G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I just looked towards Beautiful Boy- Rajan Bala

I have read and liked many Indian cricket writers.

N S Phadke ना सी फडके, V V Karmarkar वि वि करमरकर, K N Prabhu, Raju Bharatan, Mihir Bose, Sunil Gavaskar, M A K Pataudi, Ramachandra Guha...but no one came close to Rajan Bala- who passed away on October 9 2009- in appreciating the game, which perhaps is a proxy for life.

His "All the Beautiful Boys" (1990) remains one of the best books I have read. I must have read it dozens of times since 1993, the year I bought it.

When he interviewed (chatted with?) people connected to the game, he brought the best out of them.
When I read the quotes attributed to M L Jaisimha, Gundappa Vishwanath, Eknath Solkar, Erapalli Prasanna, Chandu Borde in his book, I thought - my god, they all are as erudite as Ian Chappell or Sunil Gavaskar!

Here are a few examples of his writings:

"...Tauseef the Pakistani on a death trap of a wicket in Bangalore must have realised that Sunil (Gavaskar) was a different class of a player. I remember one ball which was pitched short and changed course- did not turn. It bounced straight on and over Sunil's shoulder. Sunil had read it all the way, It was the mobile front foot which enabled him to avoid the ball. It was incredible..."

Why do you need a TV when you have a description as graphic as that?

"...It was the only time I have seen a fast bowler in a Test match resort to bowling to widish bouncers in order to prevent a batsman getting a single. The West Indians wanted to deprive Vishy of his second century in two Tests and get at Chandrasekhar, the last man. They succeeded. That was Andy's (Roberts) ultimate tribute to Vishy..."

How he evokes the drama in a diminutive man humbling one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time bowling on a helpful wicket.

"...One of my best moments off cricket watching was a defensive stroke in a Test match. This was in Madras. India were playing Pakistan and Imran Khan was bowling to Sunil Gavaskar. Imran dung the particular delivery short. It was not a bouncer but one which forced Sunil to get on his toes and defend. Sunil did just that. He was on his toes, on the back foot, left hand tight on the bat handle, right hand removed, both hands wide apart, and standing absolutely sideways. The ball hit the bat fairly high and then virtually rolled down the length of the blade to drop passively at Sunil's feet. Imran, on his follow-through, applauded the batsman..."

Isn't there so much to cricket than just runs, wickets and catches?

"I remember M L Jaisimha waiting under a big mishit at the edge of the boundary. The ball seemed to be suspended in the air for ever so long. Some one hundred and forty thousand eyes were focused on the ball and the man, in turns. Jaisimha positioned himself and finally, after what seemed an eternity, grasped the ball with both hands and closed his eyes. Seventy thousand hearts heaved a collective sigh of relief. the scoreboard registered unemotionally, G. Sobers caught Jaisimha bowled Chandrasekhar. One more Test dismissal.
For a full and agonizing minute Jaisimha was the loneliest man in the stadium, the mammoth and magnificent Eden Gardens..."

World is a stage!

"All the four spinners, Chandra, Prasanna, Bedi and Venkat, who benefited from Ekky's (Eknath Solkar) catching prowess, have readily sung the man's praises. Chandra said: "He gave me great confidence. Considering the pace I bowled at, and also the fact that the ball could have deviated either way, Ekky must have been genius to even react to some of the deflections." Bishan Bedi said: "If he did not go for one that popped, I was quite convinced that the batsman had not got his bat to the ball. His anticipation was uncanny." Venkat said: "I always believed that I was a capable catcher. But he could really catch." And Prasanna said: "If my delivery had the right loop and the ball turned, I just looked towards Ekky."

To judge if the show put on was worth it, I just looked towards Rajan Bala.