Thursday, November 09, 2006

30 October, 2006
I am losing my favourite game…
India loses out to Australia again. And what’s more, it was a predictable defeat. We knew, at least I did, that, we are born to be losers on most of the days. We win only on odd days. Defeat is ours, triumph theirs.
In 2004, while serving on ship ‘Pataliputra’, we would go to Australia quite regularly. The coastal passage along the Great Barrier Reef from Cape York in the Torres Strait to Cairns is a pilotage waters. Hence in this June’04 trip there was this pilot, Mike, on board. An oversized, pot-bellied, couch potato who perhaps did nothing but piloting and watching sports on TV. Pilotage is a 3 days affair during which pilot stays on board night and day. I was serving as second mate at that time.
On the second day of the inward passage, Mike and us, my two cadets and myself, got into some discussions on performance of Indian versus Australians in various fields. Funny man Mike counted to us how the Aussies have been excelling in task they have undertaken ranging from swimming, athletics, rugby, to scientific advancements and then to ‘piloting’ (in humour, he was patting his own back).
Angshuman and Charu, the cadets, were cool enough Indians to be able to hear some other nation’s praises. I myself kept concentrating on the task of navigation at hand. Normally I don’t see too many Indian seafarers such ‘tolerant’. Later, I counted back to Mike the hallmarks of Indians in Chess, Vishwanathan Anand; in Snooker, Geeth Sethi; and then a lesser known game to him, Kho-Kho. I also told him our cine-zeal where we produced over 500 movies in a year, the largest by any nation. Mike already had some vague ideas about “Bollywoo”(sic) as also about ‘Ash’warya and Amitabh.
I retained the Cricket’s mention for the last as I felt only thing worth counting to the world champs was the Border-Gavasker trophy which, till then, had not reached the Aussies’ bag.
Mike promptly struck back saying that the Aussies were sure to get it the same year. I felt I had no replies further, having a full understanding of my team’s performance against his.
Kiran Desai’s prize-winning novel’s name give a clue of my plight on such conversations; - ‘the Inheritance of Loss’.
During the Aug’04 trip, when the Olympic Games were played in Athens, the Aussie nation was again at the peak of their testosterones. And why should they not?! They have been in the top 5 slots of final medal tally for long time. When the Indian contingent was marching from the front of the audience during this Olympics, the TV commentator expressed his bafflement at such small- 60 persons- team from such an overpopulated nation. The Australians and the US had over 300 participants.
Coming back to the discussions with Mike, the cadets further argued on, to show the Indians’ dominance in software making. But I was wondering if the highly sophisticated systems like the GPS and ECDIS (used on ships) and the Gyro Compass ever had any Indian’s hand in its making. The big jigsaw puzzle of India’s achievement and failures again unwrapped itself before me and screamed out at all-wrong collation—of how we arranged facts to suit our convenience; to erect our false pride.
… It’s time to think again…