Monday, January 11, 2016

Rahul Dravid: Putting the ‘Gentleman’ in the Gentleman’s Game

Published first and written for: BookMyShow

There was a time when it wasn't the coolest thing to be a Rahul Dravid worshipper for an Indian cricket fan. It's true! There was a time when you even heard stuff like “Who Dravid?”. It's true! 

It was a time not very different from now when Indian cricket began and ended with singing praises of just one man - Sachin Tendulkar. It was a time when the soon-to-be “best Indian captain ever” – Sourav Ganguly - (debatable but then I am a Bengali) was beginning to chalk out his conquest plan. It was when this unassuming batsman from Karnataka began his journey too. And very impressively so. Nonetheless, it was a tad too early for the Archies Galleries of the country to stock Rahul Dravid posters. I tried though and not before long, I had a room with a wall dedicated to The Wall (I am sorry. I just had to say this) – unofficial bad quality posters, painfully sourced official ones, newspaper cuttings, magazine covers and the works. 

When Ganguly was impressing all and sundry with his century on Test debut in England that June of 1996, I found my hero in Dravid who fell short of being the other Indian debutant to crack a ton by just five runs. It was to perhaps mark two things that stuck with Dravid almost throughout his career – the man who played second fiddle and that man who would inevitably get out in the 90s. Gradually and thankfully, the latter was forgotten. 

There was something about the way this man faced some of the most fearsome bowlers, there was something about the way he pulled an Allan Donald-bouncer to the boundary, gracefully danced down the wicket and hit Muralitharan out of the park or hit those picture-perfect cover drives. There was a grace that back then I only found and admired in the almost flawless batting of Saeed Anwar. 

Two innings of Dravid's will forever stay with me; those drove me unashamedly to tears were his 145 in 129 balls against Sri Lanka in Taunton, England (ICC World Cup 1999) and the 180 he scored in the mammoth and very heroic 376-run stand with VVS Laxman against Australia in Eden Gardens, Kolkata in the second Test of the 2000-01 Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Each time, the “hero” was not him. Ganguly with his 183 in 158 deliveries was the Man of the Match against Sri Lanka. No one will dare to forget Laxman's knock of 281 in THAT Test Match. What was that bit about second fiddle again? 

Dravid even went ahead to say how Laxman's innings made him feel inadequate, embarrassed even. Typical of him. To take nothing away from either Ganguly or Laxman but it took two to tango and if the Wall wasn't being the Wall in each innings, history would have been very different surely.  

I discovered like the rest of the world how there was more than mere batting artistry that made Rahul Dravid the legend that he is. He defined in every sense what being a 'team player' is all about. Whether being shuffled up and down the batting order, keeping wickets to accommodate an extra batsman in the side, or even captaining a troubled team, Dravid was up to every challenge his side threw at him. 

There is a class about Dravid's cricket and character, you didn't find lying loose everywhere. You won't either for a long time to come. 

Ever since the man called it a day, there has been a favorite idea of the online content folks on every birthday of Dravid's – Quotes on Rahul Dravid that add to his greatness. Of course, there will be tributes. There better be. But there is just the one by Harsha Bhogle that sums up the cricketer and the man he is - “The wolf who lived for the pack”. Oh boy, he did!

Happy birthday, Rahul Dravid. There will never be another like you.

All things heroic like Rahul Dravid

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


The heart doesn't feel,
the skin does;
the head spins
till it gets heavier
than the tear;
the stomach churns
and throws up all it doesn't want,
all it doesn't have;
the legs get weak,
weaker than the shoulders;
the eyes get drowsy
to sleep forever;
the arms could fall off
but the fingers hold them together

The heart doesn't feel
but wants all credit,
all freedom
to break, to lament.

The heart doesn't break
but lies
to hide its impotence.

Overrated piece of shit!

Nothing hearty, bright or beautiful

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sea Snake

One step a minute.
Two minutes to think,
to remember, to worry,
to ignore. 

One step a minute.
Three immediately back.
In fear. 

What do I fear today?
The water? Like always?
I fear you.
That you wish to pull apart
my skin.
My skin put together with patches, 
you beautifully sewed
to perfection.
My skin, you almost made real.

At the seams, you pull. 
You pull hard but slow.
Clever, clever. 
Like everything perfect,
this must be slow.
Agony must be slow.
Only noodles is instant.

I fear you. 
As you slowly undress me.
You know what lies underneath.
I don't. I forgot.
I fear you. I hate you. 
This skin was your gift 
to me. 
And now you want it back. 

My lie, my lie, Ma.
Why does she want everything back?

One step a minute.
And I look behind at the trail.
While you fade.
than I can walk away from you.

One step a minute.
And the sea must swallow
all of me.
And vomit
in the morning.
Will you come back
to the beach? To collect
what is yours.
I owe you some dirt.

All things wither and Biprorshee


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rainbow Scarf

Those eyes
I know they all fell in love
with them.
And no one saw what you hid?
An unbuttoned shirt is a fine cover.

The hair untied
No joy hidden.

When you made love
Lennon smiled.
Maybe even proudly.

And when He slashed an ear
you giggled.
I would've loved it, you know?
To hear you giggle.

I know you laughed
as you drove a knife through a pig.
The rainbow head in a trance
And those eyes.
Those eyes everybody loved. I loved. 
And then red. Drinking blood.

You sang.
You danced. 
Before them all, you sang
and laughed.
Did they think you are mad?

But such hate 
you hid so mischievously.
From yourself. So fiercely.
They never had a chance.
They were blinded. People.
They wanted to hate you. Failed,
so miserably.

And when you loved them
without the rainbow,
it was just too late.
Now they had learnt to hide

I loved you.
Even when you shouted
you had no mercy.
I didn't believe you one bit.
Could you kill christ? No!
He didn't care 
to see you die.
He let you rot
and laughed.

Everybody fooled you.

All things merciful and Biprorshee

Friday, May 02, 2014

One Word

and words

Till the hand rots
Till that fucking head explodes


All words and Biprorshee


How much can I soak in
and walk, try to walk, drag?
I can't feel my legs.
I can't feel my head.
Every thing so loud,
so bright.
I can hear but I don't want to.

My eyes must shut now.
Shut. I must go sleep.
I must never wake up
lest I cry;
lest I get scared;
lest I see.

I often dive
Through my mouth.
It is fun to float in.
So cold. So dark.
Alone. Liquid.
I slide swiftly.
And then jump out
gasping for air.
I don't even let me drown.

She could help
and I want to hear her sing me to sleep.
Forever sleep.
This must happen quickly.

All things cold and Biprorshee

Saturday, April 26, 2014

May You Live To Be One Hundred

So fickle, it makes you cry.
So indecisive.
Then, now, tomorrow
so indecisive.

They found joy at last.
They forgot to give it to you.

Hopelessly, three cigarettes.
A lot of rum.

Another night, sleepless.
The lights will not be turned off.
You will not be scared.
Another night, deathless.

All things numb and Biprorshee

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Varanasi Trail

*phone rings*

I am visibly annoyed at the call. I am out on a lunch date with my wife who complains I don't spend enough weekends with her and here is Riju Dasgupta - my bandmate, my band manager, the sole reason why my wife might one day decide to give me long-lasting pain, my 'weekendstealer' and worst of all, a bassist - trying to reach me while I am devouring idli sambar and zoning the wife out. If you know me, you don't do that!

But then again, Dr. Hex has news.
"Dude, got a show offer from IIT in Varanasi".
"What? Varanasi? People want to listen to our music in Varanasi? Why?"
"I don't know, man. But the offer's great. The money's good. And it's on January 24th."

January 24th? I sheepishly look at my wife who still hasn't the slightest clue I am thinking - "New city. New people. Fucking Varanasi. Hell yeah! Let's do this shit."

And then I hear myself saying, "No man! That is the week I am moving homes. Mukta will need me."

A very apparently disappointed Riju says, "Ok man! But ...."

Cut to Utopia! All issues have been sorted. That bassist always has all the solutions. An early departure from Varanasi for me has been arranged for. Mukta was more upset about me turning down the gig than anything else. A set with incredibly long Albatross songs has been put together. What everyone conveniently forgets - We are flying SpiceJet from Bombay to the Holy City.

Yes, before we wonder if the fine lads at IIT-BHU will be enthralled much by Albatross, we are faced with a bigger question - Will SpiceJet even allow us to do the damned gig?

And then again, I have my own set of worries with a flight that is 6 hours late. "Just the gig and then fucking off the next morning. Fuck! I will not be able to see a city that had me fascinated for a long time". Of course, the vocalist in a band has the least baggage to carry on a tour, physical or otherwise.

We land in Varanasi at 8:30 pm, six hours late and very, very cold. We come from Bombay, remember? We are around 30 kms away from IIT-BHU. We are to take stage at 9 pm. "Fuck soundcheck! We will play 2 songs."

We completely don't know we have Paul Walker (God bless his soul) for two cabbies who drive those horrid, narrow streets of Varanasi piercing through blinding fog. "Boss! Theek hai. Aaram se chalao. Time pe nahi pahuche to chalega" screams Dr. Hex who probably would be telling his rosary if he was a believer. This after he had proudly declared, "Bhaiya, bhagao, ok?".

We actually make it on time. The cars stop right next to the stage. We get out of them feeling like absolute bosses. Of course, the change of clothes behind the stage in full public view is a fine reality check.

Not two songs, we play our entire set! We even manage an encore act complete with a very weird and impromptu drum solo and a guitar duel. My performance would rank among my very worst but the kids have fun and I now know, that matters a lot more. To have a bunch of them jumping onstage, kneeling down and headbanging in unison as if in a strange trance is absolutely worth 4 SpiceJet trips. To say nothing of my Bret Hart act walking up the ramp high-fiving all and sundry, girls running onstage to kiss a very conscious and irritated Nishith Hegde and Dr. Hex being all excited about his wireless unit all day then forgetting to connect it properly onstage and murmuring behind his 'ball-guard' (Thank you, Nolan!), "Bhenchod! Ye use karne se pehle hi kharaab ho gaya".

Much to my dismay, all the Varanasi I get to see the chilly Jan 24th is the magnificent IIT-BHU campus. I will not complain much. The kids go out of their way to make us feel special and comfortable. I wish we were half as good as they make us seem to be. They hang out with us late into the night, smuggle in the inevitable Old Monk bottle and of course, get us the 2:30 am hostel canteen's Maggi and omelettes.

I have grand plans of visiting the Ghat early next morning. Needless to say, that doesn't happen. I remember being amused the previous night at a remark made by the cabbie - "Sir, morning mein ghat zaroor jaana. Bahut foreigner tourists milenge". The pervert obsession with fair-skinned tourists remains appalling and funny to me at the same time.

 I have to make a dash for it the next morning to catch my 11:30 am Air India flight. I will not lie but I was really hoping the flight would get cancelled, the boys would scream, "Surprise! We rescheduled your flight and you are going back with us tomorrow" because if you didn't already know, I really wanted to check the city out. Of course, the boys don't love me as much.

My trip back to the airport at 8 am happens in a local auto-rickshaw. All the cars are busy ferrying other guests, I am told. I groan but it all works out fine in the end.

Risking sounding like an "Oh-You-Know-I-Tasted-Real-India" for my social media followers, I quite enjoy the 90-minute auto-rickshaw ride. I doubt I would have been able to smell and actually, yes, taste Varanasi in an air-conditioned cab.

Pathetic, absolutely pathetic roads that are dug up at every nook and corner, nightmarish city design, dirty but that gorgeous Kashi morning, people on cycles rather than huge sedans, people hanging out with tea, cigarettes, newspapers at rundown stalls; I am forced to go back to a typical cold morning in Kolkata, something I terribly miss. Mukta would have hated it but it is just how I love things; being a small town lad and ... hold your breath ... awfully OLD SCHOOL!

Thankfully, Air India isn't as bad as people say it is. SpiceJet is trying its level best to beat them at this game. The flight takes off 15 minutes late and lands in Bombay 20 minutes before scheduled time.

The next day, the boys call me from Varanasi before they board their flight home. The buggers didn't see the city, didn't meet aghoris and smoke grass with them like they planned to. They got incredibly wasted in their rooms instead and fell asleep. One day Dr. Hex and his henchmen will know what an incredible opportunity it is to travel being in a band.

I missed out on the jalebis. But I hear, we might do a trip up north later this year. Till the next time then.

All things Holy and Biprorshee

The author is the frontman of a Mumbai-based heavy metal band - Albatross - and he loves everywhere his band takes him. He loves his wife a tad too much too.