Tuesday, July 26, 2005

O Captain! My Captain!

(with due apologies to Walt Whitman). This post is dedicated to one of my sporting heroes on his birthday (it must be July 27th in Australia already). Allan Border, may you live long! Australian's captain courageous, the wall much before Dravid came around, gutsy fighter, determined, aggressive with a ruthless spirit and a never say die spirit.

Border in full flow Posted by Picasa

Border is one of the true greats of the game. I don't know when I became a fan, but it was enough to convert me from a right-handed bat to a left-handed batsman. Those who look in awe at the invincible Australian team today might be well-served to remember that in 1984, West Indies had wiped out Australia 5-0 in a test series. After a tearful departure by the then captain Kim Hughes, Border took over. The team went from defeat to defeat with the captain playing several lone hands. He persisted with the team and built a winning combination that captured the Reliance World Cup in 1987. Those who talk about the fact that England hasn't won the Ashes in a while should look back to 1989 where he led the Aussies to a 4-0 win over Gower's team. The foundation was laid and Australia has never looked back. He groomed Taylor, who in turn gave way to Waugh and Ponting now rests easy with the best possible team in the world. His combination with the first super-coach of one day cricket, Bob Simpson yielded great results.

World Cup champions circa 1987 Posted by Picasa

Border was never as talented as Mark Waugh or David Gower, but had the grit and the determination to grind it out. He was fanatical about not giving his wicket away. Kapil Dev once rated him as one of his most prize wickets (and he did get him on 8-9 occassions I believe). His orthodox left spinners were very effective, none more useful than the spell where he got Gatting's wicket in the world cup finals. One of the most cherished cricketing moments for me was when I got to see him play live, at Brabourne stadium in the 1989 Nehru Cup against Pakistan. When he rode onto the field, the crowd was chanting 'Border Border'. The fan following was very evident. To see him get out cheaply that day did dampen my spirits, but not my awe for the man. As a kid, all I wanted to do was to go to Australia and meet him :-) I would also cherish cutouts from Sportstar that I had off Border and the then Australian team. I remember the match where he whipped England for 83 of 42 balls so vividly.

Bowlers beware, I ain't going anywere!! Posted by Picasa

Here is a short summary of some of the great feats he performed in his career.
Most tests : 156
Most test runs : 11,174
Most Test catches : 156 (I think this record is broken currently)
Most Consecutive tests : 153!!!!
Most Tests as captain : 93
First player to score 150 in each innings of a match
27 centuries with a test average over 50
32 test wins as a captain

The Australian Cricket Board have also paid him the ultimate tribute by naming a medal after him. The Allan Border medal today is the top accolade in Australian cricket and players try and perform at their best to win it after the end of every cricketing season in Australia

Stats don't do him enough justice. In Australia, Border was God because he converted his team from sore losers to world beaters. Another left-handed captain with more talents but lesser grit was on his way to do the same with the Indian team. Now we know what seperates the greats from the legends.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Twilight Cadenza

The waves lapped onto each other creating unequal music, racing to redemption, hoping to touch her feet before they died out. She played truant, running in towards them, only to run away from them at the last moment, leading them to an end on a heap of moist sand. There was no malfeasance in her heart, no sadistic tendencies. Four year old girls aren’t rogues. Her face glowed like a million suns nurturing a spark, the fluidity of her motion enhanced by her gay abandon.

They sat a few feet away from her, watching over her carefully, looking out for her. It had always been their favorite place. Their own cove, their private haven, their cherished haunt. Seven years seemed a long time back. A chance encounter at a party, a memorable courtship, marriage and three years later, the birth of their daughter. All through this, they treasured this place. It seemed like the one constant in their lives. They would come frequently, always hearing the first whispers of the evening when they walked into the beach, always watching the sun go down in a blaze of glory, always waiting till they had reached a peace where neither spoke. It was not surprising that their daughter had taken a liking to this place too. It was not surprising that they chose to come here one final time. There were however no words today. The blue sky held no charms for them, the on-rush of waves mere cacophony. The place was breaking up, the waves washing over them in spurts of despair, the sun was burning up the threads that joined them, the sand irritated them with its coarseness. The constant was shattering, abruptly, just like the vase their daughter dropped last week in their bedroom.

It just happened, without warning, without a fight. The acrimony, the betrayal, the apathy, the demands, the refusal, all was past them. They had simply given up. Two individuals without the will to fight. Two people who had seen their present and had decided that it was too ugly to let it render the future apart. In the end, it didn’t matter who was at fault. In the end, it didn’t matter that they tried to make up and failed. In the end, all that mattered was that they had reached a point of no return. Life had come a full circle. They were back where they started

She would always sit to his right, holding his arm like a child, letting her hair drop on her shoulders because he liked it, listening to his voice as he spoke of his dreams. It had to happen here. Now they sat, few feet apart, not talking, not listening, not looking at each other.

The next wave was rushing up to the little girl. She giggled, as all little girls do and waved at her parents. They didn’t wave back. They were watching her, but only by instinct. Indeed, their mind was elsewhere. They looked at the waves instead. Waves that met in a rush, reached a crescendo, created music, surged forward, lost their way and died at her feet. The sun had finally set.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hell no!

I am sorry for the miscommunication. I don't intend to stop blogging at the moment. If I do, it will be because I am bored of it, not because it I the words deserted me. I am too thick-skinned for that. Plus, I think I am not done with everything I had to say. All I wanted to convey was that one of my motivational factors to continue writing is the constant presence of 'friends' (I know some of my fellow bloggers well enough to call them that) on my blog. Your concerns in the previous post just emphasised that point.

Moving away from that subject matter. Here are some uninteresting facts about what happened on July 19th over the years

1553: Fifteen-year-old Lady Jane Grey is deposed after a nine-day reign as queen of England. She is executed for treason the following year.

1799: French troops in Egypt discover the Rosetta Stone, a basalt slab inscribed with three ancient languages that allows researchers over 20 years later to translate the heiroglyphics of ancient Egypt.

1848: In Seneca Falls, New York, women's rights advocates Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton open the Seneca Falls Convention, which demands full citizenship rights for women.

1870: France declares war on Prussia to begin the Franco-Prussian War, which will result in the unification of Germany and the end of the reign of French emperor Napoleon III.

(Parth's own contribution: No Ashes test match was played on this day in the entire 20th century)

Born on This Day
Herbert Marcuse, philosopher (1898)
Rosalyn Yalow, medical physicist (1921)
George McGovern, politician (1922)
Samuel Colt, gun inventor and manufacturer (1814)
Lizzie Borden, accused murderer (1860)
Ilie Nastase, tennis player (1946)
Parth Pandya, boy blunder (1970 something: edited as per Sagar's comment)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hoarse Whisperer

That's how I sound this morning. Throat has gone for a toss right now. I get a feeling somehow that people around me are a more relieved lot. Maybe my mind is playing games with me.

Married people envy single people. Single people don't know what the fuss is about, but look forward to marriage anyway. Smart single people figure out that they can rub it in by just talking about their simple life.

I have new respect for Seattle rain. Given that summer is supposed to be here, and the heat really renders the lawn/plants dry, the intermediate bursts of rain help save me a lot of effort and water bill.

My respect for National Awards is going down. I don't agree that Page 3 was the best movie of the year and Saif definitely didn't give the best performance of the year.

I saw 'GoodFellas' finally. Not bad, but the mafiosi genre is disinteresting me now. Too many of them, I think. Thankfully, not too many of those are made nowadays. Of course, Godfather is so so so brilliant that nothing will ever come close to it.

Haven't see Sarkar or Paheli or Dus or a bunch of new Hindi movies. I saw 'Wedding Crashers' instead. C'est la vie.

I am reading up on a passion that I have always pursued half-heartedly. I have given myself a year to try this seriously. If it works out and the blog is still around, you'll hear about it.

If you are among the bunch of people who have been following this blog regularly, thanks for your loyalty and support.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Birth of a poem

That fleeting thought, that ephemeral brainwave,
is all it takes to spur a revolt,
in the ever so dormant psyche.
That out-of-reach pen,
those never to be found blank sheets,
that increasing race against time,
to retain that moment of inspiration,
that has run dry for the savant.
Oh-so-perfunctory in his thought process,
so sectarian in his view of things,
leads a new genesis of life,
with a cursory attack of delirium,
like an evanescent lightning strike,
empties the ink onto the paper,
then treats his work like an after-thought,
like the message in a bottle,
left to wobble in the sea

P.S. I have been diagnosed with writer's block. This has happened before. Circa 1999. I wrote the above lines seeking that inspiration, struggling for it and finding it all along the way. I am hoping for a repeat. Pray for an encore.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wayside Passion

I saw two really varied movies this week, after getting hands of them a little later than I had hoped. Here goes.

The Passion of the Christ
I like controversial movies. They catch my attention and pique my curiosity. I first read about this movie in a writeup in Time magazine while it was being shot. On the cover, it seemed like a good idea. A movie shot entirely in Aramaic (in which the word for father seems to be Abba, Urdu influence perhaps, or maybe even vice-versa) and directed by Gibson (I disliked his Patriot, but the Braveheart remains a movie I like immensely), this movie seemed to be the perfect fodder for controversy. You just got a Christian president while Jews were up protesting the Anti-Semitism that was potentially a feature of the movie. All the relevant groups had been engaged. Cut to the movie. The movie deals with the last 12 hours of Christ leading upto his crucifixion. Now, I am not a Christian and while I am familiar with the story, it wasn't so integral to me that I wouldn't be able to watch this movie objectively. So how is the movie? Well, it is filled with mind-numbing violence. Christ gets beaten up from the start to the end of the movie. Given the amount of bruises he suffers, I even wonder how he survives till the crucifixion. There is very little dialogue, music is ok and there is extra emphasis on the slo-mo shots. Is this a movie for our times? Is the director trying to tell us that given the exposure to violence that we have on TV and movies, his way of telling us that Christ's suffering surpasses all others is to show it in the most graphic manner possible? Perhaps. If the message is to emphasize Christ's sacrifice, it somehow got lost in the way. You do have the most famous quotes from Bible popping up all over the place, so you can identify in part with what's going on. I would recommmend this movie if you are an avid movie-watcher, else skip it.

This was one of the most talked about movies last year. A low budget movie with no known stars, this movie got 5 nomimations at the Oscars. A movie about two friends spending a week in wine country as they go through their mid-life crisis, this movie is steeped in humor and skillful characterizations. Directed by Alexander Payne (About Schmidt), this movie takes you on an unexpected ride and has depth in its conetnt if you pay attention. A failed novelist Miles, is the best man for his friend Jack's wedding. He takes Jack, a former soap star, to a trip into the wine-country of California. The contrasting characters of the depressed and negative Miles and the horny Jack throw up a volatile cocktail when two women enter the mix. From there on, the movie is an amalgamation of witty, charming and insightful moments that lead to a satisfying climax. Of the performances, Paul Giammati's acting stands out. He sinks into the character neck deep and comes out triumphant. This is not a classic in my books, but is definitely a must-watch.

A recent post by Geetanjali about a blogger's meet in Bombay made me rue the missed opportunity there. Nonetheless, how about a Seattle based blogger's meet? Just a thought. Will have to see responses to consider that possibility

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Because I am worth it too

A set of advertisements have started making the rounds of TV. L’Oreal, the provider and sustainer of beauty have now come up with a line of products for men. Anti-wrinkle, anti-dark eyes, anti-ageing, anti-social etc. Picture this ad

A 30-something guy is running on the treadmill. An attractive 30-something American blonde passes by. Guy gives female the look. Female looks away disapprovingly. Narrator: You think you are still in the game. She thinks your game is bingo. Ouch. Guy applies L’Oreal’s cream and voila, the next time he sees the female, the female turns around and gives him the approving smile. Aur yeh laga sixer!!

This got me thinking about how times are changing for us men. I mean, aren’t 30-something men supposed to grow pot-bellies, sit in front of the TV all day, leave the top two buttons of the shirt open and belch approvingly. Apparently not. The new generation of men (let’s put me in the middle of it and I am almost 27)is suave, smart, health-conscious and hold your breath, presentable. This ad represents the next level we have to reach. Is this the arrival of the metrosexual man? Is this the revenge of the female sex? The constant pressure to meet the bar that the opposite sex has set? The objectification of men? The centuries of scrutiny turned on its head? What else could it be? The character Elaine Bennis, from "Seinfeld," once said the male body was unattractive because it was strictly meant for utilitarian purposes, almost like a Jeep. True? Perhaps. I can only smell conspiracy here, and I hope to escape its clutches.

Unfortunately, I find myself already trapped in the middle. Narcissus has come to visit me later than usual. While all my growing years I did not notice my non-existent biceps and my coat-hanger body frame, I found myself in the middle of men my age facing what I’d called the mid-life crisis in terms of looks. 25/26 year olds worrying about their paunches affecting their matrimonial prospects. No dirth of girth here. Receding hairlines was another issue. While at Texas A&M, I watched my friends struggle with these issues with mild amusement. I actually felt comforted to have a lush mop of hair and an absolutely flat tummy and scoffed at these notions. I don’t remember actually worrying about how I looked or having spent more than a couple of milliseconds in front of a mirror. Then came the sedentary job and the Indian notion of prosperity. Couple this with hair flying away never to come back and I knew that Narcissus was here to stay. Imagine going to a barber and asking him not to cut the hair too much. How painful is that? I took to the gym for a bit to see if I could solve my 30/32 problem (copyrighted term: it means that you are too fat to wear a pant size 30 but a 32 will hang loosely on you). Then I realized. No sacrifice will make my hair come back. I can’t starve to suck my belly in. I cannot commit the sacrilege of skipping desserts at meal time or not eating fries when the craving comes. Isn’t the purpose of life altered beyond recognition? Let this be heard by one and all. Looks don’t matter, food does.

Am I ready to move from the category of presentable men to the pretentious ones? Am I ready to sink to the depths of ugliness that the average male goes to once he realizes that good looks are out of the range? I am ready to do neither. The middle road works best for me. The Man in the middle, the aam aadmi, the average Joe, the progressive Neanderthal. Won’t you agree that the ‘hunk’y dory guy is worth it too?