Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Talent

A nice old friend of mine from school, who sends me automatic greetings on Diwali, occasionally also includes my name in a list that he sends youtube videos to. Once such video (two years ago) that caught my attention was of this five-year old playing Mozart for an opera audience in Canberra. 'Damn', I thought. 'Someday I should play like that'. I is not the first time I had thought that.

When I was six, my mom dragged me to the local temple for a Classical dance performance by a ten-year old. The audience would have tallied two hundred. I was not interested at all but I zoned in towards the last bit of the performance where the audience clapped heavily and lauded the girl. I was pricked. I spoke little on the way home but I burst out once we were there. 'I will be a better dancer than that girl...and everyone else out there'. Mom said 'Definitely', and put me to bed. The great fire lasted a few minutes until I slept off.

After that there have been many such fits (sometimes more than one a day). I still haven't learnt to how to use a paint brush, I hold a green belt in Taek-won-do, I field on the boundary line position where batsmen convert twos to threes, I last ten seconds in a deathmatch, I run a hundred meters in twelve-and-a-half seconds and I weigh fifty six kilos with my shoes on.

My ingrained epigentics logic always told me that it is because I was from a very ordinary family with ordinary people. I started running out of excuses for the same as I grew older though. My father turned out to be National Science talent scholar and a medal winning financial analyst, my mother - a vocalist and my sister sings, paints and weighs more (though I am the better fielder, ha!). My extended family helped more by snatching man-of-the-series awards at national tournaments, winning international quizzes and even landing a Padmashri. My best friend lead the brat pack in all that would matter to twelve year olds.

Oh and if you were wondering, my top rank ever in class was seventh. For one semester.

I had some talents of course. I knew (and still know) updated character bios on most comic book heroes and foes. Em...actually that was the only talent. The other one could be the ability to over-publicize myself but well. When people want to be nice to me they agree that the latter one is and former still is not.

It was getting serious. Old uncles were starting to call me a computer wiz for helping them send email attachments. I had to find something that my mom could tell her friends about. Ok, maybe not that. But something to show that I am cool too. I had always believed that my inner talent would burst forth and shine and two hundred people will clap for me...someday. But it didn't happen. I was starting to give up and call myself ordinary. Well somebody had to be average.

But it was weird to live that way because I was not allowed to. A small portion of my class called me a scolty-bhai (bambaiyya for scholar) while my parents got somber when my grades came. "You are spoke good English re", was a very positive remark I got when I returned "rich in experience" from a small voice-culture competition. My computer magic of course got its praise from some well wishers because my deeds had grown to helping them unmute microphones. I was getting eaten up. Either I should become what I am being called or atleast they should stop their nonsense.

Cutting across to now, after a couple of lucky public examination and admission breaks (my sceptics will agree), I cannot say that I have gotten any closer to greatness; nor has my undeserved acclaim come down. To some I am still the ace swimmer and a nobel prize winner. But one thing has changed and that is that I am at peace with it.

Maybe I did give it a try. Maybe it was my friends' fault for not letting me try and learn. Maybe I didn't have the right teaching or evaluation techniques. Maybe my parents should have enrolled me in a competitive class for art or sport when I was five instead of letting me watch tv. Or maybe I just did not have the drive.

But clearly I cannot suck for lack of a revolutionary talent. To the old uncles and the classmates and the friends who thought I had it, I made a difference for that moment. For those moments I did feel on top of things. I still do. And if I could achieve that without a real talent, any kid should be able to. It is not worth it to breed children to win. It is not worth feeding them on competition and telling them that a top spot is the only thing in life. But it definitely does them a great parenting service to let them be happy and help them discover things on their own. I thank my parents for that.

I am still working on it. I am pushing to improve every little thing i do. And atleast my housekeeping,badminton and vocal music skills are starting to show. The important thing is to try and do everything and sometime maybe, just a good paintball shot at that moment can make the difference to someone. I will open on batting and hit a six off the first ball one day.

Why college football?

Since a countdown seems to have been well appreciated by my wonderful reading community (Archana and Manohary on the author's request), I will use the same here.

10. Because American football is a fun game. I have no knowledge of its roots or its relationship with the beautiful game but it is good fun to watch on its own.
Because games end in three hours so you can do something less productive for the rest of the day.
Because it has the statistics, the strategies and the diagrams for the pundits and just lines to carry a prolate spheroid across using 11 players for less informed skinny non-immigrant graduate students.

9. Because of talent, effort, strategy and skill being involved.
Because it involves brains as well as brawn.
Because reading the opponent is every player's job.
Because a single person playing well does not clinch the game. Because the word team carries a lot of meaning.

8. Because the tradition is at least a 100 years old in almost every college.
Because professors wear orange and blue on fridays and wish you 'go gators' when they see you. It is funky enough to note that colleges are that old but to have a well encouraged non-curricular activity for that long makes it something to want to be part of.

7. Because the Florida Gators are one of the hottest college football teams (Obviously I wouldn't lend my support a bunch of pansies to make me proud).

6. Because it involves young kids trying to make a career out of it. You cannot buy them and sell them. Nor can you fix games.
Because the players play come sun, rain or snow. And the crowd endures it with them.

5. Because it is a great feeling to watch fellow students and games that you saw in person being in the national spotlight every weekend.

4. Because Subbu now calls the beautiful game soccer. And went to a Bulls game. A year ago he called football a disgrace in the name of the beautiful game.

3. Because a loss can crush your mood, but not your team spirit.
Because of unique cheers, bands, songs and trademark action sequences for every team and crowd.

2. Because being at the Swamp is like being at a rock concert. Only better.
Because you being part of 90,000 frenzied, screaming rowdy reptiles DOES make a difference to the players.

1. For the top reason I will use the phrase "A video speaks 30 x 1000 words per second"