When I Just Stood Still!

Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012 by Kratik in Labels: , , , , , ,

It’s crazy how He makes it happen...unconditionally crazy!
At times you just wonder if it’s a dream...unquestionably crazy!
You cannot but experience the adrenalin rush…unambiguously crazy!
When I just stood still…absolutely crazy!

Yes, I have worked as a journalist and I should write my posts in the form of a conventional writing script, but just for this post, let me just express myself, chucking the traditional and predefined ways to write.

December 22, 2012: It was past 1:30 PM and here I was, in New York, walking out of Penn Station to have lunch with my friends from Florida State – Yoko (Yi Lian) and Michael (Zhang Yi). Both, soon to get married, down to earth, extremely caring - in all pretty decent - Chinese fellas, were to meet me at Grand Central Terminal, New York City.

Okay, let me admit it, in spite of a million hoardings, it was difficult finding my way out of the Penn Station; bloody hell, that place is huge! Also, it was my first time to New York…and yes, that really was, literally, going through my head all along. After working my way out of the station, climbing the staircase, I reached the 34th Street. As I was on the pavement, I smiled, thinking to myself, this is so movie-like!

I stood there for a minute, looking at everything around; right from cars, to yellow taxis, to the Christmas decorations, to the green-vested security guards, to the tall buildings, the way people were dressed…everything, really. It was magical. Okay…c’mon, for a year I was in Tallahassee! This was way too fancy for me!

So, after looking at everything around, having climbed up the Penn Station staircase, I started walking to left in order to discover the way to Grand Central Terminal. I walked for a minute or two and then, looked over the pavement, where I was walking, to see where I exactly was. As I looked up, the structure said, “MADISON SQUARE GARDEN!!!” As I read MSG, the time stopped for me. I mean, literally! I just looked on and on and on, in absolute disbelief. NY went numb at that moment.

Why? Well, well, well. I have always been a massive WWF/WWE fan and over the years, time and time again, listening and reading that PPV WWE events – such as Wrestlemania – are often held at MSG, visiting Madison Square Garden was certainly one of my dreams. 'Watching it' be for watching WWE or not, I just wanted to see what it was, and here I was, standing right outside the structure, staring at it aimlessly, wondering if I was in fantasy-land. I stood there for three, four, five, six or maybe even, ten minutes, I have no idea. The only thing that can recollect is standing there,  staring and thinking to myself, "wow!" I remember experiencing multiple adrenalin rushes. In fact,, the whole prana in my body was practicing repeated moonsaults. It was a divine feeling! Absolutely unbelievable! It was like I was struck by an absolute wonder! Like I was touched by an absolute angel! It was absolutely ridiculous, but outrageously beautiful!

As I walked from the 34th street on to the 42nd st,making my way on to the Park Avenue, I wore a smile that could possibly not have shed; in fact, it was growing all the time. You know what, even as I am writing this, my smile is so erect!

I, a decade back, use to dream of seeing Madison Square Garden, New York and here I was, in 2012, unknowingly, standing outside it. Frankly speaking, for all the time that I had been planning a trip to NY, until the time I saw MSG, even the thought of visiting MSG hadn’t come into my mind; it had been completely flushed out over the years. It was not until the time that I saw MSG when I realized that I was nothing but living my dream.

A famous dialogue from a Shahrukh Khan movie is so reverberating round my head right now, “Kehte hain, agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho, to poori kaaynat use tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai.” Translating to: If you love something from your heart, truly, then, the whole universe uses all its energy to unite you and your love. That’s what happened in my case...it was a moment when I just stood still!

(Trying to do a Shahrukh and failing miserably! Let me make this clear, Shahrukh isn't my favourite actor, but Brooklyn Brige pe aa ke Shahrukh ka pose toh banta hai!)

The lesson that I learned was to never get feverish about anything as God is watching every action of ours and monitoring every emotion that has arisen, and knows every feeling that we are or have experienced. He knows what's the best for us and when it needs to be given to us. So, chill and know that whatever you need, will be given to you and whatever you want, if it's good for you, someday, sometime, it will be given to you :)

Keep believing, do not get feverish, have faith and smile :)
Because call him Jesus, Krishna, Allah, Buddha, Universe or even Guru…call him whatever...He is watching us and taking care of us every moment.

Jai Gurudev :)

(With Yoko and Michael at the Grand Central Terminal)

A Silent Vow

Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 by Kratik in Labels: ,

A shallow lie,
A deep impression.
Nothing said,
A silent vow.

A bruised chin,
A raging emotion.
Nothing said,
A silent vow.

A broken dream,
An injured heart.
Nothing said,
A silent vow.

A deep breath,
A gentle smile.
Nothing said,
A silent vow.

A simple move on,
An effort too hard.
Nothing said,
A silent vow.

A step towards greatness,
A written farce.
Nothing said,
A silent vow.

A dream achieved,
Manchester United.
Enough said,
All needed was a silent vow.

Jai Gurudev :)

Mansion From The Ashes

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 by Kratik in Labels: , , ,

Dedicated to the man whom I miss the most…

A defense once seemed too impervious to permeate,
Twist of fate, and a storm shook them, ruffling their feathers.
A boy stood tall, from the ridge he looked on,
Searching for mirth from the ashes, he belched latent ciphers.

Losing wasn’t a part of his vocabulary,
With an attitude too pugnacious, his vow was silent.
Knowing that his challenge was nothing but the Battle Royale,
He refused to bow down to this world so tyrant.

He cycled miles, created critics but refused to comport,
Selling ornaments to support his family, the world heard as he knelled.
From Manchester to Munich, he travelled to learn a recondite theory,
Leaving his trace the German way, he redefined how paper was spelled.

Winning the respect of his friends, foes and his caricaturists,
He marched on, reconstructing the wall ever so strong.
Guzzling down the success potion,
He gushed to glory in the period of Vietcong.

Years on, standing tall on the same ridge as he looked on,
He smiled thinking how he sustained the worldly bashes.
From a feeble boy to a valorous man, he had transformed,
Never bottling, he had made a mansion from the ashes.

…dedicated to the man whom I miss the most. The greatest individual that I ever knew. He underlined strength. He was a fighter, really, who lived his life the way he wanted and achieved everything that was there to achieve…my Grandfather! And writing this, I am a proud grandson.


Fill In The Blanks

Posted: Saturday, October 6, 2012 by Kratik in Labels: ,

I had this weird dream about a girl who worked at Starbucks. This is not the dream…a little exaggeration added, but I wanted to write something on the same lines.

She worked at Starbucks down on Tennessee,
Often served me Mocha, the Peruvian princess.
She fawned me the second time we met,
Hypnotized by her limpid smile, I would often digress.

She considered me a jokester first and a then friend,
Even her staid time gave up on our toothsome talks.
She laughed on as we could hear the titter tightening,
Natty we were, raphsodical those times at King uncle’s docks.

An arduous effort, a carping remark,
A firm vow, a crotchety act.
An uncordial rife of tremors, deserted and dilapidated,
A shrieking refute, little too edgy, much too daft.

We stood tall but we ran thin.
We smiled wide but we hugged ostensibly.
We swam soppy but we played sordid.
We sang rhyming but we danced mildly.

I thought we had hit the dead end,
Even the furbelow whispered that it couldn’t trim more.
Caviler in empty caves, baiter equipped with a regular banter,
Shirking out with her debonair presence, out came the vigorous roar.

What happened next can be ‘filled            in           the            blanks’, but just like former United assistant manager, Jimmy Murphy after the Munich-air-crash – when Manchester United Football Club was on the brink of being shut down – said, “How we are in the future will be founded on how we behave today.” Murphy picked United up from rags and made us stand up as a club that is now the biggest and the most valued sports franchise in the world. As for this story…it all can be filled in the blanks J

Love J

Ron And Hermione…The Unfinished Story

Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2012 by Kratik in Labels: , , , ,

They set their path rambling on the coincidence boulevard,
A new beginning, they were off trekking on a treacherous street.
With neither wearing a demurely look,
Living on the edge, they laughed on the jokes so obsolete.

The absolute opposites, swayed by their own whim,
An alienated bond, it looked like a written farce.
Rash by nature, surrounded by a dowdy aura,
Holding on to refuge, from heart to head, shivering on and chasing cars.

Often through delivered ointments, to the ridge they reached,
Galloping through darkness, it seemed like a deed out of utter creed.
But they were Ron and Hermione, and naturally, there had to be melancholy,
Alacritous abandonments, on opposite fronts they began to breed.

He was brave, caring, gullible and sloppy,
Waiving his flag, he stood tall, smiling and wearing his fedora.
She was intelligent, choosy, courageous and short-sighted,
Opting for fun, neglecting her mate, she lived in the island of Pandora.

The returned Voldermot blocked his gullet,
Fed on oxygen, battling for survival, in Dumbledore he believed.
She always called him a friend and this was her real test,
Not even bothering, failing miserably, she laughed as Ron felt aggrieved.

Blessed by the master, who defeated ‘the one who must not be named’,
He felt touched by the hand of God, rescued from heir, bursting out alive.
As he came to terms with the truth of Hermione’s ‘fun’ priority over her ‘so-called friend’s’ being,
He set his way on a promenade, realizing that camaraderie was an effort too jive.

Donning Harry’s invisibility cloak,
With no strings attached, Ron smiled and wished for Hermione to have a perfect time.
They still stand on opposite fronts as a primordial silver lining appears to be drawn,
Maybe they are history, maybe they are not, but rest assured, somewhere in their respective heart-ora, as friends, in rhythm and rhyme, they still dine.

- Kratik Malhotra

When I First Met Guruji

Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 by Kratik in Labels: , , , , ,

(There is something horribly wrong with my blog font and it's not getting sorted)

You know you’re special when he smiles at you,
You know you’re adored when he touches you,

You know you’re treasured when he tests you,

But you just know you’re blessed when he shows you what celebration really is.

My Nokia phone screen read March 2, 2009  21:37. Knowing that all the YES!+ teachers and most volunteers from Pune had already left for Aurangabad a day before, even my best shot at staying clam couldn’t help numb the disappointment that had sunk in, arising from the feeling of not even making an attempt of meeting the man whom I called my ‘Guru’, Sri Sri Ravishankar-ji. Moreover, digesting the fact that the chance to meet him was sort-of gone, the rising emotions were absolutely killing me with guilt.
Well, but that was more-or-less because I knew nothing about Aurangabad, and so, I didn’t even count myself a candidate in leaving all on my own for the City of Gates. In fact, to be true, you know, I had forgotten that I was already ‘taken-care-of’ by the master and somewhere deep down, I was begging for that feeling to be revoked. And ‘He’ did exactly that! His messenger: a dear friend.
After a day in the physical presence of the master, almost the whole of our ‘AOL sena’ had returned back to the Queen of Deccan, Pune, and one of the returning volunteers was Vishal Vengulekar. I knew it would make me jealous, but it was a feeling that I couldn’t resist; I had to call up Vishal – my first YES!+ friend, who had seen ‘Him’ at the satsang in Aurangabad a day prior, when he went with the other Puneri volunteers and teachers – and ask him of his experience, and so I did. Vishal took my call and briefly told me everything that he remembered of the trip: right from his bus journey to Guruji’s ‘Question and Answers’ session.

(Mahasatsang at Aurangabad that Vishal and other Volunteers and Teachers attended)
He inspired me so much that I told myself, ‘I can’t miss this, I simply can’t!’ So, I decided to find way so that I could somehow 
get to Aurangabad, and therefore, I called up a YES!+ teacher, who was partly responsible for introducing me to the world of YES!+ and Art Of Living, Shashank Ombhase.
Shashank was one of those people who were on the bus with Vishal. Shashank, like a typical YES!+ teacher, encouraged me even more to meet Guruji. In fact, he clubbed his day’s experience with a couple of his own Guru stories. When I finished talking to him, I was so convinced to go that I had started to believe that Guru’s grace would inevitably conjure up and He, my will and my valor would overcome all the difficulties and make me meet him. (Just to note, my father was in Aurangabad for that very day, so, I knew if I could somehow reach the city of Aurangzeb, I wouldn’t have to worry about finding accommodation).

(Pic taken about three years back, I hope this solves the purpose of identifying the people. Akhil - long hair, blue shirt, on the right and Vishal - center-right, black jacket, next to Dhanashree, who is in red)
Shashank gave me Akhil Balekar’s phone number, who was an Art Of Living volunteer from Pune, then in Aurangabad. The very next moment, I was on phone with Akhil. I asked him if I would be able to ‘see’ Guruji; his reply was affirmative, however, he added that meeting Guruji in person could be very difficult.
Meeting seemed like a far-fetched dream, and in-truth, I was contented in catching a glimpse of Him, even if it was from 100 yards away. With 23:30 the reading in the wall clock and with excitement oozing out of me, I took out my kurta – the only kurta that I had and which I had worn in a play that I took part in after my 10th grade – and a pair of jeans and set a morning alarm of 3:30 AM as I started making all the preparations for my Aurangabad adventure. I slept with pumped adrenalin and as I woke up, the blood through my veins felt like it was gushing faster than ever before. It was just crazy; I couldn’t stop smiling.

(Me, Shashank, Aarushi and Khushboo; Forgive me as all my photographs with Shashank were group photos and this was the best of the lot)
I even energized myself with the sixth source of energy, the cold water bath. And guess what, it wasn’t even 4 AM. Mummi was shocked to see my determination and she couldn’t believe that I was seriously leaving for Aurangabad. She thought it was one of my ‘I am going to own Manchester United Football Club one day’ like things. With a water bottle and a Monaco biscuit pack and I set off to meet Him.
…and the ‘adventure’ started, an adventure in every sense of the word :)

Well, I hadn’t even reached the gate of my building complex when the sandal of my right foot tore. I certainly wasn’t going back to change my footwear, and so, a bright smile followed and I walked on. I know it was a little foolish on my part to not go back, but then, that was one of my least concerns; I just wanted to meet Guruji.

From what I could sense, Guruji was having fun and he decided to play even more. I had to wait 20-minutes for the rickshaw and half hour for the Aurangabad bus at Shivajinagar bus stop, where this person fooled me and handed me ticket for this bus that only went half way, to Ahemadnagar!

(The 'Bus' or was it?)
The bus' condition was atrocious to say the least. In fact, it was not even a bus; it was a mini-bus/ tempo van, which was stinking as though it had not been opened since the 19th century. I couldn’t do anything but ‘accept’ and that’s what I did, accepted the van not the people though, which was my biggest mistake.
This guy sitting on the seat before me was spitting outside the window continuously and when I saw that, ‘random acts of kindness’ point from the YES!+ course conjured in my head. However, I hesitated and did not do anything. So, Guruji decided to give me a gift, when a drop of that guy’s tobacco-filled spit flew through the window and on my cheek.

That was that!

I gave him a hairdryer, and I wouldn’t really be surprised if he has 
always thought of me before spitting ever again, even if it was in his washroom’s basin.

Well, I hadn’t informed my father but in a morning conversation with my mother, he was told that I was on my way to Aurangabad. So, as I was about to reach Ahmednagar, he made me aware of the buses available buses from the Ahmednagar bus stop.

Two hours of journey and I had finally reached Ahemadnagar. So, as I was told, I stood at the bus stop waiting for the bus, and what a bus stop! I didn’t end up being its biggest fan. I asked people around me and everyone told me that buses to Aurangabad were as frequent as 15 minutes. Maybe I was just unaware, ignorant or probably dumb because I stood for over an hour and didn’t find a bus that would go to Aurangabad. Can you believe it? He sure was playing games! However, I did find an ‘Omni Van’ that would go only half way to Aurangabad, until this place called ‘Newasa Phata’.

(The Omni Van)
This Maruti Van was legendary in its true sense. Guess what! It was a Van that was supposed to seat only three people on its two back seats, however, as per the driver’s ‘order’, either seats had to have four people seated. The driver looked in no mood to assure comfort and I was rather stupid to even think so. So, there were four people seated on either of the back seats and out of the sandwiched four, I was one of them.
Well, but that wasn’t the real problem, the real problem was that everyone who was sitting next to me was ‘sweat-stinking’ (okay wait, ‘stink’ is an understatement), and I was not only sitting right in the middle of the two seats but also, in the middle of my seat. I was lucky that the man who was sitting next to the window decided to get down, I wonder why? Not really!

Well, I certainly was in no mood to miss on the opportunity to sit next to the window, and so, I hurriedly sat, poking my face and more so nose outside the wi1ndow, trying to avoid that entire foul sweaty odor.

An hour ride and we were at Newasa Phata, phew!

I called Akhil from the Phata and he asked me to come to Sachin Mule's bunglow in Aurangabad. At Newasa Phata, I could see an Asiat bus waiting at a restaurant, and I thought to myself, ‘That’s it! I certainly am meeting Guruji now!’ But it’s said, “Sabar ka phal meetha hota hai.” Maybe I had forgotten that!

I met this person, who also had to go to Aurangabad. After meeting him, I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked Guruji for sending me a companion, who could guide me on how to reach the city. I smiled at him and said, “I will walk a little further and see if we can get any means which will help us in reaching Aurangabad faster. If this bus is about to leave, please wave your hand.” So, in a carefree manner, I went a little ahead to search for taxies, keeping that man in my sight. When I returned to Newasa Phata and that restaurant, there was no bus there. I was shell-shocked! I asked the man about the bus and he gleefully replied, “Woh toh gayi!” And I went like ‘What?!’

(The Asiad Bus)

Although it resulted in a wait of another half hour, but I finally boarded a bus and I was on my way to Aurangabad. Oh yes! I was almost there!

…but it doesn’t end here as I got down at the wrong stop!

Papa had sent a driver to pick me up from this place called ‘Baba Petrol Pump’ and where did I get down? 10 Kms. before the stop, at Pandarpur!

As Srividya mam says, "Einstein!"

To cut it short, more wait, but the driver finally picked me up and dropped me to Sachin Mule's bungalow. Now, the bungalow security was very tight and I was told that I simply could not to enter! Well, I was not going back now, not even if David Beckham invited me for his birthday party. I called Akhil again and he came…he came with hope but he left as quickly as well, as he had some ‘important work’. I looked on with a poker face, thinking to myself, ‘How could he just go in?’ Well, for the first time, I was really losing it and losing it bad, but that’s when He turned it all around.

I had been waiting with a family for almost 20 minutes outside the gate and I pretty much knew that the family would get permission to enter the gate. It was miraculous what happened next. I guess the guards thought that I belong to that very family and they let me in to the bungalow with the family.

Having met Akhil a bit later who asked me to sit with the other volunteers, I joined this group that had come down from Mumbai. Becoming friends within minutes of meet, we did the Sudarshan Kriya together. They were so enthusiastic that they even did Surya Namaskars 2:30 in the afternoon! If the trip wasn’t all that adventurous so far, another surprise came my way. I discovered that by the time my Kriya finished, the food had got over!
Well, I was this being who hadn't had anything since morning; I was starving. In fact, that was not only the case with me, but with everyone who had travelled many miles to see Guruji. One thing that I learned on that trip was that Mumbai volunteers are smart. One of the volunteers from Mumbai went into the kitchen and got almost half a dozen roties made. Six roties with chatni for ten volunteers, totally worth it!

Minutes on and we left for Garware Stadium, the place where the event/course ‘Utsav’ was to take place. We were all allotted sevas and I was at the security. It all went fine and the Utsav started!
Now, the teachers for the course were the biggest surprise element for me so far: Khurshed Batliwala and Dinesh Ghodke. Well, I was a participant of the second course that Srivi mam ever taught, so, I knew about Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya, and if you are her student reading this post, you will know that she talks so much about them in her course that your fascination to meet them reaches an unprecedented high.
Thus, just watching the two directors of WAYE (World Alliance for Youth Empowerment) in front of me teaching the workshop that they have designed themselves was an exceptional sight. It was so cool! However, having not carried by spectacles, I remember, I was not able to see them properly even on the big screen and so, I prayed.
As the course moved on, it was time for Long Sudarshan Kriya! Now, I had done my Kriya in the afternoon and right before the start of the Sudarshan Kriya, the Mumbai volunteers from somewhere got the news that Guruji will be coming on to the stage when the course participants end their Kriya. Now, that was jugad underlined!
…and that’s exactly what happened!

Saleel bhaiya needed some volunteers to ‘welcome’ Guruji back stage and guess what; we ‘incidentally’ were at the right place at the right time. Bhaiya asked us to be seated in a line as told us the golden rule, ‘Guruji’s speed of motion is directly proportional to your excitement’. I said, “Whatever,” which was another of my mistakes! I mean, I had done by YES!+ course two and a half months back, so, I didn’t know who Saleel Bhaiya was. We volunteers sat in a line along the path on which Guruji was to pass. I was so very excited and guess whom did I see walking by, passing a smile towards me, Dinesh Bhaiya! I went like, “Dude! I wanted to see him from close and here he is, smiling at me!”

(Me and Dinesh Bhaiya, this is a a recent pic; venue: Vishwamitra)
With my heart beating faster with every passing second, especially after hearing on-and-off whispers from other volunteers – who came out with rumors such as ‘He is climbing the steps’ – I finally saw Him. He was distant but I saw Him, and I noticed that he was walking towards me. He had his secretary holding a basket full of fruits, of which he was giving one fruit each to a volunteer/security-guard that he came across while making his way on to the stage.
I was sitting with the Mumbai volunteers and we were one of the first few volunteers that he was to meet. Just as he reached our group, Saleel Bhaiya introduced us to him by saying, “These volunteers have come from Mumbai just to meet you Guruji,” after which Guruji asked, “Yahan sab log Mumbai se aayen hain?
And that was the moment that all the excitement that I was holding back, came out and with a wide smile, I impulsively shouted, “Guruji main Pune se.” He said, “Ah…Okay,” and then, he handed me an apple and walked past me. In fact, there was more to it. As I said “Guruji main Pune se” in an instantaneous manner, Guruji looked into my eyes and we shared an eye contact that lasted for about two seconds; maybe more, maybe less…I don’t know. It was a moment when I had forgotten everything; it was like the time had stopped.
It was absolutely magical. However, when I saw him walk past me, that’s when I realized, I should have kept my calm. Trust me, all that was going on in my head was, ‘Had I followed Saleel Bhaiya’s golden rule, the meet could have longer’, but I was so happy.

Just like the test of my resolve to come to Aurangabad, Guru’s grace didn’t end there. As the 1301 course participants came out of their meditative state to discover Guruji sitting right in front of them on his throne, we volunteers were told to assemble next to the ramp. I was the second volunteer standing in the queue. As the volunteer who was first in the queue was given seva, I was told to move forward.
Now, just imagine, I was standing right below the stage, next to the ramp, and sitting in front of me were Guruji (to my left) and Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya (to my right) at a distance of less than five meters; it sure was incredible. I could not believe it; I still can’t.

Guruji answered a number of questions from the participants and left soon. After the course day got over, I met Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya personally. They blessed me too.

It was all like a dream. March 3, 2009 morning, all I wanted was to catch a glimpse of Him and here He was, giving me an apple in the evening on the same day. Moreover, I just wanted to see Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya from close, and here they were, blessing me.
That Aurangabad trip was nothing but a perfect chance given to me by my Guru to implement all the sutras that I had learned in my YES!+ course. I gave my 100% and he made my experience worthwhile. In fact, he showed me how to celebrate life by making my experience one that acted as an epitome of grace and celebration.

Like Dinesh Bhaiya once said during a volunteer’s meet, “He makes the impossible possible,” and that’s what my whole Aurangabad adventure was about…impossible becoming possible.

No Breath, No Life,

Know Breath, Know Life

Jai Gurudev J
Love J
Kratik J

Sourav Ganguly: Inspiration, Idol, Teacher

Posted: Friday, April 13, 2012 by Kratik in Labels: , , , , , ,

For most, Sourav Ganguly is only a great cricketer who is currently captaining Pune Warriors; for some, he is their favourite cricketer who has redefined ‘comeback’; but for me, he is my inspiration, my idol and my teacher, who – through his performances – taught me how to get through - what seemed like – one of the toughest phases of life.
I am on the right, holding (sort of) a banner at Wankhede Stadium :)
And yes, I traveled miles to watch him play :)
An year after ‘Dada’ was presented the Padma Shri - one of India's highest awards – by the then President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, he was kicked out of the national team following a run of poor performances in 2005. To some, the words ‘kicked out’ may read too strong to describe the situation of his drop, but seeing how he was ill-treated by the BCCI, to me, they are just an understatement. A few months later, the Indian coach then, Greg Chappell (seen as the main reason for the Warrior Prince’s departure) decided to rub it in by publicly making a statement that ‘Ganguly deserved a good farewell’.

These events not only made my blood boil, but got me against supporting the Indian cricket team. Then, in 2006, he did that Pepsi advertisement 'Apne Dada Di Baat Sunenge', and as he was mocked by both – audiences and media, I had eyes full of tears even contemplating what lied ahead for the man whom I have idolized ever since I was nine. His career really seemed to had hit a dead-end but he always had something extra, and you could see that every single time he walked on the field, whether it was playing for India or any other team that he has ever played for. He refusing to carry drinks on the field for Bengal in the early part of his career is an example of that.

And so, I expected him to be back, but he superseded my expectations by roaring like the royal Bengal tiger and making a comeback second to none, going on to not only drill his name in the hearts of the fans that had always saluted him, but also, regaining respect from those glory hunters who had cut off all the connections with him since the time his form had worsened. He also carved an impression in the hearts of all his doubters and critics by proving his mettle.

He went back to playing Ranji Trophy and featured in every match for Bengal, playing under Rohan Gavaskar captaincy, underlining his desire. With time, slowly and gradually, he was discovering ‘his touch’ and as the runs started to flow, it only seemed like a matter of time before he would make that all-awaited comeback. I remember, this was early 2006, when he was in Pune playing for Bengal at the Nehru Stadium and I couldn’t go for the game because I had an Engineering Graphics exam to appear for in a day’s time; that was just painful in its own right.

With Greg Chappell still in charge, the ‘god of offside’ was picked for the tour of South Africa in December 2006. With Ganguly having the history of not being the greatest against the bouncing ball (at least since the time when he was hit on the ribs by Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar), the critics were chuckling quietly, "Ah ... He's going to get buried on the bouncy South African track" and more or less, it was all set up for a fall. But it seemed like as though all these remarks fired the warrior in him even more as he made his critics look silly with a gutsy 87 against Rest of South Africa in a four day tour match.

Soon, he was playing his first test match in over an year. In the match that was played in Johannesburg against South Africa, which was remarked as ‘Ganguly’s comeback game’, saw Dada score an invaluable 51 to help India to victory.
Now, on one hand, Ganguly was piling up runs, whereas on the other, Greg Chappell was getting more and more scrutinized by the media for some of his decisions. After India’s poor showing in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Chappell resigned as the Indian coach and Ganguly went on to become the highest run getter for India in both Test and ODI cricket in 2007 scoring 1106 Test runs at an average of 61.44 and 1240 One-day runs at an average of 44.28. Ganguly’s comeback and Chappell’s omission clearly underlined one of Darwin’s theories – Survival of the Fittest. Now, Sourav Ganguly had nothing left to prove to anyone. He could proudly say that he had not only been there and done it, but he also came back to do it. The comeback was indeed complete!

Although in different fields, in the first half of 2007, Sourav and I were scoring on the absolute opposite ends. As he was winning over one fan after another, with my poor grades in engineering, I was losing people’s faith time and time over.

It was August 2007 and I knew I wasn’t passing my second year engineering exams, and so, I had pre-decided to go to try out for the auditions of the ESPNSTAR show ‘Dream Job’, which assured the winner a job of becoming a ‘Sports Commentator’  - which certainly was my dream job. To cut it short, I didn’t make it through the auditions, because – on the base of what I was told - ‘I still was in college’. Failing exams and being rejected by ESPNSTAR, those were one of the hardest times for times for me as I neither wanted to go back and do engineering, nor did I have a plan as to what I am going to do in the future; and that’s where the ‘Gangulian attitude’ helped me.

As I was on the bus, on my way back from Mumbai, I couldn’t help but think of Dada – his spirit, his ability to fight, his will to be recognized and his strength in standing up and being counted. He was a champion, and in that three hour bus journey, I somehow learned from the Prince.

He inspired me so much that I came back, worked hard on my backlog exams and cleared all my subjects. It was phenomenal seeing the change the Gangulian attitude had brought in me; it literally carried me at times when I felt I couldn’t progress and injected a spirit within me that made me stand up for myself and realize what’s like to be counted.

In 2008, he announced that the series against Australia would be his final in International cricket. The Maharaja played in every game of the four-Test series and amassed 324 runs at an average of 54.00, retiring when his form was at its absolute pinnacle. He fought like a warrior, played like a prince and retired as a King, with grace and with unmatched respect, showcasing every little boy that has ever dreamed of playing for India, what sort of fight must be put forward to play for the nation and what it exactly means to walk out on to the cricket field wearing the Indian chakra on your head.

As for me, YES!+ and Art Of Living followed, and that did change my life as I rose from poor/very-average engineering grades to rediscovering myself. Maybe it just polished the Gangulian attitude by a million folds. After writing for media giants such as the Indian Express and Goal.com, I am presently pursuing my Masters’ degree in Sport Management from one of the best Sports universities in the United States - Florida State University (FSU). I know it’s God’s grace, but its magical how that attitude so Gangulian has helped me move forward.

Now that he is playing for my home team, Pune Warriors India, it makes the situation only sweeter. As I watched him captain Warriors to victory over Mumbai Indians in the first game of this season’s IPL, it was another occasion when I felt deeply emotional. In fact, after the final bowl of the match was bowled, I jumped, danced, celebrated and sang 'he is back!’

Looking at his attributes, leadership quality, connection and contribution to the Indian cricket, he needs to be put into the national fold straight away; if not as a player, definitely as a coach/manager. This is for BCCI: Sack Duncan Fletcher and appoint ‘Sir Sourav’ as the Indian coach. Home or away, he will guide us to glory.

Right from 1996, I don't even know if I have ever even missed an inning of his. Whether it was him playing for Bengal, Lancashire, Glamorgan, Northamptonshire, Kolkata Knight Rider, PWI or India, I was there to see how he was doing. If I wasn't watching it live, I was following the game over the internet. To me, he is a legend in his own league and it’s just magical what affect a cricketer can have on you. Just following and idolizing Sourav Ganguly, who played with his heart on his sleeve, made me get through a patch that looked like a dead-end and since then, a Ganguly in me has lived on.

Sourav Ganguly…Champion? For sure.

Sourav Ganguly…Legend? Definitely.

Sourav Ganguly…Superhero? Without a doubt.

Sourav Ganguly… Life-changer? What do you say? J


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