03 April 2007


“Good is not good when better is expected”, said Thomas Fuller.

It is the curse of Heroes to rise up when the time demands. They became Heroes in the first place because they did so in uncompromising fashion when you were just a kid. They did it not once, but consistently over a period of time with unflinching integrity and panache. They made you feel proud. You related directly to their heart and the way they executed their skill with passion. They transported you into a whole new world, and made you notice the nuances.

And then, you grow older! Sometimes Wiser!

You see different people executing the same skill of your hero in a better fashion. But you still want your childhood heroes to rise up and match the rest you know from other parts of the world, so you can thump your chest to say “He is my childhood hero! I used to walk miles to see him display his skill! He was a part of my growing years!”

As you witness their current form, you realize, they have aged. Their perspectives have changed. Their execution leaves a lot to be desired. Their reflexes are not as sharp as they used to be. There are flashes of genius in their new avatar that reminds you of their peak, but then, it lacks consistency. It dawns on you that you were just trying to re-create nostalgia for a period of your own life that doesn’t exist anymore!

The failure and reaction to first round knockout in World cup cricket raises bigger questions about our inherent cultural deficiency, than the failure in a cricket game. It goes back to our resistance to change, in all walks of life. Lata Mangeshkar was singing until sixties. Azharuddin was forever the captain before being shown the door. Karunanidhi is still the chief minister and so was Jyoti Basu. It is the lack of breeding the next generation, worse, not wanting to let the next generation in which is the root cause of stagnant growth.

It showcases how tolerant we are towards performers who were once good but not anymore. We hope that Shah Rukh can act with same energy as in “DDLJ”. We wait in anticipation that Tendulkar will be playing the “Desert Storm” innings against Australia again. We pray for another “Nayagan” from Manirathnam. Every time they disappoint us with their performance, inconsistency, and lack of skill, we lack the most important quality to accept reality- Candor. The simple ability to, “tell as it is”. To be honest. To encourage dialogue. To accept responsibility.

Maybe we can blame the 24hr news network or worse, multitude of 24hr television stations who are forced to feed the public with sensationalism. But, when you throw the 4th estate also into it, we end up being not only hypocritical society but hype-o-critical. Hype the news. Be vociferous in your criticism but do not commit the sin of “telling as it is” because that would make people be reasonable.

Candor has never been a part of our culture. We have been raised with the notion of not raising our voice in front of elders. As students, we have been asked to sit quietly instead of pestering with questions in classes. Deep down, the message is hammered into our psyche that, if you question, you disrespect. If you speak your mind then you are committing the sin of offending someone. More so, if we offend our past heroes, for their present performance.

Unless we change this basic paradigm, we will remain in mediocrity for years to come. The real journey to be a civilized nation begins only when we take responsibility and accept the truth. By denial, by elevating personalities and performances where it doesn’t exist, we fool ourselves in the long run. If we don't learn soon, we, as a nation will be forever living in delusions of grandeur, vacillating between adulation and mob-behaviour.