Saturday, March 31, 2012

An Incredible Journey of 4 Friends!!

The following story dates back to the incredible summer of 2005. The 5th semester University exams of our engineering course had just begun. The first 3 papers had gone well for me and 3 of my close friends and classmates - Jaidev, Amit and Viraj. We had bonded quite well in the 1st year itself and used to study together in a group for the exams.

The next paper, "Communication Skills" was after a 3 day holiday. None of us had bothered to touch the CS book the whole semester, still we were taking things easy. Reason being, this paper - CS, was in many ways very similar to the English language paper we had in our 10th/12th and hence was considered a piece of cake by us!!

The first 2 days of the 3 day study break went by in a breeze. We would sit down to study but just could not concentrate. We would either get chatting on something or the other or sleep away like a king... the time just flew by. Out of the 4 of us, at least 2 would not be in a mood to study which meant that the whole group would be distracted and CS would take a back seat.

The Day Before The Exam...

Having wasted yet another morning, we were all sitting in my hostel room having just returned after taking a heavy lunch. After an hour of incessant yawning, Amit spoke, "Let us go into the forest today!!!", looking intently at the thick forest which lay at a distance, visible from the window.

Our college was surrounded by lush thick forests on all sides and comprised hilly terrain. We 4 (Jaidev, Amit, Viraj and myself Dhiraj) regularly ventured deep into those jungles and found great joy discovering new trails, climbing trees, crossing valleys, studying the vast flora and fauna, eating mangoes, jamuns, karvands etc... Once in a week, at least, we would go out to explore the forests which many would find intimidating to look at even from a distance! Sometimes, friends joined us for a trek but they would never come back next time as they found the whole expedition very arduous. But we loved spending time in there... trekking and walking for hours... Unfortunately, it had been over a month now, since we have had one of our routine excursions as we were all busy preparing for our upcoming exams. Needless to say then, the mere thought of it had got me excited!

View from College  Window
View from my Hostel Room Window,
the vast jungle lays beyond...

"Yeah, let's go there. As it is, we are not studying. It will take our mind off the studies and freshen us up too!", I chipped in, always eager for a break.

"You have got to be kidding me!! Break? Break is what we have been having since our last exam got over... This is simply ridiculous!", Viraj tried to take stock of the situation, looking a touch worried.

"What is there to study in CS anyways? We have not studied these 2 days because there is nothing to study!", Jaidev blurted out, most of which I thought was not true.

I suddenly intervened Jaidev, "I have an idea!!" Now they all froze because they knew whenever I spoke those words it meant that something really unimaginable was coming their way!

"Today we will carry our CS books too with us. A 250 odd page book won't pose any burden and we will study under the Mango tree for sometime! This way we get to go into the jungle and we get to study too!!", I said with an air of nonchalance while glancing at Viraj.

Viraj, the most studious of us buddies, dint look quite convinced but his love for nature finally got over him.

"OK then, let’s go! It’s been pretty long and I am myself missing the greenery and dense vegetation!" said Viraj with a faint smile on his lips and a glint in his eyes.

At about 5 in the evening, we left for the wilderness escaping through the side of the hostel through the barbed wires. Our CS books, a couple of loose sheets and a pen dangled loosely from our back pockets.

We trekked for about an hour and a half, forgetting all about the exam scheduled for the next day at 10 am. We crossed narrow paths strewn with dried leaves, passed through rocky areas, and waded through small streams most of which had dried... 

Our jungle adventure
The Jungle Adventure Begins...
You can see how dense the Jungle is...
It is so gloomy...

Me and my 3 friends jungle adventure
Partners in Crime :P
Jungle Adventure
Is that a Snake?? Or a creeper??

My jungle adventure
Some Sweet Moments... Frozen!

We observed the ever busy ants walking busily in a long disciplined line, red colored crabs besides a dried pond in a desolated area, prayed at the Shiva Temple which was situated in a dark cave and went through areas strewn with cacti plants...

Cactus shrubs, jungle adventure
Thorny Cacti Shrubs

We then approached the large Alphonso Mango tree which was laden with big, juicy, ripe, yellowish green Mangoes.

Amit climbed up the tree in a jiffy along with Jaidev, both of them taking care not to disturb the large ant colonies situated at the foot of the tree. I and Viraj, meanwhile stood with handkerchiefs spread to collect the booty! After we had collected some 2 dozen Mangoes, both of them climbed down.

Ant Hill, jungle adventure
Ant Hill (can you spot the ants?)

Usually, we would eat them on our way back to our hostel rooms and distribute the surplus amongst our room mates. But today, we decided to clear a small patch of land under the tree and relish them there itself while studying CS for a while. We collected some large banana leaves to make our seating comfortable!!

The trees towered high above us forming an umbrella that blocked away most of the light! Thus light was always scarce and at 6.30 pm, it felt like night would fall soon. We collected some dried twigs and leaves (available aplenty), lit it and sat around it in a circle.

Sunset, jungle adventure
Sunset -- Time to head back?? ..Naaaahh..!!

As we were relishing the Hapoos Aam, Viraj slowly took out his CS book. We did the same.  A subtle change had come over us. There was a fire in our eyes. For the first time in 3 days, we all seemed serious about the exam as we discussed parts from the syllabus. The fact that it was an University Exam had finally dawned on us.

After about an hour, it had gone completely dark. Night had befallen. It was unanimously decided that since we were finally studying at that place and since it would be very difficult and risky to go to the campus in that darkness, we would spend the night there itself!!!

The night was spent well, with those rough pages and pens which we had casually brought with ourselves finding use. There were plenty of doubts which cropped up but most of them were solved easily. It was a subject probably resembling the English Language paper about 70% but there was much more to it. None of us slept even for a moment that night. We knew we were too far away from the college and in too dense a part, so there was no danger about someone noticing our bonfire. The cool night breeze relieved us greatly from the blazing hot summer that we were witnessing at that time. Thousands of fire flies kept glowing in perfect sync flashing greenish yellow light in one corner every few seconds, the toads croaked all night, the insects created a ruckus, the dogs barked often at a distance... But nothing deterred us from studying. There was no frivolous gossip, no time passing. By the time the first rays of the Sun broke through, we had finished off CS as also the Mangoes!!

We were done with the subject in just one night... a subject we had not even bothered to touch during the whole semester! The most surprising thing was that none of us felt tired or sleepy. We felt fresh and excited... We trekked back to our hostel, each one of us took a long cold water bath and we were ready to leave to write the exam.

Adventure of a lifetime
Trailing Back Finally..after an adventurous night of Studies! The college visible in the distance!!!

The exam went well and the rest of the papers too, soon got over. When the results were declared a month later, we 4 were in for a pleasant surprise. We were in the top 7 scorers for the subject. When others asked us how our whole group had managed to secure top positions in CS, we just shrugged our shoulders and replied "Hard Work!!!"

The hard grind and the stress associated with University Engineering Exams meant that we never studied in the forest again. That was a night which was extra ordinary and incredible in more ways than one. We did many bizarre activities during our college days but this incident still ranks right up there with others!!!

Our group still has discussions about that night whenever we meet or talk... We still imagine ourselves sitting below our favorite Mango Tree... in that dense jungle, on the night before our University exams... and coming out as Winners...

PS - This is a true story and all the photographs used are original.

PPS - This post is written for the Incredible Stories! Contest sponsored by MahindraXUV500 and Indiblogger.

PPPS - If you are an Indiblogger and like the post you can promote it here - An Incredible Journey of 4 Friends!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sachin TONdulkar

A Special Guest Post from my friend Leo (Vinay) who writes wonderful poems, stories and haikus at his space - I Rhyme Without Reason and is an ardent cricket fan...


Today, the 16th of March 2012 will remain etched in history. Not of the nation, but of the national cricket team. Oh! who am I kidding? Of course, it’ll be part of the nation too.

For one year, and four days, every match India played was anxiously awaited. Every time, he stepped foot on the cricket field, he was received with cheers, and there was no necessity for any public announcement as to who the next batsman was for the Indian team. After all, for the best part of 22 years, he was the one who guided India to many victories; his name had become synonymous with the Indian team name, and an ambassador for the game the world over. If even a single taken by this batsman was cheered, it was because the entire nation; nay, the entire world; was expecting that that first single would be succeeded by ninety nine more.

If it was Rampaul in the West Indies tour that denied him and Siddle in the Australian tour, the expectation of him to reach that century was becoming a responsibility to him. On a sultry Friday afternoon, when the clock was showing a time between four and five in the evening (sorry, I was too busy cheering, to notice exact time), Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar went past that elusive milestone of a hundredth international hundred. A lazy flick, to mid wicket, was captured by multiple cameramen, and the audience at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur rose to their feet to give the “Little Master” a standing ovation. And I joined them, to applaud the feat that might never be eclipsed.

Just around fifteen balls before, Rameez Raja in the commentary box had told something. “Come on Sachin, you are making me nervous with all this drama and dot balls.” He was referring to the carefulness with which the little master played after crossing the eighty run mark. A maiden over to Mortaza, and dot balls to both Razzak and al-Hasan… yes, the country was anxious too, and in retrospect, I wish he’d not have been as careful. A few runs, maybe even ten or twelve from those dot balls… and the match could have been more secure. Yes, the pitch was on the slower side perhaps, and the Bangla bowlers bowled well, but a little more Dhoni-esque innings, like how he played once he got to that century, that’d have been a welcome relief to both the nation’s nervousness, and also the target on board.

(image courtesy :

To the match itself, when the innings break was on, I remember telling myself, “290 against the Bangladeshis is quite a decent score”. Perhaps I spoke out loud, and my father heard… he immediately told me, “Don’t think so. This Bangladesh team is much stronger than before. Don’t take them for granted”. Golden words to live by… I didn’t take to heart, and when Nazimuddin fell early, I remember writing in Indi thread that they’re already facing Everest, and telling DS that Bangladesh will collapse. I eat my words, and with wholehearted words, I commend the deserving victors, the Bangladesh team. If it was Tamim and Jahirul who steadied the ship with a well paced partnership, it was the all round skills and power hitting of Shakib al Hasan and cool mind of Nasir Hossain that pushed them nearer. And by the time Praveen Kumar got the lucky wicket of Nasir, the skipper Rahim had hit some lusty blows to the fence off Irfan, and the match was well and truly settled.

As an avid supporter of Team India, I am truly disappointed, and I try to convince myself that this loss was just a bump on the road, that it was only that we had met better opposition. As an impartial mind, seeing from a neutral perspective, I still see the dot balls clearly... whereas the Bangla players took the batting powerplay as a launchpad to launch a frontal assault in the final 15, the Indians had gradually slowed. Maybe it was the lack of more runs towards the end that cost India this match, but a total of 290, no matter what my dad say; against Bangladesh… it could’ve been defended, right? I do hope that in the celebrations and attention that our hero (and no doubts about that, he is a hero) will get, that this loss to Bangladesh, and the collective failures in the recent past, they won’t be forgotten…

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Walk Down Memory Lane...

Childhood memories… Aren’t they some of the most precious and priceless ones that we possess? Yet, we can barely recall anything significant from our childhood days. All we remember is probably playing lagori and cricket with our friends, attending school and sometimes bunking it by feigning stomachache, fighting with our siblings and cousins, etc. Why?

Because time has a curious way of blurring out what has passed. Time causes these memories to gather multiple layers of dust and they are usually forgotten as they get pushed down, lower and lower, in the dark and deep far away unused recesses of our complex brain. Most of these memories are lost forever but a very minuscule percentage of these remain etched in our mind, as fresh, as though they were an occurrence of yesterday…

One such childhood memory which, I think of quite often is the family night walk that we used to go on every Saturday - My parents, me and my younger sister. We had this routine for many years; wherein, we used to go for a long and slow walk after dinner. We would walk as slowly as we could, lazily covering about 3 kilometers on each of those walks. What a nice little 'Family Time' it used to be, a few hours of some real and pure fun and entertainment! Before embarking on the walk, my mom would caution me – Beta, gudiya ka khyal rakhna aur hamare saath saath rehna. Though I would have barely been around 10 yrs or something, still these words would always wake up the responsible brother in me. Holding my cute little sisters smallest finger of her left hand tight, together we would step out in a new world, the real world. One of our favorite stroll highlights was the visit to the local garden. Mom and Dad would occupy a park bench leaving us both, all by ourselves to have the time of our lives. The entire garden is ours, we are completely free! We would amuse and giggle and then roll down on those soft green grassy slopes!

(image courtesy:

We’d watch the flowers available in all shapes, sizes and colors blooming all over the garden, or stand on that wooden bridge above the small pond gaping at the milky white ducks or try to spot some fish in the water or just run around racing, trying to outdo each other in who touches that light pole first. I reached first! No, no, it was me! Hehe, how we would bicker kiddishly!

Ah!!! JOYJOY was such a cheap commodity then!!! In those times, kids derived extreme joy and unadulterated happiness playing with an empty Cardboard Box... For the kids of today's generation, the novelty of playing with an X-Box fades away in a couple of weeks!!! Those halogen filled gas balloons, the occasional chocolate ice creams, the ferry-wheel car rides by the pavements, the multicolored icy golas with the extra juice, the fluffy pinky candy floss… I still recall, how merry it was for us, complete bliss… how we used to take pleasure in the simple sweet moments of life, unmindful of the traffic of people swarming around us, unmindful of any word – worry – ever existing in the dictionaries of life, unmindful that... time… those precious minutes, hours and seconds were fast slipping by… taking with itself all these small joyful, real moments, somewhere… far far far away from me…

(image courtesy:

I am often left wondering - When, Oh when did we stop going for those much loved and enjoyable walks and why? Perhaps when color and cable TV infiltrated our modest home? Perhaps when tuition's assumed more importance and ate away our time? Perhaps when Dad was transferred out of Mumbai for a year?

Perhaps it was time that snatched it all away from me and perhaps it will be time that will provide me an answer someday, I don’t really know... but I think what I do know, is that I should be extending a sincere vote of thanks to the sincere souls out there for giving me an opportunity to at least relive a real childhood experience through this post! Thank You IndiBlogger and Kissan! :)

PS: If you liked reading my 100% Real Experience, Please do Vote It Up Here! Thank You :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rahul 'THE WALL' Dravid - His Career in Figures

Although Rahul Dravid was way above stats but still, cricket is always fascinated by numbers.
Lets have a look at his career stats below.

Also read my tribute to him here - The WALL walks into the Sunset

Mat     Inns     NO    Runs     HS     Ave       BF        
100    50    4s       6s      Ct        St
Tests 164 286 32 13288 270 52.31 31258
36 63 1654 21 210 0
ODIs 344 318 40 10889 153 39.16 15284
12 83 950 42 196 14
T20Is 1 1 0 31 31 31.00 21
0 0 0 3 0 0

Friday, March 9, 2012

The WALL walks into the Sunset

Rahul Dravid, known as 'THE WALL' for his stoic defense finally called it a day from all cricket. One of the best batsman to have graced our game, he was a gentleman in the true sense. Always fought hard, gave it his all and made it a joy to watch him bat for those long hours. Never blessed with the talent of Sachin or Ganguly, he achieved his success through sheer hard work, skills honed by hours and hours of practice and determination which was always visible on face.

His finest innings, according to me came in the Kolkata test against a rampaging Aussie team at the peak of their prowess when batting with VVS Laxman, they batted through the day denying them a wicket. This after India were following on. I always remember that day with tears in my eyes and goosebumps all over my body. What a display it was. When they walked off after the end of the day, I stood up and applauded. My Mom and Sister stared at me. It did not matter. I was proud, I don't have words to describe that day.

He was always the perfect team man. When the Indian team wanted a stand by opener in testing overseas conditions, He Opened with a smile. When the team wanted to play an extra batsman, He Kept Wickets with nonchalance. When the selectors called him for the ODI series in England last year because it would swing and seam (and seemingly our youngsters were not able to cope with them), He Went There even as he knew that the selectors would dump him again when India would play on the Indian roads. When someone was in form, He would be dropped down the order and he would accommodate with the teams request with a grin. He probably postponed his retirement after the Indian team completed their campaign in Australia so that the team does not get distracted there.

Even today when he announced his retirement ahead of Sachin and Laxman, he was happy. In spite of knowing that he was in much better form over the last few months than those two.

Rahul, The Game of Cricket will miss you. We fans will miss you. The dressing room will miss you. All The Best for your future.

"There was and is only one Rahul Dravid. There can be no other. I will miss Rahul in the dressing room and out in the middle. I have shared the best moments with him."
India batsman Sachin Tendulkar

"'I've been very lucky to have a really good association with Rahul. He's probably the nicest guy - no he is the nicest guy - that I've met in cricket. He's a phenomenal man. He loves the game with so much passsion, it's in his blood and in his heart."
Australia vice-captain Shane Watson

PS - Images courtesy espncricinfo