Sunday, October 17, 2010

My fourth hat-trick

Those with no knowledge of the game of cricket and its terminologies may not fully understand the content of this particular post as I brag about my special "hat-tricks" on the cricket field.


A hat-trick is more slippery than wet soap.  Any bowler will vouch for it.  Many times bowlers take two consecutive wickets but the third one somehow eludes and only rarely, rarer than a blue-moon, they get stuck!  Often, the ball either beats the batsman, raps on the pads but not good enough for an 'lbw', or some snick falls short of a fielder, or it misses the stumps by a whisker... ...

In sport, to "perform a hat-trick" means to achieve a feat thrice in a row.  In football or hockey, when a player scores three goals it is termed as scoring a 'hat-trick', while in cricket, it is a 'hat-trick' when a bowler dismisses three batsmen with three consecutive deliveries, even if they are spread over two separate overs.

The term hat-trick was first used in cricket to describe H.H.Stephenson's feat in 1858 and was used in print for the first time in 1878. That only 37 hat-tricks in Test Cricket since 1877 goes to show the extreme rarity of its occurrence.  

It is said that in olden days, a hat or cap was presented to those who performed such a feat and hence it got to be known as 'hat-trick'. And a bowler has to be passing through 'his day' to achieve this feat, I must add!

All said and done, bowlers, on extremely rare occasions, can go very unlucky too. S.M.J.Woods of Brighton College in the 1880’s bowled an over in which he hit the stumps 8 times but got only 3 wickets.  The first 3 deliveries were no-balls, the 4th bowled a man, 5th touched the leg stump and went for byes, 6th an 7th bowled men and the 8th hit the stumps but failed to remove the bails and went for 4 more byes! What do you say about that?  How he would have felt!

Read only the 'cricket' part in this link for some interesting happenings.

Let me brag about some of my own hat-tricks which really got stuck.  Who does not cherish a hat-trick? In my first 20 years of league cricket, it was as elusive as a rock pigeon, but suddenly one each came in the next three years - another sort of hat-trick! 1999, 2000 and 2001!  It was during a 9-over spell (5wickets for 37 runs) against one Agraharam C Club in 1999, playing for The Mysore Gymkhana.  My team mates were happy but they were looking at the way I jumped in joy (a rare sight for them!).  I was joyous that my first hat-trick had finally come about after many 'two in two balls'! 

In the year 2000, our employer team was playing against a team from Hyderabad at the Gomtinagar Stadium in Lucknow.  The opponent team was a so so, but the feeling at that time was like feather!  Such was the rhythm which brought me my second hat-trick.  I always remember this feat with great fondness because of the fine rhythm that particular day and the ball landed where I intended to!  It gave bowling figures which are pleasant to read: 4 overs, 7 wickets for 6 runs!  The seven wickets (including the hat-trick) were claimed in the space of ten deliveries, spread over 3 overs!  I still preserve that particular ball.  We won the match by scoring their target of very paltry 32 without losing our wicket.

The third hat-trick of 2001 is more interesting.  It was the final between our HQ team (CSIR) and the host team, a good one, having some good players.  It was at Vasanth Nagar Ground in Nagpur. Again that 'feathery feeling' was on song.  It was a devastating spell of 4.4 overs in which six of them were sent back at a cost of 19 runs. Now the hat-trick: The first one was bowled leg stump.  The second, middle stump, neck and crop.  We came to know later that the hat-trick victim, one Shukla, was sent in with instructions to cover all the stumps to save the hat-trick. When I bowled, he actually covered. But my third successive in-swinger managed to curl in from in front if his pads and kissed his off stump!!  I really enjoyed that one! Our team won the match in the end.

I read about some rare incident that happened in the 19th century.  Some fast bowler in England is known to have broken all three stumps when he took an 'all-bowled hat-trick'. 

The umpire here is seen repairing the stumps after the hat-trick as a fan runs in!

Raj, had his camera and through the above twos pictures, we became friends!

My fourth came about recently and I enjoyed that one too, at that time, but not in the end because we lost the match. :(   The first victim gave an easy catch to short mid off, off the penultimate ball of the over. The last ball, an inswinger removed the new batsman.  The first ball of my next over removed another batsman with an inswinger that I loved.  It curled in nicely like I wanted it to and pitched where I wanted.   This tall batsman with a high backlift lost his leg stump before he could bring his bat down. It wasn't express.  I had taken 4-54 in the end.  On the second day of the match, another seven-wicket haul came by but we (Mysore City Gymkhana) could not win the match. 

First time in 32 years, the picture appears for a bowling feat!

There have been many instances of two in two, but the third has missed by a whisker quite a few times.  The harder we try for the third, the easier it eludes and the more 'normal' we bowl, the chances get brighter!!  The bowler has to be lucky too!

Against a strong team (Swastic Union) in the Basavanagudi Cup at Central College grounds in 1994, after a poor first spell (for The Mysore Gymkhana), my bowling turned the match from the jaws of defeat.  They were very close to the winning target with 5 wickets in hand and plenty of deliveries to spare.  I was bowling the penultimate over and they needed just 10 runs.  Just two runs came from it in two balls, but the other four  had dismissed four batsmen - all bowled - but without a hat-trick being performed.  Four wickets in six balls!  We won the match by six runs when their last wicket fell in the next over and I was given a prize for 'man of the match'.

Prajavani - reports on our match
Deccan Herald does not give the importance for it.

My first one was in tennis-ball cricket in 1970-1.  It was a friendly match against some group of boys playing us classmates.  I had sent 5 boys back in 6 balls including a hat trick.  Numerous matches later (also with the tennis ball) could not see me getting one of those rare hat-tricks.  

It had to wait till 1999 for serious league cricket!

Sir Jack Hobbs (Surrey and England) was a Master in batsmanship in the early part of the 20th century.  He scored 197 first class centuries in his career spanning 3 decades and he played until he was 60+.  Nearly a hundred centuries were scored after he was 40.  On facebook, even as nearly a century of years is past, there is a Sir Jack Hobbs Appreciation Society

You know, in Test Matches, such hats were used by batsmen for protection (as a helmet).  
It is a "hat-thick". This is just FYI.

Mandakalli Airport and some memories

Writing this on Vijayadashami 2010 of what they also arguably call as 400th Dasara.  The famous procession went on, as we planned a visit on scooter in the opposite direction, to Mandakalli.  

Will take you to Mandakalli in a while.  Be patient, there is lot of rush!

Hundreds of village folk alighted in front of our gate which was a virtual bus stand (one off arrangement by the traffic cops).  They had made a mess as is their wont, but some heavy rain in the evening cleaned things up saving our municipality (corporation) from cleaning.  It usually rains on this particular day every year with near-precise timing as per the Almanac which is published annually (Vontikoppal Panchanga).  As such people who are aware of it carry an umbrella with the when they go to witness the Dasara Procession.  

Now to Mandakalli.  Pushing my scooter (not the one seen above) out of the gate amidst a forest of village folk - men, ladies and kids and a fleet of buses adding to blockage, I started journey with my two pillions. 

My first visit to Mandakalli was around 1972.  We could not measure the distance from our house then. Now our scooter odometer did it.  It is 12 kms.  Now I know that our group then bicycled that far and back and never felt tired!!  Scroll mid way into this blogpost to read a few lines where I have reminisced that 'adventure'.  

Now, going on the same route on my scooter brought back memories of that adventure.  Road is so so and also narrowish to cope with such heavy and ever increasing traffic and we hear of many accidents on that road (Mysore-Nanjangud) often.  So I kept left, like these buffaloes and reached safely!

I remember in 1972 that there was just one or two small rooms at that "Mandakalli Aerodrome" as it was called then.  My friend Capt.Anup Murthy gives a more vivid picture of that place in his blog of how it was.  We were not allowed inside by those one or two persons present there.

When we were young, we were thrilled to see airplanes flying in Mysore which was usually during Dasara. As soon as we heard the roar from the sky, we would scamper out and look up where it was. Those flights were for joy-rides over the city.  Once my late uncle was to board one such flight at Mandakalli, but was held back to go on the next round.  As luck would have it, that particular flight encountered a snag and a serious accident was averted in the form of a small crash.  And with it also crashed my uncle's dream of flying!  

My grandfather used to boast that he had flown once from Mysore to Bangalore in the 1940s or so when someone took him there in a small plane - his only flight.  We were hearing these stories with gaped mouths.  He used to say he reached Bangalore in 20 minutes which in itself was a great thing.  Steam-engine trains took almost 4 hours and road journey was no less.

Flying in an airplane was a very distant dream.  But suddenly our govt. gave opportunities to promote tourism in certain areas.  So there were were, sitting in an aircraft for the first time two years ago, a 'dream' was being fulfiled!   

Also during Dasara time, some Circus companies used to drop pamphlets from the air to advertise themselves.  Those small aircrafts were coming from Mandakalli and we wondered where that airstrip is (in the 60s). It was a sight to behold, when we spotted the plane and then pieces of paper wafting in a zig-zag movement as they came down.  We could not reach them as they fell scattered out of our reach in some other locality! It was fun, anyway.

Amidst much dilly-dallying and numerous hurdles, an Airport has been "finally" opened (actually it was inaugurated 2-3 times!!) and some real activity is going on.  Hopefully they continue beyond Dasara.  We went to see how it is and even got to see a Bangalore flight from a distance take position on the tarmac.  The Chamundi Hill provides a lovely backdrop but some experts say the hill is a hindrance to air safety and the location of the strip itself is not very suitable.  Today, we looked at it the same way when the first shopping mall came up in the city! 

Mysore is on the air map and Mandakalli has changed over the years.  Land value in its vicinity have shot up (only methinks) but some say that they are also endangered because the AAI (Airport Authority of India) may 'grab' in future when they expand.. But this is only hearsay.  

 When we often traveled to Nanjangud by taxi in the 60s, the first thing I used to notice as soon as my grandfather pointed out that we are passing Mandakalli Aerodrome, was the air sock wobbling in the wind.  It was clearly visible in the field then, at some distance.  When I saw this today, I 'nostalgiated'. 

They have a nice airport with shiny glass and floor like this:

... but the one thing I did not like is this:  Dumped and uncleared garbage. They have chosen this nice corner!

 I'm sure they will get rid of this habit and also systematize its clearance properly. 

Let Mysore soar!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Memories of my visit to Brihadeshwara Temple

The hobbies of penfriendship, philately and radio listening had given me an elderly friend from Thanjavur. He was renown in those circles as he had long experience and had like-minded friends from all over the country and also with many radio stations. He was T.K.Soundararajan (TKS).
This is a picture of his younger days

In 1987, an intimation arrived at our office that an athletic meet would be organized at Karaikudi. I saw a good opportunity to meet this man as Thanjavur was almost along the route from Mysore to Karaikudi. When I wrote to him about it, he was happy and when the date closed in, he informed where exactly I must alight. I also had written about my interest in visiting the lovely Brihadeshwara Temple of which I heard so much.

Tamil Nadu is one of the best when it comes to road transport and one can travel at any time of the day or night from and to any point. Such is the efficiency. Hopping point-point is a common thing there. Mysore-Sathyamangalam, Sathy-Erode, Erode-Namakkal, Namakkal-Trichy, Trichy-Thanjavur was the route I chose. The total time would be about ten hours. One need not wait for buses for hours, they are ready for you, somehow! Once you get down at a point, you almost step into the next one near it and vrooom! That’s how the system works there in busy Tamil Nadu even in the wee hours and right through the night in fact!

I had written TKS about my schedule and the approximate time my bus would reach Thanjavur. After the long journey of 10 hours, I had alighted at the exact spot as per direction of TKS, to which the bus conductor and the other travelers helped. It was 4 pm. The plan was to stay overnight with him and move over to Karaikudi and join our Athletic team the next day.
By inquiring passers-by, I located his address which was close by. TKS’ was in a small colony with little apartments. My door knock was responded by the lady of the house. She welcomed me in Tamil and she knew I was arriving. TKS had not returned from work. After a wash, she gave me typical Madras coffee. TKS was to return in about an hour or earlier.

After coffee, she asked me “Tamil terimaa?” (Do you know Tamil?) Boastingly, I replied in fluent Tamil, “Mmm, koncha koncha teriyaadu.” She smiled thinking I was joking but I was serious. Tamil was the only language she knew and those were only some of the very few Tamil words I knew!! So, even a light conversation did not take off to engage me till TKS arrived. She asked a few questions in Tamil which I understood and nodded.

After some restless minutes feeling funny due to the language barrier, I left the place telling “Walking poitu varey.” (… will go for a walk). I wiled half an hour looking here and there and into the main street that led to the bus stand, then traced my steps back to 5/35 (which was his door number which was so familiar to me due to the letters written to that address) hoping to see my friend’s face for the first time.

Ah, there he was welcoming me! A short man, simple chap, but very knowledgeable. He was a lecturer in a college. Soon, another cup of coffee and some snacks engaged us in a very enjoyable discussion mostly relating to our common hobby and various things. He showed me his radio, QSL card collection, his correspondence with many people and radio stations and many gifts the stations sent him for his interest. It was fascinating. He was very organized. Another thing about him was that he never wasted paper. I learnt from him how he recycled envelopes by turning them inside out! Also, he used to write letters on any piece of paper like this:

Time had flown by and dinner time was there already. Typical simple south Indian dinner was affectionately served by the lady and it was just like my home. (Their two children were on in town at that moment.) “Saapadu nalla iruku” (food is nice) I told after dinner. This time also she smiled, but slightly differently.

Sleeping arrangement was made in the hall for me with a mat and pillow. TKS also slept in another corner as there was only one room in his house.

TKS was to leave for work at about 10 am the following day. As usual, we had “Madras Coffee” in the morning. “Get ready to visit Brihadeshwara Temple now” he said. It was early in the morning and he had two bicycles. “Do you know how to ride?” he asked, expecting a “Yes”. One of my favourite modes of movement is, even today, the bicycle. So I was more than happy to ride along.
This is the famous Big Tower

Soon we were both pedaling on peaceful roads (as it was morning) in Thanjavur on our way to the “Big Temple”. We reached the place in less than ten minutes. I was stunned by its imposing size and beauty. The clean premise added to the calmness of the pleasant morning as the sun had risen only an hour before and there were just a handful of people visiting at that early hour.
We parked the bicycles inside the temple premise (another unusual thing to do in such a famous tourist destination!) and went round, later into the sanctum sanctorum. Outside, he showed me the idol of Lord Nataraja, worshipped by dancers and explained how the top portion of the tower was placed. It is a single piece carved out of a huge boulder which, as the story goes, was pushed up a gradient-ramp built a few miles long!
Simply, the “Devasthaana romba nalla iruku”! (Temple is very nice.) Really!
Big Tower again

Those were days when we did not own (film) cameras to capture images.
So let me share a few taken by my friends who visited there last year.

Nandi Bull

The magnificent Brihadeshwara Temple celebrated its 1000th year recently and in a grand fitting manner. Read what my blogger friend shares about the event. A couple of pictures and a short video also is embedded there.

Well, TKS and I had a “nalla” homely breakfast after our return from the temple and after a while it was time for me to say “poitu varey” (actually means going and coming, but said to mean ‘good bye’) to Mrs.TKS. Now she had a wider smile at my Tamil! TKS left me at the bus stand (which was not very far) and saw me board the bus to Karaikudi. We exchanged departing pleasantries as the bus moved.

I reached Karaikudi in 2 hours and joined the team. That was the last I saw of TKS and we exchanged some more letters later, until one day a letter returned to me undelivered. Later I came to know from another common radio friend from Chennai (Madras) that he was ill and that was the last I heard about him. I am still wondering about his welfare.

In the athletic events in Karaikudi, our team lost in the 4x100 relay, I came 4th in long jump and lost to the eventual winner in the 100 metres sprint.

When I remember the Big Temple, memories of TKS always spring up along with my first and only stint at Athletics.

Long later, I learned that “teriyaadu” meant “do not know” and realized why Mrs.TKS smiled at my Tamil vocabulary!

Inside the temple premise


Friday, October 1, 2010

Mysore Dasara Horticultural Show

Another favourite rendevouz for locals and tourists alike, aside from the Palace and the Exhibition, during the Dasara festival, is the Horticultural Show at Curzon Park. Do you know that the first of the Mysore Flower Shows was organized nine decades back? It was opened by HH Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV (above picture) on August 15, 1914. This is what he spoke on that occasion (Source- Speeches by HH. Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV):

"It has given me great pleasure to listen to Mr.Krumbiegel's address and I hope that many of you will be impressed by the eloquent appeal which he has made to you to cultivate the hobby of gardening. I feel sure that Mr.Krumbiegel's enthusiasm and artistic taste will make our Mysore Flower Shows as beautiful and attractive as those which he arranges at the Lal Bagh in Bangalore.

"The Flower Show which I am now opening is the first of its kind that has been held in the City of Mysore and I hope that it will become a regular institution. No one who knows the Cities of Bangalore and Mysore can help noticing the great dearth of gardens in Mysore and there is really no reason for such a state of things. The soil and rainfall of the two places are very similar and I can only hope that the institution of this Flower Show will encourage house-owners here to beautify their homes by cultivating private gardens.... I appeal to the people of this city to try and emulate Bangalore and convert Mysore into a garden city. I now declare this Show to be open".
Above are two pictures of Curzon Park where the Show is held every year.

In fact, Mysore WAS a garden city for a few decades hence. Those who have been bitten by the 'gardening bug' will nod that "gardening is the purest of human pleasures, the greatest refreshment to the spirit of man", as Lord Bacon said. Green is important to life on Earth and soothing to the eyes. A green, clean and calm Mysore was what our revered Maharajas intended and strove for. Let us be reminded of their good deeds. The "Flower Show" is one of them.


Do take a look at my album here showing pictures I took in the 2009 version and by another photographer from webshots and see how it goes on these days.