Monday, July 16, 2007

In a galaxy far, far away..

Once upon a time, there was a budding blogger. He dreamt big. He thought he would become a ‘regular’. A regular at blogging. Hah! What does he know of HIS ways? Life had different surprises in store for him.
The dream died. He was no regular, after all.
But hope lingers. Like a ray of sunlight after a dark thunderstorm.
The regular may have died, but the blogger survives.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

So the inevitable has happened. Our team of ‘super heroes’ has just been knocked out of the World Cup. They have been beaten by teams like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (yes, i don't rate them as highly as some of the other top teams). The whole nation is in mourning. How could a team of champions lose in this manner? One didn't hear a tiger's roar or a leopard's snarl. The only sounds we heard were that of a kitten purring in fright. We all love to live in a dreamland, don't we?

Honestly, it has come of no surprise to me. This team was never a bunch of all conquering gladiators that they were made out to be. They are a bunch of ordinary players with rich natural talent but poor mental strength. They have always succumbed in the face of adversary. No point in comparing them to the Aussies, who save their best for the biggest occasions. Pressure is like a blacksmith's coal fire. The best come out shining and stronger, the rest turn into ashes.

Predictably, the media has gone into an overdrive in blaming the players and coaching staff. Every former player/expert worth his salt has been called upon for airing his views on this debacle. The very same people, till a few weeks back, were hailing the Indian team and were favorably rating its chances to win the cup. Their changing colors would put a chameleon to shame. They conveniently forget that they were involved in similar debacles in their playing days. As I am prone to say often, the media is the biggest culprit behind all the hype. They pick a promising guy, place him on the altar all too quickly and then sacrifice him the moment he falters. Ordinary men's ordinary feats are extra ordinarily portrayed by the media. And the same media ravages these players when they fail to perform to the lofty expectations bestowed on them.

And then, we have the all too familiar sight of demented men on the streets vandalizing public/private properties, burning effigies and shouting slogans. Such acts are a way of venting out the frustrations of personal failures in life, rather than the team's performances. How often would you see a fairly successful and content man coming out on the streets to protest on things as trivial as a fun sport? Moreover, we don't get to see these people protesting after a bomb blast or for rise in prices of basic commodities. Ironic as it may seem, such men talk of national pride being hurt by the team's performances and then showcase their savage and boorish acts in front of national and international television. A whole nation's honor resting on the shoulders of 11 contracted individuals? Naah. India is much, much more than a cricket team.

The common fool on the street is a mere pawn. The real brains are behind the scenes; the ones in the television studios, raking in all the moolah.
We will now hear the need to dump the older players in favour of younger ones. These younger players will then be pushed up the pedestal by all and sundry, and brought down to earth when its their turn to be sacrificed. It's a cyclic process. The faster we get used to it, the better.

Another common grouse we hear is of the players shooting for ads and promoting products instead of honing their skills. If we don't like them doing it, then let's stop watching these ads. The ad-agencies will automatically stop using the players for their campaigns. As simple as that.Is it the player's fault when people and companies demand such adverts? The players can't be blamed for capitalizing on this hype. Who, in his right mind, would turn down an opportunity to earn good money? Not me, not you. Then why them?

Cricket like any other game, is a team sport. If the individuals click as a team, then they win. Else the other team wins. It's not a matter of life or death or even national pride. The media won't change its ways, so its up to the common man to see reason. Our team was never good enough to win this World Cup. And in any case, its just another tournament. Its better to be a good test team winning all around the world, than being a one-cup wonder. Probably the worst thing to happen to Indian cricket was winning the 1983 World cup. Not because it has set a bad precedent for the public to expect the team to win every world cup despite form or talent. But more so, because we all are tired of seeing and hearing from that group of players, on how well they played, how great they were, blah blah. An event that occurred more than 20 years ago is still being celebrated at every given opportunity. That probably highlights our failures as a sporting nation. Who wants to see Kapil, Madan Lal, Amarnath, Shrikanth etc go on and on about that win? Give us a break guys!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Move over, all the Yokozunas..

..Dwayne Leverock is here! Who would have imagined a player of such proportions would ever grace the World Cup? He makes Ranatunga, Romesh Powar, David Boon and company look like anorexics.

But don't let his huge frame fool you. He is a handy left arm spinner and evidently an agile fielder, as his stunning catch against India proved. And oh yes, he is a mama's boy.

Cricket,at the moment, needs such characters. This edition of World Cup would probably be remembered in the future for the unfortunate events surrounding Bob Woolmer's untimely demise, protests/violence of the fanatic Indian and Pakistani supporters, Flintoff's drunken misdemeanors etc. Characters like Dwayne are needed to draw the attentions of people to where it should rightly belong. On the field. After all, it's just another game.

The attention Dwayne is getting is another argument in favour of the inclusion of minnows in the World Cup. I love watching countries like Kenya, Bangladesh, Ireland beat the likes of Pakistan, India, Australia, NZ etc. There is a certain romance in seeing the underdogs beat the favourites. We all love David more than Goliath, don't we? The only difference here is that in Dwayne's case, we have a David who looks like Goliath. Triangle will no longer be the shape that i would associate with Bermuda again. No sir, never ever :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

When slapped on one cheek..

..bash the living daylights out of the aggressor, instead of offering the other side. Mahatma Gandhi may not approve of this approach, but i have always admired people who refuse to buckle under criticism or hostility. That is why i liked the way Ricky Ponting , captain of the Australian cricket team, responded to Sunil Gavaskar's remarks on his team's behaviour.

I personally think that the Australians do push the line when it comes to sledging and that, at times, they are an arrogant bunch of individuals. However, they back it up with performances on the field where they have been the undoubted champions for the best part of the decade. One of the reasons behind their success is the self belief and confidence that they have in themselves. Its a fine line that separates confidence from over-confidence; assuredness from arrogance.

Gavaskar himself is no pushover and he did retort to Ponting's remarks , albeit on the back foot and with lesser venom compared to his earlier comments. Ponting has made his point.Critics will think twice before commenting on his team. Could the same be said of the Indian players like Dravid, Sachin, Kumble et all? Ganguly was the honorable exception. And maybe Sreesanth ( remember the mock dance directed at Andre Nel?). Probably the epitome of Indian team's meekness was Srinath. He actually apologised to Ricky Ponting when he hit his head with a bouncing delivery. And Ponting's response? He snarled like a dog and asked Srinath to get back to his bowling crease. This incident would probably sum up the difference in the attitudes of these players. One of my fondest memory of Sachin Tendulkar was when he dished out a barrage of verbal volleys to 'Mr. Loudmouth' Glenn Mcgrath. The baffled look on McGrath's face was priceless.

Even the Indian media needs to learn from the Aussies. Sunil Gavaskar was probably the only one to condemn Barry Richards, when he ridiculed Indians in his column. Gavaskar rightly asked the Indian media to censure Barry and stop endorsing his 'paid-for' views on television or print. And what did our media do? They invited him to India to lecture us on his views on our team, players and suchlike ( NDTV being the prime culprit). No words of condemnation, no boycotting the man who stereotyped an entire nation. All we get to see is Mr. Richards walking all the way to the bank, smirking at our timidity. The irony of the matter is, this behaviour is exactly what Barry Richards deemed as 'Indian fragilities'. And we probably vindicated him. Sigh!

Note: To all S&M fans out there,
With reference to the title of this post, I was talking about the cheeks on our face, and not any other part of the human anatomy. Get those dirty thoughts off your mind, you pervs! :)

Beginning of the end?

It hasn't even been a week since i have become involved in my new project work ( actually we are just in the initiation phase), and my blogging is slowly but surely reducing.

The worst part is that i am still not completely involved in this project yet, so heaven knows how much i will be posting in a month's time from now!

But i will keep blogging, despite the lack of time and the brickbats i receive from my friends/occasional readers. I may lack the knowledge, the vocab or even the basic skills of writing. However, there are a couple of things i do not lack. Inspiration. And a desire to voice my opinions.

So to answer my own question. Is this the beginning of the end? The answer is a resounding NO.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

For those from Venus,

Like the old joke goes, chauvinists would say " Woman without her man, is nothing".
The rest of us say "Woman: Without her, man is nothing"
Keep rocking ladies!

Yours truly,
A Martian.

Happy women's day! To all the wonderful women in my life or otherwise ( no exceptions).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sweet child of mine.

Do not let the title mislead you.As much as i would love to rant about the song by Guns N' Roses, it being one of my favourites, this post is not about that song.

It's based on some of statements being made by the parents of the students accused of indulging in drugs at the rave party held in Pune.

Agreed, it's hard for the parents to see their offspring languishing behind the bars.After all, our own children can never be bad, it's their 'company' which is bad.Conveniently ignoring the fact that their offspring is a part of the 'bad company'. And the other child's parents would be doling out the same excuse.

Some of the statements being made by such parents is laughable. Usage of narcotics is a punishable offense and since their 'darlings' broke the law, they will be punished for it. As simple as that. To say "they were just doing drugs, other big society people do it too" ; "they are not criminals, one day in prison is enough to punish them" etc, is to miss the moot point. If you break the law and get caught, you are bound to face the music. If you can't stomach it, you shouldn't get involved in the first place. I am sure all the participants of such parties are well aware of the consequences if they get caught.

Yes, the richies would hire the best lawyers and get out within days. And the poor might have to stay there for longer time. But the law has to run its course. It might be crippled with corruption, inconsistencies and endless delays. However, at the end of the day, if it wasn't for the much lamented law and order system in our country, these very parents would be mourning near the deathbeds of their spoilt li'l ones.

On an final note, i remember reading this excuse in one of the newspapers; "My son can't be a drug addict, after all he is good in his studies". Talk about stereotypes!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Strictly for football lovers.

Arsenal vs Liverpool, Quarter finals of the League cup. At Anfield, Liverpool's home ground.
Manager/coach of Arsenal have directives from the board: win the Cup or lose your job. Liverpool is a team on a roll, winning their last 5 games on the trot.

First half:

Arsenal begins the game as usual, with a series of passes. One wrong move, and the ball lands at the feet of Steven Gerrard. He lobs it to Alonso, who in turn passes it to Luis Garcia playing upfront. One sideways move, the defender Gallas goes in the wrong direction and Bam! Nothing much keeper Valdes can do about that.Time: 11 minutes. Liverpool 1- 0 Arsenal.

Arsenal tries to press ahead,but Liverpool is on a roll here. John Arne Riise gets the ball on right flank and provides a long pass to Robinho on the front. An unstoppable volley follows. Time :35 minutes. Liverpool 2- 0 Arsenal.

Second half:

The coach knows its now or never. He knows that one goal would be enough to fire up his troops.A substitution is made. Hleb is replaced by Rosicky.
Henry get a short pass from Fabregas, takes one look at the goal and wham! Gooaaal!!!
Time: 50 minutes. Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal.

Team Arsenal is lifted by this effort and the game turns on its head. Liverpool is on the defense and Arsenal creates a series of chances, but are unable to convert any.
Time: 80 minutes. The manager makes an inspired substitution. The unlucky Theo Walcott is replaced by Adebayor up front. He immediately makes an impact and creates an opening. But Fabregas messes up the chances to equalize.

Time: 90 minutes. Ball at Adebayor's feet and he is inside the D region on the left side of the goal. With a defender on his heels, he sees that there is no way he can pass to Henry. Despite the tight angle, he decides to go for it. A full blown effort, and keeper Reina spills it inside the goal.
The stadium is stunned into silence.
Time: 90 minutes. Liverpool 2 - 2 Arsenal.

Extra time:

Liverpool begins positively and get a free kick. Agger takes the kick and scores a beauty. The stadium erupts. Time : 95 minutes. Liverpool 3 - 2 Arsenal.

However Henry is a man inspired. A cross from Baptista from the left flank and a scissor kick follows. Henry has done it again. Arsenal equalize. Time: 105 minutes. Liverpool 3 - 3 Arsenal.

Arsenal is destined to win this one, and the manager knows it. Second half of the extra time, Henry gets a through pass from Rosicky. He squares up the defender and scores an easy goal. The only claps of appreciation comes from a small section of Arsenal supporters.The rest are jeering. Time: 115 minutes. Liverpool 3 - 4 Arsenal.

Final score: Arsenal 4 - 3 Liverpool.

Arsenal goes through to the semis and go on to win the cup. The manager is lauded by the board.

The manager: Me.
The platform: FIFA 2007 by EA sports.

I was playing the game last evening.One of the greatest games i have played on the computer. Move over Konami. EA Sports is here to stay. And be afraid Wenger, Binesh is knocking at the doors of the Emirates stadium.

PostScript: Every little detail i have mentioned here is an exact recap of the game i played. Players like Valdes, Robinho may seem out of place, but in the game they have been transferred to these clubs.No exaggerations here. Yeah, i know it was 'just a stupid computer game'.But i was delirious anyways and my mother was witness to my wild reactions. She and my fiancee think i am yet to grow up. So do i.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Momma, i have a question for you..

Ever wondered what is this universe? From what it has originated, why it has originated, where is it present? Even if there are infinite number of universes out there, they have to be 'in' something, rite? Why are we even here? [Now that's something even my friends who read my blog ask me sometimes ;) ]
The Big Bang theory tells us that the universe originated from a primeval atom. So i wonder, like an inquisitive and irritating kid, how was the atom there in the first place? Strong case to become spiritual and believe in God, nooo?O' Lord, thou's prodigal son has returned to thee.

My humble take on this matter is that there are so many things that are beyond the human brain. Our brains, due to the physical size and maybe structural shortcomings, can only understand and comprehend things to an extent. Our scientists will keep discovering and coming up with theories, till we reach a dead end one day. Not so much in the near future, but maybe a billion years down the road? Unless we start evolving into creatures with huge brains, this will be a distinct possibility. To fit in these huge brains, we need to start sporting big heads.In that respect, i am glad that i have at least started contributing for the benefit of mankind.To this day, i find it difficult to find a hat to fit my head ;)

Coming back to the cosmic conspiracy theories, presently we just aren't equipped to handle the heat. Today, if say an intellectually superior alien decides to be kind to us and try to decode the whole mystery for us, we still probably won't get a thing. In all probability, we are too dumb and insignificant in the larger scheme of things.No presentations, no hypnosis, no other techniques to explain these concepts would work with us. It would be kinda like us trying to explain the Theory of Relativity to a pigeon. Or the concept of Internet to a cow. Or the concept to peace to Pakistan. Not much hope, eh?

PostScript: Although i have peppered this post with silly jokes, i was always fascinated by these questions as a kid. I used to try to think deep and read stuff from books ( no Internet access those days). Towards the end, i used to get a sinking feeling and used to rush to my mom to change the topic and get back to normalcy. Wonder who the lucky bastard would be who gets to know the answers to these questions?
BTW, check out the link provided for Theory of Relativity. This is probably the first time ever that my pint sized brain got an inkling of this amazing postulate.Check it out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A must read for every white collared 'professional'

I first happened to come across a few Dilbert strips during my engineering days. I had heard a lot about how funny it was and how popular it had become over the years. A friend of mine, whose elder brother was in an IT service based company, happened to have a copy of the book, 'The Dilbert Principle'. He himself hadn't read it, but told me that his brother loved the book. With high hopes, i began reading it. First and foremost, it wasn't a comic book, much to my disappointment. Secondly, most of the strips didn't make any sense to me. I just couldn't get myself to go beyond the first few pages. 'What an over hyped piece of crap!' was my reaction back then.Needless to say, the book was promptly returned.

Then it happened. Actually, IT happened. I joined Infosys right after my college. Pandemonium ensued.With some of my peers or senior colleagues and their strange, funny and at times irrational behavioural patterns, i realized how different office is from my college. The irony of a bunch of amateurs in a professional setup confused me. And then, the Gods decided to be kind to me.
The enlightenment. My first appraisal meeting.In the divine presence of the supreme being. The greatest leveller of them all. The manager. The final piece of the jigsaw puzzle was in place.

All of a sudden, Dilbert became the Bible of our lives. Me and few of my friends lapped up everything Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, threw at us. This guy is a genius. The similarities between the characters in Dilbert and some people i know in real life, is eerie. The situations in the central character Dilbert's life is generally what anyone amongst us might be facing on any given day in our office. I can identify with most of these characters or situations. So can a lot of readers, as evident from the letters they write to Scott Adams.

Coming to the characters of Dilbert; we have Dilbert himself, the geeky engineer who doesn't get appreciated in his office for all his hard work; the feisty Alice; the smart Dogbert with his brilliant philosophies on life; Catbert, the evil head of HR and many others. But the three standouts , according to me, are Asok, Pointy haired boss and Wally.

Asok is the unappreciated intern vying to become a permanent employee. He is a graduate from one of the IITs and is at the receiving end of his boss or colleagues' ire most of the times. The poor fellow does all the work and is never rewarded for it.

Pointy haired boss, as you might have guessed, is the manager of the whole bunch. He is shown to be a moron, who relies on his 'managerial instinct' to save his ass from the board and to assert himself on people who work under him.His speeches or presentations are like crash courses on managerial jargon. A must for every aspiring manager. His lack of brains is the premise of many strips, but more often than not, he emerges on top in all situations. There is a only guy who outsmarts him regularly. That is Wally.

Wally is a coffee guzzling co-worker of Dilbert, and is probably the laziest person on earth but one who is smart enough not to get fired. He uses his wit to get himself out of any work that is assigned to him and goes back to his favourite pastime, sleeping. Get to work, drink coffee, sleep for sometime, drink coffee again, have lunch, sleep again, pass on some gyaan to the interns on how to avoid work, fool your boss, go home and get paid for doing nothing. That's Wally (and some other people i know at work ;) ).He is the one character most of us lazybones aspire to emulate, but few are successful.

If you are working in such a setup or if you identify with any of these characters, start reading Dilbert. In case you already don't, that is.

Take a bow, Scott Adams.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Everything's fair in love, war and national television.

And i thought only the Indian television based media goes to such lengths to attract viewers!
Come to think of it, the fact that the poor lady agreed to chain herself for the journalist and his crew raises a question. Was she coerced to do this or was the desire to get featured on national television too hard to resist?

These days the standards of some of our television news channels, especially the ones broadcasting in Hindi, have fallen to a new low.Some of the news stories reported in crimson red and bold letters as 'BREAKING NEWS' are like one liner jokes. 'Aishwarya Rai marries a plantain tree', 'Jayalalitha adds 10 grams to her 500 kgs frame', 'Thackeray cousins fight over a pencil', 'Chappell exercises his middle finger'( no pun intended), 'Sehwag losing his hair ( and runs) @10 per day', 'Amitabh's pet dog growing increasingly jealous of Amar Singh'. Ok ok, i made up some of these lines.But they may be true, who knows? Especially the Amar Singh one. Dogs don't take kindly to new pets.

These channels have made a habit of sensationalizing even the most trivial matters. I remember seeing a news channel actually running a special program damning a popular cricketer one day after a failed innings and asking for his expulsion from the team. The very next week, after the guy performed well on field, they ran a special show highlighting how good a player he is! One news channel had brought in an out of work movie actor to enact (must add, rather pathetically) the war between the Ambani siblings.

One particularly sad incident was when a group of media men were accused of inciting a man to set himself on fire. I had seen the footage on TV. It was gruesome. But no one will ever know if he did it himself or if he was coaxed to do it. Makes me wonder if some of these so called onsite 'reporters' have any ethics at all. Not only as journalists, but even as human beings! Even if they didn't prompt him, they could have at least prevented him from a certain death.

On the flip side, some of these shows are hilarious to watch. Even while covering non-events, some of the wannabe reporters behave as if their ( and our) lives depended on it. Especially when it comes to filmy weddings/parties. Such fun.

On a final note, coming back to the much debated marriage of the actress to a tree. I think it was very logical of her to marry a banana tree, due to biological reasons. Imagine her marrying a pineapple and the subsequent carnal desires. Ouch!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Forza Kaka!

No, this is not a piece on Rajesh Khanna. Although, i do admit being mesmerized by his acting skills, or the lack of it, on quite a few occasions. This is about the magician, the enforcer, the creator, and the finisher. The footballer. Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite a.k.a. Kaka.

The ace midfielder of AC Milan has been undoubtedly been one of the best in the world since the past few years. People tend to focus on the magic of his Brazilian team mate Ronaldinho, but those who have followed Italian Serie A closely would agree with me. Scoring goals in Serie A is a lot tougher than in the Spanish Primera. Most of the teams in Italy play football with a defensive mindset and many games end in 1-0 scoreline. The Spanish league is more flamboyant compared to it and the emphasis is more on scoring spectacularly than defending. This is not to say that Kaka is better than Ronaldinho, who would probably end up as one of the top 5 footballers of all time. But he is just as good.And effective.

Kaka is a complete footballing package. He has got pace, power and an amazing eye for pinpoint passes. His sublime passes from the midfield would even put the deft touches of Cesc Fabregas to shame. On countless occasions, he has assisted goals with his exemplary vision. He creates spaces that doesn't exist in the eyes of lesser players. But he has another ability which very few midfielders have. Goal scoring.
On an average, he scores more than 10 goals every season. In fact, he nearly scored 20 goals for Milan during 2005-06, the season when he was widely regarded as the best in the world and was awarded the best midfielder in Champions League competition. His pace is on par with any top notch striker, he can shoot with either of his feet, his finishing is clinical and precise. And his best ability is to take long shots at goals. He scores many of his goals from a good distance and the goalkeeper can expect a thunderous volley anytime the ball is on his feet.The art that players like Paul Scholes and Pavel Nedved have perfected.

Other than AC Milan, the beneficiary of his rare skills has been his national team Brazil. He is equally dangerous when playing for Brazil, which cannot be said as true for many of his European counterparts. If you feel that there is any exaggeration in my words, check out this and this. These videos showcase some of his goals scored for his country and club.

He was one of the prime reasons behind me becoming a big fan of AC Milan. The team of 2005-06 which reached the finals of Champions League was a dream team. A diamond shaped mid field with players like Pirlo, Gattuso , Seedorf and the dangerous Kaka upfront, right behind strikers like Shevchenko (at his peak), Inzaghi, Gilardino and Crespo (on loan from Chelsea). Backed by goon-like defenders namely Jaap Stam, Nesta, Cafu and Maldini. Even goalkeeper Dida was far more reliable in those days. It was a dream team and they were on the way to win the Champions League until the 7 minutes of madness ensured that they ended up as runners up. This final match against Liverpool will go down in history as one of the greatest games of all time.

Since past 2 years, Real Madrid has been trying to prise Kaka away from AC Milan, something which they have been doing with many talented players from other teams around the world. Given AC Milan's current poor form and other crisis ( Italian match fixing scandal), they might succeed next season. However, i do hope Kaka stays at Milan. Without him in the midfield, Milan won't ever be the same. Forza Milan, Forza Kaka!

And if he chooses to move from Milan, i hope it's to Arsenal, my other favourite team.However unlikely that may seem, the free flowing game of Arsenal will better suit the player of the caliber of Kaka. And who better to have as a coach than Arsene Wenger, a striker up front than Henry and a fellow midfielder than Fabregas. And a fan like me.

Wherever he goes, one thing is for sure. There won't ever be any dearth of followers of his game. Like the Kopites would sing, You'll never walk alone.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who's to blame?

Yet another blast. Scores of innocents killed. Time to start pointing fingers at each other.
Pakistan will blame Indian Hindu extremist groups for this dastardly act. Indian government will predictably blame ISI or SIMI for the blast.

In all probability, the real perpetrators will never be caught. Few suspects will be held.The case would go on for years. People will forget about the blasts within days. Life goes on. Till the next blast. Its a cyclical process that we all have become accustomed to.

Does anyone know who was behind the Mumbai train blasts of 2006 ? Nobody cares. As long as the stock market is booming, salaries are rising and the Indian cricket team is playing well, we all are happy.

Sigh. Try telling this to the near and dear ones of the victims.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Don't wanna miss a thing.

Dont want to close my eyes
I dont want to fall asleep
Cause Id miss you baby
And I dont want to miss a thing
Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
Id still miss you baby
And I dont want to miss a thing

Me thinks this is a fantastic song with lovely lyrics.
What say you?

Hooked to TV.

Overheard during the 3rd ODI between India and Sri Lanka, India's very own legendary cricketer and a veteran of 4 tests, Atul Wassan , now acting as a television commentator cum expert on Neo Sports :

Robin Uthappa plays a fine hook shot to the boundary.
"Uthappa is a good hooker"

Now this is news for some of us. That's taking the role of a multi-utility cricketer to new heights.

Within moments, Uthappa gets caught off the bowling of Maharoof.
Mr. 'Haven't been there and haven't done that' says, "Maharoof tastes first blood".

Conclusion: The hooker was a virgin.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Can i spank you, Cupid?

Trust our political parties to gain mileage out of anything under the sun. Usual noises are being made by the extremists, warning couples from celebrating Valentine's day. So all you lovelorn people out there, get ready to be spanked by the moral brigade.A new development this time though, is that there is another rival party willing to protect such couples. So all you need to do after getting thrashed , is dial the rivals' number and invite more trouble.

Personally, i think Valentine's day is a big joke.And thankfully my fiancee agrees to this (albeit reluctantly).However if two consenting adults want to celebrate it their own way, then it shouldn't be anyone's business. As long as it's not affecting others. Time to grow up, my babies. Go burn some effigies or something.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mend it like Beckham.

Last week, when Real Madrid slumped to yet another defeat to the relegation threatened side Levante, I had started writing a new post on the subject. I was curious to know who would get the blame now for the defeat from coach Capello, given that Beckham and Ronaldo were no longer in the team. I didn't finish the piece and before i could do that, came the news that Beckham was selected and scored a decisive goal for his team in the match against Real Sociedad.

His comeback goal effectively saved the coach from getting a sack from the notoriously exacting Real Madrid board. The same board had infamously sacked Vicente Del Bosque in 2003 for not winning the Champions League, a day after his team won the Spanish League. The club has not won a single trophy since then.

David Beckham is a decent footballer. He is not a 'great', as some of his ardent fans would like us to believe but also, he is also not as bad as some of the pundits would like to point out. His problem has always been the publicity he gets off the field, which is a major put off for some of his managers and team mates. Beckham is partly to blame for that, starting with his extravagant lifestyle with pop star wife Victoria Beckham to his tattoos and hairstyles. The other party responsible for this publicity is , as usual, the media. Especially the British media. The lesser said about them, the better.

On sheer football terms, he is an ordinary footballer when it comes to many basic skills. He is not all that quick, not a good dribbler, or a tackler. Makes little use of his left foot or his head ( literally) for that matter. George Best, the Manchester United legend, once said this about him, "He (Beckham) cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's all right."

But for all his shortcomings, he is a fantastic crosser of the ball and a specialist in dead ball situations. Ruud van Nistelrooy would testify for the number of times the ball was delivered to his feet in the 'D' area. To an extent, so would Ronaldo and Raul.

He was never a winger, like Vicente or Robben or Christiano Ronaldo, so one cannot expect to see him dribble the ball much. But he did play his part well on the right flank of the midfield. He was a prominent member of the famous treble winning Manchester United team. His contribution to Manchester United and Real Madrid on the field cannot be discounted at any cost.

But probably his biggest contribution is off the field. His name sells. Big time. People, especially in south east Asia, flock to buy David Beckham merchandise. Real Madrid displaced Manchester United at the top of the richest club list since he joined them from the latter. Ironically the same money, that he helped generate, will be used to replace him in the club.

No player is bigger than his team or the club. But it doesn't make any sense to blame a team's bad performances on one or two individuals. Alex Fergusson made that mistake and effectively dried up the goals for Nistelrooy, who struggled to score in the absence of Beckham's pin point crosses. Capello made the mistake and had to eat his own words, when he admitted his mistake of omitting Beckham from the team.Next in line could be Steve McLaren, the boss of the perennially under performing and over hyped national team of England. But then, no one can rescue the English team. If you can call them a 'team', that is.

On the virtue of his successful comeback into the team despite all the humiliation bestowed on him by the coach and the club president Ramón Calderón, Beckham has proved that he is a fighter and can still deliver the goods.

He may not be special. But like Best said( albeit sarcastically), he is all right.

Black or white.

Courtesy India Uncut, i happened to come across this link.
It's a collection of black and white photographs taken inside a deserted island city near the shores of Japan.

There is something with such black and white photographs that always captivates me. Such photos are able to capture the mood in a way that colour photos cannot. People, objects and landscape look different in this mode. A dose of nostalgia adds to the flavour.

Check out the link. Experience the magic.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Parzania : A reality check?

An amazing movie this.

This movie makes you realize that incidents such as post-Godhra riots can happen any place,any time and affect anyone in our present day society. Including you. The family portrayed in the movie could well have been ours. The director smartly interweaves the story of a family next door with the horrors of the Gujarat riots.

The movie is neither technically brilliant nor are the acting skills of some of the supporting cast worth mentioning. But the performances by the lead players make up for it. Perhaps what strikes us most in the movie is that it's based on a real life story. That is where it hits us hard. A reality check, perhaps?

It is such a pity that this simple but honest movie could not even find distributors for a long time. It should come as no surprise though that it is banned in Gujarat , given the fact that the ruling government's true colours has been boldly and unabashedly depicted in the movie. Time to face some home truths.

Watch it on the big screen.

Child's play.

The headline for this news snippet is hilarious.
The state rewards you and your spouse if you both commit crimes and get caught. The apple of your eyes will get the best facilities in 'five star cells'.
Too bad for single criminals. An incentive to get married, perhaps?

Friday, February 2, 2007

Sach is life.

Poor Sachin. Whenever he plays poorly these days, people say "He is not the Sachin of the 90s". When he plays well, people still say "He is not the Sachin of the 90s". That's the curse of being Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Of course he is not the same. Is any one amongst us the same person that he/she was 10 years back? Why should he be an exception? He is no vegetable.Or Dev Anand. With age, the bones start to ache, the muscles start to cramp and crucially, the mind starts playing games.

Let us all admit it. His batting won't probably be as exciting as it was 7-8 years back. There will be times when the old sparkle will be visible, but not as consistently as we are used to. Lets give the devil his due though. He was the proverbial knight in shining armour of the Indian team, when it was choc-a-bloc with either match fixers ( Azhar, Mongia, Jadeja and company) or with a bunch of no gooders ( Venkatesh Prasad, V Raju, H Kanitkar, V Bharadwaj, V Rathore etc).He was the sole reason many people watched matches during that dismal period. At least for me. This is not to demean the contribution of others at that time ( Kumble, Robin Singh and yes, Azhar). But he was the star, the saviour, the messiah.

It was the late 90s and early 2000s that saw the emergence of Dravid as a champion batsman ably supported by Ganguly, Laxman, Sehwag and others. Sachin has seen both the worst ( match fixing controversies, drubbing at the hands of Aus in 99 to quote a few) and the best (first series win over Pakistan, reaching finals of 2003 WC, Ind-Aus series of 2001) of Indian cricket over the past decade or so.

He has done enough to be counted amongst the top 3 batsmen of the modern era. I would dare say, second only to Lara.

There have been doubts regarding his ability to perform in crucial moments and under pressure. Try telling that to a man having played the way he has, with a million expectations of the people of our country. Leaving aside the TV viewers, just performing in front of the thousands of expectant spectators in a stadium is a daunting task. I have been to Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on a couple of occasions for watching international matches. The sheer volume with which he is greeted when he arrives to the crease or plays a dazzling stroke is daunting and can terrorize lesser mortals into meek submission.

I guess that's the curse of being Sachin, the matches he couldn't win for his team is mentioned before the ones he has actually won.Let's celebrate the legend of Sachin while he's still playing for India and cherish what he has given to this team rather than dwelling on what he could have given.

On a related note, this is a good read. The writer makes an interesting point about cricket being just another sport and a form of entertainment at the end of the day. Some of us do tend to cross the fine line between appreciating a talented man's achievements and blind, fanatic worship. It's true for the people at the other end of the spectrum. Those who vandalize cricketers' houses or burn effigies after poor performances on the field. They need to channelize their boundless energies into something more constructive.

Post Script: Yes, i am a Sachin fan. I always was. But I never try to justify his mistakes or try to cover his shortcomings. He is no GOD to me either. But i am a fan nevertheless. The only complain i have ever had with him is with his restaurant 'Sachin's' in Mulund. It sucks.Big time.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I have the power.

Such is the power of lobbying. The legislation may or may not get passed but it does signify one thing. The increasing presence and influence of the American-Indian community in US. I am not suggesting that people must have lobbied hard to get stamps honouring Diwali, but i can surely vouch for the fact that this idea would not have originated from an American.

The American-Indian community, as well as the Indian government, have many lobbyists in the US Senate on their 'payrolls'. This factor also played a decisive role in the recent civilian nuclear deal between US and India.
However, experts from both the countries are divided in their opinions about the deal itself. Would India gain anything from the deal or would we become more vulnerable by exposing and demarcating our civilian and military nuclear reactors? Only God knows! And George Bush. And maybe Sonia Gandhi.

Till that time, enjoy your Diwali stamps.Maybe to return the favour, we can issue stamps with Pamela Anderson on them. With a warning at the bottom : 'Lick on the other side'.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Winner or whiner?

Shilpa 'Paki' Shetty's father is a proud man. He ought to be. After all, according to the television and print media, his daughter has done the whole country proud. By being crowned the 'winner' of an abhorrent show which till recently was struggling for viewership in Great Britain.

Like we have no better reasons to celebrate.

The show 'Big Brother' thrives on scheming and plotting individuals, who are influenced and coerced by the people running the show, to provoke and unnerve other participants. It cashes in on our tendency to peep into other's lives and derive sadistic pleasure from watching them breakdown.
Good for the producers. It gets them good ratings and returns. Good for the viewers. Anything for entertainment. Good for Shilpa ( and other participants). Its great money!

However, the furore made by our netas (and abhinetas) over the controversy is most amusing. Certain comments made by a few retarded individuals with a collective IQ of around 20, actually threatened to become a diplomatic issue between the two countries.
We would rather have the Queen apologize for this, than for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

After all apologies are accepted, we would go back to our normal business.We would classify all foreigners into 'Gora', 'Kaala' and 'Chinki' categories. Then we will continue calling all South Indians as 'Madraasi' , all Northies as 'Bhaiyya' and all Maharashtrians as 'Ghati'.

We can do that. But if they do it, its a sin. "All goras are racists! How dare they call us brown??". Hypocrisy, anyone?

Ms. Shetty deserves credit though . She played the right moves, stuck to a plan and ended up with the grand prize and hordes of other new offers.
The one thing that i realized from all this , Shilpa can act!

At least, we don't have to see her whine anymore.

Post Script: I am all for reality shows and the drama associated with those. It makes good TV. But the grouse is against those who give undue importance to these shows. The government should have better things to do. Or at least pretend that ways.

Monday, January 29, 2007

For everything else, there is Mastercard.

Pure happiness. The look on the li'l boy's face is priceless. I just hope this is an authentic photograph and not some advert. It is a masterpiece nonetheless.

Note: For the benefit of those facing problems opening the image, the following is the description at the bottom of the photograph-

'A 6-year-old orphan from Austria ecstatically embraces a brand-new pair of shoes just given to him by the Red Cross'.

Hello, main bhagwan bol raha hoon??!!

Now this is funny

Whatever next? A call from GOD to thank you for the donation? Note that the incoming call from heaven will also cost you Rs. 8/ per minute if you are from Maharashtra and Rs. 10/- for the rest of India. Of course , as the joke goes, call from hell won't cost anything.

Afterall, it's local.

Gimme your money, punk!

Lest i start sounding like yet another cricket fanatic, let me assure you that i am bigger fan of football. But the India-West Indies series that's being played out currently did bring forth a very disturbing development. A lot has already been said about Prasar Bharti (Doordarshan) demanding the live feed of the cricket matches from Nimbus Communication. Nimbus, who had won the telecast rights for the series from BCCI, rightfully refused to share the feed based on certain conditions. The case went to the Delhi High court, who ordered Prasar Bharti to telecast the match with a delay of 7 minutes.The argument put forth by Prasar Bharti is that millions of Indians who do not have cable television would not be able to watch the matches being beamed on Neo Sports, a channel owned by Nimbus. Apparently, according to PB, Nimbus is being 'unpatriotic' by refusing to share the feed.

Makes me wonder if our country is heading towards fascism. A company spends millions of dollars to earn the rights to telecast the matches. Prasar Bharti , like a vulture, waits on the sidelines for the bidding to get over. When the right moment comes, they swoop down, citing ‘national interest’ to get their share of the pie.

Evidently, PB will earn loads of cash from the advertisements that run during the matches. Which is what the whole ruckus is about. MONEY. No efforts would even be made to improve the quality of the telecast. It is still not clear if Nimbus will get any share of the revenue generated by PB through ads.

Make no efforts, invest no money, get the government to side with you and steal someone else’s hard earned money. And then lie on your lazy backs, content with the great ‘service’ that you have done to the people of this country. And of course, the money getting accumulated in the dark closet in the backroom helps too.

What could we have possibly done without such patriots?

Second Innings

This is a comeback. Like a cricketer who failed miserably on his debut in an international game and had to go back to the grinds of domestic cricket. He toils hard to earn a recall.Years later, he gets a call. A much awaited comeback to the national team, as a veteran in the second innings. Stuff dreams are made of.
The difference here is that i am still a novice. Also, it won't matter if i don't fare well again.
There's always next time.

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