Thursday, November 23, 2006

Dog in his domain

Column: Backtalk. Author: Murali Gopy. Publication: Sports Today. Issue: November

Fans, Asians, cricketmen, it is time to mourn Pakistan. A new brat has checked in. Owner's woe, neighbour's bliss, he is none other than Nandrolone. Praise him, and the test tubes that behold him, for he has, indeed, made pakistan's dressing room the most happening place on earth.

Then there are the in-fighting geniuses who script internecine drama with aplomb. There is a banned ex-captain who behaves like a lost tyke on the grass carpets of Oval. There is a stop-gap skipper who turns press meets into demos on woek stress. There is a sagacious coach who looks away every time the flashlights kiss his face. There is a forfeited match that begs to tell its tale. There is the tampered ego of a nation. Mind you, Pakistan cricket is mimicking a B-grade Bollywood thriller, the huge hoardings of which promise "drama, action, emotion, romance and tragedy".

Across the Radcliffe Line, in the sandpit of the world's largest democratic dustbowl, the law-keepers are digging up a cadaver and training their torches on a World Cup that stunk of foul play. This police mission is sequel to the super hit cricket tale of near-yore, that mocked at scoreboards, made fools of a generation, exposed a hundred bloody hands, caught a few and condemned one-- a classic tragedy that ended with the death of its born-again protagonist. And like all other successful tales that end with a subtle suggestion of persisting evil, the scope of a sequel means melodrama and more. We shall dutifully wait with baited breaths. Amen.

Back to the Brute-scented cafes of Dubai, where the Filipino lass of charming demeanour places an ornamented China-made cup (of coffee) on your table as if it were a rose twig. A Ferrari screams past, leaving the table shake flirtatiously in the pleasant tremor. Three things rush to me. 1. Opec price cuts. 2. My friend who works in a Saudi oil rig. 3. Michael Schumacher and The last Crusade.

The caffeine chooses the third. Time has finally outsped Legend. The needle is finally back to Square Zero. The accelerator is disengaged, and the emperor has bequeathed himself to history. The caffeine is prodding me on to an out-of-the-syllabus thought: What would 21st century sports icons have done, had they been placed in another century? Another milieu?

I dive to catch the answer, which is not exactly blowing in the wind.

Sachin Tendulkar would have made a fine woodcutter of the Stone Age. Tiger Woods would undoubtedly be the in-demand catapult man of Salladin. Roger Federer could guard the northern frontiers of Ming China, returning everything that is thrown in from outside. We can be a bit historically inaccurate here, and allow him to carry his racquet, since it is less expensive than building a 2,400-kn wall, the only achievement of which being the urban legend that it can be seen from the moon!

Muhammad Ali would make a great sparring partner to Maximus Decimus Miridius (of Gladiator fame). And...Michael Schumacher would surely be one of the most admired chariot racers of Rome, with Fernando Alonso racing by his side and crying out loud that the champion had fixed diamond-shaped tyre-busters on both his wheels. At the cost of looking ridiculously self-loving, and inviting my editor's wrath for having engaged chatbox abbreviations, I would post a "LOL" in COUDI STOUT. For those who came in late, it is the name of the loudest font on the Word.

Talking of chat sessions, my Argentine friend and I had a violent argument, recently, that was recorded at 8.5 on my Laptop Richter. We were pretending to be having a bilateral discussion on the nuclear disarmament program (ahem!) when she suddenly threw in the national topic of Argentina: How great was Maradona than Pele? (The Argentine way of framing a somewhat similar global question). I drew my sword in defense of the Brazillian great, got wounded in a barrage of expletives, and retired hurt. The IM box looked like a battlefield, strewn with emoticons. She unilaterally loaded an IMvironment of blue'nwhite, pelted an unfriendly adios, and signed out in a huff, leaving the backtalker bark alone, like a dog in his domain.

The distraught lover keyed in these parting words, before he Shut Down: Adios, my friend, the road we have travelled has come to THE END.

For Pele... For Sports...