Monday, February 29, 2016


I was contemptuous of the game. As a matter of fact, it barely seemed sporty enough to be called one. What a royal waste of hours, I would tell myself, chasing a tiny ball with a stick, yards on end!  Golf is made for the fuddy duddy fogies, I had concluded. And that hoity toity air about the golfing community, it helped dismiss the game even more.

Then one day, somewhere out of a deep seated fear of missing out on what so many seemed to rave about, came a voice. I heard myself announcing at the dinner table, “I am going to learn golf.”
I remember wheeling the trolley in on the first day quite a bit tentatively. Had I left it too late? Would my muscles rise to the event? Would I ever get on to the 'course' as they called it? What exactly does one do over eighteen holes?

Unknown to the self, I had made two sound decisions already. My golf set was smart and the coach outstanding. A few months short of 89 years, with the barest of stoop and a lifetime spent at the game, Sri Mange Lal was more institutional than the Club he worked at. What’s more, he had coached Raj Kumar, yesteryear's Bollywood star who I had a crush on in the movie ‘Hindustan Ki Kasam’. My association with Sri Mange Lal had all the makings!

Apart from a reasonably proportionate frame, thank you Dad and Mom, and an average health, I had no special aptitude for Golf. I cast about in my head to add to the pluses. I ticked them off. I was on the right side of fifty, yes.  I could drive, and how. And the golf course was close by, hallelujah!

“The balls are very expensive, alright and there is an attire regulation of some sort,” home advice had been succinct. I remember biting my lip, squaring my shoulders and exhaling calm over the dull dread that a new personal challenge ignites in our hearts and minds. Would I be able to make the kind of time Golf demanded? How in the heavens do these people manage to get from one hole to another? Hell, I will use the side gate, all those people busily striding along feel a bit intimidating.

On my first day in the practice bay, I swung wildly, alternating between hockey and broom sweeping moves. The munchkin ahead of me in the practice bay hit magnificently and cleanly. His shoulders described a confident arc as the club moved smoothly over the left on the finish, the ball sailing to the white flag. “Madam, have you been riding horses?” my coach asked me abruptly. Before I could close my mouth, he concluded from my face, “Ah yes, I can tell!”

The first day I got home after hitting some fifty balls, my arms blazed at the joints. The right one felt as though it would pop out of the socket. I just lay flopped over the pillows, staring at the flickering images on the TV, every single muscle in the body hurting. The grip, the stance, the back swing, the hip movement, it had all seemed so unbelievably easy but what was this, the ball had a mind of its own. The marker flags taunted me, there was no way in the world I would ever get close to kissing those pieces of cloth, it seemed.

There is a predictable evolution every new activity follows. There is the initial excitement, the honeymoon period so to say when it looks enchanting and deceptively glamorous from afar. As you get closer, the hard work and consistency involved becomes visible and the body begins to mold in the process of aligning itself to the new demands.  There may also come a time when the spirit becomes weak, “I am never going to get a hang of this!”

But the trick is to persevere. I did. Three coaches later and an above average time spent in the practice bay, I have finally fallen into the rhythm of playing nine holes a day. The bogey is happening, the par will proliferate. 

And friends continue to cheer from the wings along the way, just as a special one inspired with his enthusiasm and ready golfing cues when I first put my intent out there. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Talk of ‘giving back’ to society is in the air. It resounds in the social spaces we glide in and out of. And there is a nice little futuristic tint to these proclamations. There is this ever prevalent mass notion that chides us for having received so much. The understanding is that sometime in the future, when the hour is ripe and the pronouncer settled and secure enough, they are going to teach underprivileged children or adopt a few or maybe volunteer in an old age home. “Something worthwhile that preferably does not call for too much time. We are all so fortunate; we must do our bit by this hopeless world. The times are becoming so dangerous. Surely that places a moral responsibility on us for donating old clothes to Goonj or celebrating our personal events in an SOS village or clicking the smile box while booking ourselves a movie ticket.”

What strikes me is the implicit belief in one’s immortality these plans project, as though to say there is plenty of time before the skin starts scaling and the winds go out of the sails.

It is commendable to want to do something meaningful to make a difference. The assumption here is that one has achieved enough of a personal nirvana to now work for the betterment of others. What if I were to say one’s primary duty is to one’s own development and one lifetime is not good enough to get to that sharpness? And that rather than fix the outside, if we worked on our own interiors that would earn the human race a greater, longer lasting return.

Too many of us want to accuse, protest and suspect the agencies outside of us. We foam at the mouth over the ethical toxicity surrounding us. There is righteous outrage at the violence in communication. With some, the despair is so great that we withdraw from our public spaces.

Begin by calming and cleansing yourself, I say. Reorient! Reboot! Reset the mind’s exhaust engine. Hose away the clogged consciousness; vacuum out the cobwebs sitting on the heart. Begin living the exemplary life you want to see others live. Go after the happiness you deserve. Pack your days with feel good hormones. Wash yourself in Vitamin D. Release your peeves and resentments and hurts. Please get off that guilt trip. Sit down and punch out that bucket list.

You are enough. You are here, breathing, whole and full of possibilities. Quit waiting for the grand moment. When you begin humming with a sense of accomplishment and confidence, the trees will stretch taller, the grass will go tizzy with delight. As you dump the baggage of dark emotions behind, the winds will surge through the new spacious you. Stop the chatter therefore. Shut your eyes for a moment and breathe a while. It will descend on you. The unbearable joy of being! Those tears of gratitude will come, steady in the flow.

There is no boogeyman out there. Do yourself a favour! Banish the one inside.