Vijay K. Saluja
I, visit my neighbourhood park which is being maintained by DDA, for my morning walk. The park is fairly popular with the residents living in the neighbourhood because of its large expanse & reasonably good central grassy rectangular lawn. On its periphery, is the soft walking track.
Because of hot weather, people of all shapes, sizes & gender start descending upon this, green space right from almost 5 AM onwards..
There is walking, jogging, yoga, raucous laughter etc etc. The park is almost full by 7AM & almost empties out these days, by around 8AM.
The open green central space is a big magnet for local cricket & football teams, of youngsters.
Normally, these youngsters are well clad, sport-equipped & are from perhaps well –off families & good schools, The matches continue on Saturday & Sunday, up to ten AM, or so.
Today, I was late for my morning walk. It was around 8AM when I reached the park. All the benches in the park were receiving the Sun. There was hardly any shaded bench at that time. Perhaps that is why most of the visitors to the park go back by around 8AM, these days.
But today, just after about fifteen minutes of myself being in the walking-track, I noticed a group of ten young boys in the age group of 10-13, descending on the park.most of them were clad in old vests, shorts & tattered jeans. A few only sported chappals & very old shoes & had among them just one broken bat & a red ball[rubber]. Perhaps, they were from one of the adjoining construction site-jhuggi cluster?
What I noticed was their animated chatter, & one fellow sporting an old yellow cap, giving directions, to a few to set up the wicket.
In no time, the wicket came up in the field! Not the normal ones with three legs but out of RCC blocks which they had collected from one of the constuction-sites. You know those-concrete-test cubes!
And without much ado, the game started. One of the short guy was giving direction to a few, to move to slip,& the other ones to cover & long on!!
I was amazed at their knowledge of the games & deft placement of the players.
The other side of the RCC cubes wicket was just a `stone`, for the wicket. They also had an umpire in yellow vest & another umpire to keep a check on the umpire with yellow vest!
One dimunitive fellow started batting & hit the ball to the left & right & all over & amassed good number of runs in just about three overs! In between, I heard also appeals/ discussions about the wide ball, no-ball & shouts of bahut accha in their own dialect. Interestingly when the star player got out, he got into the bowling mode immediately & the umpire became the third bats man & batted?!
The dimunitive lean & thin player was the star attraction as he bowled very accurately, took two wickets, held one catch & every time, he did so, the other youngsters came running from all directions to slap his back, had a mutual clap or an appreciative embrace.
It reminded me of Tendulkar, who I am sure, must have been star attraction like this in his younger days. The game folded up for a while.
The group was getting ready on a sunny-bench, for their another inning or turn by another group, when suddenly I noticed with great amazement all these boys almost making a hasty dash towards the boundary wall, jumping over it & running outside on the road, making huge noises-bhago,bhago aa gya, aa gya! & then I noticed one gardener of DDA who had just come to the park for their duty[time was around 9.20AM] ordering his junior associate-Pakrro, pakrro-`Sallae` pathhrons se garden kharab kar dete hain?!
Frankly, I was a bit miffed & am still! Why, you may ask.?
It is because, we have ample resources in India-humans with lot of positive energy, passion, talent etc etc, But, sadly we do not nurture & use them, In fact we do not know, how to make use of them?!
What India needs is empathic & effective leadership with less self interests, more sensitivity & zeal to make a positive difference. When that entity is available, in abundance, I have no doubt, India will be much ahead of any other country in the world!
Believe me-this is the panacea of balanced development, inclusive cities, harmonious & vibrant living & happy India, perhaps free of Maoism, Naxalism & terrorism. This is my ardent wish.!This is, most of us want.
One last thing-I enjoyed this match much more sitting on a bench with fair amount of Sun than the actual IPL match which I watched a few days back at FerozShah Kotla from one of the VIP stands, where dinner & drinks were on the house & cheer-leaders were swaying a few distance, from where we sat!
Writer is Ex chief engineer[civil], New Delhi Municipal Council