Zindagi Ganna Hai…

Friday October 7, 2016

“Just 5 minutes more, Amma… promise… it’s so cold”… I would tell my mother…

There was a nip in the air… there always was in October mornings…

Getting out of the thin blanket on October mornings was not easy… it took an effort… and a wink of a while to get tuned to the temperature outside… and a worse feat to feel the cold water from the tap on your palms and on your face and in your mouth while you performed the morning ablutions…

In a cash-strapped, shoestring budget household… the twilight climate zone is often a tricky time to be… the electricity bill around hot water geysers have not been budgeted for in the month of October… ‘it isn’t cold yet’ my father would say… and the fans or the air coolers will not start whirring yet until April… of course, ‘it isn’t hot yet’…

——————–

I hated summers in Delhi in my growing up years – from the bottom of my heart… not because of the heat and dust… but this uncomfortable sweat in my pants used to make me fidget and squirm in all such situations when I needed to be calm and poised… say, when I used to see the sugarcane being run through the juice machine, over, and over, and over again… a delight in Delhi Summers…

Come on… how much will you squeeze a 6 foot sugarcane…? used to remind me of a life yet to be lived… my work life… when every day in and out, I will be squeezing myself to get the last drop of value that I possibly can… and all my bosses in life including my wife… would gang up to tell me ‘that last drop ain’t enough, Kodukula… squeeze more’

Zindagi Ganna Hai… Life is a Sugarcane… Trust Me… 

My fidget and squirm would amplify to a fuss and a fiddle… each time I needed to stop by the 5 paise (small glass) and 10 paise (big glass) ice cold water box at the bus stop… ‘Machine ka Thanda Paani’… the source of all malaise and disease in the city… and that had Dr. Premalata Rao, our family doctor, laugh all the way to the bank…

Guess she never had the ‘Machine ka Thanda Paani’

But there was cheer too… the onset of Summer was always laced with a promise of premium ice cream for the entire family… as it coincided with the finishing off of the exams at school for all 3 of us siblings… who, contrary to my parents’ worried looks on their faces during March, used to scrape into the next grade every year without fail… and the bribe of the premium ice cream was a prize to cherish to go the whole hog and finish the academic year with colours that never flew…

I recall Gaylords ice-cream at that time – sold in a plastic white ball with an orange cap… which duly, after the ice cream has been devoured, served as a good replacement for a cricket ball… of course, after the first over bowled, the cap used to come off after every ball… but the game would continue after replacing the cap…

After all… the ball used to spin so elegant that it used to make me feel like a Bhagwat Chandrasekhar… or an Erapalli Anantrao Srinivas Prasanna… or a Srinivas Venkataraghavan… or a Bishen Singh Bedi…

And when Gaylords closed down… and the ‘Spin Quartet’ retired one after the other… life took a spin…

Doordarshan happened… or started Happening…

——————–

Cricket in India in early 80’s was a winter affair… Test Cricket was the only form… Gavaskar was God… a Radio Transistor was a show off… Radio Commentary was man’s best friend… and nobody knew what to do on the 4th day after the Test match started – as that was a ‘Rest’ day… any cricket playing country – actually all 8 of them – played not more than 10 tests in a calendar year…

But Doordarshan used to bring hope every October… hope for diehard cricket fans like me… I would switch on the new TV set that we had invited into our home… DYANORA… it had a 21″ screen and a tube at the back encased in exquisite wood… a spring twist channel changer knob to change between Doordarshan and Doordarshan… and guess what… to protect the kids in the family to get unduly addicted to TV… Dyanora provided parental controls… in the form of a wooden shutter door that could be pulled from two sides and locked… with a key…

And my mother would keep the key… so that we did not get access to excesses like TV watching for 2 hours ever evening that Doordarshan beamed TV content…

Doordarshan always lived to its promise… it had the best technology at each of the cricket grounds… a Single Camera placed at the Pavilion end… and anything happening on the ground had to be viewed through this one lens…

Door-darshan… a view from afar…

And to whip up the fire was Joga Rao… the TV commentator who used to dope himself to sleep in the middle of an otherwise uninteresting 5th day’s play… when most test matches painstakingly inched towards a draw…

I always had a better plan… Doordarshan would be on… the volume would be off… and I would do the commentary… my idol was Sushil Doshi, the archetypal Radio Commentator who is still etched in my ears… smooth and clear…

“Thodi si short-of-length gaind… ek kadam aage badhaaya Gavaskar ne… aur ye cover aur extra cover ke beech mein se… CHAAR RUN… khoobsoorat shot”… and a follow up comment by him… “Jaise West Indies mein kehte hain – ‘No Man Moved Shot’…”

My audience would clap… Lucky, Manoj, Murty, Bunty… I had a dream to grow up to become a Cricket Commentator… nevertheless… got quite close to it…

With glasses of Rasna (Mango Flavour) and Potato Chips that did their rounds… my mother would always have a grudge… “Come On… put that TV off and get to your homework…”

“Just 5 minutes more, Amma… promise… India is winning…”

——————–

October Mornings…

Gavaskar is now in the Commentator’s Box… and I am in a Cubicle…

Zindagi… sahi mein Ganna Hai…

Happy weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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