Mind Speaks – Playing in the mind

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Playing in the mind

Watching Yuvraj Singh’s game in the match against New Zeland on 14th September 2007, I was thinking whether his relocation from Punjab to Delhi made him a docile person or not. Within 2 days, on 16th September he proved my temporary assumptions wrong and justified my faith in the belief that many time we win matches in the mindset we keep. Those 6 sixes which Yuvraj hit of England Bowler Stuart Broad were all against quality bowling from one of the best in the game today. Broad and England captain Paul Collinwood did not have any clue where to bowl and what to do. Yuvraj is a player of class, style, aggression and power in his shots. With added advantage of his height, it is always a beauty to watch him play his shots when he is focussed. It was one such day and it was obvious that Yuvraj Sing’s pride was hurt when he was hit for 30 runs in one of the matches in England which finished recently and he was nurturing his revenge and playing and practising his shots in his mind all these days. Stuart Broad happened to be the unfortunate victim to taste and transform this practise session in to a reality.

It is not only in cricket this form of preparation, calculation and background work happens. It happens in all management field. Practising the art of visualising the scenarios and improvising our action and reaction time to any particular events that happens or can happen in life, will make a person ready to respond to any eventualities in day to day life. Even in case of death, after a certain age according to me, there should be some level of preparedness to be done, so that those close ones should never be wandering and wondering of our activities and shortfalls. In reality, I know and have heard of a visionary who carried a special note of instructions, some money along with some other contact details in his handbag, in case something unfortunate happen to him somewhere. At all stages, there should be a Plan A, and Plan B, and Plan C, and if all goes wrong a special plan X, which is filled with pure common sense.

Being a Tabala enthusiast myself, I remember attending a post-performance gathering some 12 years ago by the legend Tabala player Ustad Zakir Hussain. When asked by reporters about how many hours he practise every day and how he finds time to practise even during his hectic jet setting life style, Ustad Zakir Hussain answered, by taking a small box lying down on his table, and said, “I practise all the time, every time and everywhere”. His hands were tapping on the box gently and he continued, “I play in my mind and find the rhythm composition and the placement variation within, for each of the special notes I play and I continuously practise and improvise them whenever I get an opportunity, even if it is by playing on a piece of wood or tissue box. I create a feel and then when I get to sit for real practise or performance, the natural variations will come automatically”. This was a spark of an idea for someone like me who was listening to each of the letters he spoke.

I never had an opportunity to learn Tabala till then. However, during my schooling days, my parents were kind enough to send me to a master to learn mridangam, which I used to play during the school college days initially out of force or for getting points in the arts festival for my team, and which later on developed as an interest. After college, I never got a chance to continue this form of creative talent. Additionally, there was no such venue here in the Middle East where they used mridangam for any musical events. I was stuck and after getting inspired by Ustad’s speech, I went and bought a set of Tabala and started practising on it. The nature of my job and its long hours, non-availability of an exponent to teach the intricate complexities of this form of performing art, made things much difficult in the initial days However, I did not leave the ambition there. I started listening to songs and music much more carefully, and whenever opportunity knocked, I met people who played the instrument, got to know the hand and finger placement, the initial basics required to play with a flow. Rest everything happened in the mind while driving around listening to music during my hectic life schedule. In a year or two, I was playing well and even for long hours of music for satsangs.

This again, I was able to do it, because I was given a chance by my loving parents to learn a musical instrument when I was young and thus creating an unknown (at that time) flare for an extra curricular talent in me, which became a useful tool later on in the life as a stress reliever.

How many of us have the time or patience or kindness to pass on the same to our children? Recently, I was remembering those formative days when my friend send me an invitation for his daughters dance performance. Participation in any such team events will give children a feel of what he/she can expect in different situations and will give him sufficient boldness and courage to face realities of life and opt for Plan A, B or C according to the situation. It will be his/her initial step in life to realise how team building and team work and the value of these two in day to day life. It is our duty to create an opportunity for our children to grow along and progress in all fields of life. Let it be music, performing art, or in the playground playing cricket, hockey or soccer, a child has to have multiple talents other than education from the school books and TV/Internet media which he/she is exposed to much more than we anticipate.

Coming back to Twenty20 cricket, I am very happy to see Indian team on a winning note and equally or more happy to see Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s inspiring captaincy during the 1st half when India was batting against South Africa and 2nd half of the match, when South Africa were batted. He lead from the front with determination and scored valuable runs. However, it was his move to give the wicket keeping gloves to Dinesh Karthik that made the big difference that finally ended the team on a winning note. How many of us get to get someone like Dinesh Karthik, to delegate and give a very important role to play with success as he did for Dhoni by effecting many dismissals on the field? Although, there were many extras, I felt the Indian Bowlers did an excellent job, especially R P Singh, Harbhajan and Sreesanth. R P Singh was clinically critical in the win against South Africa today. If the Indian team continue their focus and determination and game plan in the same way they played till now, I am sure, they will play well against Australia, who seems to be lost in thoughts of the Twenty20 scheme of things even though happened to win convincingly against Sri Lanka today.

So, the D-day has come and we are playing semi-finals of an important World Cup match today. I really do not want to promote cricket, but this shorter version is getting in to my scheme of things, as do many others, because of the simple reason that the match gets over just the same time as that of a football match, and there is excitement and surprise factor plenty in store. Being sensitively attached to Sreesanth and his intelligence and willingness to listen (happy to see him coming out of the Sreesanth Syndrome), I sincerely wish him to bowl just 24 unbelievable/un-playable balls of his life today. As do RP Singh and Irfan Pathan. If these 3 main bowlers hits form, line, length and accuracy, we will have a match in hand against Australia. After his game with Srilanka, in which they beat the Sri Lankans convincingly, Rickey Ponting mentioned that they still have not come to terms with this form of cricket. He is not playing today and it is an added advantage and it is up to us to capitalise this golden opportunity. Go with plenty of Fevicol in hands and hold on to all the catches that comes to us, and whenever required, remove the same glue and throw at the wickets the same way we break the glasses of our public transport, Indian team will win. My team for today will be as follows:
Virendar Shewag, Gautam Ghambir, Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth, RP Singh and Harbhajan Singh. I leave out Joginder Sharma, who although bowled well was unlucky with wickets on both occasions he played and prefer India keeps Karthik in the playing eleven, where, if required Shewag, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj can give a go at the stumps. My option if we win the toss is – we bowl first. In a few hours we will know what happens. Good to see that.

All the FM stations and regional TV channels here are playing the song Chak De India repeatedly, so much so that even my Arabic and French colleagues know the lines in full. After all, it is champion teams win matches that count. Today is one such day and we all wish Team India to win. Keep going and let the flag fly high.


Ramesh Menon

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