Pinball Wizard


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Like many people in Bangalore who love cricket, yesterday, April 23, was a day that I will never forget. I wasn’t at the stadium because I don’t like crowds. But I do love my living room. With the HDTV and the rewind and the room service.

I joyously watched Chris Gayle play such an amazing game of cricket that I now firmly believe he is not of this earth, this universe. He comes from Krypton, surely.

No one else except Superman could have thrashed the ball here, lofted it there and thwacked it out of the stadium over and over again as he did. He had complete and total control of the stadium, the game, his opponents, the ball and fate, it seemed.

I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life.

It got me thinking.

About the bat.

And the ball.

And how it’s not easy at all the get the two to connect to create electricity and magic like Chris.

I know, because I’ve tried.

Oh, I don’t play cricket or tennis or any other game where one is required to run too much or can be in danger of getting hurt.

I thought I’d start with carrom, back in high school in Panchgani run by very strict nuns. I was informed almost immediately that carrom wasn’t a sport. “Building up strength in one’s thumb and forefinger doesn’t count towards physical development, character development. And we want you girls to be well rounded.”

I considered chess, but that required too much thinking. Very stressful. Not to mention that even the thumb and forefinger don’t get an outing in a game of chess.

So I was thrust into the hockey team, without argument. It didn’t matter that I’d have preferred sitting on the steps, playing guitar and composing sad songs.

I was made the goalkeeper.

My friend Shahnaz who flew like the wind across the field, pulverising the enemy with her hockey stick, told me not to worry. “Stand here,” she sad, tapping a spot outside the goal. “ I’ll make sure the ball never comes your way,” she assured me. “You don’t have to move a muscle and you don’t have to do anything.”

And she kept her promise. So while the other girls charged the enemy with gusto and hatred, sweating, falling, getting scraped and so on, I stood and postured at the goalpost, knowing full well the ball would never come my way.

My hair was always perfect and I never broke a sweat

But the nuns were watching.

“You will play table tennis,” they said. “It’s easy. You don’t have to run all over the place and the ball is small and light. It can’t hurt you.”

The TT coach tried very hard to explain that it was not a good idea to close my eyes as the ball flew across the net towards me, but I found it an impossible instruction to follow

My eyes closed on reflex.

Yet miraculously I’d make contact. I attributed this to my powers of hearing (you can’t sing and play the guitar if you can’t hear, but there are many, many blind musicians), which were excellent.

I could hear the ball whoosh by clearly and I would stick the paddle out in the general direction, hoping for the best. Fate was on my side four times out of ten.

I came perilously close declaring TT as my game of choice.

There is a song by a band called ‘The Who’ in which a deaf, dumb, blind kid named Tommy plays a mean game of pinball all over England. I feel very much like him.

As for Chris Gayle and the RCB, well, my eyes will be wide open for the next few weeks until the finals. And I will be very awake and alert when we win.

Radha Thomas is the author of ‘Men On My Mind’, jazz singer and Exec VP at Explocity. This is from her regular column Being Here, that appears in BangaloreMag each week. 

26 April, 2013, Bangalore

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