As I happened to be in the state of Punjab, I took the opportunity to witness a semi-final clash between traditional cricketing rivals India and Pakistan in the city of Mohali. The World Cup is the greatest event in the cricketing world. The game of cricket is so structured that one’s size and strength are not paramount; it is purely skill-based. There are too many subtleties for the uninitiated to grasp, but none can miss the incredible action and the suspense of the game. Unable to bear the suspense that keeps one’s heart pounding, some unscrupulous ones tried match fixing. Well, of course there is a monetary aspect to this spoiler of the game.

When India and Pakistan clash upon the cricket field in a crucial tie, both nations grind to a halt. Prime Ministers of both countries were there and Pakistan went ahead and declared a national holiday. The Indian Government could not do that, but schools, colleges and private businesses closed, and government employees anyway have the liberty of not working when they choose.

Days ahead, the atmosphere was so palpable and vitiated that most people kept forgetting it was only a game. The faithful offering prayers on both sides of the border; fortunately, they are appealing to two different gods. The fervor so intense, the Almighty could clearly be confused as to which team deserves to win.

As I made an early morning dash to Mohali – that day’s focal point of the two nations and to some extent of many cricketing nations – and the ‘Who’s Who’ of both nations were present, I invariably had to endure many security checks. This reminded me of those days when I was less than ten years of age, when I drove on the pillion of my father’s two-wheeler to Bengaluru City from my hometown to watch cricket events live. Mind you, there were no televisions. Can never forget the excitement of sitting close to the boundary line, waiting for the ball to cross it, and the heroic act of picking up the ball and throwing it to players who were larger than life. I got my hands on the ball twice in those few years. I had the joy of seeing greats like Clive Lloyd and the Chappel brothers, McKenzie, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, the indomitable Caribbean team of those days and the aggressive Australians. And of course, the magical spin trio of our own.

Oh, I can go on, but now it does not matter — 2011 is a remarkable year for the cricketing fans of India. The Cup has come to the lip.

Tamil Nadu is buzzing….The election drama is on. There are various instruments for every citizen to participate in a democratic system of governance. Above all, the election process is the most important. Not exercising the privilege of ballot smacks of irresponsibility. Every citizen must vote according to one’s perception of individual well-being and that of the state. Voting en masse in consideration of religion, caste, creed or cash will only subvert democracy and lead to virtual feudalism. Many great patriots have laid down their lives to make this nation free and for it be run as per people’s choice. The least you can do is go out and vote.

Love & Grace,