Chandigarh, Tuesday, December 8, 1998
darling of millions
FEW people would believe that Indias number one celebrity - internationally famous cricket star Sachin Tendulkar - lives in a secluded, unpretentious locality of suburban Mumbai. Though he is a millionaire several times over, and is now considered to be one of the richest Indians in the world, Sachin, at 25, has not yet moved away from his childhood home where he lives in his joint family with his parents, brothers, their wives and all the children. Youngest of four children, Sachin was brought up in a traditional Saraswat Brahmin family in a middle class locality in Bandra, Mumbai. His cricketing career began in the nearby maidans where many boys from the government housing colony gathered to play the game after school. Like many a prominent cricketer of India, Sachin Tendulkar started to learn cricket in the by-lanes of Bandra where weekend cricket is a community passion. During his learning years, he also lived for some time in the famous Shivaji Park area where coaching classes for wannabe cricketers are held every vacation and Sachin was very much a part of these camps though he has never said that any particular coach is his guru.
Sachin Tendulkar was not a bright student at school. Born to a father who taught Marathi as a professor first in the Siddharth College founded by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, and later in the Kirti College in Mumbai, he went to an ordinary school called Sharadashram. Tendulkar was never known here as an outstanding or bright student; but he was certainly the scholar of the cricket field. Showing signs of his unusual genius, he played inter-school matches and became a cult figure among Mumbais schoolboys. With some scraping and studying, he crossed his school board examination and joined Kirti College, where his father taught, for his university education. For long, his mother Rajni worked for the Life Insurance Corporation. She quit her job only when fame and fortune smiled on the family in the garb of the youngest child Sachin.
The famous cricketer has two elder brothers and a married sister named Sampada Palekar who lives in Pune, Maharashtra. His eldest brother Nitin works for Air India. Ajit, the second brother, has been a full time manager for Sachin. He looks after his assignments, his schedule of appointments, sets up his meetings, his travel plans, saves and invests his money and knows all there is to know about him. He has actually written a book about Sachin which was published some time ago.
Indeed, writing and poetry run in the family, says Vasanti Muzumdar, a colleague of Tendulkar senior and a long time family friend, Ramesh, the father, is a well known writer, critic and poet in Marathi. Ajit writes on cricket and celebrities and Sachin himself used to write well till cricket became his very life. In fact, because of his travel and constant cricket tours, Sachin had to leave his college education incomplete. He could not graduate. The family has lived for decades in Sahitya Sahawas, a government colony of writers and journalists and the members of the family have adjoining flats so that there is space for all.
No one can ask the family about Sachins love story which led to his marriage to Dr. Anjali Mehta, says a neighbour. He never discusses his private life in the media and is almost never or very rarely photographed with his wife or daughter Sara, born last year. It is known, however, that Anjali, older than him by four years, is the daughter of industrialist Ashok Mehta, who was himself a skilful tennis player in his youth and his British wife. Anjali is a practising paediatrician working at the J.J. Hospital in Mumbai and hardly ever travels with her very busy husband. Friends say that Sachin and Anjali met through mutual friends and fell in love. They say that Sachin is a very private person, very humble and absolutely down to earth. He is a loving and proud father and a husband who guards his marriage as his private property. No gossip or prying by the media is allowed into these areas of his life and no journalist has ever succeeded in doing an interview of his wife about their marriage. It is rumoured that he even refused to appear on the Simi Garewal show in which several personalities discussed their relationships and marriage.
Sachins greatest hobby, according to his close friends, is music. He has a vast collection of western pop and serious music and spends every available leisure hour listening to his favourite artists on his fabulous music system. His own flat, next to that of his parents, is equipped with a special room with a large screen TV set to watch cricket or other sports of his choice. But for the rest of his needs, his joint family is his refuge. With his sound middle-class upbringing and values, he is a devoted son and is never heard raising his voice with anyone including those who work for him.
As a matter of fact, says Anil Dharkar, the well-known journalist, the best feature of Sachins character is his upbringing. Even today, when he is reputed to be the worlds best cricketer and has earned millions through his sport, modelling contracts and commercial appearances, he addresses all seniors as sir and all older women as maam. Earlier, he had an international modelling contract with ESPN, a company which worked in India through Ravi Shastri, another senior cricketer. This year, in 1998, Sachin has earned the highest income as a model in the Colgate, Campus, ANZ Grindlays Visa card and other advertising campaigns. Though he might have overtaken the phenomenal Shahrukh Khan in his success and popularity this year, which has been one of his best seasons, he has never come across as an arrogant, uncaring person. Rather, he is reticent, a man of few words and sensitive enough to say the right things at the right time. Crowned with extraodrinary success in the recent Wills Cup matches, his answer to eager press-persons was that he enjoyed his game and wanted to play well for his own sake; that he felt responsible for doing his best for the country. Sachin never says the wrong thing and that must be the result of his solid Maharashtrian upbringing by urbane, educated parents.
Sachin is known in the cricket world as the perfect technician, Dharkar continues, He and Brian Lara of the West Indies team are contenders for the top crown of batting expertise. Don Bradman, international cricket icon, however, is said to have named Tendulkar as his modern avatar and invited him to Australia to join in the celebrations of his 90th birthday. Tendulkars visit to the maestro was widely publicised but even then, the statements which came out of the young cricketer were controlled and factual. Tendulkar is nothing short of a genius in his work and behaviour. He may not hold impressive world records in collecting runs or making centuries in Test matches like Lara, but his style, his timing and his temperament are truly outstanding Tendulkar, with his sturdy values, never uses foul language like his rival Lara and never gets into controversies on or off the cricket field. His lifestyle is unpretentious compared to his fame and wealth. In success or failure, he always roots for his home and family. Because of his quiet equanimity, he is popular not only as a cricketer but as the numero uno celebrity of India. His calm on the field is unbeatable and he performs well whether he is the captain or not He is patient, hard working, and obviously proud to be an Indian.
In a recent survey conducted in several cities of India, Sachin Tendulkar was voted as the most popular role model among young people. He was the icon they chose to admire. Amazingly, he was given more votes than the glamorous superstar Shahrukh Khan and the highly respected Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The reasons given by many young people for their choice were that Sachin works more and speaks less; that he is flamboyant only in hig game, not in his lifestyle; he never badmouths anyone nor picks up fights or animosity with anyone and comes across as a stylish man, a devoted son and a loving husband and father who does not believe in much publicity or fanfare. Though Sachin is described as a social recluse, he does not shirk from his social obligations. For instance, he and his wife recently attended a celebrity dinner hosted by Cry to raise funds for children in need of care and education.
Perhaps one quote from Sachin himself sums up the secret of his spectacular success, specially in 1998, a year written with golden letters in his life. He says; My role on the cricket pitch always puts me under great pressure because Im seen as the saviour of the Indian team by the masses. I do my best. I know there are huge expectations of me. But I do what I do because of my own expectations of myself and not to play to the gallery. The stress I carry to the field does affect me but not my game. My roots are strong and I am very much a son of the soil. I have a very wonderful family and their love and support is my greatest asset.
this patina of innocence and the cherubic aura of
goodwill and amiability which Sachin always carries with
him, that win him massive popularity everywhere. He is
the darling of the masses not only for his dramatic game
on the cricket field - remember his recent fireworks-like
performance in the Wills Cup matches? - but also because
of his radiating confidence, his focussed attitude to his
life and career and his willingness to improve even after
achieving near-perfection! No man, at least at the
present juncture as we face the new century, could be a
better example for the youth of India to look up to and
Hazards of professional golf
WHAT glitters is not gold. Professionalism in golf looks glamorous and highly remunerative. But it is not always so, particularly for those who are entering a professional circuit.
In pro golf competitions, every participant is called upon to bear his/her expenses on travel, lodging and board, conveyance and even coaching. If he/she is in unable to make a cut the chances are remote in the initial phase of participation the player is totally out-of-pocket. Many a professional have gone bankrupt and thereby out of the pro circuit.
It is worse for women pros. Not for nothing, there are therefore not many pros from Asian countries. So far there has been only one Indian women pro. She is Simi Mehra. Initially, she had to encounter several hardships and hazards. But her parents managed to stand by her. She is now able to stand on her feet.
The situation is worse for the Indian pros. This is because a rupee is virtually valueless. The participation in one good tournament, say in Tokyo or Kaula Lumpur, and the player failing to make a cut means a loss of $ 3000 (Rs 1.20 lakh). It is much more, if the player is participating in Europe or the USA.
Sponsors are difficult to come by because of an unprecedented slump. Parnita Garewals mother is indeed well-to-do. But she is not fabulously wealthy. Parnita now indeed has a job with the Indian Oil. But all this may not be adequate for her to turn pro yet.
Unquestionably, one of the most talented players in the country, Parnita is fully focussed. Rated one of the quickest players on the course, she indeed has a bright future ahead of her. But, maybe, she should seek judicious conselling of an experienced personality, like, Sita Rawlley, before taking a plunge. Judging from her potential, skill and motivation, she should be able to make a mark in the international circuit. But the timing has to be proper. Any minor lapse may cause her needless problems.
Thanks to Ms Rawlley, the Indian Womens team is in Bangkok for the Asian Games. While Nonita Lal Qureshi is experienced and a mature player, Parnita and Urvashi Sethi Sodhi are promising. All three are technically sound and they are capable of winning a medal or so provided they keep their nerves calm. In golf, one is playing against oneself and one has to endeavour to play ones own game without bothering about the surroundings.
The mens team consisting of Harmeet Kahlon, Amit Luthra, Digvijay Singh and Amit Dubey is equally competent. All four are capable of bringing glory to the country.
The mens and womens teams were accorded warm send-off at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday. Surprisingly, captain of the club, Rajeev Puri (Kitoo) was conspicuous by his absence.
Golf tournaments and course hover around the captain of the club. He is the sole authority, He is one man who can make or mar the tournament of course. It is difficult to understand how the Indian golf union (IGU) failed to invite the captain for giving a proper send-off to the men and women teams.
Parnita addresses the ball quickly. She is considered the quickest among both women and men. Maybe, this is her style and demonstration of confidence. But some, who believe in copy-book play, feel that she should take her own time in playing her shots instead of rushing through. The more one thinks, the better results one achieves in golf. This is a game more in the mind than the product of mere hand and foot.
In the recently concluded 31st Ladies Northern India, Parnita led on the first day with the score of two over 74. She was second to Nonita by four strokes at 151. Nonita, Parnita and Shruti Khanna were tied at 224 on the penultimate day.
It was anybodys final. Both Parnita and Nonita had their chances. But eventually Shruti had the last laugh. Shruti won with the aggregate of 297, Parnita was runner-up with 298 and Nonita was third with 299.
It was a grand final. But over-all display should have been of much higher standard than it was dished out on four days.
The highlight of the tournament was two players got hold-in-one on two days. Renu Puri, who got a hole-in-one on the 5th hole on the penultimate day, won a City Honda car. Maybe, this will be the feature of every subsequent tournament. The winning of a car will be a good incentive for the participants.
Ali Sher does it
The Classic Golf Course in Gurgaon is indeed a splendid one. It is situated miles away from Delhi. There are frequent traffic jams. But golf addicts believe in playing in the course, so fascinating is the resort.
The participants in the Business Today Pro-Am Champions, a brain-child of N.P. Singh, showed their addiction as, following a 10 km traffic jam on first day they detoured by more than 20 km to reach on time for the round of golf. It showed how much popularity golf had gained in these few years.
Players, pros and amateurs, went on record saying that they would prefer to play on the course despite inconvenience of travelling a tedious route from Delhi. N.P. Singh (India Today), who organises the competition meticulously, feels that this is the course for amateurs and pros.
Ali Sher, a player of many moods, won the pro-am with the aggregate of 143. He pocketed Rs 75,000. Indeed not much money but nevertheless it was good enough while playing in virtual home surroundings. Indrajit Bhalotia was runner-up while Gaurav Ghei was third. Among them was a woman pro-Simi Mehra. She played well within herself among men. Maybe, she was capable of returning a better card than 157 (81 and 76).
Kapil Dev, Kapil Bhatia and Suchart Hiranprueck, in partnership with pro Basad Ali, were declared the best.
might be the underlying idea of conducting this
competition, the meet was a great success from every
point of view. The pros were particularly happy in
playing with leading industrialists. Maybe, they will be
able to grab a sponsor!
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