Month: August 2010 Page 1 of 2

The cancer returns?

April 2000 was a black month in the history of cricket. The Hansie Cronje confession shook the foundation of the “gentleman’s game”. The spirit had been infected with greed. Few more names surfaced-Azhar, Jadeja, Salim Mallik, Gibbs, Boje. Pakistani cricketers of the likes of Wasim, Waqar, Inzamam, Anwar were warned. Life bans, endless investigations, court-room trials, jury decisions – cricket saw it all.

Cricket lost tons of fans that day. I know many friends – hard core cricket buffs, some players themselves at different levels, gave up watching the game. Players were under scrutiny, trust was lost, faith destroyed and punishments meted out.

A few fans though kept quiet; fans like me for whom cricket is almost a religion. You do not give up on religion and god that easily even though all may not seem right. You have been brought up to follow that path and you know no other. You grow up with a belief and you don’t let a few idiots destroy it in minutes. So you tell yourself to look beyond and search for those few to guard the sanctity of your religion. Things begin to improve and somewhere you get the feeling that the therapy is working and the cancer can be cleaned up.

And the therapy worked, or so we believed. What a fabulous decade we had. The game and the teams put rose above the scandal, and took steps to restore the hopeless fan’s faith. Young talents sprung up, Australia dominated, South Africa, England and India fought hard while Pakistan the most unpredictable of the lot, threw up talents like hot-selling cakes.

We had some unpredictable results, uncanny victories, underdogs triumphing and the game had regained its old beauty. We were back to shouting hoarse the age old adage, “Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties”. Then a friend of mine would say – Minal, I think the match was fixed”. I’d mouth of obscenities to him for being a disbeliever, doubter  and a shame of a fan to the game. I did not want to believe that such a thing existed. The cancer was killed I was told all these years.

In the last few months, sporadic news came to light – the IPL match-fixing allegations,the Kaneria case. Nothing concrete emerged and we chose to ignore. Benign tumours, false alarms I told myself. If the game is running smooth, the media will find ways to disrupt the harmony for their TRP greed.

I ignored and chose to revel in the joy that the 2 As were bestowing on us fans. Not since the 2Ws have I seen such fine display of seam and swing from Pakistan. Aus and Eng were tottering against these two. Aamir is a genuine talent – all of 18 – he seemed like the blessing Pakistan was seeking all this while.

Pakistan has had an awful year in cricket – the SL attack, its aftermath resulting in sacking of Pakistan as the co-host of the 2011 World Cup matches and the elimination as a host to international tours. Amir and Asif with their fine bowling performances this summer in England had every cricket fan in the world swooning over them.

In a decade dominated by the batsmen, we fans were getting some fine glimpses of the future to come in Amir & Asif. The honours were in balance before the start of the 4th test and on the second day it almost looked like Pak might seal another series draw with Amir’s outburst of 6 wickets having stripped England to 102-7. Broad and Trott came together to play an epic fight back in the history of test cricket.

Pakistan lost the plot and Swann sealed it off England by dismissing them for 74 in the first innings. At 40-4 on the 4th evening , with the fans relishing the cricket dished out in the summer, this was not needed to be heard or read on a fine Sunday morning.  

If proven guilty it will be tragic for Pakistan, for cricket and for us fans. Not only will we lose out on a prodigious talent but the doctors will declare that the cancer has not been eradicated and it will be time again for therapy.

I cannot understand what lures a player to sell his pride and his loyalty to the game, to his country , to his fan for a few green notes. You take us for granted – we the blind followers of this crazy religion. Our love does not give you the right to play with it and cripple it. There is enough money in the game today and yet the greed erupts – cause apparently nothing is enough.

Pakistan did not need this – not now when it was clearing up the demons of its torrid past. Amir and Asif looked good to put the team back on track and hunt down the top teams. They had sown the seeds of ambition in this young team. Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis would’ve been proud to see their legacy being protected and carried forward.

If guilty, they must pay – with a life ban. If you corrupt the game – you must not be allowed to comeback to it again. The team must be pulled up and Pakistan Board will need to do a lot of self-introspection before the country is allowed to play cricket again. This time the ICC must be harsh,no two thoughts about it. Cause if they let go this time, the cancer will not be contained and will spread like a virus.

If not guilty then they must be given all the support to get back the confidence and walk into the stadium with their heads held high.

Trust and faith are a tricky business. It takes years to build them up and a minute for them to breakdown. The fan today is seeking reasons – reasons to believe that this is one-off and has not tainted the entire game.

Reason is our soul’s left hand, Faith her right.  ~John Donne

And as cricket’s soul seeks her left hand for the cancer that has eroded her again, her right hand is pinching the left hand hoping to get up from what seems a never ending nightmare.

Random Cricket Conundrums – Answers Anyone?

Why are people trying to analyze the “Sehwag” phenomenon? I would advise them DON’T BOTHER! If he could be explained he would not be Sehwag.

Why do television channels still have Charu Sharma and Manish Valicha as cricket anchors?

Once you have convinced me on the above,  can you try the impossible ? Explain to me the business reason for having Arunlal as a commentator – he speaks Hinglish.

Why is Ravindra Jadeja still in the team? Why Why Why?

Do we as a team take pride in being consistently inconsistent? Is it too difficult to be disciplined in our approach to every match?

Has anyone else noticed the awful gap in our batting line-up sans Sachin and Gambhir? Sehwag has scored 40%+ runs of the team total in the entire tournament.

Did someone tell me that we play 7 batsman? I’ve so far heard only one man make all the runs, where are the rest? Gone for a nice swim in the Indian Ocean, or maybe not cause they are already struggling to stay afloat against swing and spin bowling!

If this is the team we are going to take to field 6 months from now, does anyone agree that Sachin’s dream of winning a world cup just might remain a dream?

Are there times in your life when you sleep through the boredom, the routine tasks, the monotonous chores? Do you get the the feeling that the Indian team is beginning to treat playing against SL in the same fashion?

I don’t find any motivation to watch SL & India compete against each other, do you often wonder how do they motivate themselves to play? Or maybe they don’t, which is why we get bundled out for just over 100!

Has anyone else realised that this Saturday is probably the 99999999 raised to nth time India will play SL and the 9999th time in the final? Excited – hell yeah –Damn you Kiwis! I’d rather utilize it more fruitfully by catching up on my weekend sleep!

You can change your name but we decide what to do with it!

So you change your name from the maiden name to the married name. You go ahead submit the necessary documents to the bank. You make a personal visit to the bank to verify everything so as to ensure there are no hiccups.

But then you see that the name has been amended on the account but not on the e-statement of the current account. The name has been amended on the credit card statement but not on the credit card itself.

So knowing things take time and maybe system updates could be the reason, you wait to see the changes. A month, two and more pass by, but nothing changes.

You pick up the phone and call the call-centre expecting a quick-fix but all that you get to hear is: “Madam you need to visit the branch personally with all your documents”. So much for phone and internet banking and efficient systems! Systems which show the name on account has changed but refuse to get it amended on the statement cause there is a separate team who handles the statements.

So the sarcastic devil within is dying to get out but you are aware these calls are recorded and put up a polite front.

And as if this misery was not enough, when the credit card is up for renewal and it is delivered to you a month and half in advance – you get it with your old name on it.

So knowing well the futility of the whole exercise, you get yourself to dial the call-centre for help. You check with them as to why was your name not updated on the card when it was done on the statement.

And you get a reply: Madam we decide what name to fit in cause your new name is too long!!


Cursed ???

What if you realize you are cursed?

That you get bored too soon with things on platter, that you find a challenge no longer challenging, that it gets difficult to motivate yourself, that you know where your passion and love lies but cannot quit to make it work, that at times you wished you were not the brightest kid in the class so that there were less expectations of you, that you had just followed your gut and taken the easy way out than lived 8 years of you life surrounded by those wizards of oz,that most times that “I don’t care” attitude you put up is quite a facade,that you had not inherited the temper that runs in the family,that you are not able to give up the rebellious streak knowing it does much harm than good, that you constantly question the norm when others would rather you quietly tread on it, that you feel so petty thinking all the above thoughts when there are millions more who can never have even 0.001% of the lovely life you have enjoyed till date, that you keep failing yourself by not finding the courage to face things when you see a million inspirational people before you,that all  that you do these days is be confused and write a blog post sounding as incoherent as it could be!

Rest in Peace Tejaswee

I didn’t know you until I had read this last week. I know little of your mum from her inspiring blogs. I prayed hard for you to get well. I checked today for the update on you and did not want to read this.

I have seen death at close quarters – my father,grandparents,cousin, uncles. I’ve seen my aunt lose her beloved son (at an age little older than yours Tejaswee). 19 is not an age to die , it is supposed to be an age where you start living. I’ve hated God many a times before, and when I read IHM’s post today – I landed up hating him again. Why does he do this – take a child away before the parents? There is no telling what the parents go through when they lose their beloved child. It takes immense strength to overcome that grief and void.

It’s not easy for the ones who stay behind, your mum has shown her strength – but even though you are far away you need to be with her and shower that radiant smile on her always from above.

May you shine forever in your new world. IHM I’ve no words – you are a fine woman from the little I’ve known you. You are strong and we are with you in this hour.

Tejaswee – rest in peace sweet child. Your blog leaves behind your legacy – the childlike exuberance and the ladylike maturity – a fine reflection of your mom. You will be in memory forever.

Have you ever wished that people…

  • Kept their egos aside and realised the value of relationships in life
  • Stopped being two-faced and had the courage to show their true colours
  • Appreciated intelligence and smartness over dumb ‘chamchas’
  • Had the courage to stand up for friendships over professional relationships
  • Got over their silly insecurities which would cost their loved ones their most treasured relationships
  • Realised that covering up for others mistakes will only worsen matters and drive away the perfect workers
  • Realised that basic courtesies in life are important and matter in all relations – personal and professional
  • Bought themselves a better upbringing for theirs sure did not do a great job
  • Just grew up!

The Story of My 2 Daughters

I’ve never been a kids person that is MDH’s domain. I’m rather miserable at it honestly – I don’t know what to entertain them with after a point and how to take the conversation ahead.

Blame it on the fact that I’m one of the youngest among all cousins; and was the kid in the family for long until my nieces and nephews came along. I was 6 when my first niece was born and I did not identify with the concept of “aunt”. My nieces in the age-group of 18-24 are more like my sisters. While they were growing up I was never entrusted with any responsibility, I was their friend or sister. I pamper them like a sis would, not the way an aunt would.

I didn’t identify with what exactly they call “motherly” feeling until I met little “C”. My first neighbour in Dubai, my first family. C used to spend tons of hours at our place entertaining us with her newly found tales of wisdom, song recitals and dance performances. MDH was her best friend, I was her “Mavshi ( mom’s sis)”. When they moved back to Mumbai, MDH and I were left with a void impossible to be filled up again. Fortunately, her parents (P & A) live close to our place in Mumbai and there has not been a single time in our visits back home that we do not meet them and their little angel.

When she started her schooling, she’d wave out to me every morning as she waited for her bus. Not a day went by without our little ritual. Today I have her snap on my mobile  – when my alarm goes off, it’s her smiling face that wakes me up every morning.

As P once told me, I treat you both like her second set of parents. So for me, C will remain my first daughter – the little angel who taught me to love:-)

You pine for someone for so long that when they arrive you don’t know how to react. That’s what happened when my Didi and Jiju’s little angel – Ira stepped into our lives. When I held the little one in my arms on day 1 – I was in complete awe of her. She was so special and she had brought million dollar smiles to the faces of everyone in my family. Didi is the first grandchild on my maternal side and hence her little one was always going to be the special one for all uncles,aunts and us cousins.

Ira is just 4 months old and growing up fast, I last saw her in June – all of 2 months. She has the most sweetest smile in the world, she makes me go weak in my knees. I miss her, I have her picture up on my desktop and the sight of her eases my tensions in office and brings back my lost smile. Yes she has that effect on me. I’ve a lovely video of her on my desktop, the one that MDH shot on his latest trip to India before Didi left for UK.  Ira is crying, laughing, and yawning at the same time. I laugh and cry at the same time every time I see that video. When Didi sends me her latest snaps ( which I get after much pestering cause when it comes to updating my sis is pretty lousy), I land up getting all emotional and start crying – yeah my hormones are playing havoc! Ira is my second daughter:-)

I hate living abroad, I cannot hold my little angels and hug them when I miss them dearly. I can’t be part of their daily lives. All I get is telephonic or email updates and I will get to see them for a few hours/day every year. But I thank god, for blessing me with the presence of these two little wonders in my life.

When I have my kids, will anything change – Nope. I’m an only child but my mom has her two daughters – my Didi( Ira’s mom) and Tai (my paternal cousin) and similarly for me little C and Ira will always remain my 2 daughters for the rest of my life.

Say a little prayer for you…

Over the last 3 weeks, we cricket geeks ( Definition: fans who love tests over ODIs and T20s) have been praying – silently ,vehemently and albeit very loudly that the boredom that had set in thanks to the first 2 tests between Ind-SL needed a miraculous recovery for us fans to retain our interest in the game.

And so god heard us – the man up there and the man on the field as well. The groundsman at P Sara Oval made a sensible wicket – one that assisted the bowlers to some extent. India for the first time in the series got SL all out. Sehwag bludgeoned the SL attack in quick time. Raina and the tail wagged to take a miniscule but psychological first innings lead. In the 3rd innings for  the first time, India looked like a good bowling side when they had SL reeling at 87-7, and we fans almost started relishing the sight of India chasing a score between 100-120.

And that would’ve been still possible had we switched sides at that point and had the Aussies or South Africans bowling, but sadly it was the Indian team. Since SL had let our tail wag for 100 odd runs we needed to return the favour. I don’t know which defensive snake bit Dhoni and he stopped attacking. No slips to Ishaant and field wide spread out. I didn’t quite understand what score were we defending?  Samaraweera, the first innings’ century maker was allowed easy singles which not only helped boost the score but also allowed him to time to set in. Mendis came and rubbed further salt and so we were looking at chasing 250+ instead of 150.

Most of our top batsmen barring Dravid have a poor average in the 4th innings when compared to their overall average. The odds didn’t seem to favour us either, what with we having won only 4 times chasing 250+. So it almost seemed like the team had axed itself by choosing to go on the defensive. Losing 3 top order batsmen in the last session of day 4 did not help othe cause either.

When I glued in to the television today morning, I was worried that we might go defensive and lose the battle altogether. But fortunately Sachin and Laxman thought otherwise, and were positive from the word go. No one more than Sachin in this line-up stresses on the importance of singles and he along with Laxman got almost 50% runs in their partnership running singles. When he runs his singles, he makes you forget he is 37, he can beat those 20 year-olds hands down! And only he could’ve hit the ball between the wicketkeeper and first slip for a 4, when facing a crowded leg-side field and Randiv bowling spot on.

Laxman is lazy in the singles area, he is forgiven that minor flaw cause his game is otherwise flawless. He showed us again why he is very very special. Whether he drives on the off, pulls, flicks his wrists or delicately nudges for his singles – he amazes every time with the ease he plays his shots. Even with a back pain the guy makes the shot-making look so easy that even a non-player can be fooled into attempting the strokes.

Even after Sachin departed and still a good 80+ runs to get, Laxman maintained his cool. At  the start I wondered what was going on in Raina’s mind, maybe and overdose of talk with Yuvraj led to him playing some senseless strokes. Luckily for him he did not lose his wicket and got back to the sensible, compact batting we had witnessed from him in his last 2 innings. Laxman got to his first test hundred in 4th innings. I heard commentators make statements such as this is his finest knock ever – people have poor memory. His best ever and by far the best ever by any batsman in the history of test cricket remains his 281 Vs Aus in Kolkatta in 2001. No one should dare make such statements again. It was a great knock but not the greatest given the opposition and the circumstances. Laxman will agree too that 281 will remain unparalleled in all aspects.

Raina sealed the win with a fine 6 – something he was itching to do since he had stepped onto the ground. Fortunately, we did not make the match tense and eased to the total.

Did anyone else think that the match presentation was as long as the last day itself? Man of the match, player of the match, stylish player, man of the series, and god knows how many!

We should’ve drawn the first match and ideally won the series, but a fight back is good and looks like the thought of losing the No 1 position is helping us in a positive way.

We are not the best no. 1 team. We won’t dominate any series till our bowling falls in place, and our batsmen stop struggling on pace as well as spinning tracks. At some point we need to play and dominate like the past no1 team – Aus did. Another huge worry is Dravid’s form, and before everyone goes about calling for his head – keep in mind the bench is not ready to take his place as yet. He should be back against the NZ series, if he fails there , then he needs to rethink about his future – until then let’s not jump the gun. I truly believe these players will know when the time is right and so let’s trust their gut feel.

On the other side of the world, Pak struggled against some fine swing bowling by the Poms and looks like all Gods are behind KP to get back to form.

Prayers are answered, test cricket is still alive! The boring ODI series begins but thank god for Eng-Pak series. Go Pommies – Aussies need some fright when you face them this summer!

Some random cricketing thoughts…

While reading the chapter on SL-Aus infamous series of 94-95 series in “The One Who Will”, my brain hit the F5 key to Ponting’s debut. He entered the scene 5 years after Sachin did and has managed to catch upto 90% of Sachin’s batting performance in tests. He leads him on the catches front by a decent number 65+.

I do hate the guy from the bottom of my heart but looking at the statistics and his batting over the years I can’t but admire his prowess. It’s not often you can compete with a current player who has had a 5 year head-start.

Until Nov 2008, Punter was a mere 2 centuries behind Sachin but since then Sachin has raced  ahead, increasing the difference to 9. I doubt Punter can make up that difference considering his form and the fact that if he loses the Ashes at home this year, he will most probably not make it to the test side again.

Inspite of the above and my hatred, I will continue to remain in a little awe of this man – for managing to almost catch up with GOD on-field.

Sehwag is the player in the current crop who might come close to these two; provided he lasts another 5-6 years and continues to play in the fashion he is playing today. By the very nature of his game, he looks good to make the most in tests than the shorter versions. The less we make a fuss about his careless attitude and not expect him to play the waiting game, the better it will be.

India finally managed to get SL all out this series. My belief that Bhajji has been an overrated bowler stands affirm.

There is nothing more exhilarating than watching Sehwag whack the ball out of the ground without moving his feet:-), there is nothing more  enticing than watching GOD play his trademark drives and flicks and there is nothing more heart-wrenching than watching Dravid get out LBW in 2 consecutive matches on tracks where he should’ve devoured the bowling:-(

Where did the choreographer disappear?

You hear a song on the radio before the video release and form a picture in your mind. A sequence of steps, the aerial lifts, the attitude and the surroundings where the song takes place. It keeps playing in your head for plenty reasons – the melody, the novelty, catchy beats, funky mood, hip style! And so you head to the theatre or await the video on television, but when you see the song you feel let down. Has this happened to you? Does it get you wondering where did the choreographer disappear for this one?

Here are a few songs I love and play often on my iPod but I hate to see their videos – I’d rather see the picturization in my mind.

1. Delhi-6 : Title Track

A. R Rahman can give all the hip-hop artists a run for their money. It’s a fantastic number sung very well by Benny Dayal, Blaze, Vivinenne Pocha, Claire and Tanvi Shah. There is so much one could do and convert it into a funky dance number; yet what does Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra give us? Abhishek Bachchan jogging around the streets of Delhi with his Motorola!

2. Rang De Basanti – Title Track

I haven’t heard another Bhangra number that can match this one – in terms of vocals (Daler Mehndi is mind-blowing) in terms of beats, in terms of the tune and the pace. The right mix to deal out one of the hardest and easily the most loved dances in India. But again  Mr. Mehra ruins it – presents the song half as always and shows Aamir being tossed around by wrestlers!

3. Jab Se Tere Naina – Sawariyan

Such a soulful number and Shaan’s dreamy voice. Sanjay Leela Bhansali as the director and you imagine a magnum opus – million dancers and a shy Ranbir admiring the pretty Sonam decked up from top to bottom in the traditional finery. But what you get is a semi-naked thin Ranbir prancing around in a towel in his apartment making monkey faces!

4. Ae Paapi – Kismet Konnection

The song is perfect – Neeraj Shridhar lends  the vocals for a hip-hop number and Shahid just sails through the song until danger hits in the form of Vidya Balan dressed in Red. Those couple of seconds just ruin what would’ve been among the top Shahid dance numbers.

5. Dil Kya Kare – Saalam – e – Ishq

This is one of my favourite romantic numbers. The right mix of pace, the soft latin beats, the melody and the voice of Adnan Sami – that makes you go hmmmm and drool! So you imagine that the lead romantic pair might get together for a salsa together and what we get is John and Vidya ( again!!!) travelling in a bus, at coffee shops, in office and at home while introducing the rest of the star cast. This is the most delightful numbers in the entire soundtrack and Nitin Advani wastes it on introducing the cast of  the movie!

6.Uff Teri Ada – Karthik Calling Karthik

Yeah so the movie was a disaster. Deepika is a bad actress was proven again but I loved the soundtrack. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy rarely disappoint and Loy Mendosa’s daughter Alyssa did a swell job with the vocals on this one. On the lines of their previous numbers “Where’s the party tonight” and “It’s the time to disco”; one expects the choreography to get somewhere close but all we get after a hopeful start in the pub is Deepika and Farhan staring at each other’s faces! Talk about ruining a good beginning!

These just came to mind as I was listening to the playlist on my iPod – you got any more to add?

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