Friday, April 23, 2010

Hero of our times.....3

Shashi Tharoor has been rocking the country ever since he made his first appearance as the UN diplomat. He is sure to rock for many more years. Hailing from his constituency doesn’t make me fond of him. But he never ceased to amuse me.

Shashi shot into fame when he decided to run for the UN-Secretary post. He has always been apple of Manmohan’s eye. But all the big plans Manmohan had for him went down the drain when Manmohan’s buddy-in-arms, Bush, said ‘NO’.

The next big ambition Manmohan had for Tharoor was to put him in the Parliament. Of course, he had to face some bitterness from fellow Congressmen. But the rumor mills had predicted Shashi running for the election well before the announcement. Thus Shashi, who was running business in Dubai after the UN stint, came down to our poor place to raise it to the pedestal of glory.

Sonia and Manmohan stood their ground when Shashi got his seat in Thiruvananthapuram. But the traditional Congress bigwigs were mighty pissed. Two prominent Congress leaders filed their nominations as rebel candidates. This would have proved crucial as Shashi’s sure votes would be split into three. Shashi got into a closed door meeting with the two. This was the first rabbit he pulled out of the hat. Both the strongmen withdrew their nomination without a grumble and pledged their never ending loyalty to Tharoor. To this day I wonder: What happened behind the doors?

Those were the times Obama was sweeping America off its feet. Shashi’s campaign created ripples in Mallu hearts. First of all it seemed he brought off a few newspapers and Television channels. Day after day papers carried articles, photographs and clips on him. He captured every imagination. In every street, election workers distributed beautiful post cards .

People dreamt of electing an MP who speaks English in American accent, writes English books, tweets and has fancy ideas. He was extremely good looking. Every woman from the age of 14-70 dreamt of shaking his hands. His opponents stood no chance as he was elected by a huge margin.

And soon after he was appointed MoS for external affairs. That didn’t please the old guard. It is quite abnormal to put in a man with no experience in a crucial post which should have gone to a party faithful. But little did they know that abnormalities were just about to begin.

Tharoor taught the Indians that Ministers should live in dignity when he refused to stay in a guest house (the practice followed) and went for a five star accommodation as the guest house didn’t have gym or privacy. He was forced to vacate when media gave enough publicity about the minister staying in a five star hotel for months on end. Well, this was his first wrong move. He expected Delhi media would be kind to him just like the ones down there in his constituency. The Finance Minister requested co-operation when Tharoor refused to oblige.

For those who thought that tweet was just an election stunt, Tharoor proved them wrong by tweeting more fiercely than usual. Tharoor tweeted about everything- his breakfast, views, Sonia Gandhi . He didn’t mind ruffling a few feathers. He called the ‘untouchables’ the names he preferred. This amused many youths as he got the label as one of the fearless politician in battle with the demi-gods.

The Tharoor magic didn’t stop there. Tharoor played India’s Sarkozy when he called his old business friends to help him rule the country. He forgot about the Pradesh Congress leaders. Their demands were ignored or overlooked with a Tharoor-smile. And the war scarred ones got ready with the swords to draw the first blood.

The former diplomat even forgot the importance of protocol when he gave his own version of Indo-Pak relations even before the talks began. This jeopardized the entire process in Saudi.

Tharoor not only provided the stunning moments in political circles but also in the social circle of Delhi. The 50 year old Tharoor was already married twice and had a couple of kids when he walked in with the NRI Kashmiri beauty, Sunanda. The papers who gave him the luxury of privacy till then on his family life jumped in to the speculation game.

Together they worked for getting a IPL team and together they were hunted down. They will make a great pair in coming days.

And Mr. Shashi, as you have the burden of Ministry has been removed from your shoulder please concentrate on things you promised during the election. Even if you fail to achieve anything, you can put the blame on State government. I will help you in refreshing your memory.

a) Make Thiruvananthapuram the Barcelona of East

b) Solve the drinking water shortage

c) Clean up the Parvathy Puthan River

d) Metro rail

e) Huge fly overs, wide roads

f) Vizhinjam port

Enough work to occupy your time for another four years.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lesson 1

On a fine Saturday afternoon I boarded a transport bus to the city. There are many schools on the way. In these parts the students get a concession on the school days. There were many kids jumping into and out of the bus with unbridled joy and making a lot of noise in the process.

What was the reason behind this raucous show? Is it a special day? What is the meaning behind all the ink splashed on the shirts and faces? And what the hell are these kids doing on a Saturday in the school?

I pondered over multiple permutation and combination. Finally I arrived at the easiest solution. I asked a guy sitting next to me with ink dripping over the eyes, ‘Dude, what is the occasion today?’ He explained with a smile- it was the day of final exam. The ink I saw was the way of saying goodbye to pens at least for some time.

I smiled. I too had been a school kid not so long ago. The irony is that I dreamt growing up to become a professional with money to buy the world. But today I would give anything to get back my childhood.

The last exam would obviously become the low scoring one. It would be difficult to study when the planning for the vacations are being done mentally.

But the days before the exams would be real tense. 3-5 days before the start we would be catching the ‘exam fear’ bug. The subjects were vast and too many essays had to be looked into. So until the last minute efforts will be made to coax out a question or two out of the teachers. Some good teachers would give a small clue a few days before.

We had a strange situation in our batch. The headmaster’s son and a senior teacher’s son studied along with us. Strangely the HM’s son always ended up first and the teacher’s son the second in the class. We spoke in hushed tones behind their backs that there was something fishy. Later the two were put in two classes and both came first in their respective classes.

We didn’t have the guts to question them and revolution is not the solution for 10+ year olds. But we arrived at a conclusion that these guys got a look at the questions before we did.

The senior teacher was a strict, no nonsense type. We were simply afraid of her. One day she animatedly, without any reason, started on her honesty and principles. She gave a long speech on how she would ensure that her son got no privilege because he was her student. He went into the exam like any of us. The speech stirred us. We felt guilty that we doubted her integrity.

But she didn’t realize that her son was too dumb for her. One fine evening we guy were hanging out and discussing all the forbidden topics. And someone asked him casually, ‘Dude, tell us the truth- Don’t you get the questions before we do?’ This was a remark he was supposed to dismiss. But in a weak moment he admitted the truth. His mother may not put the question paper, But she would ensure that she knew the people who do. And a few nights before a phone call would be made. That was a small school and favours would be done in return for the questions. And the asshole would pass as the topper.

This shook us. The naïve, innocent world we lived in came crashing down. We learnt the first lesson as men- Never trust.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why the idea of IPL/T20 has to be re-visited/re-thought

1. My first argument is it destroys the good old cricket. It’s a good old argument which will be countered by a valid point that there is no time to spare for a 5 day event.

IPL was never an original idea. All the finer points were borrowed from soccer leagues and even NFL. In the greed to rake in maximum money we forgot that no other leagues altered the rules of the game. T20 was begun keeping in mind to start cricket leagues. But cricket was sacrificed for the purpose and no league except the Indian version became successful.

Let me be honest. I have no such false ideas as Test cricket will gain popularity. I have no such belief. But we can prevent T20 from being a mindless entertainer if we tweak the rules a bit.

2. ICC should be mature enough to accept the IPL and other cricket leagues. If not, they have to come up with viable alternatives. There are only a handful of cricketing teams and it’s a huge bore to watch them time and again.

3. It’s true that the stakeholders have invested millions in the clubs and they ought to rake in the money back. Advertisements in between each ball are certainly not the way to do it.

4. Redesign the jerseys. The team colour is one way in which the team is branded. The base colours have to remain constant. That is a way loyalty and passion is cultivated among fans. But sadly IPL has some of the worst jerseys. At least base colours have to remain the same. But even they are changed every season. Another option is do the ‘home and away’ in English model.

I believe one jersey sponsor is good enough. The Punjab Kings walking with the sicker of Vim ironed to their jersey is a good joke, I remember the Deccan Chargers had almost all the sponsors in the country on their shirts.

5. In a 5 day competition there are 11 batsmen in an innings, so does an ODI. Do we need 11 in T20 too. I don’t think so. The real trouble with the IPL is the quality teams aren’t winning. The game is won merely on individual performances. Out of the 11 if a couple of batsmen bat or a couple of bowlers bowl the game is won. It might be good for the unpredictability but not good for a team game.

6. Cricketing is turning out to be more and more a continental game. Leagues have to be started in other countries to give opportunities for more and more players. It’s no fun for IPL to exist alone in the big world

7. IPL is caught between devil and the sea on participation of more and more teams. Lalit Modi and his businessmen friends would love to rake in more and more money through more teams. But even two more teams can more than double the number of games. This could lead to a variety of problems.

The fixtures are very tightly arranged to get maximum number of foreign players and maximum money for TV channels. Two more teams can strain these adjustments to a point of rupture.

Presently a team has 14 games. This is no football league and viewers are in here for mere entertainment. 14 games spanning for more than a month is boring them a great deal. More games would certainly prompt them to switch off their TV sets.

One good idea is to start a second division and relegation practice as in soccer. An impractical solution considering the huge amount each owner paid for the team.

Start two seasons a year with different set of players in each.

8. I believe we will have to bid goodbye to the ageing Australians soon.

9. Start buying and selling players between the teams. It will add to the drama of IPL. I have found that weakness of a team remains the same for years. I can’t understand why there is no attempt to buy or develop the players they need.

10. Throw out the slimy bastard, Modi. He is too much a crook and will some day bring down the entire establishment of IPL.

11. The selection of Indian T20 teams has to be done based on the performances in IPL. Sadly Indian selectors still go for the selection based on star value. I strongly stand for a separate team for T20 rather than the same one in all the formats.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hero of our times.....2

If you have money OR brains you can become a doctor. If you are unlucky OR stupid, you can become an IT engineer. But believe me it’s the toughest to become a politician.

The Indian media gives positive coverage only for cricket and Cinema. The politicians and policemen find themselves at the other end of the stick always. Thanks to the overdose of negative reporting the bad guys got more coverage and we are left with real incompetent and corrupt leaders to rule us.

As the era of liberalization rolled on, the middle class Indians had more money power. We started dreaming of Saville clad, Oxford educated politicians and leaders. The picture of Dhothi clad, pan chewing, uneducated ones got confined to the Indian comics and movies.

The parties sensed the change in mood and cultivated icons- people from movies, sports, young ones with glamour. When Soniaji abdicated the highest throne of power, the chair of Prime Minister, for the demure Manmohanji we couldn’t hide the delight. The share market sky rocketed seeing the father of liberalization in the driver’s seat. We are getting a simple, well-dressed, respected, untainted man as our Prime Minister. Besides he is educated and has taught in the top universities. Indeed the perfect concoction for the Mr. Prime Minister.

Well he carried off in style during the first term. His speeches in the turbulent sessions of Lok Sabha has been glorified by the media. And in his second term he has been showing some iron in his spine. He has told the party more than once ‘Go to Hell’.

I just love this man. He doesn’t give any Indian, even his grumpy opponents chance to hate him. I am going to put down a few reason why he should be given the highest honor any Indian can get (not the Presidency), Bharath Ratna.

1. If the poster boy of BJP, Atalji, can be eligible, anybody can.

2. He has risen above all the partisan politics, when he benevolently entitled Pakistan as our little cousins. So as elder one in the family we must act responsible and make peace whatever the pranks they play. He went ahead and admitted India has been naughty on Balochistan.

3. ‘Trust’ is the weak point of Manmohanji. When he puts trust in someone he expects them to keep their word. But sadly he doesn’t know that Clintons, Obamas and Bushes haven’t been related to Punjab even remotely. These wise guys give India a Desi version of nuclear agreement and passes a different one in their Senate. But still our Manmohanji hasn’t lost his faith in the beloved Americans.

4. Our Manmohanji literally obeyed Obama (and Bush) when he stalled the gas pipeline project with Iran. Now China is pulling the strings for the same through Pakistan.

5. Manmohanji was the first PM to say ‘All Indians love you’ to Bush. Even Bush’s closest ally, Tony Blair didn’t give him Britain’s love. Now the US government has agreed for a nuclear deal with Pakistan. Now Manmohanji has to declare his love to Obama too.

6. For this nuclear deal that never happened, the government was on the verge of fallimg apart. Who can forget Manmohanji spirited speech in the Parliament. All for nothing.

7. The crowning moment for our PM was when the Padma awrds of the year was announced. He felt the fellow Sikhs had been ignored since Independence. So he nominated two eminent personalities.

Sant Singh was nominated because he kept beautiful Russian models as his secretaries. He was more than happy to share them with visiting Indian diplomats.

Harbhajan Singh was nominated as he created no trouble for batsmen. The biggest achievement was motivating Andrew Symmonds with encouraging words (in Punjab calling one’s mother choosy words is considered as an encouragement).

8. Manmohanji savvy friend and Home minister has come up with a startling discovery. Jihadis are no longer a threat for India. The biggest threat are the Maoists. Interestingly they are home grown terrorists with no proven assistance from a foreign power, The ministers completely forgot to mention countless MoUs signed with mining companies, thus deriding poor villagers their home and livelihood.

9. It seems no one bothered to inform Manmohanji that price for essential commodities has been increasing all the 6 years he was in office. He was under the impression that people are eating electronic items while they are hungry.

10. His best friend and disciple, Karzai, is planning to join the Taliban

Sadly Soniaji is distancing herself more and more from thee party.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Half a Ton Thanks.... 15 unknown facts

Ladies and gentlemen, in case you didn’t notice the world’s best blog ‘My Times’ has crossed the No.50 mark. I guess it calls for a treat. Yes, as a treat I am going to write down things you may not know about ‘My Times’.

1. . My real name has never been Jon or John or Johnson. I always had the fancy for the name John from childhood. It could be because of the dashing young jeweler with the name Johnson. It could also be due to my dashing and handsome cousins with the surname John. Besides right from the kindergarten to college, there were 2-3 people sharing my name. They all were either dumb or geek. At least in my blog I chose the name I like.

2. Blogging happened purely due to situations beyond my control. I was asked to come in as a part time author for a private blog. As I started writing for the blog I realized I had the potential to write. Very soon the blog closed down. But it opened to me the new horizon of blogosphere. Thanks to my old friend and quite famous blogger Praveen, I kick started ‘My Times’.

3. I am particularly sensitive towards the hypocrisy around. I hate news papers and magazines using media as a platform to illegitimately spread their propaganda by publishing tweaked news. I wanted to interpret the happenings around in my way. Hence I went for a name resembling a daily- my own daily. Thus came the name ‘My Times’.

4. The dull and boring hours in the office also accelerated the birth of ‘My Times’. I found no meaning in the work. I wanted to do something that mattered.

5. The first step was to check if I was good enough to be a blogger. So I started writing down some 10 posts before I started the blog. Contrary to my plans ‘My Times’ went online in one unbearable morning. The rough draft of a blog is still written down in a notebook before it goes online.

6. First few blogs were typed from my office PC. Later I brought a laptop of my own. That was one of the best purchases I ever did.

7.. As soon as I started blogging I realized that the biggest challenge is to optimize the length of a post.

8. Once I met an old school pal in a park, unexpectedly. I decided to write about it. That is when I realized I could narrate stories very well.

9. I got pissed off at my good friend because he wronged someone. I wrote about it and feels guilty about even to this day.

10. I went on with a pathetic template for a long time before I settled on with the present one. I hate to tweak the HTML.

11. In the initial stages I marketed the blog directly to my friends. I stopped doing that soon. When I started ‘My Times’ I had this idea that I will turn out to be a blogger with hundreds of followers and hundreds of comments on every post. A few months back I realized that I will never be a famous blogger. I made peace with myself.

12. I try my best to do a minimum of 5 posts every month.

13. Once upon a time I realized ‘My Times’ is growing cluttered with so many meaningless posts. Thus started ‘Think’. ‘Think’ is to put small, unrefined posts that can spark the reader. I put posts on it impromptu and most of them are big craps. But to my surprise people love craps rather than good blogs.

14. One day I went ahead and brought a camera. Thus started my photo blog ‘Photo tells a story’. Today I don’t put any images in ‘My Times’.

15. I felt really good when quite good bloggers started following my bog (very rare. Doesn’t happen now).

Blogging is lonely affair. There are times I get depressed when I feel that my blog doesn’t matter to anyone. At such times people who say ‘You write well’ matters a world to me. During my initial days Praveen followed and commented on my blogs without fail. That is a reason ‘My Times’ is going strong to this day. Then there is my good friend Kalaam’s sister who claims I have got so many female fans ;). Although I don’t have the reason to believe that, her words gave me a sense of pride that propels me more. Then there are countless people like Vattu, Kalaam few of my colleagues who still push me for one another post. Thanks a lot good people.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goa Chapter3 - The land of Canaan

Goa is a fast dying Indian tourist spot. Thank us, the Indians. When we see a potential tourist spot somewhere, we suck the life blood out of it. It’s not a bad idea for the government to practice ‘sons of the soil policy’ when it comes to tourism. The whole idea is to maintain the identity of the region.

North Indians are good business men. But money is the only thing that matters to them. These can possibly be the reason you find regional strife wherever they step into. No hard feelings intended. We could see the unrest in almost all the local people we met.

Some of the funny things we saw:

Any direction we turned to, we saw chicks (Indian tourists) that seemed to be manufactured in the same plant. Everybody had the same green, yellow or white T-shirts and mini-skirts or shorts. Everyone had over sized breasts and huge wrap-ons. Anyone would mistake that the huge glasses are the trend of the season. The minute these girls remove their glasses, they would resemble Cinderella’s step-sisters. Mind you they remove the glasses only when they eat. They tempt you with their jugs, But you can get real bad stare if you steal a look. Well if you don’t want anyone to notice your assets, why does your T-shirt has to be tight? No prize for guessing.

Equally unbearable creatures are drunk South Indian men. Down here men drink to lose their shame. I saw three men with a beer bottle bathing in the waves. The wave was washing sea water into the bottle. These men were too drunk to notice and were drinking out of it again and again. They must have been wondering when Mallya got the idea of salty beer. Needless to say, they were half/almost naked. I feel pity for all the innocent children in the beach who had to see such evil things so early in their lives.

There was this famous eat-out, ‘For Rest’, with a magnificent ambience in Miramar. It had swings where you can eat swinging. We guys went and sat out there when a waiter came and asked us not to sit on a swing. He said it was an exhibition piece. Later a fat lady came and sat with her boyfriend. We waited for the same waiter to reappear. But he didn’t bother.

These kinds of incidents happened more than once. We can call it isolated. But piecing them together we can draw a fair conclusion. Either you will have to be rich or at least pretend to be one- show attitude in other words.

We had some friendly encounters with our hostel warden. He was an encounter specialist-when it came to college kids. The first night we came in, he was violently preventing a group of college kids from entering into the hostel with a bottle of brandy. He asked them to hide it in the bushes outside the hostel. Well, the kids didn’t find the bottle there the next morning. The only object of enjoyment in the hostel was the cook in the pantry who came with heavy make-up. Her tailor stitched her salwars while she was in it. She would have had tough time to peel the clothes off J.

I have posted the photos of our travel in my blog. I had to sacrifice bath in the sea for walking along the beach seeking a good shot.

1.Colva and Benolli:

These are the greatest beaches in South of Goa and they are awesome. Quite, white, long stretch of beach will unfold before your eyes and you can have a peaceful time. I saw many local kids cycling their way after school.

And we had a fabulous late lunch washed down with beer. There are shacks along the beach where you can sit for hours on end. The clocks are so slow in Goa. So please don’t hurry up the waiters. You aren’t supposed to do that in Goa.

The specialty of Indian tourist places is that you are bound to get cheated.’ Water sports’ is a potential threat. We got cheated in Colva. These two beaches aren’t good for the water sporting.

2.Baga and Calangute:

If you love crowded beaches, then these are for you. Baga has got a decent flea market too. The water sport facilities are the best there. You can race in your speed boats or land on a parachute in middle of the sea.

You can watch a lot of bikni babes sun bathing. If you don’t have the taste for foreign babes, you can catch a glimpse of desi babes in equally tiny shorts. You may as well get desperate on seeing the couples huddling to each other while you see no such luck in the horizon.


Anjuna beach has no bathing facility. It’s famous for its flea market. Awesome but make sure than you don’t buy any stuff for more than thirty bucks. I saw a shack called a tattoo shop. It had a photo showing the man tattooing Sushmitha Sen.

Anjuna has got slippery rocks, where you can get a few good snaps. We didn’t stay there for long as we weren’t interested in beach with no bath. But I got for myself a few necklaces.

4.Fort Aguada:

It has the real feel of a prison. I took a couple of risky photos too standing at the edge. A batch of college kids from Mumbai had come and we got an eyeful of delicious candies. This fort holds a special memory for us. While we came here during our college tour, a rift happened between two sections. So here our batch split into two. I guess it was one of the painful memories from the college days.

5.Fort Chapora:

This was the place where a song sequence in the famous Hindi movie ‘Dil Chahtha Hai’ was shot. It was the story of a group of youngsters and was released during the first year in college. The tune was a chart buster. We always wanted to visit this place. It has a breath taking view. But unfortunately I couldn’t take the best of pictures.

The journey to the Fort was hot and tiresome. We were squeezed out by the time we reached there. We hit a shack and had cold beer to wash down the heat. What a relief it was!

6.St.Xaviers and Se Cathedral:

Goa is known for its famous Portuguese architecture reflected in the churches. St. Xavier’s is also known for the undecayed body of St. Xavier still present. The statues and the pillars are awesome. The catholic church is very rich, no doubt.

Some thing I hated about the place skimply clad women walking around. The funny part is it’s not foreigners but Indians. When will these bitches realize it’s not a tourist beach but a holy place! I wonder if they would dare to wear it to a temple or mosque.

7.Miramar and Dona Paula:

These beaches were thankfully near the place we stayed. They are the most highly rated beaches in Goa. We used to go there for the casual morning walk.

You can also read Chapter1 and Chapter2 of Goa

About Me

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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.