Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shells from the HK shores..

Woaahh!! Last night in HK...can't believe 6 weeks have passed...and I write this with a heavy heart...
Just kidding..
Definitely not a heavy heart..I don't think I am gonna miss being here at all. I am too excited to go back to India. But guess when I look back at the last 6 weeks, I would have to admit, it wasn't that bad. I read my earlier post in an attempt to assess whether my concerns were justified, and I again end up with a mixed feeling.

To start on a lighter note, well, Chinese people do have eyes..but still there is something different about their looks (Now don't say 'Really, we didn't know that...Da ah!!'), which I cannot seem to figure out..and as a result of this I was caught staring at a lot of them :P One opinion I have formed about them is that they are very innocuous, kind of innocent people, who are comfortably living in their own world..they get excited at things which are stupid for most of us (they click a picture of everything..even ATM machines!!), and they do not like to interact with foreigners, unless of course, they are the shop owners of a shop targeted at the process, trying to rob them (I speak from personal experience..damn frustrated at being thugged by a much for Atithi Devo Bhav...hum hi kyun follow karen yar pure world me??)

Food was not at all an issue, and I think I had a better lunch here than my rocking office canteen..several Indian restuarants, with limited, yet manageable number of vegetarian options..and of course, the yummy jumbo pizza slices. However, one thing that was the most disgusting was the pungent smell of sea food at many of the places which would cause even my non-vegetarian Indian friends to cringe!!
Language was a BIG BIG issue. Except my office people and a few others, no one even understands drivers don't understand where you want to go, people on streets would not give you directions..and I have don't remember how many times I have gone round and round in certain areas. But thank God the city is very well organized and there are some maps at crossroads..which made my life a little easier. Coming back to the language, well it was actually fun sometimes not knowing their language, coz my dumb charades skill are now all sharpened up..bring it on, guys!

I think I did make K proud after all..I exhausted most of the places there were to visit in HK..special thanks to the awesome company of the few people I knew there..had they not been there, it would have been a pain, m telin u. Be it the shopping with my college friend, the dinners with my boss/friend/mentor, the drinks with my colleagues, or the World Cup with some co-workers from India, the sum of it all made it memorable. However, if you are planning a trip to HK, I would recommend only a 3-5 day one, coz I found most of the tourist attractions very run of the mill and somehow overhyped, coming from a land of rich cultural heritage myself. Watching the world cup here was fun! Am sure India would have been super, but even this was special. 50 or so Indians gathering in bars to watch matches on big screens with beer in our hands, screaming our lungs out on every single taken (or saved in Aus/Pak's case) was amazing...and especially what followed after the win..when proud Indians took HK by storm!!

Coming to the spicy stuff...the trip to Macau was an amazing one..the water show, the gambling, and everything else..lot of things added to my 'been there, done that' list..and yes, had a couple of crazy nights in HK as well...thanks to my local HK colleagues who showed me what the nightlife here is, these people know how to party!

All that said and done, the crucial question still remaining unanswered is that in what light do I see this trip in retrospect? The answer that is going to come should surprise you as much as it does me! I can say I am glad this trip happened. Why? Let me tell you. I think there could not have been a worse time for this trip to happen ..I was in a disturbed state, and I was expected to stay away from my family and friends (virtual family), out of my comfort zone, struggling to cope up with things, and at the same time perform in an excellent fashion at my new office...However, now I think there could not have been a better time as well for this one to happen. This trip has helped me grow, helped me discover, and helped me become more confident.
I am more confident now that if I have survived this period of my life being alone, anything that life brings on now is only going to be better. I am not only going to survive, I am going to kill it, baby.
I got to see a totally different environment, a mix of cultures, and I have grown into a more tolerant person.
But most importantly, I have discovered what I want from life. Professional life, and personal life. The trip turned out to be a semblance of an opportunity, and I took some bold decisions which I never thought I would be in a position to take. It restored my faith in my abilities which was facing whirlwinds a while back, and it brought my priorities, which were buried deep inside, to the fore. It feels great to have that sense of clarity once again, and knowing that my life is somewhat, somewhat, a result of my choices as well. Actually, this time I surprised life. I made a choice it would never have expected me to make.

On the personal front, well, I think I am prepared to start things afresh. I feel much more closer to my friends I have made over the years. I got in touch with the old ones from here by being online for chats again, I made some new ones, and I realized how time can run away in their company..and there is no emotional drainage involved. Does this happen with everyone? Don't know. But glad its turning out that way for me. The world seems perfect like this! Why spoil it?

So tomorrow I fly back to a Cheese Burst and Garlic Bread for starters, send out a 'Chocolates at my desk' email to my office acquaintances, pass out all the toys I have bought to my lil bhajis and witness their million dollar smile, get a haircut finally (or maybe not if people don't make fun of me), and then go for a well deserved break to Mahabaleshwar on the upcoming weekend with my gang..once I come back, a new team at work, and a new world awaits world..its time I take up everything I have been delaying for so long..things I wasn't able to give time my long cherished desire to learn guitar...maybe buy an Xbox and become a gamer..and some more random stuff! Of course, watch my quota of at least one movie a week. Strengthen some faded ties and lay the foundation for new ones. Everything else now waits, this year is mine! Even getting into new commitments. Nice old song playing on the online radio.."Kisi ke ishq me khud ko mita lunnn...ho nahi sakta, ho nahi sakta!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Championships are not won overnight

I write when I feel strongly, and the feeling of being the world champion has consummated me. Well, where do I start? I would like to take a slightly different take on this win, something which I could not already find in whatever articles I read after the win...

It feels different to be a world champion. Last night, a team of 15 did not lift the world cup. A 1.2 billion did. At our homes, at bars, at streets. Finally, we were able to see what was the big deal about 1983. Finally, we were able to overcome the agony of 2003 and the despair of 2007. After so many years, one game made us laugh, cry, shout, and jump at the same time. One game that united us. And undoubtedly, gave so many Indians the happiest moments of their lives. Speaking on behalf of some die hard cricket fans and patriots, the comfort in dying peacefully even if 2012 is a reality...because we have experienced the best!
But if I step back and think, what did we, the 1.2 billion do to earn this feeling? Yes, we chose a team, we gave them our hopes, our trust, that THEY would do it for us! But that's where it all ends. It is a glory to cherish for those 15 men and the people in background, as they have also borne the brunt of our criticizm, our anger, and our hatred. When it comes to cricket, Indians are volatile, impulsive, and emotional. We WANT to lose touch with the reality that exists, that we are not the only one hoping to win the cup, that the 15 men we have sent to fight our battle are also mortals and are allowed to commit mistakes. They haven't asked us to treat them like superheroes, and we are only burdening them. If that were not enough, we target them through all possible channels, be it social media, the streets, or sometimes, even their homes.

What gives me the right to point this out, when supposedly I am also a part of this community? Well because at the expense of sounding 'I-knew-it-all', I can say I had a stronger faith in the team than what the average Indian had. Not a faith that they would win the cup 100%, only a hope for that one, but a faith that they will give their best, and their best is really good, and intimidating, for the opposition. Be it the uncomfortable wins against the minnows, the tie against England, or the loss against SA, I had never taken it as a sign of Indian team's weakness or an indication of them not deserving enough to win. I would never criticize a sportsperson for the number of brands he is endorsing.  Because I am a patient person, and I believe. What is shaken by chance occurences is not belief in my dictionary. Admittedly, I am not flawless either! I did have my doubts around Ashish Nehra after the inital matches. Glad to acknowledge, he proved me wrong against Pak! And what a way to do that. Salutes!

I would not switch off the cricket match once we have lost Sehwag and Sachin. I did that in Natwest, I did that on another occasion, but not this time. I have grown, and understood my team. I know inside out that this is what a strong team looks like, and it is not a two man army. My huge respect to the formidable forces in the team, but I now know that each one of you in the team there is a match winner. You have the talent, the spirit, and the commitment. And when you join forces, boy, the opposition can only think about packing their bags early. What has a normal Indian done or achieved to have the right to challenge this? Nothing, yet he would act as the expert of the game, and pass judgments without any rationale. This is something where we have gone terribly wrong, and there is a need to make amends.

For starters, I would like to take this moment to thank my team, who have made me proud and the happiest person on earth. I thank them for giving me the opportunity to walk with a high head in a foreign land when people salute me for being Indian. I would like to thank you for once again reminding me of the core patriot in me, just the way the national anthem does everytime its played in Mumbai theatres. But at the same time, I want to apologize to you, on behalf of the entire country, for everything that we have made you go through, when you were not having the best of days. Not bad days, but not Rajnikant like days. And I want you to know that I would have been as proud of you had we lost as I am now. Disappointed, yes, but still proud for the journey. We have asked you for explanations all the time, and it is well deservedly your time to ask us. And frankly, we would have no answer to your questions. All the people who had lost faith in you will only take a moment to realize how wrong they were, and come back to feeling proud on the awesomeness of the feeling you have given us! Once again, thank you! And hugs! :D

Cannot even think about ending this note without sending out some personal postcards:

Team India: Respect for your game. And for your spirit. We saw what champions are made of! Men of strength, men of honor, men of character.You did it for 1.2 billion, and one man in particular. Don't know if you realized it or not, but you just gave that man enormous peace to sleep with, for the rest of his career and beyond. You made sure there was not a single black mark on his career profile, and the master does retire as a masterpiece!

Gary: You picked us up when we were in shambles. And look where you brought us! Goes without saying what you have done is unforgettable, and we wish you could continue as our coach.

Physio: Thanks for keeping the boys fit, especially Zak.

Sree and Piyush: Would have loved to see you guys play more matches, and take your share of intimidating the opposition.

Ashish: I am sorry for losing hope in you. Thanks for your brilliant display against Pakistan, when it mattered the most.

Munaf: In the absence of spearheading fast bowlers, it was a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, and glad you did your job.

Ashwin: You have a bright future waiting ahead of you. You have lived up to the confidence shown in you so well. And that is the only think you have to continue doing!

Yusuf: Your presence is enough to keep the opposition intimidated. Hope it continues to be that way.

Viru: Thanks for the blazing starts. No total seems unachievable if you are around. Just keep doing whatever you are doing!

Gauti: You are the wall, Gauti! You rose to the occasion, and told us why you bat at No. 3 for India, why you got the highest price in IPL auctions. Looking forward to a lot many hundreds and doubles from you.

Raina: Consistent flamboyance! You have shown that we can always depend on you. People who lost their faith in you during SA must have got their answers. What spirit and what commitment. One of our own Jonty Rhodes. Hats off to you! And yes, keep hitting those sweet midwicket sixes- what a sight to watch!

Bhajji: Salute you for the true patriot that you are. We all know what playing for Team India means for you, your tears said it once again last night. You have displayed it time and again why you mean to us what you do, and I am sure its never gonna change.

Virat: Mr. consistent. Have you ever failed us?? You won't even think about it, would you? You are the reason IPL will never die in India, because it was able to unearth the talent that you are. With that cool head on your shoulder, no situation is a pressure situation. But even your brilliance took a backseat when you won our hearts with your comment about Sachin last night, "He has carried India on his shoulders for 21 years, its time we carried him on ours.' No answers to that one.

Zak: Without you it was not possible. You were the knight in our army, and your 10 overs were like the most precious possession we had! Thank you for staying fit, and bringing us here! Keep playing and don't get injured, please please!!

Yuvi: The lion in the Indian team. Boy, you have made it large. You are a testimony of how one rises from ashes, and rises BIG, to the stars. After that year that passed, after being dropped, after being in the middle of controversies, the way you have come back is exemplary. And straight to 'Man of the Tournament' in world cup! It is huge Yuvi, and know that you will always be known as the man who got us 2011. Holding the ship in the middle overs, making up for poor bowling on other ends, and flying on the field- you gave it every drop of blood and sweat you had! I read somewhere you said after SA defeat that you will bring us the world cup. You have done it Yuvi, and that can never be erased. And when the lion cried yesterday, we very well knew what it felt like. People will be fools to ever challenge your abilities again, know that!

Sach: God, you deserved this! Thank you for being there with us, throughout all these years. You have seen the highs and the lows of the team, you have seen people come and go, but you have stayed. With you has stayed the greatness about the team. You have defied biology with your game which is getting even better with your age. One match after the another goes, but it is your photogenic moments that we wait to witness. Because form is temporary, only class is permanent. Hope to see you playing another world cup, and another...Indian cricket is unimaginable without you now. And yes, do get that No. 100 soon. We are waiting!

Dhoni: Captain. That is the word. Had it been possible with anyone else at the helm? I do not think so. Had to be you! You have made international stars out of youngsters with your belief, and I can very easily credit Raina, Ashwin, and Virat to your account. You saved the players from the load of expectations and took it on your own shoulders, enabling them to give their best without feeling the pressure. You took all those wild decisions which perplex the common mind, and clicked, and told us why instinct is not extinct. You have been one of the best wicketkeepers of the tournament, and one of the best India has ever had. You have modified your own game for the team's balance, and its a pity people do not understand that and question your abilities. I was jubilant yesterday, and remembering about all those people with whom I have argued for you. But that's about your leadership and performance. The best one is yet to come. Most of all MS, you have shown what it is like to be modest, and composed. You win the world cup for India, not only as a captain but as a batsman, yet you choose to stay in the background, without feeling the need to attract any limelight which was deservedly yours. Because you wanted someone else to have that moment yesterday. As an individual, you have earned tonnes of respect in millions of eyes yesterday, and we can only be proud to have you as our captain!

And last but not the least,

Dada: This heritage is built on the foundation that you laid. We are the tigers that we are becuase you made us that way. We have the stars that we have because you identified them and nurtured them. It was terrible we could not win in 2003, but we have not let your effort go waste. This one's for you, Dada!

For Yuvi, Raina, and Dhoni: "Main na kehta tha, mere Karan-Arjun ayenge" :P