Kids and what they say


Children are so influenced by how we adults talk, the way we gesture, the way we modulate our voices and the way we behave.

It is fun to hear them unconsciously behave like their parents or older siblings by observing them on a daily basis.

One such funny incident comes to mind, as told to me by a friend.

We Indians are cricket crazy and when some exciting matches are being played, the whole family sits and follows the match closely. With lots of food and some full-throated yelling, it is no surprise that the young kids in the family also get caught up in all this excitement.

On one such day as my friend’s family sat and watched a rather exciting match, which had a nail-biting finish that saw India winning, a little boy in the family, who was all of 4 years old said, “I haven’t seen such a thrilling match in my entire life”.

Four years…a lifetime indeed! All the adults burst out laughing.

On Being Indian During the ICC World Cup


We Indians are an emotional lot!  We are quite vocal, have very strong views about cricket, about our players and about every little thing associated with cricket.

Having won the 2011 ICC World Cup, the pressure on the team, carrying the expectations and hopes of 1.2 billion people, can only be imagined.  The excitement in the country is palpable.  Retailers & brands are probably torn between promoting Valentine’s Day and the ICC World Cup, especially on day one.

Inside each home, cable connections are being checked, schedules are being matched with fixtures. People are probably trying to complete important assignments at work so as to keep their schedules relatively free to watch the matches.

I can imagine the scene in each Indian house – the whole family before the TV, the mom supplying a constant stream of samosas, pakodas, tea & coffee.  I can imagine neighbours from one block, all gathering in one house to watch the India- matches, yummy food from each house, lots of chips and drinks. Boisterous yelling, whooping, unblinking eyes,collective sighing and a billion hearts palpitating.  I can imagine the curses and yells of frustration, when a power cut happens during a crucial match.

I can see boys, girls & men wearing the same T-shirt they wore the last time round, for good luck. I can see people who stood up in the last World Cup, when a wicket fell, and who then continued to stand till the end of the match, for fear that a change in their posture would alter the outcome of the match. Will these people stand through all matches that India will play for this World Cup too?

I can imagine people talking cricket, walking cricket, breathing cricket and arguing cricket endlessly.  Cricket is the pulse of the nation after all.

And as 1.2 billion hearts pulse in unison the refrain, “India, India, India, India”, my heart pulses with them, as I wish the Men in Blue the very best.

Good luck, Team India.

The Math of Cricket


There was a hush at the dinner table.  The half-yearly school reports had been brought home for parental review. The two sisters of the three-sibling trio had acquitted themselves rather well in terms of overall performance. The quiet that prevailed at the table was because of Arun, the third sibling, whose teacher had requested that both parents meet with her, at the earliest, to discuss Arun’s abysmal performance in Math.

The silent eruption occurred after dinner. Dad was furious and all he had to say was, “Arun, there is a world beyond cricket and the sooner you realize it, the better. No playing cricket, watching cricket or cricket-talk in this house for a week.”

This was like a death sentence, because Arun lived and breathed cricket.

After all, he lived in cricket-mad India, where cricket is the pulse of a billion people, where cricket-talk is revered, and is considered appropriate for any occasion. How could a young boy escape its magic?

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Arun minus his ‘cricket-aura‘ was a sorry sight and an unbearably grouchy companion. His two sisters gave him sympathetic looks. But Dad was Dad. One did not argue.

The meeting at school did not go well. The teacher’s overall feedback was that Arun was smart, but never focussed in class, never showed any interest and was always rattling away mindless statistics about cricket. She also added that he had not grasped even the basic concepts of averages and means, and mental arithmetic that the class was currently doing.

As with every child who has had bad reports, Arun promised his parents that he would do better.

The saddest week of Arun’s life finally came to an end. His excitement was palpable. He eyed his cricket bat hungrily, and looked forward to an India vs. Sri Lanka match that would be telecast later in the day. Somewhere in his head, there was a vague discomfort about school, but cricket caused them all to fade away.

It was dinner time, and Arun’s Dad decided to make it up to the boy by watching the India vs. Sri Lanka match with him.

And then, before his very eyes, he saw his son transform. As the game unfolded ball by ball, Arun rattled off statistics, computing them on the fly – the required run-rate, batting average, probability theory….! Problems in Math that had seemed out of Arun’s grasp in school, the concepts of averages and mental arithmetic that his teacher had wailed about, were being demonstrated right before his eyes. Hope!

He stood up and gave Arun an impromptu hug, much to the boy’s amazement.

He said, “I am not worried about your Math, I am confident that you will get there. Maybe if you look at every problem that the teacher sets you, as something related to cricket? Maybe that will help.”

“Yes, Dad,” said Arun as he stood up to practice one of his batting strokes.