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|December 18, 1999||
Heaven here on earthHarsha Bhogle
It had been that kind of day.
It was cold at the Bellerive Oval. If that was predictable, so was everything else. The game resembled a forced labour camp -- the Indian bowlers were still bowling short; the batsmen were still cutting them for four; there was no word on Nayan Mongia's role in this team and Darrell Hair had, officially, been appointed to stand in the Sydney Test.
You see, it was that kind of day.
I left early. Time, like a dreadful cloud, hung heavy and I wanted to move on. I went for the two things guaranteed to improve the quality of life -- a hot powerful shower and Manna De singing laga chunari me daag.
If someone offered me a choice of batting like Sachin Tendulkar and singing like Manna De, I wouldn't know which to choose.
And then the pick-me-up arrived. As I was listlessly folding some clothes from the morning visit to the guest laundry room, something magical happened. Mohammad Rafi was singing some great poetry from Nai Umar Ki Nai Fasal; the words depressing but captivating (karavan guzar gaya..) when I glanced outside the window.
My room on the 20'th floor (Busybee's friend lived on the 21'st) offers a great view of the bay but this was something else. Cutting right across the lovely blue water (you know what aquamarine blue means when you see it) was the most gorgeous rainbow you will see. It stretched across the water and climbed, like a pathway, into the hills beyond.
I had seen a rainbow in the sky, never one on water.
And then, almost as if someone had hit the starter's gun, two speedboats converged on it, leaving behind them a foamy white trail. It was drizzling and I could swear the rainbow was shimmering as well. And to complete the picture, a gull swooped gracefully down and picked something from the water. I knew no one would believe this and I reached for the camera and clicked. As I put it down I couldn't help laughing. It was a mere Yashica auto-focus, a travel-weary comrade of mine with tape on a couple of joints.
The auto-focus and the remote control, they do trivialise life don't they?
I should have stood and stared. Nature was putting on a show for me, telling me there was more to life than a cricket match and like a programmed robot, I was reaching for my auto-focus. Man's limited view of nature's unlimited beauty.
But the message was home and the moment had passed. The evening sun pushed the clouds away and flooded the air with sunshine; the bay gobbled up the rainbow and the hills acquired a shadow; the first call of dusk.
Suddenly it didn't matter whether the ball was pitched short. Or whether Hair stood at the SCG.
Mail Prem Panicker/Harsha Bhogle
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