Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 46 - The Ashes!!!

“Be clever about what you tell others. You interpretation is always different from theirs. It is important to make sure that your words follow their dictionary” - Leo da Mirci in his famous “Goback Address” to King Alexander in 326 BC (when Alexander started to Greece after giving back Porus his kingdom).

Let us come to the story of the Ashes.

If I don’t want to brag about that day, I should say “I was just a celebrity”. One out of 100 odd in the country who were selected to carry the Olympic torch for India. I was lucky - but I believed that I deserved it - I did something that many people would want to do but would convince themselves saying “I do not have time”. Anyways, this story is not about that. This is about the Ashes(Ash as I was named and Ash as India knows).

I saw her first in the hotel – the night before the Olympic torch relay. Aishwarya Rai was staying in the same hotel as mine - Maurya Sheraton. Similar suite as mine - they said. She passed us into the lift and I just got a glimpse of her. A bunch of 4 kids who were torch bearers were literally begging the organizers to arrange a meeting with her. My ego said “You are in no ways less than her. They are kids and you are 22”. At that time the Oberoi guy was the temporary variable assigned to her and they were supposed to be the star attraction of the function organized after the relay. So I told myself - “She would be with the Oberoi guy and would have no time for visitors”. I convinced myself and went back to sleep. I did not have a good one.

My God!!! I forgot to tell you something. She was a little beautiful. Like the angels I had imagined during my childhood. Like what would define beauty and grace in my dictionary. Like the queen of any fairy land. And yes I did not have a good sleep that night.

Next day once I finished my leg of the relay, I was taken directly to the stadium where the function was to happen. The front rows were occupied by us alone – the torch bearers. Around 30-40 of us were there already. It was around 3.45 p.m I think. I had just finished talking to Mandira Bedi about her role in Manmathan (She asked me to 'Wait and Watch' without describing it – what else would she say about that stunning performance).

It was around 4 p.m I think. It happened. She came. In white and blue Torch bearer’s uniform - perfectly matching with her eyes. She smiled at everyone. The synonym for beauty in India smiling at us!!! That smile was worth a crore. Kids ran towards her. And I too did.

I went close to her. A lot of kids shook hands with her. I was in wonderland. In joy; my heart was enjoying the moment like a child who is eating his favorite icecream. I extended my hand and involuntarily - read again involuntarily - shook hers. Just like any kid would do. She turned towards me and probably saw a 22 year old guy. She gave me a harsh look and her blue eyes said it all - she did not like it. I turned back like a child who just dropped his favorite icecream. The happiness of the moment was gone. I went back to my seat.

The next day I was back to Chennai. Everyone asked me how the experience was. The first thing I said was “Aishwarya Raikae kai kuduthomla!!!” (“I shook hands with Aishwarya, you know!!!”). And it will be written so in history.