Friday, March 25, 2011

Cricketing expressions and superstitions

Cricket - the religion of India, the binding factor of patriotism and the pulse of millions altogether. Be it whatever form of Cricket, it generates utmost amount of discussions, views, comments on various aspect of this sport in India. Not to mention that it is this mania that halts several working systems in the country. With growing number of population, the fan base for the game has increased manifolds. Other than a terrorist attack on the country, it is the only major factor that unites the spirits of Indians nowadays.

So with it being the way of life, will it be short of any form of expressions and superstitions? Each match featuring India is nothing short of varying forms of expressions being belted out. A look at any cricket loving family, group of friends or cricketing communities are always filled with the paramount expressive best. Agony, sadness, cheer. Laughter, tears, smile, respect, honor, vigor, zeal – name the feeling and it shall bring on its face during an intense cricket match. Deserted streets, empty shops and public places are all witness to a rather ‘big’ event for the country.

When a cricket match is being played, more often than not, it happens that all the billion people play together. Especially in a gala event like the world cup, eyes are glued to each and every moment telecasted of the cricketing field. Days featuring Indias match are earmarked in the calendar as ‘not to-do’ lists. Appointments, schedules, meetings are fixed accordingly. Flurry of vehicles to go home early and watch as much broadcast of the competition as possible becomes the order of the day. One thing is for sure, India can’t miss on all of this.
When such an intensity rules the roost, it is inevitable that the Indians are not at their expressive best. A superb cricketing drive is jointly applauded by all, as well as a major mistake brings in all the negative expressions. A parallel commentary by the viewers to the live broadcast happens for all the moves of the captain as well as shots selected by the players. Billions of minds work together knowingly- unknowingly for the 11 players on field. Sadness on loosing Sachin’s wicket is the most common of feeling what rules the heart of people. Pain of losing a match is bad mouthed by many. Mistakes made by players are expressed loudly and harshly.

But what takes the cake from all of this is the smile after winning an intense match. This smile is truly genuine, from the heart and just means one thing…we did it. This expression doesn’t need any other words, as each one understands what the other similar smile is saying.
Best is the form of expressions post any match. Debates ranging from hours to joy/agony that lingers for long in the game loving minds. Everyone who loves the game becomes a critique in himself and analyses the game played or the one coming ahead. Millions of views, remarks flow in the air either in the praise or displeasure of the team’s performance on a particular day. Ranging from the team selectors to individual performances, everything is commented upon. The technological advancements in broadcasting which captures each and every expression of the player on field adds to the discuss off the field. Sledging, reactions to situations are well debated off field.

With such a fan base to a cult sport in the country – there is indeed a parallel spiritual system that runs. It is called ‘cricketing supersitions’. It’s that time of the World Cup when die-hard fans would go any distance to keep their teams from losing. Indians being people with a thing for the irrational, one can expect them to do some crazy things when their team performs post the quarterfinal. The most common superstition amongst the cricket fans – when the team is doing well, one should not move and inch from whatever position he/she is. Crazy as it might sound, it does bring in the ‘goodluck’ the team requires at that particular moment. A thought that a minor movement might risk the formation and orientation of the planets from the constructive positions and might bring in bad luck for the team. This would in effect be true for their wellbeing post the match. Doing poojas, homas, special prayers to the gods to some real crazy stuff, is the trend amongst the superstitious folk.Following the herd, I too have my share of these supersitional beliefs that help me bring relief to my self seeing India perform well. Not everytime, does this work, but the over optimism of seeing a bright Indian performance never leaves the mind.  Sitting in a position for long, asking everyone not to move or say anything during the match, making sure all the things are placed in similar fashion as the last time India won a match and more.
Some of my friends too have their share of superstitions which are worth mentioning. Some friends of mine believe, them seeing a match makes the team under perform, so to avoid the tension and anticipation of the team’s performance they give up viewing the match. But the tension building up in such a situation is unimaginable. A clincher of a Indo Australia match yesterday gave rise to several such practices prevailing amongst my friends. Whilst the match yesterday, one good friend of mine got up to get something and Australia lost a wicket. This sheer excitement and joy of his movement made him stand still for the rest of the Aussie inning. At the end, it did pay as India won the match, but the point being that there are thousands of such still positions, statue like positions, anxious eyes and innumerable practices that act as blessing to the performers on the field.

Cricketers are no way behind in following these invisible beliefs. Innumerable articles and write ups boasts of the practices these players adopt to better their performances. Whilst it is understandable for the amount of pressure and expectations relied upon them- it is equally fascinating for the practices adopted by the fans for them. A mere emotion that their team should do well, takes them to unimaginable levels of practices and rituals which truly are captivating ‘Cricketing expressions and superstitions’. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A close look at death

             Death – the name itself brings in the feeling of sadness, loss, pain and feelings attached to negativity. It is one emotion that every human being fears the most. The mere mention of the word distances the person from himself for a moment. News of uncertain death of anyone touches the human heart and condolences and prayers for the near and dear ones of the casualty follow.

             What was thought of as a cricket match during the safety week in Lavasa yesterday proved to be an experience of terror for all. I was a close witness of an unfortunate event yesterday.

              As part of the celebrations for the ‘National Safety Week’ – Lavasa arranges a series of events to create awareness amongst its employees. The highlight of this event is the cricket tournament which features employees, contractors, laborers and everyone associated with Lavasa. I decided to take part in one of the teams and we were petted against the city management team from the company.

              A star cricketer and a good hitter of the cricketing ball- was the image that I carried of this City manager who batted after the fall of the first wicket of the opposition. His walk towards the pitch was very well cheered as everyone was in awe of this 55 year old man with a personality to die for. His tall and muscular demeanor was well admired by everyone who knew him.
               Being a wicket keeper myself – I observed this gentleman, his body language not being short of any well maintained sportsman. An unsuccessful stint with the bat, left us see his back after a few balls. The opposition team posted a decent enough total to be chased by us.

                Me along with my colleague friend were chosen to open the chase for our team. Whilst taking the walk, my eyes were on the gentleman who I thought was an inspiration to be on cricketing field at that age. He took guard behind the wickets and made sure of the field arrangements with the bowler and captain. His enthusiasm at that age was remarkable. The first over was bowled and I was at the batting end for the next over. The first ball of the second over missed my bat and went to the keeper on which Mr Muzumdar aptly collected it with his large hands. I had a brief sight of the ball in his hands. The bowler went to take his run up and I was gearing for the next ball. The ball left the clutches of the bowler’s hand, ran past me, was wide enough, and left me looking behind at the wicket keeper. That sight behind me left me gasped and shocked as I found that our city manager banged on the ground hard while collecting the ball. An initial reaction that he slipped instantly faded away when his body started shivering profusely. I ran towards him only to see him vibrating and creating weird sound – a horrific sound of a man in pain.

                The pool of people watching us play ran towards him, some asking for water in the hot afternoon, whilst some making sure the crowd is away from him to avoid suffocation. Shouts, confusion and chaos followed for the next three minutes as a zooming vehicle was seen towards the crowd. Mr Muzumdar was immediately shifted into the vehicle with flurry of people along with him to whiz to the nearest hospital.

                 We were all perplexed with this turn of events. The crowd that was cheering for the play 5 mins back was suddenly transformed into a stunned pool of witnesses. Announcement of cancellation of the days matches made us walk back towards our vehicles in anticipation of the health of Mr Muzumdar. Whispers and talks donning around the people present were varied. Some people opined it was a sun stroke while some confirmed it was a heart attack.

                 I along with my colleagues sat in the vehicle carrying us back to the office - stopped at a hotel on the way. I called up a friend, who works in a different department, to inform him about the incident. He was shocked to know about it. After 20 mins, I got a call back from him to tell me that the city manager is no more. These words, unfolded the series of events that I observered closely few minutes back. What followed was the empathy towards his family to bear a shock of a precious loss. Rest in peace , Mr Muzumdar!

The sight of his trembling body, the bizarre sound coming from him, his eyes all white and shivers – for me this experience surely was a close look at death.