Having a realistic outlook

FOR Geet Sethi, the seven-time World champion, life rolls on and on like the cue ball on the green baize.

V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Geet Sethi sporting a disarming smile. — Pic. H. SATISH-

FOR Geet Sethi, the seven-time World champion, life rolls on and on like the cue ball on the green baize. The tinge of disappointment for the 42-year-old Indian celebrity after losing the World championship final to Englishman Lee Lagan in the 34th edition in Hyderabad gives way for the more realistic aspects in sport and life. In a freewheeling chat Geet Sethi shares some relatively unknown facets of his illustrious sporting career. Mind you, he does insist that he will be back in the next edition and try to win after losing "in an exciting final" to Lagan.

"No doubt, it is disappointing to lose the final in front of the home crowd but credit should be given to Lee for playing a wonderful game," says Geet Sethi. Doesn't he get tired of winning almost everything at stake? "Well, certainly there was that phase five years ago when I was wondering whether life is all about practising for hours and winning titles. I did realise that I missed many more things in life like art, culture, adventure sports and social life too," he remarks. "However, the credit for my comeback to the sport should go to the Mumbai-based gentleman Parthasaradhi, who teaches Siddhanta. In the half-an-hour chat during that phase it was he who rekindled the desired motivation level in me. He simply told me — you have won so many titles till now. Now play for a cause, for the country and be a source of inspiration to the youngsters and don't waste your skills," Geet recalls. An observation which soon scripted some fabulous chapters in the golden era of Indian billiards.

Essentially, Geet reminds that he doesn't believe in setting up any goals. "You are bound to put pressure on yourself by setting goals. I never dreamt of winning the World championship. It all happened. And billiards is a sport where you cannot depend on anyone for support. It is all about complete harmony of various facets of a human being which make a winner", he explained. A philosophical Geet also reminds that apart from the joy of being a World champion so many times, he does sometimes feel that he missed a lot on family front, art, culture, most importantly human elements in real life. "Even now I keep shuttling from Mumbai to Ahmedabad to be with my wife Kiran and kids — son Raag and daughter Jaaz," he reminds. And, the names of his kids reflect how deeply he is in love with music.

The former champion in a pensive mood during the final. -- Pic. H. SATISH-

When Geet is on a song, it is perfect symphony on the table too and certainly not music for the opponents. What keeps him still going? "Well, it is just perseverance and deep love of what you do. There is so much of mental aspect to a success story in sports," he points out. And quite surprisingly, this 42-year-old cueist whose achievements at the highest level are not part of sporting folklore in India says there is no substitute for hard training sessions, not even yoga and meditation. "What I basically look for is long walks and some jogging to get the act together during a major tournament," he says to a query.

The champion performer has every right to say that billiards is a precision sport and needs utmost balance of various aspects of a human being. Whom does he look at when he is down or in a bad phase? "My wife, Kiran. She is a very understanding woman who knows how to handle pressures of winning and losing," was Geet Sethi's quick reply. And what does he hate the most? "See, whatever happens on the table is because of you. No one else is responsible. So the worst thing is to hate yourself. Just be focussed on the job and things will fall in place," he remarked. How long will you play? "Well, as long as the eyes provide the desired coordination to come good on the table," he says and this is not really good news for his contemporaries.

Geet Sethi, whose name is synonymous with billiards, doesn't really watch other sports except for the final of a one-day cricket match. And, unlike other non-cricketing superstars, this gentleman player is not bothered about recognition being on par or not with cricketers. "I have no control about it and why should I bother about it. See, life is not ideal in all aspects for all human beings. There will be ups and downs for many. We have to take certain things in our stride," says Geet.

The champion sportsperson put his own stamp of class to end the chat saying: " Life is all about humility and human values. We have a fantastic tradition. And, it is duly reflected when I had those rare encounters with other big names of Indian sport like Sachin Tendulkar, Leander Paes. There is a lot of mutual respect for each other."