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The road Rahul Dravid travels.

by Gaurav Sethi

  • I shall be telling this with a sigh
  • Somewhere ages and ages hence:
  • Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
  • I took the one less traveled by,
  • And that has made all the difference.
                                               -Robert Frost
My admiration for Rahul Dravid has grown manifold, not only did he turn down the lure of sofas and samosas by not joining the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) cricket advisory committee, he decided to hang out with kids instead - kids a little less than half his age; far more challenging with all those raging cricket hormones flying like loose balls in the nets. Now Dravid has two sons, both I suspect are excellent lads. Oh, I just learnt their names after a Google search that directed me to Facebook - Samit Dravid and Anvay Dravid. So good to see the media allowing the Dravids to keep to their low-key ways and only documenting their cricketing endeavours as recently as last month. If only Arjun Tendulkar was so lucky.
But such has been Dravid's scrupulous following of scruples that even the hyena in hyena clothing like the media knows it's time to take a break and let some of that divinity cleanse their thick hides. For some reason those Harpic ads spring to mind. But toilet cleaners are not the plot. Nor did Dravid ever pride himself taking anyone to the cleaners. He seems like a guy who would've been quite happy doing his own laundry. And somewhere there emerges the plot: a day in the life of Dravid.
Dravid wakes up without an alarm clock, usually between 5.45 to 6 am; when he's off by a few minutes either way, he looks for flaws in his waking up technique and masters it without further ado. It's not something he whines about, he just goes back to the basics, calls it the "waking up" nets of the mind. He starts his day with yoga, initially an instructor would be at hand, but after a few months of starting, he is asked to be relieved as he can't keep up with his pupil's punishing regime. Dravid starts with some basic stretches, branching off into the by now controversial surya namaskar - it's not something he likes to talk about. Dravid, as you know, likes to stay clear of controversies. He winds down with some breathing exercises and even though the instructor is missing, he still engages in the obligatory namaskar that the pupil offers his guru at the end of a session. Sometimes the instructor lands up just to offer namaste to someone he now believes to be his guru.
In his plans for the under-19 boys, there is yoga - he thinks of it as a mental gym that will channelise focus and make them calmer, help fast track them to the next level. In Dravid's mind, the next level isn't playing for India - he hopes to impress upon his wards the step-by-step technique (yes, he knows a kindergarten school goes by that name) - make it to your state team first, become indispensable, break into an Indian Premier League (IPL) squad, but do not let that dictate how you play - he will cite Ajinkya Rahane's, and to a lesser extent, his own example of how IPL should adapt to you and not the other way around. He will also cite the examples of Pujara and Williamson - and his time at the Rajasthan Royals. "You can't keep winning games with the slog" he will remind them, "but you can by playing proper cricket shots, just remember the settling in period is one-third of a one-day game, often there is no such period; so settle down in the dugout".
After quick mental notes he'll jot down a few points in his RK Laxman-Penguin notebook. The traditionalist that Dravid is, he still puts pen to paper. Later, he will elaborate on his laptop but the first few points on paper are sacrosanct, for him it's about keeping in touch with your roots. When his kids were smaller he encouraged them to write on the walls rather than Xbox themselves. He would often joke, "Boys, try and think out of the Xbox!"

Yoga is followed by "nimbu pani" and honey, a fruit bowl (only seasonal) eggs on alternate days, cereal, toast, five badams, a large glass of cold coffee or milkshake. By now he's up to speed with the headlines and has earmarked the long reads for later. After breakfast, work: zeroes into a Test match he's been part of as player, commentator or viewer - further zeroes into two passages of play - one, exciting, the other not so. He plays the video for four over spells on mute. Sets his cameras. Starts commentary - both as himself and his colleague - the other voice could vary, from Bhogle to Wilkins to Sunny to Shastri and for a lark, sometimes, he even mimics Sachin and Sourav. The lighter side of Dravid is seldom seen on commentary but when it is, it has us all enthralled.
During his On-Air-Time (as he calls it), both his phone and the outside world are shut off. Next, answering calls, mails, some pointless surfing - yes, even he does it. Like all of us, Dravid has his favourite pages but talking about them here is just not cricket!
Lunch with family, or if travelling, with colleagues or just his thoughts for company. If at home, he spends time with his kids and their homework (only if required) or generally interacts with them on this and that and the other - quite often about books he's read or fun people he's met. Knocks around with them, either cricket or football or frisbee or even some yoga, but this time, largely as instructor. Filter coffee break. Gym on alternate days which is preceded by a run outdoors and on the treadmill only when it's raining, which can be every other day in Bangalore. The umbrella cap was going to invite uncalled for attention and that's just not his thing even though the practicality of it impressed him no end. Back with family. Dinner. Rules: no phones, I-pads, TV, just conversations.
Retire to his books. Possibly the toughest question, which one to read? At any given time, he can read up to four books, though never simultaneously. "I'm not God, just another brick in the wall," he jokes. While reading makes mental notes, often refers to the dictionary (never online) and jots down words, expressions in his notebook.
Before crashing, plans ahead, for the next five days.
(However plausible this might sound, this is a work of fiction.)

First published here

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