I was quite superstitious about my hair. I just had too many things running on my head from mid-2007. It turned out to be excellent fodder for my hair. I just liked it, long hair; I took good care of it. It didn’t matter; I was working because I never had doubts I would cut my hair, owing to some pressure at work or family.
And people who mattered at work and home never pressurised me either. They knew I wouldn’t budge.
Actually, in a way, it turned out better. I was able to do a lot of work, which I enjoyed, meeting clients across Bangalore and Chennai. Ok, it was a coincidence that Dhoni, too, had long hair at that time. But who cares? He was successful, and often few people referred to me as Dhoni.
Coming back, March first week 2008, I flew to Mumbai for the zonal qualifying. We had four zones of qualifying Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. The top two teams are selected for the semi-finals in Mumbai, followed by finals very same day. After a nice lunch at Pradeep’s place, we reached the auditorium.
We didn’t qualify; it wasn’t about Formula 1 alone; it was about the entire Motorsports, which was something. We both were shocked, but to be honest, we weren’t disappointed. There was a lot of quality in the teams. We felt out of place at some times when we watched the finals.
We asked if we could take part in the Chennai round with the quiz master Avinash Mudaliar. Since we had not qualified, we were allowed to take part.
Boy, the next two weeks was to determine our capabilities. Pradeep just called at odd hours, and this time he was asking me to put fundas. Once, he even asked his girlfriend to speak to me about focussing on the task ahead and not waste time with girls and other stuff. He was funny, and I admire his unique ways of pushing his partner to achieve a common goal. He knew I had it in me.
We went to Chennai two weeks later, and guess what; it turned to be one of the most challenging motorsports prelims we had ever encountered. We topped the prelims again. It was the final round of qualifying, so in a way, we weren’t dished out Formula1, etc.; it was hardcore motorsports. All forms of Motorsports. We were introduced as one of the best Sports Quizzers by Avinash Mudaliar, quite sarcastic, though. We had a point to prove.
Till the last round, Man, we had lost it. There was no way we could make it, unless, for the miracles in the buzzer round. We had to answer three questions correctly and hope others answered them incorrectly or did not answer them at all.
This was to take the second spot.
The first question, we answer. The second question, the 5th team (a team which currently in second, answers), The third Question, the leading team answers. We still had a chance if we answered two correctly and hoped the last one went unanswered.
For the fourth question, a toughie, we press the buzzer and answer.
Hi-fi’s exchanged, c’mon, we can do it.
The fifth question, no clue, we press the buzzer, we worked out quickly, and Pradeep answered Bugatti. Perfect. We were 2nd. The last question went unanswered, as we didn’t have to take a chance.
We got a round of appreciation for our late effort. It was the final two rounds; we went overboard.
Ok, we made it. At least, the sarcasm proved we were good enough for the finals. Now, we were among the top eight teams in India, after a month round of qualifying.
We felt Barcelona a bit closer. Yes, the winning team won an all-expense trip to Spanish Grand Prix 2008. Pradeep, from the beginning, had one aim, Barcelona.
And in the end, it turned out; we did this quiz, travelling crazily one place after the other in search of this.
This was what one calls chasing one’s dreams—a dream of watching a Formula One event live.
That night, at Chennai Airport, I was reflecting on few things. I wondered, did my hair play any role?
I know; I was superstitious about it. I felt I had all the luck and got everything I wanted because I had long hair. I somehow didn’t like to be under this assumption.
I saw Dhoni winning in the Australia ODI series with his short hair. Sometimes, we need to break out of this shell to understand who we are. It’s good to be getting things done, not because of the hair, because of the capabilities.
Next few days, I went about pondering, to have a hair cut or not. Fine, let me have it. And I felt a change; I was not the same guy who went about being ruthless in his work; I thought I was reborn, and I knew I was transformed emotionally, and now I was ready to look at life from a different perspective.
Just a week before the finals, I had my hair cut. I feel one of the bold moves I ever made considering the stake of the finals. I didn’t want this hair; I wanted to get out of this, it was a sort of force holding me. I wanted to be liberated. Liberated I was after the haircut.
The finals were to be held at ITC Sheraton, Mumbai. All expenses for flight, hotel stay, transfers, etc., were paid by the Times of India and BP (Bharat Petroleum).