India is out of World Cup. So is Pakistan. And along with them went the majority of the crowd as well.

I was watching West Indies- New Zealand match yesterday. The stadium was almost empty. Even the test matches in India are not so poorly attended. For West Indies, it is a home match. It is appalling if the matches of home team are so poorly attended. The India- Sri Lanka and Bangladesh- Bermuda matches, the ones that sealed the fate of our team, was better attended than WI- NZ match.

What is the reason for this “unprecedented and unanticipated” phenomena. Some people point the fingers to the fact that West Indians are more interested in basket ball than cricket these days. I heard John Wright attributing to the fall out in crowd to the high rates of tickets that are sold. Anyways, this is a serious issue that ICC needs to introspect. They should realize that, in order to make cricket a global sport, supporting new nations is not the only thing required, but they also should bring positive changes in the format of the game.

I get a feeling that cricket sells only in the subcontinent and in the southern hemisphere. In comparison with the football counterpart, the state of cricket is piteous. When we see the worst qualifiers for FIFA World Cup selling out, it is hard to accept that the Super Eight is finding it difficult to attract the crowd.

I heard that after the shocking exit of Indians and Pakis, all major sponsers for cricket are reviewing if the money they spend is really worth it. Moreover, cricket pundits all over predict that ESPN Star are never going to recover the money they pumped in, to grab the contract from ICC. Anyways, let us wait and watch.

India almost out of world cups. Whom to blame? The coach? Or  The team?  

Statistics of our performance for the past 10 years or so shows that Team India always buckled under pressure. They always lost when it mattered the most, the only exception being the historic win at Lords during Natwest Trophy. This may sound psychological, but it is a fact, and India needs to work on making themselves tough, to get going when things become tough.  

I am not disagreeing to the fact that Indians took the Bangladesh match light and paid heavy price for that. Against Srilanka, Indian bowlers bowled as though they belong to a different league altogether, without any shade of luck. That shows Team India were serious, though they buckled yet again, unable to handle the pressure during the latter part of the game. It was almost like a repeat of 1996 semis, I still remember Vinod Kambli walking off crying that day. 

Many may argue that India were under prepared. But, the warm up matches showed otherwise. India bundled out West Indies for 85, and won the match comfortably. Again one can float up the theory that one match hardly shows anything. This same theory holds good for the match against Bangladesh. 

Now about blaming Indian performance on the money centric players who feature more in cheap commercials than their practice matches, sports is a field where one’s career is limited, and one injury is good enough to take them away from limelight.

Furthermore, cricketers are celebrities and they need to live up to their status. So, to live such a luxurious life, they need to make money when their commercial value is high. Sure, we think players like Sachin have earned enough, and we call them money minded. How about people like Amitabh Bachchan? He got a Bentley free of cost from Amar Singh right? How could Amar Singh get it? Of course a politician cannot earn it from his salary. Aren’t these people greedier than these set of cricketers? Then why let them Scot free? If the politicians showed 10% of the commitment that team India showed, India would have been in a much better position right now. And Sachin wouldn’t have stayed in the team had he not shown a high level of commitment so far in his long career of 17 years. One should never forget that n ot many have stayed fit and focused for that long. 

I am not trying to justify Team India’s performance. Sure, they need to get the stick for what they did in World Cup. I just wanted to say that Indian team doesn’t deserve to be treated so badly to the extent of peltering stones at their houses, and stopping one session in Parliament (for which the loss runs into lakhs, if I am correct). What we require is, people with vision at the top, who can nurture the talented young players of
India, make them tough to stand the pressure and perform up to the expectation of a billion of fans. Otherwise, we will have to see more hara-kiris performed by Team India at crunch situations.
  

 IIT JEE to have only 2 papers? 

I somehow am not able to absorb this news. During our years, we had a screening test followed by a main examination, which was mainly subjective. The subjective exam is considered to be the toughest to crack. Essentially the subjective exam used to tune our problem solving abilities to match with those which we encountered during our course work during IITs. I have to say the objective system is going to make the life of students difficult, as they may take time to get themselves accustomed to the quiz questions and tutorials for the courses.

Making the JEE system easy may not be the right move. I have not understood why they were insisting on making it easier. It could be to make JEE fair and square for all the candidates, as the tough format was dominated by the coaching classes, who used to encourage students from bunking their higher secondary classes, through which they miss the essential interaction of students. This inturn had resulted in what they call “nerds” coming out of IITs. This reason is something that I never understood. How could an easier paper result in more people attending their 11th and 12th classes? The coaching centers will make sure that they don’t miss a single point required for JEE, for which they will still go ahead with rigorous coaching schedules.

Falling into Infinity

Artist: Dream Theater

Album: Falling into Infinity

Song: Take away my pain

I was sitting on the edge of his bed

Staring at the headlines on the paper

He said, “Look at poor Gene Kelly

I guess he won’t be singing in the rain.”

You can take away my heroes

Can you take away my pain?

Take away my pain

Leave the cold outside

Please don’t let it rain

Don’t stumble on my pride

Take away my pain

I’m not frightened any more

Just stay with me tonight

I’m tired of this fight

Soon I’ll be knocking at your door

She was standing by the edge of his bed

Staring at the message on their faces

He said, “What else can you do babe?

I guess I won’t be coming home again.

“They just took away all my promises

Make them take away my pain”

Take away my pain

Leave the cold outside

Please don’t let it rain

Don’t stumble on my pride

Take away my pain

I’m not frightened any more

Just stay with me tonight

I’m tired of this fight

Soon I’ll be knocking at your door

His final scene

The actor bows

And all those years

Are gone somehow

The crowd applauds

The curtain fails

I was standing by the edge of the water

I noticed my reflection in the waves

Then I saw you looking back at me

And I knew that for a moment

You were calling out my name

You took away my hero

Will you take away my pain?

Take away my pain

Let the cold inside

It’s time to let it rain

There’s nothing left to hide

Take away my pain

I’m not frightened any more

I’m learning to survive

Without you in my life

Till you come knocking at my door…

First day last show.

And Jiah Khan steals the show.

That’s how I would like to put it. Anticipating full house, we were welcomed by a relatively empty cinema, which is unusual for a Bachchan starrer RGV movie. The last movie of the duo was Sarkar, and it won accolades from all strata of Indian movie buffs. From the day 1 of promos, Nishabdh has been boasting of a different narrative in which a senile gentleman, who is also an artistic photographer, falls in love with a young girl in her late teens. Amitabh Bachchan is Mr. Vijay, a hexagenarian, who owns an estate in the picturesque landscapes of Munnar. He is accompanied by his wife, Amrutha (Revati) and his daughter. Life is quiet for them, until one vacation for which his daughter takes Jia, her college friend with her. Jia is a girl who has an attitude of “I don’t care around her”. Jiah’s childhood has been rattled by the divorce of her parents, followed by the second marriage of her mother.  Though she tries to don a cool girl image with punch lines such as “Take light”, one could see she is not very cool when it comes to things concerning her.

One fine day during the vacation, Ritu gets bedridden due to sprain and Vijay is forced to take Jiah alone for the estate trip for the next 5 days. During this period, they get very close to each other, and Amitabh realizes that he is in love with Jiah when confronted with the proposal from the teenager. Things turn bad when Ritu spots both of them kissing each other, and this leads to big turmoils in the family, and tears start rollicking from the eyes of everyone in the family. The movie ends showing the desolate Vijay contemplating about his future.

Amitabh, known for his domineering personality on and off the screen, chipped in with an uncharacteristic role of an emotionally fragile person and has added another stunning performance into his illustrious career. The rookie Jiah Khan is a treat to watch; she is sensual and has excellently fit into the innocent “I don’t care” desi teenager. She has got the looks, and her bosoms can flutter any guy I should say! Revathy, who has always shown her acting prowess, has done total justice to her limited role. A couple of characters who failed to make any impact are Ritu and her uncle, enacted by Naser. His role of a brother in law, who is unusually tolerant to Vijay and Jiah, looks very artificial. I don’t really believe one could see such brother in laws, unless he is Jesus Christ or Osho reincarnated, and has invented the elixir for life. Nasser, a very good actor known for his captivating roles in south Indian movies has been totally underutilized in the movie. Probably RGV could have given the role to someone else than wasting the talent of
Nasser.

On the whole, as the name says, Nishabdh is a silent, unconventional bollywood movie. Apart from the stunning cinematography (The place is a paradise!) and good acting at times, the movie is mediocre. After watching the movie, one gets a feeling that RGV failed to do justice to a wonderful story, and could have done much better. For the past 10 years, Ramu has displayed his caliber in making thriller and action flicks many a times, and his attempt to make a romantic movie is not up to the mark. The movie is very light, devoid of a powerful screenplay or dialogues. Nevertheless, the actors have performed remarkably, given the limited prospects offered to them by the screenplay. Though I won’t recommend it as a must watch movie, it is a different and daring attempt by RGV and one can go to the theatre and come out after the movie without much difference in their state of mind.

PS: The title reminds me of one of my favorites, The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.

Hello darkness, my old friend,

I’ve come to talk with you again,

Because a vision softly creeping,

Left its seeds while I was sleeping,

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone

Narrow streets of cobblestone,

neath the halo of a street lamp,

I turned my collar to the cold and damp

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of

A neon light

That split the night

And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw

Ten thousand people, maybe more.

People talking without speaking,

People hearing without listening,

People writing songs that voices never share

And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence.

Fools said I ,you do not know

Silence like a cancer grows.

Hear my words that I might teach you,

Take my arms that I might reach you.

But my words like silent raindrops fell,

And echoed

In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed

To the neon God they made.

And the sign flashed out its warning,

In the words that it was forming.

And the signs said, the words of the prophets

Are written on the subway walls

And tenement halls.

And whispered in the sounds of silence.

 

amitabh_bachchan_bb.jpg

Amitabh for prez?  Though the “big b” has dismissed these rumours, I am amused by this it. Amitabh, perhaps is arguably the best entertainer Bollywood has seen. He may not be the best actor of all time,but he has the charm that made him numero uno.The “BigB” brand is one of the highest valued Indian brand, only next to the batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.

The popularity of Amitabh, as far as I know could be attributed to his metamorphosis from the guy next door roles to the ones that show strong and unique character (like Sarkar and Black) through the highly popular angry young man phase.Moreover, his personal image has always been “clean” (We always give unwanted weightage to one’s real life persona, while rating the star; Otherwise, how can Rajini be a bigger star than Kamal in Tamil moviehood?). After the dark phase of ABC going bankrupt and the notoriety for tax evasion, he has emerged out to be the biggest winner of Bollywood, thanks to KBC and a string of movies which brought Amitabh back to the thick of things.

But the question remains, is it all enough? So far, Amitabh has shown that he is a definite crowd puller, an absolute entertainer and a smart businessman (?). But as far as president goes, one needs to have a vision and passion for the nation. Amitabh is definitely passionate about acting, more than that, he wants to be in the good books of millions of his fans.

Let us examine the case of Mr. Kalam. He showed his faculty by heading the rocket research (ISRO) and is widely appreciated for his feats. Moreover, he is known for his humilty and erudition. Despite all these, he started poorly as it took time for him to learn the tricks of the trade, and he improvised immensely, emerging as a quality President. Within his limited strata of power (I don’t believe that the President has the absolute power in democratic systems. The rubber stamp Presidents under Indira Gandhi taught us so), he was able to assert his authority and demonstrate his character.

Coming to Bachchan, he has never got a chance to proclaim conspicuously his vision or passion for the nation, owing to the nature of his work. He has devoted a lot of efforts and hard work to reach where he is right now. His efforts were complimented by the charisma that I mentioned earlier, and succeeded in luring the masses. But in the highest administrative and diplomatic levels,  glamour won’t work as smoothly and effectively as they do in stardom. Moreover, we don’t need a president who is hell bent in preserving his feel good impression amongst the masses, as this could be a serious hindrance to his unbiased thoughts.

So, who we need is a tough president, who knows about his jurisdictions. T N Sheshan (noone likes arrogance!) could be a good choice, so is Shashi Tharoor (He needs to dispose off his obsession for diplomacy and euphemism though!). But, believe it or not, politicians always want a dummy president. Indira Gandhi has been the pioneer of this idea. Hence the natural choice for them could be someone who has been very popular amongst the masses, and is a repertoire in his field, but a total rookie when it comes to politics. On the course of this idea, they totally underestimated the brains of Kalam, and the idea boomeranged. Neverthless, the bunch is incorrigible, and hence I would not be flabbergasted when encountered with the flash news that Bachchan is unanimously elected to be the next president of the nation. All said and done, Mr. Bachchan could still bamboozle them, and culminate his transformation from the guy next door into the Prez next term.

There is a devotional poem named Jnanappana in Malayalam. It is a wonderful work by a poet Poonthanam in the 16th century. A few lines can be roughly translated into:

(What was there till yesterday, I didn’t know;

Neither do I know what beckons me tomorrow.

It’s you almighty who can take us

From rags to riches or otherwise…)

This is the case of all celebrities in India. Take the case of Sourav Ganguly. From the enviable position of the best captain India has ever seen, he fell into the dungeons of embarassment in a matter of weeks. Based on his performance, he was stripped of captaincy and was sent back to domestic cricket. Though he was awarded the treatment he deserved, I still feel the media treated him shabbily. What followed his exit was a string of articles vehemently criticizing and questioning the ability of a person who has more than 10000 runs in his kitty. Sure, for every crest, there is a trough, and one had to accept Sourav was having a bad patch. But the critics who praised him once started singing elegies for him. It was for sure, an emotional torture for Sourav. The same is the case of Sania Mirza. The wonder girl of Indian tennis, who rose to the celebrity status due to her diligence and talent, has been discarded off by media, and vehemently criticized for her inability to be consistent.

Leave sports for an instant. Let us take the case of Bollywood. Sanjay Dutt was a spoiled brat with underworld connections. He made the life of Sunil Dutt miserable by his irrational acts. Post Munnabhai, Sanjay is a “transformed” gentleman, who needs to be pardoned. The Sanjay, who got ammunition from Dawood was an immature, high adrenalin kid, and is not the Munnabhai whom we know. What would have been the situation had Munnabhai never occurred in Sanjay’s life? Whatever the court verdict is, the Indian media and public have forgiven him. What happened to Salman Khan? He shot a blackbuck, then a couple of other endangered animals, and the case is still alive. According to the media, he has been taunted enough, and the time has come to condone his actions. This essentially transforms to Salman leaving Scot free.

Politicians are no different. What happened to Lalu Prasad Yadav? His cases of bribe on cattle feed is a forgotten chapter in India, except for the poor judiciary. What we have today is the new Lalu bent on reforms. He indeed has resurrected the railways. But, is that enough to forgive him also? Another instance, what happened to Godhra incident? Where are the reports? How is Narendra Modi left out without even questioned? Looking at all these, what message should the youth of the nation take? Commit any unforgivable sin, to compensate that, change your image, and do some charity stunts. You are not crucified anymore. Nice way, isn’t it?

Now, take the case of media. I am not questioning their integrity. But the sad fact is that, no one knows about it. They are the ones responsible for feeding information to the public. Now, the question is, are they justified for their actions always?

Take for instance, the case of Princess Diana. She was followed by Paparazzi in a high speed lane, before she crashed inside a tunnel. Why weren’t these paparazzi questioned? They were running around for a scoop, and they ultimately ended up killing the golden goose. Nevertheless, they devoured enough on her public image, had enough news to fill their column for months. How about infringing into the privacy of celebrities? We get the photos of Agassi spending his honeymoon with Steffi from these photographers.

Are these actions morally correct? If one feels these are the only questionable acts of the media, boy! you are seriously wrong. Consider Iraq and Afghanistan. How many news papers/channels have been bold enough to report about the number of civilians who had to fall as victims of this unfortunate war? I have read somewhere that the satellite images published in the worldwide media were administered and censored cleverly by the US government, concealing the act of barbarism committed by soldiers. A few on the atrocities done on the prisoners of war by the
US troopers created an initial furor, which later got subdued. Why didn’t the media enquire what happened afterwards?

In the Indian scenario, I remember the incident of Karunanidhi getting manhandled by police at 2 AM, five years back. Jaya TV (owned by the then ruling party) showed it as Karunanidhi being un co-operative, where as SUN TV (owned by the then opposition) show cased the event as an act of inhumanness by the cops. So, if the logic is anything to go by, who is wrong? And if one of the parties is wrong, who will punish them? Is this what we call power of media?

I am not trying to undermine the wonderful acts that the media persons have done. Sure, they did a brilliant act when they campaigned for Priyadarshini Mattoo and Jessica Lal. This commendable act showed the power of media. The question is, can media do something better? When will the dream of unbiased media come true? How do we know if they are fabricating data or news? And, at the end of it, who will punish the faltered ones in the media? I am sure that there are more glasses to shatter, than the ones so far.

Sometime during my 1st standard (has to be 1991).

I first noticed a slight pain on my incisors. My father called me and examined it. He confirmed that the tooth is shaking. He educated me that all milk teeth will be replaced by the secondary set soon. He also said that the child in us will gradually be clobbered to the subconscious by the monster in us. Though I didn’t understand what that meant at that time, I now understand what it means.

After a few days, the tooth was visibly shaking. I was afraid to pull it out, as it was paining a bit. I showed it to my father. He is a very patient and composed person. He told me a nice story, and as I got involved in the story, he pulled it out in one go. Out came the teeth, he gave it to me. I saw it, got so sad and started crying. I went and looked in the mirror, could see a big hole in the gate and was stuck by horror. I could visualize my friends poking fun at me the next day in school.

I was very rude at school when I made fun of a couple of my friends, one of them a bully, when they lost their teeth. I wasn’t smart enough to remember the repercussions of that otherwise harmless action. Now I started biting nails, had nightmares of the big bully turning pink and bursting into laughter.

Next morning:
Aim: I should not be a buffoon in front of my class mates.
Solution: Bunk the school till a secondary teeth replaces it.
Route: I have a stomach ache.

My mother, a scarecrow, got immediately scared. She told my father. He came to my bed, asked me where exactly I am feeling the pain. I said I am feeling it all over the stomach. Then he slowly tried to locate the pain, after some unsuccessful attempts from my side to pretend pain, he slowly realized the pain is somewhere else for me.

He asked: “Tell me the truth, do you have a stomach ache at all?”

I was in tears by this time again: “No!”

Father: “Then why did you lie?”

Me: “I don’t want to go to school”

Father: “Why?”

Me: “My friends would bully me”

The plot unfolds gradually. He sat beside me, and slowly said, “Son, what makes you think that a missing tooth looks ugly on you? It is something inevitable, and adds on to your beauty. In fact you have said that mutthassi (grand mother) looks good without the teeth. And what will happen if your friends bully you? It is just for a day or two, after which, all of you will forget them and become friends again. That is why children’s world is the most perfect one. “

Slowly, he took me on to his lap, patted me gently and waited till I get back to my smart mood again. He also promised me something special if I go to school and come back smartly.

I go to school with a bit of shyness, found things much better than what I actually thought. I could stand to the big bully (he was also toothless!) and came back running like Anil Kumble after guiding India to victory in a match with his batting prowess (hypothetical situation of course!)

I was half asleep by the time my father came back, and narrated the whole story. He was impressed by my performance and as he had promised, gifted me with a stamp album. I was so happy, I kissed him all over and went back to sleep happily.

16 years later:

My father is not there with me anymore. I am on my own, working in an automobile firm. I would not say I lie, but I am forced to say, many a times I tend not to reveal the full truth. They say all this is a part of work, where strategic relations are important. I get reminded of the Yudhistira- Dronacharya episode in Mahabharata battle.

It is all a part of the game.

“When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb”

Source: NDTV

BCCI Vice President Shashank Manohar has said that the Indian cricketers should “not be paid a single penny” for the way they played in Durban.

Manohar, who has been for long advocating the introduction of the pay-by-performance scheme for the Indian team, added that the Board was not to be blamed for the team’s poor performance.

“We are administrators and we have done our utmost to provide the players with the best of facilities and support staff. It’s the job of the players to deliver on the field, not ours. We at best can take corrective action and measures,” he said

I agree with Mr Manohar for the first two paragraphs, after that, it is hypocrisy. How can you expect the team to deliver if they are not really exposed to bouncy pitches and quality fast bowling? Other than minting money through endorsements and playing politics, how much has BCCI done to the 1st class division of India?

The debate of making lively pitches in the domestic circuit has been on for more than a decade now, but why is BCCI keeping mum about it? The administrators also should take equal blame in this state of affairs of the Indian Cricket team. This is the perfect example of the case where one find the administrators are least bothered of anything except money. I believe BCCI should appoint people with passion for the game in their administrative positions than politicians, who are playing it dirty.

Now comes the second half of the story.

“After the strong statements on the floor of the house over Greg Chappell’s credentials, the Left renewed demands that Sourav Ganguly should be included in the team.”

Would Saurav’s inclusion have made any difference to the team? He has not made any big scores apart from a century in Duleep Trophy. So you cannot obviously take him for his performance in the domestic circuit, if that is a criteria.
One can argue that he has loads of experience with him, but it is more than compensated with his recent poor runs with the bat. So, it is a lousy statement by Lok Sabha.

So, the solution is,

Let politics get out of cricket.

The performance pay should be implemented not only for the players, but also for the officials. It is a collective responsibility.

Else, you can see another Manohar, who will be lashing at the team at another conference 10 years down the line.

These guys are incorrigible right??

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

This was imagined by the one and only one John Lennon 🙂

Time: 7.40 PM
Date: 03/10/06
Venue: Lonavla Railway Station.
Characters in the scene: A nuclear family, guess they belong to the local tribe, and a whole lot of passengers waiting for the Mumbai bound Indrayani Express.

The lady looked very tired, and the kid very hungry. Their clothes were totally in ragged condition. They were sitting on the floor of the railway station (Railway stations are much dirtier these sides, thanks to the masculine community who can’t stop eating pans.Let them eat, but for God’s sake, stop spitting them on the floor!). They were waiting for someone before they can start moving. Once can see a saree clad euneche, with a lot of powder on his/her face, her long hair was braided with Jasmine flower (Culture shock: In Chennai, all the females wear Jasmine ribbons/braids, where as in Maharashtra, normally people wearing Jasmine are looked to in a different angle!)

Suddenly, a man comes to the scene. He has a thick Veerappan like moustache, a cloth bag on his back, and a stick on his back. He comes behind the lady.
“Bang!” A huge blow with his powerful hands on her head.
The lady is startled, and looks back, to see her husband fuming at her.
Before she could figure out anything, comes a stream of swearings in the vernacular language, for something which she was to do/not do.

The kid, who is hardly 5 years old looks scared. The patriarch is still fuming. To give vent to his emotions, he starts beating the kid very badly. The kid runs and hides behind the lady.The lady kind of protect him from the father’s anger. The lady is in tears!

After this assault, off he walks hurriedly, and the lady somehow gets up, takes the kid on her back and hurriedly follows her husband.

I felt like a useless, unable to do something against this outrageous treatment towards his wife.

But then what could I have possibly done at that time?

And the other people were not as moved as I was, guess for them it is something that is hackneyed.

Ms. Shobha De: Isn’t it yet time for you to get out of Page 3 and come to the villages, to help the needy?