Thank you, Sachin

All good things come to an end, they say. And they are right. I will wake up tomorrow to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat for the last time in his career.

Greatness stays on however. In the minds of those who witness it, in the actions of those who are inspired by it, in the lives of those who can appreciate it. And that is some consolation.

I have never known cricket without Sachin and I don’t intend to follow it any more after he retires. When I started watching cricket, it was already very popular. And it has only grown more popular over the years. Not surprisingly, the increase in popularity has been achieved at the cost of reducing standards to the lowest common denominator. And that denominator is now too low for me to retain my interest. All these years, Sachin has been the one redeeming factor in a game that has progressively become faster, shorter and mindless. There is a thrill in speed, instant gratification in brevity, and an escape in mindlessness. But they don’t compare to the beauty in leisure, the substance in length, and the art in mindfulness. And Sachin is perhaps the last batsman to embody those values today. In the foreseeable future, there will not be another Sachin. What a pity!

There is nothing much that I can add to what I wrote last time about Sachin, so I will just quote myself verbatim:

“Poetry,” wrote Aristotle, “is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular.”

A similar argument may be made for sport. Sport reduces life to its essentials and expresses its fundamentals in their purest form. Just as poetry expresses the universal through particular characters, sport expresses fundamentals through the actions of individual sportsmen. But unlike the characters in poetry, who are after all, mere figments of the poet’s imagination, the sportsmen are real. Sport then, is likely to fall short of poetry in its power to inspire, to embody the values of life. Perfection and purity is easier to achieve in poetry than in the life of a sportsman.

But once in a while, a sportsman comes along to prove that the difficult is not impossible, that a single-minded dedication can be maintained, that ability can be turned into excellence, that consistency can triumph over uncertainty. And such a sportsman transcends the sport, lends it meaning, makes it real.

Sachin Tendulkar is such a sportsman, and I am fortunate to have grown up at a time when my values could be shaped and sustained by the example of his greatness.

Thank you Sachin!

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Projection

एक चेहरा देख के आज
वो चेहरा याद आया है
जो देखा है वो अन्जाना
याद आया वो बेगाना है

वो चेहरा बिन बोले
कितना कह पाया है
अनदेखी सी दुनिया
वो सामने लाया है

इतना कुछ कह के भी
वो चेहरा बेगाना है
अपनी ही बातों से
क्या खुद अन्जाना है

वो चेहरा ना बोला था
ना कुछ सुन पाया है
मेरे मन की है ये बातें
चेहरा तो बस साया है

I saw a face today and now
her face I again remember
Whom I saw I do not know
And she is still a stranger

She did not say a word but still
her face spoke of grandeur
An unseen world before my eyes
her face was able to conjure

Her face said so much and yet
To me she is still a stranger
To all that her face conveyed
is she herself a stranger?

For she never spoke a word
My words she didn’t embrace
My mind it was that projected
its own words onto her face

Short Review: Coffee in the Afternoon

Coffee in the Afternoon is a short story by Christopher Chinchilla.

The blurb on Amazon says: In a quiet café, Johnny tells his religiously-oppressive wife, Jessica, that he wants a divorce—and that he’s taking their daughter, Lily, with him.

That is an interesting setting for the story and I wondered how the author would develop it in such a short story, just 14 pages.

The descriptions are vivid and make the scene stand out. There is another character in the story – something I did not expect. But it serves its purpose rather well by giving a concrete form to something that would otherwise have remained intangible. The focus on values and the way they are brought out lends a depth to the story that is refreshing to see.

The characters are interesting, but given the difference in their values, the situation they are in seems somewhat unlikely and I was a little disappointed to not have an explanation for it. But that would be difficult in a story of this length, so really, I would have liked this to be more than a short story.

Overall, it is definitely worth reading and a very good investment of the 10 minutes it takes to read it. I look forward to reading more and longer works from the author.

Inspiration

There has always burned a fire
that gave me light and heat
that powered every desire
and kept me on my feet

That fire needed fuel
I wonder whence it came
I must have burned up too much
the fire is now quite tame

Some sparks are still left over
to remind me of what once was
I am still moving forward
but momentum is now the cause

I mis-conceived my pursuit
lost more than I could reclaim
I burned a part of myself
that will never be the same

I was certain of my success
on a path not quite my own
but a path of such great import
is a path I must walk alone

I need to reinvent myself
and stoke up the fire again
the fuel I took for granted
I must work to now regain

These words are an effort
to seek what must be sought
the fuel that I am after
I must find it in my thought

nadaani

क्या सब्र क्या नादानी
ये समझ ना मैने पाई
मेरा सब्र हुआ नाकाम
नादानी मगर रंग लाई

दिल के अरमानों की
कीमत ऐसी चुकाई
अरमान रहे अधूरे
पूरी हुई तन्हाई

आँखों की इस नामी की
समझे ना वो गहराई
जागी ये जिनके बाबत
कीमत भी ना लगाई

ये बेबसी का आलम
देता है ये दुहाई
अरमान ना ऐसे करना
ना हो जिनकी अफज़ाई

Rought translation for my English readers:

I could not distinguish between persistence and foolishness
My persistence did not pay off but my foolishness brought results

I paid the price for the desires of my heart
My desires remained unfulfilled, but my loneliness is complete

She did not understand the depth of feeling behind my moist eyes
The object of these feelings did not attach a value to them

This state of helplessness cries out to me and tells me
not to have desire whose object doesn’t encourage them

Ijazat

न थी इजाज़त, जो देखने की,
कुछ ऐसे सपने सजाये मैंने,
जो चाहता हूँ, भुला दूं उनको,
बिना इजाज़त सता रहे हैं

न थी इजाज़त, जो बोलने की,
वह बात दिल में बसाई मैंने,
जो चाहता हूँ, निकालूँ उस्को,
बिना इजाज़त बसी हुई है

न थी इजाज़त, जो चाहने की,
वह चाह दिल में जगाई मैंने,
जो चाहता हूँ, न चाहूं उस्को,
बिना इजाज़त जला रही है

Update: Rough translation for my English readers

The dreams that were forbidden to me
I dreamt such dreams.
Now that I desire to forget them,
they haunt me unbidden.

The idea that I was forbidden to speak.
I let it reside in my mind.
Now that I desire to root it out,
it stays on unbidden.

The desire that was forbidden to me
I encouraged that desire in my heart.
Now that I desire to not desire,
it burns me unbidden.

Rape – and what we can do about it

tl; dr version: Learn to defend ourselves.

Another rape. Nationwide outrage. Full page newspaper reports. Condemnations by celebrities and ministers. Promises of justice. Candle marches. Protests. Demands for tougher laws. Better implementation. Tighter security. And then?

Another rape…

This is the reality we live in. But it hadn’t really sunk in. At least for me. Not until today.

Never mind the complexity of the problem. Leave it to the sociologists to discover the causes. Knowing the causes is not going to help the victims be safe.

Justice, however swift, can only follow the crime. Preventing the crime in the first place is primarily the responsibility of the potential victims. I don’t leave my house open and then protest if I get robbed. I understand that it is my responsibility to ensure the safety of my belongings. If a couple of ruffians were to accost me, I doubt if I could do anything to save myself, let alone protect anyone else. Why have I never realized that it is the same issue? Rapists – and other small-time crooks – are bullies. And bullies are cowards. A little bit of competent resistance is all it would take to put them in their place. Why am I incapable of producing that resistance?

In times gone by, it used to be considered a man’s job to protect the women he cared about. We have outgrown those times. And that is good. So, can women protect themselves today? No. And neither can men! In both of the highly publicized cases in recent memory, the rape-victim was accompanied by a male, who couldn’t even help himself. Huh? Is this progress?

Dependence on state machinery has emasculated us. We think we can delegate all our responsibilities to the state and cry foul when the state doesn’t deliver. We are right to delegate the responsibilities of justice and investigation. But the responsibility of self-defense – like many other responsibilities – cannot be delegated. It is pointless to blame the state for not delivering on the responsibilities we delegate to it when we shirk our own.

It is ridiculous that we who call ourselves educated, have the time, money and inclination to buy gadgets, take holidays, and vent our feelings on social media, who cherish our freedom to do all these things, allow ourselves to be victimized by a bunch of ruffians who have none of these comforts. How difficult can it be to learn a little bit of self-defense?

No self-respecting able-bodied person (male or female) who cherishes his independence should tolerate such a state of affairs. Throughout history, whenever people have been called on to defend their country in a time of crisis, there has never been a lack of volunteers. Don’t we have enough self-respect to defend ourselves?

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