Sachin Tendulkar is a man of few words. But he does have a way with them. Precisely why he leaves no stone unturned to "convert every stone into a milestone". The other day, he made yet another effortless and elegant statement - just like his spectacular straight drive
"Yes, I am a proud Mumbaikar but I am an Indian first"
That was a lesson to all those who unabashedly unfurl the parochical flag in the name of belonglingness. And mind you, this is not just about Raj Thackeray and his Nav Nirmaan Sena. There are scores among us who swell with regional pride in day-to-day life - and ironically, feel they are serving some larger cause in doing so.
Yes, there's a lot of communal dictatorship in other states that invariably goes unnoticed. This is not to condone the real issues affecting the state of Maharashtra and Mumbai. But chanting the Marathi mantra is far from a solution.
Raj projects Maharashtrians as one united force -
Is he not aware of the big divide that exists between Maharashtrians themselves - And contrary to the popular notion, Koknastha Brahmins are not the only victims of this incurable disorder of vanity. Every other tribe has been consumed by this epidemic - whether Pathare Prabhus, CKPs, Bhandaris, Saraswats, GSBs, Marathas, Karwaris, Vaishya Vanis, Agaris...the list is endless.
All love to look down upon the rest with venomous disdain - and again, let's not conveniently blame the illiterate, orthodox and the rural alone. Our highly educated, cultured globe-trotting folks from the so-called dynamic professions like media, finance and IT are no less fanatic about their parochial ethos - who otherwise claim to be very progressive and magnanimous in life.
Sachin Tendulkar had the easier option to play to the gallery - to sing umpteen praises of his Maharashtrian roots and advertise his success as a "Marathi Manoos" success story. That he rose above narrow sentiments to salute the tri-colour explains why he stands tall as a human being, not just as a cricketing genius.
We see scores of people around us - all self-appointed authorities on cricket, who blow their giant-sized trumpets at the first given opportunity... even representing a small-town cricket team is nothing short of Wisden success for them.
And here, we have a truly international icon - sanctified by none other than the Late Sir Don - who remains unaffected by the aura that surrounds him...who simply takes guard...to face the next delivery!
Hats off to the Little Master - the true Mumbai Indian.