Monday, April 25, 2016

Cricket Club – Proddatur Diaries

Vasu Reddy
vasureddy@aol.com

The heat of the summer never was a factor for playing cricket in the holidays, and when we were home in proddatur.  The early days for my cricket experience was to join the big guys in town get accepted into the team.  I really don’t remember what we called the team but I believe it was “Proddatur Cricket Club”.  The first question that was asked of me was if I had a cricket kit: which simply meant cricket gear including proper cricket dress and shoes.  The team shared the bats, balls, pads, gloves and obviously the guard, each player needed just the cricket whites and appropriate shoes, some of us even wore a sweater like the professional cricketers did.  I always played in school during the regular season, so I was well prepared for my first experience with the hot days on the field and fondness for the game.

The only difference was the age of the guys.  Most of the guys were either in college or already done with college, and I was still in high school.  To start with the captain of the team and the man who paid all the bills was John Mohan Reddy.  As he paid for everything to do with the team, he was also the selector and coach and director of the team.  John came from a political family and a senior man on the team.  I believe he was already done with his college when I first met him.  He was a big guy in personality, and you liked the man immediately.  He spoke very well and was respectful to everyone.  He did not have the air of a senior or the captain, and I still remember that he was kind, gentlemanly and always polite.  I never saw him upset while managing the team.

John was a big brother “Anna” to everyone.  I remember having the whole team at his home for a great lunch.  Outside of Cricket the whole team got along very well, and I still remember John’s home and his hospitality.

The team itself had a variety of personalities (I mean it well as I don’t have a better word to describe each one of them).  Prabhu who is one of my best friends and Ramana were the quickies.  Both were vegetarians (I think) and were both quite quick and good.  I followed behind these two guys as a quick bowler.  I was the newest member of John’s team and youngest of the lot.  We had a ensemble team of guys, and I might not remember everyone but some of the guys include; Babu the wicketkeeper, Eashwaraiah, Prasad, Prabahkar (mama) the opener, Rama Subba Reddy (Anna), Subba Rao (who was very stylish) Kittu (high level), Doctor, and so many great guys (some names I don’t remember), but each one was a great team mate, and great to hangout if you saw them outside of the field.  It was a diverse group, but practiced and played well together and I know each of us liked John.  The little time I was a part of the Proddatur cricket club was wonderful.

We practiced and played at the polytechnic college (Prabhu’s dad the late Mr. Kameshwar Rao was the principal) and also at the municipal high school grounds.  My recollection is that sometimes was had a mat we used that covered the length of the pitch.  The grounds we played were very dry (they used to be rolled to stay firm) and fast, and they were in pretty good shape to bowl and bat.  The conditions were hot always and the heat never bothered the payers or the spectators.  I never saw everyone get a sun stroke or heat related problems.  The local clubs were all over the place, but I don’t believe there was any organized structure.  Most of the teams just played each other for mostly bragging rights, and sometimes tournaments were organized (funded) by local cricket enthusiasts.  It was my first experience of being part of a team outside of school teams.  We did not have a long tenure with John’s team as most of us were in and out of town, and were off to college or work somewhere else.  But I remained friends with each one of John’s team mates, and the experience I have not forgotten to date.

It was the time we did not have television in our circle of people.  Gavaskar was playing along with Vishwanath, Mankad, Engineer, Solkar, along with many greats of Indian cricket, along with the four great spinners; Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan.  Those spinners bowled forever and the long spells they did was incredible to listen to even today.  With these guys Indian cricket team was traveling well around the world and winning matches.  There was a lot of test cricket being played around the world.  All we had was a boom box to listen to the matches or read about them in the newspapers next day.  When the Indian team played overseas it was at an ungodly hour in India.  We had to be up late in the night to listen to the commentary.  Often we would hangout and listen to the commentary on the boom box.  Compared to today’s coverage it was surreal and fascinating.  If I recollect well, one of the radio commentators was Mr. Parthasarathy, who was quite popular.

The life along with cricket was more than just that in proddatur.  John and the cricket club teammates, all of them friends, each of us in different parts of town with different backgrounds and path to life, but all one team and one unit.

There are three of the most wonderful memories that I have kept with me with being a part of John’s team.  

First; it was my first experience outside of school to become a part of a club.  We were well organized and played well together.  Today if I look back at the team, we had a lot of different personalities, the really hot weather, and buttermilk and rice could make for such a wonderful team, it could only be because of my town and John.

Second; each of the guys was great.  The little time I had with them was full of great friendship.  My academic life had nothing to do with anyone of them, but I enjoyed my friendship with each one of them.  I still remember my individual relationships with each one of them, and someday soon hope to check on every one of them to see what they are up to.  I hope to reminisce on the good old days.

Third; and most important aspect that I have carried with me how a group of guys who had nothing in common could bond so well and care for each other and play the game with such passion and happiness; all of it only for the pleasure of it.  John was so good in getting the team to be together.  No one was looking for accolades or recognition beyond being a part of the team.  It is something I have not experienced around the world, and something I can’t explain, which is something I carry with to date.

I really don’t remember what we called ourselves; but Proddatur Cricket Club is the apt name for it.  With so much of my life far away from home, I have not really kept in touch with most of the guys.  I know each of us have gotten older and doing what life has thrown at us.  Proddatur as a town has had a wonderful space for the team, and each of us.  It’s a town really full of great people, not just my old team mates, but the whole town was and still is a great place.  In ensuring years, in India I did join a couple more cricket clubs, but none were in the same spirit as Proddatur Cricket Club.  Cricket on hot days and red hot ground these days must be hard to imagine, and listening to cricket on a boom box is prehistoric, but the pleasure of listening to a voice from a faraway land, and trying to imagine ball by ball coverage as if you were on the field was as magical as growing up and being a part of Proddatur Cricket Club.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Colony – Proddatur Diaries

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

The original layout of my colony was no more than 4 streets by 2 lanes.  I really never checked into the original planning for my colony, but I have to believe that they wanted a planned community in my town of Proddatur.  When I left my town for Chicago, we had very few cars and a few scooters and motor cycles.  Most of us just walked to wherever we were going into town.  I still remember there was a bicycle rental shop at the beginning of Gandhi Road, where you could rent a bicycle by the hour for I believe a quarter of a Rupee.  In those days renting a bike was a luxury, which you saved for longer distances like going to Rameswaram.
I went to school outside of town, to boarding schools.  Early education in Horsley Hills and the last couple of years in Penakacherla (stories for some other time).  You can Google both and they are both wonderful places.  I was home for the holidays and whatever little time I had in town, it was full of wonderful memories and as usual it went very quickly.

Prabhu, Balu and I were in the colony and Maruti right at the edge of the colony on Jammalamadugu Road.  Many of our other friends lived outside the colony.  We have very few streets within the colony, but we rarely ventured outside of our own domains.  For some reason, our domain was ours, and the evenings we used to hang around some sand dunes (big plies of sand before they used it for construction).  We would sit around and chatted the night away.  It is amazing that we never got bored of discussing just about nothing.
We were growing up in an era without a mobile, internet or television.  The only phone we had was a landline in my house, which had little use as we needed others with phones in their homes.  The room in my home with the phone was aptly called phone room.  You never really could speak to anyone privately, as everyone at home was around to listen to every call.

I had many friends, my own and my brothers.  Both were different group of guys and girls; few of them were common friends.  Outside of me both groups were in different space, seldom crossed paths with each other.
Ramana, my brother was a year younger than me, was my best friend.  We grew up together.  It did not matter where we were but, he and I were always together.  When he died in a motor cycle accident my connection with Proddatur, and also with India was broken.  It was and is sad that he passed away so young, and in such an unfortunate incident.  Life is such.  Both Sampath and Deepak, his great friends and mine because of him, both died in road accidents.  All three were great guys and great friends.  I can’t say enough about their loss, and mine.  Each of them died young and some 25 years or so later, life goes on but for me their brotherhood is still missing.  Our colony I hope is still full of brotherhood and family, which we grew up with.

It has been a few years since I went home.  Although I have home on my mind, for some reason I have stayed away.  Since Ramana’s death, my affinity to colony has never been the same.
Going back to the old days, it is amazing to think we had such engaging time, all without any kind of entertainment.  No television, but only an occasional movie.  It was only the guys and conversation, and only god knows what kept us engrossed.  It is fascinating to think that growing up did not have any influences except family and friends.  Today if my kids are left alone for a few minutes they get bored, whereas I a reflecting on years with only school, family and friends.

I still remember that I only knew very few families in the colony, although it was a fairly small area.  For some reason it was not important to nose around people I did not know.  I don’t remember any gossip, only hanging out with my own circles or people.  We were so engrossed with our own list of daily routines, never really had time to think of nosing around.
Colony was peaceful.  We never saw any fights within the groups of guys or girls.  If someone was fighting or yelling, they did so without anyone else noticing.  By and large the gang of guys did well in school and stayed out of trouble.  I don’t remember having any major discussion and what we will end up doing.  Life just moved on at a very quick pace; school, junior college and college and then I got on a plane to Chicago.  I never really thought too much about what I will end up doing and where I will land.  Life just has been happening.

Colony was the comfort zone, which continues to be with me throughout my life.  I am never really concerned about what might happen.  Whatever fate will bring it will be.
A lot has changed with my family and friends.  My grad parents, my father and my brother have passed away.  My mom, three or my brothers and my only sister (in the USA) and their children, all my cousins and their children, and my extended family have spread over the world, but I am sure everyone agrees that the comfort living in the colony (make it two lives for me) will remain with all of us.

I must admit, whenever I speak to my mom I regularly check on what is happening in the colony.  This is the curiosity I did not have when I lived there.  I check the internet to see what’s happening and I have joined the Proddatur groups on the Internet.  I sure am hoping to go back and spend some time in my old colony and perhaps even find something to add to it.  I know it is not the same place, and not the same time.  What I left behind might never be, but it is still my old colony.  It is a place colonized in my heart.
Someday and very soon I intend to go home and hope to retrace my old memories, and perhaps create some new ones.

My inspiration for Proddatur Diaries.

For a quick reference on my home town and if you would like you might want to browse https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proddatur.  My full name is Dhanireddy Sreenivasulu Reddy.  My home town is Proddatur, in Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India.  The long name shorted to Vasu Reddy.  The town now has about 220,000 people in the greater municipality area and growing.  My grandfather, Dhanireddy Pedda Narasa Reddy, moved into town sometime in the 1950’s and as long as I can remember we lived in the “COLONY” and in the same home by grandfather built.  Although I have made the greater Chicago my home away from home, I still identify my life with the colony in my old town.  I know much time has passed and much has changed (and the change is continuous and constant), the tales of the town remain fresh and the memories of childhood and formative years, are always in the forefront of my thought process.  There are many of my childhood friends and two of my brothers still live on town (my family still in our old house), and many of the friends and family around the world.  All of whom are still very dear to me, and still great friends.  Each and every one of them are well accomplished and their children following the path of my contemporaries.  My Proddatur Diaries are fond recollections of the town, colony and my folks and my people.  If anyone who would like to help add to the Proddatur diaries, please send me an email at vasureddy@aol.com.  My intentions are to try and capture the essence of my home, my colony and my town.  For everyone, my friends, my family and my town folks, and all my readers, I hope this will bring back their own memories of home town.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Does Democracy Really Foster People’s Agenda?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

My state of Andhra Pradesh has been split into two almost two years ago.  My old state (what is left after cutting it into two) doesn’t have a capital city yet, and really doesn’t have a lot of infrastructure that constitutes a fully functioning state.  However, it does have an elected government and a chief minister, and it does have a long list of unfulfilled election promises made by the current and elected state government and bifurcation promises made by the center.  It only doesn’t have an owner who will own up to these promises.  Nowadays it is a common practice to promise the moon prior to the election, but once in power keep attacking opposition and encouraging elected representatives to jump into the ruling party (it really doesn’t make sense to have a majority government to attract elected opposition party leaders to come into their government).  It is also unusual for the central government to ignore the commitments to a state that got separated amid a host of promises made in the parliament.  The irony of AP and its current situation is that the center and state have a common power base.  Both the CM and PM belong to the same political alliance.  How is it possible that the party in power will not follow through on bifurcation promises and poll commitments?

The Modi lead government in Delhi has been passing out thousands of Crores of Rupees to many states, and many thousands of Crores to development and other infrastructure initiatives.  For some reason Modi and his government has the pink eye towards the new AP.  There is no discussion on the state’s needs and how it can become main stream.

Although alliance partners CM and PM, might really not be on the same bandwidth, and the politics of the state’s leadership might not fit with the center.

If we start to believe that India’s leadership is ignoring its people (a whole state full of people), it is difficult to table this as elections come every five years, and two is has already lapsed in the last election.  India still has fresh memories of 1970’s emergency under Mrs. Gandhi, and how the people voted down the INC.  Family or history was not important when it came to democratic governance.  The people’s agenda has become increasingly important for the electorate, especially with the advent of electronic media.  Indian politics still have a great influence from caste, religion, language, geography, but poll promises and regional development have also become polling booth issues.  People today are more aware of government actions and policies.  The internet, mobile and television coverage puts politicians on the spot consistently.  If they are in the public eye consistently, so why Modi and Naidu unable to coordinate the conditions or AP bifurcation?  Are they both thinking it is a long five years before next election and things can be either forgotten or addressed?  In fact Modi as the PM started off with a profile of a rock star internationally and with a man that works really hard domestically.  With almost two years on the job, Modi personally continues to work really hard and also drives his team really hard.  Also in this time in office his aura of invincibility has diminished within the nation.  He is no longer the super politician he personified when he got elevated as the PM.  Modi still has high level of commitment to his position and works really hard, while his politics are slowly (some cases very quickly) coming into normal standards.  While the nation is still holding him to his election promises, the results have been not so stellar.

The Indian parliamentary system is still hampering Modi’s policy decisions and implementation to a large degree.  Outside of the INC and its allies being obstructionist, Modi also keeps making missteps that contribute to failures in delivering to poll promises.

Modi continues to spend a lot of personal effort in local elections, which have yielded mixed results, and have not replicated his national election success.  Equations are different when it comes to local elections.  There has been little success in curbing the black money, and bringing back the Indian money starched abroad.  In fat this is one of the biggest holes in Modi election promise verses reality.

Coming into the AP situation, there has been no progress on commitments (not just promises) made by the center in splitting the state.  Much of Naidu’s he is simply limited to visiting Delhi to beg for meetings and making power point presentations (which is a habit at least 20 years old).  For people of AP, both Modi and Naidu have not done anything that is even remotely close to their election promises.  While Modi has completely ignored AP, Naidu is busy getting out of political trouble in Telangana and encouraging political defections in AP.  The irony for the people of AP is one that (Modi) is uninterested and the other (Naidu) is incapable of making the center deliver to the people’s agenda.

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Burden of Debt

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

With more than 16 Trillion dollars (only god knows how many zeros in a Trillion) in national debt and growing at jet speed ($56,378.00 per person) as of last week, USA as a nation is by far the biggest borrower on Earth.  It is perhaps no other nation has even the capacity to borrow that much money.  In 2015 USA spent over $430 billion on just the interest payment which is approximately $3500.00 per tax payer.  The interest rate was a very modest 2.5% annual rate on this money.

The debt is greater than the annual GDP of the United States, and the debt stood at 102.98% of GDP when last calculated.

The USA as the largest economy on earth and the most prosperous nation on the planet, to be in such a dire financial stage is nothing but political mismanagement.

The nation keeps raising the debt ceiling (with a bit of drama in congress every time) at alarming rates and the elected officials (every one of them) play politics that cater to the next election cycle, spending borrowed money.  The social programs and freebies are excellent vote bank politics, as no one is really interested in hearing about the debt burden, and having a plan to live within the means.

This election cycle has raised the topic of the national debt as a main issue.  Trump has and continues to make it a major issue (which it should be).

Should we be afraid of burden of debt, now and in the future?
Why is it difficult for the USA to cut the debt, and also pay it completely off?
Why is the government spending money it doesn’t have while demanding people to pay taxes and managing their finances?

Millions of voters following Trump and now voting for him are certainly looking for someone to get elected and make the hard choices on reducing or even eliminating the national debt.  Trump being personally wealthy and without the normal compulsions of money in politics, can suggest or even make policy announcements that offer across the board cuts to spending, cutting deficits, and return the stable balance sheet to the people.

USA is quite aggressive in is quite aggressive in tax collection.  IRS keeps lifelong tabs on both individuals and corporations, in tax collections.  Why should the government be allowed to excesses and abuse?  Shouldn’t the agencies that manage national finances be subjected to same budget constraints as individuals and corporations?

Trump clearly makes a case for deficit reduction (in fact he suggests to eliminate it all together) thru revised trade agreements, negotiating better government contracts, and cutting waste.  He promises to completely erase the budget deficit in 8 years.  That is a plan to cut the deficit by 12.5% a year for 8 years to completely erase the   deficit.  It is by far a very aggressive suggestion any the people behind him are supportive of this and every other idea he has socialized in this election.  Is such a plan possible?  In true sense, if the nation wants to live debt free, yes.  Erase the budget deficit, and enact laws that will forever force the government to be debt free.

Trump wants to renegotiate just about everything.  He also wants other nations to pay their fair share for American services and military protection.  There should be no debate on asking nation's to pay their fair share, and help with the costs.  If an individual negotiates and a business negotiates a better deal (all the time), then why not the nation?

No one running for elected office wanted to take on the markets, international partners, immigrants, women and serious national issues and still be standing in the race.  No matter what Trump says, a third of the voters have continued to support him, and if he gets into the general election as the republican candidate his support might be greater.

From now until we choose the next president, Trump has raised issues that politicians stay away from.  America First and also embracing wholesale changes to keep the nation as the most prosperous on earth is something all presidents should do.  Cutting government and its spending, immigration, trade and alliances, all should be of importance, but first keeping the nation first and its people.  All of Trump’s stump speeches (not highlighting his insults) are things that are of major concern to every American.   All of us have the issues in our mind, and now Trump is making them headlines.  No matter who become the next president, the issues of the nation and Trumps supporters (a 1/3 of the nation) and probably all that don’t support Trump are all waiting for actions that lead to the nation’s fiscal discipline?

Past Perfect

Vasu Reddy from Chicago vasureddy@aol.com It has already happened. Past is already on the books, recorded, and can’t be changed.   It ...