Mar 31, 2011

Still Hopeful -World Cup 2011

If you were one of those millions who watched the match yday hoping against hope that the day wouldn’t end with you sighing resignedly Scarlett O’ Hara’s famous words, ‘Tomorrow is another day’, read on. If you are one of the faithless who gave up too early and instead went shopping, stop reading right away. This post is not for you.

I’d written at the beginning of the WC that no matter what the cynics say, winning this cup matters for it offers something to a people who have pretty much adapted to a life without anything. I am one of those people too. However, my desire to see India win did not stop me from appreciating the fact that Pak was in splendid form during this tournament. If Bill Gates & Steve Dubner are to be believed, it is performance which ought to be rewarded, not hope or faith. I’d like to think all 3 ought to be and that’s why India deserved to win all the way. We outplayed ‘em pakis by a mile and anybody who doubts this can go start a fire in Siberia. 

I dunno about you, but when I reached home and started match watching, I didn’t think 260 was a defendable total. I’d pretty much decided to watch the match alone when 2 men joined me – dad in kol, and yt in london. While yt kept cursing our team and making his usual dire predictions, dad assured me that we would win and munaf would do it for us. My reply to him was to keep his hopes in check for we didn’t want to rush him to the doctor with chest pains once the match ended. We had to do that once. No kidding. 

Now yday was a day I’d planned in advance. Cleared my desk of pending work and was all set to leave early when boss handed me a 40 page document which he wanted me to check and redraft. Anticipating my protests he whispered with the sort of urgency which my daughter uses when we are out and she needs to pee and there’s no restroom in sight. Between yt’s updates and crininfo, I was reassured that Sehwag was unleashing the kind of ruthlessness that he reserves for our neigbours from across the border. I was happy. But the Gods envy our happiness and suddenly things started to go wrong. I don’t need to take you through the magic Yuvi, Gambhir and Kolhi displayed because like me, you suffered through it too. This dismal state of affairs continued, we closed at 260, and Pakistan kept scoring slowly but looked very much in control even after they’d lost 2 wickets. Then the tide changed and He decided to smile on us. Yuvraj gave India the third breakthrough when he clean bowled Shafiq and in a moment of sheer magic the camera caught him pointing at Shafiq to start walking. It is a gesture that I usually detest for it has rudeness and insolence written large. But we needed it at that point for it carried a whiff of confidence that was hard to miss. It was also the moment when I realised something else – you can’t say you love something if you are willing to pack your bags at the first sign of trouble. You just can’t. Watching Yuvi was so delightful that I messaged yg and amita – two of my greatest cricket-discussion buddies. Both messaged back that they were unable to sit through the ordeal of the match and were not watching it. I was stunned and then angry. Gth I muttered. What kind of people stop watching an India Pakistan match because it seems we may not be able to win it? 

I’d faced some flak when I wrote earlier that a tiny part of me would be regretful if the Pakis lost. Flak from all quarters. Pbably only Dad understood the sentiment behind it. Yet, truth be told, watching Munaf and co debilitate their batting, I didn’t feel a shred of regret. That came much later when the camera panned across Afridi sitting with stoic calm in the stands. 

Now, Afridi is a player I love to hate. Everything from his classic bowling to his on-field aggression, legs-apart-pelvis-thrust-out posture, to his hint-of-a-smirk, makes me see red. Blessed with enormous talent, good looks and acclaim at a very young age, Afridi has not taken any of this with equanimity. He reminds me of the Emran Hashmi character from ‘Once upon a time in Mumbai’; he reminds me of those pada loafers who would eye us girls at the Maddox Square durga puja pandal. While his batting has been patchy, he has bowled superbly in this WC. Even when his team’s required run rate slowly climbed over 8, the camera showed him smiling and relaxed. I don’t know why but I suspect he had faith that with batsmen like Akmal and Misbah and the batting power play yet to come, he wouldn’t return disappointed. Maybe he thought he could pull a few rabbits from his own hat, like in the past. There was nothing hesitant about his batting and at one point I thought we may see a captain’s innings from him. But it didn’t happen. And his face changed. There was defeat, there were dashed hopes, there was a growing realisation that Time had done its deed and the bat no longer responded to his touch like in his best years. There is nothing sadder than the knowledge that what was once your’s, is now no more – health, love, success, priviledge, fame, talent. It is like calling up your ex-lover knowing he will answer but with a resigned shrug; it is like fumbling with the piano keys when Parkinson has ravaged your body. Frankly, one shouldn’t have to go through this and old age is a travesty.  His speech at the end and his body language in congratulating the Indian team was something I’d never have expected from Afridi. 

So, that’s how it ended and everybody seems relieved. Lekin, ye dil maange more. No matter what happens and how it all unfolds on Saturday, don’t go shopping or start playing on your Xbox. There will be time enough for all that later. Don’t give up on hope.

Mar 27, 2011

And Then There Were None

If only things were as simple as Swapan Dasgupta thinks. While i completely agree with him when he holds the Left's regime of more than 3 decades responsible for Bengal's dismal economic and growth statistics, to allege that only by removing the Left will there be any real possibility of recovery and rebuilding, is totally untrue and also quite irresponsible, given the alternative that we have to the Left's rule - the Trinamool Congress. Anybody who has bothered to track the trajectory of Mamata Banerjee's rise will see that her politics is in no way different from that practised by the Left - one of populism, of posing constant roadblocks to any measure of progress, and of deliberately keeping education and progress away from the reach of the rural populance to ensure it stays in power. Much before her famous agitation to the Singur plant, Mamata Banerjee had revealed her true affiliation and colours by leading morchas protesting the ouster of hawkers from the streets of gariahat, from bringing traffic to a stop in the middle of busy Hazra for the government's crack down on demonstrating workers of a famous power plant, and many such instances of willful disruption. To now claim that she is the shining beacon of hope for Bengal is willful disregard of recent history.

Bengal will never change and hope is a mirage for us. We bengalis know this. Things won't change because we exchange old pagan gods for the devil.

A lot has been written about Amy Chua's controversial parenting discourse 'Battle Hymn of the Dragon Mother.' Read the book recently and it was actually quite funny in places. There is nothing i have to say that's not been said before, save this which most people seem to have missed out - any woman who straddles a high-profile career as a law professor at Yale and routinely travels the globe to attend conferences and present papers and is much sought after for her views on immigration laws and trade barriers and still manages to pursue her daughters' upbringing with such passion and single-minded pursuit deserves a huge round of applause along with whatever criticism folks wanna throw her way. i mean, returning from a 14-hr flight and then checking your daughter's piano notes and ensuring she practices for 2 hours and then teaching the kids maths? All in a day's work. Half the time i was wondering, 'when does she sleep or do recreational reading or watch TV or have sex or manage a pedicure'?

Mixed feelings about our semi-final clash. The old divide between heart versus head. If one were to discount ICC rankings and all that balderdash, India have been playing miserably in the WC save for their match against Ponting's men. On the other hand, our peaceful neighbours in green have been embroiled in controversies that'd even put Paris Hilton to shame. But they have been fantastic in the tournament. Something yt said the other day struck a cord. I agree that the pakis must be evaluated as a tournament team. They save and showcase their best for tournaments and rarely do well in the other circuits. Perhaps this stems from a feeling of being ridiculed and victimized by the entire world - the usual minority grouse. I dunno why but my heart stays with them this WC. At the same time i'm fairly sure if India were to be beaten by them, i'd go to office with a long face the next day. There's no pleasing some women, i know.


Mar 26, 2011

Tokyo Rhapsody

Of the 3 countries we have stayed at for extended durations, we retain the fondest memories of Japan. The most obvious reason is because we were young lovers then – not so much spouses or parents. Young love has a different headiness, not quite unlike aged scotch.

I could fill pages writing about our stay in Japan but I realise it’d get tedious. Three things stand out: the absolute loneliness which was never unhappy; the severe paucity of english reading material; and the early visits to doctors and radiologists when I conceived D there.

Much later when I watched Sophia Coppola’s ‘Lost in Translation’ it seemed it was a film especially made for lonely wives of traveling profesionals. The Tokyo British Council Library is the only branch of the famous library I know that houses no english fiction, only a few stray periodicals. It took me about 4 months before I could locate an english lending library and the prices were so exorbitant that I withdrew scorched. Finally, I found the Project Gutenberg online and rediscovered so many wonderful works anew – Metamorphosis, Age of Innocence, Tar Baby, etc. I remember reading online late into the night and marking passages with A sleeping beside me, exhausted after his 16-hr work days.  If you looked out, you could see the lights of the Tokyo Bridge in the distance, the Tokyo Tower and the red and blue Citibank umbrella logo. It was in Tokyo that I discovered that tall buildings develop a society of sorts and talk to each other. Their bright twinkling lights beckoning, squabbling, comforting each other in the silent darkness.

The thing about staying abroad is that it lets free the moth trapped inside you. You can do the things you always wanted to without fear of people whispering behind your back. You can wear the shortest skirt without a care for your fat legs, or get drunk in a karaoke bar and sing ‘Save the best for the last’, or join an amateur bb team and make a fool of yourself on court, even befriend attractive ex-investment bankers who devote a lifetime to a  study of Zionism.

When I try to place my stay against the backdrop of momentous events that were unfolding around me, 2 incidents stand out. The massacre in Rwanda and Saddam Hussein’s capture (reported live by CNN’s Christine Amanpur). I remember footage of the security guards probing Saddam’s teeth as I do of reading about the horrific clash between the Hutus and the Tutsis in the Japan Times. I applied for a job in the newspaper and was rejected because of my ‘gaijin’ visa status.

It was in Japan that I kept house for the first time. In a sense, it transformed me into a woman; preparing me for the responsibilities I’d have to tackle ahead. I’d never had to plan grocery shopping or evening meals before. I remember exploring cheap wines and pairing them with dinner; searing pork chops, tossing greens and chilling potato salad in the refrigerator. We rarely had any Indian meals and no matter how good or bad the food turned out, A was always happy.

Japan brought me 2 great friends – sb and sj.  It was sb who introduced me to the world of free music download. That was the beginning of an incredibly rewarding habit. I’d explore and download everything from rafi to rehman and wait for A to return in the evening and check it out. Everything seemed perfect when he nodded in appreciation as Roop Kumar Rathod sang ‘khamosh raat’.

Only people who have lived in Japan are aware of the serene beauty the country possesses. There is an economy, a quiet, clean façade to its most ornamental edifices that separates Japan from European places of interest. You can never compare the Meiji Shrine or the Emperors Palace with the Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Versailles in terms of sheer scale or grandeur. But if you are someone who loves to lie on his couch in a ‘vacant or in pensive mood’, you will find quiet in the busiest corners of Japan - from the high-end stores in Ginza and the teeming nightlife of Roppongi to the lonely trails amidst the tall swaying oaks that surround the Asakusa temple.

No post on Japan would be complete without a mention of Hanami or the cherry blossom season. Whole rows of fluffy cotton-ball flowers decking row after row of cherry trees, and the early spring breeze flirting with the branches, even the sight is enough to lighten the most jaded amongst us. Later, when I witnessed autumn in Vermont with the trees sporting a fiery orange flame in the fall season, I wondered, ‘Why do I doubt His existence in my moments of distress?’

A has been running helter skelter planning the evacuation of his team from Tokyo and overseeing the migration of some critical areas of the project. I have rarely seen him more subdued. We go about our lives, attending to office and home, but deep in the recesses of the mind, the thought of how things are unfolding there nags. I hope He watches over them.

Mar 24, 2011

Whimsy: Doubt is

....  as insidious, itchy, & persistent as the sting of the bed bug.

... as calamitous as the toddler's frivolous blow to the house of cards.

... permanent as the names you carved beneath the wooden bench.

... as devastating as a prima donna's first wrinkle.

... as hopeful as a death-row inmate.

... as resigned as a passport applicant.

*********************************************************** *********
Try as she might, the key did not turn. After a quick frustrating struggle, she realised the locks had been changed. When? Why - the thoughts raged within her. Not wishing to give in to the doubts that'd assailed her for the past few months, she broke the kitchen window and stepped inside. At first nothing seemed out of the ordinary, then she noticed the pictures.  Had so many people really grieved at her passing away?

Mar 20, 2011

Whimsy: Sally and Jack

Perhaps she should have known something like this would happen. Life has the strangest ways of closing circles. She understood this when he played ‘Sally and Jack’, that incredible melody which the other had sent her so long ago. For almost 2 years she’d listened to its plaintive melody as she read her books or fed the ducks in the pond nearby. Things had changed in the last 3-4 years and she’d gotten busier. ‘Sally and Jack’ had slumbered uninterrupted till he brought them back to life yesterday.

Ever since she came to know she’d finally see him face to face after almost a decade, she’d been wondering how it’d be like; what he’d have become – after all he was the one who’d been to the edge of the precipice and back. He was better now, she’d been told, but then better often turned out to be a poor substitute. 

Their first encounter was nothing like it was this time. How could it be? She’d been an undergraduate and he a lanky smart-alecky kid still in school!! She had been impressed by his vocabulary, his grasp of vernacular literature, but still he was just another smart kid. Over the years as the families grew more familiar, they both discovered a wealth of topics to talk about.  They talked and debated and discovered and laughed and grew.

Even the conversations would have been fine had it not been for amit dutta and the guitar classes that commenced. He’d call her up to find out which song she wanted him to learn during the week and go about resolutely mastering the most difficult melodies and beats. On her part, she was a tad miffed that nothing seemed too difficult for him. From nirvana, to billy joel, to eagles, to pink floyd, robindrosongeet, to Bangla rock, to grateful dead, and led zeppelin – he played them all for her. Perhaps that was the beginning. 

Later, sitting alone in Virginia when she heard that he’d gone missing somewhere in the bleak snow-clad Adirondacks, she often wondered if it’d been best if they’d never gone on the trip together. Nothing took place, nothing was argued about and yet it washed away everything that they shared. Space and time are great forces of division and she tried to make him comprehend that. But how could he? He was just a cocky 18 yr old who thought topping the JEE gave him immunity from rejections.

Much later came the stories of his disastrous marriage, the cancellation of admission at Virginia Tech, stories of his alcoholism, pneumonia, and his journey to the Adirondacks and finally threat of deportation from the US. She was in Virginia too, but she'd made no attempt to seek him out. But she'd thought of him often, wept and raged and prayed that he would pull through.

All this played on her mind as she rang the bell that evening. She wondered what he’d think of her. She had her children with her now, a few grey in her hair, and of course, a healthy dose of cynicism within her. Reality check - maybe he wouldn’t even remember her.

He’d put on a lot of weight, must be the steroids at the rehab, she mused silently. One minute she was ringing the bell and the next she found herself enveloped in the warmest embrace she’d experienced in a long long time. There must’ve been about a dozen people in the room and yet she was neither conscious of them nor mindful whether her 3-yr old son was putting his shoes outside the door as she’d taught him to.

Later it seemed incredible that they had spent that much time together that evening, next to each other, he playing one incredible song after the other. She cueing requests, he playing. In between, he’d request her for a drink or a soda or simply extend his hand for her to hold. He’d made her daughter sit on his other sit and taught her how to strum the cords on ‘ajeeb dastaan hai ye’ in a matter of a few minutes. They didn’t speak about what had transpired in Virginia, the hell he’d been unfortunate enough to glimpse at such a tender age, the lines it’d left under his eyes. He only asked her why she’d had tears when he started to play ‘sally and jack’. She told him.

She resolved that she’d spent the next day not doing any of the things she’d grown accustomed to. As she lazed in bed late the next morning, she recalled the moment when he’d suddenly strummed ‘keno megh ashey, hridoyo akashey, tomate dekhite chayena’ and almost on cue she’d picked up the tune and started singing. Everyone there had sat in stunned silence for they knew she didn’t sing anymore. Her sis-in-law, who’d  loved her robindrosongeet so much, had hugged her later. She smiled at its memory and opened her mail to send him an especially difficult tune after nearly a decade. Would he be able to do it again within a week, she wondered as she clicked on ‘Send’.

Mar 14, 2011

Notes on Hereafter

There are moments in life when you come across a book or a film and read it through the prism of  recent experience/s and thus form opinions that may be markedly different from those around you. For me, ‘Hereafter’ is that film.

Almost everybody has commented that this seems to be the octegenarian Eastwood’s meditation on mortality, life after death and whether there is anything of value thereafter.  If you interpret this splendid film in such terms, you will miss out on the empathy that you feel as you watch it. I am really not concerned about what comes after death. Life on earth is tough as it is and quite interminable. Who cares about the second innings?

So, what is ‘Hereafter’ really about? I think it is about loss and the craving to establish some modicum of connection with the source of that loss in its aftermath. This is overwhelming loss we are talking about: a loss so profound, so total, that it grips you like a death-vice around your throat and chokes the living breath out of you. Which is why I say, you can’t appreciate a film like ‘Hereafter’ if you have no sense of such loss.

As i was watching Hereafter, i was reminded of something that happens quite frequently whenever L and me fight. We decide never to speak again and then i ask hesitantly, "Is it ok to write to you sometimes?" It's a script with lil variation and i doubt she understands where the query springs from. But Eastwood understands it.

The 3 protagonists of the film, spread across London, Paris and SFO, are battling different degrees of loss. While one loss may seem more compelling and shattering than the other, the fact remains that the lives of all 3 have been altered irrevocably. The near-death experience that celebrity french journalist Marie Lelay (a breathtaking Cecile de France) endures in Tsunami-hit Hawaii, changes her life forever. She is distracted, unable to concentrate on the simple stuff that has constituted her life so far, and loses her job and boyfriend. Her loss may not be as obvious or moving as that of little Marcus in London who loses his twin brother Jason (his greatest support in a household where the only adult member is their alcoholic, crack-addict mother who keeps avoiding officers from the Child Services), but that does not render her loss any less poignant.

The story unfolding in SFO centres around George Lonegan (a subtle, dependable Matt Damon), a psychic who has the unique gift of being able to communicate with the dead and who considers this a curse more than a gift. We are told that he was quite a celebrity at one time, has even authored a book, but has now stopped doing ‘readings’ for people for he believes, “A life spent dealing with the dead is no life at all.” As the film progresses, we see how this curse indeed limits his chances of ever leading a normal life and we sense his feeling of deep disconnect and loss from the world of normal happy healthy people. The fact that these 3 souls cross paths and find some degree of redemption and relief is no surprise. It is as improbable and wacky as any multiple thread narrative film is.

‘Hereafter’ is not a film for those looking for a fast paced, talky script that delivers sudden punches and easy resolutions and wraps up everything neatly at the end. In tone and cinematographic treatment, the film reminded me of Shyamalan’s ‘Sixth Sense’. Almost everything in Eastwood’s film has a deep melancholy, from the superb background score to the acting of all the characters - from Marcus’ mother to Candice the black woman who has lost her child and begs George for a reading.

The more one watches quiet Hollywood films like this or Rabbit Hole or Out of Africa, one realises that deep grief is a black hole that cannot be conveyed through loud chest-thumping or sobbing. It is the knowledge that you have endured a loss so great that no matter what happens later, your capacity for happiness has been tarnished forever. That is perhaps the simplest definition of loss too.

There are scenes of quiet beauty in this film and one wonders how Eastwood, that stock veteran of Westerns and the Dirty Harry series, could have hidden a soul capable of such poetry, such lyricism and such sensitivity in those roles. George who has no friends, no social life to speak of, unwinds while listening to audio recordings of Dickens’ novels. It takes a filmmaker like Eastwood to pick sections of deep haunting beauty from the Victorian novelist’s works.

Then there is that early scene introducing us to the 2 twins in London. As their inebriated mother totters in, Jason the older twin remarks to Marcus, “She’ll see it tomorrow.” I don’t want to divulge what he is talking about but it takes a minute to sink in and when it does, you marvel at the terrific intuition this 80-yr old director possesses that enables him to penetrate the psyche of an adolescent boy who is trying to ease his younger twin’s sadness.

Watch ‘Hereafter’ once; it is a labour of love and not all films are. Pay it this tribute for it comes from a man whose heart has nothing but an all-encompassing love for humanity, of that I’m sure.

Mar 8, 2011

@ the Dance Class

I don’t think of myself as a hyper attentive or indulgent mom. In fact, most people tell me that I’m way too severe with D. I dunno, I’m like my dad I think. He was very strict too & the only thing I remb. dreading as a kid was his displeasure. Yet, somewhere he succeeded in instilling the unshakable faith in our minds that his love for us was boundless, that he was our pillar no matter what else went wrong. That remains true even today. 

The thing abt her is that she’s a strange mix of flippancy & forgetfulness and soulful sensitivity and as she grows older I can discern when one overshadows the other. Usually nothing u can say or do will dent her armour of complete indifference when she makes repeated spelling mistakes or has lost her new water bottle or is unable to do something that most of her other classmates have completed; but of late, there have been instances when I can suddenly glimpse a facet that reveals she is hurt or painfully self conscious. I don’t like to see her that way.

She’s been having problems at this dance class I’ve enrolled her. It’s not some tough classical kathak academy or anything, just some light bollywood hip-hop numbers. Though she likes dancing, for some strange reason she’s uncomfortable and unable to pick the steps and do well there. It came to a point a few weeks ago when she said she wanted to stop going to class. Now, I’m not the sort of parent who’ll send her kid for Abacus tutorials or Phonic Kids or Personality Development (I kid u not!) classes, but I do believe, if you’ve started something, don’t just drop out because it’s getting tough. Try it for a while at least. I said as much to her and now make it a point to return early twice a week so that I can drop her to class and just generally bolster her spirits or cheer her after the class by grabbing a milkshake at McDonalds or something.

Today, the dance teacher had assigned a slightly older boy to take charge of the class as he was busy with some other kids. On an impulse I stayed back and was observing D’s class from out of a small crack between the door and the frosted glass.  Apparently they were doing a dance which D was totally clueless about! I mean, her movements were rigid and unsure and after a few minutes the boy started scolding her and the other kids snickering. Usually if we are at home and I scold her about her spellings, she is quick to shoot back some rejoinder. But there she stood, absolutely quietly, fidgeting one toe then the other, and I could see the acute embarrassment that gripped her. I still don’t think I have the power to convey in words all the thoughts and feelings that assaulted me immediately. My first impulse was to walk inside and ask the other kids to shut the ef up; I next wanted to tell the boy to stop scolding her and teach her the steps instead. And yeah, I wanted to tell her that not getting a few stupid dance steps right, is not the end of the world. 

But I couldn’t do anything but stand there and watch her discomfited. I didn’t even feel like returning home then, just sat on the stairs for a while. In that moment I knew, I have the strength to face anything He throws at me, as long as it isn’t directed at D. I love a lot of people, but the kind of ferocious love that I felt for her then, scared me. How am I going to ensure that she is spared the serious health hazards or deep hurts that dodge us through life? What can I do so that while she rides the crests and troughs of life, she is never sucked underwater?

A scene from Finding Nemo comes to mind. Marlin tells Dory, ‘I failed him. I told him I’d look after him forever and I let him be lost.’ Dory replies in her half comic half serious way, ‘Boy, that sure is a strange thing to promise anyone.’ She's right.

I know she’ll be a lil upset when she returns from the dance class today. She doesn’t know I was there standing outside when the others were laughing at her. Perhaps, we’ll order some takeaway and watch an hour of Finding Nemo together. Those impossible spellings can wait for a day, I'm sure. 

Mar 3, 2011

Masterchef Austalia 2011: Sweet Smell..

Two underdogs came into their own last night and did it with flamboyance. Lil Whitney, the 22-yr old cutie pie from down south Missisippi won America’s first Masterchef challenge. From the beginning of the show, I’d been dreading her ouster every week, for Whitney, in all fairness, wasn’t the best amateur chef amongst the contestants. But this girl rallied around every time she was down and surprised everyone. 

The thing about Whitney is that she has always represented something simple, something unadorned, basic, homely, no-frills…..i could go on and on. You don’t expect to associate ‘success’ with someone like that. Too much TV and too much celebrity worship in our lives and too less time for quiet introspection; too much Botox and too less heart. The world has left behind such people and didn’t even realize when it did. 

While the other contestants would make use of the best cold cuts, the most expensive ingredients and the finest Grande Marnier to flavor their entrée, Lil Whitney would deploy her southern style corn cakes and collard greens. What I really admire about this gal is the confidence to stand her ground when everyone around her was doing so much more; it was a quiet confidence coupled with girlish nervousness that made her win my heart. How can you not root for someone like that?  

I hadn’t even heard of Kevin O’Brien before yday and it seemed incredible to watch some unknown guy who’s played for the Railway Union to come and smash the mighty Goliath’s confidence. I read later that at one point Ireland were actually 111/5. What does that tell you about life? Fluke rules! I’m not denying that Ireland didn’t deserve the win but the odds of one guy turning the tide is not so much about skill or talent, as it is about ‘luck by chance’. 

It is also about two other imp. things: first, the smell of success - the only thing that doesn’t let you down in life. Everything is won if you can exorcise your own demons and emerge victorious. That’s the stuff the greatest stories are made of. In the last 7 overs of the match, you could sense Ireland’s confidence as clearly as you could sense England’s utter helplessness and fatigue.

Second and something that I forget and bypass easily: perseverance is to success as soundbytes are to Rakhi Sawant. Behind Whitney’s astounding win and O’Brien’s powerful knock, there must be oodles of patience and perseverance. To a casual bystander like you or me, that perseverance is not evident and their victory seems almost magical. But I’m as sure of their perseverance as I’m that perseverance alone will not always pay. Tough luck. But you won’t have success without perseverance. 

I’ve been a little unwell the past few weeks and couldn’t shake off a feeling of eternal tiredness. Watching TV with D, I could feel the adrenalin rush as first Whitney and later Ireland upset the odds. Pure joy. High 5!

As I was writing the above post, it struck me that at least 3 of this year’s Oscar winners also deal with overcoming great odds – Rabbit Hole, The Fighter, and The King’s Speech. In fact, Black Swan examines the flipside of this obsessive search for perfection and success. Interesting.