That Fateful Night

Posted: Friday, September 19, 2014 by Kratik in Labels: , ,
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There are things that I hate to talk but at times, you feel you gotta man up…

United were 3-2 up when Craig Bellamy scored for City in the final minute in what looked like had assured the ‘noisy neighbours’ a certain point. Former Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham has described United chasing a game as the most beautiful sight in football and his statement was underlined with what happened next.

"It's only as far as Ryan Giggs, who placed one for Michael Owen…Oh this is incredible. Beyond added time, Michael Owen with his first Old Trafford goal for Manchester United makes the place erupt!" 

Michael Owen, boyhood Everton fan, who had been a Liverpool hero for years, came off the bench to score a decisive winner for United in the great Manchester derby at Old Trafford. As Owen scored, I slid on my drawing-room floor and screamed out loud in amazement. It was incredible. Hardly anyone expected it but almost every United fan wished for it. But again, you “never say ‘never’ with Manchester United.”
 
Everyone goes through tough times, which in turn makes you a stronger person and the time round-about the Manchester derby was one of the tougher times that I have ever been through. My school was giving me trouble regarding my engineering final year project and my grandfather, who had always been my inspiration (and still is), wasn’t doing well health-wise. Its times like those that watching Man United win seemed as the only source of delight.

After the win, I went into my room, taunted Man City fans over the internet; spoke to some of my co-Man United friends and discussed how we were going to win the title again that year. It was a fantastic moment.

I was sitting in my room when my father received a call and went like, “How? I can’t believe this. I just spoke to him a while ago.” As the shock waves passed through every cell in my body, I looked down to pray and wish that my worst fear hadn’t come true. My father soon delivered the news that my grandfather was no more. I didn’t shout, I didn’t yell, I kept my voice to myself but I cried my heart out.

It was tough. Some of my most fond childhood memories have been with my grandfather and losing him was a blow. It was one of those moments when you start feeling cold, your heart starts pumping faster, when you feel like puking and sleeping at the same time. It’s the worst feeling of the lot. I couldn’t believe what had happened. It was strange.

I always say, “It’s a great day when United wins.” Not always.

Never had I ever experienced emotions that are such poles apart and I wish I never experience those again.

This may sound abrupt but I don’t want to talk of the following day.

The next one week was one of the toughest weeks I have ever had in my life. I was alone at home in Pune for the next couple of days, having had to leave the very next day after my grandfather’s funeral because my college was screwing me over my BE Engineering project. Even home becomes a terribly lonely place when you are missing people. On my engineering college’s behalf, it was a rather inhumane, selfish and vastly disappointing behavior that must be put under heavy scrutiny. I have never spoken about this in the past and I never will speak about this in the future but at times, some things deserve to be put right.

I give my 100% in whatever I am doing and I hardly regret things. The biggest regret in my life (and I share this in each of my spirituality courses) goes back to 2009, the final time that I had spoken to my grandfather, who told me to mail him the newspaper cuttings of the articles that I had written, working as a journalist. I thought, “Who mails stuff? I will instead take the cuttings by myself to Indore when I go back during Diwali and show it to him personally.” Three weeks on and he was no more. I guess that’s how life goes sometimes and all you can do is learn.

My biggest lesson of the entire experience was to value friends, family and in general, human life more, and to contribute as much as I possibly could to the society. When you feel like talking, “talk”; when you miss someone, say, “I miss you”; when you want to express your love, say, “I love you.” Why hesitate? As Guruji (Sri Sri Ravishankar) says, “Our mind sticks to the negative.” We think twice before doing the right thing than doing the wrong thing.

As for my grandfather, right now, I know that he is in a great place, playing rummy with God in heaven and beating him. In about two hours and 46 minutes, we will be playing Clemson in what is one of the biggest games of the season and I know he is up there looking out for me and our Seminoles. After all, he is probably the greatest reason why I love sports. To be true, I am no one when it comes to this football team, and it's coaches and the players who make the team win titles but its his and God's grace that in a country where I was not born, I have found a little home in this football team.

Let me just write this. For once, let’s all celebrate life; let’s all celebrate whom we have and let’s all feel grateful for whatever we have experienced and whoever we have become. We, in ourselves, are unique and each one of us is perfect in his/her own right. So, stop judging, start accepting and begin spreading love :)

We all can make a difference. Smile irrespective of whatever.

“Misery is inevitable but suffering is a choice.”
Jai Gurudev :)
Love,
Kratik

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They bowled a bouncer, we ducked well, it was too high for the keeper to catch and it went for four which carved a path for us to Pasadena...

I do most things last minute. I am extremely impromptu. I hardly plan. But I manage my time very, very well and somehow, things just pan out perfectly. Read what I have written in the previous sentence again and if you know me, you would know that's how I roll. Also, add to this the fact that I rely on miracles every time and yes, they do happen every time. Not the best and definitely not the safest way to do things, but without a shadow of a doubt, it is the most adventurous.

I had worked on the soccer and performance analysis tool, Prozone, for over two years and they were coming over from England to Chicago, IL to conduct a certification course. I didn't know it was happening until a week ago before the workshop when I saw their posting on twitter. So, I had to book the tickets ASAP, which I did, and get ready to work on the Miami game, who were coming into town to play us at the Doak Campbell Stadium. Having already cruised past Clemson two weeks ago at Death Valley 51-14, one more win would have meant that we were gunning big time for the top two spot.           

           

It was a great night at Doak and our players were incredible as we beat the Canes 41-14. It was a great team performance and two phrases that reverberated around the stadium were 'One Team, One Heartbeat...Florida State Seminoles' and 'We Want Bama!' Alabama Crimson Tide were the #1 ranked team and regarded as one to beat.

Later that weekend, we got to know that we had jumped to the #2 national ranking, but Oregon Ducks, who were #3 had a game in hand, which if they had won, would eclipse us as the #2 college team in America. The game was to be played on Thursday, November 7, 2013, the day before I was supposed to fly out to Chicago from Orlando.

                                  

I repeat, "I do most things last minute. I am extremely impromptu. I hardly plan. But I manage my time very, very well and somehow, things just pan out perfectly. And I do rely on miracles." I knew I was catching a flight from Orlando a week ago and I should have booked my bus tickets from Tallahassee to Orlando when I booked my flight tickets, but I did not. I thought to myself, "The flight leaves at 6 AM Friday morning, so, I can technically still leave Thursday evening and get to Orlando airport the same night. Then, stay there for about seven hours and then, board my plane." In theory, this would have worked out just fine as the Greyhound buses ran throughout the day and always had free seats. Therefore, like most students do, I waited until Wednesday night for ride/carpool and when I didn't one, I started looking out for bus tickets.

Again, 'in theory', my plan was great, but practically it was messed up because some times even the most improbable things happen. For some reason, every single bus to Orlando was booked for Thursday. It was very, very strange. Even the Red Coach buses were full. It was weird and seeing no vacancy did knock the stuffing out of me. I was like, "How can that happen?!"

Thursday morning was crazy. I went to the travel offices, surfed through every single website that sold tickets (bus tickets, train tickets, flight tickets) and rented out cars, but either I didn't get the ticket or it was way too expensive. So, I was left with only one, and often the worst, option: Craigslist. I hit up everyone on Craigslist who had posted an advertisement, but received no help. I had lost hope but knew the value of the Prozone certification and was ready to pay close to $400 for a flight ticket from Tallahassee to Orlando, when a friend of mine informed me about a friend of his diving down to Orlando in two hours from the time then.

I couldn't believe that it was happening. It was absolutely astonishing. My friend drove me home and as I had already packed, I picked up my luggage and was set to go. The girl who drove me to Orlando, she was a part of the famous FSU marching band and on our way to Orlando, all we did was sing the 'Fight Song' and did the warchant and the chop multiple times while listening to the commentary of the Oregon-Stanford game. Stanford beat Oregon, which meant that we stayed second and now, were firm favourites to go to Pasadena to play for the national championship.

                                  

What a celebration that was. I worked for the the FSU Football team and she played in the marching band, so, technically, we both were a part of the team. Therefore, our celebrations were pretty extraordinary. We celebrated at the gas station where we had stopped. Doing the warchant extremely loud. Showing off the chop, we let everyone knew that we were a part of the Nole nation. And yes, we did yell, "WE WANT BAMA'" on the highway.

It was absolutely perfect. I couldn't have imagined it any better. She even dropped me off to the airport at the US Airways terminal on the Orlando airport. You get what I mean by relying on miracles?

It was like, it had all happened for a reason. How many times out of a million, you wouldn't expect me to get a bus ticket? I mean, even right now that I am checking, there is space in the bus which leaves in 5 minutes. Pretty strange, isn't it? Especially, because it was a Thursday and not even a weekend. As they say, everything happens for a reason. I don't know what reason was behind all this happening, but it certainly made the trip to Orlando very, very adventurous.

I soon got certified as a performance analyst through Prozone and we ended up playing Auburn for the national title on January 6, 2014, whom we beat to be crowned the collegiate football champions of America in a nerve-wrecking game. It was a great season, with top-notch players and a wonderful staff, who work for whom I consider to be the best head coach in college football, Coach Fisher.

                             

Maybe it was careless and risky on my part, but it was an awesome experience. If you read my blogposts, you will learn of my journey from India to FSU Football, and one thing that's constant is the presence of miracles throughout my stories. Don't be stupid, plan and plan well, but if it doesn't go your way, believe and know that miracles happen. As the latest Nike commercial reads, "Risk Everything!"

I don't believe in miracles, I rely on them :)

- Kratik Malhotra

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In July 2009, I had met the famous Indian actor, Jackie Shroff, who – listening to what I was doing – advised me to go in for a degree in sports management. Many who know me from the time when I just an engineering student – and doing not so well – know this story well. The others, whom I have met over the past four years, not so much.

It had barely been a month since I had taken my third year electronics engineering exams from the University of Pune and I had started interning with one of the most selling national newspapers in India, the Indian Express, as a sports journalist, when I met the famous Indian actor named Jackie Shroff at a press conference in the outskirts of Pune, India.

I had never really met any of the Indian actors in the past and so, meeting Mr. Shroff was quite something for me. So much so that I called home the moment I saw him and told my mother, “JACKIE SHROFF IS STANDING BEHIND ME!”


At the press conference, along with a few others, Mr. Shroff delivered a great speech and soon after, the media were invited to have lunch. The actor, who has plenty of hit movies, was busy speaking to a few journalists who were desperate for his quotes. In order to write a better story, I sneaked past a couple and popped my head in the front row to hear what he had to say. He soon finished speaking and said, “Good?” To my disappointment, the journalists nodded which meant that I couldn’t really get any more quotes and I was too shy to ask him questions. But what happened next has lived fresh in my memory ever since.

Most of the other journalists there were at least aged 30 (if not more) and I was  this 21-year old boy, who was about to start his fourth (senior) year of his undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree. Mr. Shroff turned to me and said, “Aur young man, kahan se?” Which translates two, “Young man, where are you from?” I smiled and with confidence responded, “Sir, Indian Express but I am also an engineering student.”

Mr. Shroff questioned, “Tu kya engineering, journalism…?” I gleefully replied, “Sir, but this is what I want to do in life. I am going to England to do a degree in sports journalism from the University of Central Lancashire (UCL) as well.”

Mr. Shroff, “Jounalism accha field hai, par tu sports management mein degree kar. It’s an upcoming field and paisa bhi jyada hai.” And I thought to myself, “Maybe I should look into it. It’s Jackie Shroff telling me after all.”

I was always told that as a journalist one must never ask for autographs of or pictures with the celebrities as it is deemed ‘unprofessional’. As a journalist, I followed that notion most times, but there are always exceptions. Think of it this way, I had Jackie Shroff in front of me who had surprised me with his down-to-earth attitude and nature, and had made me turn into a fan of his and his personality. Ek autograph toh banta tha!

What did I do next? I asked him for his autograph and I wasn’t ashamed. I still am not. He asked me for my name and signed it with a written message. The message said, “Be determined and not disappointed.” I looked at him and remarked, “Sir, aapne likh diya na, toh ab done.”

What he told me next really, really touched me. He explained, “Be determined: have the biggest dreams possible. Never be disappointed: stick with your dreams and work towards them in order to be what you want to be.”

It was an advice that was philosophical, spiritual and motivational at the same time. On my way back home, all I did was feel grateful to God for making me meet a wonderful person, who also happens to be an absolutely brilliant actor.

Two-and-a half years later, I left for the United States to do a Masters’ program in Sport Management from the Florida State University. For me, both personally and professionally, the program did wonders, and now that I find myself working as a performance analyst for the number #1 ranked American Football collegiate team, I cannot but thank Mr. Jackie Shroff for his advice at that one press conference in July 2009 in the outskirts of Pune.


Every single morning, before going to work, I smile, feel extremely grateful to God, meditate and say to myself, “I am living the dream” because without the words of people like Jackie Shroff at vital times in my life, I couldn’t have achieved what I have achieved. But I ain't done yet...there is still a long way to go. To be true, it is still only a percentage of where I want to go and what I want to be. I am aiming for the impossible because I know with God’s grace, even the impossible becomes possible.

-         - Kratik Malhotra


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