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The Victory – 1983

It was a victory that changed Indian cricket permanently. And it was certainly unexpected. No one in their right senses gave any chance to India. India was expected to be a team to be rolled over. An easy picking for the champion teams like West Indies and Australia. But one man thought differently. Kapil Dev !!

Kapil Dev had come into the Indian team as a breath of fresh air. He was a fast bowler. Till he came into the picture, the role of an Indian fast bowler was always to take the shine off the ball so that the main protagonists, the spinners could take centre stage. And the Indian spinners always hunted in quartets. The quartet of Bedi, Chandra, Venkat and Prasanna were spinning wizards who weaved a magical web around the most accomplished of batsmen. But their wizardry was majorly confined to the test matches. And they were certainly a misfit in the fast world of one day cricket which required much better athleticism from the players. And another requirement was that one day cricket required better batting abilities which non of them possessed. And one day, in strode a tall, lanky and somewhat gawky lad from the interiors of India. People went mad over his out swingers and cutters. A unique action, which was a feast for the eyes, enabled him to fool the best batsmen of the era. Suddenly India had a cricket star who was also an athlete of the highest order. In an Indian fielding team which just ran behind the ball till it crossed the boundary, here was a fielder who did not think twice before throwing himself at the ball to stop it in its tracks. And in one fluid motion the ball was back into the gloves of the wicket keeper, due to his powerful throwing arms. But what endeared him to the masses of India, was his six hitting abilities. When the other Indian batsmen were the epitome of defence, here was a batsman who regularly plonked the ball out of the ground. A star was born! And ladies loved his toothy grin.

Shortly Kapil Dev was the captain of the Indian team which was put together for the World Cup 1983. It consisted of consistent proven performers like Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Yashpal Sharma, but the backbone of the squad was a man called Mohinder Amarnath. The quintessential comeback man, he had turned into most consistent batsmen scoring in almost every match he played. Sandeep Patil, another of the Mumbai boys, he came into the team on the back of ferocious knocks in domestic cricket. He was known to deal in only fours and sixes, making his batting style a best fit for one day cricket. And Kris Srikkanth! He wanted to hit every ball out of the park. He complemented the cool and calm Sunny Gavaskar, his fire and brimstone approach to batting, an antithesis to the purity and correctness of Gavaskar. Though Ravi Shastri too was a part of the team, he did not play a big role in the World Cup. His moment of glory was meant to come two years later, in Australia. Syed Kirmani was the wicket keeper, he had been serving Indian cricket for quite a while, and he was a handful with the bat. In the bowling department, other than Kapil Dev, the others were not at all in intimidating. Not much was expected from the likes of Madanlal, Roger Binny, Kirti Azad and Balwinder Singh Sandhu. But under the overcast skies of England, which helped swing bowling, they were going to prove everyone wrong.

India reached the final but no one gave them a chance against the Clive Lloyd led mighty West Indies. Mind you, India had defeated them in the initial rounds but this was treated by everyone, including some diehard Indian fans, as a flash in the pan. But the turning point was the match against Zimbabwe. It was a crucial match for India to reach the semifinals. But India started disastrously and soon were 17/5 . With the entire top order back in pavilion, the Captain Kapil had only the wicket keeper, and the bowlers like Binny for company. First they steadied the innings and then the captain just blew away the Zimbabwe attack to score world record highest score of 175 not out. It was an innings which made everyone sit up and take notice. Indian cricket was catapulted into a different league then onwards and now the Indian fans actually started dreaming of the cup.

The finals started and within no time the ferocious fast bowling quartet of Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts had blown away the top half of the Indian batting lineup, with the only resistance coming from Srikkanth and Amarnath to some extent. That India managed to reach 183 was due to contributions from the lower order. But with the likes of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and Lloyd himself followed by Gus Logie and Jeff Dujon, this total was way below mark. Or so it seemed…

The first blow was given by the innocuous bowling of Sandhu. Greenidge shaped to leave the ball but it curved in to peg back the off stump. One down! Then King Richards walked in and went about destroying the Indian bowling and it seemed as if the match would get over shortly. Madanlal came on to bowl and Richards saw some easy pickings. Going for the maximum, the ball ballooned into space. Kapil Dev ran back for eternity, and in one fluid motion he had his man. Every Indian in every corner of the world was jumping with joy and the moment arrived when Holding was out leg before to the great Amarnath. Within seconds, the great Indian diaspora had run on the field to congratulate the team which ran with stumps in hand towards the pavilion. The toothy grin on the captains face was wider and in a few moments he was holding the World Cup in his hands.

Indian cricket was never going to be the same again!! Our tenth standard exams were over and this was an icing on the cake.

Yatindra Tawde

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A fishy tale

It was some years after the Engineering course was completed and before most of us friends had married, except perhaps one or two. We had planned an overnight picnic to Marve beach, where we went by a rickety boat. There were about 6-7 of us. We reached by evening and had booked a room to stay. The evening was spent in frolicking on the beach and the night stretched beyond midnight in lot of friendly banter accompanied clinking of the glasses. The entire next day, being Sunday, was mostly by the sea, all of us enjoying getting drenched by the surf. Finally it was time to go home and we started back by bus. But before starting, one of our friends decided to get himself some edible souvenir in the form of dried fish. Now you know how fragrant the dried fish are! Some of us bluntly told him not to travel with us, but all this was friendly banter. Finally we got on the bus, our friend promptly occupied a window seat. And since the dried fish was being a nuisance to the other passengers olfactory nerves, our friend held out his hand, carrying his precious cargo in a plastic bag , outside the window, balancing the plastic bag on his little finger. Being very tired from our monkey antics on the beach, most of us slept soundly, through the uneventful journey. When we reached Malad railway station, all of us got down. And suddenly our friend realised that in his sleep, he had let go of his precious cargo. A few of the Malad cats were treated to unexpected feast that evening. And us friends…well we had one more story to be told between ourselves, each one adding his own mirch-masala, to the saga.

Yatindra Tawde

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Wi-fi on the ST Bus

If you are living in Maharashtra, you must surely have travelled by a ST bus. And if you have not, then you have missed an experience.

For the uninitiated, ST bus is the State Transport bus. It is the lifeline of Maharashtra, especially for the large population residing in villages.

The people lovingly refer to it as ‘lal dabba’ which translates into English as the ‘Red Box’. It is so named because it is literally a travelling box on wheels.

Many of the older generation will remember the tin boxes which you carried to school, especially in the primary division. It used to hold the books, pencils, rulers, tiffin boxes and many other things.

And especially at the start and end of school timings and during the recesses, the boxes of all the students used to make a great racket.

When the ST bus travels, it too makes a similar racket. This racket is caused by the assortment of metal trunks and other luggage of the passengers and by the passengers themselves who want to make themselves heard over the great racket.

Above all , the nuts and bolts which hold up the bus, make a big noise since the buses vibrate while travelling.

It seems these buses are manufactured by an ancient bus manufacturer, who has been bypassed by all the advances made in the field of bus body assemblies. After all no other buses vibrate as much as the ST Buses.

And these buses have their moods…they will be taking you to your destination, you are trying to grab a few winks in all the cacophony, when suddenly the bus coughs and splutters and with a few jerks, comes to a halt in the middle of the road. And no amount of cajoling by the bus driver and the conductor is enough to make it go again.

As the bored passengers get down from the bus to stretch their legs or to answer nature’s call, the bus driver goes below the bus, with assortment of tools, with the conductor at his constant beck and call. Finally the driver gives up and emerges from the bowels of the bus, quite dejectedly.

In the meanwhile some of the passengers have managed to get lifts from private vehicles and goods trucks while some have decided not to give up on the resting bus. This attitude of the passengers, is what the bus likes and its mood changes for the better.

As soon as the driver decides to give it a one final try, the bus starts after a few false starts. With a great victory cry from the remaining passengers of ‘har har mahadev’ and ‘Ganpati bappa Mourya ‘ as they board , the bus is motivated to take them to their destination.

Now you will appreciate that today I was very surprised to read in the papers that the ST Mahahmandal have decided to provide free wi-fi in these very buses.

And the following images flashed before my eyes…
People have lined up in the ST stand for boarding the bus along with their assorted luggage, awaiting the bus to come inside the stand.

Like always, their luggage consists of metal trunks, some carry pickle jars very delicately, some are holding long bamboo brooms made in their village, some holding their infants who have the propensity to emit ear piercing cries, while some are students who are going back to their colleges in the city after completing their vacations in their villages.

But most of them have one thing in common, they are all carrying their precious smart phones. After all they are very eager to use the newly provided wi-fi inside the bus. Finally the bus arrives, the passengers rush to their seats inside .

As they settle down in their seats they await for the bus to start. But more than that they await the passwords for wi-fi usage.

Already some are fiddling with their phones , they can see the wi-fi available but the wait for the password is killing.

You will never see a more silent ST bus, since no one, no longer wants to make small talk with their neighbours neither do they want to shout out to their friends sitting a few seats away.

They are not interested looking out of the window, neither are they bent on grabbing a few winks.

Then the moment arrives, the conductor distributes the scratch cards having the passwords to all those who ask for it.

And that’s it!

Those who take the scratch cards, they stop living in the present. Someone starts communicating with his office on office mail, trying to do his pending work so that he is not overly burdened when he finally rejoins office.

A boy in the corner seat is trying to download the latest songs on his smartphone whereas another one is watching his favourite movie.

A girl on the first seat is engrossed in chatting with her friends on social media all the while ignoring her best friend sitting beside her in the bus.

While the wi-fi users are happy, it has certainly mellowed down the environment inside the ST bus, which has always been known for its boisterous passengers.

But are we being over optimistic here.

Maybe the wi-fi will not work. After all, a few years back, there was great talk of CCTV cameras being installed in public spaces. Now we know that most of them are mere non-working tonight pots.

And the ST buses will continue to carry their boisterous denizens to their destinations across the state.

Yatindra Tawde

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Raazi

What a mesmerising performance by the Bhatt girl! Carrying such a serious film on her slender shoulders is no mean task.

She first showed promise in ‘Highway’. Her performance flowered in ‘Badrinath ki Dulhaniya’ and then reiterated her reputation in ‘Udta Punjab’.

But in ‘Raazi’ she has excelled all her previous performances and left the competition far behind.

While most of her contemporaries continue to be glamorous side-kicks to the Heroes, here is an actress who pushes the envelope with most of her performances.

She has captured the nuances of a real spy who faces many moral challenges while she goes about performing her selected duty towards her country.

Till now, we have come to accept the role of a spy as defined by a glamorous James Bond, outside the Indian shores to the Salman Khans and Hrithik Roshans of our very own Bollywood. It is nothing but a celebration of the Alpha Male replete with the style and swagger.

Buthere is Alia playing a spy who is delicate, appears so waif, so vulnerable but when faced with life threatening challenges, she takes lives of those who might expose her deceit.

Well played, Alia!!

Rajit Kapoor and her real mother, Soni Razdan, play the roles of her parents with passion. Soni Razdan makes you feel, ‘Why doesn’t she act in more films?’. She is so spontaneous!

Vicky Kaushal, who plays her husband, Iqbal Syed, manages to hold his own in front of the brilliance of Alia. Watch his breakdown scene when he comes to know of her subterfuge and the following scene with his father.

Shishir Sharma plays her father-in-law, Brigadier Parvez Syed, with the required grace and excels in the emotional scenes.

Arif Zakaria! He plays the role of the suspicious Abdul, the house help, with conviction. He is seen on the big screen after a long time.

And what can one say about Jaideep Ahlawat! This role, for him, is a role of the lifetime. He is sure to get more such mentor roles, in the days to come, he is so convincing as Sehmat’s trainer and mentor.

Why doesn’t Meghna Gulzar make more movies? She has handled this movie with such conviction!

But when you do movies like ‘Talvar’ and ‘Raazi’ , the amount of research required for such movies based on true stories, is bound to be time consuming. Her best movie till date, certainly.

However, there were certain anomalies in a truly well made movie.

How could she set up the entire wiring for the morse code apparatus in the open terrace without anyone watching?

How did she get a separate washroom for herself where she installs everything for sending messages?

However, that’s not to take away from a well made, well researched movie.

Yatindra Tawde

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My first visit to Pune city

It was the late 70’s when I first visited Pune. It was with my mother, sister and my Maushi during some school holiday, don’t remember which one. Till that time I had only heard about the second biggest city in Maharashtra and that too through comics on Chattrapati Shivaji.
We went by some early morning train. On reaching Pune, our train chugged into a very chaotic station. The train journey was quite uneventful though two things grabbed my attention. One was climbing up the ghat section, which was comparatively better forested at that time. And we could see some monkeys sitting by the side, eagerly waiting for some snacks from the people sitting in the train. The sight was quite fun moment for us children. Another memory was the train making chugging noises, since it was pulled by a steam powered engine.
Finally we reached Pune station and on coming out, got into an auto. I think we stayed with some relatives of my Maushi, and their residence was long distance from the station. First and foremost, the biggest difference from Mumbai city was the large number of cycles on the roads! People of all ages could be seen cycling about and they rode as if the road belonged to them. Usually the autowallas are like that but here it was different. Our auto had to be very careful not to mistakenly dash against a bad tempered cycle rider. Later I got to know that the cycle riders in Pune were known as cycle swars. In the olden times, the only mode of transport was horse riding and a person riding a horse was known as ghode swar. With the advent of the mechanical age, the horses were replaced by cycles and motor cycles or scooters. And ghode swars were replaced by cycle swars or motor cycle swars or scooter swars. And since, usually the ghode swars were from a martial race, the mindset of the martial race percolated to these cycle and scooter riders in Pune, who were ready for a fight at the drop of a pagdi. So every one moving about in the Pune traffic was in awe of the two wheeler Riders and remained at a safe distance from them. Another peculiarity which I noticed was of two cycle riders having a mid road animated conference, their cycles acting as their thrones. Duniya geli udat!
I had never seen a river in Mumbai so the sight of a river passing through the city of Pune was a wonder for me. Especially the bridges which had to be crossed while going to the old Pune city precincts. The next two days were spent in roaming about the city taking in the historical sights on offer like Shanivar Wada, kelkar museum, etc. The Shanivar Wada was an eerie experience since we were taken there with prior stories of ghosts and screams. Without really hearing anything, the words, “Kaka mala vaachwa…” were ringing in my ears with the sound of running feet…
Third major memory of that trip was visiting a hill top temple. Now there are many hilltop temples in many towns but what was memorable here was that we walked from the residence to the temple and the entire walk was over a hilly expanse which we children enjoyed. I don’t think this will now be possible, what with Pune city getting crammed with huge housing complexes in every nook and corner with no open spaces to be seen.
The entire city was dotted with small cottages and big bungalows with not many high rises to be seen. This was certainly a welcome departure from the pigeon hole existence of Mumbai and was very refreshing indeed. Many types of flower bearing trees like roses, sada phuli, mogra, and huge number of Gulmohor surrounded these bungalows. And the trees lining the roads were huge! The girth was huge and the branches provided much needed shade to weary travellers.
So this was my first experience of a city, which at that time , was still having its soul in the olden times.
Yatindra Tawde

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Airlift!

Three helicopters were put into service. It was quite a unique task for the pilots as well as the support staff. Taking off from the city’s airport, the three reached the highway in time to airlift the gang of six.

These were special type of helicopters with a larger catchment area. After all the task was so, where everything depended upon the area available for the airlift, such was the package being lifted.

And even after deployment of such large helicopters, the area in each was just enough for two. Hence the three copters.

Reaching the copters to the site was the easiest task. The real fun started once the copters had reached.

How do the support staff persuade the package to climb into the copters? That was the million dollar question!

But in the country in which the drama took place, time is of essence. So the support staff took the easiest and fastest route and just shot the package! Oh, don’t worry.

It was a shot of tranquillisers and soon the 6 buffaloes (the package) were snoring away. After that it was quite easy to persuade the buffaloes to climb into the helicopters and reach heights where no buffaloes had gone before.

And that’s how buffaloes are kept clear from the autobahn in Germany. No if’s…no but’s…though it was a quite unbelievable for me, when I read it in the morning newspaper, that some adventurous buffaloes managed to give the creeps to some speed demons on the German Autobahn.

Nearer home, animals of all shapes and sizes manage to walk on the highways as if roaming in the garden.

In fact I have seen some buffaloes sitting prettily in the middle of a busy road, in a city I happened to visit.

When I asked the experienced taxi driver, “How do they manage to sit calmly in meditation on the busy road?”

He just smirked and answered, “The air displaced by the passing cars don’t allow the city mosquitoes to get a toehold on the buffaloes and thus they are protected from deadly diseases like malaria…buffalo malaria”

That logic convinced me about the common sense and wisdom of Indian buffaloes and I promptly went off to sleep in the taxi.

Yatindra Tawde