It was during the summer of 2004, when Ramesh and a few of his colleagues were deputed to Mumbai as a part of an expansion drive. The company accommodated them in a group of furnished flats, well designed for bachelors like him. Ramesh was given flat no. 704 which he shared it with a couple of others on the 7th floor, the top most floor in the building. The summer heat, heats up the terrace and the warms up the top most flats in any apartment and this was the Ramesh’s only complaint.
Ramesh knew almost all of his colleagues by face but he was surprised to see that he had never interacted with a lot of them. It didn’t take much time to cut ice. “Vikram, Pushpa, Sampad, Jameel, Shubho, Joseph, Gaurav and Bhaskar”, Ramesh whispered these names to himself. He was finally able to link each of their faces with their names. Ramesh’s flat soon came to be known as ‘Club 704’ – most of the decent lot(more or less) flocked to his flat during their leisure.
The flat was a melting pot of culture. His friends came from different parts of India and Ramesh could see the cultural differences but he simply could not understand as to how anyone could watch ‘ETC’ channel for 24 hours and still enjoy every minute of it [ETC channel played a few new bollywood songs for as little as 30 seconds to 2 minutes and it would be repeated the whole day for an entire month!!!] and how could anyone have Potatoes and Panneer[Cottage cheese] 3 times a day for the whole month. ‘Laughter Challenge’ – Season 1, was the only TV program which was religiously followed and enjoyed by all the members of ‘Club 704’.
Ramesh felt at home and happy with his life in Mumbai. It reminded him of his life in Hostel as a young school boy. He remembered the days when a few of his friends would throng themselves on someone’s cot and talk endlessly for hours exaggerating everything under the sun – right from ‘I am lucky to be alive’ to ‘how much my parents struggled’ and what not. The scenario was not much different here. One fine evening, when Ramesh reached his apartment, he could see an animated discussion going on. Half the members were smoking but the ashtray was empty, so Ramesh was happy to realize that the discussion had just begun and he did not miss anything. The topic of the evening was “How I missed being a Billionaire!!!
Ramesh wondered as to how this topic came about. It was amazing for him to see that almost everyone had a supposedly true story to explain in-depth on this subject. Pushpa only had to marry her second cousin to become a billionairess, but something stopped her from taking that step! Incidentally true love was more important for her than money. “I have no regrets” she says, signing off her talk. “My mother didn’t take a single penny when she married my father” started Sampad. The rest of his talk was all about ‘how rich his uncles are’ and ‘how many billions would he have had, if his mother had taken her share’. Joseph and Jameel talked about his uncles’s cheating their fathers at the time of sharing the ancestral property. “We are so rich inspite of being cheated, just imagine our wealth if we were give a fair share” sighed Jameel. Joseph was more diplomatic – “My father was not smart enough to extract his share and he deserved what he got” he said, adjusting his glasses. Shubho’s father lost a lot of money and property in a long court battle. “Whatever we have now is just a fraction of what he had a few years ago. I will make sure that we are back to where we were” said Shubho thumping fist on the table. Vikram was itching to say something. When he got his chance, he did not know where to start. He took a magazine, flipped a few pages and showed a picture and said “I initially thought this picture was captured from his maternal uncle’s farm in US. It looks so similar.” Ramesh realized that Vikram is not going to finish any time soon; nevertheless, he was enjoying every bit of it. Vikram gave a running commentary about his uncle’s vast property, palatial house, fleet of cars, the number of credit cards he has and the names of celebrities who had visited or stayed in his uncle’s house. But how did he miss being a billionaire. Ah! Here comes the point. Vikram’s father apparently refused to take any share in his wife’s property which was then offered by his father-in-law. “My father only wanted my mother’s hand in marriage” he said. No prizes for guessing what he said next. “We don’t have any regrets” he continued and ended.
There was a long silence. It was not because they were shocked at these events, but because they were waiting for the next speaker. Each one was looking at one another. Ramesh and Bhaskar looked at each other while trying to hide their smile. They were the two remaining speakers, but neither of them spoke anything. “Apart from watching and enjoying ‘Laughter Challenge’, another thing common to most of the members of Club – 704 is the fact that they all missed becoming billionaires by a whisker” whispered Ramesh to Bhaskar.
In course of time Ramesh and Bhaskar became official money lenders to the other members of Club-704. They were the only ones who had not missed being billionaires! The rest of the gang was ofcourse not billionaires, but Ramesh and Bhaskar realized that they were not even millionaires or thousandaires or hundredaires!!! They did not have any regrets!!!
Indian Premier League (IPL) has sure caught the imagination of the nation and world. It has made cricket into a sport which need not be confined to a handful of countries. In a decade from now, a lot of countries could have their own T20 leagues in line with IPL. But that’s not the only success of IPL. It has given opportunities to a lot of cricketers – Cricketers who not only play at the First Class level but also for those who play and excel on the streets of India’s small towns and villages – quite literally.
Let us first thank Mr. Subhash Chandra, for starting ICL (Indian Cricket League). If not for him and the differences he had with the BCCI, IPL would not have been formed. The success of IPL led to a plethora of cricket leagues - Karnataka Premier League (KPL) and then came Mangalore Premier League (MPL) and now Kota Premier League (KPL).
Kota is a small village in Udupi District (not the Kota of Rajasthan). KPL was formed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of a local cricket club – ‘Eleven Up’. It is the brain child of Anil Hande who used to be the captain of that club. It was formed in lines with IPL – 8 teams were auctioned to prominent bidders. Players were auctioned in the next stage. 56 players were chosen from the village and were auctioned. Each team could have only 4 to 5 players from out of the Village. There was a cap on how much a team can spend on players.
The 8 teams auctioned were:
It was an 8 over a side affair unlike 20 overs in IPL. It lasted for 2 days – 16th & 17th Jan 2010 which coincided with one of the most important festivals on that region – ‘Saligrama Habba’. The event was managed exceedingly well. Each of the teams had their own logo and colours. There were day and day/night matches, neutral umpires(from Mysore), 3rd umpires, live commentary and live telecast on the local cable network, DJs, each of the teams had their own stands, VIP stand, advertisement hoardings – In short it had everything that a tournament requires and at the same time have a carnival like atmosphere.
The icing on the cake was that the nail biting final was decided on the last ball of the match between traditional arch-rivals Parampalli Gladiators and Barikere Bushrangers. Parampalli Gladiators defeated Barikere Bushrangers by 4 runs. The winners received the trophy and a cheque worth Rs. 150000/-. The runners up collected a cheque for Rs.100000/-. There were attractive awards for the best bowler, batsman and man of the series. At the end of the day, the most important thing was the fact that the tournament was a grand success. The entire village needs to be commended for its success as the sponsors, volunteers and the local crowd supported the event.
There isn’t a Bangalore Premier League but a small village of Kota has its own league. I don’t think there is any village which has a cricket league of its own. KPL may have created history of sorts. Kota could be the village which will set the tone of things to come. In a few years time, almost every city, town and self sufficient villages may have their own cricket leagues and our village of ‘Kota’ would be the shining example which started this revolution.
We all have instances where our teachers would have said some funny statements while teaching or shouting at us. Some of them are quite common but a few I guess are quite unique as we did have some unique teachers and lecturers. The names of teachers are not revealed for obvious reasons. Here are a few which I had come across while I was studying.
“Both of you three come here”
“Can you see the colourless yellow solution?”
“Allow the fire to burn first.”
“If you are interested, get out.”
One of the lecturers was introducing himself in the first class. “I have two sons, both are boys”
While taking attendance, one of the students misheard his number and said ‘present sir’ for roll no 28 instead of 38. When he apologized, the lecturer remarked – “Can’t you imagine what 28 and 38 means”. The whole class erupted in laughter at the sentence formation. A few moments later, even the lecturer started laughing. He apparently thought that he had cracked a joke with that sentence and that’s why the all the students were laughing!!!
“Open the windows. Let the atmosphere come in”
One of my English teachers trying to scold a student in hindi – “Tumhaare andar akal nahin hein. Sara matthi hein, bas”
“It is so small that it cannot be seen with a naked man’s eye.”
There were a lot of monkeys in our college campus. There were times when monkeys would climb up to our classroom windows and all the attention would shift to the monkey. That’s when one our lecturers remarked “Why are you looking at the monkeys when I am in the class!!!”
“Cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by British” – A lot of people have said this time and again. India took to cricket as a duck takes to water. Cricket in India was unheard of till the Brits came to India. Why and how did India or the India sub-continent embrace cricket so easily and so well?
The answer perhaps lies in our culture and tradition. Indians have always liked long and elaborate forms of recreation – be it festivals, tours or family functions. A full-fledged Hindu marriage lasts for about 4 days. Any other ceremony or ‘Pooja’ lasts a full day or more. A simple house-warming ceremony will consume 2 days. Short ceremonies are simply not palatable for traditional Hindus.
Most Indian movies last for two and half hours. A 90 minute movie would seem like a loss of money for a lot of Indian viewers. Song and dance could make or break a few Indian films. This has to do with our modes of enjoying leisure before cinemas came into existence. A lot of plays, dramas and folk events are laced with song and dance sequences which lasts for hours together and in a few cases like ‘Yakshagana’ and ‘Kathakali’ it would stretch the entire night.
India is home to two of the greatest epics – ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’. Apart from these epics, India is also host to a lot of other ancient texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagwath etc. A lot of stories are taken from these books and adapted in the plays, dramas etc. ‘Hari Kathas’ and ‘Bhagwath’ can stretch to a few days or weeks or even months. Indian famous festival ‘Deepavali’ lasts for 4 to 5 days, ‘Navaratri’ lasts for 9 days. There are not many countries which can boast of as many festivals as Indians do and no one is complaining.
When it comes to traditional tours – Whew!! This would be one trip planned for a lifetime. The ‘Char dham’ yatra, Kailash Manasarovar, Amarnath, Vaishnodevi etc. can take up a few weeks of our time. A lot of Hindus consider visiting a few of these places at least once in their lifetime.
When all these were so long elaborate, sport was one thing which did not complement the other recreational activities. Cricket was able to fill that void. Indians then, must have been so happy to see the sport which would keep them busy for 5 full days. Even the shorter form of the game will consume an entire day. We did take time, but it is no surprise that, at the time of writing this post, we are the World no. 1 in longer format of the game – Test Cricket.
Vikram had taken his cousin Ravi with him to the busy weekend market place in Dharwad. After buying Dharwad pedas, they came to the vegetable market to look for their other family members.
Vikram’s mother, Shyamala had been in Dharwad ever since she was married She always dressed well whenever she would step out of the house. Being a primary school teacher in one of the best schools in Dharwad and being active in drama and performing arts gained her automatic respect among the local folk. Almost every shop owner knew her by name or by look.
Shyamala approached a lady who was selling ‘barekayi’, a typical small fruit available in that region. The lady told her that each fruit would cost her 15 paise. Shyamala was not the one to buy without bargaining. She said she would buy if she can get 6 fruits for a Rupee. Vikram and Ravi looked at each other rather amused. The lady was not the one to give in so easily either!!! She said, no way she will part with the fruits for so less. ‘I am not reducing it by single paise’ she asserted. ‘The fruits don’t look fresh. Six fruits for a Rupee is all it is worth’ said Shyamala. ‘These are the best available in this market. You can check for yourself if there is anyone selling for less than 15 paise for a fruit’ pitched the lady. Amidst this great bargaining, Shyamala’s mother entered the scene to take her daughter’s side ofcourse. ‘If you sell the fruits at 6 a rupee, we will buy fruits worth five Rupees, else we will have to buy from someone else’ said Vikram’s Granny. ‘You can buy 10 fruits for a Rupee and fifty paise and nothing less’ said the adamant lady.
Shyamala and her mother looked at Vikram and Ravi who were almost laughing at the scene. They didn’t know why!!! They felt something should be amiss and moved away from that place. Shyamala and her mother realized their folly later in the night when Vikram narrated the entire incident in front all the family members at the dinner table. All had a hearty laugh. Shyamala reiterated that it was indeed a good bargain as she didn’t get what she bargained for!!!
It was on the 11th January 2009 at around 6pm when we had embarked on a tour of Gujarat. We had seen a few places like Lothal, Somnath temple, Gir forest, Junagadh, Porbandar etc. We liked the beauty and history of all the places we had visited thus far. The countryside was great and the weather was awesome. I had never seen such vast expanse of lush green fields wherever I had travelled in India.
We were on our way from Porbandar to Dwarka and all of a sudden, I exclaimed “Wow”. What do I see? ……… “INFINITY”!!!
Towards our right – Lush green fields with no end in sight!!!
Towards our left – The Arabian Sea with no end in sight!!!
In front of us – The endless road and the beach running parallel to each other towards Infinity!!!
On top – Clear blue sky which seemed to meet with the sea at one end and with the green fields at the other end!!!
There was not a soul on the beach. It was for the lucky six of us. We were at the right place at the right time. We feasted on this rare glimpse of nature for a few minutes until it was dark and carried on with our journey.
I will never forget this day – the day I saw “INFINITY”