Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Perfection, insanity or sheer brilliance?

It was on this day in 1968 that Gary Sobers of the West Indies achieved an unbelievably rare feat in cricketing history. It is a day that Malcolm Nash would love to forget, but never shall. Gary Sobers, playing for Nottinghamshire, hit Nash, playing for Glamorgan for six sixes in an over. Think of the enormity of it. Not gully cricket, not your average Joe, but first class cricket. Not one, not two, but six in a row. What a batsman Sobers must be, and what a bowler Nash must be. The reason I mention Nash's bowling abilities is because he got hit again, almost for the same score. Nine years later, at the same ground, an over to Frank Hayes cost him 34 runs!! I am sure he must have relieved when one of the balls actually bounced on the ground before crossing the boundary.

It made me sit and think. How must he feel? He knows that everytime someone mentions Sobers' feat, he is an inextricable part of the picture. Malcolm Nash, hit for 36 runs. It could shatter you as a person, or you could shrug your shoulders and say, "I suffered at the hands of a genius. No shame in that".

Of course, Tilak Raj should know about that. Ravi Shastri (yes, the same guy who got booed by Indian supporters for playing slowly in the latter half of his career) hit him for 6 sixes. I remember reading that he refused to be photographed with Shastri, when asked by Wisden. The request itself was like adding insult to injury.

I have seen a lot of cricket over the years. Two sixes in succession seems like a monumental task (yes, Zaheer Khan hit 4 in an over, but that is a paranormal event) .. six in a row is unimaginable. So, here's to the two S'es, Sobers and Shastri for their phenomenal achievement, for that moment of insanity, for that flash of rare brilliance.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Network se network milaa ....

My friend Avinash introduced me to it. Orkut. Socializing, but in a trusted circle of friends. You can get an membership only if someone invites you. That way, the circle is confined in a sense. Makes you wonder though ... who invited the first guy? Who's the Orkut God? I am back to my paranoia about evolution. The concept of communities has been around for a while, but somehow this is better.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Its inevitable, and it just got worse. Our showing at the Olympics. Ever watched a movie scene that makes you squirm and wish that it would magically skip ahead the next time you watch it? Olympics are a little like that. Every four years, we gather together a few grams of pride, a few ounces of talent, and put the collective weight of a billion people on the shoulders of a few unlucky athletes, who believe it or not, are glad to have simply made the cut.

This year it just got worse. The number of doping scandals involving India outnumber the number of medals we have won thus far. What a race we are fighting!!! Are we short on talent? Are we short on funds? Do we suffer from an inferiority complex? No. What we lack is national pride. Let me illustrate.

When West Indies toured England in 1976, the English captain Tony Greig said that he believed England could turn over the West Indies. "They are a good side," he said, relaxing on the balcony at Hove. "But when they are down, they grovel. And with the help of Closey [Brian Close] and a few others, I intend to make them grovel". Greig was born in South Africa, and at that time some people saw all white South Africans as being inextricably linked with the apartheid regime. To them, his comments were a racist reference to white supremacy. What happened next? The West Indians got fired up and took it upon themselves to humble Greig. They won the series convincingly and shut up the likes of Greig for good.

That is national pride. That essence of wanting to do the best for your country, not taking anything lying down, proving that you are better than the best. Leander Paes does it, and I respect him for it. His 'miracles' in Davis Cup matches and his bronze at the Atlanta Olympics is a testament to that. (Unfortunately, I just read the news that we missed out on the bronze for the doubles tournament in this edition).

What else can we expect? Anjali Bhagwat bombed, Kunjarani Devi feigned an injury, our hockey team is struggling ... do we have to grovel for every medal?? Where is the national pride, the focus? Look at how the Chinese targetted and won medals. They groomed their long-distance runners till they became a formidable team. No babudom, no ministers running their personal fiefdoms. All they had was a clear 'Lakshya', and they got to it. Yes, Rajyavardhan Rathore won a silver, but how much of that contribution came from the system?

Is their hope? Not right now. I am sad and angry at these results. Ask this question again after a few months, and my optimism may bounce back .... till then, keep limping!!!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Achingly perfect

Are there memories that are so achingly perfect that one dare not touch them, for fear or rendering them impure? Are there moments when one feels lost for the right words to express a feeling? What does one do with them? Does one dare spell them out to give some form to that sensation that these memories evoke, while risking their trivialization.

Avi's blog entry has brought the same issue before me. Rock Beach ... that place so close to my house, that place so close to my heart. I don't remember the first time I, Sushil, Avi and Sachin frequented that place. But the attraction was immediate and the effect was permanent. We were hooked to the place. Come to think off it, what was really so special about that place? Just a few rocks lining a rather vocal stretch of sea. Exactly what you would see in a million different places. Come to think of it, don't people worship idols ... which are well, stones at the end of a day.

The rock beach was our own piece of stone, where we carved our memories and strengthened the bonds of our friendship. How many evenings would start with a phone call to either Avinash or Sachin or Sushil, 'Let's meet in 10 min at the Four Bungalows signal' ... Sachin, Avi and I would gather and walk towards the next rendezvous point where Sushil would be just about on time (a 10 minute delay was mandatory for him :-)) We'd walk in those chappals that were the norm for us in those days, wearing not our fancy track suits, but those jeans, trousers, formal shirts, the works that we never cared about during the four years of engineering.

The conversation would commence and reach its zenith when we would hear the first whispers of the waves as we entered the rock beach through that narrow entrance. We'd walk a bit and settle down on a rock. Each of us responded to the sea differently, and the response varied everyday. On days, I would be a little quite and enjoy the salty breeze. On days, Sushil would be introspective while Avinash and I carried out an engaging debate on a current affairs issue. Of course, very rarely would the day end without a mention of girls. How can you pass from an age of 17-21 and not mention that? What a phase it was ... no cares, no worries. The irony was that we'd actually think that we were approaching life with a major philosophical bent of mind. How often have I given Sushil 'deep fundas' on females, studies, relationships, as if I had it all figured out. The best part would be waiting till the sun set on us, as if asking us to retire for the day. We'd retire alright, walk back to Seven Bungalows, pick a car to lean against, and admire all the good-looking females that would walk by :-)

We went there .... day in, day out, for years, right till the end of my stay in India. Of course, Sachin had joined IIT before that, and we were reduced to three. But there weren't too many weekends when he'd come back and we wouldn't go to the joint together.

Now, it is all over. As I sit here in my apartment, typing out this post, I wonder ... is this change for real? After all, it has been just 4 years. Has my life changed so much that my past seems so dissociated? So different? Why do I feel as if I am talking about a different age, a different world, a different life? Change is inevitable, I know that. Why am I not at terms with it? Why this ache, this longing for the times gone by. What would I not give up right now to be back there, right at 6 in the evening, with my three friends? Perhaps everything, perhaps nothing. Maybe this loss is worth it. For I have got something priceless out of it ... a memory that can never be tarnished, a writing in the sand that no tide will erase ... perfect, achingly perfect.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Early morning quota of browsing

Mornings in Bombay were good. My father would habitually and diligently read the newspaper each morning over a cup of coffee, and I picked up the habit from him. Of course, our "pattern" of reading the paper was different. I'd start from the last ... the sports page. After that came the cartoons, then the headlines, news about the city, and the editorial. Somehow, news about the business world would not excite me as much. Of course, all of this was to be had with a cup (and I must add the saucer here) of refreshing coffee that my Mom would make. Wonderful start to the day.

Things changed once I got here to the US. Firstly, we never got any newspaper here. They seemed expensive and redundant when I was a student. The coverage in the local newspapers is hardly worth reading, and the sports page is a major disappointment (what, no photo of Sachin!!! he just crossed 13000 runs!!!) Now that I have a PC at home, the newspaper has been replaced by my keyboard, and the coffee is still refreshing.

I have settled into a habit of checking a set of sites for 20-30 minutes each morning before I leave for work. I think I need to streamline it better. Maybe change the list a bit, try something new. I'd appreciate any suggestions on the same. So, here goes
-- TimesOfIndia (Yes, yes, it is a tabloid, but I have read their newspaper since I could read one)
-- Google News
-- New York Times
-- Mid-day (I need my dose of Mumbai-specific happenings)
-- Rediff (for news, movies, cricket)
-- Indiafm (my daily dose of Bollywood happenings)
-- Dilbert (daily dose of humor)
-- Slashdot (a brief glance into the geek world)
-- Cricinfo (there is always some cricket happening all around the world)

Do chime in and let me know if your list differs from mine

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Geeks take over nostalgia

I was reading this article today morning. A Bayesian walk down memory lane isn't exactly the thrillride I expect when I hark back to the old days. Lets be practical though. They (the scientists out there) made a science out of dreams, they are making an effort to uncover how the brain works to the minutest details ... the romantics are being ignored entirely. Someday you will no longer be troubled with trying to memorize anything. You'd end up 'downloading' your journey through the day, your thoughts, ideas etc. onto a seemingly endless capacity hard drive.

Do I like it? Is it really the best thing to happen? I think I am ambivalent about it. How often have I forgotten names/places/faces/events that I'd love to remember and recall. I can either attribute it to bad memory or lack of attention. On the other hand, when I do recollect something out of the blue, it does bring a smile to my face. The moment when the recollection hits me is worth cherishing.

Aah well ..... too much psychobabble for a day.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Magic of Abida Parveen

My Abida Parveen collection is growing, and I am thrilled about it. About a year back, I chanced upon the music album 'Faiz By Abida' online. It blew me away. Her full-throated voice, he style of singing with gay abandon (khuli-gayaki) was mind-blowing. Her voice reaches out and touches you in ways you do not expect it to. Added 'Mere Dil Se' to my collection after that. Now, I also have a 2-CD collection of her ghazals and another album titled 'Heer' with foreword by Gulzar.

Of course, she is predominantly a Sufi singer. However, I am not that inclined towards 'Dum Mast Kalandar' and the ilk. Ghazals make me stop everything I am doing and pay rapt attention :-)

P.S > She deserved a better debut than the one she got in 'Baghbaan' as far as Hindi movies go


As if to justify my mentioning lack of sleep as a worthwhile point in my profile, Insomnia has visited me three nights in a row now. Some people need less sleep. That is just the way their body is conditioned. I wouldn't mind having that condition, as long as I don't feel sleep-deprived the next morning. Without my morning cup of coffee and necessary 'awakeness' for driving my car, I would still be trying to shrug off the sleep when I get to work. Thankfully, the effects of insomnia don't spill onto my productivity at work. Just gives me 30 minutes or irritable behavior in the morning (and of course the secret wish that I would get some more sleep). Of course, it does not help that I am a light sleeper. Can't sleep if the TV is on, or the lights are burning bright or simply that people are talking around me.

I guess the bright side is that I have the opportunity to catch up on writing my blog :-)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

In search of a good blog name

Its a stumbling block. It really is. I have spent time trying to think of really interesting blog names that either
a. are really witty and funny
b. summarize in a few words what my blog is above
c. a combination of both
d. any original interesting-sounding phrase that I like.

These are some that crossed my mind.
1. Ciruclar circle
2. Sleep less in Seattle
3. Punnishment
4. Life etc
5. Binary reflections
6. Cogent Cogitations
7. Blog meets world
8. Papyrus leaves

The quest continues ...

What are the odds?

The famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti's last name has always seemed funny to me. Pav and Roti together, he really must love bread. I found out today that he really is the son of a baker!!!!! Off coincidences and more ......

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Taking the plunge

Finally. After months of procrastination based on my inability to agree upon a title for the blog, here it is. The blog, that is. There is a title too, but it isn't witty by any means. How long could I have continued without doing this? The "Shoot for the moon" theory wasn't working for me. This is much better. I have decided not to fly to the moon. I will jump off the table and land on my two feet on my carpetted floor. Lets see where the baby steps lead.