The roller coaster called life!

The roller coaster called life!

In the Bengaluru of the seventies, there was a tribe of students - I included - that was not averse to earning while learning

In the Bengaluru of the seventies, there was a tribe of students - I included - that was not averse to earning while learning.

This writer sought temporary employment to not only generate pocket money but to help the family tide over financial difficulties.

Those were not the best of times, and we deemed every penny earned as precious. Yours truly took the plunge during the vacations or on holidays to make sure they did not meddle with studies.

A job as a packer at the Bible Society of India in the upmarket Mahatma Gandhi Road beckoned me early during my teens. Many employees came from the margins.

The nine-to-five routine was a grind. We slogged away, sitting cross-legged on the floor, right under the nose of the supervisor, a slave driver. The task entailed sorting bright-coloured leaflets and literature and sprucing them in bunches of a hundred each.

There was a fixed daily target, but despite the toil, we ended up picking up peanuts: Rupees 25 for a week's effort.

The duty of an usher at the Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium was not only rewarding but enjoyable. They paid us Rs.100 for a five-day Test match, a lofty four-fold increase over my earlier piece of work. Besides, the assignment came with freebies - caps, T-shirt, goodies and coke.

Showing spectators to their seats was easy as eating cake, and we relished the luxury of watching our cricketing demigods in action without paying for the tickets. The fun and frolic in the stands coupled with the fireworks in the middle made for a carnival atmosphere.

A stint as a cricket umpire, which I took up later was a magnificent obsession- the reward, a handsome Rs.100 per day for officiating in any of the approved tournaments run by the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA).

Poring over manuals and rule books, I soon grew conversant with the laws of the game. Inter-school contests saw umpires being pampered with lunch and assorted snacks by the tutors. But the generosity showered never influenced my decision making.

While driving on the memory lane, a school game in which I officiated comes to mind. Two elite teams, St. Germain's and Frank Anthony's, locked horns for the Cottonian Shield - a popular fixture.

Taking the first strike, the former with both openers in excellent nick were going great guns when misfortune struck. A solid square cut from the blade of their best batsman - a star at the junior level - found a tree trunk on the way to the fence and rebounded into play.

The batsman, assuming it to be a four, made the folly of not running and got into a mid-wicket conference. The fielding side, sensing an opportunity, pounced on the leather, threw the stumps down at the striker's end and went up in appeal.

I raised the dreaded finger! Not convinced, the batting team protested, but I stood my ground contending that the tree was within the perimeter of the boundary ropes.

Unable to get over the loss of their 'hero', the side collapsed in a heap. Their opponents made quick work of the target to romp into the finals. Had the batsmen not dropped guard, the story might have been different.

Cricket umpiring became my passion. But I had to abandon it after getting hired by the State Bank of India with which I had a marathon association lasting 39 long years.

To conclude, I aver that life is like a roller coaster as you get to navigate the highs and lows, the peaks and the troughs. Enjoy the journey called life and count your blessings!

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