Thursday, July 28, 2011


I don’t remember the place. Maybe it was a highway running through the forests of the Western Ghats, a grey ribbon hopping and twirling around cones of mossy green spires that peer into the clouds. But it could just as well have been the Shivaliks. Actually it doesn’t matter where it was because… Ah well, let’s save the because for later….

So there I was driving through the highway, tailing a truck when it suddenly stopped dead right in front of me. I tugged at the wheel and swerved out of the way. I muttered a silent prayer that merged with a curse as I pulled up alongside the trucker but he wasn’t listening. He was staring, eyes wide and white, and his mouth agape at the sight in front of his eyes.

And you wouldn’t believe what I saw. An elephant was standing in the middle of the road, staring straight into the eyes of the trucker and then like striker gathering rhythm before a penalty strike, it jogged up to the truck and rammed its head right into the wind-shield and smashed it. Then it turned towards me and trumpeted out a screaming challenge. Then that five ton behemoth waddled up toward my car and challenges be damned, I thought. I abandoned my car and ran towards the forest. The beast screamed again and gave chase. I hopped and skipped and ran for dear life while the elephant, a beast amongst the biggest of its kind, bulldozed through the undergrowth and the lantana as its beady eyes searched for me. I turned back to see if he was gaining on me and remember noticing that his tusks were rather small, mere tushes, for bull this big. I kept struggling through the brambles and before I knew it I had reached a clearing. Behind me I could hear the earth being torn up, trees crashing to the ground and the kind of general mayhem that reminded me of the Earth Song.

If I hadn’t been coughing up my intestines out of fear, shock and sheer exhaustion, I should have been more than a little surprised to notice that this clearing wasn’t just a clearing but a little village-town. Dung cakes drying on ochre walls, stone cobbled streets and clothes clipped to clotheslines, bright blues and vivid pinks on open rooftops and then a dry step-well surrounded by a boundary wall right in the middle of where the village-town square would have been. I ran up the streets and down the alleys and what do you know, the persistent pachyderm just wouldn’t relent. It chased me up and down the lanes past every heavy wooden door I knocked on and yet no one opened the door. The place was empty. Turned away from every latched door, I ran towards the step-well. I jumped over the walls and slid down the stairs and hoped that the elephant wouldn’t notice. The animal walked around the wall, its proboscis hoping to catch wind of his quarry and then my eyes met his, and for a moment we both froze. And then with frenzied fervour, the massive domed head started beating down the wall as it rammed it with all its might. The tremors that shook the wall travelled along the village floor and shook me up like a pea on a beating drum. There seemed to be no escape. There was nowhere to run.

I heard a branch snap and then another, and I wondered which way the sounds had travelled. The elephant was knocking down a wall so who was snapping those branches? I heard sounds. Whispers, human voices… and a sense of urgency. But there was no one here. Then whose voices did I hear? Was I dreaming? And if I was, then which was the dream and which one reality? But the tremors… they ran through both my worlds as the earth trembled under my feet. I woke up with a start.

The window was open and the cotton curtains were sashaying in rhythm with a rather stiff afternoon breeze. Whoever had been whispering outside my window had disappeared by now. But the earth still shook and yonder in the bamboo forest, branches still snapped and crashed onto the forest floor. I went up to the window for a closer look and saw two men hiding below the sill. They looked up at me and said “Yannai! Yannai!! Mad… Yannai… mad!” they mumbled and pointed toward the woods that had gathered a few hundred yards away from the hut, like a large shaggy dog on a leash, glowering menacingly at all that lay beyond its reach. Oh, by the way, Yannai is the Tamil word for elephant and my cottage was one amongst twenty others that made up this eco-resort on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border where the teak forests of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve hailed out to the bamboo groves of Mudumalai National Park.

This stretch of the forest was famous for its elephant herds and I had travelled all the way south because I wanted to capture a few photographs of this region’s famed elephants and especially the magnificent tuskers. I had been fantasising about chance encounters with these forest giants ever since I boarded the flight to Bangalore and it was perhaps my overactive imagination that drew me into that crazy dream I began this story with. Anyway, as things stood, I had thought I would put my feet up and unwind on day one but since the elephants had come calling, I grabbed my camera and the longest lens I had and hurried off towards the edge of the woods. The two men who had been hiding under my window ran behind me and asked me to stop. I did, and turned… “Yannai mad! Very mad….sorry stop… but danger… very danger.” I smiled and showed them my camera and tried to explain to them that the 400mm lens on my camera would ensure that I maintained a safe distance between my subject and myself. The two men however seemed unconvinced.

I did not have the time to invest in building popular consensus with respect to how I might have wanted to spend my afternoon and so I left the two of them jabbering away animatedly and jumped across the narrow brook that separated the wild groves from the resort. I took a few test shots to check if the light was right. And then I heard that sound again, like thunderclaps, of yet another tree being dismembered. I balk at the thought of entering the bamboo grove all alone, rubbing elbows with these wild elephants. But I could not turn back now, and so with a prayer on my lips and a camera in my hand, I entered the portal into their world… but that’s a story I will complete in the days to come. Until then beware of elephants in your dreams and give them a wide berth. They can give you quite a workout even as they chase you around in your own mind.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


If, for some masochistic reason, you happen to have read more than one of these weekly columns I drag and wrench out of my reluctant laptop, you’d know that I’m an absolute sucker for miracle-tales. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years in dusty libraries pouring over crumbly sepia-tinged, dog-eared pages and websites that promise to reveal ‘the secrets of energy and ecstasy’, loo King for tangible evidence of a claimed miracle. And I’ve seen glimpses… a shadow here, a silhouette there, but nothing more that I could touch, tell and know. I’ve trudged through the proverbial deserts and valleys, and desolate forts, and waited by the banks of unnamed rivers in forgotten forests in search of a promised sign or a whispered legend, and heard a lot, but saw very little.

But this story is about a man who, it is said, performed a miracle a day. I’d hoped to learn from him someday, for it is also said, that all who’ve learnt from him are often good enough to repeat his miracles. But this meeting will have to wait for another time and world for he breathed his last two months ago, on the 19th of May. He was 91. Many were surprised that he died so early, for those who knew him believed he would only die when he grew tired of living, and he didn’t seem tired at all. But it wasn’t to be. He wasn’t a God… just a super man. His name was Koichi Tohei and this is not his obituary. Well, for starters, it’s a little too late to pen one, but more importantly, this ought to be a celebration of the life he lived, the examples he set and the path he blazed…

But before I tell you about him, let me tell you how I came to know about him. I had been studying AiKido for a few months with my Sensei (teacher), an extremely pleasant man in his 40s. For those of you not familiar with the art and philosophy of AiKido, it is a martial system far gentler than the striKing arts like Karate or Muay Thai. Here, instead of an opponent being battered into submission, he’s gently guided away from the defender and pinned or disarmed. But the highest purpose of an AiKido defense is not to merely disarm the opponent physically, but to disarm his intentions and make a friend out of a foe.

Now all that is great for building character and friends, but at the same time there’s another mystical dimension to this martial art. And I had no inkling of it until one day I experienced its powers, first hand. We’d usually finish our AiKido practice with a round of breathing exercises called Kokyu Dosa. It would involve a pair of AiKidokas (practitioners) holding each other by the wrist and testing their ability to extend the mind. Basically it is a test of heart not strength, which usually ends with the one with the weaker ‘will to love’ sprawled on the floor.

Since this was an exercise that we did at the end of our workout, and perhaps the energy involved too subtle, Sensei realised that we were only going through the motions and didn’t really believe in the power of this ‘heart energy’ or internal power that he called Ki. And so he told us he would give us a demonstration. There were four of us in class that day. And it’s important that I tell you about all four of us. The smallest amongst us was one of Sensei ’s senior students, Ashish. About 5’8” and solidly built, he worked with a consulting firm and had been a Karate black belt before starting his AiKido training. Then there’s me, standing at well above six feet if I can manage to squeeze my ungainly feet into my wife’s vertigo inducing high heels. For the record, that I fervently hope you’ll never ask me to match or break, I have successfully dead-lift ed 120 kgs for reps (one and a half repetitions would surely qualify a plural) and half-squatted more than 200 kgs. I know those weights wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in many gyms, but do try them before you remind me that our women weight lifters often lift more to warm up. Then we had Manav, a friend and colleague who stands at about 6’2” in his fraying socks and is built like a granite wall. Last and 6’3” at the very least stood Sensei ’s senior most student, Ajay. Ajay’s father was the president of the power-lifting federation of India and he had been a collegiate champion in the sport. He was also the squash champion for his club. During our arm-wrestling friendlies, I would manage to hand the wooden spoon to Ashish before losing valiantly to Manav, while Ajay would knock stuffing out of everybody’s egos by pinning our wrists before we could breathe or blink. Oh and did I tell you about Sensei Sethi? A little man at 5’6” of well-rounded goodness and warmth, you thought Sensei would never hurt a fly, unless the fly hurt him first I guess. So Sensei sat down in seiza (a seated position on his knees, a lot like the vajra asana), extended his arms and said, “Let me show you what the Kokyu Dosa is good for. I want two of you to hold my right arm and two of you (pointing at Ajay and me) to hold my left and try and push me to the ground.” We looked at each other and at Sensei and hesitated. Our combined weight would have been in excess of 400 kgs and the added force of us pushing violently could really damage him. “Come on… hurry up. Let me see the strength in my students”, he said. Ajay looked at us and said, “If Sensei wants us to push as hard as we can, then let’s push real hard.” And there we were, four of us pushing down as hard as we could on one little man who takes one deep breath and then, irrespective of the weight on either arm, extends his arms as he exhales and sends us flying; not a word I would use casually, into diff erent corners of the room. It was like we had ropes tied to our waists that pulled us into the walls of the dojo, away from his arms. We staggered back to Sensei who hadn’t moved a millimeter since we began pushing. He was beaming and said, “That is Ki! And Kokyu Dosa is your introduction to the power of Ki.”

Sensei had to move to another city a few months later and there was no one else in the city teaching the art. But I was hooked, and so began my exploration into the world of Ki. Since I could not find teachers in Delhi, I went looKing in books and journals and came across the writings of Koichi Tohei. Koichi wasn’t your conventional martial warrior. He studied AiKido with the founder, Morihei Ueshiba, and was in all probability his finest student and one who understood the principle of Ai-Ki-do (the way of harmonising with the universal energy) best. Through his studies with Ueshiba and his training in mind-body unification through breath work with Tempu Nakamura (who learnt the art from a Nepalese yogi), Tohei was already exceptionally strong in body and mind when he got draft ed into the army for WW II. This theatre of war was perhaps the greatest test possible for AiKido’s principles. Tohei was commanding a unit in NanKing, China. The Japanese army, ruthless at the best of times, shocked observers and the world with its sadistic excesses in NanKing. And yet, Chinese authorities note, Tohei’s unit was known, even in the heat and hate of battle, for treating both citizens and soldiers with Kindness and compassion.

After the war and Morihei’s passing, Tohei felt that humanity had more to gain and learn from the exploration of this amazing internal force called Ki than just the mere repetition of combat techniques. And this is what makes Tohei Koichi unique. While there have been many martial artistes and yogis who, during the course of their practices, have stumbled upon this miraculous energy and performed miracles like rinsing their mouth with molten metal and spitting out condensed steel balls or going on for days without food, water or even air, few have been able to transmit these abilities into their students. But in Koichi Tohei, we had a master who tested and trained his students on their ability to perform miracles like the immoveable body, the unbending arm (something like what Sensei Sethi demonstrated) and maKing the body mountain-heavy or feather-light. These ‘miracles’ defy the laws of gravity and physics, and while his students might not be flying around on their own steam or be ‘bulletproof’ just yet, it still is evidence of one master showing the world that the body and the mind in unison could achieve the impossible and that this was no mystery from the misty mountains, but an art that could be taught and acquired by all who came with an open mind and an open heart.

So even though Tohei Sensei has taken off for a better world, there would be many he has left behind to teach us the way of the Ki; and if you do intend to walk that way, do remember to pack in the cape and the red over-underpants. You might need them sooner than you know.

RIP Sensei Tohei!


Thursday, July 14, 2011


Graveyards are like a book of fairy tales. Each story is book marked with a gravestone that hints at a story that begins with ‘Once upon a time....’ and in the end they all died, one way or the other, ever after

Alex tossed one way and turned the other in his sleep. Entangled between his restless legs, the blanket slid off his torso and fell to the floor to reveal rippling muscles that reached out from his waist, lean and sinuous, and then fanned out along the wide breadth of his back and shoulders... like a family of pythons slithering up the trunk of a tree and then spreading along its branches. He had made a pillow of his arms, and his head rested on those corded cables of steel. For a man of such strength, he looked surprisingly vulnerable in his sleep. As you drew away from him, you could see that he wasn’t a big man. In the dim light of the lamp by his bed you could now see the angry scars of old wounds from not too long ago running along his hands and his sculpted chest. There were beads of perspiration gathering on his forehead like the drops of dew gathering on the leaves outside his window. It was going to be a very important day for Alex when he wakes up but for now he was far away... Dreaming of a day from some years ago... It was the first great war, but it seemed so long ago...Alex was frowning. It was a dream he was trying to push away... But it wouldn’t go... that day, smoke and clouds and a reluctant sun made it seem like it was still dark as night. He couldn’t tell if it was thunder or machine gun fire.

While rain and German bullets kicked up the mud and wet grass around him, Alex pulled out his sabre and egged his horse on towards the enemy’s flank. He didn’t know if he would live to see the sun shine today or his home in the Polish countryside. His Cossack comrades had left him for another world, to live or die alone...

A bullet whistled past his left arm and another seemed to ram into his left thigh. But he didn’t feel the pain... Perhaps it was the saddle, maybe it was the adrenaline... He didn’t feel a thing. He just dug his heels into the horse... Blinded by the fog and the smoke he turned his horse towards the woods. But the horse wouldn’t run.... Alex turned to see clumps of grass and mud dancing up and down close behind him where the bullets kicked into the earth. He kicked his heels hard into the bay stallion’s flanks but the horse just buckled to ground. Alex realised it was the horse that was hit and he jumped clear.

He could run now. He had lost his comrades and now his horse was hit. He couldn’t fight. He’d escape. But his horse... If he left his horse behind, the Germans would cut up his one companion who carried him through this great war, and feed him to their dogs. He was alone now and he couldn’t bear to be any lonelier.

Astonishing his own self, Alex hauled up the horse by its broad neck and pulled him into the thicket, away from where the bullets were flying.

Between the trees, with his head on his horse, the exhausted soldier lay, aware of the footsteps that marched his way. He wished he could pick up his steed and run but for once that great vigour was spent. He lay there hoping that those who marched were friends not foe as he drift ed into a dream within a dream.

He woke up in a prison cell next morning. The Germans had got them. His horse was lying butchered in the trough where the German war dogs were fed and he was lying chained to the walls of his prison.

They told him he had fought like a mad man when they caught him. They had to bind him in chains. He saw his own body, one that he had forged at the anvil of his will into a work of art and strength unmatched amongst his peers, as it lay torn, twisted and shackled.

As days, weeks and months went by and his body healed, he taught his mind to believe that chains couldn’t hold him. He was tortured and told he’d never get out but he didn’t believe them. Every day, with all the might left in his 5ft 5in frame, Alex pulled against the chains. He pulled and pulled with every muscle and tendon in his body straining against the shackles and guards would look at him and laugh. ‘War horses can’t break those links and he’s only a little man... He must’ve gone mad with grief because we fed his horse to our dogs’ they’d laugh and Alex would only pull harder.

Then one morning when the guards changed positions, the new ones went to Alex’s cell to see the mad man pull some more, only to run back screaming ‘the mad one’s gone..!!’ The chains hung from the walls in shame, twisted and broken, like the man once was who they once held. And the bars of the cell too had given way to the might of the little man who had bent them apart. One of the bars was missing... They found it later outside the prison walls. Alex had twisted it into a hook to scale the walls.

It was a gloomy day like the day he’d been captured but today was different. He had always been strong but had never been stronger... Perhaps today he was stronger than any man had ever been. They won’t get him today. He ran... through lanes and fields to the river... He heard footsteps echoing behind him in the narrow cobbled streets... It was cold.... He ran towards the river. The current was strong. He jumped... The water... It was very cold... The current was very strong....

Alex woke with a start. The dream... It always ended with him in the water. And no they didn’t get him in the end. He had escaped to Paris where he joined a troupe of performers as a strong man. He bent bars, carried horses and broke chains in front of a cheering audience for fame and money. The fans marvelled at the ease with which ‘the Mighty Samson’, Alex’s stage name, performed his feats of strength and when asked him how, and the mighty atom just smiled.

Then Alex caught the eye of Sir Oswald Stall, the famous English theatre owner and film producer. Sir Oswald had invited him over to work in England, the centre of the world’s best circus acts. Th ousands would be queuing up to see Samson perform. It was his biggest night since his escape... It was time to wake up and live a new dream.

If you happen to be in London for a day without any place to be, or anyone to be with, you could take the short ride to Hockley.

Once there, follow the swirling autumn leaves and they will guide you through its streets to the tall spires of St Peter and St Paul’s Church. Don’t stop. Follow the leaves around the wall to the churchyard where they’ll lead you to the gravestone of Alexander Zass 1888-1962.

If you ask the old care-taker in the tweed cap sitting on a rock under the birch tree if he knows whose grave it is, he might, if he likes, nod his head and tell you ‘tis the Russian circus fellow... They say he was a spy too... Was a strong lad I hear...’. If you have a penny to spare and an ear for a story, you could invite him for a swig at the tavern once he’s done and he might even smile at you and tell you some more... Th at Zass trained wild animals for the circus when he wasn’t busy bending and breaking iron, catching human cannonballs and pulling back heavy horses. Leopards and those big African monkeys... ‘Chimpanzees?’ you ask.... He shakes his head..’ Gorillas?’ He shakes his head again... ‘Baboons?!’ And he smiles a wry smile and nods... ‘Yes baboons...! They got his wife...’ he says.’ Bit her to death during an act’. You look shocked and raise an involuntary eyebrow. He carries on unmoved... Zass loved her so.... Was a beautiful girl, not 20 yet.... Th at destroyed him... Wasn’t the same man ever since... ‘He disappeared after that...No one knows what happened next for a long time... And then one day he showed up here’, the caretaker would say before getting up wearily and walking away after tipping his cap...

You might wonder where could a man as famous as the mighty Samson disappear. He was as big as Brad Pitt in his time. His system of pulling against chains gave birth to the isometric workouts that became so popular in the after war years and his books inspired millions and made him some too...

And yet there’s no one to tell you the rest of his story.

But wait... Remember what I said about graveyards being like a book of fairy tales. So just trudge back from the tavern to the churchyard and go to that birch tree and sit on that old stone. Wait for the birds to stop twittering as they nestle in for the night and wait for the wind to warm up to you as the sun slides off the sky. Then the old wind will whisper into your ears, for ‘Once upon a time...’


Thursday, July 7, 2011


The thick vein pulsed and strained against the muscled neck as it glistened with summer’s sweat. Heat and dust and expectation hung around the arena like flies around a meat shop. It was a pregnant pause in the drama of this evening. As the shadows lengthened around the stadium, the muscles twitched and flexed as that powerful cocktail of sinews and bone mixed with incomparable vigour, and a passion for destruction began to roll into motion. Like an orchestra reaching a crescendo, the gale force contained within that… body built of flesh and bone whipped up speed and charged; it’s a word used too often, but you wouldn’t know what it was meant to describe until this moment.

At the other end of the arena stood the target of that uncontained force and fury. A man, standing still – expectant, awaiting, almost eagerly, to receive and respond to the tornado bearing down on him at the other end. The man is a picture of studied calmness on the surface and the crowd’s heart goes out to him. What dauntless courage, they think... But if you were him you would know of that spider called fear crawling up his spine and breaking into a cold sweat on his brow with each passing moment that brought his nemesis closer.

At the other end, a fierce gaze, flared nostrils, and those hulking shoulders contorted and concerted into a coiled moment for the final assault… The crowd holds its breath and it is here that I hold my story, if only for just a moment...

Who are these two characters that are facing off against each other? Well, that depends on your place in time. If you are from a day long before Christ, it could be the diminutive David holding firm against the colossal Goliath. If the Old Testament doesn’t seem yellow enough then we go further back in time to find our way into a labyrinth in Crete. And there you see them, the gigantic man-beast Minotaur battling the handsome, yet human Theseus. Each time and place has its own version of this timeless battle where man with all his fragile courage and spirited wit overcomes a force of nature far more powerful than him to emerge a glorious hero. Odysseus and the one-eyed Cyclops, and Fereydun and the dragon, each land has its own legend that compels a little child to believe that it is possible to overcome that which is stronger, that which is bigger, that which is greater if only one has courage and wit, and a sprinkling of moral fortitude doesn’t hurt either.

And this battle with a fairy tale ending is replayed in forms both old and new in the pages of best sellers and comic books and in frozen frames of box office ringers. It’s the theme of all themes, the motif that defines the human experience, the essence of our race – this desire to see the merely mortal triumph over the divine or the demonic.

But even today, if you want to see this tale play itself out in torn flesh and split blood, you could. You just have to look for the right arena. Of all the sporting spectacles that time has conjured, there are two that still stick to that time honoured script, the eternal battle between man and monster.

To find the first of these arenas, look for a map of Western Europe, find Spain and then close your eyes and point at a random corner on the map. Lift your finger and look at that spot for a while. Concentrate... And then you’ll hear the sounds first…Of people cheering and clapping... Then you’ll smell the dust blowing with the wind... Perhaps, if you’re careful, you will also catch whiff of flecks of dried blood blowing with it. And then you’ll see it...the stands swathed in red and yellow, the ladies with their bright handkerchiefs and the men, looking grave one minute and cheerful the next, mirroring the action in the sands in the theatre below where a little man in bright tight pants and a short jacket emblazoned with sequins and the like, is standing still, a bright cape in hand, while a large black bull, muscles taut against his shiny skin is pawing the ground as he prepares for a charge. Snorting through a froth caked muzzle, the beast, outweighing the matador by hundreds of pounds with horns sharpened to dagger points starts his final charge.

The hump of muscle that runs along the nape of the bull’s neck and down to his shoulder throbs with each hoof-beat as do the hearts of all who are watching... And that man in the line of ire still standing still.... But if you take a close look at him you will recognise that now familiar feeling breaking into a drop of cold sweat on his brow... But here we must leave this battle and go off in search of the other promised battle. And this battle, on the surface, is nothing like the drama of a bull fight.

It began as a leisurely afternoon’s indulgence for gentlemen in white flannels on the English greens. Cricket, ever since His Grace first took guard, has always been about the aristocratic elegance of the cover drive. Bowlers and fielders were the porters of the game, carrying it along for the moment when the master, the batsman, would deign to unravel his magic wand, his bat, and play the strokes that scorched the grass and soared to the skies. But along came a tall lean chap from Balmain, Down Under, who his friends called Fred, who sent the ball whizzing through Dr Grace’s beard and the game had changed forever.

By the 1930s, cricket fields had begun to take on the flavour of the Spanish bull-ring, thanks to a man called Harold Larwood. He was not particularly tall or big but he hurled thunderbolts of hard leather at the batsman’s head that in the pre-helmet days often put them in mortal danger. Oh yes, the game had changed forever.

From an elegant garden exchange between lunch and tea during the long English days of summer, the game had become a gladiatorial contest between wood and leather. It was still the batsman’s game, but the Don of this new era emerged only after Bradman survived and scored while Larwood pelted lethal missiles in a fearsome display of Bodyline bowling that put the fear of death in all who watched. It wasn’t just a mere game of skills and technique. It had now become a battle that could bring death or glory.

Like the Spanish bull fight, cricket, even today, is still about the little guy triumphing over the giant-like bull or the bowler, but every now and then comes along a bull or a bowler that hasn’t read the script. And then blood is shed, bones splinter, things are smashed and sometimes, even death follows. Remember when Mike Gatting was felled by a Malcolm Marshall bouncer that smashed into his face and then bits of bone had to be picked out of the ball? Or that county cricketer who died after being hit over the heart by a short one? No, I’m not celebrating these tragedies by holding them up, but make no mistake it is the fast bowler who has elevated the game to a level where it simulates the David and Goliath scenario, thus taking the game to a plane so sublime that it is in the same breath both primal and heroic.

That is why people would put down their champagne goblets in the members pavilions to see an Ian Botham or a Sachin Tendulkar spit out teeth and blood and then swat the fast bowlers off their noses for screaming sixes. They are the dragon slayers of the day but then what’s a dragon slayer without a dragon or a bull fight without a bull?

Cricket without fast bowlers is just a game, but when one has a Shoaib Akhtar roaring in like he once did, it becomes an epic saga and a stage for heroes... real heroes. So when you see the Indian openers break into a cold sweat as Fidel Edwards storms in, that thick vein on his neck pulsing, nostrils flared as he prepares to hurl another snorter, be grateful… And that’s why I had said in the previous column that fast bowlers are greater than the game, for they make the game greater.