Thursday, June 21, 2012

For Life.

Two Fridays ago, I was part of a mad crowd of people who were celebrating, posing for pictures, screaming, hugging, crying...we were victorious. We were and are, a part of the Hustlers family; proudly watching our team reclaim a victory that was a long time coming. 

Moments like those tend not to leave you.
Each time you think of it, the madness of the moment suddenly surrounds you again. You feel the bubbles, hear the chants, even probably remember those last few minutes that changed everything. 
It was magic. 
We may be an overly enthusiastic; sentimental group - but heck, if magic is what it was, then that's exactly what we'll call it. 

The Hustlers are back. Boo yah. 

Dude and I watched a sports movie the other day - Forever Strong. No, it isn't about basketball. 
Rugby, actually. 
But out of all the sports movies I've ever watched (and trust me, given my dad, friends and husband - I've watched them all!), this one stayed with me. Somewhere towards the end of the movie, when the main character realizes what it means to be part of this particular team...I asked myself...What do the Hustlers stand for? 

I mean...I know what we want you to stand for....what we believe you stand for. 
The families, the wives, the fans, the girlfriends. We have built this giant, green pedestal and put you all on it - our boys. And we believe that you each deserve to be on it.

But as I watched that movie...I realised I wasn't sure what the Hustlers themselves stood for. 
A good fight? The will to come back and win? Team? Defiance? Brotherhood? Family? Winning? Discipline? So many questions popped up suddenly. 

No, I'm not being negative - not one bit. You will always have us...your support systems and your back ups, your deafening crowds, even swearing crowds if need be. We've been right there with you. 
But now that you have won what you'll have been striving for for so long....maybe each of you will take a time out to think this one through. 

Thank you Hustlers...for giving us all a team we call our own. An extended family we love. For lots of memories. For winning and making us proud. You are not just another team. You have a story. And you are loved. 
But years from now...what will being a part of the Hustlers mean to you? 

The main tag line from the movie was in Maori...and translated to English, reads like this..." "Be forever strong on the field, so that you will be forever strong off the field."

This is what we want you to stand for....what we believe you stand for. 

Hustlers for life. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Girl Hugo

You know that feeling you get when you know you've made your first real friend?
The kind of friendship that lasts forever, the kind of person you're going to know and love, till you're old and grey? 
That's my girl, Hugo. 

It feels like I've known her since forever. We're very alike, yet extremely different at the same time. We love old comedies, memorizing songs from animated movies, good food and laughing out loud. 

I realize that this may sound like a lot of friendships. From the outside, perhaps it is just one of many. 

But to me, she's the one my heart and mind have no barriers with. She is the friend with whom I am myself. There are no invisible walls, no second thoughts, no what ifs and maybes. 
She knows the real me and she sees through and through, to the person on the inside. And no matter what I am or who I become to the rest of the world, she will always know the real me. 

Friendships like ours don't need constant reaffirmation. I love her. She loves me. It's that simple. 
We don't talk everyday. Or every week. Or even every month. Life happened. We grew up. Time doesn't permit a lot of it's previous graces. But friendships like ours don't really care. We just pick up where we left off. It's like there was nothing in the middle - conversations flow on like finely melted chocolate; smooth and sweet. 
(*grins* she'd love the chocolate reference. It's one of her weaknesses.) 

I remember times when we've fought each others battles, rejoiced in one anothers victories and taken pride in even the silliest of accomplishments. I remember her standing with me when few others did, defending me even when I wasn't around. I remember sharing love stories and wedding plans. I remember her fighting for me when I hadn't the voice to fight for myself. I remember holding her when she cried. I remember seeing her in pain. And I remember laughing. Lots and lots of laughing, all the time, at just about anything. Years and years of someone to laugh with, has a tendency to leave you with the fondest of memories. 

We've come through a lot, Hugo and I. 
But the beauty in it for me; is that on the inside, we're still who we were all those years ago. 
She's still the girl who had her hair up in 2 ponytails, tied with red ribbon and I'm still the girl with the short boy cut hair and bright pink glasses. And to her heart and my heart...friendship is still that simple. 

She's my girl, is Hugo. She always will be and when it comes to her, I'll always be, where I've always been. 
Right here. 

For you, my madcap. 

Till later. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We call them the Hustlers.

I've always been very undecided about writing about you boys. 
I've written and erased, typed, then deleted. But seems to be a good time. 

I don't speak for just me now...I speak for a lot of fans and supporters you boys have...some in the stands, some at home, some in other countries. Because I know that a hearty chunk of us have more or less the same feelings. 

There have been times that we have watched you with pride and cheered at your victories. We have also gone silent at your losses and jumped in at your fights. (Oh yeah.) We have applauded you whether you won or lost - we saw the spirit, talent and spunk in you that you often do not see in yourselves. 

The last few years have seen you boys grow up though. 

No, I'm not taking about marriage and becoming dads. You'll seem to have grown as people and players. Learnt what skills to hone, what bad qualities to try & lose. You'll help each other more now and criticize less. There is less ego on court and more brotherhood. You value more than you judge. You play more than you talk. And I'm aware that you all know exactly what I mean. 

You all say..."Hustlers for life". Sometimes I watch you guys...and I see how subconsciously you all live by those words. Whether it's in a team huddle, at a club or just at the seem to be part of this camp that none of us can enter, part of this tribe that has it's own secret handshake. You share something that cannot be put to words but is so, so special. 

You've seen 3 captains. Each one brought you something different. The first gave you the legacy you fight for. The second reminded you that you are a team. The third makes you see the best in each other and yourselves.

I know many of the Hustlers aren't playing on court this year. But hell, they're playing off court. They're running the drills, wiping the sweat, biting their nails, even rising in anger against bad calls - being with you in spirit is still being with you, still being a Hustler.

To the new Hustlers - I know the fierce loyalty and seriousness that the players and fans alike have for this team may take you by surprise. Stick around, you'll learn to love it. 

As far as coaching goes...there's never really been anyone else, has there? 
It's good to have the Lion back. 

Play hard. Play with soul and spirit and the talent that you already have, will keep coming to the fore. You are as strong as the guy next to you. Confidence comes from knowing that you have each others backs. 

We're going to be here, watching and cheering from the stands - whether you win or lose. We are part of your team, in every way possible. 
But if you can, win. We want it. You want it. 

And as for yesterdays game....the way I see it, you boys had some red in your ledgers. 
You wiped it out. Well played. 

Till later.

Monday, April 23, 2012

34 years later - it's still the little things.

A match made in heaven. 

I've heard those words countless times over the last few years. I've watched so many of our friends get married or engaged...and there's always this one wise old someone or the other; who looks at the couple, smiles and says, "Such a match made in heaven". 

I didn't always understand it. I still don't. Not entirely at least. 
Here's this couple...just setting out on their new life together. There's so much to learn, know, see, raise an eyebrow at, be amused with...all with this person who just placed a ring on their finger. Fights to be had, meals to be made, hands to be held. Ups, downs, roses, thorns, the whole cocktail that is married life. And yet, here, right at the beginning of everything...someone claims it's a match made in heaven. 

I think finding out that it's a heaven sent something that we constantly learn. 

In the arms that hold you when you cry and the strength that moves you onward in times of pain and difficulty. 

In the friendship that makes breakfast with you and helps you do the laundry. Sometimes, even mixing colors with whites, but hey - clean is clean, right?!

It's in the eyes that watch you with pride when you excel...when you try...when you just are. 

You'll find it in the quiet support that you learn to depend upon...even without looking. It's there. 

It's in the hands that hold yours for a dance when a special song is played - no matter where you are. The kitchen, a dance floor, a picnic...the song and the moment are yours. 

It's a gentle surprise in the faith that is placed in you. No matter how the world sees will always believe the best of you. I don't think you ever really get used to it. 

It's in the fact that years still find a reason to laugh together, walk together, chat about random things...hold hands. 

Dude and I are nowhere close to all this, but we're on the long road that is forever...and the journey looks nice from where we are. We've seen some experts though. Everyday, all the time, each conversation - I learn something new about love from them that I did not know before. The world should be so lucky. 

It amazes me that a couple who've been married for 34 years, still have quiet giggles just between them. They exchange looks and speak volumes. Dad stands in the kitchen and chats with Mum while she washes the dishes. Mum rushes out of the car to open the gates to our home so that Dad can bring the car in. They watch cricket together. They pray together. They still love to have pizza dates together. Bless. 

I wrote this post listening to this on's my mama and papa's wedding special, from 34 years ago. 

I may not be that old and wise someone, but after all I've known, seen and been a part of...this is the kinda stuff matches in heaven are made of. 

Happy 34th Wedding Anniversary, my angels. 
Here's to many more pizzas, waltzes, shared bars of chocolate - the little things.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The calm called Dravid

If cricket were Wonderland, Alice retired this week. 
It went and lost one of the nicest bits of wonder it had.

Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from all forms of cricket a few days ago. Many hearts around the globe heaved unhappy sighs and hoped against hope that his 'announcement' was about something other than the obvious. 
Ha. We should have been so lucky. 

I know there are already a gazillion blog posts up about Dravid. But it's hard to not want to pay tribute to this man, this Sea of Tranquility. So here I am, a more than willing part of the bandwagon and paying my respects to a ridiculously fantastic career, player, gentleman. 

Though I've read about his game stats and this memorable century here and those fantastic sixes there - I shall be honest, I don't remember the fine details. So I won't even try to quote them, I won't get them right anyway. 

To me, cricket is simple. I love watching the game - always have. I have my favorites and I applaud good fielding, bowling, batting - but yes, I always have a favorite team. And if the boys in blue are playing - well, there you have it. How can they 'not' win? (ok, let's leave current performances aside, yes?)

I watched cricket with Dad as a child and now Dude and I watch it together as well. I've watched certain players for as long as I can remember. One of my favorites was always Dravid. Perhaps initially it was because of his boyish charm and earnest approach to his time at the crease. As time passed and Dravid grew into a more disciplined, thoughtful, meticulous player - my fondness for him grew as well. He somehow seemed to speak volumes with his silence - even if he was just watching his fellow teammates field in the distance. 

Every time he would reach any kind of milestone on the field and would take off his helmet and look to the heavens, I think my heart would swell up with a bit of pride too. When he went through a rough patch, I, along with most of the nation, nay, world; sympathized. And we 'always' wanted to see him come back. There was always the belief that he would come back stronger, harder, still dependable, still worth the love he had earned. He rarely disappointed. 

Test, one day, T20 - it never mattered. Watching Dravid walk onto the field....was enough for a million fans to hope, pray and cheer for his success. 

As a girl, I know a lot of people will think that I don't know the nitty gritty aspects of the game, or his career. 
To you lot, I say this - Dravid was a whole lot more, than just the game. 

Watching him over the years, Dravid to me, became the calm that Indian cricket seemed to lack. 
There was no angrily taking off shirts and waving it around, there were no slaps, there were no middle fingers. There was always calm. 
He triumphed, he failed, he struggled - but his body language, his interviews; though one could see his unhappiness several times - the calm still prevailed. 
All mums wanted their boys to play cricket like Dravid. He brought back the concept of a cool mind wins more than just the game. He taught the nation that there was an alternative way to playing cricket. In style, form, mind - everything. 

His various and well loved strokes and defensive moves, his silent leadership and fantastic representation of the team - only went on to add to the giant mountain of reasons why he is as loved as he is. 

In his retirement speech, Dravid said, "The media has been kind to me". He spoke true. 

Our Indian media, well known for it's unabashed beating up of well-known figures - found a favorite in Dravid. For nothing other than the fact that he was who he was.
Sans the drama, the attitude, the hoity toity behavior. He was still just Rahul. 

In the past few days, I've read a fair bit of negativity about how Sachin may announce his retirement as well, stealing thunder, this and that. (case in point to my earlier media reference!) 
Rahul Dravid will never be a Sachin Tendulkar. 
Rahul Dravid never needed to. He's perfect the way he is - in a league of his own. 

Dude sat in silence when he heard of the retirement. He turned to me and said, "I can't imagine never watching Dravid play again."

If you can manage to evoke that kind of a reaction from an ardent fan when you announce your retirement - you have succeeded more than you could ever possibly know.