Friday, December 30, 2005

Abhinav Goyal on Saurav Ganguly

An excellent excellent article. Could not think of a better article on this burning topic. So repeating it in its entireity

On why Sourav Ganguly's exclusion is not a trivial matter
-Abhinav Goyal

There are those who contend that the entire debate over Sourav Ganguly is a waste of time. I disagree. The debate over Ganguly's fate is a critical question of the current times even though it appears to be a trivial matter on the face of it.

Cricket, the oft-repeated cliché goes, is a religion in India. In the face of poor infrastructure, bad roads, unhygienic water supplies, electricity blackouts, public transport vehicles that hardly ever run on time and ever so often crash, corruption in anything remotely connected to the government machinery- legislative, executive and judiciary, a nonchalant fourth estate that pays more attention to Karishma Kapoor's wedding and her legal battle with her spouse than it does to actual matters to public interest and the growing economic divide in society, Indians find their hope and their despair in the performances of the Indian cricket team. So it is that cricketers, especially those who give the Indian public something to rejoice about, are Gods in India.

And Ganguly is way up there in the pantheon. India's most successful test captain ever. The Prince of Calcutta who was once described by Rahul Dravid as being second to none but God while playing on the off-side, Sourav won over Indian hearts the world over by hitting a century on his Test debut at Lords. Since then, he has given us many, many moments to cherish and relive but the defining moment of Sourav's career came six years after his debut at, coincidentally, the same venue- the home of cricket- Lords.

The image of Sourav taking off his shirt and waving it above his head when India beat England in the finals of the Natwest Trophy became the symbol of not just Indian cricket but of a brave, new and resurgent India in the 21st century. Sourav epitomized a new generation of India, one that was unapologetic for its colonial history and was not afraid to fight to the face the world outside. Bold. Bare-chested. Under Sourav, the Indian cricket team, once a team of chokers and under-achievers, transformed into a team of fighters that on several occasions snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. He was the Indian captain who would take the fight to the opponent on their turf. In a mirror action to the rapid strides India was making on the global stage in the IT and ITES industry segments, Sourav and his boys inspired us all to dream big. A dream they delivered upon time and again, reaching the acme during the tour of Pakistan in 2004. My father may not be a great fan of cricket but one could see the pride (and joy) in his face when India beat Pakistan in Pakistan. Joy felt and shared by every Indian.

After the series in Pakistan, it was time to consolidate upon the platform created and to take Indian cricket to the next level. A level where performances were the only criteria for selection and prima donnas were disallowed for the one thing Team India lacked was consistency. If not, the momentum built up by the team would be lost and a whole lot of hard work would go down the drain. The problem was this- Ganguly the batsman had long vanished in a heap of paltry performances. In order to set a high benchmark, he would have to walk down that path himself and that was not visible anymore. A year later, it was clear that Ganguly was just not the right person for the job. He knew it. He also knew he could get away with it as long as Indian cricket was run by his godfather, Jagmohan Dalmiya and he used it to his advantage. By doing so, Ganguly transformed into a symbol of past glory. A has-been. A mascot for people who are unable to keep pace with the world and who blindfold themselves so that they dont have to face changing times, assuming that their past deeds would be sufficient to carry them through.

Ganguly was a God in India. A God that failed.

There is no denying Ganguly's legacy and his contribution to Indian cricket. There are many moments of joy that Sourav Ganguly has provided us for which we should be, and are, grateful. Do those moments, and the man who made those moments possible, merit a place in the Indian cricket team?

What makes the question of Ganguly's inclusion in the team such an important question is that it asks the bigger question that India has now, inadvertently, been called to answer. It is a choice between past glory and continuous improvement. Between emotion and merit. And India has to answer. If it chooses emotion and past glory and asks for the reinstatement of Ganguly to the team based on the past, India can go back to its unquestioning, uncomplaining life accepting all its problems and cricket as its escape from those problems.

If, instead, it chooses to take a step forward to a system where merit and performance are not optional, it will have to answer even bigger questions. Why doesn't the same apply to every sphere of our life? Why do we accept corrupt politicians and a highly dysfunctional government machinery? When India dismisses the Bengali sentiment running high in Ganguly's favour as blind emotion, it will need to answer why it votes on the basis of language, caste, creed and religion. When it demands to know the credentials of the five selectors who choose the Indian cricket team, why doesn't India ask for the qualifications and the bonafides of its elected representatives who make decisions on its behalf- decisions that affect its daily life.

And this is why the media (for whatever reasons- TRPs, pressure from Ganguly's sponsors whose crores of Rupees are now effectively down the drain, etc) must continue to ask the question each and every day till India knows, for sure, the choice it wants to make. A choice we all have to make for India. Of a secure, known past or an exciting, potentially promising future. India, Deal Ya No Deal?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

State of the Person Address

It's that time of the year again. This time next week, we shall be counting down to the new year. It'll be time for the resolutions again. I don't know what I had resolved for this year. Actually I could check. Gimme a sec.
Well, turns out I resolved not to make any resolutions. So I guess I am ok. If I was a corporation, I guess I could say I met my goals during my annual review. So let's leave it at that. I quite like the idea that I did not make any resolution and I think it will be my resolution for next year also.  Oh wait a minute, using the rules that corporations should aim to do better let me resolve not to make resolutions for the next two years. Ha, personal stock should be up by this announcement.
Things otherwise are going swimmingly. Other than the fact that I can't swim. It's our anniversary in the coming week, and we are heading off to Vegas to celebrate tomorrow. Also, there's four days of paid vacation thereafter. Plan to relax and make some plans for the new year coming. It promises to be one of lots of challenges and upheavals. You know the time that you feel is going to be one that is going to change your life 180 degrees? ( A lot of people say your life changes 360 degs. But geometry suggests that if you turn 360 you come back to where you were. But more on that later) Will be posting the most news worthy ones on this blog as time goes by.
That's about it for now. Shall post stuff as things go by

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Two sides of the same coin?

George Bush says Osama Bin Laden is evil. OBL says George W. is evil.
If you take the emotion out of it and were to run it like a court case, who would win?
Over 3000 were killed in the 9/11 attacks. Over 2000 have been killed due to the "faulty" intelligence for the Iraq war and we are still counting. OBL wants Muslims (for sake of arguments, let's call them his "mandate") to be good Muslims and do their duty and follow him blindly on the path to victory. GW would like Americans to "trust" him on the war on terror (another word for following him blindly). You can argue, both are equally religiously fanatic in their own right. The point being, on paper, how do they differ? Can't think of one way in which they are actually different. In this case who will win?
I don't really know. All I know is that GW knows what I talk with my parents in India

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Steps to improve Indian cricket

Ever since Jaggu Dalmiya got booted out of Indian cricket, things are going crazy. Our man Pawar and his guys are coming up with radical new ideas. From paanwaalas to premiers, all Indian cricket fans have their own 25 paise to add for improving the whole show. Since I happen to be one (cricket fan, not paanwaala nor premier) as well, thought I should add a few bits of my own. So here goes:

- Make the BCCI a publicly traded company. I bet there's a lot more money on the stock market for the head honchos. All current "posts" at the BCCI are currently honorary. Make them all salaried employees. There's a certain accountability with them. Let's run the damn thing like a company. Let's trade it on the BSE. Currently the BCCI is not answerable to anyone. This way, it is truly answerable to the people of India who spend an amazing amount of time and energy following the team around. If Manchester United can do it, why can't the BCCI?

- Sharad Pawar (hereinafter referred to as SP) had mentioned the need for a CEO for Indian cricket. I have a candidate for the post. And even though I say that I could run it, it's not me. I would like to propose the candidacy of Harsha Bhogle for the position of CEO, Indian Cricket.

Plusses for this candidacy :
--- Qualified. If an IIM graduate is not qualified to run an organization, no one in India can be.

--- Do you know a greater fan of Indian cricket?

--- Has a good rapport with most cricket players of the country.

--- Has seen enough cricket around the world to know best practices.

--- Definitely knows how to make money. He is a superstar journalist with sufficient name recognition. Beat that.

--- Got a better candidate?

Other steps:

- Make it more fun for the fans to attend a game. Trust me, with all the security and all, it's not much fun to attend a game. Couldn't part of the reason that the new players are coming from the smaller towns, is that they love the game more? Anyone in the big cities who has gone to an international game, would definitely swear off the experience thereafter. I guess the shareholders definitely would improve this requirement.

- Try to have the Pakistani teams as part of the domestic competition. They have the best new fast bowlers always. Let our bachcha players get used to the fast ball.

- Try to get some baseball coaches for fielding practice. Ever seen the baseballers throw / catch? amazing.

ANyway, I am only rambling on now. This is it for me, for now.

Till later,


Friday, December 09, 2005

Long years ago

As usual was browsing the web while waiting for dinner. Came across this article. ( I guess you can figure out by now that I surf the New York Times a lot)

Anyway, this article reminded me that the Football World Cup is coming up. I know it says soccer, and now I am in USC nation and that football here is different. But football for me will always be the game that had Maradona dribble past half a dozen Englishmen and score past Peter Shilton. It will be the game that had Andreas Brehme score past Goicoichchea (I know I got the spelling wrong) to give Germany the World Cup.

Next June is the World Cup. There is hardly any anticipation in the US for it. There hardly was any fervour here even when they hosted the tournament. I have my own theory for it. I don't think it is going to be successful in the US, as long as they call it soccer. It's football stupids. You use your feet. The Aussies also have their own version of football. But at least they kick the ball!!

Anyway, back to the main point. I can't wait for the World Cup to start. My main worry is that I won't get to see much of it. German time is 8 hrs ahead of here, most games take place at night, so chances are it's gonna take place around the noon time. So, unless I take a month off / travel to India / travel in person to Germany, chances are I won't get to see most of the games. I am so used to watching football in the night. Luckily the last time around it was in Japan / Korea and the feeling of watching the games at night felt like old times. It all started 20 years ago, when it was held in Mexico. My cousin and I would sit up nights and watch the games. Each of us would have our own favourites. We were so enamoured of the whole process, that we played our own version of successive World Cups in anticipation of the next one in Italy. I think we went up to 2024.

It is my dream to watch a World Cup game in person. Don't think this year that is gonna be possible. But some day I have promised myself to watch one in person. I would live to go for it with my kids. For that I need to have kids first. Then I should have them hooked on sports (I know D's gonna kill me). Not just football or cricket. But everything. Tennis, badminton, heck even cheerleading is a sport. And it's fun.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Nice article

I liked this article on the Sunday Times a couple of weeks ago. I believe copying in totality is not considered plagiarising. Also, I have named the source. Anyway, this article is about forgiving. Therefore I believe I should not get into any legal trouble. Here goes.

Why is it so difficult for us to release the pain of yesterday and move forward with our lives? It’s not as though we enjoy being stuck in painful memories.Rather, the longer we remain stuck in them, the more deeply they wound us.
Someone very close to me refuses to let go of the pain her ex-husband inflicted on her years ago. I admit it was a horrible time for her, and left very deep wounds. It is understandable that she would have trouble letting go of these memories, as they are a part of her. Yet,
they are not just a part of her, they are the biggest part of her. Why? Because she chooses to make them so.
She has been divorced from this man for nine years now. She hasn’t laid eyes on him since, as they had no children together and have no reason to remain in contact. She is remarried to a wonderful man now, and generally lives a happy, contented life with him. But the very mention of her ex-husband’s name sends her into an instant rage.
This very thing happened not too long ago, while I was present. As she fumed and carried on about what a snake he was, I quietly asked her, “Why do you continue to let him hurt you?” This seemed to surprise her.
“I don't,” she said defensively, “I'm talking about what he did in the past. I couldn't care less about him now.” Is that true, really? If she couldn’t care less about him, why does she still get so upset when his name is mentioned? In my own opinion, it’s because she hasn’t fully let go of the pain from her past. She is still stuck in echoes of agony. There is also the issue of forgiveness. If she were to forgive her ex-husband for what he did, would that absolve him? She can’t
allow that to happen. So she clings to her hatred and bitterness.
Let’s be honest: it is not okay that he did what he did. It’s not okay that he hurt her like he did. But does clinging to the pain and refusing to forgive him help matters? Is he even aware that she still harbours such heartache over the past? I doubt it. She is not punishing him, she is punishing herself. But she’s afraid to forgive him because doing so might mean she condones what he did.
I tried explaining all this to her, but I don’t think she got it. I don’t blame her though, I have been there myself. Haven’t we all? Sometimes we are too blinded by the hurt to see things clearly.
I do believe she will work her way through it eventually. Most of us do.
However, if a person wanted to speed up the process, there are two things that can be done immediately to take a more active role in releasing the past.
Embrace the pain. I know it’s not a fun process. But it is freeing. One of our most destructive habits is running away from pain. Denial. Pain isn’t fun. It’s, well... painful! It’s not surprising that we’d want to avoid it if we can. Avoidance might work for a while, but pain doesn’t go away unless we deal with it and work through it. It will continue to fester if left unacknowledged.
One of the simplest ways to work through old hurts is to relive them. Bring up a painful memory and allow yourself to feel what you avoided the first time around. Heartache, rage, horror, sadness, grief — let it run its course.
Cry as hard as you need to. Scream into a pillow. Punch a pillow. Write out your rage in a notebook. Tell that person exactly what you think about them. Don’t hold back, no one is going to see it but you.
Forgive. Forgiveness is not a oneshot deal. It is a process. It takes practice, just like resentment and anger do. However, it does begin with a choice, and the realisation that forgiveness benefits you, not the one who hurt you.
By refusing to forgive the other person, you are keeping yourself where they put you: in the victim’s role. Forgiving someone does not mean you are condoning what they did. It does not mean you absolve them of their guilt. It means you no longer hold yourself at their mercy. You release the hold their actions have on you.
Why do all this? The past is gone, why dredge it up again? Why not just let it go? Because many of us really haven’t let it go. We trick ourselves into thinking we have. We squelch the memories deep down inside and pretend they're not there.
We don't allow ourselves to think about them. But if a memory can still cause you such pain and rage, it's a sure sign that you haven't healed and moved on. There is a big difference between avoidance and letting go. Letting go is a healthy, conscious decision. Avoidance is a subconscious act of fear. Which do you choose?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Random musings

Let me start off by apologizing in writing to my wife for making her watch a movie called Tango Charlie. I had heard somewhere that it was a good movie, so I kinda insisted for quite a while that we should watch it. The fact that I am apologising for it, should give you an indication of what sort of a movie it was. It was still different from the usual Hindi movies, but it was a drag. Noble idea, but bad execution. Nuff said.
Browsing the web, came to this wonderful article about India's golden quadrilateral .

Another prominent website I have been browsing for quite a while has been Prem Panicker's blog on blogger. You may or may not know but I had created a cricket fan blog of my own for a while, but I think this is the best blog around about Indian cricket. Prem has been for quite a while the most logical voice in Indian cricket. I really miss his musings on rediff. For a while he took a sabbatical from cricket and was based in NYC for something. I don't know what, but the quality of cricket coverage on rediff definitely fell since his departure. He still writes once in a while on rediff, but this blog is definitely a step in the right direction. It also helps I guess that with the blog, he doesn't have to to worry about deadlines and be a lot more frank with his opinions. Also helps that there are some other contributors to the blog. So the opinions remain fresh and the topics current. (Too current if you ask me. The posts change before I have a chance to write a comment). I am amazed at the power of the internet. So many people write comments on the site, and it is almost like a chat room. You'd think there are people getting paid to follow this blog.
On other news front, there is nothing to note. Sudeep is going to India, so will be sending some stuff with him to Pune for my parents. Photos and a small note, that's about it. There's hardly any news to pass on, since telephoning home is so easy and convenient, we speak about 2-3 times a week (phone / chat / email, its all the same)
Anyway, that's about it for this week. Here's some snaps from the time my uncle and aunt spent here for the Thanksgiving break.
Signing off,

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sandgroper's Movie Moments: The Rising - Ballad of Mangal Pandey

Imagine you are in a movie theater. Imagine you have the best seats. You are watching Braveheart and William Wallace is giving his famous "freedom" speech.
Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while.
And dying in your beds many years from now,
would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that
they may take our lives, but they'll never take... our freedom!

And now imagine the army decides to take the "run and live" option and WW goes into battle all alone.

Might be the truth. But it doesn't make for great cinematic viewing. The Rising is a good movie, but something somewhere is missing. It begins well, the songs and situations are good as well. The performances, the feel of the era is commendable (though a mention of "hawa tight" sounds strange for the 1850's. This is a movie where the "aanewaali peedhi" (future generations) were shown as Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru.). The whole build up is kept well, but it ends flat like old soda. It reminded me of the Y2K bug, where after the huge buildup, nothing happened and people went on their own way. Probably this is why this movie did not do that well commercially. It had nothing that would have the audience leaving the cinema hall enthused and inspired (Lagaan, anyone?). Basically, the movie needs a Braveheart moment.

Seeing this movie taught me an important lesson. The speech in Braveheart was great. But the roar at the end of it was equally important, if not more from the perspective of the paying audience.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mirza ki Marzi???

Generally websurfing on a Saturday morning. Come to this article Indian Tennis Star Opposes Premarital Sex. Notice anything interesting?

Yes, thats right, this was on NY Times. The self-styled greatest newspaper in the world, has a link to this. Honestly, is this even newsworthy? To those not knowing the background to this, there was this leading actress in India, I think her name is Khushboo or something, who said, that it doesn't make any difference what society thinks, if a woman wants she should be free to have pre-marital sex. I don't know if she is married, but apparently she had no problem doing it. And if you ask me, more power to her. But why should anyone have a problem?

The hulabuloo (is that how one spells it?) about Sania Mirza is even more ridiculous. What she said was very simple. She personally thinks it is a sin. But if some people do not think it is a sin (or even if they do and are intrigued with the idea of going to their respective religious hells), the least they should do is take the proper protection. What is irresponsible about that? If anything, this is about as level-headed advice as I have seen from people. SM cannot control the wishes of other people, but the least she can do is say that you better be careful. You are impacting a minimum of two lives. Another aspect that came to my curious mind. All the articles specifically speak about women. There was no mention if anybody has any problem with men having pre-marital sex. If it's ok for men to do it, but not for women, I think we are promoting a whole lot of extra-marital affairs. But that's me.

Sex (like religion) is personal to each individual. Let's not give the delusional people who think of themselves as the sentries of public morality a chance to bore us even more.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sandgroper's movie moments: Salaam Namaste

One job that I have always envied is that of a critic. They obviously enjoy what they do, get to the best movies/music/books, (that more often than not, they do not pay for), get to express their frank opinions about it and what is better get paid for writing trash. Therefore, I have now decided to play a critic at this blog. Every movie / album / book that I see / hear / read, I shall post an immediate critique of it. I may not get paid for it, but at least I would have the satisfaction of making sure that my opinion is out there in public. That way if it is something nice, it will be of assistance to someone else, and if it is bad I shall save someone the money that they would have wasted on it.
Anyway here goes the first review. Saw Salaam Namaste yesterday. A Hindi movie that was recommended to me by some colleagues at work and some friends in India. The movie is not as great as it is hyped up to be. I had read that it was about a radical new idea of two lovers living in. But what I saw was a desi version of the Hugh Grant movie "Nine Months". There's a lot of corny acting and corny situations created. Plus the usual need for songs creates a couple of needless situations. And of course the sight of Preity Zinta in an advanced stage of her pregnancy dancing in the streets of Melbourne made no sense at all. To top it all, she's having twins. I felt like recommending the movie to my cousin who recently had twins just so that she could break her TV in frustration.
Not too much melodrama. Surprisingly quick paced for a YashRaj movies production. Intelligent Indianisation of situations. Most of all there was no puking involved to show that she may be pregnant. They used a normal pregnancy test, which probably was the first in a Bollywood movie. The acting is believable especially the lead pair and Arshad Warsi. The mention of the words "But we always used protection, so how did this happen???" was also probably a first. Most importantly, I think for the first time in the history of Yash Chopra movies, there was no Karva Chauth, pheras, sangeet music or punjabi songs (I don't know about the last item. I forwarded all the songs.) Jaaved Jaaffery steals the show in the few scenes that he is around.
Quite a few. Not a great ad for the proponents of the "living in" concept. Nor for the family planning guys. Turns out that protection may not work. ( I can hear so many men saying "Hey it may not work, so why bother??"). Tonnes of corny scenes. The usual faaltu scenes where someone tries their hand at a mallu accent. Not too much logic involved. More importantly the sense of what could have been. They had a chance at making an intelligent, thought provoking movie about the "coming of age" that parenthood brings. But they made a movie more appealing to college kids with an "oh by the way, she's also pregnant" viewpoint. Jaaved Jaaffery is funny if you know that he is actually doing his Feroz Khan impression with an Aussie accent. There's no way he is doing a bihari accent which is what I read in rediff.
My feeling at the end of the movie was if you want a good movie go watch Sehar. It's a nice, serious movie (minus the songs) with totally believable scenes. No faaltu attempts at comedy. If you want to watch a crappy movie there's a whole bunch of movies you can choose from. Basically I can't see the point in going to watch this movie.
Signing off, until next time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

So help me God???

A couple of days ago, I received this email from a friend at work. It went something like this. ....


A young second generation Indian in the US was asked by his mother to explain the significance of "Diwali" to his younger brother, this is how he went about it...


"So, it's like this dude had, like, a big cool kingdom and people liked him" But, like, his step-mom, or something, was kind of a bitch, and she forced her husband to, like, send this cool-dude, he was Ram, to som national forest or something...

Since he was going, for like, something like more than 10 years or so....he decided to get his wife and his bro along... you that they could all chill out together. But Dude, the forest was reeeeal scary shit... really man... they had monkeys and devils and shit like that.


But this dude, Ram, kicked ass with darts and bows and arrows... so it was fine. But then some bad gangsta boys, some jerk called Ravan, picks up his babe (Sita) and lures her away to his hood. And boy, was our man, and also his bro, Laxman, pissed... And you don't piss this son-of-a-gun cuz, he just kicks ass and like... all the gods were with him...

So anyways,you don't mess with gods. So, Ram, and his bro get an army of monkeys.. Dude, don't ask me how they trained the damn monkeys... just go along with me, ok... so, Ram, Lax and their monkeys whip this gangsta's ass in his own hood. Anyways, by this time, their time's up in the forest..and gets kinda boring,you know... no TV or malls or shit like that. So,they decided to hitch a ride back home...

and when the people realize that our dude, his bro and the wife are back home... they thought, well, you know, at least they deserve something nice... and they didn't have any bars or clubs in those days... so they couldn't take them out for a drink, so they, like, decided to smoke and shit...and since they also had some lamps, they lit the lamps also... so it was pretty cooool...

You know with all those fireworks... Really, they even had some local
band play along with the fireworks... and you know, what, dude, that was the very first, no kidding.., that was the very first music-synchronized fireworks... You know, like the 4th of July stuff, but just, more cooler and stuff, you know. And, so dude, that was how, like, this festival started."

It is indeed funny. But as usual, it also got me thinking. Would something like this be appreciated if it went something like "So Mary was this chick... Hot chick in the hot desert... Fell in bad company or some shit like that... Got knocked up ... and then she was shit scared... coz her mom would whoop her ass if she found out.. so she said that it is the kid of God.. ... ....."
You get the picture .. At least I could put this about Jesus and Mary in print .. I don't even have the guts to say this about Mohammed / Allah... Partly coz I don't know the story .. and partly coz I am afraid that somebody is gonna find me and my family and whoop my ass .. The funny thing is this email went to a whole bunch of people and I don;t think there was a murmur from anyone .. So the thought that came to me was this ...
Are Hindus more tolerant than they should be???
I don't think so.. I'd rather say that the others are not as tolerant as they should be .. May be it is the "anti-religionist" in me .. but this is a joke, and it should remain a joke .. Why do people take God so seriously?? Reminds me of a cartoon I once saw.. God says to man (the Kansas board of education actually) "Man, I gave you a brain .. Use it" ..

Monday, November 07, 2005

Eat Cricket Sleep Cricket ....

There was a time when I was a huge cricket fan. Or as today's email terminology goes a huuuuuuuuuuuuge fan. I could recite statistics from the 19th century with the same intensity as those that happened yesterday. However as time has gone by, I have become more and more uninterested in the game. I follow the game on Cricinfo, and watch the odd game here and there, but there is no passion any more for the game.

Most of us have lost their "mojo" for the game by the betting scandals that hit the game a few years ago. That was not me. I was passionate for the great game. My favorite players were not even Indian. Mark Waugh, Brian Lara and Saeed Anwar were the best in my book. I have woken up at 3.30 to see Curtly Ambrose bowl to Martin Crowe. Needless to say though, India was my favorite team. Every game, every test match, every session, I would watch on the television. The feeling for the game remained once I got the US as well.

However, somehow over the last six months I have lost it. Surprisingly, India is winning and I still don't feel like celebrating. That was anathema a few years ago. I was so crazy that I even asked for a cricket score during my wedding. But now it's just not there. It may be a case of out-of-sight is out-of-mind. All I know is that there is no connection any more.

Is this a sign of growing up???

Friday, August 19, 2005

Rise and Shine

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you wake up during the day? To me, the first thought that comes to my mind every weekday goes something on the lines of:




Don’t get me wrong. If anything, the moment I wake up is the single most depressing moment of the day. I just love to sleep and sleep well. That doesn’t mean I am a long sleeper. My wife has this constant complaint that I don’t sleep long enough. It’s just that I need continuous sleep. Weekends I wake up at 7.30 and I am fine. But weekdays it is 6.30 and I can’t get myself to get out of bed.


Initially I would think this was because I did not want to go to work so I would be depressed thinking of the rest of the day when I wake up. Not so. The workday zips past so rapidly that I have no idea where it went. And I enjoy the job I do. If anything, weekends are boring (especially long weekends) where I have nothing to do. I am also supremely lazy at home, but that’s a separate issue (and another blog). Maybe I ought to sleep earlier as someone suggested. Don’t think that is the answer either. I tried that a couple of times, but that never worked out. Invariably there is some errand in the evening (or that must watch TV program) and that makes a mess of the timetable.


I think it’s just the issue of complete sleep. REM cycle or whatever it is that those sleep scientists call it. And that I think is the problem with most people. The reason most people hate their jobs is actually that they are most irritated that they have to terminate their sleep half way. It has nothing to do with the job they have to perform. There is still some debate over whether flexi-times at work are any good. I don’t think that is possible for me. Personally, if I am not in at work before 8 am, I don’t think I will be able to go to work at all (barring extraneous circumstances). There has to be something else. Any self-styled Freuds there have any answer?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Some people just don't get it

It's been almost 27 years since I came to this earth, and while I don't think I can say I have seen all kinds of people, I would think I have seen about 90% of all types. Most people that I have met have been through personal acquaintances and chance meetings. Most of them are educated - some more than others - and almost all are what one could call people of this world. The type that behave like normal people under normal circumstances. Maybe that is why I have gotten along with these people. But recent events have made me reconsider whether instead of looking at their normal behaviour, I should judge them on the basis of something else. Maybe I should look at the way they behave with other people and whether they remain consistent in their behaviour irrespective of the situation.
Somehow, I have found that you put someone in a situation of power and his / her ability to think rationally gets strangely impaired. Now this power may not always be in political terms, since not everyone of us is a career politician. Basically when you are dependent on someone for support, they assume a "high and mighty" position, and think that without their input, you are unable to run your own life. Ego it may be, but these are supposedly rational people. They are supposed to hear balanced arguments and decide on a course of action. But in their self important stupor they somehow lose their logical thought process. Which is why politicians (in all countries) are a much ridiculed lot, since they believe that without them people would not be able to carry on a normal life. Each one of us has to live our own lives in our own sweet way. We make our decisions and have to live by the consequences. If I have the right to do so, then so should others however close they may be to me. How can I decide for someone else? I can only provide a thought process. I cannot be the deciding opinion. If they do not go by my wishes, why should I feel hurt? Why should I throw a tantrum and waste my time and effort, when that is probably not going to change the decision?
Why don't people get it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Still Testing

Decided to check the barriers of what is allowed and what is not by emailing this test message from a separate email id. If this works, then blogging from any random id would be in the realms of possibility. Stay tuned for more updates on this site.



Monday, July 04, 2005

Confucious Confused

A couple of days ago, I was chillin' at Sudeep's place. Sudeep is a very close friend from my college days. So basically you can say that he is one of the very few people who have known me (and I have known) for all my adult life. We have seen each other grow up and now face the world. Catching up on old times, listening to some soothing music, it was altogether a nice relaxing evening. During the evening, the topic of the future came up. That there was the first sign of times having changed. I have known Sudeep quite well for about 9 years now, and I think this was the first time we had this chat. Leaving aside all that was discussed, suffice to say that the drive back home for me was quite an introspective one.

Do I know what exactly I want to do for the rest of my life???

That is one question that I have no answer to. I am secretly envious of all professional sportsmen and actors and journalists and most doctors and most lawyers, simply because they know what it is that they want to do for the rest of their lives. Even if they are not very successful, at least they know that this is what they want to be doing for the rest of their career. They may be motivated by material things like success and fame, but honestly since all these guys are doing what they love and enjoy, crap like promotions and pay hikes really dont matter to them. Having lived a completely confused life since the beginning,I actually have no idea what it is that I wish to do. I don't think I would like to remain a product engineer when I am 60+. The question I put to myself is this.. What do I want to define myself as, when I am on the verge of retirement?

The answer unfortunately was not very easy to get. I still have not found the correct answer, even though I have spent close to 27 years on this planet. Somehow the future looks a lot scarier than what I thought it would be. I would eventually like to be my own boss, but I don't know what it is that I am good at. Engineering may be fun and I like it, but I can;t see myself providing quality skills to the world through my engineering abilities. Maybe I would like to write a book or start a restaurant. But I have no clue. It is so much easier for people who know what they want to do in their lives. They don't have to worry about such things. I think I shall write something and pass it on to friends for their output. Let's see what happens. A restaurant is way in the future. I guess the only way I can do that and be successful, is be a success at something else so that people are enticed into coming. Irrespective of the idea the worry of feeding my family remains. I am not the best engineer in the world. In fact my skills may even be in the last quartile of engineers in the world. But I do know that whatever it is, I know enough that my wife (and future kids) and I can live a decent life. How can I let go of that simple fact and start on something from scratch without any guarantee of success? I have a sincere feeling that that is the reason people buy the lottery. If someone were to take a demographic, I bet a minor bunch are self-employed.

Is life always so confusing? Am I the only one with such insecure thoughts? Is this feeling called insecure?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Fare Thee Well Grand Parent

Over the last year or so, I have had two deaths in my family. My grandfather on my dad's side and grandmother on my mom's side both passed away. Baba died suddenly on the night of September 1st, while Ajji passed away due to late stage Parkinson's disease yesterday. Her last days were slow torture for her, and we can definitely say that she went to a better place, where she will not have to face any pain. I have reconciled to her passing away a lot better than I did for Baba's. That was very sudden and I think everyone was stunned by that one. He died in his sleep and it is said he looked very peaceful, so basically he faced no pain. In the matter of death, the two cases were about as antipodal as it possibly could get. What was common was the innate sense of loss that I felt.

The more I think about it, the more I feel miserable that I could not be there for the last few moments of their lives. In a way, they may be happy up there, that my last memories of them are those of smiling faces wishing me good luck, hoping to see me soon and not those of their mortal remains. But it is tough. I probably have yet to get over Baba's death even though it is almost 10 months to the day it happened. I can't get over the fact that the last time I spoke to him, he actually mentioned that he couldnt wait to see me next time I was there. I have not gone back to India yet, but it will be very emotional for me not to see him there. As it will be when I go to Ajji's place. For years it has been Ajji's place. Now she is not there, I wonder what it will be. For me it probably remain Ajji's place. 27 years that's what I have been calling it. It's like one by one my links to my childhood are going away and all I have left is memories.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

NRIs hijacked

As a reading member of the Indian diaspora, I often think that the NRI is an overrated human being. If one were to read a majority of the Indian news websites, (Rediff, TOI, HT) we would be the most talented bunch of people in the world. Case in point is the Rediff USA front page. There is daily news on some NRI kid who has progressed in some field. There was a time, when they were derogatorily known as ABCDs but now there are so many of them that we call them NRI / PIO (Person of Indian Origin). The latest are the achievements of Kyle Fernandez .

Kyle's story is an extraordinary one. He is a member of the winning NCAA Gymnastics team. Well, winning in gymnastics by itself is an extraordinary achievement, but what makes his story even more movie-like is that he had two career threatening shoulder surgeries. Not just that he also suffers from an asthamatic condition. By itself this is a great feat and Congratulations are in order to Kyle for doing something even doctors may not recommend. What riles me up is that headline on top out there. "Indian-American gymnast beats injury to win" .. Nowhere further down in the article is there any mention about the Indian origins of Kyle. No one even knows if Kyle even considers himself Indian since there is no quote attributed to him in this regard. By phrasing this as an Indian-American achievement, hasn't rediff somehow taken some gloss off it?? Gymnastics after a shoulder surgery is way over creditable for anyone. Would this story have been reported in the same news column had Kyle Fernandez been a Kyle Smith from Bethesda, MD? It should be since it is a story of courage and dedication. But it probably would not be reported. We call him one of our own, because he won. But for every Kyle Fernandez in the US, there would be tonnes of cases in India that have not been recognized. I bet Kyle may not be able to catch a running local from Dadar, but I have seen people on crutches do that. Is that not a victory by itself? The fact that courageous people brave the odds to defeat their handicap is something we should celebrate without deciding on their nationalities and origins?

Another fact that gets my blood boiling is that many of the folks who we gloat over for being Indian, do not even consider themselves Indians. Why can't we think of them as normal day-to-day Americans / Brits / Whatevers?? Why do we have to call them Indian when they are not, and that the only connection they have with India is that their parents were born there (but obviously not spent much time there, else they would not be in the US, would they?). The funny part is there was this one guy called Nasser Hussain. Half decent cricketer of the guts and glory school. Was born in Madras (now Chennai). His dad played Ranji Trophy for TN. Migrated to the UK. Nasser grew up to be Captain of the English Cricket Team. For an NRI kid, that's mighty impressive. Enough to warrant an entire batallion of Indian media, right? But there was none. For the Indian media, Hussain was English. His Indianness got much less of a mention in the Indian media than Anurag Kashyap who won the recent US Spelling Bee. Heck, there were articles on his relatives in India!! Try doing a google on Shikha Uberoi (an Indian Tennis Player) and I bet there are more articles from Rediff or TOI than even the standard Tennis Magazines. Is it that the Indian media only highlights those who probably we never would have heard of had it not been for the media outlets and who therefore are not going to deny them the chance for their 15 minutes of fame. I bet if Nasser Hussain's nationality was hijacked, he would have categorically stated that he was English first and foremost and those who think he is Indian go see a shrink.

Heck, what the hell am I complaining about? It's equally likely that my kids would be born here too. Maybe we should register our kids for the Santa Clarita Ichthyology Bee. Maybe they will get their 15 minutes in the Indian sun!! Till then, I'll probably stop reading the NRI mania.

Bye for now,


Monday, June 06, 2005

Sandgroper's Movie Blog

Due to my new-found loneliness, I have now rediscovered my movie watching touch. In the last 6 days, I have rented 5 movies, watched 3 of them with the plan of watching the other two sometime this coming week. Also, watched 3 movies on the telly so that makes it a total of 6 movies in 6 days. Reminds me of the times in college, when the standard mode of entertainment was movies. Cinema has always fascinated me. My likes in movies are almost wierd. Dulhe Raja was about as good a movie to me as Citizen Kane since it kept me equally engrossed. It definitely was a better movie according to me than Titanic. In fairness though, I should mention that watching Dulhe Raja was fun also coz it was on Cable, so I could avoid the songs. Had I watched in the theatre, it probably would have been a different decision.

This got me thinking, I should publish a list of my favorite movies. To be fair to the movies, the basic criterion was that I should have watched the entire movie at one sitting (no bathroom breaks, no songs forwarded) and the movie should have captured my imagination at the first sitting. In other words, that I have watched number of times and they are part of my all time best lists, but I honestly was not a huge fan of the movie at the first sitting. There are some that I have watched millions of times and loved them each time, including the first time. So here goes:

Pulp Fiction -- Well there's this passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never gave much thought what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. See now I'm thinkin', maybe it means you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9 Milimeter here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. Now I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be a shepherd.

Need I say more? Whoever thought of a line like that deserves the honor at the top of my movie database.

The Shawshank Redemption -- An excellent excellent movie. Can't think of why it never won the best movie Oscar. Beaten by Forrest Gump (not a bad movie, but it was definitely not gripping enough. And turns out I am not the only person to complain. 52%of the world apparently agrees. The flow, the pace, the narration was top notch. Frank Darabont has struggled ever since to create a movie anywhere close. The Green Mile and The Majestic were noble efforts, but let's keep them to that.

The Best Man -- Every time I watch an English movie (or I should phrase it differently, a non-Hindi movie) I look at how it could be made into a Hindi movie. Considering most Hindi movies are borrowed subjects I am surprised how this never made the list. While billed as being loosely based on Republican politicians Richard Nixon and Adlai Stevenson, I couldnt help but think of it being on the lines of Madhavrao Scindia and Sitaram Kesri. I love watching political movies, and honestly I could not find a better one than this one.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King -- Hey, I am a geek. Of all the geek movies in the world, I liked this one the best. Simply because it all seems to fall in place. Even though you know that Sauron is going to lose, you are engrossed to the screen from the starting credits. There's hardly a point where it drags on (though the end could have been cut a bit, but everything before that compensated it.) For geeky movies, it was run close by the original Matrix but unfortunately the sequels messed it up for that franchise. If you notice, this is the only movie sequel on this list.

The Godfather -- Speaking of sequels, I have not watched Godfather Part II in its entirety. Hence that is not on this list. But the original of the trilogy was easily the better one for me. Kept it engrossing from start to finish, and what can I say?? Been a long time since I saw this one though. About six months. This the movie that irritates the life out of my wife. Coz everytime I am at Blockbuster, I am willing to pick it up!!

The Usual Suspects -- Sanjay Gupta should be shot for copying this movie and then flushing the story down the toilet. I don't mind copying the movie. It is the conversion into Reservoir Dogs is what piqued me no end. Keyzer Soze is the ultimate bad guy to my mind beating even the likes of Darth Vader. Excellent script, excellent cast (even though Steven Baldwin irritates the shit out of me with his smile everytime I see his face).

Dr. Strangelove (Or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb) -- Any movie with a name like that, deserves to be on this list. Peter Sellers movies were generally a bit over my head, but this one was right on the money. The scene where the President in the war room is speaking on the phone to Dmitri Kissoff (that is the Soviet Premier) about the BOMB is probably the most ridiculously funny scene I have seen. The idea that the Commies are polluting the water supply or the "precious bodily fluids" as Gen. Ripper explains to Mandrake is high up there too. But the very fact that somebody could think of a comedy of something as scary as a nuclear bomb is beyond belief. This movie was run close by "Life is Beautiful" in that category. I don't know why this one won. Probably the fact that this was a pointed satire and was made during the very times that the ridiculousness was going on, is where I would say DS(OHILTSWALTB) wins !!! (and also since this is a list for English movies)

Airplane -- Leslie Nielsen should have stopped at his first movie. Slapstick with a straight face. The doyen of the spoof genre, is so good, that it could have been construed as a serious movie if you take the dialogue lines out. Everyone in this movie is just great including the side artists who probably have a line each. Wonderful comedy, excellent movie to watch even without any drinks in you!

Dogma -- This movie came quite a few years before The Da Vinci code was published, but had the same idea. And it had a lot more to be considered sacrilege. At it was. And I loved it. Conventional wisdom is something that we have learned to assume as correct without questioning it. Which is why I love this movie.

Good Will Hunting -- My favorite school-based movie. The fact that the janitor at MIT is smarter than most students there is something every Stanford graduate will love!! And an awesome touching movie.

There.. I'll probably complete a similar set for Hindi / Indian movies .. Till then,


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A Thousand Random Thoughts

As I sit here, a thousand random thoughts spring to my mind .. It possibly has more to do with the fact that I have nothing to do these days .. Shouldn't actually term it these days, since it's only been a day since my wife left for India for a short 5 week vacation .. She is to be there for 2 months, but the last 3 weeks of her trip, I shall be there too.. So for her, it is only a 5 week vacation ..

Anyway, I am digressing from the point .. One of those thousand random thoughts that came to my mind in one of those thousand or so moments that I have spent by myself is how in hell am I going to pass this time by myself .. I lived by myself before Devika was here, but I guess I am now spoilt .. Spoilt by her, spoilt by all the times I had somebody to talk to, spoilt by just about everything .. Last night as I went to bed, I actually had no idea what mood I would be waking up..

Turns out it wasn't so bad .. I mean it still took some getting used to the fact that there was no one beside me.. but then in my rush to get ready I really ran through my entire routine for the morning .. It was only when I was making my breakfast that it struck me as something out of the ordinary .. It also helped that since I had no idea how much time it would take me to make breakfast (the heavy task of cheerios with milk) and water the plants and clear the dishwasher, I woke up at 5.50 instead of my usual 6.50 .. The good side of all this was that I got to watch Roger Federer play at the French Open .. Once I got to work something else also struck me .. The first words that I uttered today were about 3 hours after I woke up !!!

On my drive back home something else came in my mind .. For every life changing event the first night is the most important .. Before sleeping for the day, you have no idea how you going to feel when you wake up in the morning .. how you will pass the night .. Coz all the previous nights of your life, you have never had that feeling .. But when you do wake up in the morning you find that life is the same, even though you have that feeling still bugging you at the back of your mind .. However you at least have the confidence that you can last one night.. Also, most nights hereafter are going to be similar .. Unless similar life changing events occur .. In which case, the cycle continues ..

So there people .. That's my philosophy for the day .. As you can see, I am now able to write longer stuff .. That also could be coz I have nothing else to do and need an outlet for my thousand random thoughts per minute..

Anyway, will be writing more often to this blog .. That is my half yearly resolution ..


Monday, May 23, 2005

It's been a while

It's been a while since I wrote something .. In fact it's been so long that I had forgotten my login info .. Had made another login and was going to start a new blog, but decided to give it a final shot.. Really .. Mother promise .. and got it right .. now I don't think I shall forget my login info ..

I should be a lot more efficient in writing now .. especially since I have made a promise to myself to start a hobby .. I don't have a hobby other than watch TV, movies or surf the net .. I will be 27 this year and if I don't start something to enjoy, then I probably will never get the time .. One of my regrets was never being able to write something that others can read .. so decided to write .. And got deadly inspiration from an unknown person .. Somewhere in this world there is Rebecca, who saw one of my initial posts on this blog and was kind enough to put in a comment that my writing does not suck .. Thank You Ms. Rebecca .. If I become a published author, I shall be ever in debt to you .. (and my family and friends and the editor and the publishing house and the research facility etc.)

Anyway, summer is catching up in SoCal .. You now sweat by just taking a walk in the park .. which was something I just did .. Time to take a shower ..

Later people ..


Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year Resolutions

There is this cycle in human life which has a habit of occuring every year .. Mostly around the same time of year.. The cycle of the New Year Resolutions.. Every December each of us does a performance review of our life in general over the past 12 months, and sets goals which can be achieved during the next year.. We set forward that starting January 1, "I shall / shall not xxxxxxxx.." (Fill in the x's) .. Goals include go on a diet, stop smoking, eat less, be more pro-active at work, stop drinking .. January 1 comes along, and we begin our resolution with full gusto.. Come December however, we find ourselves making the same resolutions again .. Why is it so tough to stick to our resolutions?? Are resolutions made to be broken?? Then, why do we call them resolutions???

One question has always struck me.. Why do we need to wait till Jan 1st to start a change in lifestyle.. Why can't we just say, "I shall / shall not xxxxx starting right now" .. Somehow, that statement is made only when you are in deep introspection after your 4th tequilla shot, around the same time that you remember that you forgot to return the library book when you were in 7th grade and you are repenting .. Point is, that there is no way you are going to remember this resolution when you wake up next morning..

Is there some wannabe psycho-analyst out there, who can clarify as to why the human mind works that way?? Why are we so weak, and more so, what is it that makes up give in to temptation?? Is there a gene in us, which makes us this way?? According to TIME, there is a gene in us, that makes us religious / agnostic, so there should be a gene for temptation also .. Or as the religious would say, is there a devil inside us that makes us so susceptible?

Those are the thoughts for the new year .. This year I decided not to make any more New Year's resolutions.. Atleast that's something I shall have the least trouble keeping up to!!!