Reading is dangerous

Dear Readers of the world,

Yes you who has a book in her hand. And you who has a kindle in his bag.
Reading is dangerous.
It exposes you to the beauty that lies within pages but rarely seeps into real life.
It makes you believe that a character as strong as the one you read about can exist.
It leads you to imagine a land more perfect than you’ve traveled to, grass greener than you’ve ever traded upon.
It sets you too free to be caged ever again.
Not by them. Not by yourself.
And what is that if not dangerous? Because the words you read were indelible. They changed you. And changed you for good.
But I know you’re not afraid to be dangerous. I know you will give up anything but reading. Because I’m one of you.
Wordily,
Literally and figuratively,
Your partner in crime.

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The 44 Balls that Shook the World

AB

Johannesburg.

It’s not a pretty place. It’s a place where strange things happen. It is cricket’s Bermuda Triangle.

Former Australian quick Mick Lewis probably shares the same thoughts.

He holds the record for the most runs conceded in an ODI.

It happened in Johannesburg.

0/113

He would tell you that for bowlers, Johannesburg is unsafe and that strange things happen there. That was his experience in March 2006.

January 2015 has seen another bowling apocalypse. Same place. Different names. Bigger scale.

Under normal circumstances, Rilee Rossouw making a century would be a headline event.

Before yesterday, 50% of his 10 ODI innings had returned an aggregate of zero runs.

Take a minute to let that sink in. Absorb it.

Under normal circumstances, Hashim Amla posting his highest ever ODI score would also be headline news.

153 (142)*

Under normal circumstances, people drive across continents to watch ‘The Hash’ bat. You would walk across the solar system to see him make 150.

Under normal circumstances, an opening batting partnership of 247 would usually be a talking point. No South African opening pair had ever achieved more.

It is a hard one to break.

But normal is probably a word that needs to be left at the door when AB de Villiers is the topic.

People bemoan the slow death of Test and ODI cricket due to the extremeness of T20.

Those people fail to realise that greatness can redefine, reshape and reset almost anything.

AB de Villiers has done that with the One Day game.

To be more precise, it was achieved in only 44 balls.

The 44 balls that shook the world.

It was carnage. He lobbed a grenade into the West Indian team huddle. It was unfair. They had no warning. They didn’t see it coming. They didn’t even know they were at war.

Those 44 balls that conceded 149 runs.

That’s a strike rate per ball of 3.38. In reality, you can’t hit a 3.38. Cricket is not that precise.

To achieve it, you need to be hitting or clearing the boundary. Continually. Practically every ball.

AB only faced the equivalent of 7.2 overs. He made 149 runs. That’s 20.32 per over.

If you extrapolate that over a full 50 over game, de Villiers was capable of making 1016 runs. Do the boring middle overs exist in this environment?

[Insert Dramatic Hyperbole praising AB de Villiers even further]

The truth of the matter is that those 44 balls are said to have claimed at least 10 world records.

They include the fastest ODI fifty and hundred, the fastest ODI century partnership, the highest strike rate for someone making a fifty or hundred and he is the only person to make an ODI ton when coming in after the 30th over has commenced. In fact, he’s done that one twice.

Why does he come in so late?

Coincidentally, multiple bowling records were also broken during those 44 balls. But they were not the good ones. Mick Lewis can rest easy knowing his 0/113 is still safe.

AB is fallible though.

He unselfishly got himself dismissed for 149.

If that wicket delivery had instead been a single, he would have also claimed the record for the fastest ever 150 in an ODI. It would have beaten the old record by only 37 balls.

That’s only a lazy 6 overs faster than the next best.

Cricket archaeologists will one day sift through the ruins of those 44 balls and discover yet more unrealised treasure. Of this, I am certain.

Under normal circumstances, the 44 balls that shook the world would not exist.

But this is Johannesburg..

Strange things happen in Johannesburg.

‘Normal circumstances’ is a term that never applies to AB de Villiers.

Did that really happen?

Solitude

I make them run, when I need them to stay.
I say all the things I know I should never say.
I want them to hold me, to make it okay.
But to them I’m just another person, it’s just another day.
And they know I won’t hurt them if they just walk away.
And so they do, and so now here I lay,
Wishing that it was just as easy, for me to walk away.rh

The Kind Of Girl You Should Date

Date a girl. Date a girl because she’s a girl and she’s beautiful that way. Not because she reads books or is illiterate. Not because she dresses up or doesn’t.

Find a girl who challenges you. Don’t care about how many unread books she has in her bag. Don’t care about how much unused space she has in her closet. Care about how many unread looks she has on her face. Care about how many unused smiles she has on her lips.

When you buy a girl a cup of coffee, or buy her a bottle of vodka — if you do it just to get in her bed, she’ll know it before you do, whether she reads, or whether she doesn’t.

On anniversaries or birthdays, don’t gift your girl books — she can buy all she wants. Don’t buy her expensive dresses; she can buy all she wants and more. If you can, gift her life a much better story than the one she searches for. If you can, gift her all the next years of your life. Tell her you love her in a way she doesn’t expect. She’ll be much more happy and contented with your gift.

Date someone who’ll rather be with you than read. Be someone for whom she’d gladly put that book down for, when you go to meet her. Be someone who makes her life far more romantic than those silly romance novels. Be someone who writes poetry for her, which is far better and personalized than the drab novels. Show her that not all stories need a villain. Take her out to far more beautiful places than the books describe. Give her such a gala time that there’s no need for a plot, a climax — no need for an end — that at each moment, the cup keeps on overflowing. Show her that there is no need to read too much — that she can instead experience it first-hand. Date a girl who’s ready to experience all this — rather than read about it.

Be someone who finds no need to lie to her. Propose to her in a way that puts the heroes in the books to shame. She’ll give you a smile that’s worth more than a billion books. Be all this for her. But please don’t date her just because she reads.

Date someone who’ll rather be with you than go to a pub and be wasted. Be someone for whom she’d rather put that wine glass down, when you go to meet her. Be someone who finds her beautiful even when she’s wearing pajamas. Be someone who eases out her insecurities, who doesn’t let the routine get boring. Be someone for whom she’d rather stay up at midnight for a chat than sleep in with a hangover. Be someone who can listen to the music in her voice rather than sharing her taste in music. If the girl you date never made your heart oscillate with passion, it’s great — yes; because hearts were never made to oscillate. They were made to beat. Date someone who makes your heart skip a beat or two every time you see her. Date a girl who knows when to lend an ear to listen to you when you want to talk. Date a girl who can read the anger in your eyes, even though she doesn’t read books.

Be someone who doesn’t care whether she reads or not. Be the man who is dating her because he has started loving her.

Date a girl who has the guts to scold you when you do wrong and still love you like an idiot all the same.

Dallas Buyers Club

In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease.

“Screw the FDA, I’m a DOA!” With a deadly virus in his body and red tape around his throat, Ron Woodroof is fighting back.

An imperfect man fights for survival during an uncertain time in America. Inspired by true events, Ron Woodroof’s story of strength is told in Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey portrays the real-life character.

He lost 18 kg for his role of a man dying of AIDS. That’s not just a number. The ashen complexion, the red, sunken eyes, the gaunt face and the skeletal body — laid bare to unsparing light — tell the story of a disease that ravaged not just the body but, in the 1980s, left a scared, uncomprehending world looking at something they barely understood.

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After his friends shun him owing to the ‘disease’ and the doctors give him 30 days to put his affairs in order, instead of succumbing to depression, he becomes his own physician. He discovers and smuggles unapproved but effective drugs into the US from Mexico and other countries for himself and to make money.

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What seems like a standard plot is elevated to excellence by the lead actors’ remarkable performances. There’s more to McConaughey than the drastic weight loss. From getting the Texan mannerisms, swagger and his character’s juvenility right, to producing a range of emotions, he reinvents himself and gives the performance of his career. It would be a shame if he doesn’t bag the much-coveted Oscar for it. Leto is a revelation too and deserves the accolades coming his way.

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Dallas Buyers Club may not be the authoritative story on the AIDS scare of the 1980s, but it’s as good as any.

Ron died in 1992, seven years after he was diagnosed with HIV. This is his incredible life story, told with a dash of humour and an empathy-evoking narrative. Brilliant would be an understatement.

Ron Woodroof passed that test.

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HIGHWAY

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Right before her wedding, a young woman finds herself abducted and held for ransom. As the initial days pass, she she begins to develop a strange bond with her kidnapper.

 

A girl. A city girl – young, full of life – is on the highway at night. With her fiancé. They are about to get married in four days. Suddenly, her life is swung away from the brocade and jewelery of marriage to the harsh brutality of abduction. Her life will never be the same again. The same night, the gang is in panic. The girl is a big industrialist’s daughter. His links in the corridors of power make ransom out of the question. They are doomed. But the leader of this group is adamant. For him sending her back is not an option. He will do whatever it takes to see this through. But as the days pass by, the scenery changes, the light changes, the sun sets and rises and the air changes, she feels that she has changed as well. Gradually, a strange bond begins to develop between the victim and the oppressor. It is in this captivity that she, for the first time, feels free. She does not want to go back but she also doesn’t want to reach where he is taking her. She wishes this journey to never end. Maybe the Highway will not really change her. Maybe this feeling is just a passing phase. Maybe not.

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Paths of Glory

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Some people have dreams that are so magnificent that if they were to achieve them, their place in history would be guaranteed. Francis Drake, Robert Scott, Charles Lindbergh, Amy Johnson, Edmund Hilary, Neil Armstrong, and Lewis and Clark are among such individuals.

But what if one man had such a dream, and once he’d fulfilled it, there was no proof that he had achieved his ambition?

Jeffrey Archer’s book, Paths of Glory, is the story of such a man—George Mallory. Mallory once told an American reporter that he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, “because it’s there.” On his third attempt in 1924, at age thirty-seven, he was last seen six hundred feet from the top. His body was found in 1999, and it still remains a mystery whether he ever reached the summit.

But only after you’ve turned the last page of this extraordinary novel, inspired by a true story, will you be able to decide if George Mallory’s name should be added to the list of legends, in which case another name would have to be removed. Paths of Glory is truly a triumph.