Saturday, November 26, 2005

Supermen of Soccer...

Sometime after the 1990 World Cup, DD started a series called "Supermen of Soccer"hosted by Naresh Kumar (former Davis Cupper, and non-playing Captain of the team during the early 90s). It was fun for a soccer crazy 10 year old to watch footage of greats like Pele, Eusebio, and Maradona, among others. And mind you, this was before the cable tv revolution.

I'd religiously stay up till 11pm just to watch that show - those were the days when I needed "special permission" to stay up. Achan also used to record the show and I think we still have the tapes back home. The tricks of the trade demonstrated very ably by the stars would be put into use that week during the PT period, with "Maradona" pitting his wits against "Yashin" - a showdown which might have had soccer aficionados licking their lips with anticipation (ah the cliches!). It's amazing how as kids we imagined ourselves to be cricket/soccer stars transcending time and entering the arena!

One of the shows put George Best under the scanner, and it was interesting to hear that he was considered the star of his days - a time which also had Pele (approaching the sunset of his career), Cryuff and Beckenbauer. The impish/boyish charm sure had its effect on the British gals - little wonder that he was sometimes called the "Fifth Beatle". It was nice to see his life being celebrated as he passed, but then everyone's thoughts invariably went back to think of what he could have been if he had just not squandered his talents away. For every Bobby Charlton (arguably England's best IMHO), there's a George Best.

For every Pele, there's a Garrincha. Garrincha was one of the most amazing dribblers in the game, and I'd probably say that Pele might not have been as great a player had Garrincha (among others) been on the feeding line. But then, he too went 'wrong' somewhere, lost among the booze and the babes, dying a pauper on the streets of Rio. Came across a nice tribute to him on Rediff (written last year).

Maradona's done enough to see the 'other side', but thankfully he's on the mend and doing quite well. Atleast he had the decency to finally admit that the goal he initially attributed to God's hand was actually that of a mere mortal's! The England-Argentina match of 1986 is remembered more for the goal that wasnt, than for the goal that was sheer brilliance (I'm at a loss of words to describe what exactly it was!).

Ah nostalgia....all thanks to Georgie long, and thanks for all the memories...RIP!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Swingin' retrospection - 1

The lunch break was on, and as usual we were sitting outside the classroom and jabbering over lunch. Suddenly out of the blue, there was this sound of an earth-shattering cracker. It was March, and Diwali was over a long time ago. We dismissed it as some rich guy (South Bombay oozes them) celebrating in inimitable style, and went about our usual basketball game post-lunch.

Lunch over, we returned for our usual Friday afternoon English class with Ms. Shukla. As always, we were restless (or should I say over-exuberant), especially with the weekend coming up. For all our boisterousness, Ms. Shukla ended up making the entire class kneel and put our hands up in the air - a painful business.

And then the earth shook, the windows shattered, we hit the floor and took 'shelter' under our desks. We were dazed for a few minutes....Ms. Shukla was in tears, pandemonium prevailed! Uncle Louie dismissed it as a gas cylinder burst nearby, but the entire city was on edge - you could feel it cut as we walked back home.

I think of three of Ac's colleagues who were at the Bank of Oman at 2pm that Friday afternoon, off and on. S-Uncle was a very close friend of Ac's - full of fun, always cracking jokes. He was the first Uncle I 'made friends with' during the initial days in Prabhadevi/Ocean Gold. I think of the other folks who perished at Dalal Street, Worli, Sea Rock, Plaza.....

Some day (in my lifetime) I hope I see justice.....

PS: I finally managed to get my hands on Suketu Mehta's Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found the other day, and have been in the process of slowly biting off chunks and chewing on them. It got me thinking of days gone by in Bombay, and inspired this post. All in all, it's one amazing book. I can actually hear Bal Thackeray talk through the words in the lines from Suketu Mehta's interview with him - speaks volumes about the author (and the subject too!).

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Strand is back!

Was checking out Mid-Day (as usual) this evening, and was very surprised to see this article about Strand Cinema finally re-opening!

It was on a rainy Sunday evening that A-A and I went to see Mr. India there. I think I was in 1st standard then, and thats probably the second movie I watched in my life - and probably the only Hindi movie I've seen more than 10 times.

During the rains the Colaba Market area was one of the worst places to be - slushy, replete with rotten vegetables, the musty air shaken every few minutes by the shrieks of a hen being slaughtered in one of the many chicken shops that dotted the market. I dont know if that's changed - I wouldnt be surprised if time stood still in Colaba Market. I sometimes wonder if the Malayali veggie seller still plies his wares at the corner of the telephone exchange building! Those were the days...

Back to the Strand...It was already heading towards it's curtain call back then. Metro was thriving like nobody's business (ok yeah Akshat's business!) through the 80's and into the 90s. Sometime in 1992 (according to the Mid-Day article), Strand shut down. Everytime I drove/walked past it enroute to Abhishek/Gavin's place I'd think about the good times I'd enjoyed there.

And so today it looks like the Strand's reinvented itself. Metro's reinventing itself too, if the class grapevine is to be believed. Both theatres have very fond memories for me, and I hope both do well - especially Metro, because after all it's Akshat's!