Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My First Guest Post - A Tribute to Sachin, the God of Cricket

Well as Sachin is all geared up and set to play his final, his 200th Test Match for India against the visiting West Indies team at his home ground, the Wankhede Stadium, I wish him all the luck. I am also getting nostalgic remembering all those days from the 1990’s and 2000’s where Sachin would, more often than not play a lone hand for India.

I was delighted when Arti of My Yatra Diary fame, well she is no less then Sachin when it comes to the world of blogging, invited me to do a guest post on the Little Master on her famous blog!! I have written a heartfelt account of my association with the God of Cricket, Sachin, over at My Yatra Diary.

Cricket is our Religion... Tendulkar is our God


Here is a small excerpt from my post

I once experienced what it must be like to be in the stands, when the ground is full, when Sachin is out there in the middle. Surprisingly, that match did not even involve India! Sri Lanka was playing New Zealand at Wankhede during the 2011 ICC World Cup and suddenly, during the second innings when New Zealand was batting the entire ground erupted with chants of Saaachin-Sachiiiiin, Saaachin-Sachiiiiin. The roar was defeaning, the crowd delirious in its chanting. I saw cricket fans dancing and shouting their throats hoarse when Sachin was not even at the ground!! I too joined them, the maddening hymn reaching a feverish pitch. This continued for a good 10-15 minutes. The Mumbai crowd had probably got its money’s worth in those few moments when they showered their lad with unabashed love and remembrance.

Do read the whole article here

Please share your Sachin memories in the comments section, either over there or here in this post!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Whiff of Nostalgia - My Smelly to Smiley Contest Post



The sense of smell has to be the most complex and indeed the most powerful of all human senses. While a particular smell can be pleasant to some, the same smell can be utterly disgusting to others and yet at the same time it might not even be detected by a third person!

Our brain remembers every smell we encounter, storing them all in some unrecognizable dark corner of its vast expanses, and we are instantly reminded of our experiences associated with the particular smell as soon as we bump into it again, sometimes after many long years. Nearly everyone has had experiences wherein a faint smell somewhere has triggered a wave of nostalgic memories hitting them like a tsunami.

So when I read about this particular contest on ‘Indiblogger’ which is sponsored by ‘Ambi Pur - a brand dealing with air freshners’, I was instantly transported to my childhood days. All those fragrances came rushing back, the good and bad memories allied with them, making me all nostalgic about the good old days.

A Normal Day

The mornings would be full of that flowery fragrance as Grandma would bring an assortment of flowers from the nearby garden which would be offered to the Gods. No sooner did the golden dust began its dance in the first rays of the sun, the gentle early morning breeze would fill up my nostrils with the aroma of hot ginger-basil tea brewing headily in our kitchen. The balmy scent of shoe polish on my black leather shoes often reminds me of my daily drudgery while I was in school. Today, when I apply my latest aftershave, I instantly remember that whiff of Old Spice Cologne that my Father would use when I was a kid.

Interestingly and perhaps a bit surprisingly, my memory fails to serve up any special recollections relating to odour during the 6 odd hours that I spent in the school. Perhaps I was too busy enjoying with my friends to take any notice of smells around me because one thing that I am sure about, is that I was not busy studying!! But luckily for me the contest asks for ‘nostalgic memories you associate with different smells or fragrances in your home’. Anyways I do remember one particular smell from my school days which I will share later on.

Afternoons were spent watching TV or doing homework or catching up on some sleep. Evenings were reserved for playing cricket and I remember how sweaty everyone would smell after running around for 2-3 hours continuously. After returning home, I would take a bath and get fresh and have my dinner. Then was the time for some more TV or homework depending on various multiple factors which I do not desire to dwell into in any great detail. There was this rule where we had to have a glass of hot milk just before retiring for the day and I remember that smell of milk very well. Just like every other kid, I used to hate it! I still detest it but now I have turmeric milk every night which, well, does not smell bad and at the same time is very good for health!!

Summers

The nearly 2 month long summer vacation was like a boon from heaven for kids from my generation. This was our little window where we were free from books and school and homework (there were no tuition classes during the vacations nor were we enrolled in various other classes like the kids of today and schools would not give homework to complete during the vacations) and were free to spend our time as we wished. How well I remember that giddy concoction of bodily stinks when 10 sweaty, sticky kids would simultaneously hug one another affectionately after winning a game of gully cricket from a seemingly hopeless position!!!

Summer vacations would also mean trips to places where we had never been before. I remember the smell of the cool mountainous breeze with lofty peaks and gently flowing rivers completing our surroundings as also the smell of the salty sea air by the sea-side with the growling ocean and the palm trees providing the perfect setting for the most riveting sunset!

One aroma which I absolutely worship is what ensues when cold curd is poured on hot steaming rice! I used to have curd-rice almost daily during the summer season and this was one smell which I eagerly awaited each day.

Rains

That earthy smell when the first rain drops gently kiss the earth. Who does not have memories associated with that moment, memories where, the first rain drop of the year would cause a commotion in the building with kids scampering out in the open to get drenched, later playing a game of cricket in the rain!! But unfortunately that pleasant scent of ‘parched-mud-soaking-in-water’ would be short lived as the stench from the garbage dump nearby was enough to make one nauseous. Now there is ‘Ambi Pur - Meadow and Rain’ to make sure that the wet mud smell remains with you long after the first rains have arrived!!

Winters

I do not remember any particular scent from the winters, but, in general, the air smelt much better in winter then what it did in the summers! The crisp and the cool morning air was something that I loved taking in, it was so stimulating!

Festivals/ Special Occasions

India is known as the land of festivals and the sights and smells are undeniably something that lingers on with you for a long time. The memories of these festivals, the different unique smells associated with each of them are enough to send my mind into a spiral.

I fondly remember Diwali for the mélange of odours that it presented – from the sickly sweet aroma of the kheer topped with pistachios and saffron, to the fumy, suffocating air from all the burnt fireworks, to the aromatic fragrance of the various flowers used for decorating the house, to the earthly smell of the mud diyas, to the smell of love and affection that was showered on kids. Everyone seemed happy, everyone had a smile on the face, everyone would welcome you warmly… that world was not such a bad place to live in after all!!

I get all nostalgic during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival each year reminiscing about the smell of Modaks which would fill the atmosphere in Mumbai.

The aroma of the sugary sweet Jalebis and the savory Fafdas served along with the raw pineapple and besan chutney would make me impatient while standing in the queue of the sweetmeat shop as I awaited my turn on the Dusshera day!!

Remember I talked about that one lingering fragrance from my school days? The aroma of the black fruitcake filled with raisins and fruits and nuts still hangs around in the air - one that I savored on the Christmas Day for 12 straight years, making me remember my school days warmheartedly.

My birthday meant that I could ask for my favorite dish to be prepared and my Mother would happily oblige. That particular dish was, more often than not, almost always – Pav Bhaji! My mind easily transports me to those days when the house would be filled with the smell of that aromatic, pungent and spicy bhaji… that huge dollop of butter melting away happily on top of it making it smell all the more addictive!! Nothing beats that remarkable whiff of home-made Pav Bhaji, yes; my mother is the best cook in the world!!

Miscellaneous

There are so many more smells dawdling around in my home today that make me nostalgic about my childhood days – the smell of the tadka as the cumin seeds would crackle in the hot ghee filling the air with a nutty flavor and then the addition of asafoetida would make the air turn heady and finally the addition of curry leaves would complete what would be a pretty intricate odour, the fragrance of incense, the minty aroma of fresh pudinah chutney which my Grandmother would grind with a small cylindrical stone on a larger flat stone (the entire apparatus known as Shil Lodi), the delicate scent of the Jasmine gajra which my mother would sometimes wear, the fragrance of mehndi during festivals, etc

Writing for this contest made me realize how much the smells around us influence us. They have the power to make us happy and to make us sad. Every smell has stories waiting to be told and memories waiting to be kindled. So what is your story and what are your memories? Share them!!

This post is my entry for the Smelly to Smiley! Contest held on Indiblogger and sponsored by Ambi Pur. If you like my post please do vote for it here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nostalgia - India vs Sri Lanka, 1996 World Cup Semi Finals at Eden Gardens, Calcutta

India vs Sri Lanka, 1996 Cricket World Cup Semi Final Match at Eden Gardens, Calcutta

The 1996 World Cup which was hosted jointly by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka was the first ever Cricket World Cup that I feverishly followed.

Many moments are still etched in my mind from that tournament – West Indies losing to Kenya, India beating Pakistan in an electrically charged Bangalore, Chris Harris making a wonderful century against the Aussie’s but still ending on the losing side, West Indies committing hara-kiri against Australia chasing only 208 but ending up losing after being 2/165 at one stage, Australia and West Indies forfeiting their games against Sri Lanka due to security concerns, etc.

But in this post I will describe a game which I remember like it took place only yesterday. India was to play against Sri Lanka in the Semi Finals at Eden Gardens, Calcutta.

Mohammad Azharuddin won the toss and elected to bowl first, perhaps influenced by the fact that the Lankans loved chasing and the ease with which they had won in the league game against India chasing a huge score.

With 100,000 people egging on their team wildly, Javagal Srinath removed the dangerous opening Lankan pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana with just a solitary run on the board. Out walked Aravinda, their star batsman, under massive pressure. Pressure, what pressure? I was just 11 but I still vividly remember that savage assault of his on the Indian bowling. He cut, drove and punched like a man possessed. Nothing mattered to him at that moment, he played some delightful strokes, and he was in the zone. He reached his 50 off just 32 deliveries and yet not a single stroke was played in anger. You would find it difficult to hear your own voice in that mad Eden Gardens crowd when those two early wickets fell and still a passerby could be forgiven if he mistook it for a mortuary at mid-night while Aravinda was out there bisecting fields as if batting with set-squares, protractors and compass!!

He was finally castled for 66 which came of just 47 balls but such was the ferocity of his mauling that it left India shell shocked. Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama and Hashan Tillekeratne all contributed to the score and build on from where Aravinda De Silva had left to take the Lankan score to 252. It was certainly not a frightening total and the strong Indian batting line up would have been pretty confident of chasing this down.

India lost Sidhu early but the Mumbai lads Sachin Tendulkar and Sanjay Manjrekar steadied the Indian ship and the fans nerves by taking the score to 98 without any real difficulty. It all seemed easy out there for the Indians. And then, disaster struck. Sachin lost his balance to a full leg side delivery from Jayasuriya and little Kalu whipped the bails off in a flash. India 98/2 and perhaps a little panic set about in that Indian dressing room right at that moment, a little moment of self doubt perhaps crept into the minds of the incoming batsmen.

The Moment when it all started to go downhill for the Indians, 
Sachin stranded down the pitch

Azharuddin joined Manjrekar but for a fleeting moment as he spooned a simple return catch to Dharmasena and India slipped to 99/3. The Sri Lankan spinners then began to extract vicious turn and zip from the Eden pitch. Nearly every ball started turning square and not losing a wicket seemed a no less than a miracle. It was dramatic as it seemed that the pitch had crumbled in a matter of a few overs. Batting almost became impossible as the batsmen struggled to even get the ball off the square. Sanath bowled Manjrekar and Jadeja behind their legs leaving stunned faces in the crowd. The spin quartet of Sanath, Murli, Aravinda and Dharmasena could have easily passed as the fearsome pace quartet of West Indies of the 80’s in that moment. As India lost Ashish Kapoor to a fine running catch by De Silva, the crowd had had enough.

India had slipped from 98/1 to 120/8 and it could take no more. Water bottles were thrown on the field and seats burned. The ugly side of fanatic Indian crowds had made an appearance in the wake of a truly disastrous Indian performance. The match was temporarily stopped and just when it was about to resume the riots in the stands started again. Clive Llyod awarded the match to Sri Lanka and rightly so as India hardly looked like it could scrape a run let alone score 130 odd runs in just under 16 overs! The image of a crying Vinod Kambli making his way off the field was a distressing sight even as a placard in the crowd read – “Congratulations Sri Lanka, We Are Sorry”

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Favorite Players - Grant Flower

Grant Flower - Zimbabwe

Grant Flower played in what was probably the golden era of Zimbabwean cricket, from the early 1990's to early 2000's. Players such as Alistair Campbell, Guy Whittal, Eddo Brandes, Heath Streak and his own enigmatic elder brother Andy Flower (now the director of the English Cricket Team) made Zimbabwe a team which could take on the strongest teams of that era head on.

Grant Flower, Zimbabwe
Grant Flower
Image courtesy espncricinfo.com

Grant was an attractive stroke maker though he could also buckle down and hold an end up for long periods of time. He made his test debut against India in 1992 and made an impressive 82 in his debut innings. He made a classy 201* in a match in which Andy compiled a 156 of his own as Zimbabwe scored a mammoth 544/4 declared against Pakistan in 1994/1995 at Harare. Zimbabwe went on to win the match by an innings and 64 runs. He was also Man of the Match against India when Zimbabwe beat the Indians in a thriller by 3 runs in the 1999 World Cup. How well I remember that match, it was nothing short of a nightmare!!

Besides being a competent batsman, Grant was also a handy bowler. His slow left arm spin got him over a hundred wickets in ODI cricket making him the country's most successful bowler, only after Heath Streak. He was also a brilliant fielder who prowled in and around the gully and point positions.

Grant fell out with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union over the rebel players issue and formally announced his retirement in 2004 though he was shockingly recalled later in 2010 during a 3 match series against South Africa. It appeared at that point in time that he would play the 2011 ICC World Cup in Sub Continent though that was not to be.

He is the batting coach of the current Zimbabwe team. So he is still connected with cricket and is still doing his best for the betterment of Zimbabwe Cricket.

PS - To Read Other Posts From The Segment My Favorite Players, Click On The Following Link - My Favorite Players

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Life and Times of Michael Clarke - In his Own Words!!

I am Michael Clarke. I believe that this is lowest point of my cricketing career; this is even worst then being dropped from the national team which I once painfully endured. I am writing this to ease my twinge, to clear my mind, to brace myself for the tough days that lie ahead of me as the captain of the Australian team.

Most of you might not know but I was a scholarship holder at the prestigious Australian Cricket Academy when I was 18. Yes, just 18. As a kid I watched the Waughs and the Taylors, the Warnes and the Mc Graths play for the Australian team; rip in to attacks, overpower them, intimidate them and pound them to dust. I wanted to be like them, they were my heroes. With dreams in my eyes and my eyes on a dream to bag the baggy green, I worked hard and kept improving. I kept reminding myself that I was good enough to represent Australia at the highest level.

I was finally selected in the national side and made my debut in the most arduous circumstances that any kid could dream off. It was in India, the hot and sultry Bangalore to be precise. I hit a sublime 151 and all was going according to plan for me. We managed to finally breach what the great Steve Waugh had proclaimed as being ‘The Final Frontier’. We won the series 2-1 and I feel so very nostalgic remembering those days. The fact that I had made significant contributions towards making our collective dreams a possibility makes my memories all the more sweet. After making a century on debut, I managed to crack a century on my debut test in Australia as well. A year later I would win the Allan Border Medal and I was well on my way to stardom now.

What a team we had then!! Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Martyn, our current coach Lehmann, Hussey, Gilchrist, Warne, Gillespie, Mc Grath!!! I was just a kid in that team, probably a rising star in a team of full blown galaxy of superstars! This team won matches for fun. Most of the times, all we had to do to win was just turn up at the ground! We could play to 50% of our potential and still win easily. The opposition did not matter, the umpires did not matter, the pitch, and the weather were not even an issue for us – we could win against any team anywhere in the world on most given days. These players were at the peak of their powers and in their pomp would scare the opposition even before they entered the playing field.

Then, as age caught up, these legends started to call it a day. One by one, they began to walk in to the sunset. In the beginning, we had alternatives. But, then you can’t find suitable replacements for the above mentioned greats in a jiffy.

I was made the captain of the team and I had, now, only the experience of Ponting and Hussey to fall back on. They made my job so much easy. I personally had a romantic start to my captaincy stint. In 2012, I became the only man to score 4 double centuries which also included a triple ton! I could seem to do no wrong. Then Ponting announced his retirement in December 2012. Hussey announced it a month later in January 2013. The last of recognized stars of the previous decade had just faded away.

I was now the superstar in this Aussie team, a veteran. I was no longer the carefree, wide eyed kid. I had powers, responsibilities. I decided to take them on manly. We toured India again, almost 9 years after my famous debut but this time there were none of those old wily hands upon whom we could fall back on. We lost 0-4. The tour was marred by the homework-gate as some players were handed punishment for not filing the team survey. Was I asking too much of my players if I wanted their assessment of what we were doing wrong and how we could correct them? I could not tolerate the indifference shown by some players including the vice captain of the team. Watson threatened to quit test cricket and flew back to Australia in a huff.

Everything was falling apart now. The rosy picture had eventually begun to make way for a dark and long gloomy night.

Warner punched Joe Root after a group match against England during the Champions Trophy, another transgression from him and our Ashes campaign was well and truly in disorder. We could not even make it to the finals of the Champions Trophy and a tough Ashes battle loomed ahead. Mickey Arthur was sacked finally after a string of poor performances under him; I stepped down from the post of a selector to concentrate on my batting.

We have already lost the first Ashes test, albeit narrowly and are staring down the barrel in the second one. I personally still feel we can win this game, in my heart. My head, though, is whirring as I try to come to terms with the recent performances of the current Australian Test Cricket Team.

This is all that I have time to write today. But I will be back again to share with you my innermost thoughts, my feelings. I must now get back to the practice session and brace myself for the tough couple of days that lie ahead.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Final Call, Champions Trophy 2013 - Sparkling India take on Tenacious England

India Vs England, Champions Trophy Final 2013, Edbaston

A dominating Indian team will slug it out with the dogged hosts, England, to decide the winner of the Champions Trophy. Throw in the unpredictable English weather and the fact that this probably is the last time that this trophy is being played for will add extra spice to the affair.

The Top 3

While the top three of England, Bell, Cook and Trott have been criticized for being too slow and lethargic with their run scoring rates the Indian top three of Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli have been powering and bulldozing opponents with supreme positive power-play. But the fact remains that the English top order has laid the platform perfectly for their middle order power hitters. They have all been in good form and all of them have good scores under the belt in the Champions Trophy. Cook, Bell and Trott have all scored half centuries in either the league stage or in the semi final stage. The Indian troika has had a great time as well as the makeshift opener Rohit has done decently well stitching hundred run partnerships with a rampaging Dhawan who seems to be in the form of his life right now. Kohli has been, as always, scoring runs at a fair clip and has been consistent as well.
 
The Middle Order

Root and Bopara have played good hands for England right through the Champions trophy. Root has been incredibly consistent with the run scoring and has been getting them at a good strike rate as well. While Morgan and Butler were expected to do most of the damage late in the innings, the fireworks have been provided by Bopara who had replaced Pietersen in the side. Both of them have proved handy with the ball as well, Root providing a reasonable spinning option while Bopara with his nibblers has managed to sneak in a few good overs as well! In a big game like the final, expect a strong comeback from Morgan who is a terrific player of spin. The Indian middle order has not had any time out in the middle and they are practically untested as the top order has been scoring all the runs. Karthik has hardly done anything significant although he was in scintillating form in the recently concluded IPL. Raina, Dhoni and Jadeja have all been sitting with their pads on in the pavilion rather than be out there in the middle. It will be a huge test for the Indian middle order if India loose early wickets in the all important final.

The Bowlers

England have probably the best attack for swinging conditions right now in world cricket with Anderson who seems to thrive if the conditions offer even remote help. With Finn and Broad to complement him the Indian batsmen will surely be tested like they have never been before in this trophy before. Then, is the curious case of James Tredwell who has done remarkably well in few appearances that he has made in the absence of the injured Swann. It will be interesting to see who England goes with if Swann is fully fit. In a refreshing change, the Indian bowlers have not been carted all around the ground by the opponent batsmen. They have not looked hapless and hopeless. They have been sharp and have played their part in the victories. They have not just made up the numbers. Bhuvi has got the ball to move and talk, Umesh has bowled with a Lions heart and bowled with accuracy and pace, Ishant seems to have remembered how to bowl and Ashwin has bowled few good spells too. Amidst all this Jadeja has picked up important and cheap wickets with his faster, flatter deliveries.

The Fielding

England has been good in the field, nothing spectacular but they have not dropped any important catches and have not been shabby. India, on the fielding front, seems to have turned a corner. They have been unexpectedly sharp and have shown agility and anticipation that you would normally associate with Australia or New Zealand. In fact Dhoni has said that his team is the best fielding unit in the world right now but I personally feel, that is taking the whole issue a bit too far!!!

The Weather

Rain is expected and it will be a stop start affair at Edgbaston, Birmingham. With no reserve day, fans will be hoping that the weather stays fair and everyone can witness a good game of cricket.
 
What it Means

For England this is another shot at winning a major tournament at last that has always eluded them. For India it is a chance to put aside the disappointment and controversies of last few weeks and get the confidence of the supporters back and for MSD to try and add another trophy to his already burgeoning trophy cabinet!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Chat With My Inner Brats!

Hey Baby DS’s,

I was browsing through an old dusty album when the snaps in it made me reminisce about our old childhood days. That’s when I though of writing a letter to all of you.

Baby DS 1 - Do you remember that snap of your first stage performance? Where you were dressed as a cute little girl? I think you were in the 1st standard. Mom and all the teachers had worked so hard on your look and helped you with everything that could make you feel comfortable. Everyone was excited to see you go live, to see your bundle of energy except you... Still, you chose to remain stiff, refusing to give up your fears and nervousness. Thinking over it, I personally feel that you had no reason to be afraid. Rome was not built in a day, after all ...and your hard work was all that mattered. I remember mom telling you, Do your best beta, have faith in whatever you do and you will always be a winner. So the best way is to just go on stage and give your best shot. Act as naturally as you can... what others think of you is none of your business.

Baby DS 2 - You love playing cricket, right? Let me tell you something. You love writing as well! Get that journal out and start documenting your match reviews and previews right away, you are going to be a blogger someday! You have no idea how much you will need blogging to heal yourself, to relax... to be happy!

Baby DS 3 - What are you afraid of? Meeting people? Each time you are invited to a function of any kind, you get those panic attacks and feign sickness or cry and lock yourself up inside your room. Is it that you think that you are a nerd and that people don’t like you? Is it that you feel that you will make a fool of yourself when you try talking with others? Listen: Don’t let fears rule you. Yes, you are a nerd but there are people who still like you. You need to learn to respect and love yourself for who you are and ignore those people who pull you down. You deserve all the love and respect, but it has to start with you. Love yourself first and start the change of positivity. Make loving yourself your number one priority right now.

Baby DS 4 - I heard you cried when you missed the top spot in the quiz competition for which you had worked so hard? But don’t worry and don’t feel dejected, you need to realize that the other guy was simply better. And you need to be happy for his success as much as you need to assure yourself that this is not the end. Keep dreaming and keep trying, you will have your moments of success and triumphs. Be positive, be strong. You are meant to be a bright young lad one day!

Baby DS 5 - Have I ever told you that your smile is the most innocent one I have ever seen? I love the way your face lights up with a beam that seems to stem straight out of your heart without any fallacies, so to say – pure and complete. You will be surprised to know that I have today lost the smile that I once had. I am ashamed that I have allowed certain things to take the joy out of my life today. Smile, childlike and naïve, this... I need to learn from you :)

There is so much more I need to say to all of you. I wish we all could meet up some day. But time wouldn't allow us to. However, I am very happy to inform you that there is a community called IndiBlogger which is giving an opportunity to allow any 5 people or more to connect and chat using an application named WeChat.

I look forward to making use of it and discussing all that I have written above and much more with all of you. In the process, I hope to learn a few things about my own self, why I reacted in situations in a way that were... not right, how I could have done the same things in a better way and more importantly, to learn from everything and try and be a better person tomorrow.

Looking forward to chatting up soon,

Love you all,

Yours,

Senior DS :)

PS: If you loved reading this entry, please vote for it here - http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=246201. Thank you.

Links to my other two WeChat contest posts:

Hello Happiness

WeChat -- Connecting friends

Hello Happiness!

Everyday for me is a routine. A mundane one at that: Getting up at 5, having my breakfast and leaving for work by 9. The next 9 hrs pass by sitting in front of my desktop making reports and overseeing logistical work. Strike 6 and it’s time to get back home again, have dinner and go off to sleep. Only to get up at 5 again the next morning and repeat the same sequence again.

The other day, as I was combing my hair (here’s another one of those mundane activities!) while standing in front of the mirror, my gaze suddenly fixed itself towards my lips. I inched closer, now eyeing them a bit more intently and stretching them out a bit. The realization was compelling!
 

When was the last time I had smiled?

Where was my smile?

The now forcefully smiling lips seemed to be asking all sorts of questions to me. I wanted to swab them all away with a wipe of my hand but the thoughts stuck, refusing to go away: all through the entire day.

In the daily humdrum of life, had I forgotten to smile? Why?

In the midst of this dilemma, my attention suddenly turned towards my mom who was busy washing clothes in the bathroom. Unmindful of the intense heat of the season, she laundered the clothes with truckloads of sweat rolling down her forehead. Yet, she projected an epitome of calm and peace. Despite the strenuous activity she was doing, I could clearly see bliss writ large on her face.

Bhaiyya, paper le lijiye! (Here is your newspaper, friend!) The call of the newspaper delivery boy broke my gaze. With ear phones tucked in his ears, he was smiling for some odd reason. Inquisitively, I asked him: Aap kaafi khush lag rahe hain? (You are looking very happy?) Snapping an ear plug out of his left ear, he smiled wider this time and said, Wo gaane ki wajah se. Music sunna acha lagta hai. (It’s because of the music, I love listening to music). Saying this, he plugged the ear phone back and went about delivering the other newspapers in the locality.

As soon as he left, I heard Manan, the 12 year old lad next door shout out a ‘Hi, Bhaiyya’ to me. Even from a distance, I could very well gather the toothy smile he flashed as he ran towards me. With a heavy bag flung on his shoulders, he was on his way to school. Bhaiyya, today is our English exam, wish me luck na! He said this in a tone so cheerful; I doubted if he actually had an exam and if he had one he must definitely know the questions beforehand!
 

Ah, yes. All the best!

I saw him climb his school bus and wave goodbye with a smile that had now got even bigger and brighter. All the best effect, perhaps. I wondered.

As the bus pulled out, Leelaben – the rag picker of our society came into my view. She was dedicatedly collecting and assorting all the trash that had been thrown out by the members of the society. Her job was laborious and one that was filled with filth and even frowned upon, yet there was a sense of freshness on her face. No wonder, our building
was one of the cleanest in the entire area.

Leelaben - A million dollar smile

What was her motivation?

From where did she derive the inspiration for such dedication?

Did she like her profession? 
I wondered.

For a moment, I felt ashamed to sit in an air-conditioned cabin the whole day and still come home frustrated, cribbing about my job.

Soon enough, my pick up cabbie was at the door, Rikshaw puller Rambhai. Bhaiyya, aaj office nahin jaana kya? (Don’t you have office today?) And even before I could frame any reply, what I noticed was the smile clearly etched on the face of this cheery 30-something-recently-married guy. I was amazed. Why? What was the reason that was making him so happy? After all, he was just going about doing his job: To pick me up and drop me at my office. Was he happy for no reason?

All these questions and all my experiences since morning were now making my head spin. But I knew what had to be done.

I did not go to office that day. I had a far more important job to do. I had to find my missing smile back. And I knew the people who could help me get it back to me. Now all that was remaining was to connect with them and to find value in those connections, to surround myself with the loving and cheerful people I see every day but never care to talk... It was time now to get together... to WeChat, ask them the secret for their happiness and get inspired in return.

The next day, I left for office dot at 9 as usual with my office bag but most importantly, with a smile on my face and a sparkle in my eyes.

This entry is a contest participation in the topic WeChatNow with IndiBlogger. To vote for this entry, please click here
.

Links to my other two WeChat contest posts:

WeChat -- Connecting friends
A Chat with my inner brats

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