Friday, June 3, 2011

Poem on Avni's first birth day.

A poem I have composed for my daughter's first birth day

पिछला साल अनगिनत
हसीं यादों के पिटारे
सा लगता है
जब भी इसमे हाथ डालते
हैं, कोई मासूम सी याद
उंगली पकड़ कर
बाहर आ जाती है

कभी फ्रीज के खुले दरवाजे
की ओर, घुटनों के बल,
दौड़ पड़ती है
कभी सोफे के सहारे
खड़ी होती है और धम से
गिर पड़ती है

कभी सुबह सुबह उठ
पापा से अखबार छीन कर
फाड़ देती है
कभी शाम को
मम्मी की उंगली पकड़ कर
नन्हे कदम उठाती है

टीवी का रिमोट, अलमारी के दरवाजें
मम्मी का मोबाइल, पापा की घडी,
मेज पर पड़ा तरह तरह का सामान
घर की हर चीज इन यादों के जरिये
अब कुछ बोलती हैं

कोई याद कई महीनो पुरानी
कोई याद तो पिछले ही हफ्ते की है
पर सब कुछ ऐसा लगता है
जैसे कल ही घटा हो

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bringing the cup home

For me the wait began in 1992. I do have a vague memory of India losing to England in the semifinals of 1987 world cup and of Gavaskar’s century in the match before that. But they are  no more than a useles piece of trivia which have somehow managed to stick around in my mind.

In 1992 though, it began to hurt. The first two matches of that tournament hurt when India lost narrowly to England and Australia. But it was not unexpected. In fact what was surprising was that India manged to fight against these two teams till the end. After all the tournament was being held down under and India in that period used to be crap outside of our den. Victory against Pakistan was the high point and quickly India’s campaign fizzled out. Even before the cup had begun, it had been a bleak australian summer with only Sachin Tendulkar’s two sublime centuries standing out. That was to set the pattern for India’s overseas tours of the decade. India shameful Tendulkar masterful.

1996 was the first time I dreamt. India along with other subcontinent nations were the host. Tendulkar, all of 23, was already acknowledged as a modern day Genius, the best contemporary batsman. Ever since he had started opening the batting in ODIs he had not looked back. Coupled with emergence of Kumble as one of the finest spin bowlers at that time, India looked very very good. It seemed to be going according to script. Though India had lost to Australia (even after a masteful assault by Tendulkar on McGrath) and Srilanka, here we were in the semifinals. And we had reached there by crushing a strong Pakistan team. Surely a good omen. But what happened thereafter in the desi theater of dreams will be etched forever in the collective memory of India. I somehow fought back tears as the Indian batting collapsed. After Tendulkar got out, the pitch suddenly turned into a minefield. It was as if Tendulkar by the sheer force of his will and willow, had kept the demons in the pitch buried.  This was the darkest moment of my journey as a cricket fan.

I dont have many memories of 1999. It was perhaps the most unremarkable world cup campaign for India.  We had a good batting unit but not entirely capable of handling the treacherous english conditions. Dravid had not yet become the unmoveable force he would and Tendulkar also had a lukewarm tournament. We bowed out in the super six stage but not before yet another world cup victory over pakistan. Small consolation indeed especially as pakistan went on to reach the finals. Later that year India travelled down under and quite comfortably managed to lose all the 3 tests. Thus the 3 world cups of that decade were bookended by thrashing in Australia. I remember reading somewhere that Australian fans believed that Tendulkar is a genius but the rest are rubbish. And they had strong evidence to back that theory.

But all that was about to change. New millenia brought together a pair of remarkable men who would change the fortunes of Indian cricket forever. It is fair to say that that is when the process begun which culminated in the world cup win. Ganguly took Indian cricket by its collar, shook it out of its inertia and sent it soaring up in the sky. While John Wright kept the feet firmly on the grounds and bolstered the flooring.

Yet for all the progress we made and all the remarkable achievements, India entered 2003 world cup after having been beaten by Newzealand 5-2. As if that was not enough, we got out for 200 odd runs against Holland and against Australia our top six’s scores (barring tendulkar) could as well be the first 5 digits of a mobile number (94101).  Stones were pelted, effigies were burnt. Then came a moment, which for me was the defining one of that world cup. For most fans, Tendulkar’s upper cut off Shoaib Akhtar is the favorite and oft remembered shot of the tournament. But for me it came much earlier. It was a fierce fierce hook that Tendulkar unleashed with all fury onto Andrew Caddick of England. And that announced to the competitors and the fans alike that enough of the rubbish. He, Sachin Tendulkar of India, was here to win the cup and take it home. For over a month we all dreamt along with the team of final glory at Wanderers. Since that loss against Australia, we were unconquered so far.  But Wanderer was a heart break like none before or since. Just an arms length away from glory, Indian team blinked. And when they opened there eyes, Australian juggernaut had steamrolled them into submission. It was humiliating and humbling. Yet I look back with fondness at that tournament and always will, even though 2011 now enjoys pride of place in my heart.

By the time 2007 came, India wore a changed look. Greg Chappell had arrived with his big theories and bigger mouth. Dravid, who was now the captain of India, did not have the chutzpah of Ganguly to challenge his methods. Where a generation of bowlers from all over the world had failed, Chappell succeeded - in deflating Tendulkar’s passion and motivation for the game. With there talisman out of sorts, India team wore a forlorn look. This campaign turned out to be as lifeless as the pitches of caribbean. I was on a long flight home during India’s last league match against Sri Lanka. And all the while I was tense thinking of what if India lost. It was a possibility beyond the wildest nightmare of Indian fans.  Yet it came to pass and India were eliminated in the group stage. My heart was not just broken, it was methodically chopped into pieces and fed to the dogs. Will there be a recovery from this?

But 2007 ended on a really high note. Out of nowhere India went on to win the T20 world cup. It was least expected but much enjoyed. I saw the final in my office and the entire office was gathered in the cafeteria watching the match. As Dhoni handed the last over to Joginder Sharma, all our jaws dropped in shock and  a sinking feeling began to settle in which was not helped by the look on Joginder’s face as if he was standing in front of a firing squad. But when Sreesanth somehow managed to hang on to Misbah’s catch to end pakistan’s innings, we were all jumping up and down like school kids.

But T20 is just a poor imitation of cricket and as the WC now happens every year, it has devalued to the extent that I cannot even recall who were the finalists of the last world cup. So my heart still yearned for the real cup.
When I found out that 2011 world cup final would be in Mumbai, it seemed like the perfect stage. This is the city where Tendulkar first held the cricket bat and dreamt of winning the world cup for India. Team was also looking stronger by the day as the world cup approached. For the first time an Indian team was confident enough of saying that  “We will win it for Sachin” rather than the other way round. Though in the group stage we did not look as formidable and were clearly not the best team in the tournament. But when we beat Australia, in a tensed but ultimately easy manner in quarter final,  the dream started looking real. Especially as South Africa midway through there match against New Zealand suddenly remembered that “hey we are supposed to choke in such matches”. Against Pakistan in the semi finals, when Munaf Patel bowled Razzak, I went down on one knee and woohooed as if I was the bowler. It was so spontaneous that my daughter started crying scared of seeing this strange transformation of her dad’s normally monk like disposition . She will have to learn to accept this dark side of my nature like her mom has.  Or maybe not, now that Tendulkar will soon retire. In the finals I was very confident of India winning. Even when Sachin got out early I remained assured. The days of “Sachin out India out” were a thing of past. Only towards the end with the victory firmly in grasp did I get nervous. For the last few overs I did not sit down fearing that a wicket would fall if I did (one has to make sacrifices for the game). And as Dhoni sent the ball flying into the spectators for the last time in this tournament, all of us who had gathered  at my place jumped from there seats (except me ofcourse as I was already standing) and shouted like crazy. This time my daughter didnt’ cry.
Finally the dream that one man had made the whole nation see was true. We are now the champions of the world. Me, I am now done dreaming but I am sure when 2015 arrives, then maybe Kohli, maybe Raina or maybe some precocious 17 year old, will make a whole generation of young kids dream again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nursery Rhyme

Here is a poem me and my wife, Natasha, wrote for our little one.

हाथी की मस्तानी चाल
हाथी की मस्तानी चाल,
मोटा पेट और मोटी खाल,
लम्बे लम्बे कान हिलाता,
सूंड में लेके गन्ना खाता.

बन्दर खी खी करता है,
पेड़ के ऊपर चड़ता है,
केला खाना उसको भाता,
नकलची बन्दर वह कहलाता.

जिराफ यहाँ सबसे लम्बा,
गर्दन है जैसे खम्बा,
ऊँचे ऊँचे पत्ते खाता,
अफ्रीका में पाया जाता

Sunday, December 6, 2009

भागीरथी भाग २

लाके दो ऐसा श्वेत अश्व, जो पवन गति से दौड़ेगा
हो पवन पुत्र सा बल जिसमे, जो अहम् सभी का तोड़ेगा
गर्जन जो जाये अम्बर तक, सुन रजवाड़े हों नतमस्तक
फिर लगा तिलक उस अश्व को,  जिसके पैरों की चाप तले,
सीमा साम्राज्य की आगे बढे,  और सूर्यवंश का नाम फले

धरती के सारे कोनों में, कदमो की छाप छोड़  दे तू
संसार  के हर एक मार्ग को, कोसला की ओर मोड़ दे तू
मेरा प्रतीक तू बन के जा, समूची धरती को नाप के आ
घोड़े को कर यूँ  उत्साहित, राजा ने फिर शंखनाद किया 
और विश्व विजय पाने  के लिए, अश्वराज को छोड़ दिया

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Its time to try my hand at a hindi poem. Its based on the story of King Bhagirath (an ancestor of Lord Ram) and how he brought Holy Ganga to earth. I have been awesomely influences by रश्मिरथी. I am planning to write this two stanzas at a time. Why two stanzas, because it takes a lot of time. Writing just these first two stanzas has been really tough for me but hopefully I will have the motivation to finish it off. A caveat is that I will ofcourse take the artistic liberty to mould this tale to my will.


भाग १

सूरज की पहली किरण देख महाराज सगर का मन मचला
सोचा मेरे इस राज में है राज्य मेरा फूला और फला
यह दृष्टि जहाँ तक जाती है साम्राज्य मेरा ही पाती है
पर सूर्य कहाँ यह उदय हुआ और अस्त कहाँ पर यह होगा
दृष्टि के पार जो सृष्टि है कब नाम वहां उज्जवल होगा

कब सूर्यवंश का शौर्य गीत  धरती से गगन तक छाएगा
हिम से लेकर के सागर तक कब विजय ध्वज लहराएगा
कब कुछ ऐसा कर जाऊंगा, की इन्द्र सिंहासन पाउँगा!!
फिर सूर्य की गरिमा से प्रेरित सम्राट ने रण का प्रण  लिया
और अश्वमेघ के अश्व से नियति को अपनी बांध दिया

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sun sun sun!!

Warmth of suns rays
vaporises the grief away
But I sit inside these concrete walls
Amidst these lifeless silicon stalls
Gloom and dark contaminate this whole bay
I wish someone would turn the sun my way


Friends ask me what have I written of late
Did I pour out my feelings more intimate?
Another ode to Sachin, More paens for Fed?
Maybe a tricky Puzzle, review of a book read?

All I can do is shrug them off with a smile
Spin a new excuse to hold them for a while
Honestly Its not them I want to delude
But I am just waiting for the right mood

A few days back my heart leapt with joy
Tides of troubles were behind me, land ahoy
Spring was in my step, my face shone bright
The wind had finally taken a turn to the right

In that mood, the singer in me crooned
My fingers were flowing, the keyboard tuned
I began a story and then a song I tried
But nothing worked, my muse had dried

Today my heart is blue and tears I fight
A storm runs through this dark night
My wrecked ship has sunk very deep
My head is heavy for lack of sleep

In such a mood, the poet in me yearns
my fingers are ice but the keyboard burns
I begin a verse and then a Ghazal I try
But nothing works, stream of my thoughts is dry

So all I can do is shrug you off with a smile
This poem is my latest excuse, is this vile?
And now leave me alone while I brood
As I am still waiting for the right mood