Thursday, September 29, 2016

Natrang - Movie Review

It's made on a novel of the same name. Terribly depressing. It's about a poor farmhand who loves the tamasha form of theatre in rural Maharashtra and how his passion pretty much makes his life miserable for him. Actually not too bad really - he gets to run off with his heroine, make some money and gets kicked out of his home. He ends up with a lifetime award in the end.

I found it quite depressing. Marathi movie. Highly acclaimed.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Anjali - Would You Buy Your Book?

While poring over the last draft of my next book 'This Way Is Easier, Dad - How My Daughter Saved Me From Growing Up', I heard Anjali's voice. 'Would you buy this book if you were in a book store Nanna? she asked.

That flummoxed me. 'I guess I would,' I replied unsurely.

'Because if you won't buy your book you can't expect others to buy it,' she said. 'So write it in such a way that you feel like buying it too. Then if you will buy it others will buy it too.'

'So what should I do now?' I asked.

'Go back and read the book and write it in such a way that you will feel like buying it yourself,' she said.

Hmm. Made sense.

'Why did you ask me this question?' I asked wondering if I gave something away in my demeanour.

'Nothing. I do the same with my exams papers. After I write all the answers I look at them again and see if they make sense to me. Then I make changes. If I don't understand them or find them interesting how will my teacher find it interesting?' she said.

Makes immense sense. I am writing for the reader anyway. It helps to establish connect if I laugh, cry or feel an aha, as I write because then the reader will connect as well. Big insight and a necessary question to ask for everyone who is selling something - what does the buyer want? Thanks Anjali.


A Nice Mention in a Nice Article

A nice and generous mention in a Linkedin article by a dear friend!
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/does-every-leader-need-coach-suresh-reddy

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All Saints Cricketers 1982 Reunion - September 4, 2016

In 1981-82, in my last year at school, I got selected to play for the formidable All Saints High School cricket team. It was a name to reckon in the Hyderabad cricketing circles having a rich cricketing heritage - one that produced Azharuddin, Venkatapathy Raju and Noel David besides a whole lot of first class cricketers. In fact, the reason I joined All Saints was the promise of cricket that it made with its little ground and half mat and young cricketers in whites. It took me three years to join the team.
A group pic - Vidyuth, Abbas, Swaroop, Iftekhar, Ajmal, Rajesh (standing)
Joseph, Ehtesham, Venkatapathy, me, Suresh, Balig, Narayana and Joel
Our captain was Ehtesham Ali Khan, handsome, tough, resolute and kind and compassionate. He was like a Hollywood hero, for his honest and straightforward approach. Ehu was a wonderful batsman and wicket keeper and a natural leader of men. He was serious about his cricket and had a learning mindset with a work ethic to match. He was supported by a host of state cricketers - D. Suresh, one of the most prolific and stylish batsmen we have seen and piler on of tons upon tons, Masood Ahmed, who was my captain in the Under 15s, and Srinivas Chakravarthy, mercurial off spinner and batsman.
Vidyuth, me, Rajesh and Suresh
Others in the team included Abdul Rub from my class, Subodh Bhatnagar, Joel Wilson, Iftekhar, Rahi Prakash, Michael, Rajesh Chetty, Farrukh Ali Khan, Noel David and one or two more. Of course your truly joined the team in the last year as a complete rookie. I shared the new ball with Michael and Rajesh on occasion.
Joseph, Venkatapathy and Ehtesham
We played Sunday league cricket. 15 games in all, a couple of tournaments and the Inter school tournaments. Every game that we won, we would get a treat worth Rs. 50 by our cricket brother K.M. Joseph. We'd buy ourselves doughnuts and a puff perhaps at the Johns bakery or a dosa treat at Taj Mahal. Lunch on Sundays was an interesting affair -  Abdul Rub would lead us to Bombay bakery where we would eat the tandoor mutton, in a bowl. Super stuff.
J, V and Suresh
D. Suresh must have got a few hundreds that season and so did Ehtu perhaps. I joined the ranks of the state and South Zone players from All Saints that year having played for Hyderabad Under 15 and South Zone Under 15. In later years came Vidyuth Jaisimha and Venkatapathy Raju who played for India with great distinction and played two World Cups as well. Young Noel David also went on to play for India. Ehtesham, Suresh, Chakravarthy and me played first class cricket for Hyderabad - Ehtu, Suresh, Venkatapathy and me featured in the year that Hyderabad won the Ranji Trophy in 1987 too! Not a bad achievement.  Masood, Vidyuth and others played one notch below though fully deserving. Masood also played for Under 19 India. It had a rich cricketing history no doubt.
Joseph, Venkatapathy and me
We played some memorable games that year. One game we can never forget is the game where we beat HPS Begumpet at their home ground. HPS was a formidable team with a first class cricketer leading it - Hari Prasad - and a host of state cricketers in Swaroop, Srinivas, Mohan Natraj, Rajeshwar to name a few. It was a low scoring game and we got bowled out for 107. They were 30 for no loss in three overs at lunch and were stunningly packed out for 70. I got five for 25 and Chakravarthy for 4 for 19. It was an unbelievable game because HPS was far superior to our team. Our rector gave us a treat - a movie 'Jaws' that we watched at Parameshwari and then dinner at Mohini with two rounds of ice cream.
Rajesh having a go at the mike
I remember another close game that we won by 1 run. With 2 runs to win and the last wicket at the wicket, Ehtesham called me to bowl the dreaded last over. I did everything to escape his eye but he caught me out. While I was preparing nervously to bowl I heard Iftekhar shouting at me - 'Come on Hari, you can do it.get him out.' Those words gave me a lot of encouragement and I let go one delivery in the perfect place right on the stumps. The poor number XI batsman played on and we won by one run. Though just a school team, we gave every other team a run for their money - IDPL. Ameerpet, National, AB Colony, MPG were some of the games I remember.
Balig, Ifti and Lachi
Then we went our separate ways. Vidyuth, Vekatapathy, Chakravarthy and I teamed up and played for Marredpally Cricket Club and did well again. Some of us played first class cricket. Then we went into our careers and lives. Ehtu went to Dubai, Suresh became an IAS officer, Masood went to the US, Abdul Rub went to Saudi Arabia, I dabbled in stuff here and there and settled down to a writing career, Chakravarthy runs a bakery, Vidyuth has coached two national teams, Iftekhar joined a bank, Rajesh runs a paint company, Farrukh Ali Khan is a successful interior designer, Rahi Prakash works with Microsoft.
Two great friends and competitors - Ehtesham and Suresh
After almost 33 years, we met again at Suresh's house for a party. Almost seven of us from the original team were present with Vidyuth and Venkatapathy. Some others from school joined us including our Head Boy and chief organiser Joseph Fernandes. Swaroop joined us and several others. There was much catching up and retelling of old stories, drinking and singing till late in the night. I drove along with Rajesh and we had a great time chatting up after a long, long time.
Joseph, Venkatapathy and Vidyuth
I think of those days and remember some performances. Ehtu's classic pose as he threw the ball to me but mostly a huge 188 he got against us for Nizam College against Osmania in the Inter collegiate final. Masood for his quick fire starts and easy flicks over square leg. Suresh for his 97 against TNCA in Buchi Babu with a fractured nose. Venkatapathy for his 6 wicket haul which won us a tight game against Tamil Nadu in an Under 22 game. Vidyuth for his 100 against Andhra in an Under 15 game and a crazy 56 against Madras University against Robin Singh and the likes.  Chakravarthy for his constant encouragement and for his 4-19 against HPS. Rajesh Chetty for his 5 for 12 against Little Flower in Nalgonda for the Montfort Tropy which we won. Subodh Bhatnagar and his two unbelievable catches at short midwicket to get rid of Hariprasad and Rajeshwar. Iftekhar for his constant support and unflagging optimism. Michael for his outswing bowling. Abdul Rub and his easy swing over fine leg. Oh, so many more memories that I will jostle up and add. Joel did not play much or rather did not bowl much because Chakravarthy and Subodh took up the off spinning slots.
A selfie by Rajesh - Ajmal, Ehtu, Suresh and Joseph
It was a good bunch of cricketers it turned out to be. We ended up winning a lot of tournaments at all levels right up to the Ranji Trophy and it was a great thing to have five of us (Swaroop included) from the Ranji Trophy winning team of Hyderabad that evening - Ehtu, Suresh, Venkatapathy, Swaroop and me. If the HCA had persisted with us some more, we would have won a few more - we were like that. But it was a wonderful time and we all have Suresh, who still looks as youthful and as handsome as ever, to thank for for hosting the party. Missed Masood, Subodh, Noel, Abdul Rub, Farrukh, Michael for sure. Great fun fellows and hopefully we meet again soon.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Anjali - But You Can Still Do It

We were browsing through a mutual fund brochure that was designed like a comic story. I told Anjali how the concept of savings and compounding works and how little savings can lead to big returns later.

'I will explain it to you on the computer,' I said. 'It will make a big difference to you. I wish I'd known this when I was young.'

She looked at me in surprise.

'But you can still do it Nanna,' she said all earnestness.

Hmm. Yes. Why not? I can still do it. Thanks Anjali for reminding me. That's a huge reminder.

Anjali - The 1.5 km Run

I cannot believe how she does it. It's some primal instinct to challenge herself - whatever happens.

Today I decided to increase my running quota to 1.5 km. Anjali decided to come with me - shoes and all.

'I am doing three rounds today,' I warned her.

'I will also do three rounds,' she said.

I told her to stop when she felt like and went off on the run. She ran alongside. Some distance into the run her lace came off. She stopped and tied it and came after me. Once again and again. Each time she stopped tied it and came after me.

The two rounds were over. I expected her to stop. She didn't. I could see her tiring but she just would not give up. As we went into the home stretch she pulled away and beat me by a clear 100 meter margin.

'I can do more,' she said when I finally dragged myself in.

I am sure she can. She is better at this than I am.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Nice Link - Brain Pickings on Advice on Writing

One Rainy Evening in Hyderabad

The skies look dark. So dark that you are worried what they will spew once they open up their swollen bellies. And they do not disappoint - they pour down in torrents like we have not seen before. I use the by-now-familiar and suicidal technique of lets-see-what-happens and head into the storm. Rain pelts down. Its hard to see a few feet ahead. Potholes are hidden by sheets of water and cars and two wheelers watch these puddles warily. What surprises do the water puddles hide? Tentatively we go forward and on all occassions we find the water hides a huge pothole. We are thankful it is not a manhole and move on with a bruised undercarriage.

It's time to take a call between the many routes available. Which ones will get flooded and which ones will offer passage? One choice and then another and we seem to have used our knowledge of three decades well. We reeach the theatre and watch the movie.

The rain does not let up. When we step outside Prasad's Imax the road is chock a block with traffic. I turned left and instead of taking the u turn and joining the choked traffc, took the easy route to the left. It led back to the road near the Secretariat. The traffic was worse. Another fatal u turn and we were further away from the road we needed to take. This time our luck had run out. There are no easy routes in such situations.

The next two hours were spent negotiating a one km stretch to the flyover - where we started. Then over the flyover and home. In rain I decided, stick to the high areas, not just known routes. Avoid the low lying ares. Be patient. You cannot be smart in a clogged traffic situation. It could set you back two hours. It's a pattern that could well set you nack by decades if you don't learn.

Jyo Achyutananda - Movie Review

Srinivasa Avasarala is one of the wittiest people I've met - he can't help being any other way. So for him to come up with witty one liners or creative twists to situations and make them funny is but natural. It's a special gift and the product of an intelligent, restless mind I'd think. So, expecting fun, is a part of the bargain when you're watching his films. Jyo Achyutananda does not disappoint on that count, and comes wrapped up in Srini's inimitable brand of humor - in every other line, in the use of language, in word play and even characters and the way they reveal themselves in their quirky ways.

But that was not what impressed me most. What really got me about Jyo Achyutananda was the way Srini brought out the drama between two brothers from a middle class family, both dealing with ideas of values, success, love and relationships. It is a complex relationship that the two brothers share (or perhaps most brothers do) - at one hand competing and at another sharing a deep bond of love and hate. It settles into a space that brothers cannot escape - finally as a brother one always feel if one has done what's required as a brother, or if one has failed in that duty. And somehow Srini conveys that without saying it.

One remembers a line from Moby Dick when Herman Melville's Ahab (I think) ponders over the relationship between brothers - that you can share a bed with another man as a grown up but not your brother. Such is the nature of this beast! With his fine handling of that subtle but most powerful of emotions, Srini offers a glimpse into his reading of human nature and his sensitive side. He weaves the strained-on-the-surface relationship between the brothers well and that's one huge highlight for me. I loved the way it ended and there were not many who were left with a dry eye in the theatre after that.

Jyo (Regina Cassandra), comes as a catalyst into the story. Two brothers, living a middle class life, find themselves dealing with the pressures of choices between success and happiness, remaining true and growing up, play and winning. Achyut (Rohith) and Anand (Naga Shourya) fall for the girl and do their best to win her. In retrospect it does appear that it was not really Jyo that mattered to them but that sibling competition within them - because after all she does not care two hoots about either anyway. Achyut as the older brother has a few more tricks up his sleeve, not all of them ethical, while Anand has a natural ability, a great smile and a gullible heart. One is an artist and the other a sportsman. One thing leads to another and Jyothsna, who leaves the two bachelors in the midst of a horrible misunderstanding and flees to America, returns to spark off an unfinished competition between the two brothers (now married) and the story pans out to an interesting end.

I loved the middle class set-up and its struggle with its values. So many things have been addressed by Srini - where he gets so much maturity from I wonder. He slips in deep philosophies once in a while casually. I loved one line in particular - when Naga Shourya says that only people who are weak need strong walls to protect them. The one liners keep poking at you throughout the film making the experience enjoyable - its like having an intelligent and witty friend sitting next to you. The performances by the brothers are intense. The technique of watching the same scene from two different perspectives is interesting and well woven. And Srini, if you can build such subtle messages into your stories and pull off drama like that , you have it made. Nice to see Sagar's name in the credits on the directorial team. He so richly deserves it.

If the Marathi film 'Sairat' brought estranged families together thanks to inter-caste marriages against the family wishes, 'Jyo Achyutananda' could well bring brothers together. Thoroughly enjoyable.


Friday, September 16, 2016

From Man to Maneater - Sumanth

'From Man to Maneater' reads like a Hollywood film script with twists and turns galore. In fact the start is so racy that you wonder how the author will sustain that pace and drama throughout the book, but he does a good job of it, and takes the readers through an entertaining journey full of dramatic elements. It's the filminess of the book that stands out and one could pretty much read it like one is reading a racy action movie script. It helps that Sumanth's writing style is vivid and one can visualize each scene as it plays out.
Partridge, 370 p
So we take off with a bang in the Himalayas where a 500 year old sage inhabits a cave. He has answers to everything one would think. As the book starts, he has visitors, one among them being the 'Maneater', a fugitive from justice and a professional hit man. But the Maneater was not always a killer, he had a past until circumstances forced him into the life he now has to lead. Perhaps he wanted to find answers to why fate dealt him an unfair hand.

Hot on the Maneater's heels are a Russian oil baron who suffered huge losses thanks to the Maneater's work on his pipeline. The Russian baron wants revenge - and personally. One other angle that's converging on the cave is a tough cop Prithviraj Chavan who is also on the Maneater's trail. The Russian baron has a local businessman helping him, who happens to be Prithiviraj's estranged father. One little something more, the Maneater and Prithviraj look alike. The stage is now set.

The midnight visit to the cave starts and ends in disaster as the Maneater loses his trusted aides in a landslide in no time. He is trapped inside with the silent sage. While the Russians and the police are closing in, the Maneater revisits his life as Vishvamitra, a successful software professional with a wife and two kids, a good life in the USA and his quest for love. In a turn of events Vishvamitra becomes a fugitive from law and his life turns topsy turvy. While in hiding he realises that a terror strike blew up the plane his family was travelling. There is one person responsible for Vishvamitra's life to turn upside down - the power hungry, greedy, young minister Amresh Thakur.

You'd think you have seen it all but Sumanth surprises you with his twists. There is violence in plenty, guns and molls, love and sex, betrayal and loyalty, greed and revenge and then some more. For a first book its packed with lots of thought and detail. For sheer entertainment quotient 'From Man to Maneater' stands out like a commercial potboiler in the James Bond mould. Only here we follow the Maneater's life and not the cop. Lots of research, convincing characters, a well thought out and racy plot, filmy masala and a writing style that keeps it all together.work for Sumanth and 'From Man to Maneater'. What impressed me about Sumanth was the attention to detail, the scale (it will be an expensive movie if it is made), the meticulousness with which he organised his plot. I also liked the fact that he did not shy away from violence, in fact he is too trigger happy and ends up with some fifty dead bodies (or rather 250 if one takes the air crash into account), and also liked the fact that he did not shy away from the bold sex scenes, including a gay encounter. Like they say, all angles covered, all boxes ticked. There's something for everyone.

'From Man to Maneater' is one of the better first time books I have read. I somehow wish the title was something else - the book deserves a better title. But I am nitpicking and all in all, Sumanth can take a bow for putting his heart and soul into the book and holding nothing back. It's an honest effort and it shows. There are few who write such stories in India so Sumanth is in a good space. It is obvious that he will only get better as he writes more books. Well done Sumanth and wishing you many more wonderful books to come by in the future.

Toastmaster's Speeches

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Paradoxes of Our Lives - Love and Fear

The most dangerous impostor is fear, that comes disguised as love. The one who loves through fear is still better off than that impostor.

The quality of fear disguised as love is that it inhibits growth and makes people feel less than themselves. The quality of love that prevails over fear is that which helps real growth.

Fear gives you easy options and keeps you stunted. Love enables growth - through tough lessons.

Superb - Akira Kurosawa on Writing

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Thought for the Day - Worry Paralyses Action

Worrying is a useless emotion (if it is one). Simply because it completely paralyzes action.

Worry is drama. Drama is about wringing hands. That's about as much productive action one gets from it - the wringing of hands.

However if one is looking at clear results, proper outcomes - it can be found only in focused action.

Don't confuse worry with action.

Action, on the other hand, is pure. It is clear. Honest.

It's the difference between a shifty gaze and a straightforward one.

Nice Link - Nice Song

Love the life in his eyes when he sings - you don't need much more!
https://www.facebook.com/bababcofficial/videos/304344543251493/

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Nice Link - On Ramakant Achrekar's Coaching

The Marredpally Cricket Club Reunion on August 27, 2016

I played for the Marredpally Cricket Club, Hyderabad (MCC) for almost two decades - from 1983 till sometime in the 2000s. I started as an almost 16 year old in a team led by the legendary M.L.Jaisimha. Santosh Reddy with his Oxford accent and brilliant fielding and batting skills, Arvind Rao (with his colorful language and sheer grit), Govind Raj (India player who played a game or two) were the senior members that I remember, Sudhir Reddy, Raghuram Reddy, Anant Reddy made up the college going crowd, Hari Mohan (senior) was wicket keeper and Fazal Abbas and I made up the 16 year old brigade. That was pretty much the team - give or take a couple. We rarely made a 11. But we had the best of times and always walked off - win or lose - as if we were the winners. Much of my cricket thinking got shaped through those years.

In precisely two seasons, the team got fully revamped. Vivek Jaisimha became our captain though Uncle Jai still played. With fresh reinforcements from young cricketers - Vidyuth Jaisimha, Venkatpathy Raju, S Chakravarthy, Sanjay, Sunil Phillips, Imtiaz, Vijay Bhasker etc we caused a few jolts in the established cricketing system. We beat the reigning champions Syndicate Bank (with a Test player and several Ranji players), gave Andhra Bank and SBI (Azhar played that game - we got them all out for 202) a scare. The result of our heroics - 8 of us made it to the Ranji Trophy probables.

But surprisingly in all those years - we never won the league championship. The team mentioned above produced one Test player in Venkatpathi Raju, 5 first class cricketers, and then we slowly went out own ways. I continued playing though and enjoyed Sunday games even more.. After gaining confidence from designing a few wins, in matches and then in tournaments, I felt confident enough to try it with our MCC team. I wanted us to win the league championship by design. By then, 1993-94, we were back to our old rag tag ways, still struggling to make a XI and playing for the sheer fun of it.

We decided at the beginning of that year, 1993-94, that we would go out and win the championship. Two professional players were allowed - so we got Vivek Jaisimha, Raj Kumar and Sanjay to register as pros, of whom two would play any game. The rest of the team was - Me (captain), Chandrasekharan (ex TVS Madras and a very stylish middle order batsman), Ram (my younger brother, JNTU captain and left arm spinner), Srinivas Babu (opening bat, ex Nizam College captain), Pavan (middle order bat), Suri (middle order bat, off spinner, Junior state player), Subbu (wicket keeper batsman). This plus the pros were supported by an absolutely errant and perpetually quarter-bottle-of-rum-carrying Vernon Paul (Osmania University all rounder, superb athlete and a great character, now no more), Sai Muralidhar (Junior state player, middle order batsman and off spinner), Raj Kumar (junior) helped with scoring, Yasin made up the numbers and played a few games. What Mr. Raghavaiah did, I am not sure but he must have come for a few games and been part of the reserves. I don't think he played a single game that year.

Having set our goal, I tried to enforce a culture of team meetings, strategy meetings at Irani cafes, team bonding sessions (chai and drinks after the games, especially the wins). Some discipline and focussed thought I thought would help but we always celebrated well. It helped to have a party loving crowd too - Chandra was always game for a good time and initiated many and we polished off many bottles of rum through that season. Wonder of wonders, we won at the end of it. It worked almost like clockwork save the one match against Ameerpet that we lost, more due to lack of clear thinking than anything else. The picture below was taken at Gymkhana in 1994 after we won the championship and it was such a pleasure to have Uncle Jai with us.
MCC Team 1993-94 - Standing L to R - Chandrasekharan, Raj, Pavan Soman, Sai Muralidhar, Yasin, Suryaprakash, Ram Mohan, Subramanyam (WK)
Sitting L to R - Raghavaiah, Raj Kumar, Vivek Jaisimha, M.L. Jaisimha, Hari Mohan, Sanjay, Srinivas Babu

There are many wonderful memories of those two decades but among the indelible ones remains the victory celebration we had after beating Sacred heart CC in a match we almost lost. We got all out of 165 which is a low score in that ground. They got off to a flying start and were 20 for no loss in two overs. Then started a huge slide. Wickets tumbled, Pavan went tumbling at short leg and picked two brilliant catches, Chandra latched on to a flier in the slips off Sreenu who bowled a very hostile spell that day and before we knew it, Sacred Hearts was out of 70 or so. Sreenu bowled a fiery spell for 5 wickets. I got 5 in a supporting role. So elated were we that it needed a bigger than the usual chai and biscuit in Irani cafe routine to celebrate. Chandra stepped in as always - he was then Branch Manager for Kotak Mahindra - and he generously sponsored a treat of several beers at the Outswinger pub. It remains one of the most brilliant celebrations we ever had and all those who were these can never forget it. It ranks higher than the other two big celebrations we had - both at Laxmi Vihar - the Jaisimha's residence - one after we beat Syndicate Bank and another after we beat Nizam College. Two other memorable celebrations come to mind - one after a win when we all landed up at Chandra's house in Lakdikapul and partied till late at night, and another when we all landed up at Vernon Paul's house for a New Year celebration and much drama happened.

Now after these 20 plus years Chandra responded to a facebook post by Babu who posted a picture of me and him when he was in Hyderabad last time with the above picture in the background. Chandra suggested a meet. I seconded the idea. One thing led to another and finally last Saturday, the entire gang met. Vidyuth represented Vivek who was busy elsewhere and Uncle Jai, Raghavaiah was untraceable but all else made it save Raj Kumar (junior). Vernon Paul (missing in the picture as well) is no more. Others who played with us and passed on are Maheshwar Prasad, the fun loving batsman from Andhra and Sushil, medium pacer. The party started at 130 pm and the team came together in typical MCC fashion, each one at his own time. There was a toast to those who passed on. This is how the team looks now. Chandra once again stepped in and sponsored the celebration  - he is our good times man (Babu did his bit as well) and everyone responded and came by. Ranjan came and joined us too. And it was very sweet of the other India cricketer from MCC - Venkatpathy Raju - to come and join the party a little later in the evening. Pavan came late so he missed this picture.
MCC Reunion August 27, 2016 - Stnading L to R - Chandrasekharan, Sai Muralidhar, Sreenu, Suryaprakash, Ram, Ranjan
Sitting L to R - Raj Kumar, Vidyuth Jaisimha, Me, Sanjay and Srinivas Babu (and bat - the same one that Chandra bought in 1993-94 and we used it for 2 decades and still do. Also was also part of the movie Golconda High School)

As always, lots of jokes, memories, fun and banter.

Amongst all the banter, I thought I'd recollect my best memory of each person from my MCC days

Vivek Jaisimha - a seven wicket haul against Nizam College, a jaw dropping 90 on a green wicket against Railways and a 100 for Nizam College against MCC. I also loved the way he sent me open in two games - one against Nizam College where I got a 100 in 36 balls and one against Syndicate Bank on a wet wicket and I top scored with 24. Thanks to that I actually opened for Under 22 Hyderabad. Vicky was a huge influence on us with his vast cricketing understanding - he went about things in a quiet, understated way.

Vidyuth Jaisimha - though he did not play that year, Vidyuth was the key for so many of us playing cricket for MCC and at a higher level. He told me to play for MCC when I was about to stop playing cricket for lack of finding a team when I was 16 and that's how I played whatever I did. He recruited Venkatpathy, Chakker, Fazal, Sanjay and so many of us. He had the eye, the conviction and the clarity to convince his Dad that we were good enough. Vidyuth has been the harbinger of good news for me on some momentous occasions - once when I got selected for Under 25 Hyderabad ahead of all others in our lot, another when I was picked to play Ranji Trophy. Vidyuth was amazing at gully and picked up catches that were out of the world, making them look so easy. He was also a constant source of encouragement for us and much of what we finally did is owed to him.

Srinivas Babu - a 65 he got against IDPL in that ground in his no nonsense, attacking manner, brilliant slip catching especially one sharp one against EMCC in a match we won. Babu was always fit and continues to be - apart from being a nice harmonising part of any team. Also unforgettable for taking Ram and Ranjan out for tea and they all came back late so we had to concede defeat (anyway a lost cause) due to missing lower order batsmen

Vernon Paul - his two consecutive sixes to finish a close game in Gymkhana. Nonchalant hitting. Also for his bottle carrying ways in his old blue Chetak. He somehow made it to the party at Chandra's place, got totally blown and never remembered what happened and how he got home. He gets an honorary seat at the MCC table for his amazing drinking ways.

Chandra - His knock of 85 against Sacred Hearts where he and Raj finished a tight game - we were chasing 280 and got it in 40 overs. Short arm pulls, flowing drives - Vidyuth exclaimed 'who is this guy?'. Brilliant batting. Chandra had a technique that was classic and one could instantly make out that pedigree. Then that superb catch in slips off Sreenu. And the unforgettable Outswinger party, now this and so many more good times with the king of good times.

Ram - His tight spell of 2 for 56 against MP Blues which was the first game in that season we won. Losing that would have set us back. We got 280. MP Blues was 150 for no loss and crusing. Ram got us the first desperate break when Ramesh who was batting on 80 stepped out and got caught at long on. Once we got that break, we bowled them out. And another tight spell at a crucial time against Vijay Paul's team where he tied a senior batsman like Vijay Paul down and finally got him out caught at square leg and we won easily after that.

Pavan - his slam bang batting for two overs precisely. But his two amazing catches in that Sacred Hearts game are the best I have seen ever. And the way he held the team together for many years patiently doing all the administrative work and getting everyone together. Pavan's cooking at our parties was legendary and continues to be.
This one with Venkatapathy Raju (third from left) and Pavan Soman (seventh from left), everyone looking suitably happier

Suri - Sensational batting and fielding. Always stood up when the team needed him. He is the Nino Valenti of the team - the tragic hero - all talent and heart. Easily the most consistent in all those years. temperamental, gets into fights, but does everything for the team. Much is owed to him. Among the many memories - his superb knock of 80 plus when we were chasing a 9 plus run per over target after I broke my nose trying to pull a short ball. In all that blood and gore, Suri smashed the opposition and won us a superb game - I am sure it was revenge for him. He is the highest century scorer for MCC as far as I know. His many wonderful catches - one where he stood an inch inside the line and reached outside to take a catch two handed catch off a sure sixer off Ram in the Osmania ground.

Subbu - One knock in Barkas where he got 80. Really good though for a losing cause. And another against MP Sporting, his old team - he got a 50 and helped us win. But the samosa incident at Parade grounds where he was caught with a samosa in his gloves while I was about to deliver the ball was easily the incident no one will ever forget.

Raj Kumar - His five against Ameerpet in a losing cause was a fine effort and his 100 against MP Blues in that opening game for a winning cause remain in my mind. He was a professional and did all that was needed to win.

Sanjay - His spell against Andhra Bank and Syndicate Bank in the previous years. His running out a BDL batsman on the third run after chasing the ball to midwicket off his own bowling. Sanjay aka Military and I played cricket from the U15 days.

Sai Murlidhar - a 32 he got under pressure for MCC and won a game. Other than that he was always a good time guy with lots of stories and a fine party presence. Sai is one guy you can always have in your corner. Terrific drinking capacity so an automatic MCC member.

Sreenu - The Sacred Hearts spell was outstanding but another spell in a close game where he literally grabbed the ball from my hand and told me - 'I will get them out'. Out of the remaining four wickets to get with less than 20 runs, he got three wickets with one of the fastest spells I have seen.

Ranjan - Apart from some brilliant slip catches, a crucial face saving fifty when we were down 15 for 5 against a lowly placed team and a five wicket haul against Amberpet.

And one unforttable knock of 100 plus by Shameem who played the innings of life to win a lost cause against MP Sporting. From 100 for 8 he pulled off the game with the tail enders carrying his bat through in probably the best match winning knock I have seen.

And then so many more tales and we enjoyed those many many years of Sunday leagues for MCC. I remember bowling and batting with a fractured finger, suffering a broken nose, a badly torn hamstring but it was all worth it. I will write now, an MCC blog, a long pending wish of mine and recount stuff more clearly. For now, this teaser. And all of you guys, thanks for making it - Chandra from Mumbai and Babu from Bangalore - and the rest of us from all over Hyderabad. Until we meet again.