Happy Birthday, Rahul Dravid! Life Lessons from “The Wall”


Happy Birthday, Rahul Dravid! Life Lessons from “The Wall”

Illustration: Hitesh Sonar

The name Rahul Dravid means different things to different people. For cricket buffs, he was the most technically gifted batsman of his generation. For purists, he was someone who embodied “the gentleman’s game” and the spirit in which it should be played. And for those lucky enough to play in the same team as him, he was the always-reliable insurance policy.

The beautiful thing about Dravid is, all those assertions could be true at the same time. And, if we try hard enough, we can uncover a little bit of Dravid in us all. As “The Wall” turns 47, we look at the traits that make Rahul Dravid the cricketer and gentleman he is, and you can be the judge of whether you have something in common with one of India’s greatest sportsmen.

Do Not Be a Bol Bachchan

Rahul Dravid’s stint in the commentary box can be defined through his ability to internally blush and deflect compliments like a college student on a first date. Whenever he is praised for a particular innings or a double century, he finds a way to give someone else the credit for it — it was Dada who won us that match, or it was Sachin who helped him from the other end, or Bhajji who picked up the all important wickets.

In that sense, Dravid is the exact opposite of every politician in our country, who are first to claim the credit for other people’s work. Whether it is a project in school, an exam in college, or an assignment at work, it is a very Indian trait to claim how many sacrifices we made and sell ourselves the best we can. This is a quality ably brought to life by our Pradhan Sevak who got a suit with his own name printed on it. If “mai apni favourite hoon” were a person, it would be PM Narendra Modi. If you’re not a Bol Bachchan, congratulations, you’re in the minority, but with Dravid, you’ve got good company.

Also nicknamed “Mr Cool”, Dravid is the epitome of both calmness and patience, traits that are in short supply in our country.

Stay Zen

The angriest Rahul Dravid has ever been on camera was when he got into an argument with Shoaib Akhtar after a collision while running between wickets. This, in a country where people throw chairs in Parliament, destroy public property during protests, and arrest people for Facebook posts. If Rahul Dravid ever decided to make the plunge, he would make for the most boring contestant on Bigg Boss.

Also nicknamed “Mr Cool”, Dravid is the epitome of both calmness and patience, traits that are in short supply in our country. We scream “janta hai mera baap kaun hai?” at the drop of a hat and impatiently get off airplane seats milliseconds after it has just landed, as if we’ll lose frequent flyer points if we didn’t. As a country and as a people, we could all get inspired by Dravid’s state of mental being and take a chill pill.

Play for the Team

Rahul Dravid could have very well been India’s next national coach or taken up a luxurious stint in a foreign league, but he chose to stay away from the limelight and instead pursued the humble and virtuous project of being India’s U-19 coach, so he could lay down the foundation for our next generation of cricketers. Not only equipping them with skill, but also character and sporting spirit that very few could provide like Mr Dependable.

We live in a world where people choreograph and upload a few hundred pre-wedding photos, go to fancy restaurants so they can get Instagram-worthy food, and put their entire vacations online in the form of pictures, videos, and stories. The whole purpose is to shout out, “Look at me and how great my life is!” In this world where all of us are trying to constantly seek attention and validation, Rahul Dravid decided he didn’t care for it. If there’s a New Year’s resolution that could bring mental peace for millennials, Dravid has shown us the way.

Happy 47th Birthday, Rahul Dravid! In all probability, the day will quietly pass as you continue with your regular day of work to produce the next league of superstars for the country. But it is that simplicity, dedication, and honesty that is a cause for celebration in a sporting universe that is moving away from those simple ideals. May India produce more cricketers that may or may not live up to Rahul Dravid’s technical prowess, but surely to whom Dravid is a benchmark, as a human being and sportsman.