Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Enigmatic Friendships

Amidst the numerous social interactions that we, as humans, have in our world, filled with the social media giants which govern our daily lives in ways that aren’t by any stretch of the imagination, infinitesimal, I often end up thinking about the people we term as friends. Due to the distances connected by the social media, people who otherwise wouldn’t have interacted, are now available in the list of friends of a varied demographic. It’s a fun and interesting place to be.

I am not an active participant in social media. I rarely interact with people outside the group which is familiar to me. Being the person that I am, I prefer cultivating friendships that last a lifetime. The fleeting interactions that lead to someone becoming a friend, create acquaintances. A friend to me, holds a much deeper meaning. A friend to me, is a person who makes a person better in all respects. Amongst the few friends that I have, I am certain that all of them know me, my thoughts, my capabilities (or lack thereof), and so on. I know I can go to them with anything I want and not be judged for what I ask or say. These friends, and the friendships they have granted me, would perhaps, last till the times where both parties stop remembering anything.

Friendships are analogous to the life cycle of a tree. Akin to these marvels in nature, friendships have a rugged exterior, malleable interiors and branch out to very finite spaces wherein all the branches are distinct, intriguing in their own accord and is overall, integral to the subsistence of the ecosystem that is a human being. I have observed the parallel tracks a tree takes in its lifetime that that friendships take in theirs.

To elaborate, the various seeds that scatter upon the ground, intentionally or unintentionally, are like the boundless interactions we humans have amongst each other. Not all conversations take root into the tree of friendship. The people indulging in what we tell them, find the right nourishment for their friendship to take roots. The symphony between the waves of thoughts expressed and received becomes apparent, enough to water the tree and beget the once dormant life within. Thereafter, what happens is a natural progression. We converse, exchange thoughts, debate, argue, participate in moments that get etched upon our minds, irreplaceable and irremovable, walk together on the path one wouldn’t otherwise have traveled had it not been for a friend, and other such events, activities and moments that imbibe the tree with vigor and strength it needs to take on the natural forces that oppose its growth.

Like the many friendships a person has in life, many are uprooted; many stand; but the most valuable ones flourish under the most distressful conditions, paying no heed to the forces on the mission to uproot them. Such friendships absorb the best made available to them, filtering out the poisons lurking in the soil, air and water that surround them. Each moment in time that is spent with such friends branches out from the tree, takes its place amongst the many unique branches forming the overall edifice, tall and magnificent. This is the defining stage of any friendship; the stage that determines whether it would inhale the poison and form a contagion, wither away and die, or use the more sentient moments to form branches from branches till such time that it is thick enough to combat and force of nature.

Once the veritable tree has grown to the fullest extent it is permitted to grow, the point comes where the friendships we strived to grow, mature. Thereon, there isn’t a force, available in our everyday lives, which can erode away the friendship. The tree no longer needs water from us as the roots are deep enough to make it self-sufficient. It would have a near unlimited reservoir of nutrients through the endless experiences we have shared.

I am not one to say the tree cannot be shaken or moved. It very well can be. We all can be a handful if we want to be. Others would simply brand us with a term, perhaps derogatory, perhaps uninviting or perhaps distasteful. However, these friends, and their friendships, forged through the trials and tribulations of life, never give up on us. I have known this to be the case with mine. I have stretched them to their limits, infested our conversations with my incessant ranting, fought over trivial matters which would appear highly nonsensical to a witness, and what not. They however, have looked beyond these failings of mine, knowing that that tree that we worked so hard to grow, wouldn’t even budge on such things. These minor incidents have only served to prove that to a true friendship, these incidents would hardly ruffle through the leaves, get resisted by the foliage, and die out as if it never existed. Even if one arose, that could break a branch, a new one would form in its place as the tree is alive and well.

I cherish my friendships and all events and incidents entailed within. These are the people who have made me who I am, shaped a greater part of my life, and nurtured me with humanity. I might have turned out a lesser human than I am now, if not for people such as them. Everyone has friends, who if thought about, would be a parts of your trees, or whole trees themselves. The thought that inspired me to write this was that each person has their own trees, and yet don’t realise that these trees have matured into unshakable friendships. Misunderstandings are easily sorted, however heavy they may seem when they happen.



Monday, 6 February 2017

The Tenacious Warrior Calls it a Day!

Captain Cook with the Ashes urn


The English batsmen are barely known for their ability to handle spin bowling; little did they know that the little known 21 year old batsman from Essex would come to Nagpur facing India in his first test - a side known for famous spinners with the likes of Harbhajan and Kumble; manages to score nearly 160 runs with a century on debut; would solve their crisis in handling spin - and that young lad was Alastair Nathan Cook.

Since his successful debut in India, there was no looking back as he solved England's long term opening crisis by being a sturdy batsman on whom the team could rely on. Using his skills with that bat and great sense of judgement; he managed to grab the spotlight early on in his career where it became inevitable that beyond a point, he was going to be Andrew Strauss' heir-apparent as captain. I'd focus more on Cook's stint as Captain Cook as the batsman is yet to retire from the game and in fact, has at least another five years to contribute to his side.

Cook's captaincy probably started on an rosy path, he inherited a very strong team from Andrew Strauss going on to stun India in their own backyard back in 2012, coming back from 1-0 down to take the series 2-1; probably one of the highest points of his captaincy early on and eventually going on to retain the Ashes 3-0. The honeymoon period came to an end where Pietersen left under controversial circumstances, Jonathan Trott leaves owing to health reasons, the lead spinner Graeme Swann and the wicketkeeper Matt Prior retiring, Cook's ability as a captain came under challenge - it was no longer the strong squad he inherited and he had to use his ability to rebuild the team and be determined throughout the process.

Cook's early taste of success - series win against India


Cook's real trouble began after the whitewash by Australia during the 2014 Ashes; the British media going impatient as always along with former captains such as Michael Atherton and Michael Vaughan going on to question the ability of the young captain and whether he should be replaced. However, the captain had other ideas; rebuilding the squad with the likes of Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow and Cook himself significantly contributing with the bat; the fortunes turned for England with victories against Sri Lanka and regaining of the Ashes in 2015. During his captaincy, he also became England's all time highest run scorer (first English batsman to cross 10,000) and also the individual with the maximum number of test centuries to the extent that his critics from the previous year such as Atherton and Vaughan started lauding Cook for his abilities.

Cook becomes the youngest batsman to cross 10,000 runs


Surely, Cook would have liked to resign from captaincy under better circumstances rather than the leaving the post after the debacle in India - he still has a lot to be proud of and the current English team owe him a great debt for the success he given the team; call it conservative, it delivered results nonetheless. Additionally, Cook has not just been a captain who has delivered results in the present but has also had a vision for the future giving opportunities to several youngsters such as Haseeb Hameed, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Joe Root, etc; has laid a strong foundation for the captain succeeding him in the future (most probably Joe Root, incidentally another Nagpur debutant) and what the next captain could learn the most from him is the tenacity and the determination to succeed, despite all criticism.

The silver lining for England is the fact that he is still continuing to play and the fact that he doesn't have the burden of captaincy anymore, the fans could hope to see many more great performances from him to come.

Good luck to the next captain of England!

Have a nice day,
Andy