Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lust for Sport

Since the Olympics are around, I wanted to write about two great athletes I knew.

Rajesh - My Big Bully
He was born at the time of my first uncle's death. Since my family thought of retaining at least his name, it went to my brother. Everyone in his school and college knew him as Edward when we at home call him as Rajesh. A guy who grew up with one constant dream. I had wondered seeing him wake up at four in the morning and going to practice everyday. Carl Lewis, Mike Tyson, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graph(my contribution) and other top athletes have decorated his bedroom walls.

The house we lived had a small room where we used to keep rice barrel. That was the place where my brother used to hide all his sport collectibles. I still remember the day he bought his new spikes and the way he treated them as his precious. He saved his petty cash from our grandfather and imported his spikes from Chennai with the help of my younger brother. He had them in a red satin bag and never let anyone of us to touch those even after they worn out to the extreme. With all the given dismay, he was an all-time sports champion in his school and college. But no one at home had received his medals and cups with a future in it. Surely it filled up the spaces in our showcase.

Suresh - My Little Demon
He was smart and active but very playful. He was the favourite of all. Very mischievous and gave a hard time to my mother. He didn't have much interest or advance his studies, but somehow(!) he was also a sports champion during his school days.

Every athlete in the Olympics reminds me my big brother and his shattered dream. I love my brothers and would like to dedicate this post to them and to the sports they loved.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

July 16-19, 2008 - Kuchipudi in 4 days!

July 15th was my fellow Cancerian Anmisha's fifteenth birthday. On my way back from office, I got an invite to join her when she cuts the cake. After refreshing myself, I had my usual dinner and then rode my bike towards Woodbridge Terrace. I met Ajay at her house for the second time. Ajay is her Kuchipudi dance master, who came to United States for a performance and stayed at her house for a week to sightsee.

During our casual talk, Padma, Animisha's mother said,
"Ajay must be bored without teaching dance to someone!" .
Without much belief I asked: "Really??!! Can he teach me Kuchipudi while he is here?"
Padma: "Yes, of course, he'd love to do that anytime!"
We then decided to have my class starting next day.

Day 1 - Basic Steps
With much less enthusiasm, (b’coz my mother asked, what you are going to achieve by learning dance at this age?) I reached Anmisha's house around 8:05PM. Ajay was not there. Anmisha said that he had gone to Walmart with her mother. I was little disappointed, but then decided to wait for him. They came back around 8:40 and we started my first Kuchipudi class at 8:45. On my ride back home, I felt my blood has turned into something called ‘happiness’ and I was all thrilled.

Day 2 - Pallavi
Ajay decided to teach me a new item (term used to refer a full 'song'); since he felt that I am doing good on my basic steps. The song has inspiring truth about human existence, praising Lord Vishnu. Here is the English translation of Pallavi which I learned to dance.

"There is no differences of low & high.
All the beings in creation are one
because the indwelling spirit in every creature
is one and the same."

Day 3 - Charanam

Anmisha's dance class was prolonging when I reached her house. Unlike other dances, classical dance is a coordination of hand postures, facial expressions and leg movements. She mastered her hands and legs, but the facial expression was totally missing. Her face showed either that she's a little shy or as if this is only ‘Ajay master’ or a very big smile to hide her slips. There needs to be lot of practice to bring all three elements in motion at the same time. As I was learning my steps for Charanam, either all three or one or the other were dropping. I tried my best to align all factors, decimating my complexes which arose from inside now and then.
"Sleep is same to all, be it a king or a servant.
Be it a highest caste or lowest caste,
the earth they live on is the one and the same."

"The sensual pleasure is one and the same
either for angels or for the insects and animals.
The day and night are equal to the rich
as well as to the poor."

Day 4 - Charanam
I learned steps for the remaining Charanams. Ultimately I had my informal 'arangetram' with Anmisha.
"One could afford to eat tasty food and the other
the condemned food.
But the tongues that taste the food are alike.
An object of fragrance or an object of foul smell,
the air that carries the smell is one and the same."

"Be it an elephant or a dog,
the sun shines alike on both of them.
For the good and the bad,
Lord Venkateshwara alone is 'The Savior'"

I really should say something about Ajay here. He is a person with great determination who is completing his doctorate in Kuchipudi. He has performed in most of the places in India and booked to perform in temples all over Tamilnadu this year end. The best part of him is that he always dances the girl’s role which suits him pretty well.

I googled Ajay and to my wonder, he has an account with blogspot. Believe me, that is him in the photograph.