1 February 2016

Youth is a gift of nature. Age is a work of art!

It think it was Satchel Paige who had once asked “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”. If we did not know what a calendar is, how old would we judge ourselves?

Last night, we had a chance to celebrate the 70th birthday of Mrinal-da. That is by the calendar time. Without a calendar, most of us would put him somewhere around early thirties. Late twenties, on a good day. Here is a gentleman, who is exactly the same age as my mom – and yet, he were any younger, he might have to do stupid things.

It is just not about his ability to defy physical age. Agreed, he might need a few minutes to catch his breath between the game points in a game of tennis but he will chase the ball wherever it goes and return it – often much to the surprise of his opponent and get the match point. It is like he is told himself that till he sees the ball bouncing the second time with his own eyes, it is still fair game. Like I was saying – it is not the physical strength – it is that mental tenacity to not give up even while playing players clearly half his age.

But all that makes him look young. What really makes him young is his attitude towards life. He can as easily hold court with a couple of septuagenarians as with a couple of teenagers. Somehow, he manages to adjust to everybody’s outlook, points of views and have meaningful exchanges.

In the eight years I have known Mrinal-da, I cannot remember once – even once, he speaking ill or even in a slightly bad light of anybody. It is not like he agrees with everything but you can’t get him to say anything negative about anybody. I firmly believe, somehow that is the core of his being. Being able to see the positive in everything has manifested itself in all the other things we see in him.

An outstanding story from a few years back – I think I had written about it before. Mrinal-da was playing tennis with another friend of mine and in the next court were two teenagers – brother and sister – who happened to be the kids of a very close friend of mine. Now, these two siblings were State rated players (that too Texas – which is one of the toughest state in this front) – so obviously their shots were quite a few notches above other players around in the various courts.

Mrinal-da, apparently, stopped his game and intently watched the brother and sister hit the ball. And then during a break, he went up to them, introduced himself, complimented them on their game and said “When I grow up to be as old as you are, I want to learn how to play like you”.

That story embodies Mrinal-da in every aspect of his being.

Incidentally, the dad of the kids narrated this story to me later and I realized that there is probably one such guy in this world. A couple of phone calls later, it was established – indeed it was Mrinal-da!

So, here is to you Mrinal-da on your 70th birthday:

Throw that calendar away. Stay in your mid thirties for another ten years!!!


Posted February 1, 2016 by Rajib Roy in category "Our Friends


  1. By Rajib Roy on

    Ah! Another intersection point!!! I ran into Sanjeev many years later in Dallas and one of these days, I have been threatening to run into him again!

  2. By Amitesh Mukherjee on

    You better believe it that, for him, “it ain’t over until the point is over”. I remember one of the very few times I was his doubles partner ( like me, he enjoys singles more than doubles) , and we were down 1-5, and I was kind of getting ready for the inevitable loss, here comes Mrinalda with his indomitable attitude while picking up the tennis ball after a point , ” it ain’t over. Fat lady hasn’t sung yet”. I remember coming back strong in that set but still ended up losing. You better believe it that he is giving his 150 percent trying to get that ball back until that second bounce and I have seen hundreds of those impossible balls come back to me from the other side of the court. Looking forward to playing tennis with this guy today on his seventieth birthday. Where else would he like to be on his birthday. After all, he is the one who said , ” If I have to go some day ( hopefully a long , long time from today) , I hope I drop dead on a tennis court chasing a tennis ball. There is not a better way to go, for me”.

  3. By Pratik Ghosh on

    Incidentally he once got my grandfather to arrange a match against Premjit Lall at the South Club. Though Premjit was 6 years older than Mrinal-da, it took a lot of courage and confidence to face up one of the hardest hitting Indian pros of his time.

  4. By Amitesh Mukherjee on

    The guy shows up on his birthday and we start hitting. We thought we will play one set and we did. I only planned for an hour. After a few minutes of warming up, we go toe to toe. 1-1, 2-2, 3-3. As usual some of the shots kept coming back that seemed almost non-returnable. At 3-3, we played a game that lasted more than 10 minutes and a point that lasted more than 30 shots. By now, you know that I had no intention to take it easy on this guy on his birthday. He wins that game and we go to 4-4, 5-5 and all the way to 6-6. By the time we played our last point, which lasted for ever , he won 7-5 in tie breaker. As many times as I uttered the phrase ” Are you kidding me Mrinalda?”, if I could win only one of those points when the balls just kept coming back to me – I would have won tye set. It felt like he had read my previous comments on this thread and came absolutely ready to do justice to those comments. My watch said I accumulated 2.5 miles in that set ( approx 6000 steps). That means he must have had more than a 5K worth of running around. It was a great way to celebrate the birthday with this young man. Simply AWESOME.

    By the way, he won that long point that lasted more than 30 shots and we played for more than an hour and half.

  5. By Mrinal on

    You all know one becomes a little (!) slow at old age.
    That caused me to respond 2 years later.

    To all my Friends,
    Thanks a million. Your good wishes will keep me doing crazy things!
    With warm Regards,


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