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Of Rajni, Kapil, Arnab

‘Preface’ of Tendulkar’s book, Playing It My Way —- My Autobiography

Aila!

Now, even if this book is going to be one big compilation of botanical names of the flowers found in Appalachian trail, people aren’t going to ask: “Did Tendulkar really write this?” Because when they hear Aila, they think it has to be Tendulkar.  Just like the equally ludicrous jujube, which is of course the universal cue word to conjure up Rajnikanth. Talking of Rajni sir, it was a privilege to meet him during a recent ISL match in Chennai. It was only a convivial, short meeting. But still, Rajnikanth!

When the idea to write an autobiography crossed my mind, the first thing I firmly told myself was: The autobiography better be mine. I mean just because I have a book to sell and just because he has an interesting personality, I should not end up writing Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography.  While I was clear that this will be my autobiography, but how will readers know that for sure? We wracked our brains and eventually decided that the best way to address this problem is to come right out in the title itself. Which is why we have gone with the punchy but all the same practical, Playing It My Way —- My Autobiography.

As someone who has never written an autobiography, mine or anybody else’s, the whole exercise was a challenge, albeit an exciting one.  While much of my life was spent in cricketing arenas and is well documented, the task before me was to keep the readers, who have attention span shorter than a typical Shahid Afridi’s innings these days, engaged with entertaining and insightful stuff. This, of course, meant I had to stop sounding like me in my press conferences.

I have no hesitation in confessing that my pressers were tame. I could not have said anything controversial. Because I was fully aware of my responsibilities then.  But I am even more fully aware of my responsibilities now, which is I have a book to sell, and it sells only when it has ‘a lot of chewable meat’, if you get my drift. And since this book is out now, you will also see me shouldering another onerous responsibility: Appear, one of these days, on Comedy Nights With Kapil.

But there are certain golden rules that cannot be flouted. what happens in a dressing room stays in the dressing room. Just as well, because only boring things happen there. And if you are talking of IPL T20 games, there are no dressing rooms really. (Probably they rent it out for parties). The point is real, interesting action is elsewhere. And you will have me talking about it in a fairly candid manner that would hopefully make you go ‘whoa!’ rather than ‘why was he silent on this all these years’. My intention is not hurt anyone or revive old ghosts. But some facts need to be told for the sake of history, which is classically defined as ‘what its author says’.

It looks like that it was just the other day that I bid farewell to international cricket. That emotional cauldron of a day is fresh in everyone’s mind. Many of us remember each and every second of that momentous occasion. But even then, some things went noticed, like which was the opposing team. This book hopes to find an answer to such puzzling questions.

And finally, on the editorial collaborator for this book, Boria Majumdar. I am fully aware of the questions surrounding my choice in this matter. “Why him? Why not Rohit (Brijnath) or Ayaz (Memon)” are the general type of questions thrown at me. My answer is Rohit and Ayaz are all fine writers. But — pardon me if I am a bit catty here —-  by the time Rohit comes to the point after inevitably invoking the work ethic of Michael Phelps or the life philosophy of Cathy Freeman, readers, who are actually live-tweeting their reading these days, would have started a typically inane hashtag mocking the book (#IsPhelpsTheNextBradman, #FreeyavuduMan).

Boria, on the other hand, is a seasoned media person. More than anything else, his voice has a lot of a carry, often quite literally. He is probably the only journalist in this country who can outshout Arnab Goswami. That, sirs, is no mean achievement. Still, if Boria is a bit loud for your taste, the practical suggestion in the circumstance is to stuff your ears with cotton while reading.

Happy reading. Hope you have good time. And for what it’s worth, one more time: Aila!

(Disclaimer: For what it’s worth, 15,921 apologies)