It's been a fabulous weekend so far. I can sense Durga... feel her presence.... she is here, for sure!Even my frangipani looks happy after being whipped by the retreating monsoon. Last night's crescent hanging low in the sky, over the tranquil bay right outside my window, made me want to sing and dance with abandon!Did I? Well. Only inside my head. I spent a deliciously soothing evening enjoying an intimate dinner with Anandita. Today, I shall be 'Burbs bound. Haven't visited Bhawana in years. I want to touch the feet of her Devi.... stop by a Pujo Baadi. Mumbai always looks beautiful at this time of the year. With luck, I may even get to crash a dandiya raas celebration and enjoy Falguni Pathak's irresistible performance ( she is outstanding, and has been away from the city for too many years during Navratri). Khaman Dhokla, here I come!
This appeared in the Sunday Times today....
Too many Sacred Cows in India….
Lighten up, everybody!The sky is not about to fall if a Bad Boy cricketer from across the border has the temerity, the himmat, to say a few rude things about one of our national icons – Sachin Tendulkar. Tauba! Tauba! Even in his wildest dreams, the wild-eyed, wild-haired, wild-tempered Rawalpindi Express, the man who was once known as the world’s fastest bowler, the mercurial madman Shoaib Akhtar, could not have anticipated the hostile response in India to his recently launched autobiography, aptly titled ‘Controversially Yours’.This is plain ridiculous. Aren’t we over reacting to a comment that is neither scurrilous nor defamatory? Akhtar has said far worse stuff about himself! If the man was boasting about his fast deliveries, and their effect on Sachin, let him boast. Cricket history is not encrypted or classified info. The footage speaks for itself. Shoaib,the enfant terrible (on and off the maidan), is known for shooting his mouth off. If his autobiography does indeed take a few well- aimed pot shots at contemporaries, so what?Did readers really want a goody- goody book from this naughty-naughty man? Thank God, he has had the guts to say it like it is. Most other, cricket stars have penned the most bloodless accounts of their lives, opting for safe, over racy. Apart from the Aussies, who make careers out of bad mouthing team mates and rivals, most cricketers make lousy , darpok writers. Shoaib has shown spunk in plenty, and let’s be a little less huffy and a bit more sportsmanlike about his take on our Sachin.
We are a nation of particularly thin-skinned individuals. We refuse to laugh at ourselves. And we abhor criticism. We worship our heroes to a ridiculous extent. And are a bit too hyper- touchy if an ‘outsider’ utters a single negative word about our sacred cows ( too many of those, to begin with). Several biographies have been ‘banned’ by mysterious sources for mysterious reasons, because they do not adhere to the cheesy hagiography format we prefer. Any number of well-researched, credible biographies remain in warehouses because of arbitrary injunctions filed by interested parties. In the case of Shoaib’s book, we have gone a step further, by canceling its official launch,choking debate and effectively bowing down to political pressure. While Sachin is indeed a much admired global sports figure, to have fans holding ‘Sachin is our God’ posters , is plain nonsensical (Shoaib promptly retorted, “ He may be your God, not mine.”).Pity CCI officials in Mumbai beat a hasty retreat and canned the event. Had we shown more maturity and confidence about the so-called ‘offensive’ remarks, perhaps we could have engaged Shoaib in a chat-patta dialogue and given him the chance to defend his comments. What a terrifically lively press conference that would have been!
Our Sacred Cows are really lucky! Their followers do all the dirty work for them. Sachin himself has maintained a discreet silence and sensibly ignored Shoaib’s taunt, preferring to focus his time and energy on a different sort of move – the one to his brand new, five-storeyed magnificent mansion ( a ‘decent’home, is what he calls it) in Bandra. A destination that is bound to become as important a landmark as ‘Antilia’ or ‘Mannat’. By blanking out Shoaib’s zingers, Sachin has once again proved what a superb tactician he is – why open flood gates when silence works better? In any case, Pakistani cricketers ( and politicians) have consistently generated more controversy than our ‘Boys’. Take Imran Khan’s most recent book, “Pakistan: A Personal History’which is perfectly timed, what with Imran being touted as the next prime minister of Pakistan. It is not half as spicy as Shoaib’s, but there’s still enough masala in it to qualify as a good read.Will India ever get a neta to write a ‘tell all’ memoir?How about it, Chidambaram? Pranabda? India has a lot of catching up to do. But by threatening Shoaib and demanding an apology, we have only displayed our own touchiness. Sachin may be a national treasure, and a great cricketer. God bless him! But he gets handsomely compensated for occupying that position. Let’s stop behaving like miffed school kids and accept there will always be other, less adulatory opinions. Let’s learn to take a few barbs on the chin and sportingly face those demon balls bowled at 100.2 mph.It’s hard to believe, but we were the world’s number one cricket team till pretty recently.Sachin still remains India’s darling.The Rawalpindi Express got derailed long ago.