Falling in love with the game of hockey all over again

India’s astounding performance in hockey in Tokyo Olympic brought back memories of my growing up days in 70s when hockey was our national pride.

Though I never held a hockey stick in my hand, but was an enthusiastic fan of the game of skill, speed and stamina during my school days. Close to my school Kendriya Vidhyalaya at the farthest end of Jalandhar Cantonment, there is a small village called Sansarpur, hailed as the ‘nursery of hockey’ in India. My school had outstanding hockey teams –both girls’ and boys’- comprising players mainly from Sansarpur. It was the passion and performance of my school mates from the village that got me hooked on to the game.

Later when I entered college, my allegiance shifted to cricket but the game remained a passion in rural Punjab. While watching a friendly match between the visiting West Indies and North Zone teams at Burton Park, Jalandhar sometime in 1974, I overheard a burly policeman speaking to another cop on duty, “Aa ki game hai?” I can’t forget the expression on his face as he wondered what kind of game cricket is. Absolutely bewildered he was with the pace of the gentleman’s game. Even the firework from batsmen like Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards failed to excite him. Quite obviously, he was missing the energy and speed of hockey.

I remember how boisterous celebrations broke out when India won the World Cup at Kuala Lumpur in 1975. The players were given a resounding welcome on their return. Like any youngster, I was super excited to see Ajit Pal Singh, the captain of the victorious hockey team along with other players from Punjab taken around the city in a procession. Another commemorative moment was when India won the Gold medal in hockey in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, though in less competitive environment. Thereafter began the downfall of Indian hockey.

Incidentally, around the same time, I entered a new phase of life. Neither did the performance of the Indian hockey generate much interest nor was there time to watch matches due to job and family compulsions. It is only now; the first Olympic Games after my retirement that I could afford to watch hockey matches.

After four decades, I followed every match our teams played. Most interesting was the way my husband and I woke up during India matches starting at 10 30 a.m. Tokyo time, not with customary bhajan alarm on our clock-cum-radio but with radio commentary. We would quickly freshen up to watch the live telecast of the matches from Tokyo.

Indeed, it was a thrilling experience but the most exciting was the high voltage match against Germany. With hearts thumping, we remained on the edge of the seat while watching the intense drama unfold on the field. What a moment of relief, ecstasy it was when the Indian men’s hockey team defeated Germany in a nail-biting finish on 5 August to win a bronze medal in Olympics after decades. A bronze medal not less than gold in terms of emotions and nostalgia! And no less remarkable was the performance of the women’s hockey team that could not make a podium finish, but won millions of hearts for its grit and determination.

The dramatic turnaround in Tokyo has infused new confidence in Indian hockey and restored national pride in the game. I, too, have fallen in love with the game all over again.

(Published in Times of India, Readers’ blog and also on Momspresso 

( won Gold Star on Momspresso )

No Buy-Buy, say Bye-Bye to Chinese


I have vivid memory of my teenage son returning with his teammates from the USA after participating in a competition held at NASA, Florida. He arrived clutching his hand bag to his chest as the belt of the bag had snapped due to overstuffing. It was touching  to see small gift items and knick-knacks for everyone in the family tumbling out of his bag, but what intrigued me was that all the souvenirs – stuffed toys, fridge magnets, mugs and other sundry stuff from NASA centre, Disney Land and Universal Studios had one thing in common – made in China label.

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The show must go on….

The activity calendar in colleges today is packed with events, much in contrast to the scenario   years ago  when we used have just three mega events – Prizes Distribution, Convocation and Sports Day. While the first two functions were solemn, academic in nature, the annual sports function in the Chandigarh College where I taught  used to be a two-day extravaganza celebrated with much fanfare and zest. The opening day ceremony began with the march past by smartly turned out contingents of different  classes to the tune of military band followed by various track and athletic events. The end of the first day of the event was reserved for the much applauded staff race, normally a musical chair race. As a member of the faculty, though I never won the coveted top position, I had the privilege of standing on the victory stand at the third place quite a few times.

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Jab we met

Like many romantic stories which begin on a journey, the origin of my ‘Jab We Met’ story can be traced to a bus journey. However, let me clarify it wasn’t love at first sight. No spark kindled, no fireworks, no violins played in the background, no butterflies fluttered in my stomach when I  met him  for the first time. It was just an encounter that remained etched somewhere in my subconscious mind.

It was a cold Monday morning, when I caught a bus at the crack of dawn from my home town Jalandhar to reach Chandigarh where I had recently joined as a lecturer in a college. Midway through the journey, the snoozing passengers of the early morning bus were shaken as the bus came to a halt with a thud. Anxiously, the passengers alighted from the bus and started waiting for an alternate conveyance to reach their destination. Among the stranded passengers, I happened to notice a handsome young man wearing a dark green hand-woven pullover with a matching cap. Not the ‘Mills & Boons’ hero kind, but the man who caught my attention was definitely fair and handsome. While he was dressed smartly, my attire couldn’t have been weirder; I was wearing a pure white sari, the dress code for Mondays for the teachers in my college during those days in early 80s.With my class starting at 10 o’clock, there was hardly any time to change from a casual-comfortable dress to a sari and hence, the awkward six-yard white drape on a cold winter morning.

As I waited anxiously, a Roadways bus passing by, almost full, stopped. There was a scramble to get into the bus. Desperate to reach the college in time, I dashed to board the bus with a bag in my hand. As I was struggling to get into the crowded bus, the young man intervened, “Don’t board the bus. It’s too crowded. Wait for the next one.” Brushing aside his sound piece of advice, I embarked upon my onward journey while he stayed back. A fleeting glance and we departed as strangers.

I had almost forgotten about the man and the episode until we met again. Though arranged by our parents, this time again it was a chance meeting, in fact, a surprise for both of us. There he was a prospective groom who had come to meet me. As we sat face to face with each other, the memory of the fleeting encounter flashed across my mind. Not just I, but he too had vivid memory of the incident.

Oh yes! We were destined to be together for life. Though we stumbled upon each other as strangers, parted as strangers but met again to become life partners and now happily married for almost four decades. Ours was definitely not a love marriage, but an arranged marriage with an air of romance.

( Published in Woman’s era ‘ November 2022 issue )




Republic Day: Then and Now


I belong to the generation born a decade or so after independence that was lucky to have opened its eyes in an India high on the euphoria of newly acquired freedom. It was the time when memories of freedom struggle were still fresh in the minds of our parents and elders. Inspired by the stories of freedom fighters, we grew up steeped in patriotic fervor. As kids we were enthused by the patriotic songs like “Nanha munna rahi hun  desh ka sihahi hun…,” ‘“Kar chale hum vida jane tan sathiyoan , ab tumare hawale vatan sathitoan..”  Many of us would recall watching patriotic films like ‘Shaheed’ andHaqiqat’ with the school mates as a part of the school outings.

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