I never asked for any of this
I didn’t, no
I wanted to be different
I strived so
I fancied the path less travelled
I aimed low
Do we make our own destiny?
I believed so
How do we control destiny?
Hard work, bro
Is it always true?
For sure, NO
Sometimes our path is laid out
No power can change so
Does the walker choose the path or the path the walker?
There comes a moment in everyone’s life when you know that you cannot and will not lose, when that feeling of invincibility and incredible energy becomes such a force that it cannot be denied.
Time stood still. The 12′o’clock sun beat down with vengeance. An eagle called out and took flight. A sparkling drop of sweat perched tantalizingly on my brow carved a rivulet down my chin dripping off to quench the bone dry earth. I knew that I could do it. Only the wall stood between me and the net. I blanked my mind, believed in myself, took a deep breath and let my instincts take over. What happened next…..totally changed my world.
The charade of your life
Let the flame of my heart
Your complacence tonight
I command you to rise
The decay of your life
Feel the light of your eyes
Find the way
Through the darkness tonight
Fearing no one
And, I jerked into wakefulness to the head-splitting blare of my alarm. An alarm’s sole purpose in life is to wake-up its owner in time and nothing serves that purpose better than some hardcore heavy – metal rock. I might be sleeping like a corpse but my alarm will still wake me up and what’s more, you most certainly cannot go back to sleep after that electric shock. It works, nothing else really matters.
It is 6 am, the crack of dawn and as I drag my sorry ass to the washroom, the only thing going through my mind is why would anyone in their right minds wake up at such an ungodly hour on a weekend? But today is the first day of trials for the girls’ football team and I am supposed to be the coach, in fact. So, I have got to be there. As I throw on my tracks and buckle up my Nikes, adrenalin pumps through my veins, the anticipation growing.
Many would be surprised on hearing the word ‘girls’ and ‘football’ being used together in the same sentence but you would be amazed at the sheer number of girls who totally dig soccer and have Messi or Ronaldo or Rooney posters in their rooms. But I guess, the reasons as to which they have them are kind of debatable. Anyways, why do I love football? I love football because it allows scope for creativity, for self expression like no other sport offers. It is a constant battle of wits as you incessantly try to outsmart, outwit and outplay the other guy. Often it is not the guy built like a linebacker who strikes but the one who thinks most flexibly, innovatively and creatively. Personally, I like the playmakers more than the poachers and like to think of myself as a dead ball specialist like David Beckham or Diego Forlan. Cheeky, I know.
When I first came up with this idea of having a girls’ football team, I was met with resistance all around but finally the Gymkhana guys agreed to it on a probationary basis with a promise of a more permanent solution if things work out.
As I hit the road and make my way towards the field, the cool morning breeze helps slow down my over-clocking brain and ease my apprehensions. I tell myself, “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks or feels. I want to play and I will play come what may. Bring it on!”
I reach the ground, take a deep breath, brace myself for a possibly vexing morning and step in. I see about 50 enthusiastic and over-zealous girls kicking and running around and I can already feel the beginnings of a headache starting to set in. I empty my lungs and shout hard at them to line up. I have the unenviable task of short listing 22 of them and I badly need a whistle or better still a megaphone. I am pretty sure I am going to end up with permanently damaged vocal cords by noon.
I start them out with few basic passing and dribbling drills, turn on my radar and start scouting. The first person to catch my eye is a foreign exchange student, must be 5’12. But for her height, Marine is quite agile and quick on her feet. Any guy will have trouble getting across her. She’s definitely in, considering the fact that we will be mostly playing defence against the guys. The next person I found was slightly built girl who looked like she will get blown away by the wind, but she had brilliant anticipation and an eye for the ball. Nandita will be the goalkeeper. Couple of other great finds were Prakruthi and Ananya who have great ball-control. Finally after a whole lot of chopping and hacking, I had them sorted out into two teams of 11. The main team line-up looks like a scene right out of Lagaan, girls torn away from books and calculators and stuck in a football field like an improvised, mismatched, makeshift team. The result was honestly jarring but hell yeah we were going to play football. I called it a day.
Over the next few days we had numerous practice sessions and I managed to somewhat streamline the team. Finally, it was D-Day. But as luck would have it, I had my Quantum Physics Quiz the same day, right before the match.
Me, being another one of those arrogant B.Techs started my preparation just a day before the quiz and crammed into the night. By midnight I was brain-dead and by 2 am I was starting to think I might have actually died already and it was my spirit that was trying to crack Schrodinger’s equation and the Perturbation theory. By 3 am I remembered God and by 4 am I swore to go back in time to kill Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger and on that good note, crashed. But alas, sleep was not to be, Heisenberg and Einstein and their buddies took to haunting even my dreams. I closed my eyes and all I could see were swirling fermions and bosons and muons and what not. Eventually, I gave up on sleep, washed my bloodshot eyes, jacked up on caffeine and geared up for one final round of mugging up. ‘Twas the worst kind of start anyone could have to any day. Some people would argue that you have got to be totally out of your mind to voluntarily choose a
Physics Minor being in Biotechnology. That’s true. It’s my own brand of crazy. Sometimes I feel like I have a death wish myself.
At long last the clock struck 4 pm and my pre-match ritual starts now, exactly an hour before I leave. I put on Avenged Sevenfold and turn up the volume and start my stretching routine. The heavy metal again serves two purposes. It keeps me from sleeping and puts me in an aggressive mode. It works and nothing else really matters.
It’s time now. I head to my quiz after giving necessary directions to my team. I reach my classroom 5 minutes before Sriram sir’s ETA and sit ready, poised to spring into action the minute I get the paper. The questions are as usual brilliant. It is not without reason that I keep telling my friends that Quantum Physics is my best course of the semester. I can just tell, on a scale of 10, if quantum physics ranks 10, my biotech courses rank only 5. The quality of the course is right there at the top. In the end I managed 3-3 ½ questions out of 5 and I figure I should be 10 marks above average or so and that works fine for me. As soon as I submit the paper, I rush to my team’s rescue and reach just in time before they get devoured by the hormone-crazed guys.
We have a few relaxed rules –
1. The most important and also the most abused rule is that the guys cannot touch girls or else we get a spot free-kick.
2. The 2nd important rule is that the guys cannot raise the ball above our knees.
3. Lastly, the rule which kind of mocks the guys is that they can score only when they are inside the 6-yard box.
I made sure that everyone understood the rules and then it was time for my pep talk. I confess I am not really great at these things but I do try. I remember few awe-inspiring pep-talks I have had before by Sam and Aarathi before her. I am not nearly as good but I try.
I told them that just by playing today they will have proven all their detractors and critics wrong. All the hard work and effort put in by them cannot and will not go waste. All they need to do is to keep their eyes and ears open, think and play intelligently. Use the rules to our advantage. And given the fact that we will be playing against the defending champions, any result is a good result. That is the gist of it.
Our strategy was to play 5-3-2-1 and we were expecting to play mostly defence. This was the starting line-up-
1. Nandita – Goalkeeper
2. Sowmya – (LB)
3. Richa – (RB)
4. Marine – (CLB)
5. Raghavi – (CRB)
6. Malayaja – (CB)
7. Prakruthi – (RM)
8. Ananya – (LM)
9. Myself – (CM)
10. Isha – (LF) 11. Ankitha – (RF)
12. Mithali – (sub)
13. Varsha – (sub)
It was time for kick-off. We chose the possession of the ball and as the whistle blew, I made the first pass to Ankitha. I shouted, “Run! Run! Take it forward!” and sped ahead expecting a pass. We must have barely taken the ball 15m into their half when they took back possession and then started the onslaught. It was an incessant barrage of attempts-on-goal. What followed was a comedy of errors. If I hadn’t been playing in the match, I would have died of laughter.
Nandita was our saviour. Without her, the score would easily have breached the double digit frontier. She is definitely good enough to play in the guys’ team. The ball is like her baby, she literally says “Come to mamma” to the ball. It’s hilarious.
“Fall back! Fall back! Nobody should leave the the D and the defense shouldn’t leave the 6-yard box. Block them out. They shouldn’t be able to enter the 6-yard box”, I cried. That ploy seemed to work as the guys got infinitely frustrated trying to crack open our defence. They actually started pulling out their hair in exasperation. They started getting careless and we started getting lots of free-kicks due to the rule that they can’t raise the ball above our knees. So we used it to our advantage to advance the ball in their half. Malayaja is our star free-kick taker. Her kick advanced the ball to the half-line where we ended up getting another free kick. I decided to not risk losing possession and asked Ankitha and Isha to go ahead and made a pass to them. But it got intercepted yet again. I swore loudly and raced after him. And then suddenly out of the blue Ananya tackled the guy and took the ball from him. “Awesome tackle! Give it to me”, I shouted. I dunno whether she went temporarily deaf or what but she actually took the ball and sped in the wrong direction. One minute she was here and the next minute she wasn’t. She was a blur of motion, like a suicidal bullet. I screamed my throat hoarse, “Dude! Where the hell are you going? Are you freaking out of your mind?” Thankfully she seems to have heard someone shout and stopped. “Junta, you’ll get time to sleep! Buck up! C’mon, let’s kick some ass!” I bellowed. Thank heavens; the girls played a better game for the reminder of the half. So, ended the eventful first half but we still hadn’t let them score so that itself speaks volumes of us.
The second half brought more of the same treatment meted out to us. I think the only person who played every minute of the match was Nandita. There was never a dull moment around her. She was doing a really nice break dance in front of the goal in the process. That’s it, I decided. I can’t take it anymore. It’s time to use the notorious first rule to our advantage. That is its time to fall on the guys. Hell, as long as we get free-kicks and ball possession I’ll do anything. All lessons in ethics lay forgotten as we attempted contact every time possible. That strategy again clicked as the guys literally started running away scared from us. It was absolutely comical. Then came, my ‘moment of invincibility’, as I like to call it. I received the ball just beyond the half-line and took it forward myself instead of passing. I dribbled past 3 enormous players but got tackled just outside the D. So it was a free-kick just beyond the penalty area. As I took up position, I remembered each practice session we had ever had and all the effort we had put in and I believed we deserved to win. A kind of determination set in and I blanked my mind, believed in myself, took a deep breath and let my instincts take over. I took my shot, bent it just like Beckham and left the goalkeeper flabbergasted. The ball reached home.
Time stopped. There was pin-drop silence on the field.
Slowly all the tube-lights lighted and chaos ensued. My team-mates all fell on top of me one by one like nine-pins and crushed me into paper. The guys seemed to have gone into depression; some of them looked almost on the verge of tears. Their hard luck, I happen to be a cold-blooded logician. So nope, no lee-way here, sorry. There were just 5 minutes left on the clock now and we fought tooth and nail to hold onto our lead.
When the final whistle blew we were still one up and things went crazy from then on. This was redemption for me. Nobody can question a girl’s football team now and what’s more we sure as hell had endless fun and bonded as a team in the process. The gymkhana guys can eat their words now.
As I tuck myself into bed later that night after being stripped naked of all my cash which is probably getting digested in everyone’s tummy right now, I say my prayers. I’ll forever be grateful to heavy metal rock for getting me through the day, to Quantum Physics for uhmm….nothing actually except maybe bloodshot eyes and sleep deprivation and of course to Steven Gerrard and Liverpool without whom I wouldn’t know half of what I know today.
Of late, everybody I meet, seems to ask me this one question as a rule. Why indeed? Actually it is a long story but what the heck, we have all the time in the world.
So, the thing is that, I played basketball for my first 3 semesters here at IIT. I bagged a ticket to the 47th inter-IIT at IIT, Kharagpur as a member of the Institute basketball team. But the first thing you should know about me is that I suck big time at basketball. I am basically an athlete and my speed is my strength, nothing else. My sense of coordination is practically non-existent and my skills leave much to be desired. My role in the team was basically that of a bench-warmer. In fact in Kharagpur, I believe the total playing time I got was exactly 8 minutes in total. Add to it, the fact that I had an injury and it can’t get any worse can it. But it just did. I have a lot of respect for my coach but he is just too much to deal with if you know what I mean. I remember it very clearly, we had a gala dinner and we went as team with the coach. Even now, the whole scene just plays out in my mind very clearly. He told me that I had disappointed him, that I had let him down. Now, I know, it doesn’t sound like much but it was a big deal to me. I work very hard and give my very best to everything I do and that day he just broke my heart man. So, after that screw-up, I made my decision.
In school, the only medals I have ever won are gold medals. I am a winner. I am no bench-warmer. I knew that I was pathetic and I also knew that I was getting no better. So I decided to quit basketball. In fact I was at a point where I wanted to give up sports altogether. This was when the elections came around and as you can guess, I was in no condition to run for anything. Two of my friends decided to run - Pallavi for General sec. and Nandita for Sports sec. All of us helped them. I in particular worked closely with Nandu and that is what I guess, saved me. Working with her, one thing I realized was, that there was a basic difference between us. The reason, I do sports (or anything else) revolves mostly around winning and glory while the reason she does sports is because she loves it. Because she is passionate about it. So that, my dear friends, was my fatal flaw. So here’s what I did -
I accepted it. I accepted my fault, my mistake and changed myself. Now, when I do sports, I do it because I love it. I enjoy it. I feel free and relaxed. I decided not to give up on it and took up Inter-IIT athletics and gave my very best last semester. I couldn’t have done any better. I never really felt like I belonged in the basketball team but I feel at home in the athletics team. I love them all. I have improved like hell and am much better than I ever was but time is what I don’t have now. That was probably my last inter – IIT. There are other things I am passionate about and want to do now. If I had time, I swear I would have broken the record set by Prakruti Ramesh of IITM in 100m and 200m in her freshie year (Just kidding . I am a huge fan. She has got to be really great if she did all of that in her freshie year). One of the good things about playing basketball was that I got to know some really awesome people. I have like really huge amount of respect for Aarathi, Sam, Asha, Vennela, Oviya and others. Otherwise I would have never known them, the socially awkward person that I am. It was a privilege to play with them. I am a huge huge fan.
Anyways I am drifting, there was no way in hell or heaven that I could have run for sports sec. I hope this clears it all and I don’t have to keep answering people the same thing over and over again. I guess I just needed some closure and now I’ve got it. So this is probably the end of competitive sports for me.
I love my Nikes. I use the Nike Structure Triax 14+. If you are wondering, “what the heck is that”, they are my running shoes. No words exist that can express what I feel for them. I have only one word ‘beautiful’. Let me describe them first. It is white with grey and blue diagonal stripe designs on the sides. It has a hard rubber navy blue sole with netting near the toes to give your legs some breathing space. When I run, I hardly feel like I am pounding the ground. No, I don’t. I float. The cushioning is just incredible. Three layers of insoles which mold perfectly to my feet as if they were created just for me. Designed for stability and geared to amp up performance, it definitely lives up to it’s billing. They are worth every bit of the 7000 bucks they set me back by. They protect my legs from the trials and tribulations of the track and for that I’ll forever be grateful to them. It is said, that you can determine a person’s character by just looking at their shoes. Your Nikes tell a whole new story about you.
There is no sports-spirit here, atleast not among the girls. Nobody gives a damn whether our inter-IIT team wins medals or not and forget about coming first or last, we don’t even participate in Schroeter. All of it, is just really sad and demoralizing. I love sports and am a fitness freak. I hit the gym every morning and bust my ass for an hour or two. I also put myself through some heavy training every evening for inter-IIT athletics. People ask me, “Why do you workout so much?” I tell them, the reason is very simple. I workout because it helps me forget. I might be having an absolutely rotten day but when I workout, I just get in the zone and burn away all my worries and frustrations. I relish the single-minded focus of that moment. It gives me peace of mind and helps me sleep at night. But that, is just part of the reason. I totally love the game and am absolutely passionate about it. And of course, it is also about winning. I don’t do, what I do, for nothing.
I also watch over what I eat. Fitness is partly physical and partly about nutrition. I hold strict vigil over my 50% – carbs, 40% – proteins and 10% – fats diet. So much so, that my friends have stopped asking me out to eat because they probably know, that I’ll refuse anyway. I just don’t eat junk. At all. In fact I havn’t set foot in a KFC or McDonalds or the likes of them in over 8 months now. Beat that!
But like all things good, all of this has also got a downside to it. I look lean and toned now. Some would even say I am built like a linebacker. Add to that a boy cut and you know what, people have started mistaking me for a guy. I laugh it off but they have got to realize that it does hurt.
We drink tea….and nothing happens….until and unless, we speed through the highways at a 100 km/hr, scream from the rooftop of our department at the top of our lungs and probably also listen to some death metal until we feel as though our ears might explode. Tea is the lowest, cheapest and most pathetic way to get a high. In my opinion, coffee is a 100 times better and then some. Better still is cough syrup, if you are underage and looking for strictly legal ways. If you are a bit more daring and reckless and if you have the right connections for sourcing the stuff, you could always go for weed and pot and what not. The possibilities are endless. You could also get drunk. Rum works best, vodka is also good, beer is kinda lame.
You should definitely do one of the above in your lifetime. Because, what have you experienced if you have never experienced a high!?
How do I get a high?
I am a sporty gal. I run. I run like the wind. And then…there is the good old coffee again.