12:48 AM | Author: kaushik
I have given in to the temptation to move to Wordpress. Unlike, many other people, I do not have much complain with blogger. It allowed me to what I want to do efficiently and cleanly. But, just that I wanted a change. I might, probably will, come back to this address after a few years on wordpress...

But still, this blog, is going to remain special for me. It is like your first home. I have stayed in so many different homes, but still the Vishal apartment in Kolkata is the special home that I always remember about. But you do have to move on!

So, the new link is http://kaushiknarasimhan.wordpress.com

The comments on my blog is what is keeping me wanting to blog more. So, people who do come and read here, please don't feel sad that I have changed address!
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4:06 PM | Author: kaushik
Sometimes we have to learn about other people's miseries to realize how lucky we are. I heard a very sad news regarding a friend yesterday. It reminded me of a even sadder news that I heard sometime in December'07. Both of them, put things in perspective for me. I have always taken so many things for granted, and whined at life for small set-backs. But never have I thought back, and be grateful that the so many things that I take for granted, are probably things that so many others dream of.

Yesterday, I felt that God should share miseries more evenly. But then, the next instant, selfishly, I realized that I cannot handle such miseries, and was thankful that miseries are not shared evenly, and some people are more lucky than others.

----

I am not able to, however much I try, to pick up the phone and call my married friends. And now that, I am the only "single" guy left in my whole college gang, I find it even harder. It is a mix of jealousy and a feeling of being an outsider. Right after college, we would spend hours and hours on the phone. Each of us were having different experiences and there was lots of stories to be shared. Slowly, the novelty of our newer experiences began to wear off, and the excessive analysis into career and life planning hit a plateau. The frequency of the calls dwindled, but still, enough story got piled up, when I (or they) eventually called. But, all of a sudden, within six months, all of them have gotten married, and I almost feel that I am standing on the other side of the station, a chasm between their "married" stories and my school and research experiences. I almost do not want to hear their stories, because I cannot relate to it. And, I feel that I have nothing much new to add from my side of survival for the past 2 years...

I still have not got used to this change. I hope that I get over this soon.

----

Snowy days can never replace the charm of a rainy night. While reading my novel (My name is Red), I just float back to late summer evenings in Calcutta.

As the sun would start its decent, a huge bulk of ominously dark cloud will materialize in the sky. We kids, playing in the terrace, will look at it expectantly. The cloud will then start coming closer, hiding the sun. Within a few moments, the clouds fill the sky, mixing the colours of dusk, purplish and reddish in the far , gradually becoming blue, with the enticing gray of rain bearing clouds. Special effects in the form of lightning at the edge where the cloud and blue sky form a blurry boundary, and loud thunder usher in the strong breeze. The trees sway to the breeze's music, and the breeze sweeps up the dust and heat of the day. Protecting our eyes, from the sand blowing into us, our hair flowing in the breeze, we run down, just in time as the first rain-drops fall. I go to my room, switch on the light and the fan, which brings in and circulates the cool air to every-corner of my room, spreading the earthy fragrance, and start reading the amar-chitra-katha that I have been reading...


I almost feel the cool breeze and the earthy fragrance in my madison apartment, before I realize that it is snow that I see outside my window...

(photo from a blog called turquoise chill, which I found on google image search)

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10:59 PM | Author: kaushik
I left off yesterday, having recounted my confused journey into IIT-Bombay.

Of the many things, the first semester there inspired me, was to learn. Even now, the "research-bug" is absent, but the "knowledge bug" is there. I feel, there is a subtle difference among the two, I love attending classes, and working out assignments and tests. The goal there is clear in front of me: to learn the concept. The bigger picture is also there, these concepts are useful in practice, there are companies out there, which use this knowledge to do what they do. But, when it comes to research, the bigger picture is on a much larger canvass, and I have failed to grasp it in totality.[1]

Research was a new thing, that I had never tried before, and I dived into it, in my 2nd semester at IIT. Alongside, with this new-found passion for "learning", I spent a lot of time on the coursework, dissecting it and learning much more from it that was taught in the class.

The God of Confusion, was not too pleased with me, and decided to muddle me up again.

One of the positives out of RVCE that I took with me, was the fun and excitement and satisfaction I got, involving myself in organizing events. The placement coordinator work that Parry and I got to do, was perhaps the icing on the cake. Perhaps, the most satisfying moment in my life, was the night, after getting the job, when RP came and hugged me, and thanked me for my efforts that day.

Towards the end of the second-semester, I saw the notice for M.Tech Placement Nominee for IIT. On a whim, I applied. I had not given much thought to placements after coming to IIT, nor had I any idea about the placement scenes for Masters student in the campus. I had, no idea, about the enormity of the job either. Placement team work in RV, had given me some ideas about recruiting practices in India, and I thought, they would probably be useful in IIT aswell.

I almost forgot about the interiew as well. On the day of the interview, I was told to come to the placement office, and I did not know where it was. I asked a random student on campus and got to the interview. Somehow, I managed to impress the panel, even though, I hardly knew about the responsibilities that I would be getting into. Later that evening, when I came to know that I had actually gotten the job, I really drowned in the excitement. It was supposed to be one of the most important student jobs in the campus, I was in a position of extreme responsibility and had a chance to make a difference in the campus.

Over the summer, and slowly over the fall semester, placement work started taking the priority. I was occupied for long parts of the day, making calls to companies, speaking with alumni, HR, other contacts, meeting professors, making arrangements for pre-placement-talks, coordinating our team etc etc. It was becoming, nearly a full time job. More than one weeknights were also spent meeting with the team to discuss what to do, how to do etc. It was fun and I was immensly enjoying it.

During the free time that I had, I worked on research, and churned out a few ideas, wrote some code and did some analysis. It did not turn out to be top-grade research, but was much better than satisfactory. In hindsight, I think, the work was good, because, I dedicated a much lesser time to it, and concentrated only on research during that time. Now, that I have to be a researcher 24X7, my mind drifts to thousand other things, and I end up writing posts like this!

Listening to PPT's of almost all companies that visit the campus, the efforts to plan, organize and coordinate a placement procedure for 1000 students, instilled a false confidence in me, that I will be very good in the corporate world. But, it was not to be, and for various reasons, I was not considered by around 5-6 companies that I applied to, during the first week of placements.

Sometime amidst this placement duties, my "interest" had drifted towards work again. I had taken a lot of math and statistics courses during my 2nd and 3rd semester, and I wanted to work for one of the statistics/math based companies. After the first week, interview fiasco, I decided to look for jobs in companies that have refused to come to campus, but was working in the general area that I was interested in. I needed references in my resume, and wanted to use a few contacts of my advisers in applying for some of the companies.

I approached them for this, after a pretty lengthy joint meeting, discussing the work. That started a 1 hour lecture session by Prof SCP and VP, urging me to take up PhD. Within an hour, they had decided the people I should look to work with in the US (and they are the biggest names in my research area here), and offered to write incredible reccommendations for me, and also decided to put up personal notes of reccommendation to the biggies in the US. I never had such confidence in myself, as my advisers had in my skills.

When people you respect the most in the world, give you advice, you do not discard it, and I was off to Belgaum to get my UG university transcripts in a week and apply for a PhD. The speed at which all this happend still amazes me. I met my advisers, probably on 10/12/06, and I was done with my applications by 25/12/06. Placements had a 10 day break in december, and in that window, I finished applying to grad school. Anyone who has applied can guess how quick that was!

Deja vu!!!

A year before, I had no coherent reason to join IIT. There was the instinct to take up masters after the interview. And in 12/06, the same instinct, peppered by my adviser's advice.

The UW admit came in January, and the wheels were turning for my departure to grad school in the US.

The last semester in Madison, was pretty bad, and I saw myself recreating many "what-if" I had done that kind of questions. I could not put together long stretches of time at work, and began to question my instinctive decision again.

Twice, I had given up jobs to be in academics. Twice, I had decided in the last moment to get to graduate school. And after four years into grad school, at two different places, being advised by two really great people in the field that I am working in, I still do not know, if I made the wrong decision twice, or the correct one twice.

I seriously contemplated dropping off, and finally get that job, that I have been yearning for. But, I know, I will not be able to do it, because I am still stuck in-between. I will miss school and research in a job, and I will yearn for a real world job in school.

_______________
[1]I know that the trick is to understand that developments is the sum total of many researcher's efforts. I know that the small simulations that I work with, will present a clearer insight into the problem, and somewhere down the line, the results will actually be used to do something practical and useful. Still, the fact that I am not working on a "real" world problem rankles me. At the same time, the "idea" driving my research project prods me, because, somewhere, far far away in time, there may be a practical implementation. This dichotomy, shows it's nasty face, now and again, urging me to drop research and look for jobs in the industry using contemporary tools to solve today's problems sometimes and urging me to invest my skills in developing novel tools to solve tomorrow's problems some-other times. The sad part is, neither of the urges is the clear winner, giving me a creepy feeling that had I been working someplace now, I would have written a similar post.

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10:26 PM | Author: kaushik
I have been writing my prelim report all week, and it is due on the 16th. If I pass this prelim, I will be well on my way to get a PhD (and if not, I still have another shot at it).

But I have never been one of those "research" types. One of those PhD types, who eat-sleep and drink research, get excited with good as well as bad results, have ideas brewing inside them all the time. Neither am I one of those types- no job, recession, lets do a PhD. I have been stuck in the middle, alternating between an irresistible urge to work on my research, and an unstoppable urge of not wanting to do anything with research.

I still recall, a long after dinner walk sometime in 2003, just finishing 4th semester of engineering, defending my non-interest in CAT/GATE/GRE, and a great desire to get a job. And, I still remember people, trying to talk me into one of the three exams, promising that with my "talent", I will breeze through them. I recall, sitting in front of Electrical engineering, discussing about "our calling", and how there are "tech-guys" and "management-guys". But, this did not much change my decision, and I still wanted a to take up a job. Infact, I remember, talking about not being much interested in an MBA either, because, I never knew understood what the "management type" was except that they were the "I did not like engineering type". Things got much simpler, when Appa refused to give me the 16,000 for IMS (which in afterthought, was great, I would have prepared with half-an-heart, and that is no good). I also never got the "research bug", with uninspiring teaching in the department and a syllabus that hardly whets your analytic skills, but got my hands dirty with some technical reading with a couple other people who were pretty sure that research was the way to go and were trying to work on some projects to get a good admit.

Some "events" transpired in February-March 2004, and slowly I drifted out of one friend circle and into another, from the "CAT" gang, to the "GRE" gang. This is where, the first burst of impulse stuck me, and I decide that I will go to America. But unlike, the friends who were applying with me, I had hardly thought about the prospect. Everyone in the hostel, were on one side or the other, MS or MBA, preparing with word-lists and quants and stuff like that. Such stuff was needed for placements too, and I decided that I will go the "GRE" way . Although it was the much expensive proposition, MBA was an unkonwn entity, and I did not know if I would like it or not. Atleast, I was sure, I will not dislike a MS.

We had done thermodynamics in our 5th semester, and some of the models really impressed me. I put a special effort to learn parts of it which were unnecessary for passing the VTU exam, but evoked interest in me, because there were some algorithms listed in the book to solve those equations. So, Thermodynamics became my research interest. Over the 6th semester, my newer GRE enthu friend circle, motivated and pushed me to study for the GRE, to read up on interesting technical stuff. We wrote the GRE over the 6th semester break, and came back with apping on our minds. In the meantime, I landed up a job with CTS. I still was not sure about the whole America thing, but researched universities along with friends, always telling myself, finding out does not mean I will apply. But, I got carried away, and when we found out that universities do not offer funding for MS, decided that PhD is the way to go.

GATE, came in the middle, pretty much out of nowhere. My enthu gang of friends were the only ones in the whole MS enthu gang in the hostel to actually write the exam. Preparation for GATE was an even bigger joke. The three of us, prepared for exactly 2 hours, and almost directly from the exam center, we boarded the Karnataka express for a Delhi/Rajasthan/Agra holiday.

Surprisingly, I was the first to land up with an admit to the USA. Even more surprisingly, the three of us and Haddi, managed to get great GATE ranks as well. My other friends had not gotten admissions yet, and so we decided to apply to IIT-Bombay. I had totally forgotten about interview calls, when PJ, checking for his interview calls, spotted my name on the IIT-B website. And, I was on my way to Mumbai for the interview.

The may interview was actually the first time, I really felt that, I could grasp technical stuff (VTU exams just test how well you can memorize), when, I almost derived a not-so-intutive result with casual egging on by the interviewers. To boost my confidence further, I was put in the top-10 of the selected list (and that was huge jump, because the weight was to GATE rank and interview performance, and my rank was the last rank to be admitted). IIT was a huge huge dream, and I had decided to take that up, almost immediately. Still, long discussions about India/US higher education scene etc etc, ate up my evenings.

I flew into Bombay in July-2005, to live my IIT dream, and there I was, getting a MTech degree. Thinking back, there was hardly a coherent reason, that I could think of, which made me take a MS/PhD decision during the RVCE days, or made me not to accept the CTS job.

The first semester in IIT, stretched me to my limits, and I learned that I have a passion for mathematics, thanks to Prof SCP's class. I seemed to have impressed the professors (those who interacted with me) too, and the seminar that we had to give by reading a few papers, whetted my appetite for more mathematics related course. SCP's advance controls class in Spring fit the bill.

The story of 2006 and '07 and my landing in Madison : Next installment!!

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12:06 AM | Author: kaushik
A Suitable Boy:
By way of a review, all I can say is that this book is like a great recipe, with loads of flavors and layers of taste. It will evoke almost every emotion that you are capable of, just like a great recipe pokes at all your taste buds.

It is more than a 1000 pages, but un-put-downable. There were days, when I was sitting in my office and staring at my monitor, with all thoughts on what is going to happen next in the book. And, I finished it in a spurts of reading, 6-7 hours together to breeze past 300 pages, and feel sad that there are 300 pages less to read of this most engrossing book.

Almost immediately as I finished the book, I have elevated it to the top-5 books that I have ever read.

And, I have a nagging feeling, that the next time I am going to read this book (and I am sure I will read it again), it is going to affect me in a totally different way, and that is because the book grapples with lots of issues, and lots of different characters in different phases of maturity. Depending on your emotional status when you read the book, different characters are going to tug your heart and evoke different reactions to the same events.

The first time, my heart went out to Maan, just because he was totally lost for direction in life.


The Zoya Factor
You cannot ask for more from Desi Chic-Lit. It was a breezy read, and am sure, will come out as a movie in a cinema nearby very soon. I have never read a chic-lit book before, but now, I kind of see why people like to read them...

The Peacock Throne
This book blew hot and cold. It is about politics in Chandni chowk, and the story pushes itself through disaster days of Indian history- The '84 riots, Mandal commission, 6th December and a demolition drive in Chandni chowk in '96. If for 500 of the 700 page book, you don't see the story develop, and what keeps you reading on is the blurb on the backpage. The anticipation of how he would make the blurb happen was what kept me reading through writing that was becoming progressively banal. And to make a laborious 500 page read even worse, was the lame ending in the last 50 or pages. The intricately entwined threads in the story add to nothing.

Laborious book, ambitious story, which could have been better executed. The outstanding part was the '84 riots chapter. It was almost as-if someone else took over the book after that.

R.K. Narayan Omnibus
He is definitely the master. No doubt. I had been sporadically introduced to him before, the story about the mailman in the 10th standard English books, the T.V serials (that were brilliant, almost bringing Malgudi to life), and then a collection of Malgudi days stories.

It was his brilliant but under-rated novel, "Waiting for the Mahatma", that made me wanting more of him. But, that was not to be, and the next R.K.Narayan book that I picked up was "The English Teacher".

I did not know about the autobiographical references in The English Teacher, much after I read it, and the second half (of his spiritual quest to understand the loss of his wife) was quite lost on me, but the first half, stands out, and the picture of the idyllic life in Malgudi, the care-free bachelor days, his efforts to make something out of his education (other than teaching), the adjustment to married life, the happiness of the couple, will always stay with me.

His writing says so much, paints such a detailed picture, and is yet so simple. Personally, RKN's writing is the exact opposite pole of Sulman Rushdie, but they seem to achieve similar results: transport you into the world of the book so efficiently.

The omnibus that I got had the novel "A man-eater for malgudi", the novella "Talkative man" and a collection of malgudi stories (including the famous astrologer story). All the three parts of the book, had the same thread: simplicity, and a story out of everyday people, the ones that you are likely to meet on the road. The manner in which the printing press owner, Natraj, jumps to the worst possible outcome, in the most logical way, reminded me of Amma, and also that, thinking like that is so human. It made the charachter Natraj human for me. And, I loved the almost anti-climaxical ending, because anything more dramatic would have stood out of the book, it ended as ordinarily as the descriptions of everyday life that it painted for most of the book. Absolutely brilliant.

The settings got simpler and the story even simpler (if that could happen), as the talkative man accosts the strange suit cladded Dr Rann, and contemplates his moves when he has proof to beileve that Dr Rann is duping a local girl. This novella, highlighted the best thing that I love about short stories. You do not have to lay out the charachter, the threads of the story, tiny happenings, 40 years before, to finally uncover the main theme of the novel. You jump into a life, and observe the story in the short story. And, the ambiguity of the remaining life of the charachter, of how she got into that situation, of how his life is going to be changed beyond it, is the magic of the story.

RKN precisely, gets that charm working perfectly in the short stories. From the highly acclaimed Astrologer story to the farmer who sells a statue to an American thinking he sold his goats, to the vocalist controlled by Mohan, to the story-teller who loses his voice. Each story is a gem, and as with The suitable boy, you wanted the book to be never-ending.

Tales of the unexpected
Johnny Depp's Willi wonka and the chocolate factory, made me make a mental mark that I will read up Roald Dahl. My friendly neighborhood pirated book store owner, gave me a short story collection, and a delightful little book called "The BFG". Children's stories have a separate charm, and makes me feel almost the innocent kid lost in world of fairies and giants. On coming to Madison, I was pleasently surprised when Vandana said that Dahl writes serious dark adult stuff.
This India trip, while browsing at Blossoms during my Bangalore leg of the trip, Pydah and I chanced upon Dahl's adult writing by this title. Currently, this book is my nightly read before lights off, and it has kept me hooked. The stories are like Jeffry Archer's " A twist in the tale", but much darker. Dahl sets up the story brilliantly, slowly building up the tension and anticipation, and finishing it up with a bang. The story about the homicidal wife with the lamb meat creeps you off in the end, leaving you with disbelief. I cannot wait to finish this book.

Also reading/ in transit
My name is Red

The Guide (RKN)

Of Mice and Men

Flowers for Algeron






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5:28 PM | Author: kaushik
In retrospect, 2006-2007 in Mumbai was almost magical. Memories really age very sweetly, and random snippets of the Mumbai days form a collage, that floats tantalizingly before me, and makes me want to take a plunge into memory, with the hope that I find myself back in Mumbai.
  • Having just settled into IIT, immensely enjoying the course work (having discovered a passion for mathematics, that I never knew I had), enjoying the placement team responsibilities even more, and having found (after quite a long settling period, much like a semester) a good group of friends, and along with them, impromptu plans for Dinner at Hiranandani and Chakras and Mainland China and evening jaunts into Crossword or Coffee Day or suddenly planned night shows in Huma, I had quite a packed week in IIT (not to mention, the LAN connection and a slew of movies and TV shows).
  • Life just after B.Tech, had taken my friends to different places. Some were working, some were pretending to work, and some were in America. But, most (including me) were earning money. All this meant that, we had money to make calls to one and all, and enough masala to keep talking. Long evening walks from the main gate to Hostel-12, late evenings in Nerul, soaking in the cool breeze and immersed in the distant noise of autos and trucks, late nights in C-110, H-12, sitting on the window sill, music playing ever so softly on my computer, looking at planes taking off and landing far out in the sky, and other H-12 inmates chatting down below, were spent talking into the phone, exchanging stories, life fundaes and dreams and ambitions and plans and the like.
  • (Although it was pretty irritating then) Waiting for the 524 every Friday afternoon, and getting back home, always timing the trip and looking at high tide/low tide occurrence on the Vashi bridge, and getting amazed at the beautiful drive from Mankhrud to Vashi Toll Naka. Or even, the days before I 'discovered' 524, and sticking in the train, being pushed back by the wave of people alighting at Kurla, and fighting back the hordes of people waiting to get in, or running in the foot over bridge as the Panvel train just enters Kurla and making it in just as the train pulls away.
  • Monsoon weekends spent sitting at the window, by the breeze, watching cricket and downing cups and cups of tea, Sunday morning eating binge, afternoon naps without the fan and with the amazing sea breeze.
  • Evening walks in Nerul, and the book store by the station, which 'loaned' books. The illiterate but amazing book dealer, who knew just the right books and would-be best-sellers (mostly because he knew which titles are in demand in the pirated book market)
  • Evening trips into Vashi and Center One, unlimited window shopping, and dinners at Navaratna or Dwaraka. Or evening trips to the Nerul Balaji temple, and the awesome view of the hills, the skyscrapers and the sea from the temple.
  • Mumbai Rains.
  • The chai and biscuit at KReSIT, and the geeky discussions there with lab mates. Night outs with Bhatta and Haddi discussing everything under the sun.
  • Hawaiian Shack.
  • The trip back to IIT on Monday mornings, following the airplanes that were landing. The bus took the route on road that the planes took by air. Of counting the airplanes and of trying to steal a glance a the logo. And dreams of being in one of them, taking me to America, and imagining the American life, staying alone, cooking, grocery shopping, potlucks, research, movies, long drives.
The grass seems to be greener on the continent that I am not in. The glorious Mumbai days, were spent, making my own 'picture' of the American life, coloured by friendly inputs during weekend calls and skype and gmail chats, online forums of students going abroad, blogs of desi's in America, and yearning for the day I will land there.

And, now that I am living that dream, the Mumbai days seem so much more glorious, so much more beautiful, so much more desirable and so much like a dream...

--------
I also wanted to write a extremely long post titled India Trip - Review, but realized later that the India trip memories need some more time pickling inside me, because, much in the spirit of this blog, memories from the past are much much much more romantic, and writing about them, so much more pleasing, as I can freeze frame at every tiny incident that remains in my memory and savour them. Writing about trips while they are still fresh, is not so much fun.





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12:50 PM | Author: kaushik
The Singh's welcomed the latest craze, a 32 inch flat screen HDTV , into their apartment, and being the cricket crazy family that they are, the channel flip stopped at a re-run of India's performance in the 2003 World Cup.

The re-run was at the India-England match in Durban, and memories of the extravagant Sachin pull shot off Caddick whet their appetites.

As Sachin rocked back, and majestically pulled the ball into the stands, and Ravi Shastri, started his usual recorded commentary, Nardendra Singh, let out a sigh. His 20 year old son and 17 year old daughter, immediately started mocking him, "Papa, you could have been playing in South Africa na", they said, and started smiling, disbelieving that the middle aged Narendra Singh with a big moustache, spectacles, and a huge belly, would ever have been young and fit to play cricket.

Narendra Singh, however, had travelled back to Patna in 1976.

It was those days, much before Twenty20, ODI's was just trying to become popular, and BCCI was not the cash rich bully that they are now. Cricket Academies and Coaching classes were established in the big cities and exclusive to the rich. The Indian middle class was still sleeping. For a poor small town boy, international cricket was bought home by the radio and youthful dreams of MCG and Lords.

Cricket was still not a profession then. The national team players hardly made money out of the game, and the Ranji trophy types, played because, that got them a goverment job in the sports quota.

Patna then had a few semi organized league, cricket being played on weekends, which sort of feeded cricketers into a little less shady league, and so on and so forth to the Bihar ranji squad (which was not much of a team either). Narendra Singh played in one such league.

Evening college was much the rage then, seth-lings (young boys who would inherit their father's store) and aspiring bank job seekers, could then spend the day apperenticing and get their degree in the evening, earning some money while studying. Narendra Singh was doing his BCom in an evening college, and balancing the accounts of a big Sari dealer during the day. As was common with most of the middle class service families then, Narendra Singh's income would be transferred to the college as fees. He would surreptiously save a few rupees here and there, and pool it in with 11 other friends to afford the cricket kit and the leather balls and the fees to play in the weekend league.

He used to bat down the order, but was menancingly fast with the new ball. His team, of 5 accountants in the making, the wicket keeper who was a Chemistry major, 2 bachelors from the colony who had their dreams set on IAS and 4 12th drop-outs who juggled odd jobs, had somehow managed it to one of the knock-out games.

On an uneven ground, an overcast August sky welcomed the players, and unkown to them, sitting in the crowd was a Bihar Cricket Association biggie (the opposition team had a player whose father was well connected). Narendra Singh's captain lost the toss, and was asked to bat. The swinging ball accounted for a few early wickets, and suddenly Narendra Singh was out in the middle, his team 52/7 in the 18th over, and 22 overs left in the innings. Narendra Singh's previous batting exploits were nothing great, but somehow, that August morning, the ball contrived to hit the middle of his bat. In what was to be an explosive innings in those days, Narendra Singh managed 40 runs of 55 balls before he got out. And his team were left to defend 130 in 40 overs.

After lunch, Narendra Singh steamed in, and his first ball pitched on good length and moved away from the right handed opener, who tried to block it and missed it. The second one jagged back in and trapped him in front, but the umpire was unmoved. For four overs, Narendra Singh ran in hard, and mesmerized the batsmen, but was unlucky not to have had more success than the 2 wickets that he prized out. However the other bowlers were extravagent, and the match was quickly lost.

As he got his stuff together, and waited at the bus-stop to get back home, the BCA biggie accosted him on his scooter and offered to drop him back home. On the way, Narendra Singh was made an dream offer, a chance to play for Bihar in the Ranji. The biggie, turned out to be a selector in the BCA, and was much impressed by the fast bowling and brave batting. Bihar needs an all-rounder, India needs one, he commented.

Narendra Singh was esctatic, and immediately started day-dreaming about millions of people tuning in ther radios after the afternoon lunch to listen to Narendra Singh rock the English batting in Lords. The dreams were short lived, as his dad Devendra Singh took no time in rejecting Narendra's dream. As with other 17 year olds in the 1970's, Narendra Singh understood the importance of a steady income, and the vagaries of Indian Cricket Team, it's selectors and BCCI. He gave up the dream of bowling at Lords, to more practical dreams of having his own scooter, his small apartment, wife and kids and fan and television etc.

Much to the dissapointment of the BCA biggie, Narendra Singh, remained content with college and weekend matches for his motely team, for the next 3 years. Since then, he passed the Bank selection exam, and has moved up the ladders efficiently, and lived his modest and practical dreams.

But for a few hours on that August afternoon, after that almost magical conversation with the BCA biggie, Narendra Singh was almost an India player in the making.

A smile came on the middle aged Narendra Singh's face, and he continued watching the rest of the re-run. As the TV channel cut to a break, and Pragya Sen, started jigging in the latest Bollywood movie trailer, Mrs Narendra Singh let out a sigh, and the children started, "Ya, We know ma, you could have been the biggest Bollywood heroine".


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