Monkey!

Hindus has been worshipping monkeys since Ram Days. Actually, Ram was the only person who made good use of Monkey power. After him, these primates could never maintain their prime position. Hanuman did make his appearance in Mahabharta but that too in a cameo role. He was made to sit atop Arjun’s Chariot, because someone else needed the limelight. The monkeys, surely, had their days.

Now it’s our turn, to be and act like one. We have shown the monkeys their rightful places. They are relegated to the background. The limelight is finally ours. It’s time we behave like Monkeys, and do what monkeys do best – create nuisance. If we export our nuisance-index of last few decades to an excel sheet and graph it, you will be dumbfounded. No visible line. How can there be any, when the nuisance-line is equal to the Y-Axis.

After Ram, the man who made use of Monkeys as mascot was “Hey Ram”- Mahatma Gandhi. Remember his three monkeys and their meaning- Don’t Hear, Don’t See, Don’t Speak – Evil. But we do just the opposite. Monkey makes a poor Model. The utility of Monkeys expired after Ramayan. Gandhi should have chosen better- probably Veena Malik.

But, these days, we are on the up-trend and upsurge. We have arrived. The Alpha-male is finally us. Look at our Cricketers. They show their teeth just as the lead-gorilla. Look at Sreesanth. Sometimes he beats his chest and growls like a primate. We are all so happy. We all hail it as the “coming of age of Indian Cricket”. Our arrogance is the qualities which make us number one. Bullshit should be our logo.

Look at other Indian sports. We are still backwards. Take wrestling. Anil Kumar is so humble that it is embarrassing. It’s a waste to give him a medal. Look at that Aussie. That brute force, that killing instinct, Monkey like. He deserved the Medal. Or he should stay on and coach the Indians to raise the middle figure. The middle is better than a medal. After all, we all want other sports to develop like cricket.

We Indian’s take umbrage when someone calls us Monkeys. But who started it first. Surprise! Surprise! Sunil Gavaskar. This gentleman is not Little Master for nothing. He wrote a book-Sunny Day in 1976. In this book, he lambasted the West Indian Crowd. His classic words for West Indian Crowd were “….hadn’t graduated from the trees where they belonged…” Those were the time of the “Windies Volcanoes”. Those pacers whose delivery whizzed past the batsman before they could blink and say-Rajvardhan Rathore!

Anyway, what Gavaskar wrote is reproduced in the following article- “Gavaskar’s double role”. Gavaskar learnt his lessons. Since then he has kept shut. The West Indian crowd did not bother at all. But the Indian crowd did. They set out to prove to Gavaskar that- Crowd is Crowd, Windies or Indies.

This is just after the World Cup of 1983. Fresh from victory the Kapil’s Devils turned Gavaskars Angels received the West Indians at home turf for a six-matcher. After being crushed in the First and draw in the second, the beleaguered Indians met the Mighty Windies at third test at Calcutta. Gavaskar presented the spectators with a golden duck and then went triumphantly to lose the match. The crowd went mad and started pelting seats and shoes into the field and then stoned the team bus.

Cut to 1984. Gavaskar returns to Eden’s with the English. Now this is just after he “sacked” Kapil Dev. The Indians batted and batted and batted. And the Crowd couldn’t take it anymore. Instead, they started pelting fruits. Gavaskar took a “Bhishma Pratigya” (Oath of Bhishma) never to set foot on Eden. Actually, he should have taken a vow never to write against any crowd. He probably got more than he gave. Or did the crowd read “Sunny Days” and got inspired!

In 1990, when the West Indians toured India again, there were loud cries from spectators calling them, “Bhoot” (Ghost). You would think that this was enough. NO. The crowd had improved. This is Eden gardens again, World Cup 1996, Semi’s against Sri Lanka. The Indians slumped, the spectators fumed and created fire and the Ceylon Lions got a Walk-Over.

Let’s make this clear. I am not biased towards Bengalis. I am a Calcuttan myself, hence I have registered what happened. In 1980, 16 people died due to rioting crowd on an East Bengal Mohan Bagan match.

Lets change the subject to our poor old Andrew Symonds. The India crowd chanted “Monkey” whenever he fielded near the boundary. When he complained, the Indian media went berserk. People wondered what could be so wrong with monkeys. We worship them, so what’s wrong calling someone by that name. Very true, keep it up. We are living up to our ancestors. We call others “Monkey” but are scared even to hear our own echoes!

I remember a Davis cup match of Vijay Amritraj in 1987 with Martin Jaite. The referee had an arduous time controlling the Hot Delhi crowd to remain silent during the game. After several sets down, Amritraj retrieved himself and scored in two consecutive serves and reached set point. So, Amritraj was bouncing the ball to serve. An ace would seal the set for him. Amritraj hoisted the ball in the air and…..JAG GAYA HAI VIJAY…echoed loudly from somewhere. That was it. Amritraj lost all momentum and tanked the set. It was his grit that saw him and India through. It was a do-or-die match and the ignoramus crowd had no idea what they had done. It almost cost us our Cup in 1987.

So now Indians, eat your words. We have enough evidence to nail your holier-than-thou lies. Our ignorance should not be bliss for long. Someday, someone somewhere will call us Monkeys. And we must learn to listen. We should not give it connotations and take out our ever-ready racist card. We ourselves have racism towards dark skin and berserk crowds. We must look into our own prejudices and attempt to correct it.

How?

Back to Little Master again. 1983, Fifth test Chennai (then Madras). After getting booted and booed in Calcutta, Gavaskar was down and out. In fact he was so down that the opener chose to bat at number 4. Malcolm Marshall digested Anshuman Gaekwad and Dilip Vengsarkar for ducks in a quickie. Gavaskar trudges into the field at 0 for 2. Viv Richards walks up to him and says in his calypso style “Man, it don’t matter where you come in to bat, the score is still zero.” Gavarkar went on to score unbeaten 236 which remained the highest individual score for a long time.

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