Friday, February 26, 2021

Road To Tokyo: Episode 16

The Covid-19 pandemic still prevails but the world is taking tentative steps to return to normalcy. But it’s a case of two steps forward and one back as with every new outbreak, some new restrictions come in place. However, the vaccines roll-out will certainly be a confidence booster to the organizers. 

Meanwhile, the Olympics qualifiers have resumed although the calendar still keeps getting disrupted. The chances of the Games not being held are still very much there. As one headline read, the Olympics are still on, till they are cancelled! The organizers have released a playbook for athletes which they will keep updating as we come closer to the date. The Olympics torch relay is also being held with onlookers been advised to not cheer! 

Meanwhile, in Indian news, following additional names have qualified 
  • Sandeep Kumar & Rahul Rohila in Mens 20 km walk taking India to full quota of 3 along with KT Irfan who had qualified earlier. 
  • Priyanka Goswami with a new National record joins Bhawna Jat in Womens 20 Km walk 
So after a hiatus like the Indian contingent, which is back on the qualifying track, so in this Road To Tokyo series! 

Indian Contingent 
Total Count – Sports - 7, Events – 35, Entries - 50, Participants – 77 


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

BookMarks #79: The Nice Guy Who Finished First

Title: A Biography of Rahul Dravid: The Nice Guy Who Finished First 
Author: Devendra Prabhudesai 
Published: 2005 
Genre: Biography, Cricket 

Once when I had to fill out an overall career goal, I wrote “To Be The Nice Guy Who Finished First”, borrowing the byline of this book. Sailed through that presentation and interview, reaffirming my belief that one can’t go wrong with an apt sports analogy. However, I hadn’t yet read the book. An aberration which has been corrected! 

The Nice Guy Who Finished First is not a conventional biography. It barely tells us anything about the persona of its subject. All we get is a collection of match reports. For the Dravid fans, it’s a good way to re-live the roller-coaster ride that the 90s and the early 2000s were for Indian cricket. But hardly anything else. There are some comments about Dravid from his contemporaries but hardly anything from the man himself. Only the very last chapter which lists the different “schools” of India batsmanship shows some insight. Otherwise it’s like reading a highlights reel of Dravid’s first decade in international cricket with barely a mention of what happened around him. 

Funny thing, the writer chose 2005 as the stopping point of his work. After all the entry of Greg Chappell into the Indian dressing room has to be one of the more interesting phases in Indian cricket history. 

Previously on BookMarks: An Indian Spy in Pakistan 

Monday, February 08, 2021

BookMarks #78: An Indian Spy in Pakistan

Title: An Indian Spy in Pakistan 
Author: Mohanlal Bhaskar; Translated by Jai Ratan 
Published: 1990 
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoirs 

The book is an autobiographical narrative of the time spent in Pakistani jails by the author, Mr. Mohanlal Bhaskar. He was an Indian spy who was betrayed by a double agent. He was accused of getting Pakistani nuclear secrets – an accusation which he neither confirms nor denies during his narrative. While behind bars in his tenure in various Pakistani prisons he witnesses historic events – Bhutto’s arrest, Sheikh Mujib’s jail tenure, IAF bombing Mianwali. 

At times,  it is just a tale of torture. I wonder how anyone could survive almost relentless abuse and beatings for years with seemingly no end in sight. And reading this harrowing tale why people are motivated to go in this dangerous line. Yes, they are serving the nation’s interests, but they also know that they will not be publicly acknowledged in case of capture. 

In between the narrative Mr. Bhaskar also presents the socio-political narrative of Pakistan. And it is one bleak picture of a society whose political and military leadership have destroyed it from within. However, the people are different, some kind souls, some rotten to the core and some just doing their duty. Mr. Bhaskar presents an excellent recall of his many conversations with them. This are the bits which humanizes the tale. 

And then there is the last chapter of the story where he talks about the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai. The extent of bitterness of their meeting is unbelievable. Even the double agent who betrayed him nor his Pakistani torturers are not shown such hatred. In fact, this lends credence to the rumours of why Mr. Desai was conferred with the Nishan-e-Pakistan. 

Overall, an interesting read. However, the book needed a better translator. At times the meaning is lost in translation and there are quite a few typographical errors as well. These are especially irksome at the beginning of the tale. 

Previously on BookMarks: The Leader In You