I have seen Vinod Kambli cry...

I have seen Vinod Kambli cry. Not like grown men cry when they lose someone important in their life, but like children do, when they feel helpless and confused and frustrated...

More than 15 years have passed since that Semi-final in Eden Gardens in World Cup 1996. But those images refuse to leave me. The image of Kambli crying. The image of the stands at Eden Garden burning. The image of glass bottles littered on the ground. The image of the Ranatunga leading his men off the ground.

As kids, I remember, the only sport we followed was cricket. Kids those days didnt follow football or F1. Most of us didnt even know what FIFA stood for. For us, there was only one sport that mattered - Cricket.

I was 11 when 1996 World Cup was played in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. You didnt learn the significance of this event till you saw men standing outside Electronics stores, standing on their toes to get one glimpse of the batsman. You didnt realise the importance of the World Cup till you heard your male friends talk about the last match, very much like their fathers did with their friends, singing praises of the players if India won and completely degrading them if India lost!

I remember asking my father if India had ever won the World Cup. I dont know if you remember, but for some reason, we had very little faith in our players back then.It was that era when Indians didnt deem India good enough to win any major sporting competition. I was pleasantly surprised when I learnt that we had..Kapil Dev's men had.. So did that mean we could do it again? Of course we could! And we were playing at home!

Then came the quarter finals of India vs. Pakistan. You thought Wednesday's game was awesome? Wait till I tell you this -

Have you, in all the matches you have watched, seen an umpire ask a batsman to ask the crowd in the stands to keep noise levels down coz he cant hear the stump mic? Well, I have. The batsman was Ajay Jadeja! He went hitting the Paki bowlers out of the park and the crowd went crazy, so much so, the noise levels didnt allow the umpire to hear the stump mic! Jadeja had to walk up to the stands and request them to shut the hell up! How cool, just how cool, is that!!!

We went into the semi-finals hoping to thrash Sri-Lanka out of the tournament. We believed we could do it. It had been 2 World Cups since we last won. We thought we could win. Only, we didnt win....

I have such a clear memory of that match in Eden Gardens... The one we lost to Sri Lanka.

I dont know why I remember it so clearly. Maybe it is because it was my first heart-break. Maybe it was because I had learnt that cricket players, the ones whom we saw hit humongous sixers out of grounds the size of our school campus, while we at age 11 couldnt even connect bat to ball properly, were after all human. They felt hurt and helpless just like we did when we got a poor score in Math.

I have such a clear memory of that fateful match...I even remember the commentary. I remember Srinath got Jayasurya and Kaluwitharna out cheaply. I remember the hindi commentator exclaiming "Aaj toh Javagal srinath ball nahi, aag ke gole barsa rahe hain!" At home we rejoiced. The two danger men were out cheaply. Only to be undone by a strong partnership between Arvind D'Silva and Ranatunga.

But we still thought we could win that match. After all, we had Sachin in the team. And then I remember during the 24th over when wickets were falling all around him the commentator said - "He's trying, he's trying hard.. But this is a big ground and he is a small man..." The fact that small man has now close to 100 centuries in One dayers is another story.

I remember how the Indian supporters turned against Indian team all in a matter of hours. A section of Eden Gardens started throwing glass bottles on the ground & burning down the wooden seats.



Vinod Kambli had come in to bat at no.5 and he had seen his team mates depart on what was turning out to be a mine-field of a wicket... He had hung in there for an hour or so scoring around 10 runs or so... It was impossible that India would win. The crowd in Eden Gardens couldnt take that defeat well...

The umpires called the game off and Ranatunga lead his team off the ground. Vinod stayed behind hoping that the crowd will give him one last chance. But the rioting didnt stop. As he walked back to the pavillion, alone, he burst into tears.




I was just 11. I had never seen a grown man cry before. You were made fun of and called names if you cried in front of your friends, and here Vinod was, crying in front of a live crowd. His team mates in the dressing room saw him, his friends must have been watching him on TV, his parents must have seen him... He cried in front of the nation.

Heroes shouldnt cry in front of their fans... It makes the fans realise how ordinary their heroes are, how human.

Vinod's career after that match was rather uneventful. He had a forgettable average. He was dropped from the team soon and then soon, he gave up cricket.

***

Come saturday we will face the Lankans again. Only this time, we wont lose. 15 years have passed since that semi-final. Now, it's our time.

We are going to win the world cup 2011.

I am not being cocky. I am just telling you what fate has in store for us.

It would be unfair to not grant Sachin his World Cup. It would be unfair to Sourav Ganguly after all the work he put in to make this a world champion. It would be unfair to Dhoni after the leadership he has shown. It would be unfair to all Indians who are born after 1983, for they havent seen an Indian lift the World Cup. It would be unfair for those 50 year olds, who were 25 when Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup and have been waiting ever since to see the Indian team win the cup again.

It would be unfair if India didnt win. It is no longer about which team played better cricket on that day. It is about destiny.

And our destiny, is no longer, a matter of chance...


UPDATE: Indians have WON the World Cup 2011!!! (02 April 2011)
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The Screwdriver : The awesomeness of youth


I was a good kid. Really was. And then a good teenager. My parents must have been really proud of me or something. I think the problem with being a good kid is that you start seeing yourself as the world sees you.


Engineering like other professional courses, if done properly, ends up teaching you more about life than about the subject itself. It pushes you to your limit, makes you realise that you might be the best in the city, but stand 15th in your class coz all 14 of them are the best in the city! It is not a good thing for a 20 year old's ego.

I first heard "The Sunscreen song" when I was 20 years old and in the 2nd year of Mechanical Engineering.





I was undergoing a very difficult phase. I think the process of becoming a man from a boy is always a difficult one. No, it is not a physical or a hormonal process. You could be 35 and still be just a boy. This process is tougher, it's emotional, but once you are through, there is nothing quite like it.


Everyday, through Facebook messages and fan mails, I have 20 year olds, not very unlike the way I was, asking for advice about how they could get their girls back or how difficult their jobs are or how confused they are regarding a career choice they have to make. I wish I could answer all their emails and offer them advice, in spite of the fact that I am as ordinary as they come and dont have much experience in life and such compared to what their parents, siblings, friends would have, I do wanna help.



The Screwdriver.






As a young boy, I watched my Mechanical Engineer father fix a broken hinge or a loose compartment door with just a twist of a Screwdriver. Screwdriver fixes everything. No tool box is complete without a screw driver.



If I can offer you one advice for the future, Screwdriver would be it.



I am going to dispense that advice - Now.



Enjoy the awesomeness of your youth, even if youth to you means studying 12 hours a day, commuting to college, attending boring lectures, bruised hearts and itchy pimples. You will look back on these years, sitting on the swivel chair in your office, looking out of the window, sipping coffee...... And feel proud of yourself.



Take time to set your beliefs and form your opinions. Then work hard to defend them. All this while keeping allowances, for they might not be all correct.



Sing.


Even if you don't like your voice. Even if others dont. Bathrooms were designed to make you better singers and nobody has to know.



Don't be jealous of people around you who you think have got it all... When you get to know them better, you realise they dont! Their lives are only as perfect as yours and the millions around you. If you learn to do this, tell me how.



Love.


Love someone... even if you hate the world... love at least one person & when you do, do so with everything you got... It's not love if it doesnt take everything you got.



Spend some time on a beach or a hill. You will realise you probably arent as important as you thought!



Make somebody smile each day.


And when you find that smile you want to spend your life with, let them know...



Do get married.


In spite of what the divorce rates in your country tell you, In spite of what your divorced friends tell you... if you want someone for life, make them yours...


Do NOT sign pre-nuptials, it is the worst thing you could do to yourself.



Understand that money brings freedom to you, but making money needs you to give your freedom away.



Be minimalistic in the way you live your life. Buying many things or too many things you dont want, will make you give up a lot of things you will need in the future. If you don't understand this statement, dont worry, everything will be alright...



Everything is alright. In spite of the 70 year olds who keep telling you that its not. Dont worry, you will be 70 one day and feel the same. But till you reach that age - Everything is alright.



Write.


Even if you cant throw a sentence together. Write something for someone - even if it's a thank you note for the old lady at the bakery.



Support the underdog in a fight. The stronger competitor has fans. All the underdog's got is your support!



There is no better feeling in the world, than proving the world wrong. Prove the world wrong. Time and again.



Put trust in yourself. And then work hard to keep it.



Don't be scared to be alone. That is the only time you will get to learn more about yourself.



Understand that your salary, like other unimportant things in your life like your high school scores, is just a number.



Don't watch porn or Do watch porn.


Either way, know that porn, like a Tarantino movie - has no class and no hint of reality to it.



Nature has a plan for you. Be smart enough to decipher it. Go turn off the light in the living room. Now.



Spend some time away from the cities in the open world. It will do you a world of good.



Run.


If you are ashamed to, run behind a bus, acting like you have to catch it. If the bus stops, quietly walk away. There will be another day, another bus.



Remember the compliments, forget the criticisms. However, dont let either change who you are!


Don't feel bad if something that you worked hard for didnt pan out. If this didnt, something else will. I can't tell you what, but something...



Laugh, out loud. (Don't let it be just an internet acronym)



Listen to your parents. Respect their wisdom. But take your own decisions and be man enough to stick by them. Take responsibilty of the consequences.



Love your parents. Love your siblings. They are a lot like you and you will miss them when you dont get to see them everyday.



Believe in Karma. The world is a system that works according to rules. In 25 years of my life I have realised that Karma is definitely one of them.



Dont be heartbroken by failure, in love or life... Learn from it and know that success wont taste so sweet if it wasnt for the failures.



Have kids. Cute ones. Know that biological clock that's ticking? It was put there for a reason.



Live in suburban Mumbai once, learn first hand why there is nothing like it in the whole wide world... But leave once you start falling in love, for you wont be able to live anywhere else... Live in Old Delhi once, you will know why it's awesome to be Indian.



Everything that's good and bad in this world is due to ego. Only if we could learn to use it better.



Look at your best friends through the years, try to find what traits were common in them - you will end up knowing yourself better... If you have had the same best friend through the years, know that you are very lucky.



Dont be ashamed if you are 20 and dont know what to do with your life - You have such thoughts when you think you can do everything, but just cant decide what you wanna do. Dear 20 year old, rejoice, for you will do well in life.



Advice is almost always autobiographical, only, it's more optimistic than the autobiography itself. Be careful as to whose advice you buy. But be patient with the ones who supply it.



But whatever you do, keep a screwdriver in your toolbox.Trust me, Screwdriver fixes everything!


-Arshat Chaudhary


__________________________________


Dedicated to all the early 20 year old followers of this blog, my facebook fans and everybody who is young and going through a crisis. Trust me, It ll be alright.

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