(Click on photo to magnify)
Being to a particular place in a city after many years can be an exciting experience. The excitement is mainly because of the vanished landmarks that served as indexes to spotting the location.
Such an occasion presented itself a couple of years back in Pune. Our cricket team was playing in a certain ground, which was close to the house of our coach, ‘Nana’ Joshi where I had visited in 1985. In fact, he himself had taken me on his scooter to his house named ‘Matrubodh’, to show his cricket collection of autographs, pictures, memorabilia, etc. He loved showing them to his pupils. I enjoyed looking at them, as much as the tea he himself prepared and served.
He had great admiration for my cricketing talent. We had struck a good rapport with each other during the camp. Some weeks after I returned home, he wrote a long letter in his own handwriting many tips and tricks which he had learnt from other international cricketers of his time, to spread the wisdom. Many of them were to come in handy.
‘Nana’ Joshi had toured with the Indian cricket team and played a few test matches as a wicket-keeper and was a much respected coach of his time. ‘Nana’ had many qualities that I liked, much akin to my late sportsman-grandfather. Very honest, kind, sincere, soft, down-to-earth and teetotaler. I still cannot believe that he died of a liver ailment just less than two years later. I also had the privilege of watching a comedy movie (The return trip of Sergeant Zibulya) during our camp in Pune at that time.
Coming back to the point, there was a strong urge to visit his house, because I had written a letter. I requested my team-mate from Pune to take me there. We had some spare time after the match. So we went around on his bike looking for the small, humble house named ‘Matrubodh’. In 1985, there were hardly any apartments, but the springing up of many of those giants imposed me! I knew roughly where it was. So I persisted and searched some nearby streets looking here and there. Finally, we saw a huge apartment of the same name. We entered, inquired and found out the family, now Joshi’s daughter’s family was living. Things had changed in 24 years, quite obviously.
My letter written few months previously to the same address introducing and requesting the Joshi family for a picture of ‘Nana’ for my album, had reached the destination. Little did I know about my Pune programme then. In the meantime, the sad demise of sometime-sick Mrs.Joshi had taken place. They said that the old lady had read my letter shortly before her demise.
They were very happy to know that the writer of that letter had come there in person! So I requested ‘Nana’s daughter [by sheer coincidence, our daughters share the same name!!] what I needed for the album and how I adored her father as a person. She was considerate and kind enough to understand and allow me to choose any two pictures I liked from the album which ‘Nana’ himself had made, with proper typewritten captions. One of them is shown here. I also saw a few of those memorabilia that ‘Nana’ had shown me then, to tickle the nostalgic nerve, preserved the same way.
Happily I bid goodbye to them. I thank my friend who took me there on his scooter and helped find ‘Matrubodh’. ‘Nana’ had narrated the story why he named the house so when he built it. When he was not chosen for the 1946 tour of
, he was so dejected that it was at this time, his mother boosted him up with advises after which he won his place in the Indian team through hard work [which he always emphasized on his pupils]. England
‘Matrubodh’ was still in tact, albeit in a different shape and so are his ‘Gurubodh’ to me. Revisiting was as much a joy as finding the house.
Here are some pictures of him and me in the same 'frame':
This is the first time I saw him - so thrilled that I was with a famous Test Cricketer. He was wearing the India tour of West Indies 1952 blazer He liked my talent very much.
This is at the Poona Club in 1985 taken before our practice match - it was against a very strong team consisting of many Maharashtra Ranji players. We beat them. I took 6 wkts and scored a quick 35. I remember one particular shot I hit off fast bowler Ranjane. It was past the bowler in the on side and the long on did not have a chance to stop the boundary. One of my best - I can still feel it! Nana had come to watch us play. Milind Gunjal scored a century in that match and retired, but I got Srikant Kalyani's wicket caught behind by Kokhane cheaply. Kokhane will never forget that catch. I bowled 26 overs on the trot, 6-52. Lovely 'English-feeling' ground, with super green grass and vintage pavilion, dressing room, clock, hangers.... I really enjoyed. There was a small crowd too as there were so many local heroes in their side!
This is a picture taken after a session of Camp at NCL ground during the same tour - 1985.
A couple of links giving some info. on 'Nana' Joshi: