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May 16, 2000


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Still, we're like this only

Avinash Subramanium

Three weeks! So much cannon fodder. So many shoulders to fire bazookas and bigger guns off. So many mud-pies to throw. So many pot shots to take.

Hello people. I know it's been a long time. And I can't begin to tell you how hard it's been to keep it all in. (Though I know I haven't been missed. My empty mailbox stands mute testimony to that. But then, Prem did say people were more interested in news than opinions.) Fortunately, and the pleasure is wholly mine I'm sure, you can't keep a big mouth quiet. Especially when there's so much for him to feed off. Like the continuing stream of muck being raked up from the innards of 'The continuing case of whose turn it is now to hold the buck.'

The last time I wrote, I wrote it happens only in India. A reader wrote back asking me whether I had done enough research to arrive at that conclusion. (And title.) To which I say, I have no time for research. I'm so caught up in having a heart attack every time something new crops up, it leaves me with little time to react. Anyway who needs research to tell you only we are uniquely gifted when it comes to obfuscation and tolerating all kinds of nonsense. What we need is a revolution. Pity, we won't get it. Some would even say that is a fairly accurate representation of the Indian psyche. And that there's nothing wrong with it. After all, this is India.

And speaking of 'chalta hai,' something I read recently was certainly, in my itsy-bitsy opinion, 'nahi chalta hai.' It was a small opinion piece written by a writer whose business writing I enjoyed enormously during management school. And to hear him say, he didn't give a shit if Kapil has tanked his effort 10 per cent of the time or not, was disappointing. (Not the figure. The figure is perhaps slightly off the mark. Just don't sue me. I cry easily.)

What did he mean by that? Did he mean it is okay to be partly patriotic? Or did he mean an off day includes not having to try 100 per cent? But I love Kapil because he was the guy who always gave 100 per cent. Because he wore his tri-coloured heart on his sleeve. How can I not give a shit when the very qualities I admired him for are now being questioned? (And if the law enforcement agencies are to be believed, with good reason.)

Does that mean we do not give a shit whether the India cap was not being respected, even if only, on some days? Is it okay to be accused of such an act and yet be put in charge of a team of impressionable minds? I guess it is. (It's no surprise we suck at team sport. At most things.) We care too much about ourselves. About our heroes. And we are willing to forgive them for anything. Even 'selling their mothers'. (Heroes' words, not mine.)

But, I'm sorry to sound like a stuck record, what about the India cap? What about the India cap? Who gives a shit about the India cap! Who gives a shit whether Kapil gave 100 per cent all the time! (90 per cent of the time is fine. While someone else on the team was giving his heart out.) Who gives a shit about anything! I'll tell you who gives a shit. I give a shit. It makes me vomit that he is still manager of the team. But I wish him luck with the team and the collective conscience.

No, I'm not saying he is guilty. I am saying he is not the best man for the job. That we ought to have thought very seriously when Kapil graciously offered to step down. (Notwithstanding his wish to take the team with him on his self-imposed sabbatical from world cricket.) But no, 'India mein sab kuch chalta hai.' Why should he not be manager? Nothing has happened? Everything you hear is rubbish. So what if he wasn't there when the probables were being picked? So what if the captain was not there? So what if I am beginning to sound like a track by the 'Notorious JeLeLe.' (He did say almost all those things.)

Chalta hai that we may have appointed a 'reluctant' manager under a cloud. Of a team in the process of rebuilding. And with young cricketers who need heroes to emulate. (Spotless ones at that.) Who cares about the power icons can wield in intimate groupings. (Like cricket teams.) But then, I forget. A prominent member of this very team said the team members weren't really 'that close.' Which, of course, didn't seem to bother anyone. Because in India, it's okay if a team sport is played by team members who aren't that close' to each other. And it's okay that Mahesh Bhapathi and Leander Paes are not together anymore.

Still, it happens only in India. Best of luck guys. (You're going to need it.)

Ps.: Just when you think one can at least fall back on tennis for some good old-fashioned 'nothing-comes-between-me-and-my-patriotism,' Mahesh and Paes don't happen. Maybe it is all about the money. Honey!

Avinash Subramanium

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