Saturday, October 29, 2011

Golden pentagon and THE genius!

"Most of today's music is tough on the ears, there are a whole range of musical instruments, that's all..Whatever happened to the real music?!" Most(All?)of us would have heard this from our parents/grandparents..These remarks seemed outrageously cocky at the outset, but in due course have sunk in, adding another chapter to the 'Elders are almost always right' book.

Having grown up in a music loving environment, where watching Saregama on Zee TV was not scorned at even if there was an exam the next morning, I slowly began to appreciate that the bar had well and truly been raised before the 90's. An almost cherubic Sonu Nigaam singing Mohd.Rafi gems with Anil Biswas, OP Nayyar and other greats as judges is a scene most music fans would recollect vividly. The right music tutelage is important for kids, for that, helps them start the journey in the right direction. Most of us were surely lucky in this regard.

In the 90's, 'old' music was always loved..The elders seemingly liked the term evergreen.I was skeptical regarding its reach into the new millennium and beyond. Today, nearly 20 years hence, I don't see an iota of difference. Those songs are still defined as 'old' and are still endearing. The heartening aspect would be if the post-Y2K generation are provided the right inputs and continue to find these 'old' songs refreshing.

The golden pentagon I refer to in this post were a product of those times. Pretty much, pre-1980. There was no track recording at the time, there were very few instruments that could turn a non-singer into a singer. Having jammed a few numbers as a hobby, I can vouch for the difficulty of one-take-recordings. They are anachronic because there is no scope for error. I somehow feel the limitations in technology also helped these famous five become the singers they eventually did. You had to be 'tayyar', do your 'riyaaz' at 6 AM, and watch that extra scoop of ice-cream. Rafisaab, Mukesh(no suffix doesn't mean no respect), Kishoreda, Lataji and Ashaji.

Rafisaab was/is/will be India's talisman male playback singer. His versatility must have been a composer's delight. You only have to listen to the subtle variations and his soothing voice to know he was gold. Rafisaab was born to sing.

They say Mukesh's voice could speak to the mountains..You could feel the soul in his voice..I remember my cyclerickshawallah Deepak, (in Belgaum) singing "Duniya banane wale kya tere mann me samayee, kahe ko duniya banayi tune" the entire way to school. This left a lasting impression on the UKG kid that was me. Mukesh had well and truly arrived!

Kishoreda..I sometimes wonder how things can be seemingly so easy for anyone. He could act(check Half Ticket or Padosan),compose, had the eternal Madhubala as wife..But the hardwork/struggle behind his success shouldn't be forgotten. Aradhana, Kaka and Panchamda made him this gigantic figure. He had the Midas touch in the 70's. His voice in the 80's felt even richer and more 'mardaana' (Listen to Agar tum na hote title track and 'Zindagi ki yahi reet hain' from Mr.India).. An absolute God given talent.

Lataji..What does one say about India's nightingale that hasn't been said before? Lataji is the definition of the term 'singer'. Everything. Perfect. Will never be anyone like her. Ever.

Ashaji. Has been my favorite always. The typical younger kid..Rebellious,dynamic, supremely talented, lovable. And a secret,I have always preferred her over Lataji..Don't know why..Maybe I love rooting for the underdog.

This golden era couldn't have been realized with just these 5 greats. Lyricists like Javedsaab, Gulzarsaab, Anand Bakshi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Composers like Madan Mohan(a magician!) ,Shankar-Jaikishan, Kalyanji-Anandji, Ravindra Jain, SD Burman acted as the rock solid base. Not to mention other great voices like Mannadey and Mahendra Kapoor.

However, 'THE genius' I refer to was someone (atleast for me) way better than the pack. He composed stuff that most others failed to even visualize. A better composer India will never see (Rahman/SEL are real good, but RD is God!).Pancham da was a freak, creating percussion with spoon and glass (Chura liya hain tumne jo dil ko) and bringing the amazing "Monicaaa oh my darling" to life in that rough baritone..

They say "mortal does what it can,genius does what it must". Today, when I hear some horrendous remixes floating around, I smile at the fact they have recognized him at last, even while resorting to murdering his music. I still regret that Panchamda almost died in penury, but then some things are better left than analyzed.

Food for thought..Can the present generation ever match up, let alone be better, than these folks? Motivational speeches certainly think so, constantly telling you you can outdo yourself and eventually become the best. I feel that knowing what the best is, is half the battle won.

These legends were truly worthy of the honor and have left us a trail impossible to surpass and remarkably easy to admire.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This too shall pass!

Failing per se, is not bad. Failing to prepare, is. That phrase runs across my mind as I sit to analyze the misery inflicted on India in the English summer.

They say "Nihatte pe waar nahi karte" (don't attack an unarmed soul)..That is precisely how the second half of the summer panned out. A summer, which many Nostradamus' had claimed would be an Indian summer to remember. Huge claims, hollow returns..It was the heart speaking here, not the head. I for one had predicted this would be England's best chance to beat and maybe boss India. 4-0 I hadn't bargained for. 4-0 not even Andrew Strauss had bargained for. 4-0 it shouldn't have been.

April 2nd. All of us in tears of joy..The tears had barely stopped when MSD's Chennai beat Gauti's Kolkata in a close contest. An Indian generation was robbed of its chance to revel in the World Cup success. The BCCI was back to milking the cash cow that are its players. On the upside, the IPL gives mediocre players their 15 minutes of fame. Why, apparently one CSK player got his mother cured from a serious disease with an operation that cost him a fortune. But what about the Sehwags, SRTs, Laxmans and Jammies of the world. Ones with enough class to break into any Indian team at any time. And what about our Khan bhai, on whom our pulse was riding each moment of that WC campaign..If he even winced, we thought our worst fears had come true. Make no mistake, no Khan and we wouldn't have been in Mumbai on April 2nd.

The BCCI is a body which will never cleanse itself. Its coffers will never be empty, but its intentions and planning always will. That is where the players have to take up the cudgels and manage themselves. No physio knows a players niggles better than the player himself. Why does a Virender Sehwag wait till Dilli are knocked out before announcing he needs surgery on his fragile shoulder? Why does Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (of all people) play 14 meaningless games for Mumbai? Does anyone care a sh*t if Mumbai wins or Bangalore wins? It is INDIA that matters. And Khan sahab? The man is not just our champion bowler by a street, but also our bowling captain. The bowling line up was totally rudderless without him in UK. It was almost like Ishant was yearning for the big man to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him he was doing OK. Don't the players have this responsibility towards their nation? And I am not saying this because we lost 4-0. No.

All of them played every game of the IPL and then decided to conveniently skip the ensuing ODIs and t20 in the Carribean. Yes, who can charge himself up playing infront of 50 people, 10 policemen and 2 dogs? And ooh la la there is no razzmatazz. The only carrot is wearing that India shirt, one that should be the only carrot. Nobody remembers an IPL hundred with the same fondness, as say Raina's goldust runs with the tail in THAT semifinal.

Some seniors joined for the West Indies test leg. Only Dravid, Laxman made runs. Raina made some as well. Kohli failed, which gutted me. But he should have gone to UK. Not Yuvraj Singh. Yes he was the man of the tournament in the WC, but you don't pick Vishy Anand in your team for a carrom doubles match, do you? We are a country with short public memory. Suddenly Yuvraj Singh was test material again. He hasn't been since 2003, likely he never will be. Our negative approach in the 3rd test where MSD pulled the plug with 85 to get in 15 overs was a sham. One that showed the goal was to win the series not to dominate. You don't become a champion team by settling for 1-0 series wins.

We walk into Taunton and Strauss playing for Somerset was symptomatic of the desperation England felt. They wanted to win this at all costs, kind of like India at the World Cup. So the first test was close, the second one was perennial 90's problem of not finishing the tail, the third one was annihilation and the 4th one was..I don't know what it was honestly. It was a case of a beleaguered team that had enough and were looking to take that British Airways flight out of Heathrow.

OK, we played badly. That happens. But being thoroughly outclassed in the planning department stuns me and also triggers anger. But has this team become bad all of a sudden? No. Are these the best 15 players in the country? Yes, more or less. So we have the tools to succeed, not having the tools would have been a bigger worry. This implies some bold decisions by MSD are the need of the hour.

1) Relieve the batting greats in phases as soon as possible. We love Lacchu Bhai, RD and SRT. But, I would rather lose 4-0 with Badri, Kohli and Pujara. With all due respect, I feel Dravid should be the one to put his hand up first. I want RD to go out on his own terms and on a stupendous unprecedented high. He owes us that. For 15 years of unending admiration.

2) The Australia tour starts in December. Our bowling attack Ishant, Harbhajan, Sreesanth, Praveen, Ojha, Mishra MUST play Ranji trophy cricket in November (not t20 or random bilateral ODI series at home). Take the Shatabdi, play in the undistinguished centers, learn your trade. 20 wickets in Australia won't come easy.

3) MSD to have a hard look at his own batting in whites. Again, he is by far the best fit for his role and there is no replacement. But we all strive to improve, don't we?

4) MSD to make an honest call on Harbhajan Singh. I personally would stick with him for a bit more, but its a border line call purely on form. Bhaj might have to quit the shorter formats to regain his mojo. It can start by playing Ranji Trophy for Punjab.

5) Sehwag and Khan to stop playing IPL/CLT20/Big Bash/any such. "The first time you make a mistake its an accident, the second time you make the same mistake its on purpose, and the third time you make that same mistake its no longer a mistake, its a habit." Break the habit boys, your body cannot handle the rigors of India Darshan over a month and a half. Play for India, achieving legendary status is your destiny.

It is important we fans keep faith in the team at this testing juncture. Achieving instant results is not a joke. The target should be to climb back to the top in 2 years. This was one horrendous series and India’s downhill slide predicted by the pundits is as exaggerated as their claims of us being undisputed no.1 in 2010. Truth is somewhere in between.

I am confident this series, however debilitating, was one-off. This too shall pass!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

BJP's travails affecting India

At my Grandpa's (called him Ajja) home in Mangalore, following Vinod Dua/Prannoy Roy all night long on Doordarshan and deciphering trends of the 1996 elections was a new beginning.Ajja was there by my side helping me make sense of the numbers and an-almost teenager nodded. Ajja was a very RSS oriented thinker and adored/respected Vajpayee. My tryst with Indian politics started with this Vajpayee "victory".

Due to his oratory skills, I was mesmerized by Atalji at the outset. In 1998, I visited Nehru Maidan to hear him speak.The pauses were unapologetically long but the material was crystal clear. He was my Prime Minister. He was my leader for the forseeable future.The rise of the BJP from 2 seats in 1984 to a 13-day-honeymoon in 1996 was heartening. It explained the significance of our great democracy.

Cut to present day India. When I hear about bomb blasts most of these days, my heart cries. As I am sure does yours. Anger is omnipresent, but it cannot soothe the hurt. I belong to a group of people who are branded "U are an NRI, u donno the ground reality so shut up". That is a myth. It is about where your heart is eventually.

When I noticed this flood of outcry on all the social networking sites, it felt as a good beginning. Most of us have a tendency to not care a damn about any event as long as it doesn't involve us. Blasts in Zaveri Bazaar today can be a blast in your area tomorrow. Only those who lost loved ones in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks know the real hurt and pain. Ask Sandeep Unnikrishnan's father and he will have a tale to tell.

In some of my conversations with well read Indians these past weeks, we agree that in India a bomb blast can happen anytime. The almost cynical and apathetic nature of educated Indians like us is difficult to fathom at the start, but not far from ground reality. For starters, are there metal detectors in malls in Bangalore or Delhi? Still better, do they work? We all know that United States has been a model example in curbing these activities post 9/11. Agreed there are eclectic means of cornering India's borders and that the humongous populace makes things almost unmanageable, but it is better to try and fail.

In the US, security folks are highly respected. If someone frisks me at Atlanta airport, I shut my trap and let him do his job. In India, we feel that the Nepali security guard is there to warm his stool/chair and feel offended and bad mouth him when he stops our car outside a plush apartment complex.

The best solution is to first acknowledge we have a problem. What is our intelligence doing? Is that word a misnomer or what? Rahul Gandhi recently said "We have averted 99% of attacks, it is not possible to avert all". This, coming from someone who tomorrow might be my Prime Minister is worrying. (My bias against the Gandhi scion and his "great" dynasty should make you look at this with a pinch of salt!). Are you telling me 99% of the attacks are averted right now? Yeah right! To make it worse, Mumbai Police were clueless for a day or two about the suspected organization responsible for 13/7.

Importantly, connecting back to my earlier BJP talk, the lack of an effective opposition at the Center is hurting India. The BJP is a shadow of the party it was in the late 90s and has ceased to be a "watchdog" the opposition should be. Vajpayee's age/health, Mahajan's death, Swaraj's constant bickerings with Jaitley, Rajnath's presidency, Advani's Jinnahisms have hit the party below the belt and right now it seems like a knock out punch with no new leaders in the horizon and no "Prime Minister material" in sight.

I am not here to provide solutions, highlighting and reporting problems is a citizen's responsibility. Look at what Nitish Kumar has done to Bihar and Narendra Modi to Gujarat. At the end of the day, your work speaks not your mouth.
Sealing your borders, governing your country as you are supposed to and trying to get your house in order before pointing a finger at others are very achievable by India. The insider help in these attacks is what concerns me the most. Selling your motherland, even to overcome poverty, is an offence like none other. Keeping Kasab hale and healthy for the past 3 years is unpardonable. I am told he is being given a fair trial. Fair trial for what? What about the clemency petitions against Afzal Guru (him of the 2001 Parliament attacks). The Central Government just doesn't want to be the party that tightened the noose and is passing the buck to short change the public.

I just pray these attacks don't happen any longer and our system becomes more vigilant. I know it is wishful thinking, but then many prayers are. It can start by both the BJP/Congress grooming a few youth leaders and booting out scions and dynasties from our sight. It can also start by our intelligence doing some justice to that word.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The World Champion feeling!!

The concentration was just not there..Logging into Facebook was only making it worse..Each friend seemed even more nervous and expectant than the other..One of those days when you just wanted to get it done with..

I was unusually confident on the eve of the World Cup Final, almost over-confident. It felt like the night before an exam you knew you could ace..The wait for 2 am, April 2nd,couldn't have been more nerve-wracking..Around 9 pm, we decided we were going to watch THE battle at a friend's place on a big screen TV and make some noise.Garlic Veggie/Paneer Tikka Pizza before the game wasn't a bad idea, we thought.

Even for my cricket fanaticism,the involvement in this tournament was intense.A month before before Cup day in mid-January, 3 friends and I discussed very animatedly about India's squad of 15. It had to culminate in a Cup win, nothing else would have given any of us even an iota of happiness. My blog before the World Cup tried to summarize the expectations in cricket-mad India. It was with such mass frenzy that MSD's team commenced the campaign.

1:20 am on THE day,we reached our destination..As I was waiting for the toss,I began to re-live the journey.Great start vs Bangladesh,shoddy bowling and fielding vs England that eventually got us a tie, sketchy performances against the Associates,making chokers look like winners in Nagpur,unconvincing win against the West Indies, hair-raising brilliance against Aussies,continuing the World Cup hegemony against Pakistan. But the feeling that all that would be wasted if we did not arrive in Mumbai, was hollow and scary..However,watching "Invictus" a day before the final, made me clearly believe that destiny was knocking our door..Clearly, MSD was our Matt Damon and SRT was our Mandela/Freeman..
As my wandering mind came back to San Jose,I was appalled by what happened at the toss.After the usual comment about Shaz being Shaz, I thought Sanga's body language did not look right(proved wrong by ESPN's analysis later,which confirmed it was 2-0 at the toss for Sanga).Anyway, batting 2nd was not a bad option I thought, provided we did not gift them 300..The 58 metre side boundary looked enticing, one that each one in our top 7 could clear with one hand..

India's bowling started well..Khan was outstanding at the start,his mastery over his art is astounding.As Shaz says, "He knows exactly what he is doing". Sreesanth looked lost, but I remembered the Mallu tea shop catch of Misbah in Jo'burg, hoped he would bring us luck and consoled myself. Munna was,well Munna..I was disappointed with MSD's flat captaincy in the middle overs and Zak's choke at the death against Perera..At half way stage,I still thought 275 was "very gettable" at Wankhede..The opinion in our room was divided..Some felt India leaked 25 too many for a massive game such as the Cup Final.

Just a 20 minute break due to India's pathetic over-rate helped settle all jangling nerves. Before the sleep deprived eyes could yearn for liberation,the chase began.It wasn't a bright one..31-2 was the only moment when negative vibes covered me for a minute..But I told myself this India was different from the earlier India..They just don't believe in the word "Loss" and don't give up. Gambhir/Kohli showed grit in fighting the occasion more than the situation..Kohli's fall led to the arrival of Yuvraj Singh. Oh wait, it was MSD!!!I instantly reckoned it was a calculated move to split the lefties and that's what it was, not daredevilry/heroism..
Highest score of 34, but "sense of occasion" I hoped.

I observed that 2-3 folks in the room slept.I wanted to crash for a while, but I couldn't imagine missing witnessing history.Each India run was being cheered even at 7 am of a sleepless night and crazy superstitions began to creep in.People wouldn't move from seats, nature's calls were being ignored, some continued sleeping even when they weren't asleep.There was too much at stake and none of us wanted to mess up.

Since it was unchartered territory, even 30 needed off 4 overs was not a cakewalk, some believed..By then, I was already thinking about the celebrations.Cockiness? No..MSD's presence was reassuring..His body language,usually great,was even better that day..He badly wanted that Cup.We badly wanted that Cup..Want is difficult to teach.

The taming of Kulasekara eased tension in the room and everyone got ready to shout their lungs out.As MSD hit THAT 6 (with the twirl),everybody began hugging each other.I saw a couple of people in the room and a few more on TV, in tears..My eyes were a touch moist,not as much as I thought.
Watching MSD lifting the Cup,SRT being chaired around his beloved Wankhede gave me goosebumps.This was THE moment of our cricketing lives.15 years of cricketing worship and we had our Laddoo in front of us..It was precious.

After a few hours,I saw Virat Kohli's interview alone at home..His line about SRT "He has carried the burden of our country for 21 years..It is about time we carried him" was apt and appropriate..It was happy tears time,for sure.We are World Champions now and no one can take it away from us for a further 4 years..2011 will be India's year at the World Cup,forever..Unprecedented high!!

Despite all criticism from rumor mongers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has firmly established himself in the pantheon of Indian greats. He, along with Kirsten, has changed the belief in the team..He might fail occasionally, but let us not doubt the man's intention/passion and keep faith..As someone said "There are captains everywhere, but MSD is not a captain..He is a LEADER".

And as Morgan Freeman said in Invictus, "This country is hungry for greatness"...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Don't jinx it!

World Cup fever is here..A week to cricket's flagship event and TV channels back home must be deep in the frenzy..A good time to be not watching them..

The knowledgeable cricket fans can take a backseat during these times, because they are usually forthright and boring.."This is the most open World cup ever..Any of 5 teams has a great chance" is a non entity as far as headlines material is concerned, compared to someone with an India tattoo on his heart shouting "India zaroor jeetega. Mujhe Bharosa hain", ending with a chest thumping roar "Indiaaaaaahh"..

These days I dread looking to the left hand side of the Times of India newspaper online..Every day, an Indian cricketer is paraded, praised to the skies and proclaimed as a world beater..For all you know, he might be one..The eye ball grabbing headlines must stop and so must the silly quotes "We will win it for Tendulkar!".What people ostensibly forget is it can only go downhill from this quote..Even a semifinals or finals finish will seem a national disaster..

The World Cup, despite all celebrations is usually a career ending event..Cricketers past the age of 35, either go out on a high or never again play for their countries..By convention, all teams decide to go into a "grooming youngsters" phase post World Cup.
Muralitharan will not play beyond WC 2011,but he already has a World Cup medal..To be honest,even if he didn't have one yet and his team don't win 2011, the Srilankan cricket public is not likely to go on an effigy burning spree..They love their drums and their drinks..It is fair to say they love the game..Passion is a step too far..

Sachin Tendulkar though, is not that privileged..He has lived 21 years of his life under intense media scrutiny...So intense that a lesser mortal would have gone into depression..So tough that he spends family vacations in London...
Since that "First to Mount Everest" double hundred in February 2010, the reference to him not having a World cup medal in an otherwise glittering career has been the "Aaj ki taaza khabar"..For once, SRT did not help matters by agreeing that winning the WC was a dream..Remarkably, during the ICC Awards in Bangalore in October 2010,he did an about turn while receiving the "Cricketer of the year"..He categorically declined to comment about the World Cup saying that the team is superstitious about it and they would prefer to perform on the field, rather than make grand statements..Bingo!

You don't need to be a pessimist to figure out that there are very few fairy tale endings in sport,if at all..Few sportsmen leave on their own terms..
In a cricket fanatic country like ours, the air of expectations usually transcends into a balloon, which then bursts if/when we lose..Illogical phrases like "Too many advertisements", "Match fixing", "Internal team politics" are injected by the cricketing illiterate and the media adds fuel to the fire by showing exhaustive and never before seen footage of players partying.This is an epidemic that must be vaccinated..Everybody plays to win..This Indian cricket team under MS Dhoni sure does..

"India will win WC 2011", "Australia has no chance this time" is all hokum..3 knock out games means that even teams like WestIndies can make the semifinals with one good day..You don't want to run into a rampaging Chris Gayle on a sultry afternoon in the Quarter Final.And from there,ability is not as important as handling the pressure..

Let us hope for a competitive and thrilling cricket World Cup 2011, one that obliterates memories of the sham and farce that was World Cup 2007..

Keep it subtle and may the best team win!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A combination to savour

Capetown, Jan 2011..All indications point to the end of an era..The Dhoni-Kirsten combo might have played its last game for India in whites..The million dollars that come with the job and the world travel might not be as enticing as taking care of his young family for the affable family man that is Gary Kirsten...For any cricket fanatic, there would be nothing better than Tendulkar-Dravid-Laxman walking into the sunset under MSD-Kirsten in the next year or two...

After the fractious days under Greg Chappell, when the dressing room was literally a war zone, Gary has brought a lot of calmness, common sense and insight to the team now christened "Team India". All this, without being overtly pretentious and condescending..He hasn't talked to the players through the media and that is a lesson in man management that one cannot possibly better. These days, when India loses test matches, sh*t never hits the ceiling..The emphasis is less on blame game and more on how to pull up one's socks..The MSD-Kirsten combo must be credited for this wonderful work ethic..The legendary Anil Kumble under whose helm Kirsten took over as coach, deserves a word of praise too here..

In my growing up years,losing test matches abroad was the norm..Having been statistically inclined, one day to much chagrin I discovered in 2001 (before defeating Zimbabwe at Bulawayo) that India had last won a test match outside the Asian subcontinent in 1986.That to me was not a problem, it was an emergency..
Wright-Ganguly arrested the slide and worked hard to eliminate the "lambs abroad" philosophy..Refreshingly, Kirsten and MSD have taken it a rung higher. Under them winning series has been the objective and not merely winning test matches abroad.

The no.1 ICC test ranking attained in December 2009 was the fillip the team needed. They seem determined to want to hold on to the mantle for dear life. All this has provided for fascinating viewing and has whetted the appetite/creative juices of Indian cricket lovers.

Dada, for all the opinion he polarized, will unanimously be remembered as a successful skipper. He was the pioneer in abolishing nepotism in team selection..That has thankfully continued in the current team setup..Kirsten, with his no-nonsense, no baggage attitude has won hearts..You can see that the players simply adore him and can do anything for Gary.
Sometimes, not having to know the names of different states in the country can be a boon..Indianness is much beyond belonging to Mumbai,Bangalore or Delhi.

This is where Mahendra Singh Dhoni comes in..The "look-at-my-locks" Maahi that burst on the scene in 2004 seems like the current MSD's show-pony twin..He trimmed his tresses when he assumed captaincy full time in 2008, but as time progressed shockingly the demeanor has become saintly..The celebrations are restrained, the achievements are understated and victories are not coronated. The emphasis is on the next game, as it should always be.
MSD has handled sensitive issues like Yuvraj Singh wanting to become captain beautifully...It could easily have divided the team into 2. When asked how there is no team friction, despite him having 6-7 guys who debuted before him, he simply said "I don't behave with them as if I am their captain"...Such a simple thought it seems, but not many would have implemented it as impeccably as he has..You obviously handle modesty and cockiness in different ways, as seen in his superb rapports with Tendulkar and Yuvraj..

The one problem I have seen with us Indians is we don't appreciate the beauty of what we are living in and have a remarkably short memory span..RD Burman's genius was recognized by many after his death..Instead of cribbing about failure to convert 130-6 into a series win at Capetown or that we did not beat NZL hollow at home, let us be effusive when we need to..How many of us, hand-on-heart, would have given India a chance in hell to walk out 1-1, after the shellacking in Centurion??

Things will not be the same when the 3 backbones of this team walk into the sunset..These 3 are not ordinary men..They are referred to as "God", "The Wall" and "911" (emergency number that bails you out of trouble, i.e. VVS)

We should be proud to be inhabitants of what one day will be heralded as the golden generation of Indian cricket.

And somewhere along the line, the self effacing man from Cape Province and the hunk-turned-saint from Jharkand will be having a quiet, fizzy yet non-fussy beer..