterly insensitive and ridiculous article that had "reported" the gang-rape on an eleven-year-old girl in Texas. My heart was breaking about the trauma that girl must have gone through, and all the NY Times could report was some idiot who said “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”
  • On Sluts, Rape and Fuckery, an absolute brilliant article by Shalene Gupta on the hardest part of rape - the silence (something I used to keep hearing when I worked with RAHI Foundation - the silence, the inability to talk about what has happened to you, is such a large part of the trauma) - and some words and their connotations, and what these words do to you. It's one of those articles that blow your mind away, literally. Read.
  • And finally, a beautiful article by Annie Zaidi, where she talks about what being a woman in modern India meant a decade ago, and what it means today. And how the women in our lives make us the women we are.
Rape, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, sexual assault - I'm known to get on my soapbox about these fairly often. I can take most jokes, but jokes about these get very difficult to digest. And it is utterly infuriating when rape or sexual abuse is somehow made to be the victim's fault.

Nothing, nothing, justifies rape. And if you don't know that yet, you don't deserve to exist. And you should go read this to help you understand just who is to blame.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

To be a woman

I really don't have an opinion on Women's Day one way or another. Sure, it's fun - the only man in our all-women firm got us a chocolate cake today. Others on twitter tell me they're getting free lunch, chocolates, even first prizes in singing competitions. All very nice, yes.

My Facebook feed is filled with status updates by women congratulating each other on how privileged and special they are to be women. Again, fascinating.

Yes, it is wonderful to be a woman - most of the time. When we're not beset by insecurities about our body shape, hair colour, wardrobe's colour coordination, it's lovely to be a woman. When we're not trying to work twice as hard to prove ourselves in what is still a man's world, when we're not ignoring the not-so-subtle leering by a potential client, when we're not juggling career and family because the menfolk still don't pitch in, when we're not responding to "your husband earns enough, why don't you take a break?", when we're not constantly justifying our decision to go for an MBA at the age of 26 instead of "settling down", yes, it feels really special to be a woman.

Facebook bemuses me at times.

Did I ever tell you I found lumps under my breast two years ago? We went to the doctor, he assured me they were just cysts that I am prone to and nothing to worry about. Then last year, one of the newer cysts started bleeding. So we went back to him. And he said the same thing - I tend to sweat a lot, this creates these cysts, I just have to live with them.

Then a month back, a friend and I were chatting when she suddenly tells me she had found a lump in her breast. More than a year back. And that a few days back, she found some more. So she was finally going to the doctor. The doctor told her she had three tumours. Three. All benign, but it would be a good idea to have them taken out. I hadn't felt that level of terror in a long, long time.

Your Facebook campaigns that ask you to post the colour of your bra mean nothing in the midst of all this.

My twitter timeline points me to an article practically every day about either a rape, a murder, a female foeticide, a case of domestic violence. Women power my ass.

I really don't have an opinion on Women's Day one way or another. Treat it like Mother's Day or Father's Day - one day in the year to celebrate being a woman. But stop telling me it's about woman power or about gender equality. Because that's just a load of bullshit.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Quick, make a wish!

What all do you make wishes on? I wish when an eyelash falls, or when I get the wishbone while eating chicken. Or if I'm passing under a bridge at the same time a train's going over it.

I don't wash my hair on Tuesdays or Thursdays lest something happens to the brother.

I don't call anyone back as they're leaving home; if I do, I give them a glass of water before they leave again - comes from the mother's experience as a teenager.

I don't cut my nails after the sun sets.

I'm vegetarian on Tuesdays, and I don't eat beef - for no religious reasons, but because the parents don't, and therefore I don't.

I email the brother to find out if he's okay if a glass breaks at home.

The parents have always believed that having pigeons in your house means it's a happy house. We've never had a home without the presence of pigeons. On the other hand, I once read a book which said pigeons in the house are an omen of death.

I was six years old, when a vulture came and sat in our front lawn. My Thamma saw it, took a stick and chased it away, because it's an omen of death. Two days later, my Dadu, who was hospital in the last stages of leukemia, passed away.

Different places, different people, different beliefs.

What do you believe?

UPDATE (06 March 2011): Just saw this, and think it makes a lot of sense. I'm going to wish for the same thing next time.