30 Apr 2015

10 Similarities Between Dhoni and Modi

Despite being anti-IPL, I have been following it a lot this season, partly because I want to rally behind our players who couldn’t win the World Cup. Sounds lame, doesn’t it? But hey, I’m being honest with you here.

A couple of weeks ago was my 32nd birthday. I was thinking of keeping celebrations low-key and chilling at home. Chennai Super Kings were playing Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium and I was going to watch it at home (you can figure out my birth date now). Instead, Ramya got tickets for the Sachin Tendulkar Stand. Thanks to her, I finally saw Mahendra Singh Dhoni live in action.

If you know me (or have read my posts), you know that I am a huuuuge MS Dhoni fan. More than his powerful hitting and habit of winning, I admire his philosophies on life. I consider him as Dhonicharya and myself as Eklavya, though I haven’t learnt enough from him yet.

Dhoni was his typical self in the match - calm, composed and unhurried. It was mind-blowing to see the number of CSK supporters in a stadium in Mumbai, until Dhoni came out to bat. It then hit me like a bullet in the chest. They were all Dhoni fans! While screaming “Dhoni, Dhoni” with thousand others that night, I felt like I had seen this somewhere else. Oh yes, I had seen it on TV. A lot! Only instead of “Dhoni, Dhoni”, people were chanting “Modi, Modi”.

Dhoni and Modi
The similarities are striking

I thought about it on the way back. Are Dhoni and Modi similar? My heart and brain emphatically said “Yes! In more respects than one.” And when your heart and brain agree on something, you really want to talk about it! So I thought of listing 10 similarities between the two veterans in their respective fields.

  1. Both carry the hopes of 1.2 billion countrymen on their shoulders
    One thing that unites India is cricket. And one thing that divides India is politics. Events in both of them impact the entire country massively. Being the captain of the Indian cricket team places a colossal burden on Dhoni’s shoulders, just like being the Prime Minister of India does to Modi. The entire nation’s hopes rest on them. But why do we have high hopes of them? Well, read point number 2.

  2. Both possess unwavering self-belief
    As long as Dhoni is at the crease, any target, however distant, looks achievable. Remember the last time we felt like this? Yes, it was during the Sachin Tendulkar era. Similarly, when Modi galvanizes himself and his team into action, we are left inspired almost always. Remember the wave of delight across the country when the BJP won a landslide victory in the 2014 Elections? How do these 2 real life superheroes make us believe in them? How have they been so effective in what they do? It’s because they believe in themselves. They back their abilities, and deliver more often than not. And since others see in us what what see in ourselves, people believe in Dhoni and Modi too. Their sheer presence exudes a certain charisma and gives us hope - the only emotion stronger than fear.

  3. Both have brilliant perspectives on things
    Yet another commonality between Dhoni and Modi is their enviable intelligence. This intelligence stems from years of mental and physical training, empowering them to have a brilliant perspective on things. They are astute students of life, possessing the ability to look beyond the present and chart out plans to handle situations before they even arise.

    For instance, here is how Modi meticulously plans every action of a strategy down to the last detail. And Dhoni… well, he says “People generally have Plan B to fall back on. I have Plans B, C and D.” Unbelievable!

  4. Yet, both are massively misunderstood
    In this post, Oliver Emberton has beautifully explained that the more you impact people’s lives, the more they will misunderstand you. Since 2.4 billion eyes (and a lot of foreign ones) are watching both Dhoni and Modi closely, every move they make is scrutinized and dissected. And then there are us Indians. The more the world applauds one of our own for being unconventional, the more more we hurl insults at him (APJ Kalam is an exception to this rule, thankfully!). Someone who doesn’t tell us what his intent is, becomes an antagonist. Thankfully, both Modi and Dhoni keep away from the limelight. This saves them time that would otherwise be wasted in explaining their actions to people who won’t listen anyway. How they do it? How do they soak up this pressure and still be retain their amazing attitudes? The next point answers these questions.

  5. Both have mastered the art of detachment
    The Bhagavad Gita preaches about performing action without attachment towards fruit. But how many of us can follow it? Well, Dhoni and Modi are two living beings who do so every single day. "If tomorrow he has to say goodbye to all the trappings of fame, Dhoni will calmly get on his motorbike and go away. He is that rarity who treats both those impostors - wins and losses - in the same way. He simply plays the game”, said Sunil Gavaskar.

    We have read unlimited articles and posts about Modi’s simple and austere lifestyle also. The sheer dignity with which our Prime Minister conducts himself despite what people say about him shows what he thinks of critics. I would love Modi to have 2 more terms as India’s Prime Minister. But if he doesn’t, I’m sure that he will still be at peace, knowing that he gave it his all. Such remarkable clarity of thought and ability to endure cannot be accomplished without detachment - from others’ opinions about them, materialistic pleasure, results and everything else.

  6. Both aim to serve Mother India
    It’s amply clear from the Indian Prime Minister’s and cricket captain's interviews and speeches that their prime goal is to serve their nation. For Dhoni, his country comes above everything else, even above his parents. Narendra Modi has dedicated his entire life to serving his nation, including valiant actions that we don’t know about to keep India united.

  7. Both distrust the media
    It’s no secret that both Modi and Dhoni distrust the media. By now we’re familiar with Modi’s aversion to mainstream media. Thousands of media journos beg for an interview with him, but he and his cabinet air their views only on Doordarshan and All India Radio. And he has substantially reduced the size of the entourage of the press traveling overseas with a Prime Minister, which has pissed off many journos who now write and talk horse shit about him frequently.

    Similarly, Dhoni has instructed the Indian cricket team not to speak to the media. He has shown what he thinks about the media on multiple instances. When asked about his retirement plans recently, Dhoni said “The media should conduct a thorough research, come up with conclusions and write the exact opposite, because that will be the truth.” On another occasion, when Dhoni was asked whether a rumor about the Indian team’s dressing room would be spread, he said “Newspapers like Times of India will do that for us. So I won't bother.” And I’m a sucker for people who don’t trust mainstream media.

  8. Both give credit where it's due and prefer avoiding the limelight
    The Indian cricket team is called ‘Dhoni’s boys’. The current Indian government is called ‘the Modi government’. However, rarely, if ever, do we see either of these evolved souls taking centre stage and hogging the limelight. When India wins a trophy, Dhoni is generally invisible in the team photo, often standing with the support staff in the second row. When a good budget is announced or good policies are implemented, Modi is nowhere in the limelight either. He stealthily goes about his work to make India a better place to live in for you and me. Did you see his response to #ThankYouPM?

  9. Both live in the present
    There is no denying that Dhoni and Modi work with the future in mind. They have to. However, they both possess the remarkable trait of living in the present moment. I have never seen Dhoni fuss about the future - he simply focuses on the current ball of the current over in the current match. Rahul Dravid says, “He has a unique ability to ignore consequences and soak up pressure. This makes it easier for everyone else. He is calm and measured. Win, lose, he can walk away.” And when he is off the field, he simply switches off from cricket and enjoys life outside.

    Modi is no different. Yes, he thinks a lot about our future (as he should), but he works in the present. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that he asks himself “What can I do now to improve our country’s future?”, and works accordingly. The last time developmental work was carried out at such furious pace was 1991. Instead of dreaming about our ideal future, Modi prefers to act in the present. And living the current moment to its fullest is the mark of a great human being.

  10. Yet, we choose to learn from neither
    Both Dhoni and Modi have infinite lessons to teach us; lessons which will make us better human beings. Yet, we refuse to learn from them and instead carry on with our mundane and hollow lives. It’s like we fear the consequences of living like them. But trust me, life is much better when you emulate Dhoni and Modi. The shackles fall off and you no longer feel like singing “I want to break free” because you already have broken free.

Each of us comes in this world to serve a purpose. I think that God sent Dhoni and Modi to inspire millions of us, apart from excelling in their fields. And boy, do they serve their purposes well or what! I hope that someday, I get to meet them and learn more about the core philosophies that govern their lives. If I can be 10 percent as honest, as genuine and as driven as either of them, my life’s purpose will be accomplished.

I’m sure that you can point many more similarities between them which are not listed here. Why not share them in comments? And for heaven’s sake, keep them positive. There is enough negativity in this world, so you don’t need to contribute to it.

24 Apr 2015

A Day Well Spent in the New TATA Bolt

We’re on the Expressway, on our way back from Lonavala. I’m getting ready to take the sweeping hairpin. 80 km/h should be good. So I look down at the speedometer to check whether I need to go faster. 110! Sh*t… must slow down. Gaadi meri nahi hai.

That’s how responsive the new Revotron 1.2 liter engine of the TATA Bolt is. And not just the engine, the whole package delights. The steering and handling, the planted feel, the responsive brakes, roomy interiors… they combine to make this car worth the ₹ 4.5 lakhs it costs in Mumbai. The accessories are good too, though they don’t appeal to a non gadget freak who likes and dislikes vehicles based on their quality of drive.
Image courtesy: Rohan
Before our trip started, I saw the Bolt’s product manager Udit Khanna peering into an Audi R8 parked outside CafĂ© Infinito. His nose was almost stuck to its glass. Good sign - a product manager who is passionate about automobiles. We struck a conversation and I got a sneak peek into the vast knowledge Udit has… something that Inder, the brand manager, affirmed later.

Rohan, Monish and me were paired up together for the day, while Suchir would drive with us as our guide answering all questions about the car. Both Rohan and Monish pulled rabbits out of the hat. Rohan showed marvelous control on the Tata Bolt, effortlessly carving his way out of traffic with precision. And he didn't complain once, which means that the car was just as welcoming of his inputs. And while I knew no blogger at the event, Monish knew everyone. I simply tagged along with him hoping that people would speak to me too. And it worked.

We were allotted the Diesel Tata Bolt to begin with. Rohan took the wheel first. After driving through the mini track (read Rohan’s review here), we headed for Lonavala. The car responded well in traffic (surprising that we found some on a Sunday afternoon) and came into its own on the Mumbai Pune Expressway. Rohan drove at good speeds and the Bolt stayed stable and planted. The diesel car especially bolted forward with additional vigor after touching the 2,500 rpm mark. The exhaust note wasn’t spectacular (I know, I know… too much expectation) but the cabin was quiet. We could keep the stereo volume low and still hear it clearly while having a conversation in the car, which speaks volumes (no pun intended) about the level of car’s cabin noise.

I took the wheel after Food Mall on the Expressway. The diesel didn't really feel enjoyable… can’t quite put a finger on the reason. I stalled twice and felt like the steering was somewhat vague. Maybe it’s because the diesel has to be driven differently from a petrol vehicle and am used to the latter. Anyway, post lunch we got to switch to the petrol Bolt.

Boy, the Revotron engine responded instantly. She was in Eco mode (the petrol variant has 3 settings - Eco, City and Sport) and needless to say, I switched to Sport. The steering instantly felt more taut, the engine had more grunt and the car did her best to stick to the line I was trying to take. The winding road between Bushi Dam and Aamby Valley is my favorite in Lonavala.

Push the limits of the TATA Bolt was fun. The only parts of the car opposing, as if telling me to peg back, were the tyres. But they still held their own. Meanwhile, the rest of the vehicle wanted to know what I was made of. So I tried, and she responded brilliantly on the ghats section. We stopped at Tiger Point, clicked snaps and returned.
tata bolt review
(L-R clockwise): Suchir, Rohan, Monish and me with the TATA Bolt at Tiger Point, Lonavala
It was a lovely event organized by Blogadda… seamless and hassle free. Anikta(s), Pooja, Anuja, Harish and the other team members were fabulous hosts, ensuring that no one felt any inconvenience. I met Ekta, Vaishakha, Deepak, Purujeet, Ankit, Omkar and other equally popular bloggers. Chatting with them was a whole lot of fun. It was a sunday well spent at #BoltDrives with BOLT from TATA Motors in association with BlogAdda.

As I eat the chocolate fudge which I bought from Lonavala, I recommend the Tata Bolt if you want to buy a hatchback. Okay, I didn’t buy the fudge. Monish did, and forgot to collect it. What was I supposed to do? Waste a box of delicious chocolate fudge? Anyway, thanks Monish ;)

1 Apr 2015

Why Australia Beat India in the World Cup, And It Will Happen Again

Yawn. Australia has won the World Cup. Again. The final was a pretty much a one-sided affair. Millions of hearts were broken since the support for New Zealand was massive. Indians wanted New Zealand to win because Australia had ousted us from the tournament. And the others wanted New Zealand to win because, frankly, it’s getting boring to see Australia win all the time. Reminiscent of Michael Schumacher's winning streak in the early 2000s. Borrriiingggggg…

India had a stellar World Cup. We set a world record by claiming 70 wickets in 7 successive matches. We were unbeaten until we faced the only team that could defeat us. Post defeat, it’s that  time when we claim that the Indian team is incapable of matching international standards. Again (Yawn?). Dhoni is destroying Indian cricket, Kohli is irresponsible, Anushka Sharma is a bad omen… blah blah blah blah blah.

Not to sound like a prophet, but I had sensed that the final would be between Australia and New Zealand by 19th February itself. And after the dog fight between Australia and the co hosts in the league matches, I was certain that Australia would be world champions again. Don’t ask me why. The explanation will put you to sleep.

Many Indians are disappointed because we couldn’t beat Australia despite having spent 95 days in the country. I’m not. We were beaten by a substantially better team. And this trend of Australia being dominant in world cricket (not just over India) will probably even outlive us. Why? Well, it’s because of the difference in quality of cricket - not just international, but domestic too.

See, the Australians are driven by excellence. Nepotism, red-tapism, preference to the minorities and other petty squabbles don’t plague them. ’Perform or perish’ is their mantra. And did I mention the military-esque discipline? How else do you explain a match winner like Andrew Symonds being dropped? And they train bloody hard - physically and mentally. This is why they not only play spectacular cricket but also raise their game many levels when the pressure increases.

india world cup 2015

Watch the KFC T20 Big Bash and other domestic Australian matches, and you will be stunned by Australia’s talent pool. Their domestic players are better than the international ones of most countries. And yet, most of those guys never make it to the international team. Can you imagine the quality of the international players then? Australians don’t just want to be number 1 compared to their rivals. They want to be better today than their own yester-selves. If other international teams are a 6, Australia doesn’t aim at being 7.5. They aim for a 10, which is why they are always above 9. 

India, on the other hand, is driven by vested interests. I’m not talking about the current cricket team - it’s the best ‘team’ we’ve had since I can remember. And those who believe that Dhoni is the captain of the best team, please remember that MS Dhoni has made this team the best. Which of these players would you called match winners about 6 years ago - Kohli, Rohit/Mohit Sharma, Dhawan, Ashwin, Raina, Shami or Jadeja? And how many of our players were considered among the best fielders in the world? 

MS Dhoni has brought about a fundamental change in the way players think. Contrary to your belief, politics does not decide which player makes it to the team. When asked what it would take for India to win more tournaments, Dhoni promptly responded, “10 men who are ready to stand in front of a moving bus if I ask them.” And he doesn’t want them to do something because he demands it, unlike most corporate bosses. Dhoni has an in depth understanding of the game which is beyond your and my mortal brain’s comprehension. His vision and ability to bring out the best in each player has made India an outstanding cricketing unit, one that we are proud of.

If there is something wrong with Indian cricket, it is the IPL and domestic cricket. Here are some stats: Between 2007-08 and today, Ishant Sharma has bowled 240+ overs in domestic matches and 220+ in the IPL. 500 overs! 3000 more balls! That’s more than what I have bowled underarm all my life. Shami, Zaheer and Mohit Sharma are overworked too. And before you go around blaming only the IPL (though I would rather have the IPL banned too), keep in mind that domestic cricket is also contributing to pushing fast bowlers towards the brink of breaking down physically. If a bowler declines domestic obligations citing lack of rest, the domestic boards start grumbling saying things like “since you play for India you don’t want to play for us anymore”. You get the drift, right? India doesn’t have the infrastructure to support fast bowlers or promote budding talent, despite the BCCI being the world’s richest sporting body. All India has is greed and selfishness. And that is why our fast bowling department sucks.

I hope that this post has made you realize that we didn’t lose the semis because of false shots or cracking under pressure. We lost to a team that has been virtually invincible since more than a decade now, even after all the veterans retired. This match was more than the Indian cricket team being beaten by a superior team. It was a reflection of the Indian culture’s demolition at the hands of a superior one. 
badge UA-22264662-1