Who was Edwin Aldrin ?

History is very unforgiving to the silver medalists. Everyone likes to remember the hero. The one ending up second or third might have worked as hard, or might have just lost the race by a whisker. But tough news pal, join the ranks of the also-rans.

Let’s dive into history to find such examples of people who would have been remembered if they had woken up fresher that day or possibly, who finally ended up enjoying life their way and would not have wanted it otherwise.

Of the current crop of cricketers, who would be remembered from Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly (did I hear “who’s he ?”), Ponting. Bets are against anyone except Sachin. Tough to believe ? I asked five 7-10 years old boys about Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham, Imran Khan or the world cup-winning Mohinder Amarnath. Zero knowledge of any of these fine gentlemen except for the odd one who had heard about Kapil Dev and another about Gavaskar (thank goodness). I grew up with my dad signing paeans of Lala Amarnath, Vijay Hazare, Vijay Manjrekar, Sobers, Wes Hall, Rohan Kanhai. Except for Sobers (365 not out), most of the children from my generation grew up with almost no knowledge of the others.

Moving to our other favourite topic – Hindi films, and within that to male stars. Try talking to our mums without sending them into hysteria about Rajendra Kumar, Raj Kumar, Pradeep Kumar, Feroz Khan or Sanjay Khan. Heard about them ? Old movies being “archivable” and easily revived for old people to watch give actors of older generations a better chance of being remembered. But try Prithviraj Kapoor, Sohrab Modi, Balraj Sahni and you see the losing battle I was alluding to. Of course, the gold medalists – Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar stand out in conversations or in Filmfare award banters and hence will be remembered longer. Fast-forwarding to Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Jitendra, Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachhan, Shatrughan Sinha, no points for guessing who could be remembered by 2025 AD. Might be interesting to consider from the “current” crop of stars – Shahrukh, Amir, Salman, Hrithik, Abhishek, Ranbeer, Akshay – who will be remembered in 2040 AD ?

Let’s talk about national leaders – there was one bunch from pre-independence – Gandhiji, Nehruji, Patel, Maulana Azaad, Tilak, Gopal K Gokhale, Lala Lajpat Rai…shows the power of Gandhi and his towering presence. Nehru is also remembered a bit, but largely because of his post-independence nation-building efforts. Other post-independence luminaries completely pale away – Ambedkar, YB Chawan, Morarjee Desai, Krishna Menon…my knowledge fails me.

Carl Lewis, Nadia Comanaci, Muhammad Ali, Sergei Bubka, Michael Schumacher, Bradman, Pele, …the list of gold medalists, who I can remember off-hand, is quite short.

No wonder Indian parents are so obsessed with “coming first”… by the way, for those of you who are not humouring me and actually do not know who Edwin Aldrin is, well, he was…er, ahem…Google him down, dude !

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