Wednesday, 7 August 2013

62 Not Out!

The bowler runs in, left arm, around the wicket and unleashes his trademark reverse swing. The ball is slightly short, on the leg and middle, going away from the batsman. He shuffles in the crease – his eyesight and his hand-eye coordination are no longer what they used to be – glances it towards fine leg, and ambles across for yet another single. He moves on to 62.

62 not out. As a bowler, life is getting better and better. The reverse swing is lethal (maybe there’s a case for a ball tampering complaint), the googlies and doosras are getting more and more unreadable. And as a batsman, one is getting slower and slower. Each run is a huff-n-puff single, the halcyon days of fours and sixes are but a distant memory.

I started this blog two years ago, and my first post was `Resolutions at 60’. As I turn a not so weary 62 today, indulge me as I revisit the premises I made the day I officially became senile (sathiyana, as it is so delightfully called).

My first assertion was that henceforth I was on `borrowed time’. In a sense, we all were, as this was prompted by the untimely and sudden passing away of a course mate.  So my sage advice to the rest of us was to be thankful for life’s blessings, and to make the most of whatever time we had left. Junk all bitterness, chuck all unequal relationships, I said, except those with your children – those, the more unequal the better!

As a kid, I was lucky if I got heart shaped cup cakes from the Irani bakery near Nishat talkies. Today, I’ve been promised a cheesecake from the Marriot Hotel. One has come a long way.

`Focus, Harish – concentrate!’ the venerable Mr Khanolkar always told me at school. I wanted to become a writer, the Perry Mason books inclined me towards law, I was a more than decent football goalkeeper, and could open the batting as well as the bowling for the school cricket team. A jack of all trades stood no chance, he told me. `Specially if one was equally mediocre in all trades’, I added to myself.

I left school with a spring in my step, and a song on my lips. I was all set to change the world, to `show them how’. Aaj udta hua ek panchhi, zindagi ki baharon mein aaya..

Things didn’t turn out the way I had dreamt. Literature’s loss turned out to be the Army’s gain – although I’m not so sure all my Commanding Officers would agree..

Today, one would like to say one has seen it all. Have had a loaded AK-47 pointed at me by a crazed, bearded thug in Iraq screaming in Arabic. Luckily, he was more of a petty thief than a jihadi, and was thrilled to see my navy blue Indian (`Hindish’ as he called it) passport. He even did a little Bollywood jig, and wanted to know if I was Amitabh Bacchhan! Of course he stripped me of the last dollar I had, but then that was Iraq – a war ravaged country where the poverty was even more stark than back home.

A young American soldier who had yet to sprout whiskers also pointed his weapon at me. The red tracer mark in the dead centre of my chest was unnerving, to say the least. To be fair, he was acutely embarrassed, and actually saluted me when he learnt I had been a Colonel in the Indian Army! “We’re here to kick some ass!” he boasted.

One has indeed come a long way. God gave me two wonderful children, life gave me two more! And although the nest is empty, the heart remains full..

One misses the routine of going to work. Life was more structured that way. Now it’s a different set up.  Of the 24 hours you have, devote one hour to the upkeep of your body – so lug yourself to the Sub Area Sports Complex every morning. Walk, cycle, gym, huff and puff. Spend another hour in sharpening up your mind and keeping your mental acuities keen – a cryptic crossword, a difficult Sudoku or the latest puzzle/game on Lumosity.

In addition, I spend about 2 hours `catching up with my ignorance’ – read, read, read!  A minor accomplishment – I managed to read Manto’s brilliant `Thanda Gosht’ and `Khol Do’ – in the original Urdu!

`Mitti Pao!’ is nearing a half century of posts. Your comments have been generous. Someone suggested compiling them in a book form, but I suspect he/she was merely being kind.

62 not out. Hopefully, I can gather a few more runs, howsoever sluggishly, before the umpire up there raises the dreaded finger. And since there’s no DRS in this game, I’m told – so no rash strokes, no flashing outside the off stump, and no skiers for me. Plod on..

Ek raasta hai zindagi, jo tham gaye toh kuch nahin
Ye kadam kisi mukaam par jo jam gaye toh kuch nahin..


  1. thats very nicely put. i will be soon turning 62 too and share many of your feelings

  2. Great stuff, as always, Harish,

    Hope you had a great celebration. Happy birthday once again, and wishing you many more 'runs'!!
    Love. srinis

  3. Belated Happy Birthday Uncle :-) Rocking at 62 and many many many more to go!

  4. Good one Harish---

    Waqt rukta hi nahi, umar thum nahi sakti
    Nasib Kahna se Kahna le jia, muqader ki baat hai
    Zindigi ko Zindigi hi samaj E Musafir,
    Meri na kabhi ruki hai, Teri ruk nahi Sakti

    Vinod Chhabra , Redondo Beach, CA

  5. Look for a Century Harish !. Well, a lot of good inputs from your article. Felt nice reading it.
    I very sincerely suggest that you compile your thoughts and publish them.
    Regards, Bharat