Sunday, September 23, 2012

And the Magic shall never Die

Last month I was at the hospital for a visit to my doctor for a check-up. I was tensed. I was nervous. To make matters worse I came to know I would have to wait for three hours before I could meet the doctor. I groaned in dismay and contemplated on how I would kill time in the waiting lounge surrounded by sick patients. As I sat there I suddenly remembered I had brought along my Harry Potter book in by backpack. I heaved a sigh of relief. Just then I received a text from a friend of mine enquiring about me. I told her about my condition and the fact that I would have to wait a further three hours here. She sympathized with me. I texted her back, "Don’t worry...I have Harry Potter!”

It was afternoon now. I was going back home in a bus. The wind slapped my face as I looked outside the window at the overcast skies. My phone beeped. It was a text from the same friend. “Hey, how are you? You are okay na? Hope it went well with the doc!” I smiled and texted her back, “I am fine...Everything’s fine. Harry Potter saved the day...Again...!”

It is strange, bizarre rather when I sit and think of the impact that Harry Potter and its characters have made in my psyche in such a short span of time. For people who aren’t accustomed to the world of Harry Potter these statements might sound very childish and over the top, but for me the significance that the world of Harry Potter holds in my life is truly unique.

Now I am not writing this post to elaborate on J.K. Rowling’s marvelous story, its different characters and the magic behind them. No, I somehow just wished to briefly share this intricate yet beautiful relation I have with this fascinating series.  

My trysts with Harry Potter started way back when the first HP movie came out; the Philosopher’s stone. I was in Udaipur at that time and unfortunately had the bad experience of watching it in Hindi. I never understood the complex storyline and gave up on following it, believing it to be just another fad that the world was having. Over the years I kept following a couple of other movies as well but still never really got the hang of it. It was only in 2005 when the Order of the Phoenix – the book, had released that things changed. By a lucky chance I managed to borrow the book from a friend who had it and took it home without any expectations. I just wanted to see what the fuss was about in this after all.

My life was never the same after that day. Let’s just say I had no idea then that I had got one of the greatest friends of my life right there in my backpack that day.

Yes, sounds stupid but in actuality is very much the truth. I read the book in two days flat and was just completely blown away. It left me gasping for more. I immediately went and bought the other books in the series and just completely devoured them with feverish madness and hence commenced my captivating journey with the Harry Potter mania.

People who haven’t read the books would never understand the real magic behind them. For most, HP is a children’s fascination which has lots of nice special magic stuff. But people who have managed to look through these frivolities would know the real truth. For me reading the Harry Potter books remains one of the most deeply gratifying experiences ever. The reason that I connect to it so deeply is the fact that it is so real despite being set in a completely unreal world. The lead character is not a superhero with extraordinary powers but is as average a person as one can be. He flunks in exams, gets tongue-tied talking to girls and is very emotional about his close ones. However, more than this, what binds me so emotionally to the series are the small real lessons of life it keeps reminding us without trying to say it out aloud. Simple truths of life -that there is no greater gift in life than friendship, that you can never succeed if you don’t have true friends to support you, that if you are loyal to the ones who love you things will always be fine for you in the end and that true love is beyond anything and everything in this world.

I thus make no bones about the fact that I have learnt so much from the HP series. Many dialogues and many situations in the books have left me pondering on them very deeply and they have left me more insightful than I was before Harry Potter hit my life. There are so many small little gems to take in from it that if you genuinely try and understand it you can only be a better person.

However Harry Potter’s impact in my life goes beyond the realms of these niceties. It is as I mentioned before a true best friend of mine; always there for me. At times when I have felt terrible, when I have felt low or hopeless it has always been there. I realized this more in the last few months than ever before. Like the day at the hospital I mentioned at the beginning; it just stays there every time and anytime for me.

Why I chose to write this today? No real reason. That is what it is with Harry Potter, I can talk, write, shout and be crazy about it anytime I wish to. My fellow Potterheads would agree I believe.

For me Harry Potter (the books) is the best, the most satisfying, emotionally overwhelming and enchanting experience that one can ever have. There never was, never has been and never would be another series like Harry Potter. For those who haven’t read the books I have this to say, “Forgive them Lord, coz they don’t know what they have missed.”

know I will never get bored of the series no matter how many times I read it. I will always laugh and cry with it, no matter what situation of life I am in. That is how it always is. And that is how I wish for it to remain; until the very end.



22 May, 2065. He staggers along in the hallway of his house with the help of his walking stick; finally resting his aching eighty-year-old back on a comfortable armchair beside the window. The afternoon breeze soothes his wrinkled face. With trembling hands, he bends and picks up the book lying on the small table beside the chair. The book looks worn out and the pages bore a yellowish tint. He opens the first page with the same excitement and thrill he had once opened it with when he had first bought it decades back. The title- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - looks a little faded in colour, but it still brings a smile on the old man's crinkled lips. Suddenly he hears the mad cacophony of voices as his two grandchildren come running into his room. They look at him and then at the book in his hands. Rolling his eyes, one of them says, “After all this time?”  He looks at them, and rests his head on the back of the chair; smiling to himself, he says, “Always..!” 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Indian Cricket: Yuvraj returns, T2O World Cup beckons etc. etc.

So the new season for Indian cricket has begun. And begun well one can say. With a comfortable one-day series victory against Sri Lanka on their own soil and a test series victory against the Kiwis at home our start to the new season has been good with quite a few plusses to think of. Bigger challenges lie ahead however and it remains to be seen how the young looking unit copes with better teams like England and Australia in the coming months without the stalwarts like Laxman and Dravid. I have a hunch that we will do well. If we do, without doubt the naysayers would start ranting about us being tigers at home which I believe is an outright stupid argument. I don’t see anyone raising their voices for Australia and South Africa’s domination at home, so what makes our dominance on our own soil so aggravating to people is beyond me. I shall explore this further in another post. 

Moving on...  As is the case with Indian cricket these days, a lot has already happened in these last few weeks. Let me just dwell on certain happenings in Indian cricket that I wish to discuss. 

Rise of the Colts

Before discussing anything else, I raise a toast to the Indian U-19 team for their fascinating World Cup triumph last month. To beat the Aussies in their own den, that too in the final of a world event, requires some outstanding skill and courage. Our colts surely had that and in winning the trophy they showed that all the doubts of Indian cricket‘s future can be put to rest. We have found in this side quite a few players who are a class part and would surely be rendering their services to the national team in the very near future. Anyone who would have seen captain Unmukt Chand’s scintillating century in the final would agree that he is made for bigger things. I am quite excited by this guy and hope to see him in our national side soon. He is quite in the mould of Virat Kohli and seems to have a mature head on his shoulders. Besides the batting star Unmukt we have a few others like off -spinner Harmeet Singh, all-rounder Baba Aaparajith , batsman Vijay Zol and a couple of others who look very promising. More than anything else this team shows that India’s bowling and batting cupboards isn't bare as many ‘experts’ have been screaming hoarse. I am certain that over a period of time, once these youngsters are well-groomed, our recent overseas disasters would be a thing of the past. Cheers to the future!

Sachin oh Sachin


So Sachin Tendulkar performed below par in the recent Test series against New Zealand and was bowled through the gates thrice in as many innings. Soon enough there has been a rising cry in all of India screaming for Sachin to retire and these people have decided that his time is now up. It’s amusing to think that not too long ago he was being hailed as GOD after he had scored the first double century in ODIs. Now I will not write much on this, as experts have been analyzing every movement of Sachin’s with acute scrutiny in any case and moreover criticism of cricketers is like an everyday exercise for our citizenry. But I do have this to say- someone who has served the country for 23 long years and served it well apparently, believes that he has it in him to serve our cricket for some more time. We should be really lucky he thinks that way. He is the reason that many in our country (and in the team) started watching cricket. He will not take his place for granted ever. Even in his last innings he was stroking the ball beautifully before he unfortunately got bowled. Big deal! So what?  I am certain in my mind that Sachin is already working on the flaw that got him out and would rectify it. We need him now more than ever as our team is going through a transition phase with many young men taking new positions and they would require Sachin’s guidance and experience for as long as they can take it. We have England and Australia coming in next and then there is the tour to South Africa. We need Sachin in all these tournaments if we hope to do well; there are no two ways about it. Sachin is prone to criticism but to ask him to retire should not be our calling; that authority should lie with him and him alone. I think he has deserved that credit.

I know that day would soon come when we would never again see the name Sachin Tendulkar on the Indian team score card, whether in a few months or years, time will tell. But the one above sent Sachin to our land for a specific reason. I have a feeling that that he has his own script for the Little Master for the day he bids us adieu.

T20 World Cup – Will or Won’t?

Now comes the big one, the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka starting in about a week’s time. How will it unfold for team India? Will we go down poorly as we did in the last two editions of the event or would the men in blue make a billion hearts smile again? Remains to be seen

Five years precisely to this month we witnessed the rise of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the daring and cool captain who led a young and talented Indian team to an unexpected World Cup T20 triumph in South Africa. Many things have changed since, but the captain’s hunger to succeed hasn’t. The T20 World Cup is about to commence once again and not many are giving our team much of a chance to lift the trophy. Our T20 performance hasn’t been great to speak of and thus not many are too hopeful on us bringing back the cup. As for me, I am my usual nervous self as the day inches closer. I am quietly confident of our team’s prospects. We have a good bunch of guys at hand. With the likes of Kohli (who by the way is in absolutely sparkling form), Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni, the middle-order bears a settled look. If the openers fire and the bowlers somehow perform well we might go the distance. We should at least make the semis; from there it’s anybody’s game. Unlike 50 over cricket where I am more confident of our prospects, T20 is like a gamble. One bad over, one misfield or a bad delivery can change the game’s outcome. Hence a lot would depend on chance too. We have good talent at our disposal but the rest depends on a lot of factors. I can only hope that lady luck shines in our favour. Am I willing to take a bet on our chances? I don’t know really. MSD has his fair share of haters in our country and especially in Bengal for obvious selfish reasons, and many of them I know would be licking their lips for India to fail giving them  a chance to target their guns on him again. But knowing MSD he wouldn’t be perturbed by all this chatter; he is a fighter and a champion cricketer and would be focused on doing well. He has nothing to prove to anybody but himself. I also believe that life has its own way of setting things right. Who knows on the night of October 7th  in  Colombo it might very well be our captain cool holding the trophy he first held in 2007. A perfect gift to himself for completing five years as a captain isn’t it? I would surely be rooting for our captain and his team selflessly and would hope for the best no matter what. For now, let the magic begin…

Yuvi can, Yuvi has

Lastly some words on the enigmatic ‘punjab da puttar’ Yuvraj Singh and his much celebrated comeback. Yuvraj made an emotional and confident return to cricket in the last T20 match against NZ. It was sheer pleasure to see Yuvi stroke those sixers which made my heart jump with excitement. He fell short of what would have been an ideal fairytale comeback but was not to be as he got out in the last over of India’s chase, just when we didn’t require him to. Though we lost the match, we gained a lot from the confident way Yuvraj batted. He is without doubt a pivotal member of our team, and his performing well is imperative for our chances in the coming tournament. When in full flow he is one of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball and is also a more than handy part-time bowler as was seen in the World Cup 2011. It would be interesting to see how he excels in the coming T20 World Cup. Perhaps it was good that he didn’t win the game for us in his comeback match. Perhaps it would have blown the lid of the media and the people who would have expected the world from him then. Now Yuvi can just take it easy and enjoy the game. And we can just hope that he does his best; which can be very good news for us.

However in all this there is also the story of how Yuvi fought back cancer and lived to tell the tale albeit in a heroic fashion. Although I agree that there has been a bit too much of his whole ‘come back’ thing but none can deny that it has been a truly remarkable achievement. I know very well what chemotherapy does to one’s body and thus too see Yuvi strutting around the crease was a pleasing sight. In all this hoopla also lies a lesson for each one of us if we are willing to take it. It is not just about fighting a disease; it’s just the will Yuvi showed. Teaching us that we can fight any situation if we truly have the passion and the belief that the thing is worth fighting for. It can be anything; be it fighting for one’s life, one’s career or one’s love. The standout word here is TRY. If Yuvraj had gone all grumpy and complained how unfair life has been on him he wouldn’t have been donning the Indian jersey today. He chose to fight. Therein lies the lesson. We might not always win, but we should at least give our honest attempt at trying to our fullest and leave the rest to destiny, which isn’t in our hands. But trying surely is. At least then we wouldn’t have regrets. Isn’t that what life is all about? Living in hope, seeing dreams and trying your hardest to fulfill them. It is a very simple theory that we fail to understand sometimes. If we can just comprehend the underlying message behind Yuvraj’s comeback, things would be lots easier for all of us. 

Like I always say to a very beautiful person in my life, “Try karne me kya jaata hai...!”