I have been subject to numerous telling-offs for my choice of hanging back at home instead of going outside and living my life (having a life. Anyway…) Right from my childhood, (I did have a childhood. Honest.) My parents told me I should go outside and play like the other children. When I said no, they compared me to other strong children, made fun of me, called me an ‘indoor person’ (which is not really offensive, if you think), sometimes bribed me by buying me a cricket bat or a football. Of course, they didn’t go to waste. They were used by my brother. And the rest of the building and a few neighbouring buildings. Yes. Just them. Then there were people from the outside world who called me, tried to persuade me, flattered, dragged me, provoked, gave logic, gave biology, offered first batting and first bowling (no wonder MBA is so popular), gave up their lives in making mine a little more existent. And after all of it didn’t work, they gave up. Stopped calling me. Then I had to go and play. It worked. Alas.
I played cricket in the building – Underarm. I was a star (being a rare lefty who could lift the ball high enough on the off-side.) I was their hard-hitter, the destroyer (I know you don’t buy this, but it’s true, I could bat. I don’t believe it either.) So they gave me a little more attention; considering I had a killer bat that cost 500 rupees (insanely expensive). I never bowled. I was a little taller. So I caught on the boundary (It was a small area in front of a building, not the MCG. I am not bragging; it is embarassing really.) Then when most of the people elder to me by two or more years knew my name, I was called to every game played. (Ah! The opportunity to retire!) But I liked a particular game, badminton. This was my kind of game. I could tell considering I woke up at 6 in the morning, brushed my teeth and went running to the ‘garden’ in my slippers. (It is a shame I am not remotely in touch with all the people who played with me there.) Again, I had expensive equipment. A raquet that costs 285 rupees? Was I kidding them! I do reaslie I have not put up time frames. Just for reference, I was a normal child who played out more than he played in from around the third or fourth standard until I moved to my new home in the tabela around eight years ago. I played here also, but not too much. Just casual play sometimes.
Then again, I liked to sit at home; On the sixth floor, watching TV or watching buffalo. My exercise included running behind busses at Andheri station, playing catch-catch in school if at all there was time after lunch, running behind busses at Chakala and walking to the kitchen from the living room. Ocassionally, I played cricket or football in my concrete floored building compound. Again, normal non-sports life. But this isn’t about being ‘non-sport’. It is about my sheer desire to sit at home rather than not sitting at home. I like to do things in my own time, in my own space. And if you’ve noticed, all this – my will to not go out and do things and have a life – existed before the broadband revolution. Then came engineering college. (Was just thinking about it with a couple of other people; I have no recollection of my junior college days. I was such an awesome elitist that I have deliberately deleted all memory of those times of my coolest awesomeness.) I played in engineering. I was, let’s say, not the greatest of athletes, but I played. Then I retired. Well, sort of. Then what do I do at home? Who cares! What is the point of all this?
There is a point. It has a very ‘pravachan’ feel to it, the point. There are things that a person’s got to do. Tie up a few loose ends. Create newer loose ends to tie up. When I’m not outside having a life, I am having a life inside, my shell. When I sat at home, I was not ready to fail. I was preparing to fail in a way and then went out. I did not want to get to bat after everyone and then score a zero. Then, when I thought what is the harm in that, I decided to go. Their ‘strategies’ and me giving in was a co-incidence. Unfortunately, I didn’t fail. I failed after I gained a reputation, my string of first ball dismissals was then deemed bad-luck. I was good at badminton though. But again, I didn’t go further from the garden because I thought I would remain as good, or bad, as I was there. So I feared failure again. I sit at home debating whether I will do a good job at something should I go out and pursue it. Then, as it’s turned out so far, it is a futile exercise. Or, it has probably been a very productive exercise, as things have actually turned out. When I say tying up loose ends, I mean I need to prepare myself for the worst outcome of an activity. I need to be ready to go out and play. It has been that way in so many things with me. I have been playing the same six songs on my guitar for the past six years. I do learn new ones. But I never play them in public. I don’t want to sound bad. I don’t participate in competitions because I don’t want to lose. I may be good at things, but I am not the best. I won’t participate until I am the best. I won’t be the best unless I participate, I know. But I was one hell of a pinch-hitter, one hell of a badminton player and mainly because I was among the first by a long way to play the intro to Sweet Child o’ Mine and own an electric guitar, one hell of a guitarist in my own little world around my shell; could it be that I may be actually good? I strongly believe I am not. Normal sized fish in a small pond. But again, put a fish in a bigger pond and it grows. But greed tells me I should be the biggest fish in the biggest pond. That is not happening. So there I go – back to where I was. I am sitting home.