Cut the Cake

Riding through Chennai traffic while your running late can be quite a spiritual experience. Powering through that traffic light just before it goes red, overtaking that slow Mercedes – I mean you could have bought a Nano if that was what you wanted to achieve on the road, loser! In between all of this cutting and extreme over taking I’m reminded of a game we used to play as kids. A game that involved a lot of running, chasing and most importantly, selflessness. It was called, Cut the Cake.

Most games we played back in the day were very Darwinist in their makeup. Hide n Seek involved you hiding until ‘you’ are caught; you really didn’t care what the rest were doing as long as you were neatly hidden away. Catch n Catch aka Chor Police would mean there are a bunch of chasers and a bunch of chasees, if I may be given the liberty to coin my own word, and the games would begin. There was Crocodile, there was Red Letter, Dark Room and the list goes on. Now unless you really wanted to impress that girl with the cute ponytail and delicious tiffin, you didn’t really care a damn about anyone else as long as you were safe. But then all of a sudden in between this selfish desire to never be caught, someone would suggest, ‘Cut the Cake’. Now this is how it was played – You would have a chaser who would cease to become a chaser the moment he catches any of the chasees (thus, this word has been patented by me). Now the only way the chaseesTM can pile on the misery for the chaser is to cut the cake. This means, that a chaseeTM needs to run in between the chaser and the person he is chasing, the moment a chaseeTM does that the chaser has to change track and start chasing the chaseeTM  who just cut the cake. Its phenomenal because you can quite easily just stay away from trouble and never cut the cake but every once in a while is born a hero who will go and cut the cake and help his fellow chaseeTM out. This selflessness instantly spreads like an infection and suddenly the band of chaseesTM realize that the ultimate joy is in making that one chaser regret ever mentioning the idea of playing the game.

Now I’m not going to connect the above paras because there is no connection. Just that cutting through the traffic reminded me of cutting between the chaser and chaseeTM back when i was young enough to play this game. But this very inherent contradiction that was ingrained in us right at that age has always fascinated me. It amazes me, the lessons we have learnt when we were so young that subconsciously always will define us. I’m looking for more ideas and thoughts on these. Looking at building more stories, thoughts on humanity and the makeup of life through games we played when we were young. So let me know and let me collect these thoughts and present this better.
Until then, anyone for ‘Cut the Cake’?

The Red Miracle

‘Will I see a miracle this Sunday? Another story I can tell the world over and over again. Or does it really even matter..

I have been meaning to write this for a long time but have always pushed it for another time, for another day, for another season. It was always meant to define my love for one of the greatest affairs of my life. A 14 year long affair. An affair with the Red Devils.

My tumultuous but mostly thrilling love affair with Manchester United began in 1998. Since then they have won the league 8 times, the FA Cup twice, the League Cup thrice and the holy grail – the Champions League, twice. With all this success and incredible domination, a little arrogance does set in. As a United fan you do kind of inherit it. The difference being, you don’t necessarily flaunt it. You are expected to be stubborn about your support for them but that stems from the kind of pride that very few fans of other football clubs have the fortune to feel. This isn’t a commentary on the overwhelming success of United, this is a pilgrimage into the true feeling of being a United fan.

From the day I started supporting United I have always told people that they are the only entity in my life which always knows when I’m down and manages to pick me up from the dumps. This special ability comes from a belief that they will deliver for you. Eleven men on the pitch will always rally, always fight and always win for you. From scoring a goal in the 94th minute to seal a derby, to two goals in the last 3 minutes to win a Champions League, to a wonderful save to win another – Manchester United have only conquered. They have always taken the most unworkable moment in football and turned it into something timeless, something more beautiful than anything around you.

I have spent many nights well past midnight cheering them, cried tears of disappointment and joy and the tears of joy were something I never thought I could shed. In a way every moment of my life has an accompanying United moment. I can trace back years of disappointment in life with joy with United reviving me in those desperate times. If it’s the debut of Ronaldo or the goals of Macheda or the hammering of Arsenal or the choking of Chelsea or the way we have brushed aside Liverpool in the past few years, they are a force unparalleled and united. Always fighting for the pride of the red under a manager who has defied time and the odds. In Sir Alex we believe. I have spent many days criticizing his tactics, his transfers and his general demeanor only to eat my words and burst out in applause for the greatest manager of all time. A man who many clubs, corporations and marriages should learn from because of his ability to make time feel like a constant, as he changes teams and tactics with such aplomb that he just never gets outdated.

It’s always tough to accept defeat when you are United, especially when defeat stares you in the face in the form of Manchester City – the butt of many United fans jokes and all of a sudden the new force in English football. This force has been built with 930 million pounds of Dubai money but at no point am I going to take away their effort from them. I detest them and have hated every win and every goal they have scored, yet I fade away in respect as I hurl abuses at their claims of dethroning United. I seethe in fury and go nauseous at the thought of them winning the league this year but I still remain amazed at what United have conquered this year. 

In a year when they have been accused of many things ranging from negative football to losing their grip on Europe, none of the detractors seem to realize that this was a year of transition like the past two years. When other clubs go into transition, they fade away for a couple of years and seem to lose their spunk, case in point: Chelsea. A team in transition and with a non- existent midfield is going to finish level on points with a team assembled at a cost of 930 million pounds and will finish above a Champions League finalist, a team with the league’s top scorer and player of the year, a team with possibly the best midfield and the best midfielders in Modric and Bale and a team that spent around 80 million pounds just on midfielders and with a manager who was destined for success. United have quietly gone about their business. They have stuttered immensely but have paced themselves well. This wasn’t a vintage season, this wasn’t United gold class, this was United ploughing and digging deep. This was honestly a hallmark United side, a bunch of guys slightly weighed down by history and in the shadows of the greats that have filled their boots in years gone by. This wasn’t a team of the brilliance of Becham or the magic of Ronaldo or the extravagance of Cantona. This was a team with the industry of Valencia, the belief of De Gea, the maturity of Rooney. This was a United that exemplified the values this club has always strived to achieve. This won’t be a team that will go down in history as gladiators like the ones in the past, this will mostly go unnoticed. But this team deserves more; it deserves its greatest compliment, the support of the million United fans across the world. 

As United take the field on Sunday for the last game of the season let’s not have our eyes glued to the City game only hoping for them to slip up so that we may win the league, take a little time off to watch our ‘boys’ fight it out at the Stadium of Light. Watch them play their game, which may not be pretty all the time but sure has given us enough highs this year. Remember that as a United fan all you have ever known is the joy of supporting the best club in the world and in that collective, resounding and loud belief lies your miracle..

The miracle in red.