Return to First Principles

I love Physics. I love Mathematics even more. There isn’t anything almost as elegant as a mathematical proof. Perhaps music and art would come close to it but I am a complete ignoramus in those two areas.

I chose to be an Engineer because I loved Maths and Physics in high school. The discovery of the beautiful relationships of abstract concepts to the physical world, and learning to apply those relations to solve real-world problems was exciting as a seventeen year old. As I approach the age of 40, having spent nearly a decade in graduate school which included an aborted Ph.D., (while in the process of writing my dissertation, no less), I continue to work in an area that combines material science and mechanical engineering.

In my line of work, I conduct inspection of structures using Non Destructive Testing techniques, carry out training courses for field technicians. After a while, the job is well, a job; I’m on cruise control, working on muscle memory, and the things I have to do on a daily basis become so routine that there isn’t that excitement of discovery which is what got me in to this in the first place. During times like these, I look to two books for inspiration: 1) Fundamentals of Physics by Resnick & Halliday and 2) Advanced Mathematical Methods in Science & Engineering by E. Kreyzsig. These two books transport me back to the times Maths and Physics were exciting and stimulating for me. It allows me to relearn some of the concepts and see them in a new light. It also serves as a reminder of why I am where I am. The joy of it all is rekindled. After a while, I’ll most certainly plateau again and I’ll return to these books to get me going. Again.

All this is to say, I need to get back to blogging about cricket. Outside of Maths and Physics, cricket is my other passion in life. I look back to the time I had a personal blog which became a platform where I ended up obsessing exclusively about cricket, which gave rise to this website. I got in to cricket blogging because I thought I had something to say, and the opportunity to link up with other likeminded cricket obsessives. That was nearly 7-8 years ago.

In the early cricket blogging time, I looked for any opportunity to write for other blogs and sites. Every day and every cricket match I watched or played in were sources of inspiration to write more about the sport and its infinite possibilities. The blog eventually led to the Couch Talk podcast, and it opened doors that I didn’t even know existed. I got opportunities to cover International Cricket for many outlets including Cricinfo, Wisden India, MiD DAY, All Out Cricket etc. It even allowed my wife and I to take a trip around the world for 9 months following cricket, and even write about it!

I remember approaching Anand Ramachandran (who was cult personality in the Indian blogging scene and also wrote Page 2 articles for Cricinfo) early in blogging years, looking for guidance to write for bigger platforms. He gave me a couple of contacts but provided a single piece of very valuable advice: “Keep writing”. And I did. For a good bit.

Somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten the ways. Perhaps I was in cruise control mode with the podcasts doing well. Perhaps it was news websites that even paid me to write columns and feature pieces. Perhaps it was the laziness that inevitably creeps in. Perhaps I was comfortable just to spew my thoughts in 140 characters.

I’ve tried to shake the cobwebs off from time to time. I maintained a diary for the first few weeks of my world trip but once I got an offer to write a monthly piece for Cricinfo from the travels, my blogging stopped. I wrote a daily Ashes diary (from last July-August) for a couple of weeks but then lethargy set in and I stopped blogging. I was determined that I’d get back to blogging once I returned from England but an opportunity to write for LiveMint came along, and once again, I put the thoughts of blogging on the back burner.

I haven’t written anything cricket related for more than a month now. I still do podcasts quite regularly but it doesn’t provide the same satisfaction of actually putting cogent thoughts down.

Just as when you hit a roadblock in carrying out a mathematical problem, the solution is in getting back to the first principles, and looking at things in a new way. The recent inspiration for me to return to blogging is Jon Hotten, an accomplished writer, who still finds the time and thoughts to carry on blogging even as he writes books, columns and movie scripts.

I need to keep Anand’s advice in mind, and just keep writing, as much and as often as I can. So here’s to new beginning. Here is to a return to the first principles. Thanks to Anand and Jon, my Resnick and Halliday.

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