Up, down, up, down and away
The Issue: Failure after success
The Soundtrack: Spinning Wheel
One of the rotten things about having that Leo Caprio-Kate Winslet ‘I’m the king of the world!’ moment is that there’s only one direction of movement after that: downhill. Or in the context of Leo (if not Kate) in Titanic: underwater. (The other rotten thing about having that Leo Caprio-Kate Winslet moment, of course, is that it is horrifically cheesy.) That’s the reason why I shun any success – even if it does come my way, which it doesn’t – that high, vertiginous highpoint from where bodies fall courtesy no-nonsense gravity.
I mean, think about it. Do you think Holland will be more cut up about not winning the ICC T20 World Cup or India? I have a feeling that Holland will take it much better than Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team about crashing out because for the Men in Orange, it’s still life at the Annapurna Base Camp with climbing atop Mount Everest still something to look forward to. And if we’re talking about Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team, why not talk about dear Dr Dhoni himself. There’s a veritable debate raging now out there (considering that the whole ‘Aussie racism’ debate is now as fresh as last week’s milk left out in the balcony) about whether Dhoni is to blame for India’s ‘premature exit’ from the tournament or not. (NDTV’s Prannoy ‘Forward Defensive’ Roy even went on to introduce the 9 o’clock news on Monday evening with the announcement that ‘this channel’ does not blame Dhoni for the debacle and that “there will be other targets to chase another day”.)
Frankly, if you’re the skipper, you’re supposed to take the brickbats and the bouquets – as Edward John Smith, the captain of the Titanic that crashed out of the World Cup…er, no, sorry, that sunk in the Atlantic after hitting an iceberg some 400 miles south of Newfoundland. I have a feeling that even Dhoni knows that. The folks who don’t are his supporters – and, of course, his detractors who want him to know that.
Which is why always be prepared for the slide that comes after you reach the top of the rung. And conversely, don’t fret about being in the gutters. There’s only one way away from there (unless you die in the gutters, of course.) As the rather funky Blood, Sweat & Tears song, Spinning Wheel goes, “What goes up/ Must come down/ Spinning wheel got to go round/ Talking ’bout your troubles/ It’s a crying sin/ Ride a painted pony/ Let the spinning wheel spin.” (A variation of this song is in the Bhagvad Gita and goes, “Chakravat parivarthanthey shukhaniche dukhaniche” — The wheel keeps revolving sadness and happiness — but I don’t know the tune.) Even the horns in the song sound sad in this uppity song (while in some other BS&T numbers, they make a morose song rather flighty).
All this isn’t new for the Indian captain. When he was just a lowly, long-haired star wicketkeeper-batsman, Dhoni felt the wrath of the never-can-do-no-wrong aam admi when India lost their opening 2007 Cricket World Cup to Bangladesh. A mob attacked Dhoni’s then under-construction house in Ranchi, demanding that the cricketer return the land he was gifted by the Jharkhand government. If you remember things that happened two years ago (which, in these ‘Breaking News’ times, I normally don’t), Dhoni was blamed for not scoring in a match where India was skittled out for 191 by an enthused bunch of Bangladeshis. “Dhoni, die, die” was one of the reported cries among the cardiac-hit protestors burning effigies (although chances are that the reporter writing the story thought that “Dhoni, hai, hai” was a bit old hat), with the cricketer being blamed for taking up more time modelling than playing cricket – an unfair point considering that especially cricket, among all other sports, takes up more time than any modelling shoot can.
This time round, it’s more diffused. Dhoni’s cut his hair and is spending too much time cutting his hair than playing cricket, or some-such thing. The truth is that Dhoni went through a lack of form bang in the middle of the ICC World Cup (unlike, say, Sourav Ganguly, who before he hung his boots up, went through waves of lack of form before someone said, “Er, I don’t think it’s his form, it’s his cricket.”).
Such tomato-throwing after such adulation – although sources close to my sources insist that much of the effigy burning and placard hoisting was done at the behest of television cameras (“Look Ma, I’m on national TV!”). The photograph of protestors (gleefully) burning a Dhoni poster at Sido-Kanhu in Ranchi carried on page 19 of the June 16 edition of the Hindustan Times was apparently arranged by a couple of channels who wanted to air ‘exclusive footage’ of anti-Dhoni protests.
So, my friends (who will become my foes one day and then back to friends the next day and foes the day after and…), don’t fret too much about all this Rage Against Dhoni. He’ll be fine. That’s the nature of this beast known in certain languages as success and in certain languages as failure after success. The trick, though, is to first get success. To be ignored, after all, is the ultimate curse.