Where’s heaven? Where’s that dreamy world of a promised land? Maybe airplanes take you there, Maybe even Magic Mushrooms take you there. Can just seeing a human smile take you there? Kartik Kannan found a couple of humans who’ve taken him to the promised land. He’s seen the promised land, and recounts the land’s insurance policy that kept him sane all along. This time in February 2015, he’s all alone, with his insurance policy not anymore with him. Explore the human, who was Kartik’s insurance policy all along!
“Suniye Kahiye Kahiye Suniye
Suniye Kahiye Kahiye naa, Suniye
Kehte, Sunte, Baaton Baaton mein Pyaar Ho Jaayega”
As I switch on the radio this winter morning, the famous yesteryear Indian singer-Kishore da’s songs are playing and makes my heart relax despite seeing 102 unread notifications since last night on Whatsapp. His voice seems to have a big invisible ‘Relax’ button coming along with it. There’s something with Kishore da’s voice immediately makes me forget what I am doing, and makes me get transported to a magical world that usually people use alcohol and chemical substances to get to. Kishore’s voice had the power to pull me into his world, and more often than not, you would be more than consenting to get into that dreamy world. I’ve grown up thinking it was a dreamy trance bubble alright, but it was easy to come out of the trance, since Kishore da is not alive anymore. Someone’s live presence makes the pull of getting into their world seem more real. That’s probably the only thing that I miss when I listen to Kishore da’s music. My friend’s tell me that Kishore da’s music is more complete to them, when they compliment with another real world entity like alcohol that extends the illusions of a dreamy world making time stand still (the philosophy that people exude when they are 6 pegs down) That’s one way of looking to get pulled into a magical world, switching off from the worldly chores where its just you, and no one else. Maybe there are other ways too. One of these other ways, I accidentally discovered in the late 80’s, growing up in the by-lanes of Old Rajinder Nagar in Delhi, when we lost a ball into someone’s house, and we had to head home to watch some cricket on the TV for entertaining ourselves.
“Ek Ajnabi Haseena Se, Yun Mulaqat Ho Gayi, Phir Kya Hua, Ye Na Poocho”
Around the time, I started listening to Kishore da in the late 90’s I already had my good luck charm for forgetting the world around me. The mere presence of a cherubic, curly haired youngster swatting around bowlers like flies, was the just the poison and drug I needed to get drawn into a world that had me and the young man only. I had seen him flatten Hadlee by dancing down the wicket, I had seen him pull the air out of the sails that was Abdul Quadir’s loop, I had seen him as the person with the magic wand! My world, was what Sachin Tendulkar created miles away in stadiums putting cricket balls away in an authoritative fashion. To come to think of it, the happiness of the next 25 years was insured on a short portly man dispatching man-hurled-leather with ferocity over grasslands. This was life’s little insurance that no body sold to you. You yourself made that insurance part of you, or you went into the dream; whichever fits your frame of thought. This insurance was that if Sachin was around, maybe you will feel better. Maybe the girl will say ‘YES’. Maybe your waitlisted ticket on Indian Railways will get confirmed. Life seemed assured because Sachin was around. Nothing else mattered, and that good luck charm defined my child hood, my growing up years, as a married man, and now as a father. Just like a Kishore da song out of nowhere, Sachin’s cricket videos pulled me viciously to the television, and I was drawn into a world where everything else becomes out of focus. Over the 25 years its been a constant theme, involving switching off from what the world expects of you, and submitting yourself filling yourself with hope that another ‘sandstorm’ is around the corner.
With Sachin, unlike just raw ‘Kishore da’ music, the effect of travelling to another world was multiplied many times, largely because test matches and ODI’s were played for 8 hours a day, with a highlights package shortly after that. Watching Sachin, was a great source of inspiration and a huge effect on the mind. My teachers used to wonder I used to fluctuate in my approach towards getting marks, and why I was not consistent. I could not give them the reason that my best scores are distributed based on the mood around how much of ‘Sachin Darshan’ I get. Maybe if we had a “Study-from-Home-as-you-watch-the-match” option, I would have got better scores consistently. The whole truth was that to perform well at other things in life, I was drugged to the wonder pill called Sachin, who could make me feel better.
After Sachin’s 57 against Pakistan at the SCG in 1992, I scored 47/50 in my maths test. After Sachin’s hundred against Kenya, I surprised Deepa Madam, my history teacher by scoring 23.5/25. Akbar and Humayun’s conquests were basically Sachin’s conquests of Martin Suji and Asif Karim at Cuttack. The details of the battle of Haldighati, was memorized using the way Sachin tore into Ravindra Pushpakumara and Muralitharan at the ruins of the Feroz Shah Kotla(That’s how bad the ground looked back then). In 1999, When Sachin Tendulkar drove Steve Tikolo to deep cover, the Indian diaspora all over the world erupted for their hero, who had braved his father’s demise, his inept team mates (who surrendered to Henry Olonga in an over of suicidal madness 3 days back) and a billion expectations, by just concentrating at the work at hand, and scoring an emotional hundred.
2003- I realized that my little dreamy world had expanded. It was like a virtually expanding ‘Farmville’ world. There were farms created for reliving Sachin’s moments whether it be a 100, or an expression, or just news around him. This from being a dreamy world had graduated to being a time machine. Just when you thought the time machine, was going to run out of memory, Sachin adds newer chapters, which seem even more exciting than the previous ones. ‘The battle of Centurion’ welcoming Shoaib Aktar with a 22 run over or ‘The battle of Durban’, with Sachin manhandling Andy Caddick, are new chapters in the virtual Farmville. You cherish every chapter with fond memories, with the underlying fear of when this little “happiness insurance” is going to cut its umbilical cord with you.
Its 2007, The little master has expanded his world. The chapter however has some acid spilt on it(or that’s how we Indians see it). Abdur Razzaq and Dilhara Fernando have been the culprits. Sachin is disappointed. My bubble and dreamy world has its version of the terror attacks. It takes days, often weeks to recover. I find solace with a business school admit to deal with the disappointment.
Its 2011- I’ve been asked to go abroad by company for a short work related assignment. I’ve conjured a lie that my passport is lost. The fact that this may be Sachin’s last world cup, makes me put extra effort to make sure, I am not flown for any random meeting across the world. I travel to stadiums on weekends to get a glimpse of the Sachin mania that grips the nation. The little “Farmville” has grown to be a full fledged city with a lot of traffic jam in it. Too many hundreds driving in that city. Its like a city no one has seen, dazzling with skycrapers. It’s a city where the currency are the shots he plays. The flick to square leg, the ‘upar cut’ to thirdman, the dancing down the wicket to Long On and Deep Midwicket, The ramrod straight drive of an innocuous push. You could have a couple of cover drives, or square cuts for lunch, if they don’t serve you the straight drive at brunch. The ‘city’ is waiting for the inauguration of one more tower called the 100th hundred. Bangalore and Nagpur were 98th and 99th, and Chepauk gets to host him for the 100th. Many cities did host him for the 100th after that which became a tour by itself and finally unfolded a year later in Bangladesh. The moot point is its 2011 and he’s still there alive and kicking, showing no signs of senility, which otherwise spins cobwebs around cricketers on the wrong side of 30. Javed Miandad too played 6 world cups, and looked jaded out in his 6th world cup, whereas Sachin was conquering newer fronts.
My dream world was intact and that’s probably why I did not fall prey to any of the insurance adverts on television. My insurance and assurance stemmed from the fact Sachin Tendulkar was still around and I would be fine. Travelling to the World Cup matches in 2011 at Bangalore(against England) and Chennai(against West Indies), the feeling of getting sucked into the Sachin wave was massively felt when he came out to bat from the dressing room, with the “Sachin Sachin” chant reaching a crescendo. Add to the effect of singing the national anthem with 50,000 fans in a stadium, watching Tendulkar on the big screen, you just the cricketing version of the ‘big O’ moment. You just realized that being omnipresent is a valid option. You were at the stadium alright, but you were more so in a bubble, that flew high, and took you to a world where the only thing that mattered for discussion was Sachin’s look of authority as he swatted bowlers around. His world cup, was your world cup, and he did all he could to give you the world cup and make you part of his world in 2011.
“Aa Chal Ke Tujhe, Main Leke Chaloon, Ek Aise Gagan Ke Tele, Jahan Gham Bhi na Ho, Aaasoon Bhi Na Ho, Bas Pyaar Hi Pyaar Taley”
This mellifluous Kishore da number assumes even more significance when Sachin Tendulkar is directing thunderbolts from Akthar at Centurion, or fiendish bouncers from Steyn at Nagpur, or just putting a dead bat straight to Malinga at Wankhede. Sachin was that one little link, that I have followed all World Cups with, and now I don’t have that little insurance when I switch on the television. Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘sandstorm reruns’ on Ten Sports have the same effect as Kishore da’s music now. These ‘trips’ are short and sweet and seem to be easily disturbed by something as easy as the sound of a Whatsapp ping or an email that looks at me like I have signed somewhere on the dotted line. The ticket to the dreamy world is there, but no more are shows in that world 8 hours long. That little world is left at the mercy of broadcasters showing highlights or YouTube recordings of yesteryear matches. While I have been weaned away from the heady world of Sachin Tendulkar in the last couple of years, this year when India takes on Pakistan at the Adelaide oval, post the mushiness of Valentine’s day, I realize I wont have my ‘Little Valentine’ who’s world I lived for 6 world cups from 1992-2011! Maybe its time to smile, that Sachin happened! Its going to be tough to immediately identify a new world to migrate to when I want to switch off, but maybe just having Sachin around on the telecast can give me a yesteryear high! Maybe, that’s just the little bit of insurance we may be able to sport a smile with!
“Geet Gaata Hoon Main, Gun Gunata Hoon Main,
Maine Hasne Ka Vaada, Kiya tha Kabhi,
Isliye Ab Sada Muskurata Hoon Main”