Think small – Little things should matter more.

You may be the CEO of a multinational corporation, Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, owner of a Tapri or a bank manager,irrespective of the title or profile; I think everyone has got a certain set of beliefs/principles which keeps them going in life. Some are driven by monetary gain, a few are pumped by intellect. For me, it’s the small little things that matter the most and inspire me to achieve something meaningful.

I’ve never been driven by technology or fascinated with cars, luxury Hotels and penthouses. Words have always been a greater force than numbers for me; and it will continue to be. I can’t recollect an instance where people have remembered a stat for decades; whereas words have been. Most of us assume that data is money; which is partly true. But I’d say an idea or the raw emotion/thought expressed from the gut is the real gold. Technologies will come and go. Your creative instincts sustain.

I don’t want to be friends with rich brats or political forces to succeed in life. And yes I hate people without substance; especially at work. Fakles (Fake people) are the biggest turn off. People not being passionate about their work,yet faking it to climb the corporate ladder, without having an iota of motivation, shallow yet keeping a chin full of farzi pride for no rhyme are the ones that disappoint me the most. Trust me, I have seen a lot of those.

Ab to ek Jhalak mein pehchaan ke dooriyaan barkarar ho jati hai automatically. The problem with them is they think too big and end up achieving nothing except false identity/ ego and some money maybe. Enough of gyaanbazzi. I think I do possess some zeal in my eyes. Jazba hai dost, shayad dikhega nahi. Thanks to my oriental features !

Certificates/ degrees are not too significant to me. Pat on the back from someone special means the world to me. I HATE collecting trophies or books for that matter. I don’t want to build a library and display my knowledge to pump my ego. Rather, I’d share them with people spreading more knowledge. That’s wisdom.

Things like being close to just 2-3 people who could do anything for you, having people in your life who could read you any point of time, people with whom you need not think twice before cracking the lamest of the jokes, people whom you don’t address with their first/last name, people whose names are saved weirdly in your contacts; are the one’s that matter the most. Trust me, if you have them; half your life is sorted. It’s a luxury.

Ah! The smell of a new book, a thoughtful non-materialistic gift (gifted randomly), Biryani being served, watching Cricket endlessly, seeing your parents proud and the love in your begum’s eyes -I don’t think there can be greater driving forces in anyone’s life. Little things like these set the tonality of your bigger goals.

Start finding solace in them, you can do well. I am no preacher.Everyone has to figure out their own funda. But when I retrospect the downs and ups in my life so far, I feel this should be the way. It has worked for me.

-> It’s never about going to 7 stars for brunches. Sandwich and parantha dates at Metros have been the best one’s till date.

->It’s never about clubbing. It’s always about the best of the cafes and bookstores.

tapri

->It’s never about Football (except Arsenal)/ Basketball and keeping it up with peers. It’s always about Cricket. I love it like crazy.

->It’s never about holidaying in Swiss. It’s always been about dreaming to go to Lord’s and witness Kohli play. (Mera bas chale to Honeymoon bhi Bhutan mein manau. But for that to happen, I should be alive. I am darn sure that Begum would kill me if I don’t take her to some place exotic. Bhutan is fine for trekking later but not for honeymoon – as per her.)

->It’s never about too much money. It’s all about vivid encounters with crazy people.

->It’s never about those high rise views. It’s all about petting a pup ( Long distant dream. Mommy can only keep him or me) and a peaceful potty on your warm commode in the place you called Home.

Most importantly, it is about making a difference to yourself; not others. If you are not outgrowing yourself, you aren’t moving the motor of your own leanings.

One such instance happened recently, when my rant against Cricinfo’s new website layout was acknowledged and I hope some changes are acted upon it.The whole point I cried and made a hoo-halla was because of the fact that it mattered something to me. I have grown up idolizing that website and trust me it’s the first thing in the morning I look up to. I could have moved onto Cricbuzz easily. A hit less on their website shouldn’t have mattered it to them.I raised my voice because I saw a part of my childhood being taken away from me. I had a lot of memories and emotions attached to it and I just couldn’t let it die in front of my eyes. You can call me a selfish asshole but I’d say I’m an objectivist. So, should everyone be,ideally !

Postcards sharing has become a long lost form of expression. Things like these touch my soul the most. If you mean something to me, I shall find a way to send one of those to you somehow. So, I am traveling to Rajasthan these days. The place is something. Please expect a lot of that with my updates (apart from Facebook, which is like a public notepad where I type anything without even think twice). But this postcard would be a little personal. Lesser text, more feelings. As much as I love it, I hate communicating through Whatsapp. It kills the charm of everything. Can’t abandon it due to Begum and work, too bad !

And yes, how can I forget the most touching and soul-stirring aspect – FOOD. People who share their food with me are always placed in my top-notch bracket! Honestly.

I love people who write these days.In fact, I keep talking to a lot of colleagues too, people who possess creative writing abilities but have stopped writing, have stopped expressing due to their hectic schedules. I constantly keep reminding them to take out time and let the words do the talking to their souls. Forget about the readership. You have one constant fan, who’ll appreciate their art. Time nikal jaata hai. Nikaalo. As I draft this down, I think I am doing justice to whatever I have said earlier.

Words are mightier than swords. Numbers fluctuate, words resonate !

I know it’s tough to hold the retention spans, but I if you reached this far, please do me a couple of favours –

1. Please stop faking with me.If you don’t like anything, talk to me directly. Ek dost kam chalega. Farzi chutyap nahi chahiye.
2. Start writing more. Let your thoughts transpire a new revolution. No idea/thought is good/ugly. Just write.(I am still optimistic about the day when my PJ takes the shape of a campaign)

Every little helps. Every small goals achieved like these stir your soul and help you see the bigger picture clearly.

Love & Light
Lalit.

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Ajinkya Madhukar Rahane : The Pursuit Of Versatility

As the name suggests,”Ajinkya” which means invincible;this Marathi boy is an insightful talent when it boils down to discipline and professionalism.

Calm,focused,introvert,gentleman and steady like an impregnable fortress,Rahane is an ideal Dravid prodigy. Ajinkya,with his technical eminence and stalwart demeanour has cemented his spot in the Indian line (both Tests and ODIs) with extreme delicacy.

The perfect straight drive.

The perfect straight drive.

Rohit is injured. Can you open ? YES!

Yuvraj is out of form.Can you reinforce the middle order ? YES!

The team is crumbling overseas.Can you bat at number 3 and anchor the innings? YES!

Slip cordon looks vulnerable.Can you stand at slips and pull off blinders? YES!

Team needs some buoyancy.Can you carry drinks? YES!

Within no time,the nifty right hander has evolved as the most faithful name in the Indian cricketing household and indeed Rahane is the epitome of a modern day versatile cricketer.

Epitome of versatility- Rahane

India’s current batting brigade with Rahane as the most versatile batsman

He has a subtle blend of timing ,artistry and aggression which not only has helped him flourish in the sub-continent but overseas as well,where others did struggle in the recent times.Till date I have not seen Rahane slog,exactly the way his mentor used to play.

With the mighty Australian tour lined up,his skills would come handy especially facing Mitchell Johnson. If he can shield the team from his wrath and try inspiring the team by sticking on the wicket,our young guns might turn out to be formidable.Also,Virat is sort of back in the form. Hence, I strongly believe that the duo of Rahane and Kohli have the balls to turn the tide this time. Hoping to witness a good show and #InRahaneKohliWeTrust trending in the Kangaroo land.

Rewinding a bit,Rahane incepted his vintage form from being called as The Night’s Watch for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL season 6. The boy had become a man back then.He scored 560 runs at a scintillating average of 40 from 16 games at a strike rate of
130,which included two classy knocks of 98 and 103* as well.

Tendulkar’s retirement proved a blessing in disguise for Ajinkya.He was offered a permanent berth in the Indian side at number 4.Finally,his patience paved off and that meant NO MORE BENCH for him.

Without seeking much of stardom,Rahane silently started putting some runs under his belt ,that too on the foreign soils.Right from 51* and 96 in Durban to 118 against the black caps,Rahane always kept his head high and did his job meticulously.Subsequently,his rock solid technique fetched him a ton at the Mecca of Cricket as well.That knock of 103 at Lords marked the dawn of a new phenomena – a phenomena of trust,hard work and consistency.He carried that momentum and scored a vintage ton at Birmingham in the third ODI in the same 2014 England tour.

A moment to cherish. Ton @ Lords.

A moment to cherish.Ton @ Lords.

Effortless straight drives,mighty pulls and a chip over cover are the prime ammunitions in his armoury.It’s a treat to watch him bat when he is on a song.But it is equally disheartening to see him throw his wicket after being well settled ,the way he did at
Dharamsala recently.The effort that he had putting scoring those 68 crucial runs went in vain.He certainly needs to work on that bit.

But let me tell you one thing very clearly.Whether it is Rahane ,Kohli or Pujara these lads should never be rated against the veterans.It is unfair for both the camps.Those legends belonged to a different ball game altogether.They played under different circumstances,under a different leader with a different mindset.Give them some time to explore,to struggle,to loose and to fight back.Trust me,you will eventually start looking up to them as well.

On a positive note,with the kind of form he is in both personally(just got married) & professionally,if he continues this sort of maturity for another year or so; I definitely see him steering team India to the paths of glory.

Rahul Dravid: Protector of the Realm

THE WALL! True Gentleman! Permanent Class! Genius Stroke play! The man who never said never!

Yes these are the exact words written below the image of this iconic man that has been put up on the wall exactly facing my bed. Implying, the first good omen that I witness every morning is Rahul Sharad Dravid’s face which in turn drives the values of modesty and simplicity in me,throughout the day.

Well, in a game of thrones you either win or die but if cricket is that game (minus politics and only war).Rahul must sit at the Iron Throne. He is fierce and focused.When it boils down to business ,he is one of the all time best classical test batsman to have graced the game.

He batted as a river runs, at an immemorial pace. You could tune into an innings of his at any time and be unsure whether he had batted six hours or six minutes.

His mantra was crystal clear. Just keep your defence compact ! Then you can attack fearlessly. Well, it wasn’t just compact; rather extravagant. He was a great batsman who could do everything: he hooked, pulled, cut, swept, flicked, drove, kept wickets, captained, and even opened just for the team

He is the protector of the realm. The wall!!

Determination right from the start

A still from Reebok’s campaign during 90’s. This attitude did wonders for Rahul Dravid and team India.

He epitomised an old-school “guts-before-glory” approach in an age increasingly defined by flashy Stroke play and low attention spans and that I feel is the reason behind his immense success. When a tough job needed to be done, it was Dravid India turned to. He didn’t like opening but he did. First slip was his natural habitat, but he yielded the position because a team mate with a bad back found it difficult to stand at second. He did the tough press conferences. And at the far end of his career, he made his international T20 debut, long after he had opted out of format, because India was struggling to put together an XI.

He is the silent guardian who has done so much to the team without demanding an iota of eminence. Fortunately or unfortunately he never got distracted by fame, which he never got it as he was busy being doing his role. He was India’s Dark Knight.

These are some of the instances which clearly state that he should have got his due and I feel sad for him.


  • He scored 95 at Lord’s on his debut in 1996 which got eclipsed by Ganguly’s innings of 131.
  • He made 145 in 1999 WC in England. In the same match Ganguly scored 183…Ah! It was again the same story.
  • He hit 153 against New Zealand (a world record partnership with Tendulkar).But hardly a few acknowledge it as Tendulkar’s 186 fetched all the limelight.
  • He crafted 180 in second innings at Eden Gardens. But he got unnoticed because of Laxman’s 281 and Bhajji’s hatrick.
  • He blasted 50 of 22 balls. It was the second fastest fifty by an Indian in ODI against New Zealand in 2003.A very unlikely Dravid innings. But in the same match Sachin and Sehwag scored hundreds. He again went behind the scenes man
  • Even his retirement from the ODI and T20 format sadly got overshadowed by Tendulkar, who was also playing his’ last.

But it doesn’t matter to me. He will always remain my personal favourite. I believe in this kind of ideology –

“Sachin is God; Sourav is next to God on the off side
Laxman is the God of fourth innings.
But when the doors of a temple are closed,
Even the God is behind the “THE WALL “.

 

One of the greatest virtues that hardly any of us posses is taking a negative feedback sportingly. That is exactly what distinguishes the goods from the greats. Dravid evolved and adapted with majesty after he was dropped for his slow scoring and orthodox strokeplay before 1999 World Cup. Not only he began the next venture with a 129 ball 145 and finished it as the highest run getter and is still in top 10 run getters in the history of the ODI format of the game.

He played to his own wondrous sheet music and is rightly termed as the ambassador of copybook staying of playing the game. Dravid averaged 51 at home and 53 away.

For me his top 5 knocks would follow this order


1. Twin peaks at Adelaide
Some are born to greatness. Rahul Dravid acquired it. In Adelaide during 2003, he batted India to their first win in Australia in over 20 years by scoring 305 runs in the two innings, occupying the crease for 835 minutes.”Rahul batted like GOD” these were the exact words of the Indian skipper Ganguly after the match.

Back foot punch at it's best -Adelaide

Rahul’s solid punches knocked Australia out of the game at Adelaide in 2003

2. Splendour of Eden Gardens
In the March of 2001, Rahul Dravid along the likes of VVS Laxman scripted a fairy tale that changed the course of Indian cricket. The pair added 335 runs without offering the mighty Australians a single sniff, and pulled out a victory from following on. It was the third incident in the history of the game.

True grit at Eden Gardens

True grit shown Eden Gardens resulted in India’s historic win against the Aussies. Warne’s expressions says it all !

3. The massacre at Rawalpindi
Rahul Dravid’s Rawalpindi marathon was a landmark for being the longest Test innings in Indian history, and more for securing India’s first ever Test series victory on the Pakistani soil. It was the ultimate background innings, uncharacteristic in its lack of fluency but typical for its awesome commitment. (12 and half hours)

4. The great wall of India
India’s 2011 tour of England provided more occasion than others to drag out the familiar clichés about lone bulwarks and defiant solos: Rahul Dravid scored 461 runs in the tests, nearly 200 more than any of his team mates, at twice the average. The finest of the three hundreds came at Trent Bridge (117). At Oval he opened and stood unbeaten as the rock around which the rest moved.

The Wall

The great wall of India standing tall at The Oval,2011

5. The monk of headingly
When Kolkata 2001 was the first glimpse of a new, aggressive India, it was at headingly a year later that the team showed the real steel. Rahul Dravid was the chief architect, absorbing all the heat to create one of India’s most memorable win abroad. (148 not out, 2002)

 

He is someone who not is technically profound in his game but is equally graceful and dignified as a person. At times he travels in a local BMTC (Bangalore Metro Transport Corporation) bus, eats at restaurants with common people, and drops his child to his school with absolutely no fuss, like a normal civilian. Not only is he a gentleman on field, but in real life as well. Remember when he was called for interrogation by Delhi Police, being the captain of Rajasthan Royals (with regard to the match fixing controversy) even the commissioner of police knew that a person of his stature could never do anything like this and mocked the media at a press conference that he wanted Dravid’s autograph that’s why he went and met him. Nothing else!

 

For me off the field I think his proudest achievement was in 2011. He was invited to deliver the Bradman Oration in Canberra .He is the first Indian and first non Australian to have been honoured of this. His speech was wide ranging, meticulous and memorable not only in terms of the achievements of Sir Don, but the way he threw light on the Indian cricket, he completely changed India’s image .I regard it as  one of the finest talks to have been given by any cricketer.

 

Here are a few statistics just to give a quick glimpse of his legendary track record

  •  When Dravid was at crease, the team scored 32,039 runs; which amounted to 35.6% of the total runs that India made in tests in which Dravid played.
  • Dravid is the only batsman in the history of the game to be involved in more than 700 partnerships. In fact no other batsman has touched 650 so far.
  •  He holds the record of playing the most number of deliveries (31,258) in test cricket.
  •  Highest run getter at No. 3 in tests with 10,524 runs in 219 innings at an average of 53.
  •  In ODIs which wasn’t even his forte (as speculated by the critics) he holds the record of having the second best average in World Cups (61.5) marginally behind Sir Viv’s 63.3
  • Rahul has scored 6 test hundreds in England, Only Sunil Gavaskar has more overseas hundreds to his name (7 in WI).
  •  Dravid has never been dismissed for a first ball duck in Tests. He was run out for 0 without facing a ball in 2004 at Lahore.
  • Of the 11 triple century stands by Indians in tests, Dravid has been involved in 4 which are the highest. Tendulkar and Laxman have been involved in three each.
  • Two Indians have affected 200 plus ODI dismissals as a fielder or a wicket keeper. Dravid is one with 210, only MSD has more.
Respect

Respect is the word

Let’s have a sneak peek at what the greats feel about Rahul.

  • “If you can’t get along with Dravid, you’re struggling in life” -Brett Lee
  • “The wolf who lived for the pack” – Harsha Bhogle
  • “If I have to put anyone to bat for my life, it’ll be Kallis or Dravid”.-Brian Lara
  • “All this going around is not aggression. If you want to see aggression on cricket field, look into Rahul Dravid’s eyes”- Matthew Hayden
  • “Rahul Dravid is a player who would walk on broken glass if his team asks him to” -Navjot Singh Sidhu
  • “Dravid Could play attacking cricket like me but i could never play like him”-Chris Gayle
  • “Try to take his wicket in the first 15 minutes, if you can’t then only try to take the remaining wickets.”- Steve Waugh
  • “I cannot recall beating him more than one ball in a row” – Jason Gillespie
  • “He’s probably the nicest guy. No, he is the nicest guy that I have met in cricket. He’s a phenomenal man” – Shane Watson
  • “Ask him to walk on water today and he will say, Okay! How many kilometres? Ask him to jump from a cliff in the form he’s in and he’ll say, here’s your parachute I don’t need it.”- Harsha Bhogle when Rahul Dravid hit 3 sixes in a row in his only T20 International against England

He is an epitome of selflessness, humility, empathy, grit and perseverance.

When a personality like Harsha Bhogle tells this” when I am done with my profession, I wish I could go with the reputation that Rahul Dravid earned “.it pretty much sums it up what a class act this man is. RESPECT !

The girl with my dream bucket

Image

After a filling meal as I sit back in the balcony of my apartment on a lazy Sunday evening, I’ve got nothing to do except for admiring the beauty of the City. The city that has made me the person I am today is definitely special to me in so many ways. As the cold breeze touches my soul, whose happy flag has already been set up with the spicy Dum aaloo and sambhar, I just get comfortable on the cane wood chair. With a positive aura around I sit back, smile for no reason and start thinking about the good old times that I’ve cherished with my loved ones. The next moment mom calls up and adds a new dimension to the joyful thought process. Within no time I realised that the topic has shifted from Khaana-peena, how are Dhriti and Suvansh (my niece and nephew), The Chief Minister of Delhi to my future Home Minister .After the call as I look into the hazy sky with thoughts of the last conversation in my brain’s cache I feel lost in my la-la land.

I am standing in the backyard of my house watering the plants and simultaneously adoring the pretty lady and her bright green scarf, tied on her semi black hair through which a cute little pony pops out (like those in the shampoo advertisements) .She slyly walks towards the sunny end of the kitchen garden with a bucket in one hand and a piece of meat in the other, where Dexter is taking his dose of Vitamin D and is ready for his lunch. She keeps the bucket down, gives me a witty glance and starts patting Dex. Those twinkling eyes were definitely hiding something mischievous. Oh BTW Dex (my dog), she and I live in a wood house in the suburbs of Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh.

Minutes later she deceptively sends me back inside the house to fetch some more bones for Dex. As I walk back adjusting my Bandar topi(which covers my mid 50’s grey hair and also protects me from the extreme cold) I see coloured crew necks hanging on the clothesline and the empty bucket  with some suds left ,in her hand. Now that was something unusual. I hadn’t worn these colours in years. With her intensifying sensual smile, I suspected something good in store for me. But didn’t know it was this big a surprise that’ll take me to cloud 999. I was on my toes, as she revealed the mystery.  No doubt the love of my life was holding the bucket of my dreams. The dreams that I had lived were in front of my eyes. Every tee had a name written at its back. The names of places, which I had added in my bucket-list in my 20s once and were, now ticked off my list.

With every revelation, she used different body gestures and expressions. There she flips the first one that says #Melbourne. She had that naughty smile that evidently stated “I wasn’t there…”Yes! That was the time before she even entered my life during my early 20s. Boxing day test on the Melbourne Cricket Ground it was. It is the same ground where Trevor Chappell had once bowled underarm. Australia V/s England and the Englishmen fighting like the warriors in 300 to take the urn back. It was an all boys tour with my bros from college and school all the way to Australia. MCG with a close to 1 Lakh attendance on the final day had something epic in store for us .Mitchell Johnson blew everyone away with his fiery fifer spell that humiliated the English. Being food freaks, after the game we tried our luck at the Master Chef’s kitchen and had the food of our lives.

Wasn’t that a fun trip? She asks. Yes Madame is the reply that she gets .The slideshow proceeds. The moment she flips the second one, she starts blushing and I automatically figure out that she would be saying #London. And that is exactly what happened. How can we both forget that place? What Aamir Khan did in Dil Chahta Hai, I gave an exact replica of that .On my knees and YESS! In front of The Lords, the Mecca of cricket I had proposed her. This is my personal favourite cricket stadium .The place has been the venue for some of the greatest matches including the finals of world cups of 75, 79, 83 and 99 with 83 one being ultra special. A charming smile appears on my jaw lines with an instant feeling to kiss her, but I prefer to save it for the finale and I end up giving her a flying one.

This series of surprises was the best of the lot that I had got till now .I wasn’t the only one pumped up; Dex was also in the league. His wagging tail justified the emotions equally every time a shirt was flipped. As she moved towards the next twist, I could make out with her gestures that #Kolkata was coming. And there she says Kolkata in a complaining voice. I still remember that day when I showed her my bucket list featuring Kolkata and all she wanted me was to convince her why would we go to this place of all the places…I’ll make fish for you at home was all she said. I answered the three words-The Eden Gardens. Established in 1864 with close to 90,000 capacities and is regarded as one of the most hostile grounds in the world. Rewind your brain cells a way back to 1996 India Sri Lanka WC semi final. You’ll get the context of the word hostile. The ground till date holds an integral part of my heart. My favourite cricketer Rahul Dravid along the likes of VVS had played an exceptional knock during my childhood, that match is still my favourite match till date. Obviously that had to be there in the list. Upar se in early 30’s jab EMIs ke saath biwi ki daant ho more, Aur Biwi  maange videshi New Zealand ka tour Toh Queenstown hi ho jaaye Eden town. Oh Queenstown by the way is a beautiful picturesque set amidst the Remarkables Mountains in New Zealand. The stadium is a deadly combination of scenic beauty and the sport. The deal proved to be fruitful when she got to meet Shahrukh Khan at the stadium. We indeed had a remarkable trip.

That moment when you don’t want your favourite series to end and you end up watching it at a slow pace, with the similar ideology I decided to suppress the butterflies in my stomach and a tea break was taken. I made her a strong ginger flavoured one and we both sipped tea in saucer with that sudak sudak-sound while Dex was busy circling around the rope.

It was time for the final showdown, the last name to be revealed. The moment that red tee was turned, we both winked at each other. It said #Johannesburg We both had crossed our 40’s.A much awaiting break in the second half of our lives it was! A getaway from the responsibilities or in a sweeter context it was our second honeymoon .Known for its high chasing games and the bull architecture The Wanderers still continues to be in my top 5 list. I remember I was dressed up like a cool Hawaiian guy (like Sgt. Batista from Dexter), chilling throughout with a mug of Castle beer in one side and my love by the other. She also loved the non cricket part of the tour to a great extent – the diamonds. I bought her diamonds on the drive to Cape Town for another game at Newlands.

I don’t know how she manages to bear me. Hats off to her! Without any iota of interest in cricket she has travelled with me to these places without complaining except for the Kolkata one. I love her even more for that. I guess this is called as true love.

I get a little closer to her. I can feel her warmth. She then hugs me and whispers “You freak! Tell me honesty were you expecting a fifth one saying #Dharamshala for you.” It is there though .Look what Dex is wearing. That truly was the happiest moment of my life. Dharamshala undoubtedly is the most exotic cricket venue in the world. Located at a close to 4000 feet above sea level in the vicinity of Tibetan monasteries, amidst the great Himalayas the place draws its attention for its snowy peaks, deodar and pine forests, tea gardens and beautiful hills. And this is the heavenly place where we both decided to grow old together. Being avid readers we both spend majority of times reading and writing. She calls me Ruskin Bond at times when I write something good. I grab her by her waist and kiss her gently to say I love you .As the sun sets Dex jumps onto me. The three of us go inside and cut our 25th marriage anniversary cake.

With a knock on the door, I get back from my Shangri La. I sit quietly and ponder what if it was a realisation, not a dream.