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The Cricket Bat

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The Cricket Bat

The continuous ringing of doorbell was a unique trait of Papa’s arrival. Every time that happened I almost instinctively knew who would be on the other side of the door. I was right this time too.

As soon as he entered he announced, “Listen I have a meeting in the evening and I will be leaving early. Sit down, I want to have a quick chat regarding the preparations of the reception”. We both sat down on the sofa in the living room and started discussing. I told him about the things that were already taken care of and what were the expenses involving that.

He went to the items that were yet to be finalized and what would it approximately cost us. While he was still speaking I don’t know when I involuntarily stood up and started walking to and fro. In fact, I didn’t realize until he pointed out to me.

“Why can’t you simply sit and continue a serious conversation? Why are you so restless always?” Papa questioned digressing from the main discussion. By now mom and sister had also joined in. In an attempt to showcase sincerity I blurted, “I am all ears and listening very carefully to what all you are suggesting”.

A smirk had already formed on my sister’s face. She knew where this was heading, like the usual conversations where, in the end, Papa will get angry and frustrated and without completing the discussion, shout at me and leave for some work.

My Cricket Bat

Papa began again with the details. A few minutes later he shouted again. This time I was unconsciously shadowing batting postures with my favorite childhood bat in my hands. “I am earnestly listening to you, Papa. I swear. I can repeat each and every word that you have said”, I pleaded to keep him calm.

It was too late. He was already irritated and all I could overhear was he shouting at mom saying what’s wrong with this boy? Why can’t he just listen to me? Even if he can’t…he can at least act? Someday I will definitely burn this cricket bat of his, somehow it becomes a part of every discussion. My mom sarcastically replied to him, “You are the one who gifted the bat to him”.

The ignition of the car suggested that Papa drive away. My sister was now laughing, as it was a daily routine for her to see every discussion end this way.

My parents say that I have a good memory and a decent recall power. As far as I can remember the first memory about myself is holding a plastic cricket bat and being surrounded by plastic cricket balls. I was about 8 or 9 years old when Papa gifted this bat to me.

Even in ‘the State of Happiness’ I highlighted this. Playing cricket with him was pure bliss. It brought happiness and joy beyond words.

I would carry this bat along with me everywhere possible. Like the girls have their dolls by their side, I would have my bat. I would even sleep with it. I have scored most of my childhood runs with this bat. I still remember how Papa taught me to oil a cricket bat and how I would take care of it like the most precious thing in the world.

It has seen its ups and downs. They were phases where I felt that it might get broken but with the help of some adhesive tapes and extra love and care, it has seen those treacherous and scary days off.

Even today, if you visit my house you will find it in the living room living along with us. You will still see me playing around with it, mimicking cricketing postures even during serious discussions. There were many times when my mother and sister during their clean-up drives, tried to get rid of it. But they know that it is like those older movies of fairy tales where the villain will only die once you kill his pet parrot, similarly my lies in this cricket bat. It is my first cricket bat and is like my first love.

For all those who love cricket,

For all those who have their bats with them,

For all those who still play with them,

And

For all those who are still living with them…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

 

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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The State of Happiness

It was an early Sunday morning. Around 5 am he shook me out of my slumber. He signaled me to be extremely cautious and not make any noise. He hated waking up people but on Sundays, he would make an exception. I quietly picked up my cricket bat and bowl and went to the roof. I had to make sure that I don’t wake up my mom else our plan of morning cricket would not be executed. He was waiting there for me.

For fifteen years since my early childhood, my father and I would go and play cricket every Sunday morning. On days when we would be playing on the roof, we had to take care of the plants mom had planted. On those evenings she would find a branch or two cello-taped and we would be banned from playing on the roof. This ban would only last till the next Sunday and my father and I would be back to our mischievous best.

That is my earliest memory with my father. Playing cricket with him was pure bliss. It brought happiness and joy beyond words.

Happiness is like success. It is not a destination but the journey. It can last for a moment, an hour, a day or a lifetime. It depends a lot on internal as well as external factors. It is a state of mind.

Happiness brings a smile but a smile is not necessary for me to be happy. I can be silent…observing a picturesque view…and be completely happy without smiling. And I can be all smiling and laughing out loud without being happy.

Happiness comes from within and depends from person to person. A person can have all the wealth and pleasure of the world and he might still be unhappy while, on the other hand, a person earning just daily wage…sleeping on a footpath be content and happy. People befriend adversity and somehow find happiness in that also.

A monk is happy when he finds peace through meditation while an entertainer finds happiness by witnessing how happy his audience is.

For me;

Happiness was playing cricket with him – when he would be my partner at the other end or I would be facing him.

Happiness was sleeping was on his chest and talking to him for unlimited hours sitting on his shoulders.

Happiness was asking him irrelevant innumerous ‘whys’ and he patiently responding to each and every one of them.

Happiness is finding sleep in mom’s lap and love in her food.

Happiness is teasing your sister and pulling out pranks on her and then spending the rest of the days pleading her not to complain to mom.

Happiness is having a meal together with all the family.

Happiness is the tea, pakode (snacks) and the petrichor of first rain.

Happiness is facing the red cherry opening the batting.

Happiness is bowling leg spin and getting the batsmen bowled behind his legs.

Happiness is holding her hand when you are down and out, knowing that there is someone in the entire world who will never turn her back on you when the entire world will actually face the other way.

Happiness is going for a long bike ride in the mountains.

Happiness is playing with kids and letting them win.

Happiness is taking a long walk in a downpour and getting completely drenched.

Happiness is cracking jokes in a group of friends and being a reason for their smiles.

Happiness is traveling to places, meeting new people, learning about their cultures, eating their food, speaking their language and experiencing their lives.

Happiness is dancing to any tune and making others dance with you too.

Happiness is acting in a theatre play and seeing your parents with tears in the audience.

Happiness is the delight of putting my thoughts into words and seeing it reach to the readers.

I believe these days everybody is so caught up in the paraphernalia surrounding them, that they have actually forgotten how to smile…how to be happy. We are just living a dead life. It is like pressing the play button at 28 and stopping it at 60 without realizing to live the moments.

I took the part of being the Joker to bring some smiles and happiness to people and their lives whenever and wherever possible. Humor is the medicine which can save lives out of grimmest of situations. I have seen biggest conflicts getting resolved when both the parties broke into laughter at the same time.

Smile often, people…Laugh genuinely…be aware of every moment. Let happiness come to you rather than you pursuing it. And you will surely find your peace.

For all those are in the pursuit of happiness,

For all those who believe in positivity,

For all those love to smile

And

For all those who are genuinely happy…

It’s not a goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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Healthy Living: Indulging in Sports

Healthy Living: Indulging in Sports

Healthy Living

Healthy Living

Indulging in sports and outdoor activities can make you a healthier and fitter person both physically and mentally. Let’s take a look at few of the top reasons why you should be out there having some fun right now rather than staring at your screen!

1. Goodbye stress: Is life giving you lemons? Put on your sports shoes, go for a run, come back drenched in sweat, sip on the fresh lemonade you just made and voila! The lemons have been taken care of, and you are now eagerly awaiting fresh ones. Okay, what I mean by that is that working out can effectively reduce stress and prepare you for future challenges.

2. Natural anti-depressant: If you have been feeling them blues lately then prescribe yourself some exercise! Exercising for a few hours every week has been proven to increase the production of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and nor-epinephrine. These chemicals are responsible for a healthy brain function, and lower levels have been linked to vulnerability to depression.

3. Battle addiction: Dopamine is a ‘feel good’ chemical present in our bodies. We normally produce dopamine in response to exciting and stimulating activities like eating, exercising, sex and sadly, consumption of alcohol and drugs. People become addicted to such negative substances as they act as a source of anywhere, any time dopamine. Don’t you think a much healthier alternative to feeling good would be exercising? Exercising is highly recommended to those who are battling addiction and can help prevent relapse.

4. Boost creativity: Incorporating exercise in your daily routine can actually spark creativity in you. Recent studies found that regular exercise can boost the creative process of the brain by improving convergent and divergent thinking. While the former is concerned with coming up with the correct answer to a problem, the latter is a purely creative thought process.

5. A lighter you: It’s a known fact that indulging in physical activity burns calories and keeps you fit. Breaking a sweat can do wonders for you if you want to reduce weight. Just make sure you are wearing sportswear and not ordinary clothes when you hit the gym. Fitness clothing is specially designed to improve your performance by regulating the rate at which your body sweats and prolongs the duration before you exert yourself.

6. Cure insomnia: Lifting weights in the gym, going for a walk or playing a game of football all have a somewhat similar effect on the body. The body works hard and tires itself at the moment and demands rest by signalling the brain. Hence, resulting in deeper sleep cycles.

7. Bigger, better, faster, and stronger: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and that’s exactly what happens when you indulge in sports. When you work out, your body breaks the existing cell tissues causing the notorious muscle soreness. This damage is repaired and newer and bigger muscles are formed when you are resting. Now the fastest way to build muscles is by enrolling yourself in a gym. However, inadequate gym wear can cause injuries and must be avoided at all costs.

This is a Guest post by Parul Chahal, Jabong.

Here’e the author’s bio:

Parul Chahal is a fitness freak who likes to engage in various sports to stay active. Being a passionate writer, she likes to pen down her fitness stories to keep her readers abreast of how sports and outdoor activities can help us feel good.

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For the LOVE of the GAME


For the Love of the Game…

The oldest but the strongest memory that I have from1975 my childhood is of me holding a plastic cricket bat and my father bowling with a plastic ball in the small verandah of our house. He always reminds me that he saw cricketing signs and potential in me from the very beginning and hence made it a habit that I get a daily dose of cricket with him after he returned from office. He played the game at a respectable level and always egged me to do the same. Whether it was playing the game or watching it or following it over different mediums, both of us were cricket fanatics at least since my existence.

1979          I was just two years old for the 1987 world cup and hardly have any account of it imprinted but, by the 1992 world cup, I was grown-up enough to remember glimpses of it. I remember how my father made me sleep by 8 pm so that we both could get up by 4-5 am and catch the day match as it was being hosted in Australia and New Zealand. Our cricket love didn’t translate only to India’s matches. We watched most of the matches and cheered on not only for India but also for cricket as a whole.

Currently witnessing my seventh World Cup, again being hosted in Australia and New Zealand life has kind of come a full circle for me. I have seen cricket in colored clothing with white balls under floodlights for the first time. I have seen Jonty Rhodes fly to run out Inzamam and have seen the same Inzamam single handedly batting New Zealand out of the World Cup. I have seen the terrific South Africa, on their world Cup debut, being robbed of their place by the rain gods and some genius that formulated the then rain affected matches’ rules. I have seen a captain’s (Martin Crowe) masterstroke by opening the bowling with a spinner for the first time and using Greatbatch as a pinch hinter in the 1992 World Cup. If I close my eyes I can still see Wasim Akram’s hatrick and then Imran Khan, the cornered tiger, lifting the shinning crystal trophy.1983

I have seen two Sri Lankans (Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana) opening the batting and destroying bowling attacks in the first fifteen overs. I have seen Amir Sohail intimidating Venkatesh Prasad after hitting a boundary and then losing his off stump the very next ball. I have seen the mighty West Indies being floored by the debutant Kenya after Richie Richardson failed to get them through. I have seen the Eden Gardens being decorated by plastic bottles and stones by the spectators to get the match abandoned and an in form Vinod Kambli in tears after the match was called off in the 1996 World Cup.

I have seen a cricketer1987 who was written off to play one-day cricket, score the most number of runs by a wicket keeper in any world cup by Rahul Dravid. I have seen Gibbs dropping Steven Waugh’s catch and then that lead to their ouster. I have seen Lance Klusener blasting attacks after attacks and then failing to score one run. I have seen a team (South Africa) draw a match and still being thrown out of the World Cup in 1999.

I have seen Sachin Tendulkar hit an upper cut to Shoaib Akhtar for a six and playing one of his best knocks though this was not one from his century of centuries. I have seen one of the greatest leg-spinner (Shane Warne) the world has ever seen, sent to home after being tested positive for banned substances. I have seen an associate member, a non-test playing nation (Kenya) reach the semi-finals of the biggest event in cricket in the 2003 World Cup.1992

I have seen two of the biggest cricketing nations, India and Pakistan, being knocked out in the first round of the World Cup with one of them resulting in a coach’s death which still remains a mystery. I have seen Dwayne Leverock of Bermuda shake the earth with his one handed diving catch. I have seen Ricky Ponting lift Australia’s fourth title in the 2007 World Cup.

I have seen Kevin O’brien score the fastest world cup hundred and chasing down a mammoth English total. I have seen Yuvraj Singh demolishing teams single handedly and win man of match award game after game. I have seen Australia not making the finals for the first time since 1992 world cup. I have seen the famous MSD six at Wankhede, which fulfilled Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’s biggest dream to lift the 2011 world cup.

Over the ye1996ars I have seen many performances…many legends being made and destroyed. I know I am no cricketing expert but still one thing which really bothers me, is the standard of cricket that is regularly dropping. I know the numbers in the performances have been improving but that doesn’t mean that the standard of cricket that is being played is of the highest grade. Blame it on the newer and newer cricketing rules, which hugely stack against the bowlers or the pitches being prepared flatter and flatter or the grounds and boundaries becoming shorter and shorter or the cricket bats becoming bigger and bigger. Many will counter this, but to rest my case I won’t give example of Viv Richards the batsman or Wasim Akram the bowler but instead of Jonty Rhodes the fielder. I believe when Jonty burst on the international scene in the 1992 world cup he took fielding to an all different level which no one ever imagined but I’ll say, still after 23 years and six world cups later he is the greatest fielder the game ever saw. Many have come close but he is the one who still sets standards. If you observe the current world cup there has hardly been any match without a drop catch. Remember during 2011’s India Vs Pakistan match, Sachin was given three to four opportunities from Pakistan as if they were the ones who never wanted Sachin to get out.1999

Similarly, now if you watch other facets of cricket, the great players can be counted on fingers of a single hand whereas in earlier world cups every team had about three to four potential match winners who could single-handedly turn a match on its head. Even the same can be said about captaincy where a world cup leader was known by his decisions and performances. From Clive Lloyd’s leading from the front attitude to Kapil Dev’s inspiring a generation…From Imran Khan’s never say die attitude to Martin Crowe’s pulling a new rabbit-out-of-the-hat every other game…From Steven Waugh’s gritty attitude to Ricky Ponting’s aggressiveness…From Sourav Ganguly’s in your face attitude to Arjuna Ranatunga’s never back down strategy.

2003         Lets talk about bowling for a moment. Every world cup team had a great bowling line up in the past, and even if they didn’t have three to four frontline bowlers, they always had one or two world-class bowlers up their ranks. Remember when Zimbabwe defeated India in the 1999 World Cup they had Heath Streak and Henry Olonga in their side. But sadly that doesn’t reflect in the recent teams. After Wasim, Waqar and Akhtar retired no one seems to fill their shoes for Pakistan, Similarly for Australia and likewise for West Indies and every other team. For me the biggest downfall for West Indies was their inability to produce Fast bowlers of the caliber and class of teams that played till 1996. The last spinner who has an awesome record in all formats of the game is Daniel Vettori but sadly he will also finish this world cup and then we will be left with some part-timers who can just roll their arms over to complete the quota of overs. I guess by the next world cup we will have all the 11 players as batsmen and whosoever scores more wins.2007

I don’t think so I should discuss about all-rounders because I hardly see any genuine ones at this world cup, considering the fact that you can’t even consider Afridi as one these days. Its high time that we realize what impact T20s are having over the game.

I believe that for any sport to grow it needs heroes and super stars for the younger and coming generation to idolize them. Just look at the stars playing the 2015 world cup who are tipped to take cricket forward and become the next legends of the game, From Virat Kohli to AB De’villiers, from Hashim Amla to Kane Williamson, from Steve Smith to Shikhar Dhawan, all are batsmen with a lone Dale Steyn or Mitchel Starc here and there. If the game really wants to maintain the standard of the game it needs to produce stars in all departments. Otherwise you’ll have Virat Kohli breaking Viv Richards’ records and in a months’ time Hashim Amla doing the same to Virat, without being in2011 the same league in which you could keep Viv, Lara, Tendulkar, Dravid, Jayasuriya n the list goes on. They are legends because of the bowling they faced in that era. Viv Richards to have a strike rate of around 92 in that era is actually freaky. Just imagine what he would have done in this era when the many of the grounds don’t have 60-meter boundaries.

My humble request to ICC would be to make the game more competitive and this can only be done if there would be a balance between bat and bowl and then only there will be players who will go from good to great and great to legends otherwise it will be just like the present world cup, win the toss…elect to bat first and score more than 300 and make the match a big bore. Make it an even contest otherwise that day isn’t far away when the stars that rule the game will be very few and even fewer who appreciate the game, who follow the game and the ones like me who simply worship the game.

This blog is part of Blogger Dream Team

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul