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Plot Thickens

Plot Thickens

Time to read: 3 min

Eddy. Back in the day, he was that Tekken character who with his Brazilian martial arts and colourful pants was never going to amount to much, and your best friend would chose him for his roundabout kicks. Dial it forward to today, and Eddy means a circular flow of water often caused by an obstruction such as rocks in the middle of the sea.

Now why would anyone put a rock in the middle of the sea. This is ridiculous and absurd and in Kayaking terms it’s called – that-spot-with-the-breaking-waves. What it does, in case you’re caught in one like I was yesterday is turn a fearsome 19 foot long white fibre kayak that’s on top speed into a rubber duck in a turbulent washing machine.

I’m kayaking from Dwarka to Kanyakumari and the process has seen us kayak down the beautiful blue / green west coast of Gujarat down to the tip at Diu. We are now into Day 2 on the East Coast of Gujarat, and it is a doozy. With the Gulf of Khambhat acting as a real contender for spoilsport of the year, the water here is literally sucked into that narrow stretch of land locked sea. Imagine a sponge, if you will, that’s thrown into a quiet unsuspecting lake, but just by the edge so a fraction of a portion of it’s tip hits the water. Now imagine the sponge is twice the size of the lake and it’s not a sponge but a vacuum cleaner for water, and as the water starts funneling towards said sponge / vacuum, you will start to get an idea about my affinity for sponges and it’s irrelevance to this story in general. Also, you might tangentially arrive at how the Gulf of Khambhat is pulling me towards it.

Now, on an average day, you’d say – Hey Kaustubh, isn’t that a good thing. And on an average day, I’d say – did you forget about Eddy and his vicious kicks in paragraph 1?

So, here we stand. In some pretty murky water. I mean, dark brown, can’t see my paddle in the water, murky. And there are some rocks underneath. And the wind is blowing against me. Oh, sorry, forgot about the wind. It’s what they say, the lesser of two evils. But at 4-7 Knots it’s building up some nice head on waves. And the bow of my kayak is like the sensex on receiving the demonetization news, it doesn’t know whether to climb or come crashing down. Only there are rocks. And I’m still being pushed into the Gulf.

So no Edddy. I saw to you, not today.

#GoTreference #waterdance

Roorkee

Roorkee

Time to read: 3 min
Shots from my stint at IIT R
What a good day looks like

 

“Kaustubh is a firm believer that sport can be used for change.”

As the compere finishes his introduction, I leave my chair, and take the dias. The convocation hall at IIT Roorkee is filled with 500 students, packed in, after 3 days of exertion on the field.

There are a number of things one could tell these student and time is of the essence. So I give them the advice I think they can relate to – “Pain IS Good”.

But let’s dial it back a bit. How did I get here? I guess you can date this story as far back as you like but the immediate truth is not even a week old. A good friend, Vivek Pateshwari (who runs www.invitemyguest.in) had a request regarding a position for chief guest of IIT Roorkee’s sport festival, Sangram. He thought of me. I was flattered. This being an IIT(my alma-mater) I said yes without getting into the details. A couple of days later, flights were booked and arrangments for transit cabs done.

Where this story might find bedrock, however, is in my second year at IIT Delhi. My hostel had won the right to host the sports festival, The party that had won, was not the one I voted for(long story..) but all my friends were in the football team. Thanks to compere-ing the hosel day at the end of my first year, I was asked to ‘touch-up’ the sponsorship collateral. I built a story around each sport giving emphasis to the ‘grand’ football championship & taking the shine off the cricket games. (Yes, I was partial back then too.) Fast forward to the final date of the sports fest. The secretary of sports calls in a favour and someone tells me to run on over to the football ground. On the way over, they explain that I am to compere the event. Boom.

An Arjuna award winner is our chief guest. I’m shivering. That’s real gold. Someone who’s sweated & bled for sports in our country. In that moment, I cared for nothing but thee pride of our college and holding it’s own in the presence of a sporting great. I remember the introductions and vividly recollect taking the mike when someone fumbled the national anthem.

Back to the present, and here I am. Ready to address an audience that in all likelihood didn’t know me. But sitting here in the cushy chairs, or up on stage compere-ing there was a younger me. One day he will be on stage and thinking the same thoughts.

I eased them into my presence with a joke. I told them of their privilege, not at hearing me talk today, but of being in such august company as the sportsmen to their left. I spoke of the importance of their pain and why years from now they should never forget why they do what they do. Pain differentiates us, it is the reason we will go further, work harder & truly embrace the pleasure of victory.

As I take my seat, I know that for that future Kaustubh Khade, my making this trip was worth it.

Team at the huddle before the finals
Team Spirit: Football Finals

 

 

 

Cricket and the sport we all love.

Cricket and the sport we all love.

Time to read: 4 min

Driving down to Pali for training, one has to pass by a myriad of small farming towns. Having picked up some kerosene in a bottle, I was heading home to setup for an evening of bbq-ing. The road to Pali is a lovely drive, mostly devoid of traffic and almost always picturesque. So I was surprised when I was approaching a town, I had to slow down for what appeared to be a blockade of two wheelers. While navigating through it, I asked myself what could have caused the major holdup in this most remote of places.

Cricket.

I saw in the distance what could only be a semblance of a field on top of a flat, barren plateau cut off by the winter remains of a rivulet. And a beaten path that looked good for off-roading. Yet an army of bikes and a handful of cars had parked themselves at the pink and purple gates of a welcoming sign that read – Sudhagad Premier League 2015. The boards were alive with pictures of local politicians that were unmistakably orange.

Walking through the gates, you could hear the excitement ring loud through the voice of the eager commentator, who was speaking 19 to the dozen on a patchy mike. The well adorned VIP enclosure had a stand for the VIPs and acted as a player enclosure for the two teams on the field presently. The host of trophies that played centerstage to the enclosure were well protected by a bust of Shivaji Maharaj himself.

I’d walked in right on time, as the ‘Rising Stars’ were about to take to the field against the ‘Sai Fighters’. With the fielding team on the dry red dusty field, the two rising stars taking the field both touched the ground on the field line and then touched their lips in prayer for the game.

After that began the most enthralling and redeeming game of cricket I’ve seen. Everything about this spectacle screamed of the romance of cricket that amidst all the media and marketing and scandals seems to be lost. With teams like – ‘Veer Maratha’, ‘Deshmukh Traders’, ‘Sai Fighters’ & the ‘Risings Stars’ here were a bunch of people who called it as it is. The fielder on the edge of the circle scoffed at energy drinks and taunted the other team for suggesting it. They played with tennis balls and everytime someone hit a lofty six 2 or 3 barefooted kids scampered into the rocks or the bush to retrieve it and keep the game in play. The track, let alone the field was uneven and you could often see fielders jump in the air to account for unnatural bounce or sudden turning balls. The boundary itself was roughly etched out in ‘chuna’ and black round rocks from the rivulet had been painstakingly painted white to make it clear. The DJ was the rockstar of the event and interjected with Sunny Leone songs everytime there was a 6 or a wicket. The commentator was a jolly good sport, who at half time switched to hindi and explained his first half coverage in Marathi as a bet he had placed with someone that he could do the whole gig in the local tongue. *much laughter ensued*. There were no sponsors to boast of and even the plain wooden bats bore no MRF. Midway through the chasing innings, one of the bats broke on impact with the tennis ball and more bare bats were rushed to the center. No one wore padding or gloves, both batsmen and keeper and the batsman often used the red soil to dry his hands before an attempted 6. As the sun came down hard, the camaraderie was spectacular and both teams were in a jovial mood. But most of all, was the simplicity and understanding of the whole event. Batsmen would walk over to the middle to exchange the one good bat they had on the pitch, and on every wicket, you could spot the crotch guard being exchanged between incoming and outgoing batsmen. Not an element of pretense. When the final runs had been made off of a spectacular 6 with 2 balls to spare, there was pure joy and pure anguish on the field. Within minutes the presentation ceremony was done and the man of the match was given a medal. And it was on to the next match.

It really begged the question, where is real sport being played in India. There was much joy here. And every moment from the spectacular catch to the horrific miss was cheered and jeered as only a village people could. In earnest.

Sudhagad Premier League
Sudhagad Premier League Welcomes you.
Trophies for SPL 2015
All the bling. And Shivaji Maharaj
Old man and the Sea. Of umpiring ineptitude.
The man who could judge run outs. But not an umpire
The Music setup
DJ Sudhagad
Man of the match receiving his medal
Man of the Match
Power Generator.
What powers its all. One Generator in an empty field.
Crowd in the stands.
What an audience in Sudhagad looks like.
Fielder on the lines for Sai Fighters
Sai Fighters on the edge
The entrance to the stadium of right.
Entrance to the SPL 2015
Batsmen taking to the field
Batsmen taking to the field