Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Eternal Struggle

I woke up on October 6th to big bold headlines. ‘The Chengara stir is settled’. The talks had been held in the presence of opposition leader. I was surprised and elated, for the first time the ruling and opposition had come together for a good cause which had nothing to do with terrorism. Where else will you find such a creative opposition other than this beautiful Kerala. But my hopes were about to get dashed.

For those who came in late: some 763 days back a group of people settled forcibly in Harrison rubber estates. The settlers consisted of people from deprived and landless sections in Kerala. It was not a sudden decision but one taken after repeated talks with government had failed.

I think may be government had better things to do. Issues are meant only for the election period. As soon as the election is over issues are placed in refrigerator only to be revisited during the next election cycle.

If I were the government I would have ignored these useless people. If you allocate lands for these people, the urban middle class will only consider it as a charity. This sympathy won’t translate to votes. Besides the government will not get any revenue out of it. So allocating thousands of acres will only get an annoyed response from the well to do.
But if this was for an IT park, the government will attain the eternal glory for job creation and development.

The communist party was confused that if they were to support the class struggle or caste struggle. Clashes broke out between the rubber plantation workers and illegal settlers. The opposition seeing it as an opportunity stuck their noses in. As you know oppositions look for clashes and where there is peace there is no opposition.

Prominent people like Medha Patekar and Arundhathi Roy came to lend their moral support.

The settlement developed into a mini town with schools, health care facilities etc.

The issue went on unnoticed between the elections until the news came in headlines that it was settled once and for all. The photos showed smiling faces of CM, revenue minister and Leader of opposition. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief..
Some of the terms are like this scheduled tribes gets one acre, scheduled castes 50 cents and others get 25. Scheduled tribes get a house worth 1 lakh, scheduled castes gets 75000 and others get a house worth 50000.

Then comes the interesting part, the leader of the stir Laha Gopalan had demanded I acre of land for scheduled tribes too. But the CM said there is no enough land in the state for that.
Leader of opposition said ‘We too had demanded only resettlement based on availability of land’.

All the news papers summed up the story by remarks of Laha. ‘ We are withdrawing from the stir because we do not have the power to resist the forces opposing us. People without authority or power has to be contended with the leftovers from the table of their masters. We will move out of the land as soon as we get the leftovers promised to us. ’

The remark is a sword meant for questioning the pseudo morality and equality of the society. Laha was an ordinary agitator when he was unanimously elected from the group of agitators to lead them. He lacked the political acumen or cunningness to lead it.

The father of our nation was a sinless soul but he had the political ruthlessness to negotiate with the enemies, to slash down people who went against his ideology (remember Subash Chandra Bose). Its not simply about morality or purity but it’s about shrewdness. However good you are, sometimes you have to rise up to put down your enemies.

In the case of Chengara agitation, opposition came from the workers of the estate. No one bothers to ask if there were any playmakers behind it. The illegal settlers were banned from doing any transaction outside the settlement. Death threat came for Laha. New factions from the agitators rose up against Laha. The situation came to such a state that the fight between the factions reached on the verge of bloodshed. Then government came up with a settlement they were forced to accept.
Beats any film script.

I read somewhere – Government is the biggest mafia.
And nowadays opposition is in the same boat with the government if it is for common good (read money).

Do you think that its only in our times that people are exploited based on caste and creed. No my dears, this has been happening from Mahabharata.

Pandavas are cheated into staying in a palace which are about too be burnt. A tribal woman comes with her five sons for alms. Kunthi becomes unusually friendly with them and invites them to sleep in. She secretly explains to Pandavas that when they make their escape the dead bodies of tribals will mislead Kauravas to think that it’s the bodies of Pandavas and their mother.

The Pandavas looks on with doubt about the dharma to which Kunthi replies ‘They are tribals. No need of any guilt feelings.’(It was believed they won’t inherit the heavens.)

Tribals are the real inheritors of earth who refused to get carried away by ‘development’
I was about to close this post when I happen to read an article in outlook.

Now its from the other end of India- Modi’s vibrant Gujarat.
Balmiki Children gathered in Sabarmathi ashram from different parts of Gujarat. Balmikis are traditional cleaners and sweepers. They lead a horrific existence collecting the leftovers and cleaning the shit of upper castes for little money.
These children spoke about their plight the schools they study in. They are made to sit on floor, away from other kids. If they touch anybody or anything it is cleaned with water. They are made to clean the toilets and classrooms for 10 rupees.

And the horror part is it’s the teachers and the principles who made them do this. If they refused to do so they get beaten.
When NGOs went to these schools to speak to these teachers, the reply they got was ‘If they don’t who else will clean it?’

When approached to state principal secretary of education for comments. ‘If this issue is brought to our notice, necessary actions will be taken’ Now what the hell does that ‘if’ mean?

And the politicians won’t raise a fuss about the issue fearing loss of upper caste votes.

Yeah, what a vibrancy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Have you ever wondered how many millions earn their livelihood in India through cricket? For Indians cricket is still a game for aspiring middle class kid to make it big. So he sacrifices his studies for the nets. And once when you retire, you have no other option but to coach and if you are smart enough, a commentator or an analyst. When a soccer tournament comes up we may be misled that football is fast replacing cricket. I think it won’t happen in another 50 years.

For an ordinary cricket lover like me who started watching cricket into second half of 90’s, the Indian cricket is divided into three eras. Pre-Ganguly, Ganguly era and post-Ganguly era. Yeah, I hated him during his fall from grace. But any cricket fan with a basic intelligence knows, Ganguly is the man behind what Indian team is today. Dhoni & co. merely built on what Ganguly did.

I fondly remember Indian team in the later half of 90’s. The greatest advantage India had was there were only 8 or 9 cricket playing nations in the world. So India always managed to stay in top 10.

Most beautiful memories when I sew cricket and childhood together are the few years spent in Gulf. There you get a wide mix of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and what not? We had a healthy competition. The cricketing patriotism ran in our blood, although we tried our best to disguise it.
The best part was the Sharjah cup. There is no venue in the world where ordinary Indians and Pakistanis come together with much fervor. This was the only occasion we get to show our love for our motherland.

The Pakistani team was damn good back then. They had a never ending supply of deadly pacers. Their yorkers were the nastiest. Their swing was the best. The truth is even the hardcore Indian fundamentalist respected them.
The world cricket was at its best back then. There were top class cricket in every team who reached their peaks. I believe we have never seen such a period later. To be honest India was the a nation who played well nowhere else but in India.

I always wondered with billions of supporters ready to do any sort of Puja for them, how could Indians manage to fail each and every time. We knew this was the worst team, but we were still benevolent to their errors. We saw our weaknesses personalized in the team.

Fielding was the most attractive part. For us any catch worth talking about was the one Kapil took running backwards. No one bothered to dive. So you could see a bunch of men running after the ball each time India fielded.
It took two or three men to throw the ball in relay from the boundary to the stumps.
Catches were meant to be dropped. We dropped high balls, sitters, almost everything.

Team selection was the most hilarious exercise. Selectors gathered in the best hotels and went on and on discussing about our cricket and in the end mutually agreed to bring in their chamchas into the team. As a result many got a chance to add the tag name of international cricketer to their surnames. Few names we would love to forget- Noel Joseph, T Kumaran, Mohanty, the list goes on. If you don’t have the right contacts you may end up your life in Ranji teams.

And there were old horses who refused to go away. To tell the truth, we loved to see our old men battling out there. I still remember Azhar hobbling around, desperate to reach the other end. Still he was labeled the most athletic in the team. No doubt Azhar might still be on the lookout for a chance to make a comeback.

No coach feared about getting sacked. Because he was sure to get invited back after a season of sackings. There was no innovation in the strategy, no attempt to improve the game. The great Indian media aided the stagnation by dubbing the team as champs if any irrelevant match was won.
The run chase stopped after a couple of wickets fell. Further attempt was made only to reduce the margin of loss.

The Ranji winning team got the advantage when players were selected for national team. There was a tri series in Kenya long back when 6 out of 11 was from Karnataka. India beat South Africa in the first match and got avenged fiercely in the final. The star of the tournament was a Bharadwaj. It was such a shame to watch such a guy in the international arena. He resembled a geek who ended up in the cricket field accidentally. Batsmen were lured into ballooning his balls(not the biological ones). He managed to scramble 30 odd runs in a few matches. He won the man of the series in his first tournament. After which he performed so badly that selectors couldn’t get any reason to pick him up.

If there was any country who benefited from the betting scandal it was India. But South Africa never recovered. What the world cricket lost was the best captain of all times, Hanse Cronje. India got the best of its captains- Saurav.

The face of Indian cricket was about to change forever. In his first match at Kochi when India chased down a target of 300+ with newcomers, it announced the arrival of team India. Legacy no longer mattered, winning did.

Ganguly introduced a bunch of young cricketers who stayed on to become the pillars of the team in coming years. When they were out of form, Ganguly stuck by them. The recent failure of Indian team in Champions league was blamed on absence of Yuvaraj, Sehwag etc. This itself proved that crux of Indian team today is the young bunch Ganguly brought in.
Something that always sticks to my mind is the debut of Yuvaraj. India was chasing against Australia in Nairobi. As usual after the fall of Sachin couple of wickets more had fallen. If my memory is correct India was four wickets down before even reaching three digit mark. The first ball Yuvaraj faced was struck to four. India had been a team which tried it best to reduce the shame by salvaging maximum number of runs rather than chasing the target when three or four wickets fell. Every one loved this new India. For the first time Sachin didn’t feel that the Indian batting line up pivoted on him.
I believe Sachin would have risen to heights unimaginable now, if he had the luxury to play without any pressure.

As the team selection based on legacy changed to selection based on performance, Ganguly systematically weeded out the team. He made some unpleasant choices for the sake of team. Srinath’s comment about the dressing room proved the change in atmosphere. He said it was for the first time he is in a dressing room free of cultural or religious prejudices.

Ganguly’s performances suffered after his ascension to captaincy. We never got to see a fearless Ganguly leading the charge while batting. But as long as the team kept on winning he was forgiven. But when the team started to lose his batting started to fall under scrutiny. The leaked letter of Chapell to BCCI worsened the matters. He feared fast bowlers. He moved down and down the batting order. This will be taken as matured captaincy if team wins but when it fails it will be taken as cowardice. For the first time BCCI took heed to the words of the wise one- Chappell. Ganguly was axed out of captaincy and the Indian team.

Then began the reign of dummy captain Dravid. The real playmaker never played and he was the coach. To be fair to him Chappell introduced measures that were needed in the team.
India lacked a genuine all rounder. Batsmen were rotated in batting positions. Bowlers started batting up the order. Indian batting got deeper teeth. Players got out of their comfort zones to venture out into unexplored territories. One good thing that happened was Dravid retired from wicket keeping and handed over the gloves to specialist keeper Dhoni.

As long as the experiments worked Chappell was hailed and Ganguly forgotten. Soon bad patch started. An uninspiring captain failed to help the matters. Dravid batted very well. But during his time the morale of the team started falling down alarmingly and the body language showed it. The greatest casualty of Indian cricket was Irfan Pathan. He came with a bang in Australian tour. His pace and swing resembled the Pakistani trio at their helm. He was someone who batted decently. Chappell moved him to the number three slot. I can’t guess the reason but he started to play as if he forgot both his batting and bowling lessons. He was axed from the team and he makes comebacks regularly even today. Seeing him reminds everyone of a dark era.
As expected India exhibited the worst performance in the world cup. Dravid went out on his own. Chappell went away blaming the Indian system.

It heralded a new era under Dhoni. Surprisingly selectors were in no hurry to pick up a coach. Indians had bowling, batting and fielding coaches. But this era heralded the end of the trio. Ganguly made a comeback years later. Since Dravid made a fool of himself as a captain no one shed a tear for him. It seems Sachin is playing for records or the world cup. Recently his body has started showing fatigue and I am sure Indians would be glad to say a good bye. For him a world cup may remove the last blot out of his record books.
Dhoni never brought any amazing new talent. The simple fact that a captain from a small state has fired the imagination of Indian youth.

He has no technique and is not a beautiful batsman. Its an unwritten rule that batsmen with the wrong shots wont last long. But he has made no attempts to correct his helicopter shots. He may not be coming from a Metro. But he knows a simple fact- winning and he knows how to do it. He bats down the order and grinds out runs with his horrific shots. The viewer may get tensed that he may go out any moment. But he stays on in the field like an ox. Since the fellow batsmen have the confidence that there is trustworthy player down there, the batsmen like Viru or Yuvi unleashes their natural style.
This has affected the overall temperament of the team. Players have learnt to churn out victories from near impossible solutions.

So our busy cricketing analysts have found out that the team is in danger. True we are not winning like the old days. Cricketers older than the coach are making comebacks. This is not healthy. But every team goes through a rough patch. Remember the Australian team during and prior to the Ashes tour.
Form-out is a mental block and it takes a good captain to inspire them out. Something we have got to remember is Indian team goes on winning matches and tournaments even when they are not playing their best.

So I believe it’s a phase that will pass through. Thank God it didn’t happen during the world cup. But bad phases are the best time to re-examine your strategies, correct our mistakes and bring in new blood.

A few humble suggestions no one is going to listen:
1. Develop a pool of players. Give the domestic players to play international matches as B team or C team. Organize more B-team matches.
2. Rotate the players. There is no rule that senior players should play all the matches. Let them warm the benches once in a few tournaments. We must have a handful of people ready for the substitution, Develop a guideline that no player should play more than this number of matches. The guidelines should be based on his age, form and responsibilities.
Something I cannot stop wondering abut is footballers play two match a week of maximum one and a half hour durations. Why should a cricketer play a match 3-4 days long?
3. Special attention for fast bowlers. Better domestic pitches. Never insist that a test match should last 5 days. Well none comes to watch domestic test anyways.
4. The final one. T20 is an evolving game. Be open to changes in the format. The current one will not last long if it goes on like this. Better develop a special team for T20 matches. T20 is for young ones. Let it be that way

Monday, October 12, 2009

Keeping a bucket list

I was watching the mighty Indians bash up a poor West Indies. WI players had come to international stage not because of their merit but simply due to the fact that senior players refused to play. The game was getting boring and I was flipping through channels when I saw the flash in a hindi news channel. Although I had some difficulty I managed to get what it meant. Another boat accident in Thekkady, Kerala. ‘OMG, not again’ was my first reaction.
As usual government machineries went into damage control mode. Ministers were sent. Look out started for people on whom blame has to be put.

Kerala is a land blessed with lots of accidents. As usual the people look for government to do something about it.
Thanks to the limitless NRI money we have got lots of rich families who can afford two cars and a bike per four people. But mallus are really reluctant to give away their land for road developments. So if a road widening happens in their place, they get stay orders from court. And then they blame the officials and government for lack of negligence in road development. We have become too much of a socialists for our own good.
Boat accidents have become a routine every year. Each time it happens our media people rush to the scene and all the gory scenes are captured. All the sensitive and senseless questions are asked. In short they conquer the air space. We guys, who has got nothing to do with it sit in our living rooms, shedding our valuable tears. Government order funny things such as judiciary probes when every one knows what the reasons are. Then everybody forgets it till the next season comes around for another accident and the cycle continues.

May be for a change why don’t we think about those people in the boat as humans rather than victims.
A few would have been elderly people who spent their lifetime for their kids. After marrying them of time would have come for them to spend some of the money they earned on themselves. May be their kids would have seen them off in railway station or airport, thinking ’Wow, now we got them off from our hands for a few days at least. But who will look after the kids when we are at office and who will get the breakfast and dinner ready in time’
I travel rarely to northern part of India. Once during a travel to Pune, my train stopped at Kochi. A lady with heavy make up got in. She was decent looking. During train journeys my first prayer to God is to get a good looking co-passenger. I haven’t been lucky till date. I thought ‘May be this is going to be my day’. But she had come to see off her in-laws. One thing that surprises me about north is there are lots of customs that shows respect outwardly. We southies don’t have that. After customary farewell the old couple sat near me. I was surprised by this gentleman. He has come in to the train with neatest, well pressed shirt and highly polished shoes. After getting in he placed his shoes and socks in a box and wore his chappals. I don’t get why people wear executive style of dressing when you get into a train. You will any way have to change that when you get into toilets. I wear one of my worst T-shirt and jeans. And usually I change from jeans into more comfortable but less clean cotton pants (tor pajamas).

As soon as they settled down, after changing into chappals, we traded our ‘hi’s, names, travel purpose etc. That was a time when many cases of train robberies were reported. So we were a bit cautious at the beginning. Soon we warmed up after realizing our mates were no potential dacoits. I had trouble in making out his broken English. He tried his best to cooperate speaking slowly. I succeeded in sewing out their story from the bits I understood.

The couple was from Himachal. He was a retired government official. His son got into Navy. The son got married recently and is posted at Kochi. They were planning for a trip when his son met with some freak accident. So they had to advance the travel. As a result the entire train reservations fell into mess. Through out the journey they were worried about how they will manage to get connection train from Mumbai.
Soon the old lady took out from her box the sewing needle and woolen roll and started knitting a sweater. It was a beautiful scene which I had seen only in televisions. She was a picture of calm and poise, knitting silently. She only looked up when it was time to server meal or to watch a small kid nearby. I watched with amazement as designs formed.

So today you will see many old couples shuttling between their children’s homes. May be they are trying to make sure that their children are doing good.

In the face of death, what will be the scenes that pass in front of you. It could be the loved ones. But the most depressing ones would be the tasks you have failed to fulfill. Things you could have been or things you could have done.
It is not about spending money on something that gives you high for a moment. It is not about the parties you attend or the bars you go to or clothes you buy. It’s about the dreams you nurture, however silly it may sound, that makes you proud of yourself at the end of day.

Life is too fast. It may get over faster than you may figure. It is a good idea to maintain a bucket list. ‘Bucket list’ is the name of a movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. They are successful people almost entering the last period of their lives. They are respected by people around. But they have this big void in their lives. They put down a list of things they wish to fulfill before they say their last good-byes. But their wishes are wild and the family members oppose them. But Jack being the pusher pushes himself and Freeman to finish their dreams. But time never waits. They are not able to finish off all their wish list.
So tomorrow is not the time to chase our dreams,. Dreams are meant to be chased today.
I have heard someone say, ‘Life is like coins thrown into the bowl of a hungry beggar’. For him the coins are precious than gold. We have come into this bad, mad, sad world with a mission. It may be to give smiles into the faces of a few. When the curtain falls at the end of our scene, we must be happy to say ‘It is finished’

As a personal note, I am on the lookout for a mission and purpose of my life .

To live and to Love

Love is a strange word. I have seen a couple of blogs about true love. Is true love the wonderful phenomenon when a boy falls attracted to a girl and they live happily ever after. I don’t know. I have been approached by a couple of guys for advice about their love life. The question was if they should continue in their relation. I don’t know why these guys come to me. It must be because I wear specs and has bulging eyes which gives me the looks of a wise guy which I am not. I have been a total loser with girls. The only girl who reciprocated my feelings walked away after cheating me off some of my money.

The first time I felt tender feelings towards a girl was during my school days. She was the most beautiful one in our school. Never have I felt such a passion.
Like all the popular ones, she was darling of well to do and good looking guys. So I never had the remotest chance. It has been years since I have seen her. I have got no idea where she has ended up. May be she has married an NRI . Who knows…

After the first love it was a period of lust. I fell in love with the bodies of the beautiful ones. The passion became more strong and hot and animal like. The feelings lost its tenderness.
There is nothing wrong with wanting a girl because of her full figure. But care must be taken to put full stops at points where it has to be put. We have been taught that wanting a woman is sin. Most of our moral stand on sex is based on what missionaries taught us in the times of Victoria. There is in fact a sex position called missionary position which is regarded as the only permissible one by orthodox people, even today.

I am not able to say what pure and true love is. But I am damn sure that for me looks of a girl matters, call it lust or whatever. But I hate taking relations for granted. Even in the short time you have got for the relations live it to the fullest. Give the other person some moments to savor.

Some people are comfortable to carry on with short term relations whose ultimate motive is for sexual fulfillment. But many among them will go on living with the scars. In some cases you even won’t know why you hurt so deep inside. So to all ‘Gen-Y’s, be careful in where you get into. Whatever you do get into it with 100% conviction, Never give yourself a chance to regret something you have done (not even centuries later).

So I am very much reluctant to take a step. Romance and love is meant for only the ones who are brave at heart. I am frightened of getting rebuffed.

Karan Johar is someone who took time to mature as a film maker. Nowadays he is coming with a variety of themes that digs deep into relations (with some Hindi masala toppings). I hated his KANK. May be Karan has some stupid explanation for the movie. But it is not the way you handle extra-marital affairs.

His ‘Wake up Sid’ was a movie with some difference. The pace is damn slow, especially in the first half.
All the movies released this year was far from watchable. Only respite you get is seeing the beautiful ones in the theatre.
The college crowd filled up the seats when I went for ‘Wake up’. There is no much drama, glamour, car chase, foreign locations or item numbers. But the crowd thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It came as a surprise for me. Because I was under the impression that crowd accepts nothing less than the formulae films. And the movie was anything but that.

I am not one among those who loved the movie. But a few aspects I liked about the movie. Ayisha falls in love with Mumbai. She sees it as a land of opportunity, of independence and growth. She meets Sid who shows her around the city.
Sid is a careless and carefree person who was born into a well off family. He falls in love with Ayisha. Ayisha considers him too childish and immature.

So under her influence he starts to change although it is not so obviously shown. He makes the changes from a basic level from where he grows into a strong individual. Even there is a subtle change in her. She started to understand herself more.
Since the pace is slow all the subtle changes are shown beautifully.

In the end he comes to know that she loves him when he reads her story. The story narration in the end gives the movie a fitting finale. Her love for the city slowly metamorphosis into a beautiful relation.

The individuals we consider as our good fit may not turn out to be so. Our better half may be waiting somewhere for us. May be we will have to wait a little more. May be will have to look out more.

Another aspect beautifully shown is Sid and Ayesha falling in love without realizing that the other loves him/her as much. We never know how much someone loves us. It may be through those little fights. The best way to know each other is bits of differences in opinion. Only differences can help us to understand the other and ourselves more.

Love must be a relation which helps us to grow as a person. If quarrels and fights helps the two to grow, then it is perfect relationship. Not everything is perfect in a ‘perfect’ relation (the ones without any quarrels).

I have known Reshma only for a few months. She is not hot or amorous, but is a dusky beauty. I don’t know if I had fallen in love. But she had all the qualities of Miss. Perfect I had visualised. Although I shared my opinion on everything I never shared my feelings with her. But when during a casual conversation she mentioned that she prefers some one from her own caste as her better half, it broke my heart. It didn’t drive me into depression but set me thinking. If I had told her about my feelings, may be the end results would have been different. But another aspect is by nature I am reluctant to make commitments. So don’t know if at the end things would turn out to our good. She is still a good friend and may remain until she gets married. And as a consolation I would say, it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved.

About Me

My photo
Shakespeare,Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Lincoln never saw a movie,heard a radio or looked at TV. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. Thay were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.