Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Old Storyteller

Every time the bus hit a pit, he could sense every nut and bolt vibrating. The whole structure just looked so fragile as if it could come down crumbling at any moment. All those years of journeying on the road had really taken a toll on the machine which had embraced it from its birth. Time and again, there would form a cloud of dust through which it would come out triumphant.

Inside, he sat restlessly counting every second. The smoke, sweat and dust had concocted to give a stifling ambiance. Every now and then, he kept licking his lips. The water in his bottle was hot and just couldn't quench his thirst. There was not even a single bird or animal to be seen outside. All that could be seen were some shrubs by the road side. And then there were these milestones.

"These summers can sometimes get onto your nerves. Drink some water."

He shifted his gaze from the window to look at the old man sitting beside him who had just offered him some water. The first thing he noticed about the man were his hard yellow nails. Had it not been for the water droplets which were sticking tenaciously to the surface of the container, he might have humbly denied the offer. He didn't like to familiarize with the strangers. But .the thirst got the better of him. As he drank he could feel every gulp of water going down his throat.

His thanks was greeted by a smile. A smile so genuine that it overshadowed the redness of tobacco and the cracked lips through which it emerged. The white hair, wrinkled skin and the eyes delivered a kind and gentle visage. It was his eyes that had beguiled him. The eyes of an old man.The eyes that had aged with him. Even his eyelids could not hide the world that those eyes had seen.

The happiness that he was exuding belied his appearance. He was not a man of great wealth but he looked as satisfied as the wealthiest. The summer heat had not had any effect on him. He was a man of this desert.

As they travelled  he told him about the terrain. And about the anecdotes peculiar to the desert. In his rustic vernacular he told him about the tree with the strings tied to its every branch. And about the temple with the orange flag on a distant hill, about the well which never dries. Even the time had stopped to hear him speak, reminiscing the past to which it was witness.

It was remarkable how that seemingly common man had etched his existence in his memory. After sometime his stop came and he stepped down.  And ahead he went towards his destination to meet some more strangers, to build another memory.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Hockey World Cup

Thanks to all the advertising by Hero Honda, there has been a surge in hockey watchers in India, both inside and outside the stadium. For a change, people could be seen talking about hockey. But after 3 consecutive defeats for the Indian team, the enthusiasm plunged. People had build very high expectations from the team after the hosts defeated Pakistan in their first game.

Considering the fact that team India is ranked 10th in the hockey, I really found their performance good. Their defense against Australia and Spain was sluggish which costed them huge defeats. But except for that, the team performed reasonably well. For a team which has historically depended on dribbling than on pace, the team adapted well to the newer ways. And I personally feel that Indian fans should rejoice the performance of the team. The team is learning and improving quickly. The coach Jose Brasa has done some really good work but it would take some time before standards of team can match those of nations like Holland, Germany and Australia. After all years of neglect and mis-management of the sport can't be undone overnight.

After all these months of cricket, it was quite a refreshing change to watch a new sport. I do occasionally watch lawn tennis and sometimes football, but after watching the recent matches, I liked hockey better. After all its our sport though shadowed by the influence of cricket in subcontinent. But I believe that if promoted well, hockey has the potential to grab attention of the people. The game is fast and with 70 minutes playing time and 90 minutes running time, it can fit well into the prime time zone. Lets hope that even after the world cup, the game continues to retain the attention that it has lately got.