Wasim Raja: Jaaney kahaan gaye woh din...

Wasim Raja dies playing cricket”. And a lonely tear ambled towards the crease in my eye. I had written a bit about him early last year…

I have not been watching much cricket. I miss the times I used to. I suppose it is this nostalgia that has made me lose that genuine feeling of joy. Besides, it is no fun sitting alone before the TV set and celebrating a boundary or a sixer or marvelling at a superb catch or the flick of the bat or the run-up before the bowler breezes like a ball of fire or twists his wrist to spin.

As a child I was the only girl who watched. I admit to begin with it was to show off. Besides, pretending to be engrossed saved me from having to bring in the ‘drinks trolley’ during the breaks. The three maamus and one cousin would be seated in the room on the sofa and chairs; I preferred being sprawled on the carpet like some feudal lady with a bolster. I did not understand a thing of what was happening, but I could read the score!

Sometimes, I think the uncles were uncomfortable. They would curse, “Saala, itna asaan catch nahin le sakta tha…” and then cast furtive glances at this girl in their midst. With the years of excruciatingly slow growth as I saw it, I began to see the symphony in the game. The whites, the camaraderie, the spitting on the ball, the rubbing it (I recall giggling on such occasions, but of course everyone had to keep a deadpan face).

I started reading sports magazines. And reading up on cricket. Statistics, strategy; I knew about elegant strokes…and I could hold forth with at least some authority on the game. Of course the gentlemen in the house thought it was the guys on the field that were affecting my impressionable mind. There would be knowing smiles, “Imran?”

Huh? No. I thought it was absolutely essential to like someone, so I chose the one who could not reach a century, but played like a Sufi…reaching his 90s and then having to walk out; he was short, dark and had a beard. His name was Wasim Raja. I said aloud, “I like him.”

Ismey hai kya?

“He is elegant (yes, that word I had memorised)…and…”

I did not have the right words or the vocabulary. What I felt was this sadness of someone who is just short of reaching the peak. I felt no one else would like him, so I had to. I genuinely felt his pain.

Yes, I am a sucker for the underdog.

Wasim Raja proved to be much more than that.

Chaahe kaheen bhi tum raho, chaahenge tumko umr bhar
tumko naa bhool paaenge


Kaisa des hai mera...

This was the cover page of today's Times of India. Ustad Bismillah Khan graces the bottom. 'Crisis in cricket' takes up a large chunk of the top. This is respect for art, culture? Is this even tameez?

These publications run to sponsor events where their banners shout out their commitment to the arts; they even bring out music CDs on special occasions...but a dead man whose death will kill so much that is classy and classical lies at the bottom of their pit.

I understand sensationalism and have been a proponent of it too. But why does a cricketing problem, that too where we are not involved, get to sidle past the Ustad?

Ah, of course, it is about Pakistan. We have to give it front page banner headlines.

Fine. Now I only hope TOI does not capitalise on the shehnai shehenshah's demise and bring out a series of his works and make a lot of moolah with it.

And all this will go under the guise of shraddhanjali (tribute). My foot!

Then there were others that gave more respect, but yet it was milk-drinking idols that got more space.

That miracle thing has had a snowballing effect. After the 'Muslim' miracle, we just had to have a 'Hindu' one and, now comes news from Kochi that in one home the Virgin Mother's statue is dripping perfume. People are congregating there.

Is this devotion or just curiosity? Is this a branded perfume, by the way?

I love my India...hrmph...


Bolo Bismillah...

Ustad Bismillah Khan's shehnai has managed to make me feel elated as well as brought tears to my eyes.

Knowledgeable people will have a lot more to say. I am not knowledgeable. For me, it is images...

An old toothless smiling visage.
A cross-legged man at the banks of the Ganges like an aging Krishna.
A raconteur sitting on a khatiya regaling his interviewer with fading memories.
A musician who tranformed the humble wedding "toon-toon-toon" sound into pure classical syrup.
A sad man in need of money who had to write a couple of years ago to the prime minister to help him out with his medical expenses.
A happy man who refused to move out of his humble kutiya and yet became a global citizen.

His shehnai sounds came sometimes like the pahadi plaint of a lover on a mountain top and sometimes as a cry from the depth of the ocean of a drowning sigh.

Such souls in sounds live on. Only bodies perish.

Bismillah is always the beginning.


Play it again, Pam

Pamela Anderson on marrying Kid Rock mainly for the sex: "I'm not going to pretend it doesn't make a difference. I know women say size doesn't matter. But it does, at least for me. Put it this way, I can't see any down side to a man being well hung."

Most women don’t, but they are expected to say the same old things…

I wish…

1. Women would stop this crap about men with a sense of humour…these guys want us to laugh at all their jokes, and they aren’t even funny.

2. Women would stop wanting guys who are New Age men…these men will be happy you are working because they aren’t.

3. Women would stop this business about looking for men in control…a man who can’t ask for directions will always fumble.

So, listen to Pam. Or settle for poms.