Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Facebook Generation - Damned if you do, damned if you don't

The Facebook generation – that’s what we are called. It used to sound cool. Now it sounds cynical. We express our happiness on it, our frustrations on it, our sadness on it and more sadly our anger on it. We even get arrested for it. But that’s all we were capable of. We did not know what it was to take to the streets, to suffer body blows, to stand up for a cause we believed in by standing by it in the face of peer pressure. We were ridiculed for it. Pontificating from the air-conditioned comforts of television studios and editorial desks people called us arm-chair critics. Some of us even agreed with that. We were taken aback by the growing indifference to the world around us. Yes, we went for candle light marches and Anna took us for a ride. But then those were just style statements. When it really mattered, we will buckled down because we did not like to get our hands dirty.

And then it all changed. Thousands of young people decided enough was enough. They took to the streets, and no ordinary ones at that. They were lathi charged. No one was spared. A picture is worth a thousand words and there were thousands of them - of a policeman clamping his foot down on a protestor, of policemen hounding individuals in packs, of women getting hit on the head and being shoved around and of men receiving multiple blows despite not retaliating to any of them. Not for the first time, many of us sitting at home felt the anger. But for the first time we felt ashamed, at sitting at home and not being on the roads. Because, they were us. And then we felt the connection that the angered youth of a nation should feel. For every blow dealt on the “Street of Victory”, the hurt was universal. They were taking the blows for us. And then when no one expected us to come back and fight another day, we did. To take more blows. To take a stand.

And then, the political elements stepped in. Ruckus was created. What was earlier a protest now turned into violence. An officer in uniform died of injuries. To the media which has so far dealt only in global statements, this was turning into a gruesome reality. This was civil unrest. They were no longer the sole guardians of the nation’s conscience. The people, yes we the people, had decided to wrest back what was rightfully ours.

The machinery kicked in. Protests at what costs, screamed the ‘liberal’ media. The tables were turned. Is the life of the constable of any less value than those who have fallen victims to rape, they asked? We all knew the answer. Did the government? Ministers were given the chance at spin doctoring. They only managed to incite more anger. The Prime Minister made a speech, but not a statement.

“Lumpen elements” became the problem, because everything else was “theek hai”.  Metro stations were closed because the police could no longer handle a protest.  The silent protestor was beaten up because the government’s lost its voice.

We were the problem, because when everything around us was wrong, we could never be right.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

That Sinking Feeling

Goodbye, Sachin. No, really. Goodbye.

At 25, it is tough to get anyone to believe it when I say that I am just getting out of a 20 year relationship. But then, at 40, it must be even tougher for you to cast away the adoring millions and walk into the sunset. You will will yourself on for a series or two for your pride, for our joy and for the team. You will score another masterful hundred and get bowled a few more times. But I will not be around to see that. To use that dreaded phrase – “you have been dumped”.  

The fact of the matter is that most of us are selfish beings. We were more than happy to say that you were our biggest love, our life and such nice things for a good part of 2 decades  - when you were in your prime. Now that you no longer look that good at the crease, now that you are scratching around more often than not, now that there is younger, fresh blood to get excited about, now that you are 40 and we are just  25 or 30, we are ready to move on. We will check back on you once in a while to be sure that you are doing okay. But we will be long gone by the time you let go of us. Like I said, we are selfish.

Who am I kidding?

We will be there every single day, because in your struggle, you prove yourself to be as human as us. For over 2 decades you were somebody we could only dream of. Now you have descended from that glorious platform that you had built for yourself and are now closer to the end, closer to being us. Did I say we will move on? Nonsense. You will move on- to your loving family, to the commentator’s box, to the Parliament and many high places. Us? We will be watching videos of you cover driving Donald, sending one right back at McGrath, tonking Warne over mid-wicket, cutting Ambrose, flicking Wasim, bamboozling Moin with your googly or juggling your way to yet another catch at slip.  

The many 20 somethings like me secretly wish that you will be able to play on forever, because we do not know what life is without your batting to look forward to. If we came back with a bad score in our exams, and you scored a century that day, you not only took away a bit of sadness from us, but also a bit of our dad’s anger.  That you made our world a happier place is not to be denied.

However, we are pained to see you struggle. We are forced to look away when you grope outside off stump to a second rung bowler or get bowled to deliveries you would have whipped past the leg umpire for a boundary a couple of years back.We don’t like it as it makes us feel vulnerable. To know that a legend like you could be reduced to a struggle like this makes us doubt what we will make of ourselves at 40. We want you to go now because we want to retain only the happy memories. Like I said, we are selfish.

I plead guilty to arguing that Dravid was a better Test match player than you or that Lara was more of a match winner. But in hindsight, those titles and arguments seem a little too trifle in the bigger picture. When Lara was run out in his last match, we stood up in our drawing rooms to applaud even though he was thousands of miles away. Dravid did not even give us that chance. When he announced his retirement, we were left shocked and speechless. But you? When you say your final goodbye, we will be shedding tears – in schools in Chennai, in offices in Delhi, in the markets of New York, in the clubs in Sydney and the bylanes of Mumbai. Because when we said you were our biggest love, our life - we meant it.

P.S : This is the second consecutive post on cricket and relationships. I realize that I might be having really bad break up blues.