Thursday 12 December 2013

Book review: Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography

My latest is a book review of Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography by Naman Ramachandran. Here's the link

Monday 9 December 2013

Book Review: Karma gone bad?

Karma Gone Bad by Jenny Feldon

The world comes crumbling down when a New Yorker is forced to leave the country to settle down in the land of Karma, India. Blogger Jenny Feldon chronicles her not so-easy two-year journey in her memoir Karma Gone Bad: How I Learned to Love Mangos, Bollywood and Water Buffalo (November 5, 2013).     
The memoir opens with the much pampered princess packing her designer dresses, shoes and sling bags, as her husband Jay is transferred to India on a two-year contract. She dreams of making friends with glamorous expats, seeing lengths and breadths of India, practicing yoga at the land of yoga. However, it doesn’t take much time for the newly married 27-year-old Jenny to realize that the country she had imagined, read and watched in movies was far from reality.  

The moment she arrives in Hyderabad, which she calls ‘Bad, to emphasize her bad experiences in the capital city of southern state Andhra Pradesh, she feels stuck. She not only misses her beauty sessions in New York, but also Starbucks, latest fashion trends, friends and colleagues who supported her back home. Adding to the woes, her husband Jay falls sick within two days of their arrival and she suffers food poisoning several times, unable to manage with the “spicy” food.

She finds mistakes and flaws in everybody and everything. She feels lonely in a country which is one of the most densely populated nations in the world and feels like losing her identity, as people address her “Madam” and not Jenny. “Here, I was no one. A parasitic extension of my husband, a hanger-on in the world of corporate transplants,” she laments and blames India even for that. She fails to become “the best Indian housewife”.
Jenny Feldon
She sees how life in India cannot become “a travelogue”, full of photographs and anecdotes about her exotic new life. Unable to cope with situations – in fact, Jenny’s little white Maltese, Tucker, copes better than her – she abruptly leaves her husband and India within six months. Jay, who arrives in the U.S. for Thanksgiving, discusses divorce and she sees her mistake. She returns to India, but with a change in the attitude and outlook.

She realizes what the universe had been trying to tell her all along: India didn’t need to change. Instead it is she who needs to change and promptly does it. She stops blaming India, keeps her unrealistic expectations to the side and accepts the country as it is: “With my new plan in place to embrace all (or at least some) things Indian, Bollywood didn’t seem like a bad place to start.” She enjoys the remaining days of her stay in India, making friends with people, visiting local market, cooking and eating Indian food. Her visit to Taj Mahal in Agra, her interest in learning Hindi and practicing yoga brings the circle of karma to the full. At last, she successfully finds beauty in the chaos in the land of karma.

Readers – if not all, at least in India – will hate the narrator for the first three-fourth of the book. Her never ending childish tantrums, complaints and insecurities are spread all over the first 75% of the book. One wonders why and how can she complain so much – whether it is for not getting a latte, or for “brown people” staring at her, or for people not standing in the queue like Americans, or fearing for the safety of her dog!

Though she makes an effort to enjoy her stay by embracing the Indian culture and befriending Indians in the last quarter of the book, her initial complaints are too strong to forget and remain in the back of mind. She looks dismissing the Indian culture, not because India is poor or less than any other country, but because it is not like other western countries and the people are not like Americans!   

This sets an example for those who would like to know what happens if a person with preconceived notion goes to live in a foreign country. There are several references to India as a “third world”, which is quite surprising given the fact that it is one of the competing economies and has been outsourcing its talent across the world, mainly to the U.S., over the past several years.

The memoir has some instances where readers wonder at the (poor) general knowledge of the author who keeps wondering often at small things. When she wonders, “Shouldn’t there be light? Buildings? No city I’d ever seen looked so dark from the sky,” we feel like showing her the satellite image of India on Diwali night released by NASA last year.

When driver Venkat Reddy proudly tells her that he has brought a “foreign car”, Hyundai, to take them, it sounds as exaggerated as when she exclaims that the steering wheel on the right-hand side “made the car seem cartoonish” as if she were “on a ride at Disneyland”! We feel like reminding her that not just India, there are other 74 other countries, including the United Kingdom, which have the steering wheel on the right-hand side and drive on the left side of the road.   

What more, she sees a buffalo on the street and confuses it with a cow! We can’t blame her for not watching National Geographic or Discovery or Animal Planet, because later at some point of time she mentions that she has seen buffaloes in zoos. She offends Indian readers when she wants the “puja” (prayer) room for her Maltese.

The woman who lived in the US by Zagat and not by Lonely Planet, suffers food poisoning time and again, she buys expired imported canned food and depends on takeaway pizzas, but dares not to cook with whatever is available; she doesn’t wash the clothes for the first six weeks because the house does not have a washing machine, she doesn’t even get a faintest idea of buying a washing machine; she can’t drink coffee because she can’t get a latte and she doesn’t think of purchasing a coffeemaker either; she worries about charcoal pressed dresses, but not think of buying a iron and press her clothes; she worries about her manicure, but never tries to do it by herself; she looks for a yoga studio, but never tries practicing at home.

Her woes never end and she fails to open her eyes even when an Australian tourist tells her to learn the language to know the place and the people, as “the words come only when you teach yourself new ways to think about them”. Instead of sympathizing with the author, Indian readers get annoyed at her tantrums.

Things become easy when she gets the real meaning of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do!” After all, her “life in India was a big burnt, mishappen cookie – delicious in spite of its imperfections”. Maybe she could have narrated more on the issues like buffaloes, mangoes, Bollywood, electricity, rainfall, traffic and others after her “enlightenment”.  

As one can hate and love India at the same time, the author has done both – hated before her “enlightenment” and loved and respected after that. The narration is hilarious and honest. It gives a lesson as to what to expect in a foreign country and to learn to enjoy life’s smallest moments, be it “eating mangoes” or listening to “Bollywood songs”. 

Note: Read the original review in Kannada published in Khushi, Kannada Prabha on Dec. 08, 2013, here...

Saturday 7 December 2013

Travel piece on Bahrain

My latest travel piece on Bahrain published in today's Vijaya Next newspaper.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Books on Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar made his debut in Karachi against Pakistan team that included Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who also made his debut in that test. Perhaps no sportsman, certainly no cricketer, has loved his sport so obsessively, so absolutely, and for so long as Sachin Tendulkar has done. Tendulkar has fans everywhere and writers have celebrated his contribution to India’s most loved sport in several books. Here are some books on the god of cricket. 
Sachin: The Story of The World’s Greatest Batsman (2003) by Gulu Ezekiel
In the twelve years that he has been in the public eye, Sachin Tendulkar has been explosive on the cricket field and just as reticent off it. He was barely fifteen years old when he first wrote his name into the record books with a stupendous 664-run partnership with his childhood friend Vinod Kambli.

Two year later, he struck his first century in first-class cricket. At eighteen, he became the second youngest man to make a hundred in international cricket, and after that there was no looking back. Records tumbled by the wayside as he captivated audiences first in his home city of Mumbai, then in the rest of India and all over the cricket-playing world. Today, Sachin is widely accepted as the world's finest batsman, with impeccable technique, an incredible array of strokes, and maturity far beyond his years. His teammates and friends swear by him, his fans worship him and there are few, if any, critics of his game or his temperament.

In this biography of the hero of Indian cricket, sports writer Gulu Ezekiel mines interviews, press reports and conversations over the last decade to create an accurate and sympathetic account of the man and his first passion: cricket. He tracks Sachin from his childhood when he first caught the bug of cricket, through his early performances in the Ranji Trophy and other domestic tournaments, and follows him on his meteoric rise to international stardom. With unfailing attention to detail, he reconstructs the crucial matches and events that marked Sachin's career and unravels for us the magic of the charismatic cricketer whom Wisden once dubbed 'bigger than Jesus'.

Sachin: The Story of the World's Greatest Batsman, the first, serious exhaustive biography of the Tendulkar career so far, brings back, like a warm autumn breeze does, the memory of the wunderkind's early exhilarating summers in international cricket...The book is akin to a documentary in prose...the book's big virtue is that it is laboriously researched and cross-referenced. For any quizzer on Mastermind India opting for "The Life and Times of Sachin Tendulkar" as their specialist subject there's good news. You just got yourself the ready reckoner that covers 1973-2002.

Sachin Tendulkar: A Definitive Biography (2005) by Vaibhav Purandare
Sachin Tendulkar: A Definitive Biography by Vaibhav Purandare is a book in which the author has attempted to highlight some special aspects about one of the greatest sportsperson in the world. The book talks about Sachin Tendulkar, the renowned Indian cricketer, and throws light on his professional and personal life. It also attempts to present the attributes of the past that shaped Sachin to become one of the most prolific batsmen in the world.

Sachin Tendulkar: A Definitive Biography throws light on the preparation that Sachin undertook to achieve all the milestones that he aimed for. The book highlights the highs and lows of his career, and the personal and professional tragedies that he suffered, and also the news that were contentious about him. This biography outlines the personal life of Sachin, which has not been reflected in the public domain so far.

The A to Z of Sachin Tendulkar 1st Edition (2006) by Gulu Ezekiel
This unique book traces the life and career of Sachin in alphabetical order, from A for Abdul Qadir to Z for Zimbabwe with over 200 entries, some well known, others obscure. All his batting feats are recorded in meticulous detail with extensive statistics and eye-witness accounts of his greatest moments from his contemporaries as well as in the words of the man himself.  

Sachin Tendulkar: The Definitive Biography (2008) by Vaibhav Purandare
Ever since Sachin Tendulkar burst into the public arena, making his debut in 1989 as a cherubic curly haired 16 year old child prodigy, he has captured the attention and the love of millions of fans. His prodigious performances on the field since that time has served to raise him to a place of reverence in this cricket mad country.

There have been numerous biographies on Tendulkar over the past decades. They have showcased his records, talked about his brilliant performances, his family, and his personal life.

Sachin Tendulkar: The Definitive Biography also talks of his records, his hundreds, his close friendship with Kambli, his brilliant performances against tough opposition even at a young age, his incredible genius for the game, and so on.

But, Sachin Tendulkar: The Definitive Biography also goes deeper into the life of Tendulkar as a person, revealing some interesting facts about him that, even in this information age, few people have known.
The book reveals the story of a man who was gifted with prodigious talent in a sport that India is mad about, and has been performing at high levels for more than twenty years. He has set an incredible number of world records, and yet remains humble and modest.

Sachin Tendulkar: The Definitive Biography shows the man behind the idol, the young boy who has grown into a mature man, and yet retains all the passion and zeal with which he first started his international career.
It is a book for fans of Sachin Tendulkar and for sports fans alike.

If Cricket Is A Religion, Sachin Is God (2009) by Vijay Santhanam, Shyam
This book is for the fan and the analyst, by two writers who consider themselves fans and analysts in equal measure. It follows the career of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, demi-god and cricketer – his rise, his peak, his dark phase, and his resurrection. It asks the tough questions asked of him, through the lens of statistics.

Numbers are not everything, but once one has framed and understood the context, they are certainly stronger than opinions. The authors seek to compare him with his peers in both major forms of the game and present the data so that the reader can independently draw conclusions.

Sach 1st Edition (2011) by Gautam Bhattacharya
Sach keeps its readers highly engrossed as it provides them with the life journey of the master-blaster, Sachin Tendulkar.

Apart from listing his outstanding achievements throughout the book, the author highlights the ups and downs faced by Sachin to achieve his goal of becoming one of the world’s best batsmen. The author also throws light on the values possessed by the legend of cricket such as humility, non-star like image, and his role as a son, dad, and spouse. It also describes the role played by his brother and spouse throughout his cricketing career.

The book contains a few lines about Sachin by other famous cricketers such as Sourav Ganguly, Sunil Gavaskar, and Rahul Dravid. Apart from that, the author also requests other prominent figures such as Dev Anand, Asha Bhosle, and Dilip Kumar, to pen a few lines in praise of the champion.

The foreword of the book is not written by the author, but by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is presently the Captain of the Indian Cricket Team. In the foreword, M.S. Dhoni recounts the first time he met Sachin and mentions the reason for his strong fan following.

Sachin: Genius Unplugged (2011) by Suresh Menon
Sachin Tendulkar has made poets of prose writers even if occasionally his strokeplay has demonstrated the futility of conveying in words the brilliance of his batsmanship. Sachin: Genius Unplugged, brings together writers and contemporaries whose perspectives on the player are unique. Their insights are strained through experience.

Like writers and artists, sportsmen are subject to revisionism, with fresh appraisals adding to the known portrait. A good place to start is the contemporary report. How was a player received in his own time? Sometimes reputations grow with every ball not bowled or every stroke not played, and it is fascinating to know what writers think without the benefit of hindsight.

The essays in the book are by writers who have been reporting Tendulkar’s game, analysing his batting, placing him in context, criticising him over the years. It is a first draft of biography, with the advantage that it is not limited to a single point of view.

Every writer has a personal story as well as a measured, professional one, and part of the joy of the book is to read the admission of veteran writers like Mike Coward on how the player figures in his bank accounts, for example. Harsha Bhogle’s first interview with Sachin, Osman Samiuddin’s discussion with his mathematician father, Barney Ronay’s air-cricket, Peter Roebuck’s comparisons with Viv Richards, Mike Marqusee’s deeply felt personal essay, Gideon Haigh’s take on the commercial value of Tendulkar’s bodily fluids, and personal insights by Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Bishan Bedi, throw light on Tendulkar, on the writers, and on the art of sportswriting itself. The Foreword on the most successful batsman of all time is by the most successful bowler of all time, Muttiah Muralitharan.

The book is edited by Suresh Menon, columnist and author, who has known Tendulkar since he reported the player’s debut match in Pakistan. It is a treat both for those who read cover-to-cover at one go and readers who love to dip in now and then, savouring the individual essays at leisure.

Sachin: 501 Things You Don’t Know about the Master Blaster (2011) by Suvam Pal
This book delves into the life of the milestone man, both on and off the field, through quizzes and a slew of factoids and trivia about him. The questions, encompassing various phases of Sachin s life and cricketing career, try to unravel the enigma that is the man and gives a chance to his fans to test their knowledge about their idol.

Ranging from his childhood, to his days as a prodigy, to his baptism by fire in international cricket, to the making of the greatest modern-day cricketer and an iconic brand, the book covers a wide spectrum of interesting information and lesser-known facts about India s biggest sporting icon.

Master Stroke: 100 Centuries of Sachin Tendulkar (2011) by Neelima Athalye
The book is a Tale of hundred’s. "Sachin has achieved one milestone after the other in the last twenty two years. People have cherished those glorious moments in their memories. Bring back those memories, experience those wonderful moments all over again through this book, which vividly brings back to life each and every of Sachin's 100 centuries, recall the exciting moments in all those 100 matches and much more."

Sachin Tendulkar (2011) by Andy Croft
Sachin Tendulkar is widely regarded as one of the greatest batsman in the history of cricket, and is a hero to millions in his native India. This book tells the fascinating story of Sachin Tendulkar's rise from schoolboy prodigy to the dizzy heights of international cricketing superstardom.

5 feet 5 inch Run Machine: Sachin Tendulkar (2012) by Amit B. Kalantri
5 Feet 5 Inch Run Machine this book has the 400 quotes/insights written on Sachin Tendulkar by Me. The title of the book is self explanatory. These quotes explain his batting excellence, his noble character and people s love and feelings for him. As soon as you read the quote you will find that you have experienced the explanation in the quote in your life while watching Sachin s batting.

The quotes are written with relevant metaphors and sensitivity because Sachin s batting is both best and beautiful. There are few quotes said by the renowned cricketers of the world for Sachin. But this book does not include those quotes. The quotes are original and new written by author who is great fan of Sachin Tendulkar.

Sachin: Born to Bat (2012) by Khalid A-H Ansari, Clayton Murzello, Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin: Born to Bat by veteran journalist Khalid A-H Ansari and edited by Clayton Murzello is a unique ode to contemporary cricket s finest batsman.

In the words of the author: This is an attempt to impartially probe the crucial mental, physical and emotional ingredients of a cricketing god . I have tried to turn the laser on the maestro s persona - innumerable blemishes and all - to prevent the book from degenerating into a shabaash, wah-wah hagiography. For all his splendiferous achievements, Sachin has also shown that he is a mere mortal with feet of clay - witness his run-ins with authority, cricketing and civil.

Despatches to MiD DAY, one of Asia s leading newspapers, from some of the world s most famous names in cricket writing - Ayaz Memon, Harsha Bhogle, Ian Chappell, Mike Coward, Peter Roebuck and other luminaries - grace the pages of this book.

Tributes from cricket s most famous personalities including Tendulkar s Team India teammates and coaches make this publication invaluable in helping cricket enthusiasts understand what makes Sachin the peerless champion he is.

The book also captures critical moments of Tendulkar s wondrous cricketing career from photographers who have followed him throughout his distinguished career.

Sachin: A Hundred Hundreds Now (2012) by V. Krishnaswamy, Ramakant Achrekar, Rahul Dravid
The wait is over. For the world’s finest batsman and for a nation of cricket lovers whose hopes and ambitions accompanied Sachin Tendulkar every time he stepped out to bat.
On March 16, 2012, at Mirpur in Dhaka, after opening the innings for India, Sachin nudged the ball to behind square leg in the forty-fourth over to cross the final barrier: a hundred centuries in international cricket. In this account of the master batsman’s incredible journey, sportswriter V. Krishnaswamy takes us through every hundred, every peak scaled on Sachin’s way to the top. With an introduction by former India captain Rahul Dravid and a foreword by Sachin’s first and most famous coach Ramakant Achrekar, this is a book for every cricket and Sachin fan.
Sachin – Tribute To A Legend (2012) by by Kasturi & Sons Ltd
A century of international centuries has catapulted Sachin Tendulkar from a prodigy to a phenomenon. Sachin - Tribute to a legend from The Hindu takes you on a nostalgic trip to relive his greatest sporting moments. 

Comprising rare news articles, interviews, statistics, pictures and much more from the archives of The Hindu and Sportstar, this book vividly recounts the batting maestro's many memorable centuries, less-remembered masterpieces and even the anonymous ground-out hundreds. A dedication to his countless fans from The Hindu, this collector's item was graciously released by the Little Master himself on his birthday, the 24th of April, 2012.

Master Laster: What they don’t Tell You about Sachin Tendulkar (2013) by Sumit Chakraberty
This book takes you beyond Sachin Tendulkars career aggregates and passionate assertions. There are almost as many books about Sachin Tendulkar as there are centuries by him. Just as there is only one Tendulkar century that came in a winning run chase in the last innings of a test match, rare are the books that look at his personal records through the prism of how much they mattered to the team. In fact there are none, because the easiest thing to do is to produce adulatory tomes for his doting fans. There are an equal number of cricket fans out there who want to know something more than gushing accolades and who don't shy away from asking difficult questions.

The book covers: A quarter of a century of Indian cricket, bringing back to life many a game played during Tendulkars time.It indulges fans in one of the enduring joys of cricket, discussing a point threadbare from multiple angles. How many of his centuries made a difference to the team?What is his track record under pressure?
None of the books on Tendulkar has engaged fans in these debates. There is the odd question raised here or a critical comment made there in memoirs by former cricketers, but not a single book that sifts through the mountain of Tendulkar records to see what value can be attached to them from a teams point of view. An exercise like that can be quite revealing, even startling and certainly a lot of fun for cricket lovers. It sets the Tendulkar debate against specific data, taking it beyond career aggregates and passionate assertions.

Master Laster covers the variables in the game and its infinite possibilities. It also deals with why this game is so fascinates so many of us.

Sachin: Cricketer of the Century (2013) by Vimal Kumar
Part of India’s World Cup - winning squad and the team that took India to its No. 1 Test ranking, Sachin Tendulkar has blazed his way through the cricketing world for more than two decades, tearing through matches and records alike. The highest run-getter in both Tests and ODIs in the history of the game, he has also reached what is a truly fabulous milestone - one hundred international centuries.

Sachin: Cricketer of the Century takes the reader on a journey from stellar innings to stellar innings, surveying the batting genius,s brilliant career through the eyes of a pantheon of people who are legends in their own right - from Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Nasser Hussain and Courtney Walsh to Waqar Younis, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. This is the ultimate tribute to the greatest batsman the modern era has seen.

Sachin Tendulkar: Greatness and Where He Fell Short (2013) by Shantanu Kamat
This book takes an in depth look at India’s iconic cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar including his success and where he fell short. Author of the book who is of Sachin’s age, describes how the child prodigy Sachin took over the entire nation by storm in his early days. How he quickly earned the status of batting genius and the God, which puts Sachin in the ultimate batting league of only Viv Richards and Brian Lara. Book goes a step beyond, to praise Sachin outside his batting records and greatness.

Author measures Sachin’s performances in context, by judging him only against the best attacks, the toughest batting conditions and the high pressure big occasions in the game. Just the way the book mentions Sachin’s heroics over the 23 year career, book also sheds light on how he has come up short against the world champion Australian side, the South Africans and at the high pressure big occasion innings.

Author also explores the Indian cricket culture. of putting personal milestones ahead of the team’s performances, and how the retirements of the players are delayed, hurting the performance of the team and the careers of the new youngsters. In the end, Author talks about the successful MS Dhoni era and how Sachin has positively contributed to this era.

‘Sachin just hits the damn ball’

The following extract is a piece by Simon Barnes, the chief sports writer with The Times, UK, from the book Sachin: Cricketer of the Century (2013) by Vimal Kumar.
The most important thing about Sachin's batting is that there is no single important thing to say about it. He doesn't really have a style. In a sense he doesn't even have a personality: or, to be more accurate, personality is something he seems to be able to set aside at will. He seems to have the ability to remain untouched by the circumstances of the match or the personality of the bowler. Poor bowling doesn't get him excited at the chance to cash in; very good bowling in helpful conditions doesn't make him worry. He doesn't really do situations at all: he just bats.
More than any cricketer I have ever watched, he has the gift of playing only the ball. He's never surprised by a bad ball from a great bowler nor by a dangerous ball from a poor bowler. He somehow keeps the bowler out of the equation: the ball is all. He meets it all with the same bland eye. You can't tell whether it all matters hugely to him or whether it doesn't matter at all. He has the very rare gift of playing in the moment. Some players love drama, confrontation, imposing their own personality on a great match, a great occasion. Sachin just hits the damn ball.
There is something Zen-like about this. I am reminded more than anybody else of Pete Sampras, the tennis player. Sampras's first serve was brilliant, but his second serve was better, in that he was almost equally dangerous and very, very rarely missed. In the great Wimbledon final of 1999 against Andre Agassi at his very best, Sampras won in three sets that went far beyond brilliance. He won on a second-serve ace. Someone asked him afterwards: 'What was going through your mind at the time, Pete?' Sampras answered after a puzzled pause: 'There was absolutely nothing going through my mind.'
I wrote at the time that this was pure Zen, and I received a letter from a real Zen master, who totally agreed. Sachin has something of the same ability: to not get distracted by conscious thought, by ambition, by hope, by despair. He just plays the ball. Whether he hits it for four, whether he plays or misses, it's all one to him. He takes guard and faces the next ball and plays it, leaving it or smiting it, as the ball demands. The only time I have seen him affected by a situation was when he was close to that hundredth 100 and was out for, I think, 94 at the Oval. I think for once he was entitled to feel the pressure. After all, he's the first person ever to have felt it.

There are some big things to be written on Sachin as a living symbol of India's headlong charge into the modern world. He is a validation, a living emblem of the truth that an Indian can be the best in the world, the best ever, if you like, and can do so without appearing to break a sweat and without needing to ask anybody for any favours. In this respect, he is rightly compared to Don Bradman. Other cricketers who had national importance include Denis Compton, who was a symbol of optimism and elegance as Britain sought to rebound after World War II, and Sir Frank Worrell, who stood for regional and racial independence, freedom and pride.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Sachin Tendulkar and butter chicken

Retiring India batting great Sachin Tendulkar has always lived under stress and pressure to fulfil the dreams of a billion Indians and his 24-year long international career is ending on a happy note, Ajit Tendulkar, elder brother of the legendary batsman, said.

Sachin will be retiring after playing his 200th Test, starting on Thursday here, and Ajit said it would be a different feeling once he hangs up his boots. “On the afternoon of November 18, it would be a different feeling. All of us in the family, we dream about his cricket…one we have shared. That will end, but it is finishing on a happy note. Most of his dreams have come true. I believe he has fulfilled the dreams of the Indian fans,” said Ajit during ‘Salaam Sachin’, an event organised by the India Today Group in honour of the iconic batsman.

“After November 18, Sachin won’t wear his India cap. It will be a big change because he has been wearing it with pride for 24 years. Throughout his career, everyone expected him to score 100s and he was under tremendous stress and pressure, but all that has been worth. After retirement, there won’t be the bowlers to face or those work-outs. Perhaps he can eat as much butter chicken as he wants,” he added.
Ajit Tendulkar
Ajit today walked down memory lane and remembered his younger brother’s early playing days, his millionaire status, their father’s demise, his best innings in international cricket and life after retiring. Sachin had become a millionaire at a very young age but for Ajit he was a millionaire only when he scored runs.

“For me he was a millionaire only when he got hundreds. He wasn’t one if he did not score. There was a charmin travelling in auto after he scored runs. But, travelling in a BMW after he didn’t scoring wasn’t all that good. At home, we spoke about his runs and not his money. After all these records, I can say, he is a millionaire forever,” said Ajit.

Sachin’s family has always tried to stay away from watching him live in action but Ajit said this time he along with the other members will watch him play as it is their last chance. “I will certainly watch this time. This is the last time and last opportunity for me. Our mother will watch him live for the first time. Lot of our friends would laugh at us as we stayed away all these years. We didn’t mind. But now all of us are looking forward to go,” he said.

Asked why the family never watched him live all these years, Ajit said: “There were few things which scared us when he was scoring heavily. One was his tendency to throw away his wicket. Raj Singh Dungarpur called our father once and told him, ‘Tell Sachin to start the car from 1st gear and not 5th’. “My mother would pray and sister would fast. Nitin (another brother) would also do something. I would try to create positive vibes before he would go to bat. Once a batsman goes to bat, nobody is in control, but it was an attempt from us to be with him in spirit.”  

Sachin is the youngest of the four siblings. Talking about the time when they lost their father in 1999, Ajit said: “If father would have come back to life for even five minutes, he would have told Sachin to go and play the 1999 World Cup.

“Our father had suffered a heart-attack in May when Indian team was in Sri Lanka. At night, I told our father that ’Sachin will bat tomorrow and I will not tell him that you are not fine’. Then I went back to our father and told him that Sachin got a ton and he was thrilled. We all felt he should go and play forIndia at the World Cup.”

Reflecting on Sachin’s innings of 136 against Pakistan in Chennai, Ajit said: “I think, Sachin would have won the game for India. I am not saying it was the most important innings (of his career), but my favourite innings.
“When he came from the New Zealand tour, I spoke to him. He said he was really tired and may not play against Pakistan. I was disheartened as he had a chance to play against Wasim and Waqar. In the first innings at Chennai, he was out for zero. The match reached an interesting stage on Day Four and he was batting on 20-odd. The wicket was tough and he went out to bat when India were six for two. “I felt he had to help India win and perform for himself. That was a test of his nerve and skill.”

Of all the accolades that Sachin has received in his career, Ajit remembers one compliment that he got from a friend during the Sharjah innings. “After his Sharjah innings, my friend called and said, ’My mother watched the match and cried as Sachin was batting so beautifully’. That is the best compliment.”
Ajit and Sachin Tendulkar
It was Ajit, who had taken Sachin to coach Ramakant Achrekar when he was just 11 and had no experience of playing with hard ball. Recalling the time, Ajit said: “There were three things I noticed in Sachin as a child. His easy bat lift, the lovely swing of his bat, his judgement of the length of the ball and ball striking. So I took him to Achrekar.

“The first day he did not have the proper clothing, he was in shorts, so Achrekar asked him to wear full trousers. The first day he was made to take a few catches and I was surprised to see him do well. Once he got the kit, Achrekar sir picked the No. 4 spot for him in the line-up.”

Asked if he ever had any arguments with Sachin, Ajit said: “Other than cricket, we do not talk anything else too much. Credit to Sachin as he heard me. He has faced toughest bowlers in difficult conditions. I watched on television and gave him suggestions. He took them in his stride. Not having gone to the ground and experienced, may be wrong on my part.”

He also narrated an incident when Sachin had boarded a taxi to the airport: “I was in his BMW and there was a lot of luggage. As we drove, he said that there is something wrong in the car and we saw the tyre punctured. We parked the car, but we did not have the security guard with us,” Ajit said.

“It was early morning, so there wasn’t enough rush. We couldn’t ask for another car as he had to reach the airport. I called for an auto and a taxi, and the drivers couldn’t believe when they saw. We put the luggage. Sachin was in the taxi. Once we reached the airport, everyone were surprised to see him in a taxi. It was quite funny.”

(Source: PTI)

How much do you know about Sachin Tendulkar?

Only Ricky Ponting has scored more home – Test runs than Sachin. Most Test runs at home: Ponting (7578), TENDULKAR (7132), Kallis (6886), Jayawardene (6846), Lara (6217), Gooch (5917).

11 players who were born after Tendulkar’s Test debut yet played with or against him are Adrian Barath, Powell, Abhinav Mukund, Brathwaite, Joe Root, Williamson, John Bracewell, Unadkat, Rubel Hossain, James Pattinson & Mitchell Starc.

Sachin has got the world record in scoring exact 100 in international cricket: 8 times. Second best is 4 – Len Hutton/Shoaib Malik/J Kallis/K Pietersen/M Jayawardene.

Only Ricky Ponting has been part of more ODI wins than Sachin – Ponting 262 wins, Tendulkar 234 wins.
Sachin has got the maximum Man of the Match awards in Test cricket by an Indian. 14 Man of the Match in 198 Tests.
Only 4 players have longer career than Sachin in Test cricket.

Tendulkar is the only Indian cricketer who has won the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and Padma Shri.

Sachin is the only player to score a century in his debut – Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup matches.

Sachin is the youngest player to enter the Ranji team at 14.

Sachin has played six editions of the 50-over World Cup, from 1992 to 2011, Only Pakistan?s Javed Miandad, has played in 6 World Cups( from 1975 to 1996 ).

Hyderabad and Kanpur are 2 Test centers in India where Sachin has never scored a Test hundred.
Zimbabwe is the only country where Sachin hasn’t scored a Test century.

Sachin has scored most boundaries (fours) in test cricket. 2045(Till India-Australia series 2013)

Sachin has scored most away hundreds in Tests. 29 (Till India-Australia series 2013).

Sachin has reached Test hundred by hitting a SIX most times in the history of Test cricket (6 times [Till India-Australia series 2013]).

Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell speech

Sachin Tendulkar played his last day of international cricket at the Wankhede, and after India sealed the series against West Indies, he gave an emotional farewell speech. The full text of it is here:

All my friends. Settle down let me talk, I will get more and more emotional (crowd gets louder and louder as he composes himself). My life, between 22 yards for 24 years, it is hard to believe that that wonderful journey has come to an end, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank people who have played an important role in my life. Also, for the first time in my life I am carrying this list, to remember all the names in case I forget someone. I hope you understand. It's getting a little bit difficult to talk but I will manage.

The most important person in my life, and I have missed him a lot since 1999 when he passed away, my father. Without his guidance, I don't think I would have been standing here in front of you. He gave me freedom at the age of 11, and told me that [I should] chase my dreams, but make sure you do not find short cuts. The path might be difficult, but don't give up, and I have simply followed his instructions. Above all, he told me to be a nice human being, which I will continue to do and try my best. Every time I have done something special [and] showed my bat, it was [for] my father.
My mother, I don't know how she dealt with such a naughty child like me. I was not easy to manage. She must be extremely patient. For a mother, the most important thing is that her child remains safe and healthy and fit. That was what she was most bothered and worried about. She took care of me for the last 24 years that I have played for India, but even before that she started praying for me the day I started playing cricket. She just prayed and prayed and I think her prayers and blessings have given me the strength to go out and perform, so a big thank you to my mother for all the sacrifices.

In my school days, for four years, I stayed with my uncle and aunt because my school was quite far from my home, and they treated me like their son. My aunt, after having had a hard day's play, I would be half asleep and she would be feeding me food so I could go again and play tomorrow. I can't forget these moments. I am like their son and I am glad it has continued to be the same way.

My eldest brother, Nitin, and his family, have always encouraged me. My eldest brother doesn't like to talkmuch, but the one thing he always told me is that whatever you do, I know you will always give it 100%, and that I have full faith and confidence in you. His encouragement meant a lot to me. My sister, Savita, and her family, was no different. The first cricket bat of my life was presented to me by my sister. It was a Kashmir willow bat. But that is where the journey began. She is one of those many who still continue to fast when I bat, so thank you very much.

Ajit, my brother, now what do I talk about him? I don't know. We have lived this dream together. He was the one who sacrificed his career for my cricket. He spotted the spark in me. And it all started from the age of 11 when he took me to Archrekar sir, my coach, and from there on my life changed. You will find this hard to believe but even last night he called to discuss my dismissal, knowing that there was a remote chance of batting again, but just the habit we have developed, the rapport we have developed, since my birth, has continued and it will continue. Maybe when I'm not playing cricket we will still be discussing technique.
Various things we agreed upon, my technique, and so many technical things which I didn't agree with him, we have had arguments and disagreements, but when I look back at all these things in my life, I would have been a lesser cricketer.

The most beautiful thing happened to me in 1990 when I met my wife, Anjali. Those were special years and it has continued and will always continue that way. I know Anjali, being a doctor; there was a wonderful career in front of her. When we decided to have a family, Anjali took the initiative to step back and say that 'you continue with your cricket and I will take the responsibility of the family'.

Without that, I don't think I would have been able to play cricket freely and without stress. Thanks for bearing with all my fuss and all my frustrations, and all sorts of rubbish that I have spoken. Thanks for bearing with me and always staying by my side through all the ups and downs. You are the best partnership I've had in my life.

Then, the two precious diamonds of my life, Sara and Arjun. They have already grown up. My daughter is 16, my son is 14. Time has flown by. I wanted to spend so much time with them on special occasions like their birthdays, their annual days, their sports day, going on holidays, whatever. I have missed out on all those things. Thanks for your understanding. Both of you have been so, so special to me you cannot imagine. I promise you [that] for 14 and 16 years I have not spent enough time with both of you, but the next 16 years or even beyond that, everything is for you.

My in-laws, Anand Mehta and Annabelle, both have been so, so supportive [and] loving and caring. I have discussed on various things in life, generally with them, and have taken their advice. You know, it's so important to have a strong family who is always with you and who are guiding you. Before you start clapping, the most important thing they did was allowing me to marry Anjali, so thank you very much.

In the last 24 years that I have played for India I have made new friends, and before that I have had friends from my childhood. They have all had a terrific contribution. As and when I have called them to come and bowl to me at the nets, they have left their work aside to come and help me. Be it joining me on holidays and having discussions with me on cricket, or how I was a little stressed and wanting to find a solution so I can perform better.

All those moments my friends were with me. Even for when I was injured, I would wake up in the morning because I couldn't sleep and thought that my career was over because of injuries, that is when my friends have woken up at 3 o'clock in the morning to drive with me and make me believe that my career was not over. Life would be incomplete without all those friends. Thanks for being there for me.

My cricket career started when I was 11. The turning point of my career was when my brother (Ajit) took me to Achrekar sir. I was extremely delighted to see him up in the stands. Normally he sits in front of the television and he watches all the games that I play. When I was 11/12, those were the days when I used to hop back on his scooter and play a couple of practice matches a day. The first half the innings I would be batting at Shivaji Park, the second half, at some other match in Azad Maidan. He would take me all over Mumbai to make sure I got match practice.

On a lighter note, in the last 29 years, sir has never ever said 'well played' to me because he thought I would get complacent and I would stop working hard. Maybe he can push his luck and wish me now, well done on my career, because there are no more matches, sir, in my life. I will be witnessing cricket, and cricket will always stay in my heart, but you have had an immense contribution in my life, so thank you very much.

My cricket for Mumbai started right here on this ground, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which is so dear to me. I remember landing from New Zealand at four o'clock in the morning, and turning up for a game here at eight o'clock just because I wanted to be a part of Mumbai cricket, and not that somebody forced me. That was for the love of Mumbai cricket, and thank you very much. The president is here so thank you very much, along with your team, for taking care of me and looking after my cricket.

The dream was obviously to play for India, and that is where my association with BCCI started. BCCI was fantastic, right from my debut they believed in my ability and selecting me into the squad at the age of 16 was a big step, so thanks to all the selectors for having faith in me and the BCCI for giving me the freedom to express myself out in the middle. Things would have been different if you had not been behind me, and I really appreciate your support. Especially when I was injured, you were right with me and making sure that all the treatments were taken care of, and that I got fit and fine and playing [right] back for India.
The journey has been special, the last 24 years, I have played with many senior cricketers, and even before that there were many senior cricketers with whom I watched on television. They inspired me to play cricket, and to play in the right way. Thanks to all those senior cricketers, and unfortunately I have not been able to play with them, but I have high regards for all their achievements and all their contributions.

We see it on the mega-screen, Rahul, Laxman, Sourav, and Anil, who is not here, and my team-mates right here in front me. You are like my family away from home. I have had some wonderful times with you. It is going to be difficult to not be part of the dressing room, sharing those special moments. All the coaches for their guidance, it has been special for me. I know when MS Dhoni presented me the 200th Test match cap on day one morning. I had a brief message for the team. I would like to repeat that. I just feel that all of us are so, so fortunate and proud to be part of the Indian cricket team and serving the nation.

Knowing all of you guys, I know you will continue to serve the nation in the right spirit and right values. I believe we have been the lucky ones to be chosen by the Almighty to serve this sport. Each generation gets this opportunity to take care of this sport and serve it to the best of our ability. I have full faith in you to continue to serve the nation in the right spirit and to the best of your ability, to bring all the laurels to the country. All the very best.

I would be failing in my duties if I did not thank all the doctors, the physios, the trainers, who have put this difficult body together to go back on the field and be able to play. The amount of injuries that I have had in my career, I don't know how you have managed to keep me fit, but without your special efforts, it would never have happened. The doctors have met me at weird hours. I mean I have called them from Mumbai to Chennai, Mumbai to Delhi, I mean wherever. They have just taken the next flight and left their workand families to be with me, which has allowed me to play. So a big thank you to all three of you for keeping me in good shape.

My dear friend, late Mark Mascarenhas, my first manager. We unfortunately lost him in a car accident in 2001, but he was such a well-wisher of cricket, my cricket, and especially Indian cricket. He was so passionate. He understood what it takes to represent a nation and gave me all the space to go out and express myself, and never pressurized me to do this ad or promotion or whatever the sponsors demanded. He took care of that and today I miss him, so thank you Mark for all your contribution.

My current management team, WSG, for repeating what Mark has done, because when I signed the contract I exactly told them what I want from them, and what it requires to represent me. They have done that and respected that.

Someone who has worked closely with me for 14 years is my manager, Vinod Nayudu. He is more like my family and all the sacrifices, spending time away from his family for my work, has been special, so big thank you to his family as well for giving up so much time for my work with Vinod.
In my school days, when I performed well, the media backed me a lot. They continue to do that till this morning. Thank you so much to the media for supporting and appreciating my performances. It surely had a positive effect on me. Thank you so much to all the photographers as well for those wonderfully captured moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life, so a big thank you to all the photographers.

I know my speech is getting a bit too long (crowd roars), but this is the last thing I want to say. I want to thank all the people here who have flown in from various parts of the world, and have supported me endlessly, whether I scored a 0 or a 100-plus. Your support was so dear to me and meant a lot to me. Whatever you have done for me.

I know I have met so many guys who have fasted for me, prayed for me, done so much for me. Without that life wouldn't have been like this for me. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, and also say that time has flown by rather quickly, but the memories you have left with me will always be with me forever and ever, especially "Sachin, Sachin" which will reverberate in my ears till I stop breathing. Thank you very much. If I have missed out on saying something, I hope you understand. Goodbye.

Top 5 regrets on the deathbead

Bronnie Ware, a nurse, writer, singer/songwriter and songwriting teacher, has released a book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, based on the below article. It is a memoir of Bronnie’s life and how it was transformed through the regrets of the dying people she cared for.
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard. 
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.