Thursday, September 26, 2013

When words failed

I am writing again after more than a year. Such was the mind-numbing sight that I wanted to get rid of.  To transport or even merely tuck it, perhaps in all futility, to a world of words, remains the only resort.

At PUMA, twice a year, we go through our seasonal product launches in a small town in Southern Germany. In a room that resembles a big badass IMAX theater, close to a 1,000 people assemble, as the key product highlights are unveiled. This season wasn’t meant to be any different except that less than a couple of minutes into the presentation, we were told that Lothar Matthaus is attending this too, seated on the first row.

Well, he calmly stood up and gave us that nice, polite ‘Hey, I-know-I-am-famous and-you-know-it-too’ wave.  Now, for people of my generation who were less than 10 years old when 1990 happened, Matthaus was God. Period.  And he was a captain- one who led like a rock, with a solid wall of defence that couldn’t be breached by a whole bunch of mischievous (and bratty) Argentinians including that guy Diego. Of course, with the rise of attacking players like Klinsmann and Ballack, Matthaus relegated from popular public memory but this was someone who had appeared in “more” World Cup games than any other player in the most popular sport in the world. That’s big, right. So hey, I already had my time’s worth. I mean, I could call my uncle and Dad right then and tell them I was in the same room as Lothar Matthaus. They’d easily remember. How cool was that? Instantly, he became the most famous man I have ever shared a room with. That’s a BIG one, right? Yes it is.

And then appeared Usain-fucking-Bolt on stage. Casually, walking up to extend his PUMA contract with our CEO. Now, if Matthaus was Christ, Bolt was resurrection.  Forget the people, every single strand of hair in that room, stood up to give this man an ovation that would’ve rung even in the ears of Beethoven. Matthaus and Bolt in one room? This is madness (or Sparta). Some talk ensued and appropriately so but all the eyes in the room were glued to the motions of this one man. How tall, how bloody perfect, how fast must he be, will he run to his chair to sit, will he get there before we blink? Let’s keep those eyes open for as long as he is in the room. It’s ridiculous, did we just share the room with him? Yes we did.

And then walked in Boris Becker. That irascible, unrelenting chap who won everything there was to win in the face of McEnroe, Connors, Lendl and Sampras. Is this is a scam? This is getting hard to digest. Someone shove this down my brain to fathom the sheer audacity of talent that’s gathered here. Oh wait, take some pictures right now. Who is going to ever believe this was happening in an IMAX theater? Pinch. 

But this was just halftime as Linford Christie jogged his way in. That world-record holder who kept winning sprints as easily as we chewed gum, all the way till he was 33. At which point Bolt stood up from his seat, to the sound of ear-splitting roars from the audience, nodding negatively, swaying his head, gesturing that Becker and Christie were not fast any longer and that he was the fastest. So here we are, not even scraping the skin of the enormity of what is unfolding and this man wants to joke about? Someone call an ambulance, this is a cardiac arrest. 

And it wouldn’t stop there. In walked a man called Thierry Henry who once happily worked on the principle of “Have-ball-will-score”.  And then this man, who led the charge for his team for so many years including the only season in over a 120 years of top class football, that a club didn’t lose a single game, started dribbling on-stage.

And then there was a break and I went to relieve myself from all the mayhem. And in came Boris, right next to me, doing what men do in between breaks- take a fucking leak. Off he goes and near the hand wash section I say, "After you, Mr. Becker".

Fuck it. I can’t even write anymore.

After the break they all split onto a small soccer field into teams. And they played a game. Henry’s team won 4-3. I really can’t write this anymore. This writing thing proved to be as nerve-wracking as that afternoon.

I have firmly believed that almost every great experience you go through in food, travel, women, sports, movies, plays, it eventually dawns to you, was over-rated. You thought it was superb at one point of time and then something better drew you or you just forgot what it was anyway. Part of this sentiment is echoed well by Woody Allen. He often describes life as a grim and depressing affair that we all go through, and that sometimes all the happiness you experience is a thinly veiled delusion that takes you away from the suffering that life is.  

And as far those thinly veiled delusions go, this was not bad.  

1 comment:

kunal shah said...

Awesome, just simple awesome. And envy, pure envy!!