The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘I’m most relaxed with those who mean most’
- My father remains my role model…but Blessed Teresa is the one non-sportsperson I admire the most, says Sachin

Thirty-one Test centuries and 36 three-figure knocks in ODIs… All that and more is well-documented. Yet, much as many crave, few know anything at all about Sachin Tendulkar the person. This has, perhaps, only added to his mystique. Recently, The Telegraph spoke to the 30-year-old icon, idea being to ‘unravel’ at least something.

The following are excerpts

Q Even 14 years after your debut, very few are in the know about the person you are. Have you consciously encouraged this'

A My personal life must remain personal and, really, people should (only) know more about the cricketer in me…

Fair enough, but can a public figure actually have a private life'

May become difficult but, if you ask me, there are things which must always remain within the family… In any case, I prefer privacy as I’m a very reserved person. I’m not comfortable with… For me, the quieter the better.

Does an ‘encroachment’ upset you'

I don’t get upset, but do try to explain that I’m entitled to quality time with my family… The calendar is so demanding that every moment (with the family) is special. Indeed, I’m particular about the time spent with my kids (Sara and Arjun)… I should be allowed to take in the joy of being around them… When I’m with the family, I don’t have to worry about scoring… Don’t have to worry about the next ball… Yes, I’m most relaxed when I’m with those who mean the most to me.

Given that you can’t move about everywhere, what do you miss most'

Look, I’ve been playing for India since the age of 16 itself and, if you think of it, certain habits grow in the 16-20 age group. So, in my case, I was already a known face early in life. Therefore some habits, which could have grown, simply didn’t. (After a pause) Barring a couple of things here and there, I haven’t missed anything… Today, I have no regrets and, as a person, haven’t changed: I prefer homely food and a homely ambience. When I’ve switched off cricket, that’s what I enjoy most.

It seems Anjali and you have made it a point to keep the children away from the limelight…

That’s because the focus should be on me… I’m the cricketer and I don’t see why the kids must ‘suffer’… They should be allowed to enjoy every minute of their childhood. After all, those years won’t ever return… Moreover, I want both Sara and Arjun to grow up as normal children… I don’t want them being accorded special status or whatever… In fact, I’m associated with a charity (Apnalaya) and encourage my kids to interact with the underprivileged children. If I could add, Sara and Arjun enjoy those outings and I’m happy.

How do you deal with your kids'

(Grins) I’m patient and try not to get angry… Try to correct mistakes… Anjali, though, is the one responsible for their upbringing… Being a paediatrician, she understands them better.

What did you learn from your parents (Ramesh and Rajani)'

My father never lost his temper… Didn’t shout… Given that he was always so calm, it’s no surprise that everybody sought his guidance whenever there was a problem. And, here, I’m not just talking of the immediate family… I don’t think anybody took a big decision without his advice… Whatever the problem, my father had some solution. Clearly, he was the guiding force for everybody — far and near… My mother, of course, complemented him.

In your book, who is the ideal parent'

Perhaps, somebody like my father… He remains my role model. (After a pause) I never got to meet her, but Blessed Teresa has also been a big influence… She is the one non-sportsperson I admire the most.

The present-day parents seem quite pushy…

I agree there’s more pressure on children… It’s possible that parents are getting influenced by TV and feel there are benefits in pushing their kids into something from an early age…

Surely, that’s not right'

Don’t know… I’m not an expert. However, what I can say is that children shouldn’t be pushed into doing something… The parents must understand and respect the kid’s inclination towards a particular subject and encourage him/her… Support what the child likes…

The final question: What did your family environment teach you'

The importance of values, respect… Total commitment towards the preferred vocation… I’ve been privileged.

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