Sunday, April 03, 2011

When We Became World Champions

By Gaurav Parab

Sporting achievement is like a romantic chase. The pleasure is in the stolen glances, the hesitant courting, and the uncertainty of what every action brings. When getting to the kiss is more important than the kiss. A delightful journey into the unknown.

Then lord behold! One day that girl tells you that you have won her heart. A sense of anti-climax. The candle has been blown. You have just cut through the finish line. What do I do now? What do I do with this trophy?

And so with you and me. The World Champions! We always wanted to win the World Cup and on late Saturday night we precisely did that. We reached the sum of all our moments. We always wanted to experience this minute. It was time to celebrate.

Eh… but how? Is there a manual somewhere? What do you do after you become World Champions.

And most importantly, what happens after the customary party in the night.

The party part was easy for everyone. In cities across the nation, people spontaneously moved towards main roads and town centers as if giant magnets were drawing them out of their rooms. Young men, some sick and tired of seeing grainy visuals of Kapil and his merry men win in 1983, were dangerously dangling out of their cars sharing high fives with thousands of complete strangers. I knew how they felt. I was one of them.

We were really in extraordinary times. While memories are vague, I remember shouting at a policeman to stop being so serious about the whole traffic scene, who smiled back and gave me a high five. I called him the Policeman world champion, he replied tear eyed that he had never seen so many Indian flags.

Then there were these women, some ten or eleven of them in a bus who blew flying kisses in my direction. Out of a general sense of never being in such a situation, I confirmed through sign language if I was the intended recipient. They nodded back.

Yuvraj was I the secret person you wanted to win the world cup for? Well, it surely seemed like it when I saw those women bat their eye lids at me. I would have even given A Raja a high five last night. It felt good to be World Champions, even though one was not sure what it meant.

So, back to the question. What do we do now that the party bit is over?

It is a tricky one this. Especially since our generation is now in unchartered territory. I am not sure what people did back in 83, but I am guessing it may have involved putting on Mithun’s  I am a Disco Dancer .  So, I am not going to ask for tips.
Strangely the answer lay in front of us as we partied across the country. A sport, nothing more, had managed to inspire and unite us like nothing else could. By some strange combination of joy and commonality, the thousands who were giving each other high fives did not give a damn about race or wallet size. Everyone was plain inspired about something. Or plain drunk – I guess. Let us not forget how that night felt. How we all became one. Maybe we could do this again without being world champions. Without beating Pakistan. Without having to debate whether Ashwin should have played instead of Sreesanth. Without without having a reason. Maybe we could just be a happy nation.

A friend from Hyderabad gave a telling comment that he was not around when India got Independence, but perhaps the public mood was like this then.

And therein is the key. Instead of squandering away this moment of glory on one binge after another, perhaps we can learn the lessons it brings. We have the glorious opportunity of using these positive vibes. Seriously, when was the last time the entire country felt so good?  Forget the nation as a whole, and at the risk of sounding extremely clich├ęd – perhaps we can all be a World Champion?

If Kapil’s boys could inspire Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid – then Dhoni and his squad can inspire another generation. And the beauty is, we don’t even need to play cricket to be the next Munaf.

Maybe we can do the little things that we never found the strength to. Write that short story, sing that song in front of a crowd, win in a game of badminton, or dance confidently in front of a packed house. If a boy from Ikhar can play for the Indian team, and bowl the way he wants to - annoyingly slow but god damn effective, then certainly we can rise above ourselves?

As champions of the world, the trap to avoid is the one of increased expectations. Going forward, in the pursuit of more victories, we may not cherish what we have today. Ask fans of dominating sporting teams like Ferrari in the early 2000’s or the Australian cricketing team in the same period. They were never satisfied with second place after they made number one a matter of right. Look at how they long for victory now! And to think they had it for such a long time. Look at how cruelly they ask Punter to step down after all he has done.

Let’s not grudge the cricketers their moment under the Sun. As television channels dedicate 24 hour live feeds to what Gambhir is having for breakfast, soak in the success. The team deserved this. They worked on it for all their lives. This may make for pesky television but it may never happen again. What would you rather have on television all day long? Suresh Kalmadi?

Maybe, India will never have a consistent cricket team. Maybe it is for the best. The reason why the nation erupted the way it did – was because we had seen how defeat feels like. We had felt our heart sink when Tendulkar top edged that McGrath delivery after Ponting had slapped us around. We had died when Bangladesh stole our dream in 2007. We would have not enjoyed it if we had not waited for so long.

Let us truly enjoy this moment and forget what happens next. The Tendulkar century of centuries, the team for the Australian tour, Bhaji’s future, the state of other sports, Poonam Pandey’s promise. Let’s not give a damn. Let the crown rest easy like it did in that moment when Dhoni picked that ball up and it screamed into the Mumbai skies. When our hearts soared like each one of us in hostel rooms, on borders, inside Wankhede, in front of pan bidi shops had hit a six himself. A moment, when we were euphoric! When in that one single moment of pure unadulterated bliss we were Champions of the World. Let’s live that moment, before it is taken away by time.


Some good news. Somya a friend has created a Facebook page for me !!! This is really interesting and heartening because Every Bait - The Poetry of Gaurav Parab ( the existing page on FB ) was difficult to remember and it increasingly sounded like a long winded missing person report.

I hope you Go and Like the Page  and make it go Viral enough to scare Dr Irani, the erstwhile indian team doctor. The page already has 10 likes, which must be some sort of record for a monday morning. Come on people! Indian won the world cup. Go like.


nightflier said...

Nice insights! But WHEEEEEEEEE WE WON!!!!! :D
This is our generation's best story of hope, perseverance, and redemption. I guess no one can take it away from us. :)

Gaurav Parab said...

Yes, nightflier.

After the first draft, I had ended this article by saying No one can take this away from us.

But I know, time will. If we are not careful.

man in the iron mask said...

I have got only one thing to say. This tops July 18th 2008. A hundred times over. A million times over. Repeat, in Ravi Shastri's bhoomhing voice - This is special!

Amit Thakkar said...

Fantastic article GP !!! :)

Chez said...

Loved every word of it ... Well written , as usual GP :P