What’s a heaven for, (apologies to Mr. Browning ofcourse) if we cannot imagine cricketing contests between folks separated by time. When I die and go to heaven (!) I would like to watch Victor Trumper take on the leg spinner claimed by Gary Sobers as the greatest ever, Subash Gupte. That’s all folks. Well that and…..listen to KV Narayanaswamy sing live.
A beautiful blog post here:
The Danes have formed the most content society I have ever had the good fortune to experience. Their democratic values have a shifted focus. In contrast to the United States’ embracing of fierce independence and limitless freedoms in hopes of achieving the American Dream, the Danes have focused instead on stability, community and coziness. There is far less emphasis here in Denmark on personal achievement to beget wealth. There is not as much focus on the accumulation of more and more material goods as a life goal. There is, instead, talk of going to the beach. Or spending a day at Tivoli with the kids. Or biking out to Silkeborg. There are, of course, complaints about the weather. There is never having to say “please” (there is no Danish word for “please”), or make smalltalk when you don’t want to. There is subsidized childcare, a year of paid maternity leave, free education and healthcare for all. Every Dane I interacted with had achieved a quiet dignity, a personal knowledge that, no matter who they were or how much they made, they mattered: they mattered to themselves, to their families, to society, and to their government. Treating everyone as though they matter: maybe, just maybe, that is indeed a recipe for happiness.
There is a particular poignancy in sitting inside a car, bus or train and listening to the pitter patter of the rain and watching the droplets of water that form and abruptly disappear on the window panes outside.
Watching India’s wretched performance in the recently concluded test series against England, especially the dropped slip catches, one is reminded of the epic 2001 series between India and Australia when the close in catching was superb: especially Hemang Badani (as a substitute fielder) at short fine leg and Sadagopan Ramesh at forward short leg, not to forget, of course, Dravid and Laxman. There was a time when India had some of the finest close in catchers, at silly mid off, forward short leg and short fine leg.
Barney Ronay at the Guardian has this eloquent summary of India’s spectacular capitulation.
Because the fact is for all the jubilation at England’s victory, there has been a kind of sadness about India’s disintegration. This was Test cricket only in name, and another batting display of almost alarming ineptness. There will be an urge to blame the Indian Premier League, and Twenty20 generally for this, but cricket everywhere is being stretched in peculiar places right now. At The Oval it was Gambhir’s turn to fall between the gaps, his 19-ball humiliation capturing most clearly the sense of two cricketing nations moving, for now, in rather separate directions.
Taking a walk across the beautiful, lush and verdant University of Virginia campus, I chanced upon The Aviator statue in front of Clemons Library, commemorating an airline pilot making dangerous, and ultimately tragic, runs in the first world war. I was immediately reminded of Icarus’ bold and tragic venture of flying into the sun and also Robert Browning’s lines:
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
This juxtaposition of things differing in time but carrying the same theme, the same message, is perhaps central to life itself: of this quest after something so impossible to attain but toward which we still propel ourselves.
When I first started watching cricket, Sridharan Sharath was the main batsman of the Tamil Nadu Ranji trophy team. Once he retired, the mantle was passed onto Subramanian Badrinath. The news that he is leaving Tamil Nadu to play for Vidarbha has left me stunned to say the least. For years, he was the face of TN batting. With him gone, the chances of winning the Ranji Trophy has receded further into the horizon but more importantly, the opportunities for relating to your team, the team you supported ever since you were a kid, has become hard indeed, leaving a void so huge that God alone knows when it will be filled. A sad moment.
Taking a walk at sunset around the neighborhood can be an incredibly beautiful experience. Dusk is a special time. The neighborhood my Aunt lives in Toronto is a multi cultural and multi ethnic neighborhood and a Middle eastern family was sitting outside, cross legged on the lawn and sharing food from a single plate. An eighty year old couple were taking a walk holding hands together, which I found to be incredibly romantic. A mom and her little daughter were also taking a walk, the little girl in her skip hop jump routine that kids seem to favor everywhere. The moon was out in almost full splendor splashing the sky in dazzling white amidst a brilliant blue background. Little kids were playing soccer and softball at the park and their shrieks of joy and laughter reminded one of the true meaning of sport. The traffic lights seemed to acquire a beautiful contrast in the fading daylight and the onset of darkness. It was all very poetic although my rambling explanation is hardly doing justice to the beauty and stillness of the scene.
Borges, on becoming blind at the same time as being appointed to the directorship of the National library, composed this gem:
No one should read self-pity or reproach
Into this statement of the majesty
Of God; who with such splendid irony,
Granted me books and night at one touch.
Say not of me that weakly I declined
The labours of my sires, and fled the sea,
The towers we founded and the lamps we lit,
To play at home with paper like a child.
But rather say: In the afternoon of time
A strenuous family dusted from its hands
The sand of granite, and beholding far
Along the sounding coast its pyramids
And tall memorials catch the dying sun,
Smiled well content, and to this childish task
Around the fire addressed its evening hours.
—-Robert Louis Stevenson