Friday, June 22, 2018

Mr X

Is there a concealed power in the Universe? I never doubted that for even a second.

I walked into my everyday coffee shop last evening with an inspired idea of productivity. Three hours since, I had made a 327-word progress. The initial idea of constructive utilisation of my time was drowned by three voices. The third of which, I believe was one of those instances of the Universe conspiring.

Let's just call him Mr X for the sake of anonymity. X and I had met back in 2012. I had just moved to Bangalore and was headed home for the weekend when I met him at the bus stop. He was working in Hyderabad with Microsoft then. After conversations galore through the journey, like they say, the rest is history.

X's name had popped up four days ago in one of the newsletters from Goodreads and I thought, 'I wonder how he's doing. I should text him one of these days and see what he's been upto'. Just as that thought came in, it slid out with the same tempo that it had entered. And then last night, while I sat lost in the various throught streams, a notification on my phone had an unread message from X. It was the third instance of someone adhering to my call of thought in the last month or so - and out of the blue.

But what I really love about my acquaintance with X, apart from the fact that we can be random as fuck, is his genuine eagerness to know things. How many people can you say are genuinely interested in your life or what you do? How many actually mean and want to know in truth what's happening in your life or how you are? I can't name a lot that belong in the category. 'How are you?' and 'what's happening?' are phrases thrown so loosely in our everyday life that they have lost their relevance. But when X asks me how I am, he really means it in every sense of the word. He wants to know; he is curious and is concerned in equal measure. And for me, in reciprocation, I want to tell him what exactly is happening. We don't have to talk to each other everyday, or every three months even. But when we do, the time lapse counts for nothing.

The advantage of that time lapse, though, is tracking personal growth; inspiring and motivating each other to move out of our comfort zones. Are we in a better position since the last time we spoke? - That's our yardstick. And then last night, he made me an offer with regards to being a part of a journey I have been meaning to undertake for the longest time. It came out of the blue, just like his message, but it was the nudge in the right direction that I needed.

And here I am, taking the first step towards that early this morning.

Friday, May 11, 2018

"What is your purpose in life?" he asked over his Barbara Washed french press.

I don't know.

"Think about it then because I want an answer tonight."

Hmmmm... Maybe... to leave an indelible mark. To leave behind something worth being remembered for.

"Then your purpose in life has been fulfilled because you've already done that."


"In ways you'll never know; you've touched lives in ways you can't imagine."

But why don't I feel like I've done any of that then?

"Because you seek validation. You not just question everything, but doubt yourself."

No, I don' I?

"Point proven."


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Airports and station points

What is it about airports that I love? Is the impending new journey? Or the waft of that new beginning? Or maybe, just maybe the stark array of diversity right there that hits you like a flush of inspiration.

People on their phones. Some staring into nothingness. Some revelling in the glamour of airport fashion - apparently it's a thing now. At least Meghana says so. (But, crop tops for a flight? Seriously?) The old folk judging them millenials. A cranky old man. His very relaxed wife. A scandalised grandmother. An observant youngster, doodling. An adventurous traveller with dreadlocks. An affluent reader that can see or hear none. The selfie person who has imbibed the art of ignorance rather well. A snoozer, a dozer and a snorer. A young mother trying her best to quash a tantrum, while a young father gives in to one.

Coffee indulgence. Saternine faces. Sprightly ones. Tense ones. Irritated ones. They're all there. 

When I watch Love Actually and the movie begins with Hugh Grant's dialogue: "Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."

It's what I think of every time I enter an airport.

But whilst holding that thought steadily, I figured airports can also be about hearbreaks as much as they are about the love. They could also be about farewells, escape and melancholy. About a personal journey that's marking its end, or one that's just beginning. About some baggage that's being left behind, or carried forward, fear of intrusion and the nightmare of disillusionment.

At the nucleus though, they are about experiences, which somewhere play a part in shaping who we are. The grains are added, one at a time, gradually, in the gravel of that concrete mix that is life. Where should the focus be though? Love or the darker side? Utopia or dystopia? On different days it will be at different station points, like in perspective drawing. But in the end, it all comes down to a choice. What's yours?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Acting on, not just thinking

I'm utterly bereft of excuses to not have had the time all of last year to have indulged in random musings. Not sure if I should feel ashamed or kid myself that I have had a productive enough 2017 in that regard. Yes, I did a couple of good interviews and wrote a few appreciable pieces for work, but does that amount to doing enough for myself? I can't think of anything that I really did for myself all of last year really. And by that, I mean from a personal-growth perspective. The year before, I took off to Bali - that was for me. Solely. That helped me learn a fair few things about myself. For example, how I operate within a realm of my own secure space while by myself.

But when I was asked what I had done for myself lately, I was stumped. I had no answers. Hang on, I did actually do something for myself, coming to think of it now. Crossfit. It helped me a fair bit last year, when I was disciplined and worked out regularly. I was in a better mental space, approached things with a fresh perspective, slept over troubles to see if they even were even issues worth fretting over the next morning (advice from someone I look up to) and I hadn't felt better about my body before that. But once that became a sporadic activity, I backtracked. Where that hit me the most was internally.

Whilst being caught in the humdrum of routine, is it fair to overlook nurturing your mind or soul?

Am I the best version of myself right now that I know I can be? No.

What did he pick on as my first step to fixing that? - Focussing on the solution and not the problem.

The human brain is fascinating; you know what you need to do to fix something, yet you wallow because you allow yourself to. I have, perhaps, been. But it's not too late to fix that as I've realised and been told a fair few times in the last few months. If I asked him what is wrong with me, he said find what's right first and then pick and focus on one of those to find a fix. He also suggested writing thing down 'X' number of things that were right with me, instead of indulging in introspection that focussed on all the wrongs. I decided on 50 - and trust me, it wasn't hard. As hard as it seemed at first to find the rights, it wasn't when I put my mind to it. The key being: putting my mind to it.

They say everything happens for a reason, I couldn't agreed more. He said things to me that I needed to hear from someone; and coming from him meant more than it could have had it come from anyone else.

It's not surprising I'm writing this at 3 am, because it actually got me acting on it, not just thinking, or overthinking. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cricket gives you what you give it

The idea of a result didn’t seem very promising as Australia began the morning of the fifth and final day of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with a lead of 22 runs against Pakistan. Although the morning on Friday (December 30) seemed bright and sunny, expecting the game to end in a draw, I had discarded the idea of going to the game.

Walking along the sidewalks of the picturesque, yet crowded sidewalk of Flinders Street, I caught a glimpse of a TV at a café that had the cricket on. Mitchell Starc was unbeaten on 52, captain Steve Smith on 131, Australia with 543 on the board and had a lead of exactly a 100 runs. As I stopped outside to watch the game for a few minutes, replays showed Sohail Khan putting down a sitter off Starc off Azhar Ali and I wondered how many more he would go onto score.

‘Yeah, a draw. Glad I didn’t turn up at the ground. I’m going to be productive.’

Settling into a café called The Journal located in the same building as the CAE (Centre for Adult Education) and the City Library, I checked the score and Australia’s lead was over 150 and Starc was still unbeaten. Not expecting them to declare anytime soon I got on with work and life.


As it turned out, Smith had decided to declare right after Starc and Nathan Lyon were dismissed in successive overs with a lead of 181 and wanting to have a crack at 
Pakistan 15 minutes before lunch. I discovered that only after Pakistan were 4 for 65.

‘Oh, no! What have I done? Pakistan are making a mess of this! Am I really going to miss this game being in the same city?!’

‘Get on with work…it’ll still be a draw!’- the alter ego argued.

A fellow journalist, who was to meet me then, arrived and asked me the score. “Oh, Azhar Ali has just fallen!” I exclaimed.

‘Terrible judgement! Should have been at the game! What was I thinking?’

“Do you want to go to the game?” He agreed willingly, saying that he wanted to ask me the same.

We took the closest tram whilst checking the score incessantly, following commentary of every ball on the Cricbuzz app, secretly hoping and praying a wicket doesn’t fall before we reach the MCG, which was about 10 minutes away.

Cricket Australia had opened the gates to the MCG, announcing on Twitter that entry was free for the final session. Over 2000 spectators made their way to the ground in an hour’s time after the declaration after a handful of spectators in the morning.

'29 overs to play… six down…I hope nothing dramatic happens until we get to the ground.’

We made our way into the ground and settled into the closest stand possible as Lyon and Jackson Bird were bowling from either end. Mohammad Amir and Sarfraz Ahmed were chipping away at the runs, albeit the Australian bowlers causing the batsmen some trouble. It was getting mighty close.

Quite a few spectators had come in by now. Everyone was anticipating a wicket every ball. That’s when Smith optimistically reviewed a decision off Amir. Not out. A ball later, however, an inside edge saw the bails flying and Amir had to depart for 11.

‘Seven down, three to go. What timing! Sarfraz is key here... 33 now for an innings win.’

Smith then got back his strike bowlers as Starc and Hazlewood operated from either ends.

‘Something’s going to happen.’

First over back from Starc: Ball 2, Edged and four; Ball 3, Sarfraz is beaten by a beauty; Ball 6, Bowled! Starc surprised Sarfraz with an inswinger and the ball snuck past the inside edge and crashed into the stumps. Sarfraz departed for 43, and you knew the game was almost over.

He returned in his next over to trouble Wahab Riaz. First two balls, two misses. Starc was on song. Ball five, wicket!  The ball reversed to crash into the top of offstump as Riaz departed for a duck. With Australia one wicket away, my camera turned into video mode as I wanted to capture the winning moment.

Every ball, I waited with bated breath. The crowd was behind the team now. Australia were one wicket away.

“It’s going to end this over,” I told my friend.

Starc delivered. Three wickets in three overs.


Yasir Shah was looking for the flick, but got a leading edge instead, as the ball lobbed up towards mid on (and gave me enough time to record the moment), where Bird completed the catch comfortably as. The crowd erupted in cheers as Australia picked up a sensational victory by an innings and 18 runs, as Starc finished with four wickets.

It was the third instance this year that a team lost by an innings after scoring over 400 runs in the first innings, after England were beaten by India twice in December.


The fourth day of the Test was when I made my way to the ground after having been in Sydney for the first three days. I landed in Melbourne on the morning of Day 4, and had to attend the game despite my day having started at 3 am. It was the first game I watched from the stands in the last three years, and I enjoyed it way more than what I would have behind the glass cover of the press box.

It was, after all, my first-ever Boxing Day Test.

Attending a Boxing Day Test was always on my bucketlist. The hype around it, the MCG, the large turnout, some of the matches that have been played etched in memory and in some way, the end of a year and the start of a new one. All those mornings that I woke up at 4 am IST, just to ensure I didn’t miss the first ball of a Boxing Day Test, made sense now.

That was my moment of 2016. Cricket might be a funny game, but like the law of nature, it gives you what you give it.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Chasing sunsets across Bali, solo

Awaiting the departure of my flight to Bali from Kuala Lumpur, I was filled with apprehension for the first time since the second I had decided to undertake my first solo trip. 'What had I gotten myself into? Would I be able to manage by myself in a city where I know nobody? What if something happens?'...

That's the thing with negative thoughts; one breeds another rather quickly and without realising it it soon escalates to the magnitude of doomsday. A somnolent Spanish (as I found out eventually) girl, with a very bohemian vibe to her, then came and took the vacant seat beside me and asked about the departure time of the Bali flight. Perfect ice-breaker for conversation! It was her first time to Bali as well, but she was a solo traveller. She had been to a number of countries and had traversed a number of shores, yet she said she had crossed paths with very few Indian women travellers who were by themselves.

That got me thinking about the whole idea of 'being alone'. Most of us can't. Heck, I couldn't a few years ago. Then Bangalore happened. And that facilitated my living alone. That solitude is unparalleled, even liberating to a very large extent. That's the idea I bred of solo travel. But seldom things are how they seem. I needed to do this for myself to see what it was like. To make my own plans. To do nothing on days I wanted to do nothing. To push myself to do crazy things on days that I wanted to. To explore the unknown.

The idea had been swimming in my thoughts for years. Maybe I wasn't ready then. But I was now.


The descent had begun. We were about to finally land in Bali! I could see surfers, speed boats, surf boards, swimmers, but no land. Then a gorgeous white-sand beach came into view and we landed with a thud. I only realised then that the runway of the Ngurah Rai International Airport is just off the Bali sea.

The AirBnb space I had booked was in Seminyak, which Google Maps suggested was about a 30-minute drive. My hosts, Lola and Ziga (which were the names of their cats), were kind enough to arrange for a pick up although they were out of country. Yudha, the driver, was in fact, a tour operator. The rest of my stay in Bali was a breeze, thanks to him.

I didn't really have a plan of what I was going to do in the six nights and seven days I was going to be there. I made note of a few places I wanted to visit, but for most parts I had decided to play it by ear. The whole idea of the holiday was to take some time off the everyday humdrum. That is the point of a holiday, right? (The birthday was a only a valid excuse since we anyway make such a big deal of them.) So, with no plan in place, with a fair idea of places I wanted to visit, I was looking forward to the next seven days which were going to be an absolute revelation.


When I reached my 'home' for the next one week, it was pretty much as I imagined it to be. Small, but very picturesque! Picturesque, as I found out, was going to be a word I used more than just a few times in the course of my stay. That was also the first time I met Claudia. She was taking care of the house in the absence of my hosts Ana and Aljosa, but was a traveller herself. She was fit as a fiddle - that's the first thing I noticed about her. I would've thought she was about 35 or so, but given my general awry estimation of ages, I chose to ignore the voice in my head.

Every experience, for me, is about people. I'd like to think I'm quite a people's person. There's so much to learn from someone else's journey, and it has intrigued me beyond comprehension. Which is also why Claudia was such an important element in the larger scheme of things.

Over the course of that week, I found out Claudia was from Austria and taught psychology at a university back home. During her semester breaks, she travelled the world - to surf! That trip was her fifth time in Bali and she was as good as a local there. She ran, surfed, skied, hiked, and did all sorts of crazy outdoorsy things depending on the season and the time of the year. She lived by herself, loved her job, travelled whenever she could... yep, we had much in common. The only difference: she was enviously fit, and she was almost 12 years older than I was. That, got me thinking.

The last couple of years, I paid little attention to my health or body, for that matter. I did things on and off, but there was little commitment. Of course, the influx of alcohol did not help. Fat - something that eluded me for most of my life, was visible now. I wasn't the bundle of energy I used to be. My stamina had depleted. In a nutshell, I was feeling like crap. I wasn't in my ideal state of health.

When I thought of a solo trip and the time it would give me to reflect on various aspects of my life, this is what I had imagined. I wanted to have the time and space to be true to myself and address what needed change. In that aspect, Claudia's lifestyle at her age was the inspiration I was looking for. That was just  the start.

We bonded over various things over dinner most nights. She was fascinated with the growing western culture in India, our quirky ways, food and a lot more. I loved listening to the endless stories of her various adventures. My last night in Bali, we were lounging about a couple of couches at a beach-side restaurant for dinner and she said something that I'll hold very close to me for a long, long time. "You're a very brave girl, Kritika. I am so proud of you for having taken this trip alone. I haven't seen many Indian women travelling alone. It's a major step in your life and it will change this point on. You should be very proud of yourself and the courage you put together to come here all by yourself. By undertaking this trip, you have touched someone's life in a way you'd never know."


I was told Potato Head in Seminyak was a must-visit. I got dropped off to the fancy beach bar by Claudia, who was off to the beach for some meditation. I walked into a burst of blaring music. There was no place to even stand, let alone sit. People were making merry to no end. I walked to the rear of the bar that opened out to the beach and decided to stroll the beach instead. I walked aimlessly watching youngsters throng the string of beach bars, families building sand castles with their little ones, surfers making most of the waves and dogs going about their usual shenanigans. I decided then not to step into another one of the fancy beach bars for the rest of my stay. And I didn't.

Staying in Seminyak, which is a quieter area when compared to the jamboree that is Kuta, helped. I didn't bother visiting Kuta at all, and I don't think I missed much. Bali is all about the beaches and that's where I spent my time apart from their gorgeous temples and quaint streets. I watched six sunsets in as many evenings. If it counts for anything at all, the best sunset I was presented with was on my birthday at the Jimbaran beach. I had heard SO much about the sunsets the beach offers, that I had to pay it a visit, even if it was a bit out of my way. Claudia made that outing better by suggesting I visit Bingin beach, which is one of the lesser-known beaches with gorgeous views. The combination of Uluwatu, Bingin and Jimbaran was the best amalgam of the lot.

I visited a lot of temples, shopped quite a bit, walked miles on end, didn't find the need to use my iPod at all, made little conversation with others but had a constant dialogue on in my head between me and my alter-ego.

I had just two beers in seven days, and only because I wanted to try their local beer, Bintang. Of course, I took a lot of pictures and flooded my Instagram after I returned home every night latest by 10:30.

I loved the two-hour hike up Mount Batur, although the overcast morning was a bit of a killjoy that made sunrise a tough viewing. It also made me feel real shit about my fitness because there were moments I thought my heart would break through all the shackles holding it in place.

Given my fear of water, I decided to give scuba-diving a shot with the only idea of wanting to face my fear. And with nobody for support. I lasted a whole 10 minutes of the 30 before I had had enough. The dive instructor said we had gone 8 feet deep which was supposedly good, but said I should have stayed longer. Should have... but maybe another time, in another country and in another water body.

At other times, I got massages, wandered the streets of Seminyak aimlessly, was in awe in the arts of Ubud, read, ate to my heart's content, and couldn't help but notice how happy people in Bali seemed.


Eat, Pray, Love has sort of set the blueprint for someone visiting Bali, and skewed it for most others. Bali is not necessarily the place you will find love, or somewhere you have to visit fancy yoga retreats, meditate, see healers or anything such.

I asked Ketut, who drove me to the temples on my second day, about the movie and the healer with which he shared a name. He said the healer 'Ketut' got lucky to be featured in the film and was flooded with customers since the release of the film. He said Balinese healers are available aplenty and can tell you your future rather accurately. He even suggested taking me to one. But what he did mention was that the movie had done much to spur tourism in the country.

Something though, that was similar between the movie and my experience of Bali, was the depiction of the Balinese locals. They always wore a smile, irrespective of the time of the day. You're greeted with a smile when you walk into a store. When leaving, and of them say 'thank you' together, with a smile as wide as the distance between their ears. It was incredible, and not, at the same time! Not because it evoked a sense of guilt for not having bought anything at the store! But, you couldn't help but smile yourself and feel grateful at the same time. From my interaction with the locals, I gathered that they don't really have fancy, comfortable lives. They work hard, very hard in some cases, to earn their livings, but the feeling of gratitude seemed ubiquitous.

There's little point listing out places to see or what to do in Bali; Google has enough and more information on that. Travelling alone to Bali was not only about the island ornated with gorgeous beaches and skies. It was really about challenging closely-held notions, breaking some habits, finding inspiration, exploring my mind and fraternising with the unknown - a reward for once again trusting my instinct and acting on impulse.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Caught on the same flight as Matthew Hayden and Virat Kohli

I was mentally prepared for one of the longer days of my life when I left my hotel in Raipur on May 23, 2016. I was scheduled to take a flight back to Bangalore, go home, pack, and take another flight that same evening to Delhi for the Indian Premier League play-offs. What I didn’t anticipate by a mile though, was the kind of experience that three-hour flight to Bangalore was about to provide.

When entering the airport, I pointed out to my friend that the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s manager was loitering around, to which he said, “Oh, shit! They might be travelling around the same time, which means, there’ll be chaos; I’m glad we came early.” I didn’t realise the weight of that statement unless much later.

We were in the check-in queue when Matthew Hayden walked into the airport. We waved at each other and he joined us the queue. Of course, on spotting him, the airline authorities summoned him to a separate line to speed-up his check-in formalities. We acquired our boarding passes and Hayden suggested we get some coffee at the restaurant/café on the first floor. We were passing security when one of the personnel asked his colleague “Who is that?’…to which the reply came, “Matthew Hayden, Australian cricketer.” The other guy retorted instantly, “What’s he doing here again? He was here just two days ago!” (All of this exchange in Hindi.)

Of course, on the way from the check-in queue to the restaurant, at least 15 people stopped him and asked him for a picture – all of which he was kind enough to oblige to at 8 a.m.! Stationing ourselves in a corner, we sat chatting about life, work and many random things before a contingent of security workforces walked towards us. It didn’t take me long to spot Virat Kohli, Shane Watson, AB de Villiers and a number of RCB players following them to the coffee shop.

Kohli and Watson came up to Hayden and exchanged pleasantries. Hayden introduced us briefly before the pair joined our table. Soon they were having a conversation that I wasn’t paying attention to because the sudden hustle and bustle around the airport was distracting.(What I did notice though, was that Kohli insisted and stressed on a no-sugar coffee, which is essentially what I need to start doing at some point, but haven't yet!)

Passengers who were groggily waiting to board the aircraft were suddenly interested in the middling coffee shop that they snubbed completely at the start. (I can make that assessment as it was empty when we walked in.) Children, who wanted pictures with their favourite stars, were haggling with the security guards. People clicked pictures from afar, while the waiters at the café, who were evidently thrilled to be on that morning shift, were out and about with their phones being oscillated as they tried to seek the apt position for seflies to catch the cricketers in the background.

Soon, it was time to board. The cricketers were of course, made to board first with the team occupying all of the middle rows. My friend and I were slotted different seats on the same row, so we thought we would ask someone if they could just switch seats to the other side. Obviously, the guy I asked refused, given that Kohli and de Villiers were seated in the row after. Not that it would make much of a difference to him, as RCB’s security guy was sitting alongside them with Chris Gayle, Watson and Chris Jordan to his right.  The security guy, however, overhead my request and was extremely kind to offer me his vacant seat in the next row, which was the one beside my friend. All settled in, we fell asleep within minutes, given that we were working until about 3:30 am the previous night and were up by 6 a.m. for our early flight.

Just as the plane landed, a passenger who was about to get off at Hyderabad, turned on his phone and made a sly attempt at taking a selfie with Kohli and AB in the background. What he didn’t realise, however, was that the seats were elevated enough to prevent that. Gradually, the angle was raised and obviously it wasn’t hard for the cricketers to spot it. Figuring out that this was just the start as the plane was coming to a halt, they put their heads down in the pretext of typing shoe laces, digging something out of their bags and such. The persistence of that passenger, though, was laudable, who at one point had his phone at a 90-degree angle – right above his head – before the security guy had to intervene and request him to stop.

If passengers thought it was their lucky day and they could meet their cricketing heroes, they were outrageously disappointed as no pictures or autographs were given – irrespective of age. That didn’t stop anyone from trying their luck, but in vain.

A young girl of around 22 or so, was quite in shock when she was refused an autograph when we landed in Bangalore, which was apparent, as she asked the security guy, “Are you serious?! I can’t get an autograph?” He flatly said, “No ma’am, please go on, you’re blocking the way.” She was so pissed off that she stormed off, but her fan-girl-self waited on the jet bridge as she was turned down again. All of the fanfare was predominantly for Kohli, and rightly so, given his exemplar IPL. 

But all of that was nothing compared to how the packed-to-the-brim airport went crazy when they found the team walk out. Dozens ran alongside the security guards to get a glimpse of their favourite stars. Few left their baggage belts and lined up to take videos, while others tried getting as many selfies in that moment as they could.

While we were waiting at our belt for our luggage, Hayden joined us and whilst he was showing me pictures of his backyard and his kids taking to cricket, a young chap walked up to us and asked him, “You’re Hayden, right?”, to which the reply came “no”, as he went back to our conversation as though there was no interruption. That chap burst out laughing and said, “I knew it was you. Can I have a selfie?” The heights of selfies was, however, when we were leaving the airport and a man was running alongside Hayden to get one and was finding it hard to fit him in the same frame. Hayden then took his phone, clicked one himself and handed the phone back. That would have easily been about 50 pictures or so in the span of about four hours.

It felt quite strange to witness all of that from such hands-on quarters. On one hand, whilst it is quite a privilege to be in a profession where you see, interact with them cricketers quite often, somewhere, it loses its sheen to the extent where the typical fan in you is quashed in a bid to be professional. Also coupled with the fact that you might, sometimes, just start taking it for granted. However, on the other hand, it is not hard to relate to the craze and enthusiasm of a typical admirer, as that was possibly, every single one of us a decade or two ago. 

It was brought to my notice earlier in the year when my cousin drove me to the airport and MS Dhoni got off from a Jaguar right ahead of us. Whilst it didn't even hit me enough to make note, my cousin went crazy exclaiming, "Hey, Dhoni! What a start to my year, that I got to see MS Dhoni while dropping you off!"  

When I was a massive supporter of Matthew Hayden back in the day, little did I imagine or know I would sit at a coffee table with him discussing life, our families or cricket a few years hence. But now, it's in a different capacity where your work is what has you connected. 

At some level that day, my respect for cricketers and how they handle fame went up a tad bit, with what I saw in the case of Hayden at least. It must be hard to oblige to requests patiently, smile and politely indulge in pleasantries irrespective of what you might be going through internally. I can’t tell how I’d react if I was in a similar situation, which is why they say, not everybody can handle fame. Yes, sure, it’s a privilege for them to be revered in the way they are at some level, but that said, it’s not easy being them either.