Bird on the wire

Excerpt from a book review published in Mint Lounge, November 9, 2012

“I suppose it’s violating some Socratic imperative to know thyself, if that’s who it was, but I’ve always found that examination extremely tedious…. I don’t find it compelling at all.”

We can consider ourselves fortunate that Sylvie Simmons paid no heed to this professed ambivalence and apathy towards self-examination. Perhaps the master of the elliptical and the sly wit was just putting her on. But she didn’t bite.

I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, the new sprawling, generous and ultimately exquisite portrait of the life of the Canadian master of words, is the result of her persistence.


College Street in central Toronto cuts through the neighborhood known locally as Little Italy (the big one is a ways up north). Oh yeah, it has its share of mouth-watering Italian foodie alcoves scattered along it, but now the hipsters have encroached. Of late it has turned trendy with martini bars and retro dance clubs jostling with chi-chi bistros. One evening some years ago, I had walked up the natty thoroughfare. No, not to sample any ooh-la-la lychee martinis or organic tiramisu – I had just music on my mind.

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Those mythical 100 meters…

The earth splatters off their feet like chunks of dark chocolate. Their dirt-stained shoes and legs pumping, they glide into view; lungs straining against the prim white garments encasing their heaving chests, faces contorted with effort. Right at the edge of the cinder track, the milieu is startlingly bucolic. Green grass, heather and bramble adorned countryside stretches into the distance behind the dainty ladies and distinguished looking gentlemen lining the ropes. Grey clouds complete the picture, as if rendered meticulously by an artist’s brush than by nature. The runners advance languidly and loom larger, a pulsating symphony of strained muscles, limbs and torsos in cinematic slow motion. And oh, the music….

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“The iPhone is a piece of shit. I never got sucked into that hype. Never. It would never work for me. I would go crazy if my fingertips couldn’t feel the keyboard. No brother, I have always been a Blackberry man. A loyalist you could even call me. Three Blackberry Pearls is what I used to pack. Back in 2007, when I was at Gieves and Hawkes for a fitting, I ordered them to provide me with four mobile phone pockets. Two on each side. They stared at me like I was mad. Well screw those Saville Row cocks! So what if their royal clientele had never asked for that! Never did use the fourth pocket though. But my suits used to be cocked and loaded with my three Pearls. It has all gone to shit now, but I still do love my Torch. Using its keyboard still gives me a feeling of control. Of power. The whole world may have gone mad for those shit phones but they will have to pry my fingers off this Blackberry before I give it up.”
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Sightlines blurred

The cricket helmet will never be a purveyor of epic imagery that its siblings the floppy hat and the traditional cap specialize in. Not for it the heart-stopping freeze frame of Richards cork-screwed, nostrils flared as he hooked at Thommo; his maroon cap blown off and suspended in mid-air. Nor the laconic cool of the bent brim of a floppy white, golden locks of Gower peeking out, back arched in a silken backfoot cover-drive. Anodyne by nature, functional at best it remains. The grill, conspiring with the shadow cast by the peak completes the obfuscation job. Except for the eyes. The eyes it has always accentuated.

Especially your eyes, Rahul.
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You came, I saw, you conquered

Published on ESPN-Cricinfo, March 7, 2012



That would be around the time the opposition shook themselves out of their discombobulated stupor and contemplated the reality of their situation. Or the hopelessness. You blazed up to and past that number nonchalantly oh so often. You were never one for the numbers, were you?

Sixty today. In the theatre of life. Sixty candles to blow out. Hope you remember to lose the gum you’ve been chewing before you do. The gum that accompanied the swagger. The swagger that spooked out teams; that prefaced the gaze you trained on the bowler at the top of his run-up. Looking into his eyes as you patted down random spots on the pitch, having just taken guard. Sending chills down the spines of all who were watching. Starting with that day in Bangalore.
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The taxi had driven past a sprawling hospital en route to the bistro. Was that the one, he wondered. With the framed painting in the waiting room. Of Bradman pulling to midwicket; crinkled visage of authoritative satisfaction in oil paint. The doctor had been efficient and effusive. Proceeded to embarrass him by asking for an autograph. The cast had been pristine white. Perhaps I should get the gracious doctor to autograph it, he had thought. Signed and sealed for the trip home.
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Dear Mr. Arlott



Original draft of article published on ESPN-Cricinfo, November 27, 2011

He himself must resolve them as well as he knows,
Or else take them with him wherever he goes.
– J. A

The sun shone weakly. It was April and the milieu was cold and bleak in Tilbury. Dark smoke billowing out of her funnels, the Orontes drew away in sombre deliberation and sailed out towards the grey waters of the Atlantic. Out on its deck, there was one last wave before the diminutive and huddled up figure stepped back from the deck rails and turned away. His silhouette dissolved into the mist and fog. And then Harold Larwood was gone.

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