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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

"Farewell, Warrior" - A Tribute to a Great Career

"You could see the flesh. There are 11 stitches. The doctor said I had to undergo the procedure under general anesthesia. I told him, 'If you give me general anesthesia I'll lose time, I'd like to go there and bowl.' He said 'Look, it's a medical decision, not a cricketing decision."

This statement above is enough to define Anil Radhakrishna Kumble, the great warrior of Indian cricket. The latest injury he sustained while trying a near-impossible catch against Australia at his favorite hunting ground, Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi, made him think about bringing curtains to a two decade long illustrious career. As a 38 year old, he even tried a catch of such difficulty speaks volumes of his commitment towards the team and the game, and the fact that he almost pulled it off, makes it even better. But, as luck would have it, that was not to be, and in the process, he injured his left hand, and had to recieve 11 stitches.

Playing in the most unplayable physical conditions is not new when it comes to Kumble - Who can forget that courageous bowling effort in Antigua, where he bowled with a bandaged broken jaw, to pick up the prized scalp of Brian Lara, to prove his worth once again to the doubters. His comeback from a career-threatening shoulder operation in grand style too, is ample testimony to his perseverance, dogged and ruthless determination, which he carried throughout his playing days.

His records speak for themselves: nearly a 1000 wickets at the international level, over 3500 hard-earned international runs, a world record for most number of caught and bowled dismissals in test arena and dignified captaincy, are enough to give a glimpse of his achievements on the cricket field. What makes him great along with these records and many more, is his image on and off the field. His statesman-like stature has enriched Indian cricket.

When it comes to Anil Kumble, the human being, he is nothing but perfection personified. He is most definitely a cricketing role model for generations to come, and also a role model to the entire humanity. You name a desirable quality or behavior in a human being, and Kumble can be named as a perfect example of someone who possesses that quality. There is certainly no point in trying to list those qualities. He excels in all of them.

I must admit that I have been privileged to have been living in the same era to witness the great man in action, and proud to declare that I look up to him, as a role model, as millions of others do, and billions more must. With that, here are my wishes to Anil Kumble, on his future endeavors, within and outside of cricket. Salutations again, to the true "Bharata Ratna" of Cricket.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Rendezvous with Ramesh “Maava” / Meeting my Mentor

I was meeting him after a gap of two years. There is always a feeling of expectation, excitement, suspense, happiness and a little bit of hesitation just before I meet him every time. He always provides that element of surprise, invariably in every meet. I am talking about the first Principal and Head Master I had in my educational career, Mr. Ramesh, presently the Secretary of Chaitanya Vidya Shala, Channarayapatna.

He is an exceptionally principled man, who inculcated discipline amongst us, and gave us awareness of the rights and wrongs of life, at a very young age. During school days, we were almost afraid of him, but it was a fear that came out of immense respect and admiration. He used to love his pupils and we loved him too, and fondly called him Ramesh Maava (i.e., Ramesh Uncle).

He has left an everlasting impression on me, in particular, as I always liked him the most among all the teachers I had during my initial school days. Looking back now, I treat him as my mentor. The influence he has had on me is next only to that of my immediate family members. Even today, some of my school friends tell me that I almost talk and behave like him on most occasions! It might be true too, and I am in a way happy that I have tried following the footsteps of a great man.

Coming back to my latest meeting with him, after getting to know about the recent professional and personal achievements of me and my batch mates, he went on to talk about some of the most interesting topics and burning issues faced by the society today. He always talks about the most sensible and sensitive topics, and this time, it was no different. Having dedicated his entire life to the field of education, the current state of the art in the field of education was certainly high on the agenda.

Although me and many of my batch mates are part of the ‘IT industry’ that has seen some sort of a boom in recent years in India, Mr. Ramesh did not hesitate to express concerns about the ‘economic imbalance’ that this IT boom has caused. All other professions, he says, have been adversely affected because of this, and the field of education in particular has faced serious impact.

Mr. Ramesh also said that education has suffered a lot under the circumstances, with the profession of teaching appearing not very attractive. Everyone, from every corner of the country aspires to be software professionals. Although the schools in major cities with great reputation from the past have managed to survive, the schools and colleges of smaller towns, villages, and even tier-III cities have really started to struggle of late. There are no qualified teachers, and if there are any, chances are that their quality is questionable. Teaching is an extremely responsible job. Those in the profession would be building the generation of tomorrow. They need to be proficient enough to build a good future for the country by imparting knowledge to the young citizen of India. In this context, non-availability of quality teachers at every level of education has become a serious cause for concern.

The governments too must take a large part of the blame, according to him, and because of the fact that the governments have shown callousness in projecting the teaching profession as a driving force for the country’s success, the quality of education has degraded. Today, there is no proper planning, roadmap and goal visible for a student, or for a teacher for that matter, who aspire to undertake the journey of education together, hand in hand, as depicted by our ancient saying of ‘Sahanaavavatu, Sahanau Bhunaktu…’.

The discussion went on for nearly two hours, and he gave loads of examples along the way. But, I would like to conclude it here, and hope against hope, as Mr. Ramesh himself does, that his dream education model would see the light of day someday.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A couple of SMS Gems!

ಒಂದಿಬ್ಬರು ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರು ಆಗಾಗ ಬಹಳ ದಿನ ನೆನಪಿರುವಂತಹ ಮುತ್ತಿನಂತಹ SMSಗಳನ್ನು ಕಳಿಸುತ್ತಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ (ಫಾರ್ವರ್ಡ್ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ). ಅವುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದೆರಡನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ:

1. ಮಧುಸೂದನ್ ಕಳಿಸಿದ್ದು:

2005: ಪ್ಲೇಗ್
2006: ಮಲೇರಿಯಾ
2007: ಡೆಂಗಿ
2008: ಚಿಕುನ್ ಗುನ್ಯಾ
2009: ಮಟನ್ ಗುನ್ಯಾ !
2010: ಬದುಕಿದ್ರೆ ಪುಣ್ಯ !!!

2. ಲೋಹಿತಾಶ್ವ ಕಳಿಸಿದ್ದು:

You might have done a hundred good things, but nobody remembers you. But you do one wrong thing, nobody forgets you.

God gives and forgives; Man gets and forgets...

ಸದ್ಯಕ್ಕಿಷ್ಟು ಸಾಕು. ಮುಂದೆ ನೋಡೋಣ...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Why do we see people like these?

"There is a journey you are expected to undertake - a journey that would take you to the desired destination. Many have been there already, and people around you believe that you can reach there too. You are expected to be their stepping stone. If you can reach there, you can take those expectant folks with you, and provide them an opportunity to go further ahead and embark on what appears to be a journey that is far more treacherous and challenging than this one. A journey into the unknown. Not many people we know of have been successful in that journey.

But this journey, the one that is expected of you, is clearly achievable. You are expected to be analogous to the early pacesetter of a marathon race. That's where the expectation ends. No medal is expected of you. Agreed, it requires its own set of skills. But you are expected to have those skills ingrained in you anyway. Even if you don't have the ability to undertake this journey, you can cultivate it, by observing others who have been successful in this before. There are many glowing examples.

All you need to do is to make an honest attempt. Yes, there are brick walls to overcome and landmines to be avoided along the way, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. You need to make a gritty and calculated effort to reach there.

But no, you don't make an attempt - you don't want to. Because the journey doesn't excite you. Why would it? You have the comfort of a cushioned seat and you are enjoying the mid day sun; and more importantly, you know that in all probability, nobody can force you out of your cushion seat. Why would you want to leave all this and go on a tricky trek? In fact, you want to try and take your mind off anything that is even remotely related to it, because you want to avoid even getting accidentally excited by the journey and its destiny.

You know that those expectant folks are anyway planning an even more treacherous journey that includes the one that is expected of you. Even if you don't succeed in this, they will put in their efforts to reach this intermediate milestone, and continue on from there.

So, what do you do? You backtrack, and let the team go. Not necessarily. To avoid that remote possibility of losing your luxury, you pretend to try your best. You find brick walls, you want them to bring those down for you. You find land mines, you want them to diffuse those for you. They would do it, because they have a dream to go further - and the key thing here is - you know they would do it for you. This is precisely the plan. Given a choice, you would want them to lay a bed of roses in your path so that you can safely reach that light at the end of the tunnel. You hang around till they reach that milestone. Now you are assured of hanging on to your cushion seat for a long while to come. You rock back and enjoy a sip of your favorite cool drink, while a fatigued set of people march on, purely drawing energy from their dream destiny. Thanks to the induced fatigue, they have to draw this energy much earlier than expected. Hope they can reach there..."

This "you" in the above narration of mine - why do we see so many of them around?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Nostalgia: Zimbabwean Cricket

While browsing through Cricinfo, I was made to recollect that it was this day 8 years ago, that I became a full-fledged fan of Zimbabwean Cricket. Although I had a soft corner for Zimbabwean cricket earlier, and watched their matches very often, what I saw on 23rd September 2000, made my heart go out for them.

As I watched the 5th and final day's play of the Harare test between Zimbabwe and New Zealand, Guy James Whittall, embarked on a once in a lifetime innings that would have ended up as one of the most celebrated match saving knocks in the history of the game. But, luck, of course, had other ideas. Whittall's painstaking, resolute and near-perfect knock of 188*, while facing 429 deliveries in a stay of 506 minutes, could not save Zimbabwe from a "race-against-time" defeat. Heath Streak gave great support for a long while, curbing his natural instincts of going after the bowling, and batting for nearly 6 hours for his 54 (you won't believe it if I say that I watched almost every ball of this painstaking partnership between Whittall and Streak! But it is true...). But once Streak was out, the lower order collapsed and Whittall got almost no support from the other end. But with 9 wickets down and Mbangwa at the crease as no. 11, he was not giving up. More frustration followed for NZ, as Whittall inched closer to what would have been one of the most well-deserved double hundreds ever, and a fitting draw for Zim, which had looked highly unlikely, just hours ago.

Then, this happened:

M Mbangwa run out (Nash) 5 (21)

Well, everything looks black and white in the scoreboard, and I still clearly remember the visuals of how this run out happened, and surely, don't want to go into the details of this. How Dion Nash affected that run out was extremely disappointing.

With that, NZ had a chance to press for victory, which they did. They might have won the game, but no prizes for guessing who won my heart.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Sanskrit School in Channarayapatna

Every year, the full-moon day in the month of shraavana, is celebrated as World Sanskrit Day, according to Samskrita Bharati. This year, it was on Saturday, the 16th of August. I had a good news on Sanskrit front to share, and I feel this is the occasion to do so.

A new secondary school, with focus on Sanskrit language, has come up in Channarayapatna town of Hassan district, Karnataka. The age old building of "Samskrutha Pathashala" in the old fort area of the town has been renovated to bring this school up. All the credit must go to the "Samskrutha Vidyabhivardhini Sangha", and its dedicated members, who set about the ambition of providing good quality education, with focus on the language of Sanskrit.

The main person behind this ambitious project, Mr. A. Chidambar, senior English lecturer at Navodaya PU College of the town, has poured his heart and soul to this dream. He was ably supported by Mr. G.K. Vishwanath, English lecturer, Navodaya High School, Mr. C.S. Sheshachala, Mr. B.N. Krishnan, Shree Lakshmeesha Shastry and many more. Also to be remembered here are the generous whole hearted contributions of many people, without which this would have remained a dream.

I remember a few Sanskrit subhashitas at this stage, which blend well with the subject here:

अमन्त्रमक्षरं नास्ति नास्ति मूलमनौषधम् ।
अयॊग्यः पुरुषॊ नास्ति यॊजकस्तत्र दुर्लभः ॥

This simply means that there is no letter in the Sanskrit alphabet that is not a mantra. There is no root that does not have any medicinal values. No man is incapable, but it is the organizer, or the entrepreneur, who is difficult to find. In this case, Mr. Chidambar has acted as an entrepreneur and has made this dream become a reality. Kudos to him. There is another Subhashita which goes like this:

कर्ता कारयिता चैव प्रेरकश्च अनुमोदकः।
सुकृते दुष्कृते चापि चत्वारः समभागिनः॥

This says that in any deed, good or bad, many people share the responsibility. The one who does it, those who help him or her in doing it, the one who inspires, and the one who approves the deed. So, even in this great deed, all those whose names I have mentioned above must be appreciated. Now to quote the great Kalidasa towards the end,

पुराणमित्यॆव न साधु सर्वं न चापि काव्यं नवमित्यवद्यम् ।
सन्तः परीक्ष्यान्यतरद्भजन्ते मूढः परप्रत्ययनेयबुद्धिः ॥

That is, everything old, with a proven track record need not be good, and everything new need not be bad. One should give the new ones a chance to prove themselves too. Wise people would examine anything in detail and only then, would pass a judgment, whereas fools would depend on others' opinion.

With that, I hope the people of Channarayapatna would give a fair chance to the management of this new school to prove their mettle, and wish a lot of success to the school itself and its wards.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Anil Kumble: Achiever beyond any need for recognition

Let me admit, I am a fan of his, and a very proud one at that. And I am sure, he would have millions and millions of admirers like me, who would, not only admire his cricketing achievements, but also his gentlemanly behavior, and the way he carries himself, both on and off the cricketing field. He is a role model, and an inspiration to one and all. Yes, I am talking about the current Indian test cricket team captain, Anil Kumble.

I was planning to post an entry about Kumble in my blog, but kept postponing it for one reason or the other. But now, here it is. A couple of weeks ago, as India's ODI captain MS Dhoni got the Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna award for the year, many observers felt that the legendary servants of the game, like Dravid and Kumble, deserved it more. Indeed they did. But as always, I feel some legends grow beyond the need for any such recognitions, and Kumble, for sure, is one of them.

Post Indian Independence, the "Iron Man", Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, worked day in and day out to bring together various monarchies and provinces to form what we see today as the grand nation of India. Didn't he deserve a Nobel Peace prize for that? Kannada Author Dr. D.V. Gundappa (DVG), as already written in one of my previous entries, Deserved much more than a Jnanapeetha award that he never got, for the knowledge he possessed and literary works he produced.

Anil Kumble's determination, lion hearted performances, highly professional approach towards playing the game and representing the country, have earned nearly 1000 international wickets and over 3500 hard fought runs during a two decade old illustrious career. And of course, the captaincy was long overdue. The image of Kumble bowling with bandaged broken jaw to get Lara's wicket years ago, and the resolute with which he handled his team's controversies in Australia earlier this year, the unforgettable and majestic 10 wicket haul against Pakistan, are just three instances of countless moments of greatness, Kumble has provided. Didn't he, then, deserve the country's highest sporting honour? Well, in my view, even the country's highest civilian honour is not big enough for him. But the truth is, he is honoured every day, by millions around the world, through their admiration towards the great man, and that is the biggest recognition anybody can get...

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Everyone's in a hurry today...

Well, here we go, an update to my blogsite after a very long time... The reason for such a long break? Lack of time, of course. Well, I can very easily put the blame on my busy schedule for not being able to update my blog as often as I could, but the reality, I feel, is not really that.

Everyday, tens of thousands of thoughts pass through the minds of every human being. And I believe, most such thoughts are very special indeed. Many a times, it is very important to catch hold of these thoughts and dissect them further by analyzing them. But unfortunately, we always try to put the blame on lack of quality time to appreciate some of the very important things in life, and move on hurriedly by leading an industrious life.

Dr. DVG had made this observation long ago, and writes in his "Marula Muniyana Kagga":

ಪ್ರೀತಿಸಲು ಬಿಡುವಿಲ್ಲ ನೀತಿಕಥೆ ಬೇಕಿಲ್ಲ |
ಮಾತಂಗಡಿಯ ಕೊಳ್ಗು ಕೊಡುಬಿಡುಗಳಂತೆ ||
ಯಾತ ನಿರ್ಯಾತಂಗಳೇ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಬದುಕಂತೆ |
ಆತುರವೊ ಜನಕಿಂದು - ಮರುಳಮುನಿಯ || ೨೯೩ ||

There is no time to love, no need for morals |
Conversations have been reduced to mere bargaining ||
Coming and going have become the manner of living |
Everyone's in a hurry today - MaruLa Muniya ||

Dr. DVG observes the state of today's mankind, and puts down his thoughts in words impeccably here. Of course, it's another story that for those of us who live and work in Bangalore, coming and going ( to and from home and work, which takes a lot of time ) has indeed become the manner of living...

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Vivekananda Jayanti

On the 145th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on 12th January, 2008, I thought of taking a trip down the memory lane, and remember the occasions when we used to celebrate the great sage's Jayanti, every year with a lot of fanfare, year after year, when I was in primary school. The school where I studied, Chaitanya Vidya Shala, Channarayapatna, Karnataka, was where the life and times of this great soul was introduced to us at a very young age, along with the values of life he preached.

Here, I would like to "publish" a Kannada poem I had written about Swami Vivekananda, as a 12 year old. Although I thought I could rephrase many things now, I wanted to retain what I had written as a kid, with a limited vocabulary.

ಹುಟ್ಟಿದನು ಮಕರ ಸಂಕ್ರಾಂತಿಯಂದು
ವಿಶ್ವನಾಥ ಭುವನೇಶ್ವರಿಯರ ಮಗನಾಗಿ
ನರೇಂದ್ರನಾಥ, ನರೇನ್, ಬಿಲೆ ಎಂದೆಲ್ಲರಿಂದ
ಕರೆಸಿಕೊಂಡನು ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ಮಗುವಾಗಿ

ಈಶ್ವರಚಂದ್ರ ವಿದ್ಯಾಸಾಗರರ
ಶಾಲೆಯಲ್ಲೆ ಮೊದಲ ಪಾಠ
ನಾಯಕನಾಗಿ ಆಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದನು
ಗೆಳೆಯರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಆಟ

ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದನು ಏಕಾಗ್ರತೆಯಿಂದ
ನಿತ್ಯ ದೇವರ ಧ್ಯಾನ
ದೇವರನ್ನು ಕಾಣುವ ಕಡೆಗೇ
ಇತ್ತು ಅವನೆಲ್ಲ ಜ್ನಾನ

ರಾಮಕೃಷ್ಣ ಪರಮಹಂಸರ ಕಾಣಲು
ದಕ್ಷಿಣೇಶ್ವರದೆಡೆಗೆ ನಡೆದ
ಅವರನ್ನೆ ಗುರುವನ್ನಾಗಿ ಸ್ವೀಕರಿಸಿ
ದೈವ ದರ್ಶನವ ಪಡೆದ

ಪರಮಹಂಸರಿಂದಲೇ ಪಡೆದನು
ಸನ್ಯಾಸತ್ವದ ದೀಕ್ಷೆ
ಶಿಕಾಗೋದಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಸಿಗೊಳಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ
ಭಾರತೀಯರ ನಿರೀಕ್ಷೆ

ಪರಿವ್ರಾಜಕನಾಗಿ ಜೀವನ ನಡೆಸಿ
ತೊರೆದ ತಾನೇ ತನ್ನ ದೇಹ
"ವಿವೇಕಾನಂದ"ನಾಗಿ ಬದುಕಿ
ಗಳಿಸಿದ ವಿಶ್ವ ಸ್ನೇಹ

- ವೆಂಕಟೇಶಪ್ರಸನ್ನ