Sunday, May 31, 2020

Anantaram - Movie

1987. Malayalam movie by Adoor Gopalkrishnan that features in the all time top 100 movies in India. Mammotty, Shobhana and Ashokan. The non-linear story, told in two different angles by the same person, sometimes going off into fantasy and finally coming together. Slow, which seems to be Adoor Gopalakrishnan's style, but at the end, it all makes sense.

Life in Lockdown - Day 66, May 31, 2020

May 31, 2020

I think I will now stop this lockdown series on a daily basis and only write once in a few days. I haven't blogged on a daily basis like this, almost like a journal, before. So that's a first. But it's been an interesting journey - from the first few days of not knowing what this lockdown means, not able to grapple with the idea of the pandemic, not knowing what precautions to take, not knowing if there 
would be enough resources to get by, it's been a big learning experience.
Pic Satish Nargundkar
I started off listening to music every day, watching movies unabated, may be unable to cope with this situation. I also remember watching movies like 'Contagion' and '93 Days' which got into my head and then I stopped watching such movies or even reading the news etc. That move paid handsomely because my life became free of free advice, scary news, fake news etc and I just concentrated only life. My original idea of listening to music every day, playing games etc with Anjali and Shobhs etc faded away after a few days because we all fell into some routine.

For starters, I began this practice of writing this blog which began taking up an hour every day. Then I continued the practice a lighting a diya for the migrant workers, the people on the front line, though these 63 days, and also leaving some eatables like toffee, candy and mangoes to our GHMC workers who are enjoying those surprises. My writing has become more organized, I have become better at washing dishes, at grocery shopping and sanitising. Music has reduced but my choice of movies has become much better and I am glad I saw so many Indian classics in this period and plan to continue to do so.

Writing being more organised I have been able to complete a couple of projects to some level, half down through the third. I am working at them one by one. One column fell off 'The HANS one and I am writing the Express one which is nice. I used to call up people a lot in the early days and have now stopped and call only selectively - I noticed that it takes up a long time. For a month I attended meditation sessions by Shobha and then joined two other courses that she began so it's been two months of learning as well. One coaching assignment that is going well is also good news.

I began this practice of guest blogging where I have asked my friends to share their cricketing insights, interviewed Vijay Lokapaly, began a series called 'Lessons I learned from others' thanks to Abhinay, read a few books which were on the list. I have outsourced several pictures from Satish for the blog and he has kindly supplied me with many. Another thing I have done is put up stuff sent by others on WhatsApp, stuff which they shared about the food they made, or some nice share and have started sharing some heartwarming stories I found in my friends, community or even on the net.

It's interesting to see how well we have all organised our lives that we don't seem to have too much free time - Shobhs has taken up several courses and her schedule is quite hectic, Anjali herself has occupied herself with classes, meetings, calls and games. Overall, its been quite a period of learning and we have navigated this well so far.

Anjali's school begins tomorrow - online classes that begin at 8 am and go on to 3 pm - which is quite a stretch. it will herald a new change in our routines. I have not ventured beyond my trips to the grocer at SR Nagar and do not intend to do so unless there is a crying need.

I'll share the day's heartwarming stories from the Times site which is updating wonderful stories every day. I want to interview two people who I know have been doing great work feeding migrnat workers which I will post as separate posts. One last day of lighting the diya at the gate today - I'll keep the candies etc going though - and we will get into a new normal form tomorrow onwards.

Heartwarming Stories
Panchayat President opens Re 1 idli shop in Tamil Nadu

School Principal Turns Saviour in Bihar
Kumari Kiran Singh, a Principal of a school in Saran district in Bihar turns saviour for 100 households a day

82 Year Old Beats Corona
Old news but good one - 82-year-old Sumitra Saha beats COVID

Hindus Arrange roza iftar for Muslims
In Hanumagarh district Hindus provide roza iftar

Abhijeet Siddhartha's Helpline for the Poor
20 year old undergraduate Abhijeet Siddhartha helped strays and the poor in Patna

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Elippathayam - Movie

1981. Malayalam. Adoor Gopalakrishnan's movie (Rat Trap) is a comment of the crumbling feudal system in Kerala and its inability to adjust to the changing outside world. An unmarried landlord Unni, scared of everything including rats, women and the world outside, and his three sisters with contrasting personalities - the first one is married and capable of handling her own, the second sacrifices herself for everyone and the third is a rebel. They all have to escape the rat trap, their feudal bungalow, one way or another.

Life in Lockdown - Day 65, May 30, 2020

May 30, 2020

It's not a lockdown anymore. I went to Ratnadeep and found that they have stopped dispensing sanitiser anymore. All is back to normal.

Nice Share by Charles D Silva - Paradoxes of Life

To be rich       - Give.
To succeed,    - Serve.
To laugh,        - Make someone laugh.
To prosper,      - Be honest.
To excel,          - Be faithful.
To go far,         - Get up early.
To change someone,  - Change yourself.
To be great,       - Be disciplined,
To be strong,     - Pray often.
To do a lot,         - Speak little.
To live well,         - Forgive.
To talk well,         - Bind anger.
To sleep well,      - Work hard.
To be loved,        - Love.
To be a good husband, - Listen to her.
To be respected, - Be polite.

Masterclass on Growing Mango Saplings by Pallavi
I never knew this. These are from the mangoes from our tree. Pallavi took some, gave some, and this is what she did with the seeds.

"One side of the mango seed is kind of like a ridge, you’ll be able to feel it beneath the fibre. Trim the fibre, pry apart the shell with a butter knife and pull out the seed. Store the seeds in a closed container with just a little bit of moisture. You can wrap them in a damp kitchen towel and sprinkle it with water once every 3-4 days. This set sprouted in about a week. I’ll leave them in the container for another 2-3 days and then transfer them into a jar of water."

Looks like we can grow more trees.

Foof Pic
Manjari and her biryani is the food pic of the day.

Maa Bhoomi - Movie

1979. Gautam Ghose directed the Telugu film set in pre-Independence Telangana when the Nizam's doras were given complete control over their jagirs. The doras troubled the peasants no end, inflicting all sorts of indignities on them and their women, The peasants fight back. They gain some ground and after independence, they feel they will get justice. But the doras who ran away return, now as elected representatives, and the struggle goes on.

It's a must-watch if you want to know the Telangana story. Things haven't changed much since then.

My Cricketing Insights - Prashant Manjrekar (Preparation Process)

I know Prashant from my IDBI Hyderabad days. Much after all cricketing pretensions had faded away, I was continuing to play for Marredpally Cricket Club. Cricketers from IDBI Mumbai would come here on transfer and I'd be happy to have them play for MCC -  Bapat was one and Prashant another. Prashant had three very fruitful seasons for us, scoring many runs and hundreds and helping us win several games. Watching him bat was a revelation to our Hyderabadi batsmen - the way he built his innings, did not make too many errors, backed his strengths and slowly ground out his big scores. His off side play was such a treat to watch. It helped that Prashant was also a gentle, unassuming and ever-smiling teammate who always added to the pot. We had some great times and won some memorable matches.

Prahant is another Dadar Union player, just as Parag, Jaideep and Salil are, and a Mumbai University player, which to me would be equivalent to playing first class in most states in India. I feel he lost out because he started playing really late - maybe after his schooling days. But he really enjoys his cricket and scored heavily for the University, club and the Bank. He received the best batsman award in the Times Shield and the Bank Shield which gives you an insight into his proficiency.
Prashant in action in the Times Shield - as a wicketkeeper here
After his playing days, he continued his deep interest in the game by doing several coaching courses. He is currently ICCA Level 2 Coach from the ICC Academy, Dubai, a specialist batting consultant. Among other coaching assignments, Prashant also completed a 3-week coaching assignment of the MS Dhoni Cricket Academy in Dubai. He has moved to Canada and is coaching at the Actionzone Cricket Academy in Toronto. Apart from his cricketing achievements, Prashant is a commerce graduate with an MBA and is a Certified Human Resource Leader.

Here are Prashant's insights into the game.
Peak Performance Profile

Let’s talk about "peak performance profile" which will help you improve and produce consistent performance game after game.

Imagine young cricketers who are putting in hours together in practice sessions on improving cricketing technique and physical fitness and often they fail in converting these efforts into match-winning results.

Peak Performance Profile is all about how you prepare yourself in advance for the game. In advance mean planning and strategising. I would like to divide match preparation into 3 facets, what you do a week before the game, a day before the game and just before the match. 

One week to go
If you are a batsman stick to the basics during batting session, try to minimise errors and also practice in match scenarios with imaginary filed positions.
Bowlers can try to bowl as many deliveries on the stumps as possible and let the batsman face maximum balls. Bowl with more control, sticking to your imaginary fielding positions. Bowl with a target in mind such as bowling a particular line and length be it a left-hander or a right-hander. Try dragging the batsman on the front foot, contain runs etc.
It is important to stay safe and injury-free and physically fit, do proper warm-ups before the practice session and cool down after the session and ensure that all your cricket equipment are ready and in appropriate condition.

One day to go
Keep yourself calm and relax, think about match venue, opponents and create your innings plan in your mind. It’s a good idea to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Better to avoid eating any junk food and get to bed early so that you get a good amount of rest.

Its show time

Visualise your past best performances which will help you to remain positive and confident. Even if you are not in the middle and waiting for your turn still concentrate, analyse game situation, stay focused and watch the game. Be aware of pitch conditions, swing and bounce. If you have any questions or plans, discuss it out with the coach.

Since every game is different and if you have your own peak performance profile, it will help you to plan and execute every game better. Give it a try and see if it works for you.   
Some press!

That's very well put Prashant. It's interesting to know how one must prepare to achieve peak performance at all levels. It is only when due thought is given and the preparation done, do we make less errors and deliver to our potential. Having seen you bat, I can fully endorse that you prepared and delivered exactly as you have mentioned in your insights. Thank you so much for sharing your insights on peak performance. 

For those youngsters who wish to contact Prashant, here are his contact details.
Mobile: +1 647-994-1927
Add Res :100 Spruce wood Court, Toronto, Canada

Friday, May 29, 2020

Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam - Movie

1962. Abrar Alvi's adaptation of Bimal Mitra's novel set in Bengal, in the pre-partition days. The decadence ways of the landlords, a platonic relationship between the choti bahu and a lowly clerk. Makes it to the top 100 movies of all time. Guru Dutt was refreshingly different, Waheeda Rehman stunningly beautiful and Meena Kumari, a revelation. Check her story out, it's as fascinating as any film story.

Life in Lockdown - Day 64, May 29, 2020

May 29, 2020

Life goes on.

Life Outside the Bubble - Pic Satish Nargundkar 
One day we are there. Then we look out of the window and see what we left behind. There is no way we can go back. We don't know what lies ahead. Our heart is left behind on the tracks. Our present torn between going back which we cannot and going ahead which we are scared to.

And if we sleep for a minute. some waiting vulture could make off with our belongings.

I was searching the net for a story and found an old link about migrant workers. Could not resist putting it in here.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Akaler Shandhaney - Movie

1980. "In Search of Famine". Mrinal Sen's award winning movie makes it to the top 100 all time great Indian movies. A film crew shooting in a village to recreate the man-made famine if 1943 that killed 50 lakh people, gets caught up in a story that soon becomes a grim reminder that perhaps they did find the famine they were searching for. Smita Patil, Dhritiman Chatterjee etc.

Life in Lockdown - Day 63, May 28, 2020

May 28, 2020

Another day goes by. Some good stories and some not so good. For starters, I came upon Faye D Souza's post on YouTube where she discussed the issue of migrants dying on the trains due to starvation. She starts off by reeling off 8 cases. It finally was left to the Supreme Court to tell the executive that fares should not be charged and food should be provided so people don't die for want of food.

Colors - Pic. Satish Nargundkar

Satish plied me with a bunch of pictures so I am good for a while.

Delhi Farmer Buys Flight Tickets to Send 10 Workers Home
Pappan Gehlot, a mushroom farmer from Delhi, sends workers who had been with him for 20 years home by flight (68k) and also gave them 3k each so they don't have any problem at home. How beautiful is that!

This Will Keep You Going for a Long Time - 90+ Good Stories
I am looking forward to reading these.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Human Etiquette - A Lovely Share from Akram Quadri

My friend, and fellow fast bowler Akram Quadri, shared this today. If we follow them all, we will be much better people.

Human Life Etiquette

1. Don’t call someone more than twice continuously. If they don’t pick up your call, presume they have something important to attend to;

2. Return money that you have borrowed even before the other person remembers asking for it  from  you. It shows your integrity and character. Same goes with umbrellas, pens and lunch boxes;

3. Never order the expensive dish on the menu when someone is giving you a lunch/dinner. If possible ask them to order their choice of food for you;

4. Don’t ask awkward questions like ‘Oh so you aren’t married yet?’ Or ‘Don’t you have kids’ or ‘Why didn’t you buy a house?’ Or why don't you buy a car? For God’s sake it isn’t your problem;

5. Always open the door for the person coming behind you. It doesn’t matter if it is a guy or a girl, senior or junior.  You don’t grow small by treating someone well in public;

6. If you take a taxi with a friend and he/she pays now, try paying next time;

7. Respect different shades of opinions. Remember what's 6 to you will appear 9 to someone facing you. Besides, second opinion is good for an alternative;

8. Never interrupt people talking. Allow them to pour it out. As they say, hear them all and filter them all;

9. If you tease someone, and they don’t seem to enjoy it, stop it and never do it again. It encourages one to do more and it shows how appreciative you're;

10. Say “thank you” when someone is helping you.

11. Praise publicly. Criticize privately;

12. There’s almost never a reason to comment on someone’s weight. Just say, “You look fantastic.” If they want to talk about losing weight, they will;

13. When someone shows you a photo on their phone, don’t swipe left or right. You never know what’s next;

14. If a colleague tells you they have a doctors' appointment, don’t ask what it’s for, just say "I hope you’re okay". Don’t put them in the uncomfortable position of having to tell you their personal illness. If they want you to know, they'll do so without your inquisitiveness;

15. Treat the cleaner with the same respect as the CEO. Nobody is impressed at how rude you can treat someone below you but people will notice if you treat them with respect;

16. If a person is speaking directly to you, staring at your phone is rude;

17. Never give advice until you’re asked;

18. When meeting someone after a long time, unless they want to talk about it, don’t ask them their age and salary;

19. Mind your  business unless anything involves you directly - just stay out of it;

20. Remove your sunglasses if you are talking to anyone in the street. It is a sign of respect. More so, eye contact is as important as your speech;

21. Never talk about your riches in the midst of the poor. Similarly, don't talk about your children in the midst of the barren...or talk about your spouses around those who don't have.

Life in Lockdown - Day 62, May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

And the lockdown continues. And we still hear migrant stories. And we still see gurdwaras doing public service. And there's people questioning what the government is doing. And there's talk of locust attack. And of middle class in the USA going to the food banks because their savings are over. And I'm looking for heartwarming stories in this madness.
Pic courtesy Sunil Jyoti

12 Heartwarming Stories Compiled by Sanjana Shenoy

3 Acts of Kindness - BBC

Lost and Found Story

A Whole Bunch of Good News Stories

Two sisters, 11 and 7, stranded in Hubbali for 52 days, reunite with parents in Sirohi

Dhabawala feeds people

Jodhpur Cops help woman deliver in the middle of the road

Woman names her baby after the DCP Preeti Chandra

Salon owner gives up 5 lakh to feed poor

Cop lights pyre of a stranger as the family is unable to travel due to lockdown

Food Pics

Pavan made mutton biryani today!

Ghatashraddha - Movie

1977 Girish Kasaravalli's movie based on UR Anantamurthy's novella is about the ritual of ex-communication. A young boy joins a Vedic school which is struggling for finances. The Vedic school teacher goes to raise funds leaving the school in the hands of his widowed daughter and another teacher. The students turn unruly and soon it is known that the widowed daughter is pregnant from an affair with the school teacher. As the entire society bays for the young woman's ex-communication, it is only the young boy who stands for her and supports her until her father comes and performs her final rites and leaves her with a shaven head by a banyan tree outside the village. The harshness of these rituals, the utter lack of compassion for humans who make mistakes,  even the one scene where the untouchable is shown, is a mirror to the society that's shown. The young boy and his relationship with his Yamunakka was shown beautifully, reminded me of 'Bicycle Thief'. Surprisingly the actor who played Yamunakka never acted in another movie after this one.

Super 30 - Movie

Vikas Bahl's movie based on Anand Kumar's life about a poor student who fails to go to Cambridge because of lack of funds and who takes up teaching poor students free of charge and train them fro the IITs. The real-life Anand Kumar selects only 30 in each batch, hence the name, Super 30. Of 481 or so that he has trained free of cost, since 2002, 431 or so have made it to the IITs. It's a fantastic story, and he and his brother have since survived many attempts on their lives. His school was recognised as Asia's best. The movie is highly watchable. Good to see Hritik doing different roles.

Ek Din Achanak - Movie

Mrinal Sen's Hindi movie set in Calcutta is about a retired Professor who goes missing on rainy night and does not return. His wife, older daughter who is working, son with a failed business and younger daughter who is a college student, deal with the aftermath of his absence, not knowing what happened to him. Doubts on his fidelity arise, when they discover a bookmark with the name of his student Aparna, doubts of his professional integrity arise on charges of plagiarism. Shreeram Lagoo, Shabana Azmi, Rupa Ganguly and Aparna Sen. Lovely.

My Cricketing Insights - Parag Paigankar (3) - On Physical Preparation for Bowlers

Parag receiving the "Best Bowler" and "Best Batsman" award in the Times Shield - a rare feat - from the then Chairman of the IDBI SH Khan
Parag shared another piece on physical preparation for bowlers. As in the earlier two pieces that he shared, it's very insightful.

In Parag's own words.

Bowlers - Physical Preparation
The preparation of bowlers, physically and mentally, is different from that of a batsman.

In this part, I am making an attempt to explain the importance of the physical aspects and preparation from a bowler's perspective

Physical aspects - Strengthening of Muscles and Bone Structure:- A frontline bowler may have to bowl 20 - 25 overs in a day. Sometimes, he/she may have to bowl for almost 1 and 3/4 day which could be 30 - 35 overs if you are pace bowler, or about 40- 45 overs if you are a spinner, in one inning. Then, there is a 2nd inning. So, the physical workload for a bowler is generally much higher than that of a batsman.

Bowlers need to do exercises for strengthening of their

i) Upper Body - Shoulders, Wrist, Back, Hips.

ii) Lower Body - Ankle, Shinbone, Calf muscle, Knees, Thighs, Abdomen

Types of Injuries
We have seen many fast bowlers, even the best bowlers in the world, with best of physique and body structure, suffering stress fractures on the back, shin bone, knees, ankle, shoulder or getting muscle tears in the hamstring, calf, groin areas mainly during mid and important stage of their careers. We have also seen many great spinners getting shoulder, back, knee, ankle or hip problems. This is mainly because the workload of the main bowler in matches is very high.


Parag receiving an award for best bowling performances in University games from Raj Singh Dungarpur at Khar Gymkhana, 1988 
At the Gym
Considering the above, bowlers should go to the gym to mainly strengthen these parts of the body but under proper guidance and supervision of a trainer.

At Home
If one cannot go to the gym, then there are exercises which one can also do effectively home like pushups, pull-ups , Surya namaskars, situps/squats, lunges, skipping, cycling, front and sideways bending/stretching exercises, back+hips+ abdomen exercises on the floor mat.

Use of dumbbells for developing biceps and triceps should, however, be avoided as it leads to stiffness of muscles and it is expected to hamper your bowling. There should be good strength in muscles and bone structure should be strong but there should not be muscle stiffness which can affect bowler's rhythm and momentum

I feel that bowlers should generally avoid road running or even running on a treadmill as hard surfaces put enormous pressure on ankle, knees and shinbone. They should generally be running n sprinting on grass or clay/mud surfaces in grounds or on the sand at the beach.

At least 1 hour either in the morning and 1 hour in the evening should be dedicated to physical training on a daily basis but by ensuring it is not overdone on any particular day. Running, sprints and cardio-related exercises can be done in morning and muscle strengthening exercises in the evening or on alternate days.

Weekly Schedule
Schedule for the entire week should be carefully planned out in advance, preferably in consultation with a physical trainer

How to Get the All-Important Rhythm for a Bowler
Rhythm in bowling run-up, the proper landing of the foot, the release of the ball from fingers/hand and smooth follow-through motion adds to the confidence level of the bowler.

Based on his/her bowling rhythm, every bowler comes to know from very first over that today is his/her day. Similarly, it can be an off day or match even for a very good bowler if, on a particular match or day, the bowler does not feel good about his rhythm, or at the time of the release of the ball. 

Therefore, bowlers should, during the off-season (if it is possible) have practice sessions at a nearby ground to bowl only at stumps without a batsman and with only a wicket-keeper / or by keeping stumps very close to a wall / or just taking the help of your friend to be your ball boy (to throw back the balls to you). Bowlers can use these sessions to into / maintain good bowling rhythm, to feel good about his/her run-up, bowling action, the release of the ball, follow through and practice for control over line and length as well as any new variations.

Even when net practice sessions start during the playing season, bowlers should bowl separately only with stumps and wicketkeeper for at least 30 minutes or so.

Injury and Rehab
Many great fast and medium pace bowlers had to alter their run-up and bowling action to put less stress and strain on their bodies and to avoid injury to the injured body part and thereby extend the longevity of their career. Even, spinners add/develop different and new variations while releasing the ball.  

Recovery from stress fractures and inflammations and muscle tears takes longer time to heal than expected. After healing of injury, there will be still some stiffness or mentally bowler will be conscious about the injury. So even the best of bowlers, after injury, have to go out in the nets and play in practice or domestic matches and bowl for long hours to again come back to their prime form, get rhythm, confidence and effectiveness.

Thus, proper physical training is important to strengthen the muscles and bone structure as well as improve endurance levels. At the same time, it is also equally important for bowlers to find out ways and means of having independent bowling practice sessions to continuously maintain good bowling rhythm and also to practice and develop new variations in bowling.

Great sharing Parag. Thanks again. I'm sure it will be very helpful to the readers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Liife in Lockdown - Day 61, May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020

I almost stopped writing this post because I do not seem to have much to write. But then I thought I would continue till the 31st which is the official end of this lockdown. I am still finding it difficult to move outside my own Lakshman Rekha - the farthest I have been is to Ratnadeep in SR Nagar and once to Anjali's school in Yellareddyguda which seemed like going to a new country.

Anjali's school has announced the resumption of online classes so her vacation is practically coming to an end. June 1st is when the classes will start and they seem to be started rather easy - at 8 am and going on till 3 pm. It's hot and I wonder if that will be a factor. Anyway, we will wait and see.

I am feeling odder and odder when I go out with the mask these days because not many are wearing them. They are hanging it around their necks like some fashionable item.

If there's one thing I did in the lockdown, I encouraged many people to write and I hosted their writing on my blog. That was nice. I hope they continue writing.

A First Hand Account of Lockdown Travels - Sunil Jyoti's Personal Experience

Sunil Jyoti and I go a long way back, close to 36 years. We met in our Civil Engineering course, both belonging to the sports quota, equally at sea with balancing academics and our sporting commitments. Sunil played for India in shuttle badminton those days (and was a far more committed sportsman than I was). We shared, and continue to share, a great love for good times, travel, music, and laughter. He is one of my favourite people to laugh with. The things we roll over on the floor make no sense to others but we find them very funny indeed. Some of the times when I laughed the most are shared with him.
Sunil Jyoti - A "Migrant" Returns Home
Post-engineering Tops, as we call him, worked in the ONGC and then joined the Civil Services. He is in the Railway Personnel Services now, posted at Jabalpur. Recently, after the lockdown was clamped, Sunil travelled alone from Jabalpur to Hyderabad, driving in his car. When I spoke to him, he described the journey and was clearly distressed by the endless line of migrants walking all along the route. I asked him to write his experience down so we don't lose it. He agreed to write.

In Sunil's words:


March of 2020 brought with it the  dreaded Corona(Covid-19). With it came the lockdowns, social distancing, masks, sanitizers and new ways of normal.

Then in the last week of March, the unthinkable happened. Offices were shut and we were directed to work from home. My posting in Jabalpur, M.P had left me away from family that lived in my hometown, Secunderabad.


The one-day lockdown was followed by a series of further 15 day ones, with no certainty when they would end. So it was me and Manoj, my man Friday, left to ourselves in a big bungalow, to fend for ourselves.

The days began with my walk and exercise on the terrace, a big one, breakfast, many cups of tea. The green environs of the colony and the birds made my mornings blissful. Grey Hornbill,my favorite, were spotted all around. Thankfully, the weather was still comfortable and summer had not set in yet.
Wifey being farsighted gifted me a Netflix subscription, much against my initial resistance. Apart from the work from home, I had time enough to binge watch 55 episodes of a series on the Buddha, Roman empire and Spartacus, on Netflix.

In the middle of April, it became evident that the lockdowns would continue further. I grew desperate. I had to go home to family. With restrictions on travel, plans were made, some as ridiculous as riding on a parcel train, or an Army special train returning empty, traveling in the engine and the like. My colleagues laughed at me. The only way then was to drive home. Jabalpur to  Hyderabad, about 800 km.
The long and lonely road
I somehow managed a pass to travel out of M.P from the Collector's office. Leave was sanctioned, and I was set for my trip. Manoj planned all the food I would carry. Idlis, chutney, paranthas, aloo subzi, tea in flask, disposable plates and cups, tissue paper etc. He also loaded a huge bunch of homegrown bananas in the boot along with Pinto's homemade wine bottles for company.

On 30th April, I left home at 5.30 am. Stacked up with food and tea, air conditioning, music on stereo, and thoughts of a pleasant drive back home on the lovely highway.

But things changed once I hit the highway.
Barren roads
I never liked the word ' migrant ' being used on TV and newspapers for Indians traveling back home. Were they migrants in their own country? Was I also a migrant, albeit a different one, travelling by car? Fortunately, I was driving home instead of having to March home, as I was to realize soon.

The journey was to take me through Seoni, the lovely forests of Pench Tiger reserve, Nagpur, Adilabad, Nirmal, Nizamabad and finally Hyderabad,  covering about 800 km.
As I came on to the Jabalpur to Nagpur highway, I saw them. The migrants. Men, women, young,  old, marching in the hundreds all towards Jabalpur. Carrying on their heads and shoulders, perhaps their entire belongings, with children tucked in and an odd pet following too. The lucky ones were precariously seated atop loaded trucks, hanging on for life. The highway was completely empty, except for a few trucks.
Scorching heat, one can see the line of trucks on the highway to the right, and no shade

By the time I neared Nagpur, around 9 am, the numbers swelled. It was now a flood of migrants, marching ahead like a determined army. Steely determination writ large on their faces. Their expressions resembled that of a champion boxer, beaten and battered, but not wanting to let it show to his opponent.

They were all over,  resting in any shade, at toll gates, now-shut eateries and dhabas. Most of them traveling to M.P,  U.P,  Bihar and maybe beyond. Hundreds of kilometers. Even at my fittest best I would struggle beyond 20-25 km of jog/ walk. These were the real Rocky Balboas indeed. Perhaps it's a mind thing. Nothing else explains the madness of their journey.

At a pump where I stopped to fill up, a truck driver yelled out to the men and women to board the truck;  restroom break was over. The men climbed first, children were flung up and then women pulled up. No comfort of air conditioning, not even a roof above.

As the journey progressed, the sun god became hotter and harsher. More people were now seen under any shade they could find. It occurred to me that they may have walked in the night under the cool moonlight.

From nearby towns, the good samaritans were now seen distributing food packets and water. One big SUV stopped near me and the migrants literally pounced on it. Hunger makes one to behave in strange ways probably. Human dignity the casualty. I gestured with a thumbs up to one such family distributing food. That was the least I could to show my appreciation.

It then occurred to me that I should click some pictures of the scenes on my mobile phone to be put on Facebook, WhatsApp for the consumption of my friends. The roads were empty and I was doing constant 3 digit speeds. Clicking pictures at that speed was not possible. So at the next opportunity, I slowed down my car to almost still to get a good shot. Perhaps a close one to capture the faces and their expressions. The migrants were lined up to board a truck and jostling for space. But as I was about to click, I noticed two of them, middle-aged men staring at me. Their expressions blank, eyes wide open but unable to hide the utter loss of hope and despondency in them. I stopped. Acted as if I had stopped for something else, and sped away. I felt a deep sense of guilt for some reason. I didn't even attempt any pics for the rest of my trip.

It showed 42 degrees on my dashboard. But the inside temperature was a cool 22 degrees.
The same scenario continued till I reached the outskirts of Hyderabad. On the way I was stopped at some check posts, but was allowed to continue maybe because the cops didn't know what to do with this unique migrant travelling in a car. Obviously they couldn't have asked me to go back.


Ever since I reached home I've been telling my friends and family how grateful we should be for our privileged existence. Many questions also trouble the mind.

Have we let down the very people who built our cities, the highways, the skyscrapers, malls, those that fixed out plumbing, cleaned the roads and picked our garbage? Do they also feel let down or think it's their fate? Do they have an option? Why blame them for wanting to go back home? Isn't home where the heart is?

My journey was comfortable. But very uncomfortable questions will remain. Happy journey.


Thanks Tops. For sharing your experience. And pricking our conscience. Maybe the gratitude you feel will spread in our hearts too, and bit by bit transform the energy on the planet, and turn it into a trickle  of compassion and love for our brothers and sisters on the road. Just that will make their journeys more bearable. 

Vijay Lokapally - An Interview With a Dear Friend, A Much Accomplished Sports Journalist

I first met Vijay on November 1, 2012, at Mohali while watching the Hyderabad team play Punjab in the season opener. I was Chief Selector for the HCA then, and I was hoping the team would do well. Sitting by myself at the Mohali ground, I saw this unassuming gentleman, clad in a kurta walk in, and sit beside me. He asked me if he could read the newspaper that was lying next to me and I said he could. Something about him made me ask him who he was and he said he was Vijay and that he was a journalist with The Hindu. Again, something made me ask if he was Vijay Lokapally, whose pieces I had read in The Hindu and the Sportstar and he nodded. I was amazed at his humility and unassuming manner, and as I found soon enough, at his work ethic too, as he went about meeting players, administrators at the ground. In those four days, we lunched together, spoke about cricket and many other things of interest and I even interviewed him for my blog. We realised that he had met my brother in law Satish Nargundkar, who lives in the USA, during a visit to the West Indies in 2002.

Vijay Lokapally - Watching and Writing!
Ever since then, Vijay and I have been constantly in touch. When he comes to Hyderabad we make it a point to meet for a coffee, a meal. He indulges me and supports my writing ventures wholeheartedly, giving me generous reviews, not because he is partial to me, but because he is a kind human being who gives people a chance. He does that with players as well - not tearing them apart - and understanding that they are trying their best. Rarely does he criticise anyone scathingly, but then, he has the fine art of speaking his mind without hurting the other person. His stock is high in his circles and one need only to remember the star power on stage when he released his book `Driven’ on Virat Kohli in 2018 to get a sense - Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Anil Kumble, Kohli and Virender Sehwag. Among others who graced the occasion were Ashish Nehra, Ajay Jadeja, Anshuman Gaekwad, Kartik Murali, Vijay Dahiya, Sarandeep Singh, Gagan Khoda, Gursharan Singh. Just a hint of the respect he has earned with the players with his thoroughly likeable ways.

Vijay began his career as a freelance journalist in 1981. He covered the India-England Test in 1981 at the Ferozeshah Kotla for Children's World and the marathon Ranji Trophy final between Delhi and Karnataka in 1982. He reported the 1982 Asian Games for Patriot before joining THE HINDU in 1986 when it launched its Delhi edition. Vijay has travelled across the globe, covering cricket matches in Australia, England, New Zealand, West Indies, Canada, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Holland. He reported on the cricket World Cups in 1987, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2011. Vijay also wrote in THE HINDU, apart from sports, on music, cinema and books. The books he has written include - "The Virender Sehwag Story", "Driven" (Virat Kohli), "Housefull" and "World Cup Warriors". There are more on the way.

Vijay's long career with The Hindu ended, as all good things must, on March 31, 2020, and in the midst of the lockdown and the pandemic, he exited quietly, in his own style. No big announcements, no teary farewells that so many of us would have indulged after a lifetime's work. It was only when I saw a random tweet and asked Vijay what it was about, almost a month later, that he said he had retired. Just like that. I thought he was joking and then realized he was not. Not being a regular on twitter, I had missed the flurry on the social media where greats from the sporting world across all disciplines, not to forget his young colleagues from the profession, hailed his contribution to sports and sports journalism.
Vijay and me, in Mohali November, 2012
I felt sad that I would not be reading his reports and columns in the paper anymore. And then, I asked Vijay if he would indulge me once again and answer some questions of mine for an interview for my blog and he said he would.

Here it is.

Q. What was your childhood like, the early influences on you, that shaped your life?

A. My Baba, Narayan Rao Lokapally, was a government servant who came to Delhi from Hyderabad on a transfer and stayed on (so effectively, I'm a migrant). My Aai, Sarla, was a housewife. She was my greatest supporter, gifting me a season ticket for the 1969 India-Australia Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla. I think the ticket cost Rs 20 or something, which my parents could not afford really. I saw India winning the Test and fell in love with cricket. Every evening I would walk back from the match to find Aai waiting anxiously. She would listen to my description of the day’s play as I would relive the finest moments of the game like an `expert.’ My sister (Neeta) was an attentive `fan’ and later she would be the `bowler’ to suffer my batting as I emulated (Tiger) Pataudi and (Gundappa) Viswanath in the backyard. My younger brother (Ajay) used to be the electric fielder. 

I was actually pampered by my mother. She was the finest cook on earth – made the best scrambled eggs and egg-curry just for me even though she was a strict vegetarian herself. She would cook anything I requested. Never served me cold food. She was the greatest influence on me – taught me to be humble and affectionate to others. I miss her the most. My childhood friend Ghaus Mohammad, now a well-known football commentator has been my biggest benefactor. He backed me to become a journalist and I owe everything to him. He instilled in me the importance of friendship. He has stood by me in all my tough times. As for my hobbies, reading, cricket, music and films occupied all the time in my life.

Q. What are the lessons you learned from your long career as a sports journalist?

A. Being a sports journalist taught me to respect sportsmen. It gave me a ringside view of many great contests and essentially introduced me to the wonderful world of sports where I came across some great champions. To be able to interact with sportsmen was such a privilege. It also gave me deep insight into the making of a champion. There were life lessons to be picked. I learned from sports to accept defeat and also to acknowledge the success of others. Life becomes easy when you understand that the opponent is better.
On the tour to South Africa, 1992
Q. If you had to pick three best moments of your career, what would they be?

A. The first Test of my career (courtesy my Aai) and later as a journalist which I covered for Children’s World at Delhi. It was an India-England match, third Test of the series. It was a memorable occasion. December 23, 1981. The day when I took a seat in the Press Box at the Ferozeshah Kotla and just observed some of the finest cricket writers and how they worked. I still get goosebumps thinking of that experience. Centuries by Chris Tavare, Geoff Boycott, GR Viswanath were some of the highlights from that match which ended in a draw.

B) Meeting Graeme Pollock on the tour to South Africa in 1992-93. I had read so much about the great left-hander and getting to interview him was an unforgettable moment. Everything about South Africa was intriguing really, from the players to the first-world cricket infrastructure. I was given a great trip into South Africa’s past by Graeme Pollock. And he was such a generous host. He gifted me two rare books on South African cricket which I have preserved.

C) The 1999 World Cup semifinal between Australia and South Africa. The match at Birmingham was tied and I had to meet the deadline. Landing the report in time was as exciting as the match which was a heart-stopper. Also, meeting Viv Richards, Javed Miandad and Jahangir Khan at Lord’s in 1996 with the Indian team at the `nets’. As luck would have it, I happened to be the lone reporter present and earned a super `exclusive.’

Q. What would be the best sporting action in the world, ever, that you missed, and would have loved to witness?

A. It would be the Tied Test between Australia and West Indies at Brisbane in 1960. It had so much to savour. The result was unique. It had a century by Garry Sobers. What more can you ask for! A five-wicket haul by Alan Davidson. A dream spell it must have been! Then it had a century from Norm O’Neill. Spectators would have been in a trance really! The match saw the bowlers take over the game in the second innings. Australia, which made 505 in the first innings, had a target of 233 to win. Davidson (80) and Richie Benaud (52) added 134 runs for the seventh wicket. Australia looked a winner at 226 for seven but neither team won as cricket saw a most fascinating finish – a tie – and a run out marked the incredible finish. It would have been great to be at the Gabba on 14 December, 1960.

Q. If you had to pick three most defining moments in Indian sporting history, what would they be?

A. The 1975 World Cup hockey final at Kuala Lumpur when India beat Pakistan in the final. I followed the match through radio commentary with a bunch of friends and the celebrations that followed were incredible. We all wanted to become Ashok Kumar, who scored the match-winner.

The 1983 World Cup win at Lord’s when India beat the West Indies. I was on night-duty (at Patriot) and took great pride in making the page in the company of colleagues M. S. Unnikrishnan and Rattan Francis.
The Olympic gold in 10 metre Air Rifle by Abhinav Bindra at Beijing in 2008. Once in life moment and the fact that it came from the humble champion that Bindra is made it all the more sweet.

Q. Who were the best sports journalists/writers in your opinion, Indian and foreign? What was it about them that made them great?

A. Indian:
KP Mohan of THE HINDU (Flawless, awesome perspective of sports and a great mentor to many)

R Mohan of THE HINDU (Impeccable reading and understanding of cricket. Prolific writer)

Raghunath Rau of Statesman (Flowery style of writing. Would make you read even a copy on weightlifting).


Jack Fingleton of Australia (Deep insight into cricket which shone in his writing)

Ray Robinson of Australia (Lovely writing with some amazing information on the game and players)

Norman Mailer, the fascinating American novelist (His book The Fight, on the epic contest between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, is the greatest piece of sports writing)

Q. Who were your role models as a writer?

A. I was given a break by Mr. PVR Menon of Patriot, encouraged by K. Ramakrishnan, editor of Children’s World, he drilled in me the significance of meeting the deadline in journalism; supported by S. Krishnan, Sports Editor of THE HINDU, but groomed and fine-tuned by K. P. Mohan of THE HINDU. He taught me the importance of “watching and writing” and also to be objective when assessing/criticising a sportsman. His homework and reporting of an event were model lessons in journalism. He never had a sense of insecurity and was more than helpful towards youngsters wanting to learn. He also gave me the greatest gift of my career. He was a superb cricket journalist but gave up cricket reporting for my sake. Ever-grateful to him.

Q. Who are the sportsmen who you would have loved to interview, but didn't? Any particular question you would have liked to ask?

A. Don Bradman: Which was your best moment on the cricket field.

Muhammad Ali: What would you have been if not a boxer.

Dhyan Chand: What was your conversation with Adolf Hitler (at the 1936 Berlin Olympics) ?

Gabriela Sabatini: Would you accept an invitation to play a match in India?

Margaret Court: How does one become a consistent champion?

Q. Ten sportsmen/women you never met but love to have dinner with?

A. Dhyan Chand

Don Bradman

Muhammad Ali

Usain Bolt

Wilma Rudolph

Johan Cruyff

John McEnroe

Nadia Comaneci

George Best

Chris Evert.

Q. What are the qualities that a sportsman should possess to impress you?

A. Humility is a must. Also, the ability to connect with fans, who are the driving force behind you rise, cheering you to become a champion. Of course, integrity and character should be an essential part of your personality.

Q. Do you believe a great sportsman also needs to be a good human being?

A. Certainly, because he represents what is best in a human being – resilience, spirit to overcome failure and compassion for fellow humans.

Q. How would you describe yourself?

A. I would leave it to you. What do you make of me? Good journalist. Decent human being. Helpful to juniors. I think one should be judged by those who have followed his/her works. Good, bad or ugly, I leave it to them. To me, I am the best. But that can’t be true. I will have my flaws. One thing is certain though. I have always tried to be honest in my writing and looked at my junior colleagues as equals. I feel happy when I see a youngster excelling as a sports journalist.

Vijay - At it!
Q. What has been your life philosophy? Your work philosophy?

A. You have to work diligently. Whenever I went on assignment, I remembered that I was going there only in my capacity as a representative of THE HINDU. I had a responsibility to live up to. Life philosophy is simple. You are fortunate to be where you are. Much talented individuals may have missed the bus for want of opportunity. So, stay grounded.

Q. What was the best advice you ever received?

A. From my father: Don’t take things for granted

Q. What advice would you give youngsters who are embarking on a sports journalism career? Where do you think sports journalism is headed? What skill sets do they need?

A. I think this generation has some outstanding young journalists. I just request them to watch and write. Write more about sportsmen than the officials. Avoid reporting press conferences in a big way because I am convinced most readers are not bothered about wanting to know about sports officials. Sports journalism is a fascinating platform for you to express yourself on the conquests that the sportsmen/women achieve though incredible human endurance. You must look to write what you see and not what you hear. The best thing about the profession is you get paid to watch the best of sporting spectacles. Look to improve your writing skills by reading the best writers and develop a passion for sport. There is no harm in playing a sport, even at the basic level, because it gives you a good perspective of competition. Sports journalism will face challenging times but there will be new “normals” and new ways of presenting the game to the reader. I love this generation of young sportswriters.

Q. Can you explain what you mean by 'watching and writing'?

A. Watching is important because you get to understand the game and the players. I never missed the first ball of the match in my career. Unless you watch intensely you don’t grasp the developments. I can make out from the report whether you have watched the match or relied on the scorebook. Similarly, every sport offers action which you need to absorb and put it in words. My philosophy was simple. My report was like writing a letter to my mother. She did not understand sports so I had to present the match or the day’s play in a simple language for her to enjoy my work. It made my job easy.

Q. What are the other things you're passionate about? Hobbies etc.

A. I love good cinema. These days I am hooked on Malayalam, Tamil and Marathi cinema. Amazing actors and some brilliant stories. Music has been an integral part of my growing years. My Aai was a superb painter and she sang so beautifully. Of course, reading and collecting books has been a childhood passion.

Q. What's on the cards next?

A. A couple of books. "Speed Merchants, Story of India’s fast bowlers", which I am co-authoring with Gulu Ezekiel, and a book on badminton with my son, Akshay. He is the main author.

Q. You've seen many champions. What do you think is the hallmark of a champion?

A. The quality to acknowledge that the man who finished second could have been the first.

Q. Anything you don’t like in people?

A. Ingratitude. When someone helps me, he sacrifices the most precious thing he has – TIME. I should value that help.

Q) Other than the names you have mentioned as your benefactors, who would you give credit to from the profession?

A) There are many but my immediate colleagues - Kamesh Srinivasan, Rakesh Rao, Y. B. Sarangi and C. Rajshekhar Rao - have been my strength. Actually, they are family and this camaraderie is something you have to be lucky to possess. The list is long but these four are special.

Q) Other important people in your life?
A) A big part of my success is obviously my caring wife Sunanda. I was hardly home during the peak phase of my reporting days because of the travelling for cricket assignments but she never complained. She has been a great source of strength. I am also indebted to Manoj Vatsyayana, K. V. Prasad, Norris Pritam and G. Rajaraman for time and again backing me. Manoj and I have grown together from the days when he would earn ₹ 500 a month and I got ₹ 250. Manoj would not let me spend. We went to Sharjah in 1991 and worked in tandem on that assignment, sharing stories and editing each other’s reports. There never could have been any competition between us and I would like to put it on record here that among my contemporaries Manoj was the most outstanding journalist with a tremendous flair for writing. Manoj was miles ahead of us in his understanding of the game and presentation in the form of a delightful report. My parents loved Prasad. He is a man you can rely upon and I was thrilled when he rose to become the Editor of The Tribune. Norris and Rajaraman continue to help me with their kindness.

Q. Your most precious memorabilia from all these years covering sports?

A. My memories of some glorious time spent in the company of some glorious champions.


Thank you, Vijay, for taking so much time out and patiently answering my questions. As I read it, I can feel your connection with your mother and your childhood, your early days at work and how much you appreciated and enjoyed being part of the fraternity, covering sports. It's a rare thing to see someone enjoying his profession as much as you do, and you did that to the last day. You are indeed fortunate.

Since you redirected the question about yourself to me, let me tell you what I think of you as a person and a professional. I have found your humility disarming. You are kind to people, to the environment around you, and one gets a sense of harmony when you're around. You have a learning mindset - you are not full of answers as some are, you have a lot of questions, and have a genuine desire to know and learn, even from amateurs. You're also the consummate professional and I believe you do give your best shot at whatever you have done, to the best of your knowledge. More than anything you have compassion for life, a multi-dimensional personality with many eclectic interests and a ready sense of humour. It's easy to ask you anything, to reach out to you, to know you understand. Also, I am sure many players might have felt confiding in you easier to do because you will not betray their trust.

I am looking forward to more discussions, meetings and fun times ahead and also to reading your upcoming books - especially the one about the 'Speed Merchants' and the debut book by your son Akshay. Thank you once again for your time and I am very sure some young sports journalist will benefit from this little effort of ours.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Anjali - The Lockdown Routine

I was wondering how Anjali was going to deal with this lockdown. She has not stepped out of the gate since March 15, the day her final exams were to start. She had prepared hard for it as she normally does, was disappointed that the exams were cancelled (which is a good thing) and quickly took it in her stride. She adjusted to the online classes as the school decided to promote the lot and go on with their next class. In time she got her new books and the classes ended. All of May was her own, her summer vacation, which she so cherishes.

Reading a book
Last summer was a wonderful little vacation for her. We spent a lot of time in Mumbai and Pune with her cousins and her grandmother. Anjali was there almost for a month or more and we did several things which we enjoyed. Visiting bookstores, hangouts like Lucky Cafe, Marzorin, meeting her cousins, time with Ajji - she had a ball. This summer also we had the whole thing planned out between out our two favourite cities - Bangalore and Pune. And then the lockdown happened. I knew how much she looked forward to the vacation so I wondered what was going on in her mind.
Anjali's lockdown creation!
But she quickly got into her stride. Unlike me and Shobhs who started a late-night movie watching habit which messed with our next day, she was clear that she would hit the bed by 11 pm latest. Her morning started off at 730 or so with yoga. Then she would finish her homework or help in some chores. a couple of web series that she likes took up some time. But then it was back to some other work.

One day she decided to make some soft toys. I think she learned how to use the needle for this. then there was the cooking challenge - she made pancakes on Mother's Day. She helps out with dishwashing and takes half my burden. Then she goes off to draw or paint. I see her meddling with some journal type of a thing so I know she is writing something.

She made a group with a diverse set of cousins and added them to play an online game called Psych. They all catch up once in a while and play the game. She has scheduled weekly Zoom meetings with her Satish mama in Atlanta and chats for hours with him. Similarly, she chats with her cousins Pooja and Miskil. And then she and her friends have weekly Zoom sessions where they play some online games. Once they all caught up on Zoom and watched a movie together.

Every day, at 4 these days she has these online classes by an IT company called Byte IQ which teaches some computer languages or something. She joined it voluntarily. After that class, she and Mansi get together on Zoom and they both read out their new textbooks, to each other, complete with agenda for the next day. After the reading, they engage in some fun. The other day she made me download Avengers and watched it by herself. She seems to enjoy watching movies by herself.

When she is washing dishes she has music playing alongside. Yesterday we played carroms, last month, we did lots of table tennis. She watches her shows and covers her books these days. And she cannot wait to go to school. Every night she picks up a book to read - 'Around the World in Eighty Days' is done and so is 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'. I like that she is trying new authors and styles.

I am quite amazed at how she structured her life around the situation all by herself. When I buy her ice cream, she saves it up and eats it over a week. I would have finished the lot in two days. I cannot get how she is so clear about it. Today she said she does not want any more ice cream.

That's it.

Canteen Fundas - New Mistakes Are Good, Old Mistakes Are Not

Don't repeat old mistakes and you will get out of the rut. Make new mistakes and you will grow.

Life in Lockdown - Day 60, May 25, 2020

May 25, 2020

It's a hot day so stay at home day. Watched Mrinal Sen's 'Bhuvan Shome' last night and was quite thrilled that I did. Column writing day, Eid day so quite a bit of phone work.

Chitra Shared this Poem

Some Food Pics
Puri, chana and sheera from Chef Shobha

I'm wondering why I am doing this lockdown series.

But here are the migrant stories