HOW TEST CRICKET RECRUITED A NEW FAN

19th December 2020, it was supposed to be the first day of holidays for my five-year-old son, Christmas holidays. The time zone ensured that it was early hours that would upset the entire day’s schedule.

Pink ball cricket. On Day one, he saw it briefly after his return, on day two of the test match he saw Pat Cummins rip through Prithvi Shaw’s defences, and before he could watch more of it, stumps were called. So, the Saturday of 19th December would have been an ideal opportunity to show and explain Test cricket in detail to my son. The timings of the Pink Test were best suited for his sleeping hours.

He had questions, and I thought the best way to learn is while watching the game.

The unforgettable 36 happened just as my son woke up. He watched Australia chase down the target, and it was an opportunity lost, there was not enough time to explain the intricacies of Test cricket. As an Indian cricket fan, I was hurting, and he could sense that, and said, “India played badly, right?”

“It is a bad result, and there are three more Test matches to go,” I replied.

CHRISTMAS AND FEVER

Unlike the previous years, this time Christmas and Fever went hand-in-hand for reasons well-known throughout the world. Switzerland was under mini-lockdown, and the kids (my son and my two nieces)  had a different experience of the holidays. As a family, we embraced the holiday, and I was looking forward to spending the holidays leading up to the new year in Zurich, after 11 years.

Of course, there was cricket and the ease of not having to go out to work.

Living in a tiny landlocked nation of Switzerland, cricket is not one of the sports that comes to one’s mind, and as a father who loves this beautiful sport, I wanted to ensure my son wasn’t behind on this front.

In the days leading to the Melbourne Boxing Day Test, we caught up on some highlights of India’s previous Test matches. He absorbed the new names and kept pestering why individual players who played in the IPL aren’t playing with ‘white shirts.’

BOXING DAY

At 12.30 am Central European Time, the match started. I slept and didn’t watch any action until the last few overs of the day. To see Australia rattled for 195 on the first day of the Boxing Day test match reinvigorated my spirits to change my sleep schedule moving forward.

My son and I watched the highlights, and boy, was he delighted to see the likes of ‘Gill,’ ‘Siraj,’ ‘Pant,’ and ‘Jadeja’ in action. On occasions, we watched the entire innings or crucial passages of play.

Thanks to the subscription these days, one could watch (in my case re-watch) the repeat telecast and this way my son didn’t miss much of the action as he could watch it live. Rahane’s hundred, Jadeja’s sword winding fifty ensured India took the lead.

The rate at which my son absorbed the nuances was remarkable, and it always ended in questions. Why is Kohli not playing, he played the previous match. Who is the captain of the team?

Why doesn’t Rahane captain the Delhi Capitals team? Isn’t that wide? How come no free hits after a no-ball?

They are playing slow, and bowlers are not taking wickets.

And, the best of all, why does Paine keep saying ‘bowling Gary’?

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The concept of ‘lead’ is an integral part of Test cricket. Both teams play out the first innings to ensure they take the lead, while the second innings are all about maintaining the lead.

In the end, a team with a lead after the second innings for both teams wins the match. In some cases, one doesn’t need the fourth inning.

The explanation became easy; India won because they scored more than Australia. The series tied at 1-1. By the end of the second Test, Pujara and Vihari, the two-non Iimited over players were etched to his vocabulary. And the test match ended on Day four.

THE NEW YEAR AND THE PINK TEST

It was status-quo when it came to events that were happening around the world. Vaccine administration started to raise the hopes for a better future, and amidst all this, many forgot they still had to deal with the present, and that’s the hardest part.

By the time the pink Test started, his school had resumed, and he had a tough time waking up in the initial days. The test match’s commentary was enough to make him get out of bed, get ready, and the day’s play got over around the same time as he had to leave for school. It worked out perfectly.

Navdeep Saini, Rohit Sharma, David Warner and Will Pucovski played the Test.  Australia took the lead and going into the final day, my son asked, how long do they keep playing. This Test gave him the answer as both teams had to play the fifth day, the last of a Test match for the first time in the series.

Rohit Sharma and Gill provided the start, Pujara led the resistance, Pant gave hope while Vihari and Ashwin guarded the fort to ensure the match ended in a draw against a threatening bowling line-up.

Now, what was a draw? And how do you explain to a five-year-old? Once again, the world of games came to my rescue. From time-to-time, my son and I play chess. He is learning, and occasionally I lose, however most of the time I win. Sometimes I ensure the game reaches a point where we are left with set pieces that result in neither a win nor a loss, hence ‘a draw’ – a conclusion where both teams have won and not won at the same time.

By comparing the parallels between chess and cricket, it was easy to explain the concept of a draw in Test cricket. It isn’t’ a tie, and so far, he knows all ties in cricket are broken by a super over.

He doesn’t know about the 1960 Brisbane Test and 1986 Chennai Test. He will get to this slowly and in time.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING AT THE GABBA

The government announces that the ‘mini-lockdown’ open to multiple interpretations will be extended until February. In cricket, it was a trip to the Australian fortress, the Gabba at Brisbane.

No Bumrah, no Ashwin, no Jadeja and in came the two debutants, Washington Sundar, T. Natarajan and Shardul Thakur, playing in his second Test match after he injured himself in his debut Test match.

The fourth test match was a re-enactment of David and Goliath in a field that has traditionally favoured the Goliath. If India were to lose the Test match, and the series 1-2, it would not have created major headlines or attracted the critics’ wrath as long as they remained in the game for most parts of the five days.

For Australia’s score of 369, India replied, falling short of Australia by 33 runs. Honours even after first innings, with a little over two days left.

A draw or an Australian win seemed the only two possibilities with the weather playing a role towards the end. At lunch on Day five, India stood one per cent chance of winning, while draw seemed the most favourable one with 75% and Australia 24%.

Two sessions left, and 62 overs to be bowled—245 runs to win at a rate close to four an over.

It was three in the morning, and my eyes didn’t flinch, my mantra for each delivery was, one ball at a time. I was in a trance, a sort of Pujara-esque, intensely focussed on every aspect of each delivery that was bowled. I relaxed seconds after the delivery was released until the bowler went back to his run-up, repeat the same thing each ball.

It was meditative, and when there was a break, I closed my eyes for the interval duration. It was back to resuming my duties as a fan for another 25 overs. The umpire called tea with India needing 145 runs in 37 overs at less than four runs an over. Australia needed seven wickets and a new ball due in 17 overs.

ALL FOUR RESULTS POSSIBLE

My son woke up at the start of the third session; he came to me with an evil smile. My trance was disturbed, and I was out of rhythm for a few minutes. As a parent, one has to be good at reacting. No amount of preparation or planning can help if you don’t respond on time.

My son started asking questions, he was like, why any wickets aren’t falling, and I had to explain what was at stake. Wickets will help Australia win, chasing the runs will win it for India. Or else, there might be a draw. I was about to say, maybe a tie, and I stopped myself from uttering that term.

He calmed down, and I moved around in between deliveries to get him ready. No, it isn’t such an issue. I am mentally tuned to work between deliveries or even study. He had his breakfast by the time the new ball was taken. Cummins to bowl, and the next few overs can decide which way the match was heading.

Pujara out and 118 deliveries were in play.

Six wickets left and a round figure of 100 still needed for India.

Pant and Agarwal, the new man at the crease, went about to win the match. Agarwal had a brain fade, he scooped it straight to Wade, and Cummins towards the end of his marathon spell raised hopes for Australia. Crucially, 33 runs were added.

Pant for India, Cummins for Australia, and it seemed only two results were possible. India winning or Australia winning.

My son was now putting on his gear for school. There was time, with a flurry of boundaries, my son could witness what would be a historic finish.

Sundar took on Cummins, Pant went after Lyon, and my half-hearted meditative trance was completely thrown off. Pant dictated it, he took it upon himself and sooner I gave in, the better it was. The southpaw dictated the match and my mind.

India reaches 302 with 37 deliveries left in the Test match. Twenty-six runs, surely there isn’t a twist to this fairy tale, a fleeting thought.

The four byes off Lyon is an indicator that it isn’t Australia’s day. After completing the over, the deficit was further reduced by 15 runs, India needed 24 runs.

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I am at the door watching my son as he put on his cap, shawl, his traffic band, and his snack box.

In between, the flow of commentary makes it possible for me to run back to watch the action. I would have made my son stay longer if there wasn’t a German class, 30 minutes before the kindergarten started. Reluctantly he left, one of the tasks from the morning was ticked.

Hazlewood to Pant, two runs off two consecutive deliveries and in between I checked to see if my son had crossed the road and was he walking towards the kindergarten.

Pant takes a single off the third delivery. Hazlewood to Sundar, five wickets to take, 19 runs for India. The memories of Hazlewood taking five wickets for eight deliveries crossed my mind, but the four leg byes off the next ball brushed aside that thought.

The runs were coming in a hurry; five runs more added to the total bringing down the equation to ten runs.

And, then Sundar lost it for a moment, Lyon took his 399th scalp. Four wickets left. Pant takes on Hazlewood, scores a boundary, safely hands the strike to Thakur. Two more runs and Thakur mistimes his flick, one more wicket. From an Indian perspective, Pant crossed over. Two balls from the over, will Pant be able to take the strike?

A wide delivery, intentionally bowled by Hazlewood to ensure Pant doesn’t go off-strike. It was late in the day, Hazlewood was bowling the last delivery of his 22nd over, he tries to bowl wide of the off-stump, doesn’t get it right, a full toss timed down the ground, they take one, they scamper for the second, and before they start the third run, the ball trickles to the boundary. Siraj and Shaw start running towards the middle.

India wins the Test match, the fortress of Gabba breached, and importantly India wins the series.

A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME WIN

Seldomly we label events in our lives as once-in-a-lifetime unless you are a person who is habitually into using such clichés.

The words “Can’t wait to get to the Gabba” must have been echoing in an endless loop on Paine’s mind. How fitting it would have been if Ashwin were to be at the crease when India hit the winning runs, maybe it tasted even better without Ashwin, India’s most experienced bowler and player.

I was nervous watching the 2001 Test match in Chennai when Harbhajan Singh hit the winning runs off Glenn McGrath, here, I wasn’t anxious, I had no control over my emotions, Pant had owned it, for most of the final two hours.

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In the Western Hemisphere, the cricketing world woke up to this stunning display of cricket by Indians who lived in a bubble for the past four months. First, it was in the Middle-East during the IPL and immediately after that in Australia. Personal sacrifices only make this victory taste sweeter.

Working with IPL closely, I had come to know first-hand about the progress and processes placed by the BCCI. The back-to-back series wins in Australia are no fluke, or down to sheer luck, every achievement though seemed impossible has a backstory, a narrative worth discovering.

My son missed it, and after his return, his first question was, unsurprisingly, how much did Pant score? I had assured him that I would show him the repeat of the action he missed in the morning.

He rejoiced and saw the match, and I relived watching him enjoy as India chased down the target. He starts running, jumping saying Pant scores 89 and imitates what Pant does on the field, buoyed by the win.

My five-year-old, Test cricket’s newest fan!

One month on, India finished victorious after an embarrassing display when all went wrong on Adelaide’s Test’s third morning. At 36, I saw that score of 36 as a one-off anomaly. From what we know in life, the moment passes, the memories remain, once the hangover of the defeat settles, the next challenges present itself. You are continuously defined by how you handled the challenges, especially after the failure.

Yes, we must enjoy this victory for as long as possible as such successes are rare in cricket, and these experiences are once-in-a-lifetime.

I Don’t Know

There is a temptation, without a blink of an eye,

aware that how my life has gone so far.

And, yet in the comfort of one’s home,

Deep down my heart cries with the words, I don’t know.

 

The sound of a soul in distress,

do you know how it sounds?

For I have been privy to once in a while,

Not this time as the words I don’t know have never been clearer.

 

Like always it is occasional, so uttered my mind,

as I turned away, to focus on mundane things.

However, it was different this time as my heart pounded,

I don’t know, I don’t know.

 

The external voices, and these internal voices,

I struggled to pay attention to both.

For one I get the minutes in an email,

What about the other? I don’t know, I don’t know.

 

Neither the comforting food is offering solace,

nor chatting with my peers.

I find it hard to have a space of my own,

So that I can know why the voices say, I don’t know, I don’t know.

 

How do I share this feeling, call my mate?

Or should I let it unfold like it always did?

And, at that precise moment, the cries intensified,

I don’t know, I don’t know.

 

I ran, ran and ran till I reached the top of the town,

With no one around, it was a comfort zone.

Mustered all the courage and uttered it loud,

I don’t know, I don’t know.

 

At last, my mind synced with those cries,

As I dived into the precious sounds of silence.

Those few words were a tonic to the ones that affected me,

I don’t know, but I will figure it out.

 

It isn’t easy to utter I don’t know,

Unless backed up by the raw courage.

No one but you can find it,

I don’t know, and it is okay.

 

The path to my immediate life became clearer,

With the journey thus far being memories.

Each step forward is a step unknown,

And, that’s the beauty of it, because I don’t know.

 

Moments later, the fear factor of the unknown returns,

With a promise to never let me go.

The struggle continues, will it be eternal?

Maybe I do know the answer, or maybe I don’t know.

A HOLE IN THE DREAM SCRIPT

In the matrix world, Mr. Anderson had no chance, and yesterday for the first half of the game, it seemed that way – until Kevin Anderson snatched the script and decided to re-write it his way, the conclusion from his perspective.

From an audience point of view, it is crucial when two people are involved; both play versions must be visible to remember it as a contest.

Anderson is not young; at 32 years, he is five years younger than Federer. Being two sets down, one could not think about anything but a Federer’s win. And, that is when sport surprises you when you least expect it.
However, unlike the sprints, or timed contests, tennis is an open-ended marathon, where one must emerge victorious after hours of sweat, pain, and tears. There are no rewards for the playstyle barring the claps and cheers and certainly no substitute for a win.

The South African had his moment last year when he played the US Open finals against Nadal. However, last year’s men’s tennis’ script had no room for re-writes or corrections – it was perfect.

And, that script continued to dictate the terms until Kevin Anderson took it upon himself to change the story’s course. The past six Grand Slam titles were shared equally by Federer and Nadal – it was tied at 3-3, and if not for Anderson’s win, it certainly seemed like a repeat of 2008 when Nadal and Federer enthralled the Wimbledon audience for hours and hours.

Yesterday’s encounter, we saw Federer show his class. And then came the sub-plot, Anderson crawling back into the match, winning the third set, and then being level on the playing court.

It was then a matter of physical prowess and finesse. At the end of 24 games in the final set, the sub-plot seemed to have worked. Anderson, too has an elaborate role now and no longer a supporting actor.

Now that Anderson deservingly in the limelight, he has the stage and the global attention to continue his fantastic adventure. There are two more hurdles left, the semi-final clash against Isner and a potential final against Nadal or Djokovic.

However, it is not about Nadal or the comeback story of Djokovic. It will be a story of two tall men in their mid-30s, serving aces at ease, playing the best tennis of their lives to win their first Grand Slam title. Come Sunday, only one of them has a chance.

Their opponent is as big as they can get – Nadal or Djokovic. Djokovic’s comeback is suitable for tennis. He will look to do better Nadal and add one more to the three Wimbledon titles he has won.

And, Nadal! He is left on his own. Any chance of that dream final in whites against Federer is gone. They have to be satisfied with that 2008 twilight last, and so must the audience. However, he is one of the two lead protagonists of that ‘dream script.’

Will he continue to hold on to the perfect script written 18 months ago, or will he be another victim of an unforeseen but pleasant script change?

Image – Reuters

Photo of sebastian-vettel

IN A LONELY PLACE

Is this a new low for Sebastian Vettel? After the recently concluded Japanese Grand Prix, it now requires a miracle to turn his fortunes around. Yes, he has done it in the past, remember 2010 or 2012 season? However, this time around, things are different, and so do the opponent.

Talking about the opponent, I am not referring to Lewis Hamilton, the ghosts reside within Vettel, and it is ambling its way out since the 2014 season. What we have witnessed this year is its acceleration. The highs of this season have come to terms with disappointments, and it is not over.

What can go wrong? Another four no finishes in the remaining races?  Overtaken by Bottas and Max Verstappen in the points tally? Suddenly, the season looks ordinary. Mind you, this has nothing to do with the car’s performance in general.

The last time I saw Ferrari this dominant was in 2008, albeit 2010 comes close. The 2012 season went into the final race thanks to the impressive drives made by Fernando Alonso.

The team Ferrari is mercurial, and that’s the way they play the game. Most people fail to understand the DNA with which they are wired. People look for logical explanations, curated PR messages and expect Ferrari to appease the non-Italian journalists. If you are expecting them to behave like a well-oiled corporate entity, then forget it.

At the heart of its operations, it is conducted as an extension of the family business, and to be honest, there is nothing wrong with it. They do as they wish and they are in the sport for the passion and not to forget the money.

The former term ‘passion’ separates Ferrari from the rest of the pack in Formula One. In Formula One’s history, enough examples illustrate Ferrari in the F1 business for the long haul, whereas other competitors have been selective.

For Ferrari, all is fair in love in the war of F1 business/politics.

In such a setup, Vettel has re-discovered himself, and in that process, he is letting the ghosts out within him. And, he must let them out to come back as a better driver both on and off the track.

Frustration, ego, anger have masked the fact that he is a four-time world champion. Currently, Vettel is in a lonely place.

And, with it, the time is ripe for introspection. He isn’t the same care-go-free Wunderkind as he used to be four years ago. Things have changed, and the winless years have contributed to this mini-crisis.

The last time Vettel won a driver’s world championship, Michael Schumacher was sound and healthy (2013). Unlike his formative years and his early days in F1, his mentor isn’t around for the past four years.

There would have been no better person than Michael Schumacher to talk about driving and his current ailments. The seven-time world champion went four seasons without a win with the Italian team before winning five consecutive titles between 2000 and 2004.

Not just winning, during those five years and up until his first retirement in 2006, we saw a different Schumacher. He had overcome the image of a ruthless, arrogant driver whose antics made headlines over his exceptional driving skills.

The accident at the 1999 British Grand Prix was the timeout Schumacher needed. Not just physically, he came back to the sport mentally more formidable and more robust. That made a lot of difference during that winning streak, a regular 2005 season and a close 2006 season.

Vettel is no Schumacher; however, both have tasted success relatively early in their careers. There comes a time in every person’s life when one should come to terms with who they are. An honest conversation within is a good starting point.

In the current case of Vettel, if Ferrari performs as well as they have this season, there is nothing he needs to worry about from the machinery point of view. He must bring his new avatar onto the racing track sans excess negative emotion currently in him. That’s something he must invest time into before the start of the next season.

Until then, Vettel is in a lonely place, and only he can turn his fortunes around.

Image – SkySports

Photo of Indian Women Cricket Team World Cup 2017

Remember the TITANS

A few days ago, while I was watching India vs. Australia, my eight-year-old niece joined me and asked, ‘what is the score’? I promptly replied what I saw on the screen.  Seconds later, her curious mind asked, ‘are they India and Australia?’

I wasn’t surprised, considering she has been asking me about cricket all these years. I looked at her and nodded, and went back to watching. She grabbed a chair and sat next to me.

Now for the first time that evening, her attention was entirely on the cricket match. She is sharp, and within no time, she enquired, ‘are these girls who are playing cricket?’

She looked at me, waiting for an answer, and at the same time, she was surprised.

“Yes, Meghna, it’s the Women’s World Cup.”

‘Oh, I didn’t know women had a cricket World Cup,’ she remarked.

This was the time I turned towards her and explained that women do play cricket, but not as much as the men do.

Meghna turned her attention back to the screen and said, ‘even I want to play cricket.’

“You know, Switzerland has a women’s team now. And, I will take you to their training session. You can see it for yourself.”

She was excited, and soon we saw the Indian women’s team taking the Australian team’s final wicket and thereby giving themselves a chance to win their maiden World Cup.

Meghna trains with her school friends in the local football team, where she is an aspiring goalkeeper. She occasionally plays cricket with me and boasts; she shook hands with Rahul Dravid as a three and half-year-old (and aptly, an autographed bat hangs on her room wall).

Today the women in blue came agonisingly close, and there are reasons why they didn’t win; however, today or this article isn’t the right forum to dissect the performance.

Instead, I would remember this World Cup as a catalyst and the enormous impact these Indian cricketers have had on many people living in India and abroad.

Cricket is a career option for Indian women, and this message has come out loud and clear.

These cricketers’ performance in the past weeks has given a much-needed boost, and only time will tell how India as a women’s cricketing nation will progress. It looks promising!

My gut feeling is that it has already inspired many young girls like Meghna, who can now seriously consider cricket as a career option or as an avenue to express themselves. Irrespective of whether they go on to play for the national team, a path has been carved.

I am disappointed like any other fan to see the team losing; however, looking at a broader picture, the year 2017 will be a defining year in the annals of Indian women’s cricket, just like 1983 remains for Indian cricket general.

Beyond Cricket!

Time has an exciting way to make us understand things in perspective. Two weeks ago, in our room in Salzburg, I saw India beat Pakistan. It was a great start to the tournament. Working in the sports industry and more so with cricket, I have learned to live the moment and just savior it. You know the age-old adage, this too shall pass.

Fast forward, two weeks later, the same two teams met, and this time it was the finals. India were firm favourites, and even the opposition knew it, and most of their countrymen on the media were marginally optimistic, if not confident.

The finals happened to be among the best two teams in the tournament, sorry England, you were good, but I am sure you are on the right track to winning your first ODI World Cup, which will take place on your home turf in 2019.

Before the day of the finals, I was asked what I felt about tomorrow’s match. The memories of the 1996 World Cup semi-finals and the 2003 World Cup finals came to my mind instantly. Don’t ask me why?

I had said, “India should stick to their strategy of batting first and score runs. In any case, the opposition would have done the same thing. I fear if they might opt to field first since Pakistan had chased down targets at ease in the lead-up to the finals.”

Hindsight is a great teacher, and minutes into the game, one feels it will be challenging for India. And the next few hours runs piled on, and wickets came now and then. The Pakistan score should have been much higher if not for India’s inspired bowling in the final five overs.

Indians would have had to bat close to 50 overs to have a chance. It didn’t matter what the score was for the first ten overs. If you are in the game with wickets in hand, anything is possible. I believe that is today’s mantra in limited-overs cricket.

A group of friends had gathered in a Zurich pub known to show cricket matches whenever it was on life. The place was filled with Indian fans, optimistic at the start of the second innings. After all, we have seen the same team chase down targets at will in the past.

Though professionals, cricket is a game that is played by humans. Like any sport, there is always room for the opposition to play better than you. And, so it happened. Rohit Sharma got out, Kohli got a life, and seconds later, he perished. Then Dhawan, Yuvraj, Dhoni, and Jadhav. It was inspired bowling performance than poor batting.

There were no tears of 1996 nor the irritation of 2003. It didn’t matter how the opposition was, for I saw the Indian team overshadowed by a better prepared Pakistan team.

And, then I heard arguments like, India played poorly. Two weeks ago, Pakistan’s performance resembled India’s defeat in the finals. I wish there were trophies awarded for every match. Would that have settled the argument?

It was heartening to see Kohli giving credit to the better team – it felt like you are having one of those bad days in life, and it boils down to owning it up or blaming it on someone else. I am glad the Indian captain chose the ‘right’ words on occasion.

One way to understand the meaning of ‘sport’ is to look beyond the team we support. Try working in the sports industry, live through the struggles, the pain, the agony, and the successes that come with it. I promise you will cease to be a mere fan; in fact, I am still struggling to identify the right word for what I have become.

After the match, the cricket discussion spread to other fans who had come to watch the finals. Disappointed, yes, we all were. But we all agreed on one thing – the better team indeed won, and it wasn’t our Indian team.

It took me a week to get over the shock of India’s 1996 loss, a couple of days after the 2003 defeat, and yesterday, the disappointment was for mere moments.

The result didn’t cloud my judgment to appreciate the sport I love very much nor ignore to give credit where it was due. It gave me clarity as to why I chose ‘sports.’

Marilyn Monroe, in her own words!!

Last year in the Fact Food section of Qwizzeria, I mentioned the most famous ‘Happy Birthday’ song the history has ever witnessed. It was Marilyn’s rendition to President JFK.

That fact, accompanied by the video (available on YT) on the FB page of Qwizzeria, remains popular today, shared and commented by people from all over the world.

It tells me about the impact Marilyn Monroe continues to have even to this day, and there is something magical about the Happy Birthday song, which happened to be her last public appearance.

The night of 19 May 1962 remains memorable even after fifty-five years. Among the large crowd gathered, with several artists, top brass politicians, and influential business people, Marilyn stood out when she entered the stage.

If JFK brought in flair, youth, and a fresh swagger into politics, Marilyn generated awe and had an aura that could not be fathomed.

Their union could have been the tale of the century; instead, it remained a fantasy that soon enveloped into tears as it was rumored the president overlooked Marilyn and passed her on to his younger brother Bobby.

The TV series MAD MEN, which chronicles the life of advertising and its personnel from the 1960s, has quite a few episodes that showcased JFK and Marilyn Monroe’s impact.

Leaving the drama aside, it is a well-known fact that Marilyn never forgave the Kennedy brothers for the way they treated her.

In the end, Marilyn remained a plaything for the rich Kennedy boys. There is nothing wrong with having dreams, and Marilyn’s heartbreak ensured the Cinderella dream is just for the storybooks. As quoted in the series Mad Men, the research showed, people preferred Jackie Kennedy as the ‘wife’ and not Marilyn.

I am not sure how the world has changed; however, women have greater rights, and their voices are heard much better than in the ’60s. Nevertheless, when cornered to an emotional cage, you choose to fight or fade away from the limelight. The latter chose Marilyn or the other way?

Months before her untimely death, Marilyn Monroe gave one of her best interviews to George Barris, a photographer and a good friend of hers. She talked about her life, the time when she was smitten by the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ –

“I remember seeing Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. I sat there in a trance until my worried mother came to take me home. I asked her if there was another world out there or if it was just my imagination. Could dreams come true? I wondered, Are the movies a make-believe land, just an illusion?”

And, if there were any truth to what happened to Owen Wilson in the movie ‘Midnight in Paris’, I would have loved to visit the Hollywood of the ’50s.

A conversation with Marilyn would be a bargain I settle for.

Though the glamour made her iconic, Marilyn knew it was demanding and believed she was in the wrong era – “I believe I am in the wrong era,” Marilyn was frank about the Hollywood she knew. “For example, many would pay me watch and for what? My body? Is that all I have got? I believe I have an excellent sense of humor, and I am underutilised.”

So, what era would she have belonged to?

“I love the 30’s. The glamour, the attention, it was less complex, demanding,” she would go on talking about the leading ladies of that era. “Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford, Bette Davies, Greta Garbo, Mae West, Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Rosalind Russell, Loretta Young…. and they are just the handful of them; all were glamorous in their own way.”

I agree with what she quoted. I have watched hundreds of movies belonging to the ’30s and 40’s – there was a mystic to the way actors and actresses went about their skills. The fuss over glamour was less, and the natural beauty came to the fore.

Should I blame the gruesome war and the after-effects of the way people began defining ‘glamour’? After all, a natural brunette had to be a blonde to become famous, and Marilyn was an example when she started in the film industry –

“During my modelling days, I was a brunette. Miss Emmeline Snively, who then ran the most extensive model agency in Los Angeles, kept insisting I become a blonde. But I refused; I didn’t want to bleach my hair. But she kept telling me, “Norma Jeane, if you expect to go places, you’ve got to be a blonde. ”

And the name…… Norma Jeane didn’t appeal, and Marilyn Monroe was born after a screen test with the Fox studios.

“I became Marilyn Monroe only after getting a contract from Fox Studios. Ben Lyon, who was the talent scout, suggested the name ‘Marilyn’ and my legal guardian, Aunt Grace inspired me to choose my mother’s maiden’s name ‘Monroe.'”

The name has remained fresh and alive with memories, stories, quotes, and rumors about who ‘Marilyn Monroe’ really was.

George Barris’s interview gives a sneak peek into her mind and her thought process devoid of glamour.

And then within days after sharing parts of her life, she was gone…. this time forever. And I am not sure she completed the two books (Captain Newman and To Kill a Mockingbird) she was reading at the time of the interview.

In her own words, she said, “I’m thirty-six years old. I’m just getting started. I want to work. Acting is my life…. I’m not the girl next door, I’m not a goody-goody, and I am not a victim of emotional conflicts. I am human.”

She would have been 91, had seen been alive! Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

(Quotes sourced from Marilyn’s interview with George Barris, Her Life In Her Own Words)

Why I Support Trump!

Read these few lines before concluding:

In 2002, I met this introvert with whom I shared an instant connection because of the ‘football’ club we support. On most occasions, it was ‘us’ versus ‘the other classmates’ and it was all fun.

He travelled close to 70 km each day (considering the Bangalore traffic) on public transport and never once complained about it. He went on to secure good grades, got campus placement and worked tenuously for eight years.

He loved life like anyone and his life changed two years ago, his juvenile diabetes triggered a reaction that has since resulted in problems in his kidney. He had to quit his job, undergo dialysis treatment (it is ongoing) and now he finds himself in a situation where kidney replacement is critical.

Luckily, a renowned hospital in Bangalore has found a kidney match for the transplant surgery.

His family and friends are doing their bit; however, it is the financial help along with the prayers that will help him recover and lead a life which we all deserve. The operation is due in less than a month.

His family has set up a contribution page through which you can contribute and give him the hope that is needed.

https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/multipleorgantransplant?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=fbpageshare&utm_campaign=multipleorgantransplant

Alternatively, you can deposit directly to his account here –

SBI Account details

A/c Name: Praveen Kumar matam

A/c no: 20085201868

IFSC code: SBIN0004456

ITPL Campus (Bangalore)

 

 

And, regarding Donald Trump.

 Forget about him and instead feel good by helping a fellow human.

MEMORIES

Memories, ah!

They are lovely and aware of my feelings; tonight, I have been reluctantly traveling down memory lane for some time. Quite noticeably, I recall random conversations that are dear to me. I am not sure what to name ‘the state I am in.’

I wish to go back and relive those moments, rekindle many a conversation, replant the several pranks, re-taste the foods from different cuisines, retake the journeys to other cities, and reconnect with people who have and remain in my life.

Memories,

There is plenty that’s stored, but none can come close to those real moments that formed these frames in my film of memories. Looking back, I would be prejudiced, for I seem to have known the outcome. Who cares!!

Memories,

It made me nostalgic, and I felt the world around me had stopped.

I ran as fast as I could to travel back in time, only to realise that I was merely a spectator and not an active participant.

I tried to put these thoughts aside and hit the bed; it didn’t work.

Minutes later, I decide to type, wondering if letting it out would offer me a meaning to what I was going through……

C’est la vie. That is time’s way of telling, “although there is a window to look back; there’s no living back.”

Memories…. beautiful memories… I am happy to have carried you all along.

 

Image – Wonder How To/Shutterstock

 

Why Nico Rosberg must be aggresive to win the title

There are no shortcuts to be a F1 world champion. In the final race of this year, it will be a showdown between the two Mercedes drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The Brit remains the in-form driver having won the last three races – yet, he trails Rosberg by twelve points. The difference illustrates what a stunning season the German driver has had thus far. And, irrespective of what Hamilton achieves, a place on the podium is enough for Rosberg to win his maiden driver’s title.

Let’s turn back to 2010, the final race at Abu Dhabi had three contenders to win the driver’s title. Fernando Alonso led Mark Webber by eight points. And, further seven points away was Sebastian Vettel.

We all know what happened, neither the Spaniard nor the Aussie won. The underdog Vettel won the race purely because he drove as though he had nothing to lose.

The pressure of the title showed on Alonso and on Webber and in the end Ferrari came out as the real losers, as one of the two Red Bull drivers benefitted. It was the defensive strategy by Ferrari that costed Alonso the driver’s title. The way I look at it, Rosberg is in a similar position to that of Alonso (from the 2010 season). If he must win, then he needs to bring his controlled aggression on the track and not merely look for the third place.

The Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have shown their pace and they might challenge the Mercedes for the podium places – clearly, they do not have anything to lose.

In a way, Hamilton is in similar position and although he has the driver’s championship to lose, he knows he can only win the race and hope Rosberg finishes outside of top three. Beyond that, the three-time champion cannot do much.

I have been critical of Nico Rosberg in the past. However, I have praised him this season for changing his attitude and being ruthless on most occasions on the track. In fact, I am rooting for him this season after having observed his drives throughout the year and not to forget, the ‘luck’ factor. 

So, the final race of this season will be defined by how Rosberg performs. 

Does he have the zeal to fight for the title or will he scoot around to finish third? For that, we must wait on Sunday for the season finale at Abu Dhabi.

The points scenario –
Lewis Hamilton (355 points)                                 Nico Rosberg  (367 points)

If Hamilton finishesThen Rosberg needs
1st (380 points)3rd (382 points)
2nd (373 points)6th (375 points)
3rd (370 points)8th (371 points)
4th (367 points)Rosberg is the champion

P.S – Some interesting facts
1. If Nico Rosberg were to win the 2016 driver’s title, he will become the second of the father-son combo to have won the title after Damon Hill clinched it in 1996.

2. Interestingly, Graham Hill won his first driver’s title in 1962 (he also won in 1968) and Keke Rosberg’s first title was in 1982. A 20-year gap in both cases of fathers and sons winning their first driver’s title (if Rosberg were to win the title).

Image – Morio