Category Archives: Nostalgia

Barely “Rising” Pune

Yes, I am one of those 70 million CSK loyalists who were left with no choice but to support Rising Pune Supergiants and/or Gujarat Lions this season of the Indian Premier League, and next, after CSK got expelled from the League for 2 full seasons. Even though Gujarat got a major chunk of the CSK core including Raina, Jaddu, BMac, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo and the likes, I chose to support Pune because of one man. You Know Who!

It’s not a normal bond that we shared; me and Chennai. It started way back in late 2007 when I heard Kris Srikanth’s voice in a Tamil FM channel. He talked about this new T20 league and about how there was going to be a team from Chennai participating in the same. I was in Class XII. Used to listen to FM a lot those days. Srikanth was endorsing a contest that the Radio channel conducted to nominate a name for the Chennai side.

Even back then, I was already a full time Dhoni veriyan. I was elated when the announcement came that Dhoni was the Star Player for the Chennai side and that he would be leading the side at least for the first 3 seasons. My favourite player playing for my favourite city.

People have asked me this question. “What if Dhoni was picked by some other side? Would you have stilled supported Chennai or the side Dhoni led?”. Glad this never happened. Because it’s a tough question. Perhaps, I’d have still rooted for Dhoni’s side.

The memories Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings have given us over the last 8 seasons will be cherished for a lifetime. Who knows what’s going to happen in 2018, when Chennai is back?! It’s not guaranteed Dhoni is going to play for Chennai in 2018. He would love to, I know. But who knows what’s in store?!

There was this interview Dhoni had given before the beginning of IPL 9. There was this question asked about how he felt playing for a team other than Chennai Super Kings. His reply gave goosebumps to every single CSK loyalist. His own eyes were damp. Such was the bond he shared with the side. Who would not, after leading a side in style for 8 straight years?

There’s not a single, I repeat, not a single IPL side that has had exactly one Captain across all 8 seasons, apart from Chennai. I still get goosebumps while watching some of CSK’s best IPL moments. Haydos-Vijay opening stands, Dhoni mania at Dharamshala, Bravo-Pollard flight moment, Albie’s 28 against Virat Kohli’s bowling, Ash and Murali bowling in tandem, that off side field with BMac, Faf, Raina, Jaddu. There’s a lot more. Aah, how we miss that Chennai side!

You might be wondering what does the blog title have to do with the content it’s got. Well, it’s been more than 100 days since I last published a post. I need some time to warm up 🙂

It’s okay Barely Rising Pune Supergiants. Next season is ours!

 

Karaoke: When You Say Nothing At All

My humble attempt to render one of Ronan Keating’s evergreen classics.
When You Say Nothing At All.

Do watch and share your comments.

 

Song lyrics below:

It’s amazing how you
Can speak right to my heart.
Without saying a word
You can light up the dark.

Try as I may, I could never explain
What I hear when you don’t say a thing.

[Chorus:]
The smile on your face
Lets me know that you need me.
There’s a truth in your eyes
Saying you’ll never leave me.
[Album version:] The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall.
[Live version:] The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me whenever I fall.
You say it best when you say nothing at all.

All day long I can hear
People talking out loud (oooh).
But when you hold me near (you hold me near)
You drown out the crowd (the crowd, the crowd).

Try as they may, they can never define
What’s been said between your heart and mine.

[Chorus:]
The smile on your face
Lets me know that you need me.
There’s a truth in your eyes
Saying you’ll never leave me.
[Album version:] The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall.
[Live version:] The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me whenever I fall.
[Album version:] You say it best (you say it best) when you say nothing at all.
[Live version:] ‘Cause you say it best (you say it best) when you say nothing at all.

Photo Diaries #7: IIM Shillong night life

Of late, due to work, I have had to stay awake for nights together to get things done. But it wasn’t (hasn’t been) tiring. In fact, I’ve been loving it, burning the late night oil, relishing the calm of the night. It’s a great time to work; or do anything for that matter.

This whole thing made me recollect/relive my days in IIM Shillong, where the day (for many of us) started after dinner. It was a great feeling, working with friends, bonding over business cases or a cup of room-made tea. In fact in the last term when things were light, more often than not, we hit the bed only after breaking fast in the Nongthymmai Poori shop which used to open at 6 am.

This pic was taken on the night before our presentation to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who was a visiting Professor at our Institute.

Those were the days

Those were the days

I cannot forget those moments (20 odd minutes) when we were presenting to Dr. APJ. Great feeling. 83 then, he was still as curious as a front bencher in School, taking notes eagerly. That thirst to learn had never faded.

Those were the days.

Saddy Ki Shaadi

Having stayed in North India for close to two years now (considering Shillong is North East India), North Indian weddings aren’t new to me anymore. Gone are the days when I went to a North Indian wedding, terribly under-dressed, not knowing then about the dress code people usually follow.

Gourav Sachdeva’s (Saddy as we call him) is the first non-Delhi North Indian wedding I got to witness. We (Shujata, Anurag and I) travelled to Suratgarh over train the night before the wedding.

We talked about a lot of things over the train journey, about Saddy, about his wife and a lot of other things, only to realize the next morning that our co-passengers in the compartment were also Sachdevas, Saddy’s relatives who had come for the wedding.

Suratgarh, Saddy’s hometown and the place where the wedding happened, is a small village town in Rajasthan, pretty close to our national border with Pakistan.

Saddy’s Baraat was (and will be) the longest Baraat I have (will) ever been (be) a part of. We walked, danced, walked and danced for at least a good 4 km, for more than an hour. It was great fun, nevertheless, with friends from college and Saddy’s relatives dancing their hearts out to some Punjabi beats.

The Paneer Masala Dosa that I had at the wedding was one of the best pieces of food that has ever gone through my food pipe. Anurag would agree. We ate only that. Lots and lots of it.

Trivedi hadn’t changed a bit.

It was fun catching up with Singhim, Annam, Divya (& Abhay), Arora and Anurag after quite some time.

Here’s wishing a great life ahead for the newly wed Saddy and Pooja.

Some tweets I posted during the course of the wedding, follow:

Humans of India #1: Thatha

Why look outside when you have inspiration within your house!

My Thatha (Grandfather) has had one of the most positive influences on me, all these 24 years, and still continues to.

He, in more ways than one, reminds me of all the traits Professor APJ Abdul Kalam stood for; loved by all, down to earth, treats everyone with an equal eye and extremely dedicated (to work, self and family).

In his prime, he can make even the most serious person in the room laugh out loud, with his funny one liners and jokes. Some of them make me laugh even now, after having heard them like a 1000 times.

He gifted me my first bicycle when I was in Class III (or IV).

He likes to see people around him happy and derives his own happiness out of it. For example, he would always keep a handful of chocolates in his front pocket. Whenever the newspaper boy, milkman, maid, kid from the opposite house or any guest comes, he would give them a chocolate to see their faces beaming with a smile from ear to ear. A man of few words, he uses such small gestures to show his love.

With an elephant-esque memory, he manages to remember every little detail possible. Some day, he’d come up to me and say, “Today is A’s brother’s friend’s husband’s birthday.”

Till a few years ago, he used to have a very rigorous and busy daily schedule, even in his retirement life. He would cut newspaper clippings of interesting tidbits and compile them in a book, read journals and books, call his friends and relatives or just sit and write “Sriramajayam” endlessly.

When I was a kid, I would wait for him to reach home at 6.45 pm sharp, to get hold of something he’d have bought for me that day.

These days, I don’t get to talk to him often, but when I go home after a hiatus of three months, nothing would have changed between us. He would jokingly ask me, “What have you bought for me this time?”, kiss my hand and then we’d chat our way to glory!

IMG_3537

If you’re new to my Photo Diaries Series, you could start here.

Nexus & Mélange 2015

Some three years ago, I remember attending Nexus 2012 in Chennai. I had a lot of questions in mind about IIM Shillong. And Nexus was a great platform for people like me to get their doubts cleared from the Seniors. Prasanna and I were the only two people from the incoming batch of 2012-2014. We were completely outnumbered by our seniors and super seniors and “superest” seniors. I remember sitting there amid all of them, listening curiously to their chatter. They spoke about a lot of things related to IIM Shillong, which was Greek and Latin at that time but made a lot of sense after we reached there. I also made a few connections from the super senior batch who continue to stay in touch till date. It’s a simple yet brilliant concept. Nexus. Get a set of people together who have at least one thing in common. IIM Shillong. My Alma Mater. I attended Nexus 2015 in Delhi today. Attendance from the senior batches (my batch and my seniors) was surprisingly very less. But there were at least 10-15 prospects of PGP-15 batch who were in attendance. Somewhere while interacting with them, I realized how time has flown in these three years, from the day I attended my first Nexus till today. Over these years, my responsibility towards my Alma Mater has also increased. To be able to live up to the expectations of an IIM Shillong Alumnus! image

Three months ago, we also had a more formal Annual Alumni Meet at Delhi, called Mélange 2015. The event had our Director and our esteemed Professor Sanjeeb Kakoty in attendance. As Kakoty sir gave us updates about the changes in the Institute, the flashback of the good old days at Shillong replayed in our minds. Alumni Committee had also made a beautiful video about Life at IIM Shillong, with mini talks from our favorite faculty. It was a tear jerker, literally. image

Ah, how I miss that place! Shillong.

Abhiyantriki – Reliving “those” days!

With every passing day, the fear inside me keeps growing. The fear of not being able to recollect the eventful four years of under-graduate life. The best days of my life. Can’t believe it’s already three years since college got over. Time flies. And memories fade.

Sometimes (rather most of the time), we tend to get preoccupied in the chores of everyday life and work, that we fail to relish, recollect, reminisce the beautiful days from our past. When we are 75 years old and sitting in an easy chair by the balcony sipping a cup of coffee, it is these memories that’d be left with us, to be shared with our children/grandchildren. Memories matter the most.

NIT Surat Final year students have come up with a brilliant video depicting four years of college life. Watching it, I was literally transported 7 years in the past, to the initial days of college life. Through the video, I relived my four years of engineering college life in its entirety. Watch it. I am sure you will, too. It doesn’t matter if you are from NIT Surat or not.

The background music for this movie was scored by our very own talented Saurabh Lalwani. I’ve played a few bits in Violin too.

Enjoy!

Why holidays are bad!

I remember starting this blog, some 32 months ago, for sharing experiences from my personal life with the blogosphere. I had christened it My Shillong Diary (MSD) because of my obsession with Dhoni. It was started as a diary and over time, has evolved and encapsulated a number of other topics including (but not restricted to) Cricket, Movies, Music, Travel, Books and random ramblings.

Today’s post is more of a personal one. Almost like taking a leaf out of my personal diary and sticking it out for the world to read. So it was one of my best friend’s wedding on March 8; something I was looking forward to, for quite some time. I had planned for a ten day vacation.

Thanks to Ola Cabs, I almost,missed my flight from Delhi to Chennai. Read more about it, here.

Ernesto’s wedding at Coimbatore was a great opportunity to meet many friends for the first time after college got over (in April 2014). Few of my friends witnessed a South Indian wedding for the first time.

Ernesto's wedding, Coimbatore

Ernesto’s wedding, Coimbatore

After Ernesto’s marriage, Ashok (a Coimbatore local) hosted us for a grand lunch at his place. I ate so heavily that I skipped dinner that night. Savitha even skipped breakfast the next morning. Unknown sources revealed that Ram Prasad was the only guy who had dinner that night.

Abhishek Trivedi (a district level Cricketer) also joined us for the wedding. His interest in the Shaivaite and Vaishnavite cultures and his penchant for exploring South India intrigued even a few locals.

Coimbatore was my second home for four years (I did my under graduation there). Paid my respects to cult places like Annapoorna Gowrishankar, KG Cinemas, RHR Hotel, among others. Couldn’t visit Sita Paani restaurant, our dheivam (God) for close to two years. Hopefully, it stays around till the next time I visit Coimbatore.

Along with Aradh and Abishek, I conquered Velliangiri peak (albeit, at snail’s pace). Read a comprehensive post on Velliangiri, here. And visit the place some time.

I spent a good one week at home, busy getting pampered. And having proper food.

Dadak (an Amerikka Maappillai in the making), was gracious enough to spend an evening with locals like me, Ram and Shreyas. We met after close to three years. At the risk of sounding cliched, I must say we realized almost nothing had changed since the good old Ettimadai days (doesn’t quite have the ring like “Malgudi Days”, but still :P).

From left: Guruji, Terror, Yours truly and Dadak

From left: Guruji, Terror, Yours truly and Dadak

Stalwarts (Class of 2014, IIM Shillong ) from Chennai met at Elliot’s beach for a mini reunion of sorts.

Stalwarts at Elliot's

Stalwarts at Elliot’s

I stayed at a rat infested house for two nights, which also had Pam, Prateek and Sayar living in it.

Oh and yeah, #YoPrateekSoMarketing is a hashtag that’s been doing the rounds in twitter, past one week or so. Unleash the creative genius in you and join in to contribute towards the hashtag and make it a milky way galaxy wide trend, if you know Prateek Gaurav personally.

Few tweets from the hashtag below.

This is exactly why holidays are bad. When they are on, you have the best time in the world, like I did. But like all good things in life, holidays too come to an end and all you have is memories to carry over, till the next holiday season.

On a completely different note, do maintain a personal diary (if you don’t already) and register stuff from your daily life into it. Reading 4-5 year old diary entries and reminiscing about “those” days is one of the most under-rated feelings in the world. My paatti (Grandmom) writes diary entries even today (I think). What’s more, she has a collection of her personal diaries from 50-60 years ago, still.

Enough rambling for the day.

Trek to Velliangiri Peak

Scene I

We were just about to start our ascent of the mighty mountains of Velliangiri (also called South Kailash) when we were confronted by a man wearing a helpless face, trying to live a respectful life even in poverty. That kind of face. He said, “Ayya, please give me an opportunity to smoothen your bamboo sticks. I will charge only 5 rupees per stick. I have two kids Ayya, and I want them to study”. We could see a small boy (referred to as Jet Lee, going forward) playing around in the temple premises, having little idea about the poverty his family was in. Just behind him, the man’s wife was feeding their second kid. We gave the man 30 rupees and also asked him to make sure Jet Lee studies and comes big in life. The man thanked us with a beaming smile and wished us good.

Scene II

A boy, all of 14 years, was manning a small shop in the middle of the mountain forests, selling biscuits and other refreshments. Abishek asked him if he was going to school. Their conversation follows.

Abishek: “Brother, do you go to school?”

Boy: “No” <without any signs of resentment>

Abishek: “Why not? Your parents couldn’t afford it?”

Boy: “They could. I was going to a Government school till Class VIII. Then I stopped”

The boy shooed away a few monkeys which were interested in the bananas in his shop

Abishek: “Why? Why did you stop?”

Boy: “One day I got angry in Class and hit my teacher bang on his head. I never returned to school after that”

All of us were in shock.

Abishek: “Why? What did he do?”

By this time, he had developed a liking for us and spoke more freely.

He went on to explain how the teacher had shouted a lot of expletives towards him when he had gone to class without completing his homework. When the boy tried to explain that his father was taken ill the previous day, the teacher wouldn’t listen. At one point, the boy apparently lost his cool and hit him hard on the center of his head with a stick. And never returned to school.

In the middle of the forests, after 11 hours of trekking, sitting on the rocks, there was only thing running in my mind! What if Jet Lee grows up to become like this boy!

Anyway, these two scenes kind of capture the quality of life of people living in and around Velliangiri.

This was my second successful visit to the Velliangiri mountains, in three years. Something I can proudly tell my grandchildren, 40 years hence.

If you look at the demographics of people who come to Velliangiri, 80% of the people are from Coimbatore or its surrounding areas itself. ~19% from Chennai and other cities in Tamil Nadu. There were hardly any people outside Tamil Nadu. Other than being a pilgrimage center for Shiva devotees, it is also a brilliant trekking destination.

Velliangiri - the seventh mountain

Velliangiri – the seventh mountain

But there are a number of reasons why Velliangiri is not yet there in say, “The Top 10 trekking destinations of India”.

  • The Authorities probably don’t see it as a Tourist destination, and haven’t taken any significant steps in that direction
  • It is not safe.
    • We heard stories about a Tamil movie Director who got lost in the forests, and came out somewhere near Kerala, after nearly a month.
  • Lack of facilities.
    •  Apart from moonlight and the torch/mobile phone one carries, there’s no source of light, for 95% of the journey, up and down
    • There are only three sources of water, all seven mountains combined
  • No WOM
    • Since most of the people who visit Velliangiri are “not-so-tech-savvy” devotees, the word of mouth doesn’t spread beyond their close circles
    • Perhaps, the Isha Foundation can contribute in a big way to make it an awesome tourist destination

To kill boredom while trekking (we were only three of us), we surveyed people who were coming in the opposite direction. We would ask someone, “Anna, innum evlo dhooram na?” (“Anna, how much more distance to the peak?”), and he would say, “It’s very close. Will hardly take two more hours”. We would then walk for two hours and then ask another guy. “Just one more hour”. After walking for an hour. “Maximum one more hour”.

It took us 7 hours in total, to reach the peak. The mountains were deserted, that friday evening. In fact, there was a stretch of around an hour when there was not a single person ahead or behind us. Stories about the missing Tamil Director was there in the back of our minds, Our torch lights were dimming. That moment was my best of the trek.

After paying our respect to Lord Shiva at the peak and taking the load off our feet for an hour, we started our descent at 7 am. It was raining then and we were offered some breathtaking views by nature.

Rock bed

Rock bed

The rocks were slippery due to rain and it took us some extra effort and time to climb down the 7th mountain. Aradh’s obsession with clicking pictures didn’t help us either.

Rainbow

Rainbow

Sunrise

Sunrise

The next 4 mountains were relatively easier to climb down. By this time, after 12 mountains (7+5) and 12 hours of continuous trekking, my legs had given up. They were dead. Climbing down the last two mountains were the toughest for me, taking a break after every 10-15 minutes.

Trekking unlike say jogging, or gymming, is different in the way that you don’t have a choice. You cannot give up. You push your boundaries longer and harder. But when you are done, there’s no feeling bigger than that feeling of accomplishment.

Darr ke aage jeet hai

Darr ke aage jeet hai

At the end of 14 hours of trekking, some picturesque moments. some eerie moments, some calm moments away from the drudgery of city life, the experience was totally worth it!

If you do not have Velliangiri in your bucket list yet, it’s time you add it to the list and make it a point to visit the awesome place, some time. You will not regret it!

Kumbakonam Degree Kaapi & a road trip to Sri Rangam

The Chennai-Trichy highway (NH-45) is a driver’s paradise. Once you cross Chengelpet, it’s almost like NFS-MW Tollbooth challenge – it’s only you, your car, awesome roads and LOTS of tollbooths; all the way to Trichy.

NFW Most Wanted - Toll booth challenge

NFW Most Wanted – Toll booth challenge

Sri Rangam has to be the temple outside Chennai that I have frequented the most. It is one place we (my family) love traveling to. One such trip to Sri Rangam began on Friday when we left Chennai by road at 8 am.

The road stretch from Ulundhurpet to Perambalur is awesome beyond words, considering that it’s in India.

Perambalur bypass

Perambalur bypass

NH-45

NH-45

The number of small shops selling Kumbakonam Degree Coffee on both sides of the highway was surprising to me. Almost every second kilometer, we could find hoardings advertising about the Coffee shop that also sold a lot of other stuff. For example, “Only Coffee”, one such coffee shop, offered snacks, rice mixes, halwas and books in addition to Kumbakonam Degree Coffee.

These small coffee outlets that adorned the sides of NH-45 (GST Road) were not present the last time I travelled through this highway. On googling, I found out that “Only Coffee” stores were recently set up by a gentleman G. Samyraj who wanted to create a means of livelihood to his struggling villagers. Aping his innovation, other Degree Coffee outlets followed suit.

They don’t serve overpriced variants of cold coffee like a Starbucks or CCD. Only frothy, piping hot, filter-coffee served in gleaming pithalai davara tumblers. And it costs Rs. 15/-

Kumbakonam Degree Coffee

Kumbakonam Degree Coffee

Somewhere near Perambalur on the highway, we took a small detour to visit Siruvachur Mathura Kaliamman temple. The shrine here, is open only on Fridays, Mondays and the first day of all Tamil months.

We next went straight to Sri Rangam, an islet formed by rivers Cauvery and Kollidam, located less than 10 km from Trichy. The Ranganathaswamy Temple at Sri Rangam is majestic, huge and divine at the same time. With 7 prakarams (outer walls), 21 gopurams (towers) and an area of 156 acres, it is the second largest Hindu Temple in the world!

Gopurams of Sri Rangam

Gopurams of Sri Rangam

But today, it doesn’t seem as large as it sounds because of the shops and houses that have been set up to as far as within the 4th prakaram. It’s still huge, though. You could spend an entire day inside the temple and still not end up covering even half of what it has to offer.

Sometime ago, Ms. Jayalalithaa had donated two mobile fuel efficient vans to the temple to help the elderly and disabled to travel within the temple premises. Ofcourse, Sri Rangam is her own constituency.

Ubayam: CM

Ubayam: CM

The Puliyodharai (Tamarind rice), Sweet pongal, vadai, athirasam and other snacks offered at the Prasadam Stall within the temple premises can act as more than just a substitute for lunch.

The temple also has lots of interesting legends associated with it. Try googling them (or read them from the walls of the temple if you happen to visit the place).

From personal experience, the people of Trichy and other small/medium towns are sweeter compared to the cities, at least when it comes to telling directions to a stranger. A particular bike man went to the extent of travelling a few hundreds of metres in his bike, along with us to show the road leading to Kumbakonam.

A 100 km from Sri Rangam lies Kumbakonam, popularly called “temple town”. It’s impossible to stand at any part of the town and not have a temple in your vicinity. During British Raj, it was a prominent center of European education, which gave it the name “Cambridge of South India”. The town is also world-renowned for its Degree Coffee.

The Little Flower Higher Secondary School (LFHSS), Kumbakonam has two notable alumni – Dr. M.S. Swaminathan and Mr. R. Aravamudhan, grandfather of Nitin Srinivas. 😀

Outside Thatha's Alma Mater, LFHSS

Outside Thatha’s Alma Mater, LFHSS

M.S. Swaminathan might have forgotten about his Alma Mater but my grandfather hasn’t. He is still very fond of LFHSS and his childhood days in Kumbakonam.

Uppliappan Koil, located about 10 km from Kumbakonam was also a part of our agenda. The temple elephants at both Uppiliappan Koil and Sri Rangam had gone to the yearly elephant camp and were found missing from the temples.

Tender coconut vendor in Uppiliappan Koil

Tender coconut vendor in Uppiliappan Koil

If the road from Chennai-Trichy was awesome beyond words, then the road connecting Kumbakonam-Dindivanam more than compensated for it. We were only too happy to catch the NH-45 at Dindivanam and get back home to end yet another trip that had a lot to offer.

 

2014, here I come!

Here’s wishing everyone a great 2014 to look forward to. It’s that time of the year to make the to-do list for first week of January (talking about New Year resolutions, here :P)

I believe in looking only at positive aspects of life. 2013 had a  lot to offer, that way. On a personal level, the journey at IIM Shillong which began last year (2012) has been a memorable one in 2013. Hoping to make the most of the next 3 months there and forge bonds that’ll last a lifetime (and also get a job :P).

2013 also saw a part of our childhood go away when Sachin Tendulkar decided that Cricket is fit only for mortals. But glad that his absence from the side hasn’t made a great difference, thanks to some awesome talent coming up.

Thala Sachin

Thala Sachin

I spent the last day of 2013 helping my grand dad clean his room. In the process, I found some blasts from my own past which made me pause for a moment and cherish those good old childhood days.

Also went to Elliot’s beach with school friends Vignesh and MP in the evening…

MP (Soan papdi thalayan), Vignesh and I...

MP (Soan papdi thalayan), Vignesh and I…

“Happy 2014.. I hv a feeling its gonna be the best year of ur life. Start making it so already:):) bless u with power inspiration n courage..” – Shreya Ghoshal

Letter to Sachin Tendulkar

Dear Sachin,

I write this letter to you, as you step on to the cricket field one last time, tomorrow. The day we all dreaded, has finally arrived. I’d like to recollect fond memories of yours which made my childhood what it was.

When you made your test debut on Children’s day in 1989, I wasn’t even born. My first live memories of you date back to your 25th birthday when you made Warne & Co. look like school kids in that flawless innings of yours at Sharjah! I was a 7 year old kid then… Tony Greig’s commentary during that innings still echoes in my ears, often. It was a great partnership, between you and Mr. Greig, which will delight cricket fans for years to come.

I remember watching the Chennai Test in 1999 live from Chepauk. I remember very well, how you fought a sore back en route that classy 136, which took India to the brink of victory.  The entire nation cried with you when India lost that epic test match by 12 runs. 

I remember a crowded TV room in my college, cheering you as you toyed around the Aussie attack during your masterly 175 in 2009. We all cursed Sir Jaddu for letting the match slip away from us, I remember very well.

Virender Sehwag and Rohit Sharma may have surpassed your highest score in ODI cricket. There may be many more double hundreds in the future. But yours was a special double hundred in more ways than one. First, it proved the world that a double hundred in ODI is not impossible. Second and more importantly, it was a class act against a quality bowling attack of RSA. I know that no one in the world was happier than you were when Viru and recently Rohit surpassed your record.

I remember the 2004 series of Australia. You were terribly out of shape for most parts of the series. Critics started to write you off. You didn’t speak. You let your bat do the honors. What an innings that was, the 241 against Australia in Sydney. Not a single cover drive in the entire innings. That’s a lesson on self-restraint for youngsters like us, in all walks of life!

I’ve always enjoyed you bowl, and felt that you could have bowled more in the late 2000s as well. Probably the elbow, I understand. Kumble mentioned and I agree, that you threatened his spot as a bowler in the team.

I was there sitting in the Chepauk stands in 2008 when Viru set up an awesome run chase against England and Yuvi and yourself sealed it beautifully. When you jumped and punched the air after that winning paddle sweep, we all knew what that century in the fourth innings meant to you! Ten years back, you had taken India to the brink of victory at the very same venue but couldn’t seal it. This time you did, and how! You dedicated the century to the Mumbai attack victims, I remember.

I remember you almost reaching your 100th hundred against West Indies at Wankhede when Rampaul bounced you out. We knew it was only a matter of time before you reached there and you did.

I remember vividly, all the shots you unleashed against Shoaib, Akram and Waqar in the 2003 World Cup. You were at your best during the World Cups.

I remember watching YouTube videos of you as a young lad negotiating the bounce to perfection at Perth and Old Trafford. I remember a hundred other innings of yours which will stay in my heart forever.

In your landmark 200th test, you scoring a triple hundred or getting out on 38  makes no difference to me. A 100 international hundreds is as good as 101. Like Dhoni remarked, do not take too much pressure. Just enjoy your last few hours in the cricket field.

Today as you retire, I feel like a part of my childhood is going away.

I hope, some day you’ll read this letter.

Yours truly,

One of your billion fans

Happy Days @ Amrita, relived

Everyone, no matter how old they are, will always cherish their College days! For most people, it is the best part of their lives. Amrita is a special chapter in my life that would stay with me for years to come.

Today marks the first anniversary of Amrita 2008-2012. I still remember this day one year ago, when I had to say Good bye to the people who were my life for four full years. Today, I try and relive those four years.

>>> The two most common phrases heard inside the campus – “Namah Sivayah” and “Om Amriteshwaryai Namah”

>>> First year days, when the only worry in our minds was about how we performed in periodical exams. Loved those days of Bindaas.

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>>> One Day pass 

We had a very religious routine on Sundays. Get the day pass, catch the 7:30 train to Coimbatore, have breakfast @ RHR, watch a movie in KG Cinemas (later Sathyam), have lunch @ Annapurna, take the 4:30 or 7:00 train back to Ettimadai.

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>>> Tea-time 

Evening tea was the best time to catch up with what had happened over the day. We’d laugh over a funny incident that happened in class or have a heated discussion on why Rohit Sharma was included in the India squad.

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>>> Playing Cricket

I still remember the first year days when we’d be playing a match in the ground, when our seniors would come mid-way and shoo us away and take the entire ground for themselves. But, Vaazhkai oru vattam. We did the same thing to our juniors as well.

We had the Selva-DMS Trophy (On the lines of Border-Gavaskar Trophy) in third year, named after two legends of Cricket, Selva and Dr. TMS. The  nights before match days would witness strategies being formulated by the teams, team selection meetings and even match practice, some times.

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In the final year, we came up with an epic tourney called AECPL (Amrita ECE Cage Premier League) on the lines of IPL. We had a player auction wherein the three captains had to bid for players. My team was named EKSI (Enna Koduma Sir Idhu). We won that tournament.

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>>> Watching Cricket

Playing and watching cricket are two completely different things. TV room used to be flooded during IPL. CSK vs DC matches were always epic, irrespective of the result. The CSK vs RCB match in which Albie scored 28 off Kohli’s over is still afresh in my mind. Other than that, Sachin’s 200, Sachin’s 175 and all World Cup matches were amazing to watch in the TV room with tens of others.

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>>> Swimming

This is one thing that every Amritian is proud of. “Olympic-sized” Swimming pool. Didn’t quite utilize this excellent facility till the final term, during which we went to the pool on almost all evenings.

>>> Canteen

Gone are the days when Choco pastry and OS Milk used to be our staple. I can’t forget the day when the canteen board read “Parrot Kurma – Rs. 25” (they actually meant Parotta Kurma).

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It was also a place that witnessed several Class Treats and Birthday treats!

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>>> Final year project

The times when we stood helpless in front of the review panel when they used to rip us apart, and the nights before the review when groups sat together and planned how to tackle potential questions from the panel.

>>> German Classes

Though we found it a bit hard to miss cricket to attend German classes initially, we began to love our Prof and the language over due course of time. We (the German students) enjoyed the two weeks when the entire hostel was deserted. Everyone except us, had gone home for the summer vacation.

>>> T.I.M.E Classes

Three days a week for a full year, my evenings were spent in T.I.M.E classes. Didn’t attend many classes in fourth year. I loved the way one of our teachers used “Bloody” in every single sentence of his. Actually I don’t remember his bloody name. We  nick-named him Bloody. But he was a bloody brilliant teacher!

>>> IVs

The IVs to Kodai and Bangalore were both enjoyable. Mekedatu near Bangalore was a new experience.

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>>> Tours

Our first ever tour was to Amritapuri to get Amma’s “hug” and blessings. It helped us gel as a batch. Over the course of four years, we visited many places. Ooty, Munnar, Alleppey and Velliangiri, among others.

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Velliangiri was an unforgettable trip! I wish to go there, again!

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>>> Alloylica

When there’s Metallica, why not Alloylica? That was the rationale behind us choosing Alloylica as the name for our music group. Guru Purnima, Gokulashtami and Amritotsavam were the three main cultural fests. There was one bhajan of ours that became so famous that we rendered it for god-knows-how-many number of times.

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