The impact Rahul Dravid made on my life.

I always find Cricket a bit boring (Football is my first love!), especially watching a test match. 5 days, everyday starts at 9 ends at 6, total 45 hours of play to decide winner of one single match. My dad is a cricket fanatic and we had Doordarshan, so having no other option I had to either watch cricket whole day or go out and play. Of course I preferred the later, till the time of the day when I was caught by my mom and brought back home.

“If I have to put anyone to bat for my life it will be either Dravid or Kallis”

– Brain Lara

This was the late nineties, and whenever this guy (Dravid) came to bat, my dad would either put the TV on mute or switch it off and start reading the news paper. Usually TV being switched off meant the match was cancelled or delayed, so with huge expectations of watching something entertaining I would ask dad, why are you not watching the match. Even if it was on mute I had the same question why is it on mute. Most of the times the reply I got was, Dravid is batting right now, there won’t be much stuff happening in this session.

This rose my curiosity levels to the extreme, how can Dad be so confident every time that Dravid will not get out. Not just my dad there were many others in my colony who had the same views about him.

So I started watching his innings, even when everyone was chanting Sachin’s name, there was something about Dravid that I found very charismatic. On the surface he was always calm, even against the sledges. His temperament was commendable. To get a better understanding of how his mind works, I started reading about him. (These were the days when google wasn’t used that extensively and we had to rely on newspapers and books for information.)

The more I read the more fascinated I was about him. How can someone be so selfless. I learnt a great deal about the sportsmanship from Dravid. Previously, victory was my ultimate goal and for achieving that any sacrifice was alright with me. But looking at Dravid, I learnt winning and losing are part and parcel of the game, how you play matters the most. You may not always win, but if you play beautifully and lose, you are still the winner.

Dravid was and still is my idol. It’s not everyday that you get to witness someone so great in your lifetime. Over the years I have seen him play, not that I loved cricket, but I loved the way he played his game, his approach towards the game.

“My wife and I have built a new home with a lovely garden which houses lovely bamboo trees. I got reading on the Chinese bamboo and learned that the tree takes 5 years, 3 months to grow to its whole height of 80 feet. Yet, for the first 5 years, you only see a tiny green shoot, but in the next 90 days, it grows into a full-fledged tree. But in those first 60 months, it is growing its strong network of roots underground, to support the tree.  In an era of instant gratification, we settle for shorter trees, but remember patience has its reward. These are your years of growing that strong network of roots but be sure when you finally achieve your success, people will call it “overnight success”. If only they knew of the Chinese bamboo!”

-Rahul Dravid

Patience, I’m yet to see someone with his level of patience and perseverance. The above quote explains it the best. Patience was never an arrow in my quiver. I learnt the most important thing from him, if you want to progress learn to control your temper. I have not achieved the quarter of his level, but I’m much better now.

Team Spirit: One of the things that I admire Rahul  most is his unselfishness for the team. According to Harsha Bhogle, “In cricket,opening the batting and keeping wicket were the two things Rahul didn’t like, but he was asked to do both and he showed the world what he was capable of.” He was there whenever the team needed him. The most important thing that I learnt was, you need to have faith in people around you.

Just like international teams and club teams, I had a club team, lets call it ‘Team Mix‘ and then during our PT (personal training) sessions the entire class used to play together, now here since we all belonged to the same class the usual scenario was  ‘Team Mix‘ vs the rest of the class let’s call it ‘Team Class‘. This way we got more time to improve on our coordinations. As an experiment to test this theory,I chose to play for ‘Team Class‘,against ‘Team Mix‘. I used to play for ‘Team Mix’ for years, hence I knew their weaknesses and their mind, and now that I was up against them I used all the experience to disrupt their play. It did not work for first few weeks and ‘Team Class‘ was losing heavily. It was not that the ‘Team Class‘ was playing bad, it was just the lack of confidence that got better of them. So after few weeks, just to boost their morale I changed my usual position from Full Center back to winger, this was the first time ‘Team Class‘ scored against the ‘Team Mix‘. We lost the match eventually but the ‘Team Class‘ learnt that ‘Team Mix‘ was not invincible. I continued to play in the winger position for next few weeks and we were still losing but not with a great margin. After that I switched to middle, and kept most of them in the middle with me. This reduced the goal difference further, now the matches started ending as draws.I finally returned to my original position and just kept 2 full backs and sent everyone forward. We were now winning! I did screw up my game a bit in those few weeks, but the results we got later were fabulous, for both the teams, ‘Team Class‘ gained confidence and were playing much better, and ‘Team Mix‘ who played leniently in these matches considered ‘Team Class‘ as a potential threat and played seriously which improved their coordination and team bonding. And for me, I learnt to be a playmaker rather than just a defender.

For the strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf

-Kipling Quoted by Dravid.

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And then the God ceased to exist for me!

Fear the God.

God is watching everything.

God is omnipresent.

These are few of the everyday statements we have been hearing since our childhood. As a child, I first believed in the concept of God. (Well, you don’t have an option at that stage.) But as I started visiting various temples, the concept seemed to be fading. Then there was a chaos. Let’s see it as a conflict between two aspects of my personality; one which wants to believe in what has been taught about God, and the other which wants to believe in facts a rather rebellious one having a conversation with me.

As a 10 years old:

Taught-minded philosophy: “Listen, your parents said that God is everywhere and the idols are a mere representation, they know more stuff than you.”

Atheist-minded philosophy: “I can’t relate to any God, There is no-one even in my mind which resembles God-like figure. Besides if I meet a four-handed human or a four headed human it would be interesting to see how they coordinate with those extra sets.”

At that age I imagined God as shown in the daily soaps of B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat or Ramanand Sagar’s Krishna; armed with weapons, dressed in those flashy gold studded attire. It took me 2 more years to understand that it was fake.

I remember my mom explained to me that all that shown on TV isn’t real. I took the words in a different sense, for me, cartoons were fake (which I had suspected for long after few failed experiments!) but other than that it was the real deal. Real Gods were shown on the TV. Then came the Eureka moment, I met the actor who played the role of Krishna, and was relieved as well as sad that he had only 2 hands and wore normal clothes.

12 Years old:

Taught-minded philosophy: “Those damn daily soaps! Stop painting God as those serials show them.”

Atheist-minded philosophy: “Temple has an idol, but that is not God; It is just a place for people to gather and conduct business. The devotees come to the temple seeking peace and relief from their problems.”

Taught-minded philosophy: “If not God, then how this universe was created?”

Atheist-minded philosophy:  “There sure must be some logical answer to this.”

14 Years old:

Atheist-minded philosophy: “Yeah so, Darwin’s theory explains the evolution.”

Taught-Minded philosophy: “Still, there are lot of loop holes in it.”

Atheist-minded philosophy: “Oh, so your theory which says god created everything in 4 days makes more sense to you rather than the one which explains it in stages.”

Having experienced village life from an early age, I had seen the extremes of religious fanaticism and always marveled at the concept of God being used as per everyone’s convenience. There is a ceremony which happens quite regularly everywhere, it’s the ceremony where a spirit of an elderly or someone with equivalent stature enters a human body and people ask for guidance from these spirits. I guess my relatives were the most beloved humans of these spirits, cause every alternate day I would find someone seeking advice from these spirits. Not just the day-to-day activities, these spirits were consulted in grave matters such as land deals, quarrels, also finding the damn cattle. As a kid I was first fascinated by these spirit loved humans and always wondered why these spirits won’t talk to me, so I started paying attention to the details of these particular relatives of mine. I stayed in their vicinity for as long as possible, the more I understood their thinking the clearer the picture became to me. There were no goddamn spirits, these relatives of mine enjoyed the power being  bestowed upon them and also their greed. There were many incidents were the dispute was settled by making an offering to the spirit in form of a temple or just barren land or cattle and since the spirits favored these few people, they were given the ownership.

Then I started paying attention to the temples and it’s working. The temples worked on a grand level when it came to scamming people. Building a temple is now as good as starting a business. I have seen the rise of the temple from a ‘normal temple‘ with a ‘normal God‘ to a grand multi million rupee structure with a ‘wish granting God‘ within a span of a year. Not just temples, same modus operandi is followed by every religious house.

So that’s when I arrived at the conclusion, there is no God. We, the humans are the supreme and we should live the life as per our own rules of conduct; not the one laid by any religion or in the fear of any punishment in our after life.

I was fortunate enough to be born in India. There is a lot of diversity, there are lot of religions and also there are lots of mythological scriptures and traditions. I have always been fascinated by Indian mythology. They reveal a lot about the human psyche of that time as well as the current time. If you just look at these scriptures from an atheist point of view, you will see the flaws in the characters depicted as gods. Our ancestors knew in order to make people follow the rules, there had to be an entity which can install faith as well as fear in our minds, even when no one was to observe you; hence the concept of omnipresent god. The traditions and festivals were designed in such a way that it would benefit our body to adjust to the changes in the seasons. They were smart people, but the next generation wasn’t that smart or curious as to ask why. That’s where the things went wrong and people just started following blindly without knowing the actual reason behind it.

Being an Atheist doesn’t mean that one denounces all the rules of society, it just means you follow the rules but not because you fear the godly punishment, you do because you respect the other individuals.