The day mighty Windies were humbled

My first byline after almost 16 years in journalism. Write-up on the ’83 World Cup win published in Feb 2015.

Rakesh Chopra, Former  Assistant News Editor, Hindustan Times

Rakesh Chopra, Former Assistant News Editor, Hindustan Times

As another cricket World Cup is upon us, I am reminded of the 1983 World Cup final when my love for cricket began with India’s victory over the mighty West Indies.
Those days, television was not common in small towns. We had to depend on the radio for entertainment. As a 12-year-old living in a small town in Himachal, I could make little sense of the cricket commentary in English being aired on radio and used the medium for listening to Hindi film songs.

On a sultry afternoon on June 25, I had ample time on my hands owing to the summer break at the boarding school which I had joined recently. I had not followed cricket till that day, let alone stay abreast of India’s exceptional showing in the tournament in England. I was blissfully unaware of the Indian team prevailing over the great West Indies in a group match and Kapil Dev’s marathon effort against Zimbabwe when he had singlehandedly taken India out of a hopeless situation.

But that afternoon, there was a buzz that India were just one step away from cricketing glory. There was an excitement in the air: can India pull this off? Day-and-night cricket was still a few years away but the time difference between India and England had reduced it to a virtual day-and-night affair and people eagerly awaited the big one to start.

I also wanted to have my share of the fun and decided to go to the place of an acquaintance who had a TV set. Seeing the rush of people gathered to watch the match, the owner placed the black-and-white TV set in the courtyard of the house.

I don’t remember much of the Indian innings except that Srikkanth scored 30-odd runs and was the highest run-getter in that low total of 183. At half-way mark, a few silent prayers went up, while others were hopeful of India crossing the mark. Soon, the gathering erupted into joy as Balwinder Sandhu claimed Greenidge early. Richards was going great guns and threatened to take the match away from India when the young Indian captain ran quite a distance backwards to take a stunning catch. Then it was the turn of Mohinder Amarnath to tease the Windies lower order with his slow-medium bowling. It was just a matter of time as wickets fell in quick succession and India romped home.

There were boisterous celebrations into the night as Kapil Dev lifted the Cup at the Lord’s. As Jimmy Amarnath was declared Man of the Finals, he became my favourite cricketer. The win had turned me a cricket fan for life.

Source Link: Hindustan Times

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Remembering extraordinary Brig Kataria

His infectious smile, positive aura and compassion for the poor will be missed

Col DS Cheema (retd)

Brig ML Kataria (retd) with Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki (right). FILE PHOTO

Brig ML Kataria (retd) with Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki (right). FILE PHOTO

Brig ML Kataria (retd) passed away a few days ago. Touching 96, I did not expect him to go as yet because he was no ordinary man whom death could claim so easily. He was the kind of man Chandigarh was fortunate to have as its citizen. My association with him goes back to 1999 when I was the principal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Dayanand College of Communication and Management. On a Sunday morning in winters, I had two surprise visitors at my home. Maj-Gen Bachittar Singh (retd), whom I had met a couple of times, introduced his companion, a towering man donning a cap and standing ram-rod erect, as Brig Kataria. I clearly remember how the presence of these two tall men made me conscious of my short height.

As we chatted in the soothing warmth of the sun, enjoying cups of tea my wife had so lovingly prepared, I began to warm up to this very descent and modest man with an infectious smile. I felt awkward and humbled to go through the professional profile which he respectfully placed in my hands. He asked me whether he could be engaged as a part-time faculty for teaching marketing management or any other subject. I felt proud to offer the job to as qualified and eminent a man as him and requested him to join the college the very next day.

It was in later years that I learnt he was working for the sick and the poor in the tricity. Invited to the polyclinics in which he worked. I was always surprised at his zeal and commitment towards his patients. He would leave at 8.30 in the morning, had no time for an afternoon nap and would leave home immediately after lunch. He woud return after 6.30 in the evening.

He amazed all with his cheerful disposition and energy, even when he was on the other side of 90. It is only appropriate to remember him as the ‘Saint of Slums.’ We shared space on many occasions at seminars and workshops. He was miles ahead of me in age and scholarship, and more importantly in qualities of head and heart. I was always overawed by his presence.

He encouraged me to explore new avenues of professional excellence and offered to review my book “Getting more done in less time” which was published in The Tribune with my over-sized photograph.

He always addressed me as “Sir” to my huge embarrassment. One day I requested him to stay back after his lecture for a cup of tea with me. I asked him not to “Sir” me. He said he did it on purpose and would continue doing so because, being the college principal, I was his senior.

Never late for the session, he never left the classroom a minute before the scheduled time. On special occasions when I offered to send a vehicle to pick him up, he declined the offer, preferring to use his own Ambassador car.

He helped arrange my meeting with RS Mann, the then Chief Secretary of Punjab, to be the chief guest at the college convocation ceremony. But for Brig Kataria’s intervention, Mann, known to be media shy, would not have accepted my request. RIP Sir. Thousands of your fans will miss you, and above all Chandigarh will miss you.

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The scrunching of languag

Ratna Raman


WILLIAM Butler Yeats (1865-1939) described Keats as a schoolboy with ‘face and nose pressed to a sweet-shop window’. English Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) died of ‘consumption’ (tuberculosis) at 25. Keats’s fascination for literature drew him away from a medical career. Despite obtaining a licence to practise as a physician and surgeon, Keats resolved to become a poet and wrote powerful, sensuous poetry in the last years of his life.

Sweet-shops in England and Ireland may have been wonderful places in Yeats’s times. In India, however, Indian sweets could be viewed whenever the traditional halwai raised the metal shutters at the shop entrance. On ledges or shelves, piled high in trays, or kept behind counters in large glass jars, Indian mithai, made with fruit, flour, lentil, milk and nuts, attracted passersby. Piping hot jalebis, fragrant and golden-orange shift our focus from the greasy black kadhai and the utilitarian syrup container into which fried jalebis are immersed.

Usually, the young have their face and nose pressed at sweet-shop windows while drooling over delicious mithai. The visual Yeats conjures is poignant and creates ‘cadences’ (rhythmic flow) that resonate within each reader’s mind through stirring memories. Despite being a ‘subjective’ (personal) view, the image generates several associations and connections. Whenever or wherever this happens we are witnessing the spell of poetry and its ability to stir emotional responses.

More often than not, the business of mithai is transacted through cash on purchase. Stories of little boys jailed for petty stealing or ‘beaten within an inch of their lives’ (idiom, beaten to the point of death) continue to be reported in newspapers. The inability to savour sweets (indicative of the pleasures of life) because of the glass separator is a powerful metaphor, recalling missed opportunities, deprivation and mortality.

Does language carry forward this extraordinary connective quality when used functionally? Images of disposable shampoo and body lotions brought home by travellers, in magical little plastic bottles, in urban India, come to mind. Nowadays, state-of-the-art beauty products contain potent remedies and manufacturers advertise all manner of magical transformation. To bolster product sales, there is audio-visual advertising wherein young men and women are transformed into gorgeous superhumans, after the use of advertised products that rid themselves of all possible flaws. Their skin is clear, wrinkle free and moisturised. Their teeth sparkle and hair is dandruff free and beautifully ‘coloured’. ‘Dye’ is no longer appropriate for describing changes in hair colour.

Advertisements promote sales, but instructions such as ‘for oily skin’, ‘for dry skin’ or ‘for thin brittle hair’ emblazoned on products, tend to mislead. Skin, oily or dry and hair, thin or brittle; remains undesirable. Why don’t manufacturers affirm in bold print that their products ‘improve oily skin’, for instance? Is it because, such claims ‘might fall flat’ (not be substantiated)?

‘Ay, there’s the rub!’ (obstacle, Hamlet). Poetry can be insightful and provide perspective but a functional language barely supports accompanying visuals.

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Claim & honour go together

Lt Gen RS Sujlana (retd)


ADHERING to the adage of ‘Tradition is not the worship of ashes but the preservation of fire’, an age-old policy termed ‘Parental Claim’ exists in the Indian Army. Under this, tradition is preserved and the fire remains kindled in generations that follow their forefathers to serve the nation in the Army.

On commissioning, cadets from the Indian Military Academy can opt for the same regiment that his father served in. However, this option is restricted to only the fighting arms — Infantry, Mechanised Infantry, Armoured Corps and Artillery. The word appropriately used is ‘parental’ and not father, as an Army wife is equally wedded to the olive green and its ethos.

A sudden flash enlivened this tradition, when at a gathering, a former Brigadier, a blue-blooded Rathore who goes by the initials of SMS (today’s technology has ensured daily usage), announced that their son was soon taking over the command of an artillery regiment, where he too had served. The joy and pride of the parents was visibly infectious. They were looking forward to be by their son’s side on the day he takes over command, to bless him and pip the Colonel’s rank on his broad shoulders! What emotions will flow that day is difficult to comprehend by anyone who has not been through a similar experience, but for me memories flooded back and took me back some 25 years.

I was commanding 3 Sikh, the same battalion that my father had also commanded — both did so incidentally in J&K; he during the 1965 War and I fighting the same enemy, but in a sponsored form. Later, when I moved to a peace station, my father visited us for a few days and then came a day we both eagerly awaited. I was immersed in a file when the stick orderly (a soldier dressed in ceremonial standing duty at the CO’s door) smartly saluted and announced: ‘Saheb, wadde CO saheb aye ne’ (Sir, the elder CO has come). I sprung up from my chair just in time to simultaneously salute my father who stood at the door in his habitual smart posture in attention and was saluting me. ‘Son, I cannot express my feelings at this point, but how I wish your mother was alive to cherish this moment. But we both are here to bless you!’

Humbling, indeed, were the words of my father but also an incomparable honour. Even today, those moments and his words remain etched in my memory. My father’s heart was a cornucopia of pride and joy, but yes, we both missed the better half of the Parental Claim!

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After storm, wisdom dawns

Maxwell Pereira


SO, you are finally back to India, with all the time for trivial exposure for all around. Welcome. I admire your planning though — winters in cold or colder west, and summers in north India — which this year, is even hotter than probably ever before’, wrote an insightful (now in his 80s) former boss on my social media page! I had just returned home to Gurugram after a four-month sojourn abroad with grandchildren and travels!

Before I could attempt explanation for the logic behind my strange timing for ‘comfort-less’ seasons, the Lord changed the weather by sending in the storm! The aandhi struck unexpectedly to flip the living room carpets over, shove the arrangement of artificial flowers onto its side, disturb the flawless symmetry of frames and unhinge a picture from its hook on the wall, cause doors to shut violently with unnerving bangs and actually yank out a cupboard door that wasn’t shut tight.

A peep out the windows saw windswept trees, swaying from side to side to its powerful rhythm. Awestruck, I looked for my iPhone to record nature’s whiplash while dashing around preventing disasters and shutting the remaining doors and windows before more disaster could strike. Then a shocker, pitch darkness… a power cut!

I dropped everything to dash to switch off electrical appliances; can’t really suffer again the blowing up of fridge compressors, TV-tube, voltage-stabilisers and adapters that almost always succumb to the accompanying surge due to fluctuations.

Before I could even begin, the windstorm subsided, yielding to a welcome downpour, just as awe-inspiring if one cared to spare a moment to dwell on its beauty…and just as brief. I could now smell the glorious whiff of changed weather —from sweltering to cool, and look forward to my morning walk. The twilight had given way to swathes of black, and I wondered if stars would appear as grey clouds gave way to a clearer sky. The trees had invited the birds back to roost, with some hovering over branches while others chosen to frolic a bit longer. And yet I could discern the stubborn honk from the exuberant one that habits the trees around my house — wouldn’t be surprised if it came from the same family of peacocks that have made my terrace their home!

Once again, I resolve to check the emergency usefulness of the inverter, make appliances ‘surge’ proof, put door-stoppers and check for loose screws in cupboards….

I let my thoughts stray: the stronger and wiser you are, the more you will know, like the trees, just how much to bend without getting uprooted. Perhaps it’s not wise to expect everyone to remain with you in the storm. Welcome back those who do return, like the birds. Forgiveness heals. Companionship is needed.

Be nice to all because your strength of character depends on your roots and not their need to survive or their flights of fancy! Even when the skies turn blue again, there will be areas of grey. Accept those but dwell on the blue and the brilliant hues of the rainbow to uplift you. Remember, storms test the strength of your roots and values. Hold onto them to keep you grounded, till the worst passes. Storms never last.

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Beyond the dark clouds

Divya Dutta

I had missed my flight to Ahmedabad. There was a trail of thoughts in my mind—what would the shoot people do? Which next flight could I get? There was annoyance with my staff, who hadn’t been alert to a gate change announcement. Lots of emotions and thoughts had taken over. But finally I managed to get the next flight out. I felt relieved as finally took my seat in the aircraft. Everything seems so much more precious when you lose it and find it again. Otherwise, we take everything for granted. Yes, even boarding a flight.

As the plane took off, I peeped out of the window. We were cruising through the dark sea of monsoon clouds. There was huge turbulence as we passed through them. The plane shook badly and everyone held on to their seats tightly. The air hostess made her announcements to keep our seat belts on.

I must say I was tense. When would we cross these clouds, I thought.

In a few minutes, the plane rose to a higher altitude. Slowly up above the clouds and I could see the sun shining bright in the clear blue sky. The dark clouds way below us and yes it now was a smooth flight.

Isn’t life like that too? We procrastinate, we over think, we stress over all the minor and major issues in life. We wonder if we would ever cross the dark clouds. Our lives get turbulent and we hold on tight to the nearest support system to cling for dear life, but gradually, and with time, those minor or major issues pass by. We rise above them. We either learn to deal or we learn to be patient and wait for the right time. And finally we get back to live, having learnt our lessons—enlightened and happy, seeing the sun shining on us. Now, we are so high that we can look down at the clouds and laugh and wonder,” was I getting scared of that? Did I think that only dark clouds maketh my life? Why din’t I have the positivity to know that my destination was way above…. into the bright light…”

As I sat, I just thought how much importance we give to minor things that are just transient in our lives. We fall, we stumble, we get anxious and hyper but ultimately everyone reaches a final bright destination. Way beyond all this!

So, enjoy your flight of life. Enjoy the monsoon clouds and the turbulence, smile through it as life will surely give you your lessons and enlighten you before it takes you to the final destination. And yes, one thing is for sure—after all those clouds, the sun is surely going to shine on you. Big and bright! So, have a safe flight, dear ones… aapki yaatra sukhad rahe…

(Dutta is a Bollywood actress)

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Main Jasdev Singh bol raha hoon…

Sandeep Sinha

SPORTS lovers are known to be as passionate about the commentators of the game as they are about the players. So it was with a sense of wistfulness that I read that Henry Blofeld, the popular BBC cricket commentator, had decided to call it a day. Blofeld was known for his witty asides. ‘It’s ear-rings, ear-rings all the way’, he would say, observing the substantial presence of elegantly clad female fans from India and Pakistan during the matches at Sharjah.

The game of cricket spawned great commentators and John Arlott of the BBC was a legend. His description of a Clive Lloyd shot, ‘The stroke of a man knocking a thistle top off with a walking stick’, is a gem. Then there is Geoffrey Boycott, immensely proud of his ‘Yorkshire accent’, who never tires of pronouncing Calcutta as ‘Kalkoota’.

Closer home, we had the trio of Jasdev Singh, Sushil Doshi and Murli Manohar Manjul, who ruled the air waves. Jasdev Singh was versatile and was as good a commentator of hockey and other events like the January 26 parade at Rajpath or the foray of India’s first man in space, Rakesh Sharma.

I remember seeing Jasdev Singh first at the most unlikely of places —the Patna railway station. As I saw the tall, lanky Sikh gentleman walk in, his voice sounded familiar. I wondered what he was doing there.

Years later, at the Bikaner House in Delhi, as I boarded a bus for Jaipur, a car swerved in. It was Jasdev Singh and his wife. Seat numbers 1 and 2 were for them. As the bus stopped midway for a break, I could not bring myself to speak to him, overawed by his stature. It happened again, and yet again.

But as destiny would have it, one evening, I found him in my office. He was waiting to meet the resident editor of the newspaper I then worked for in Jaipur. ‘Catches win matches,’ I told myself. I beseeched him to my seat as he was waiting, and like a true fan, unashamedly told him tidbits from his commentary — how he had described India’s triumphant march in hockey at Kuala Lumpur, the exploits of Ajitpal Singh and Dung Dung, and when Bishen Singh Bedi’s men took on Bobby Simpson’s team Down Under. ‘Bharat pehle thokar khata hai, aur phir apne dushman ko pachar deta hai’ (India first takes the knocks, then makes its rival bite the dust), I recounted him saying. He was pleased but said nothing.

After he left, I was called by my boss and told that Jasdev Singh wanted to get his book, Main Jasdev Singh Bol Raha Hoon, reviewed. I was told that he kept praising me and that it was hint enough that I be asked to review the book.

The review was a foregone conclusion but Jasdev Singh called to say that he could tell that I had read the book. He also confirmed his presence in Patna. His daughter lived there and as it turned out, his samdhi turned out to be an acquaintance with my folks introducing me to him as a great ‘Jasdev Singh fan’.

Moving on in life, we have not been in regular touch but his booming voice continues to echo in my mind. He might have hung up the microphone, but a fan still remembers.

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