Dance is one art form I never really learnt to appreciate although I have enjoyed individual performances once in a while.
Decades ago, I attended a dance recital in the Open Air Theatre of the Mysore University. The artiste was Sanjukta Panigrahi, accompanied by her husband Raghunath Panigrahi’s impressive singing.
It was a very good performance and once in a while, I found an appreciative “ah” escaping me. The sheer beauty of her footwork matching the beats of the percussion while her torso did an elegant twist, her arms essayed a graceful glide, her hands assumed a Mudra that even my uneducated mind could not only grasp but gasp at – all in a thrilling moment of time, gone forever.
My relationship with cricket is very similar to that with dance, even though I have played gully cricket when in school, straddled with the nickname Loyd* since I wore glasses, where the similarity to the big cat ended. My appreciation of the game is at about the same level as that of my appreciation of dance. I have even rejoiced, often, when the Indian cricket team lost a series or a tournament, only with the hope that one billion odd people would consider other sports for entertainment. The team has been showing such exceptional consistency at losing, in recent times, that depresses even me.
Similar to Sanjukta, Dravid has made an appreciative “ah” escape me by playing one or two of his famous shots. I do not know the names of those shots but the sheer beauty of a lean white clad figure, set in an emerald background, shuffling backwards on his feet while he rises on his toes, his body leaning backwards in perfect poise, the arms and gloved hands moving fluidly down and away and the cherry racing to the 1 O’clock boundary. You know what I mean. You probably even know the name of this shot if you are anywhere near a typical Indian. There are two other shots that have done the same thing to me.
I am thankful to Rahul Dravid for those moments as I am to Sanjukta Panigrahi for those unforgettable moments.
His dapper looks, impeccable behavior, self deprecating humour - never threatening to be mistaken for false modesty and lastly his records, only added to the background in which those shots could be appreciated for their beauty intuitively.
* For those who know less about cricket than I do, it was Clive Loyd, from the West Indies, who was the only cricketer then that wore glasses. He appeared to be a lumbering gentle giant with feline grace and there was nothing gentle about the way he dispatched the ball all over the park