Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It has been two years, yet...

After a long time, yesterday, I passed by my beloved esteem institute: Indian Institute of Science. I happened to be traveling in the city bus, coming home after a long, and rather dull journey, when I saw the lights of the Institute. As I passed by the Gymkhana gate, all those proud memories rushed back. The volleyball court was flood-lit and a game was on. Our physical education officer Mr Poonacha sir was sitting on the position of chief referee as one of the players was walking to the serving spot.

It was not so long time ago that I had led my department's team to a memorable and creditable inter-department volleyball championship. This tournament came right after we had successfully defended our Cricket title (and I had been chosen the best batsman of the lot --- Shh.. I should be more modest than that you know. Maybe I should add that to my TO DO list!) Those days were magical and electrifying. There was the talk of the tournament in the department hallways and at mess tables. Even the mess employees had spoken to me about the powerful performance our team had given. "We will be there for the finals!" they had assured. On the road to the finals, we had not lost even a single set and the victories had been emphatic. It was a overall strong display by a good team. With Nithin SK as my setter and Sandesh and Sudhir KA as able supports (not to forget heroics by Chomu, Sethji, Vasuki and Co. in the back-line), we had at times steamrolled the opposition. Perfect or near-perfect set for a spike is not my 'requirement' for a reasonably powerful spike as such, but then Nithin was always perfect: and as a result the smashes were most powerful most times. With few blockers in the opposition we would march to victory within 30-45 minutes at the most.

Photo1: Nithin anticipates a high ball while I (black T shirt) watch on.

Photo2: First winning and then proving a point!

Photo3: The collective chaos after the victory.

Photo4: The two teams, and match officials after the final. Note the sweat and wear-n-tear of the volleyball!

Photo5: We, the champs!

The final was a different affair. The game was a best-of-five one and the opposition in Aerospace Engg. was a tough nut to crack. Score for the first two sets read: 25-23, 25-21 in our favour. It was not at all easy, mind you. Their serving capabilities were far better and accurate than we had ever come across. Much to the delight of the opposition's cheering gang, I had once missed a service which hit me direct into my face. That hurt. It really did. And the same moment perhaps made me play even better. It was not humiliation in front of 100-odd crowd, but it was a humiliation at personal level. I myself would have expected to play better than I was, and I am happy that I finally did.

With 2-0 games up, perhaps we did lose a bit of focus, and dropped the next game 19-25. It was the first time in the tournament that we had lost a set. It was good for us, for it taught us the important lesson of any sport: respect thy opposition. We learned it quickly and gracefully, and in the next set we romped home with a good score on the board: 25-17!

I faintly remember the 'chaos' after the match. All our department-mates were all over the ground. Before I could grasp the 'gravity' of the situation, I was raised on shoulders of I think three-four guys and so to say, I was on top of the world :-). The opposition captain, Satya was generous in congratulations, we shook hands with each of the his members and of course the referee. The photo session went on for some time before it was time for the prize distribution. Those little shining cups were invaluable to us: to our team, which had played so well throughout the tournament. It was an unimaginable feeling of accomplishment (although it was a mere inter-department tournament!). All of our team would agree to that.

One little glance to the flood-lit ground brought back so many cheerful memories. The inter-department tournament must be on there. One or the other team must be having the same dream as we all had two years ago, and one or the other team will go on and achieve that. One or the other player will be the Hero of the evening, and maybe all the mates will talk about that particular match for some days to come. The atmosphere would have the same passion and energy that it had two years ago. Players might have changed but can the passion and desire to win change? No way. I almost wanted to get off the bus and go meet the players and observe the game. Cheer for some team or the other and maybe talk about how the passion has not changed. I wanted to just sit there for a while and take a long deep breath and re-energize myself. But why! I did not really have to be physically there. Just a glance from the speeding bus was enough for me. Enough to recreate the days from memory. Those golden days...

It has been two years since I played on the same ground. It has been two years since our team won in front of a huge crowd. It has been two long years! Yet the passion has not reduced. And I guess it can never. Some things like these can never happen...

1 comment:

Suman said...

Very happy moments.. aren't they..:)