[An innovative ice-breaking speech, conceptualized by our contributor Rai, for his first opportunity as an orator at a local speaking club. A whole new angle to the perennial favorite line - cricket is my life!]
Ashes to ashes; dust to dust
The phrase above holds different meanings for different people. If you are spiritual, or religious it may imply that all human form originates from dust and returns to dust. For seasoned couch potatoes, it may be a reminder of ‘Ashes to Ashes’ BBC TV series. For us, sports addicts it can only have one meaning in particular – the Ashes battle between Australia and England. Or test matches in general.
Good evening people. I, Nikhil Rai, will make an attempt to break the ice, albeit a bit differently. As an avid sports follower, I thought I should narrate the story of my life so far with a sporting touch. I can see the gentlemen getting interested and ladies thinking ‘Ohh no not again; I can’t handle any more sports!’ Sorry but I am going here with the majority. As some of you might have already guessed, I am going to draw an analogy to my life so far, with the 5 days of a test match.
[Disclaimer: This is assuming a test match takes the most general course. So Napier pitches which convert a 5 day match to a 3 day tie, or a Colombo pitch which converts a 5 day match into a timeless trial have been kept out of consideration. Though you are free to derive their interpretations.]
Day 1: The pitch is fresh, the players are brimming with enthusiasm and energy. The molding years of my life: my childhood fits that description. Day 1 is also when you get your eyes in, and I sure did that! So much so, that I was studying ABCD and 123 for nearly 3 years. Yes, my friends, I spent nearly 3 years of my early days in baby pre nursery and nursery learning alphabets, numbers and rhymes. And that kind of reflects in the picture on the left.
Day 2: Players start comprehending the situation, the pitch and the conditions. The focus is on building partnerships, or continue the ones over the previous day. Strategy
changes depending on the situation also take place. This corresponds to my high school days. I started with taking part in quizzes, extempore and dramatics, but realized it was winning me some stupid brass cups but not winning any friends. One day, I decided to sit back in the audience and take a dig with some smart-ass remarks thrown at the teachers and fellow speakers. I noticed that was a better, and fun way to build new partnerships, or friends rather than being branded a snob. People around started contributing, and since then I have been a perennial occupant of the last benches, and won a lot of friends. Being from a small township area such as Bokaro, it was never difficult to gather friends around, or find a playground to play. Summer vacations were the best times, we used to play out in the scorching sun. And now standing out for 10 minutes is unimaginable.
Day 3: This is when the players start thinking ahead, on how to win the match and the plan to get there. My hometown Bokaro Steel City is a city of engineers where IITs are as hallowed as temples and the people who get an admit there as revered as Gods. My dad, like majority of people in Bokaro, is an engineer. Quite naturally, he wanted his two sons to follow in his footsteps and enter an IIT. My elder brother, 3 years elder, dropped a bombshell when he announced that he would like to pursue biology and become a doctor after class 10. Those days the choice was simple: you hate maths, you take up biology otherwise the default was to become an engineer. My brother succeeded in clearing medical entrance exams, and is now a pediatrician. It left me with no option but to attempt IIT JEE. I cleared JEE and joined IIT Bombay, with the aim of becoming an Electrical Engineer.
Day 4: This is when the 2nd innings is in full swing. My 2nd innings was without any doubt the college life, which I enjoyed to the core. Mumbai was a sea change, compared to sleepy old Bokaro. I spent my first year visiting malls, roaming at Marine Drive, Band Stand and gorging over the pretty girls. The second year year went by in LAN and free internet, movies, games. And when the dream got over, I realized it was too late to do anything to improve the cumulative grade performance and decided to let things take their own due course. The end of the match was taking shape.
Day 5: The players have lost all energy, pitch has lost its life and becomes difficult to bat on with unpredictable bounce. Evidently, such gloomy description could
correspond to nothing but the job life. I joined my current company in July 2008 and was greeted by recession, followed by lay offs. Out of the 8 new joiners, 5 had gotten out. This left me with a big scar. On the first anniversary of the bulk dismissals, we were handed another surprise. Rumors were around that my current company had gone bankrupt and had barely enough money to support employee salaries for 1-2 months. I pressed the panic button and started preparing, distributing resumes to friends in other companies. After a while the news that another firm would be acquiring my current company surfaced, and I decided to stay put. More out of inertia than anything else.
This was the match summary of my debut, but there are many such tests that life offers. With the co-operation of the partnerships I have forged: friends, family, colleagues, I hope to win all such tests. And, who knows, score enough to declare early!