Yeh Dosti ?

Dynamics of friendship are strange, almost paradoxical at times. Your best friend wants you to listen to him, and wants you to respond with a certain statement or a question or a comment. But when you do that, you are blown away for not being the perfect friend, for not saying the perfect thing to console the troubled soul. Actually, we never appreciate what we have and we take it for granted that we have friends. The words, which you utter to soothe your friend, the very same words hurt him. In the process, we often fail to realize that life is not a book or a movie. Ideal things and relationships don’t exist here. It is hence our biggest fault that we keep on expecting things and people to be perfect.

Sometimes i want to be that kid again when the world was an ideal place; comic book heroes were real, excelling in and finishing up the stages of Mario and Contra used to be the ultimate goals, all the families were as happy as the ones in Rajshree movies, my bunch of best friends used to play with me in the evening; when the word ‘problem’ centred around losing the water bottle in school, when the class teacher was the only person we feared, and when the ‘happily ever after’ actually used to  exist, at least in our fantasies. The list of such nostalgic musings goes on.

As we grow up things begin to complicate. Whenever my 3 year old cousin, Aanchal (who is in my hometown) wants to talk to me over phone, she points to the coffee cup having my picture on it and says, “Bhaiya..! Chaai mein..! Aanchal..! Baat..!”. And then her mother corrects her that it is a mug, not “chaai”. She is learning quicker than she ever will in her entire life. And while doing all this, she has helped me understand the meaning of one word, cuteness!

She doesn’t even know the proper words but we understand what she wants to say. This signifies one thing that even the body language, apart from words, cannot be construed to be the most important constituent of communication. It is something else, it is the willingness of your audience to listen and comprehend. And with this, we come back to where we started from – the dynamics of paradoxical relationships. We have friends who are willing to listen to us, we know the proper words, we have the perfect body language to convey our feelings, we have everything; yet some inexplicable thing always comes in the way and we find an excuse to say, “Koi mujhe nahin samajhta!” 

Only if life was simple again and we could point out to a coffee mug and say, “Baat..!” And who knows may be if we could open up a little bit more and accept Life as it is. May be, just may be. 

उन्हें शक है, मुझे यकीं !

चाँद को देख मुस्काना
तेरी सूरत देख बतियाना
बादल जो खेलते हैं आँख मिचोली
घंटों उसमें गुम हो जाना
शाम को कॉलोनी में टहलते हुए
आसमान तो तकना
गिने चुने बचे हुए तारों को
उँगलियों पे गिनना
कहीं मैं पागल तो नहीं
ऐसा लोगों को शक है, और मुझे यकीं !

राह चलते अचानक किसी से टकराना
सॉरी बोलते हुए फिर आगे बढ़ जाना
तू ही तू है हर चेहरे में
हर चेहरे में बस तुझे देखे जाना
बचकाना सा गुज़रता है दिन
बचकानी सी हरकतें हैं अब
नशा कुछ अलग सा छाया है
मज़ाक उड़ाते हुए कहते हैं सब
कि कहीं साला ये पागल तो नहीं
उन्हें शक है, मुझे यकीं !

अब और रहा नहीं जाता
ये दर्द-ए-इश्क सहा नहीं जाता
ढूँढ़ते हुए भटक रहा हूँ कबसे
अकेला रहता हूँ मिलता भी हूँ गर सबसे
मौला मेरे तेरा दस्तूर निराला है
दुनिया का ठुकराया तुझे प्यारा है
अब तो रहम कर बुला ले अपने पास
तेरा ज़र्रा हूँ, तेरी है ये सांस
नादां हैं जो सोचते हैं मैं पागल तो नहीं
उन्हें शक है, लेकिन मुझे है यकीं !

OPEN - an Autobiography by Andre Agassi

Few days ago i came across an article in TOI, it was about the favourite books of some cricketers. There i noticed a book which was liked by Virat Kohli and Shane Watson. I had seen this book in bookstores earlier but went against buying it. This time i thought, i’ll buy it, and i bought : OPEN – an autobiography by Andre Agassi.

For people of my generation tennis means Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. As much as their rivalry is famous in this era, the nineties saw the rivalry among Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Sampras, greater of the 2 players retired earlier. Agassi retired in 2006 winning 3 of his 8 grand slams after the year 2000. He has the 2nd most number of career ATP Masters Series Titles at 17.  I have seen Agassi playing and the fact that he is married to the greatest women’s singles tennis player of all time Steffi Graph, drew me further into reading this one.

The first thing which caught my attention was the cover of the book. It has just the face of Agassi staring at you, but something was there in that expression and the eyes, some sort of misery, honesty and pain – which made me look at the picture again and again. Moving on from this narcissistic theory, i read the first chapter titled THE END. Those 20 pages left me spellbound and i knew that a fantastic read is in store for me. Not surprisingly, the last chapter is titled THE BEGINNING. And in between you have Agassi’s life revolving around training, tournaments, Grand Slams, rivalries, relationships, marriages and soul-searching.

Why i loved this book when i’m not a big tennis fan? Because throughout the book he describes his thoughts and feelings going through his mind so unbelievably well, that you will feel as if you are there in his place. And it is very interesting to read what is happening inside someone’s mind at a particular moment. I’m awed by the details of the things going in his mind specially during the matches. I wish and fear at the same time, if i could ever do that myself i.e. writing my thoughts out such vividly and honestly.

This is not a review because reviews are supposed to be neutral. When i like something, i get very biased so i am only sharing what i think of the book. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it for its brutal honesty and the amazing style with which it is written.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have.

“A win doesn't feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn't last as long as the bad. Not even close.

“It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. Even the structure of tennis, the way the pieces fit inside one another like Russian nesting dolls, mimics the structure of our days. Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it’s all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or our darkest. It’s our choice.

“One thing I’ve learned in twenty-nine years of playing tennis: Life will throw everything but the kitchen sink in your path, and then it will throw the kitchen sink. It’s your job to avoid the obstacles. If you let them stop you or distract you, you’re not doing your job, and failing to do your job will cause regrets that paralyze you more than a bad back.

“Of all the games men and women play, tennis is the closest to solitary confinement, which inevitably leads to self-talk, and for me the self-talk starts here in the afternoon shower. This is when I begin to say things to myself, crazy things, over and over, until I believe them. I’ve won 869 matches in my career, 5th on the all-time list, and many of them were won during the afternoon shower.

“What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.”

“This is why we’re here. To fight through the pain and, when possible, to relieve the pain of others. So simple. So hard to see.”

“The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I've found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you. And I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you.” (farewell speech he gave at the 2006 US Open)