Wednesday, March 28, 2007


As I watch in awe the rerun of the Sri Lanka-South Africa match, it becomes apparent that South Africa will always struggle to win the world cup. Perhaps every nation has a malady of choice that affects its teams. Pakistan has its internal troubles, India its star based system, South Africa it’s choking and Australia the winning habit. Malinga's four wickets in four balls only match the shock that his hair creates. Sri Lanka may have lost the match, but look good to go to the semis in my books. With Bangladesh and Ireland in the fray, the super 8’s have become the super 6’s. With England in the form it is, the question is: which other team will join them on the flight back home? The performance of West Indies in tomorrow’s match against New Zealand should give some inkling.

I completed reading Vikram Seth’s ‘An Equal Music’ and followed it up with Salman Rushdie’s ‘The ground beneath her feet’. I wanted to read them back to back because they were similarly themed, on music. Of course, they were set in completely different milieus, and Rushdie’s effort encompasses more than just the story of music. I’d recommend both books to be read. The painting on the cover of Seth’s book is Orpheus leading Eurydice out of the Underworld by Il Padovino. It is significant in that the Greek mythological story is the basis of the characters and their actions in both the books. Anocturne has a review posted here. Onto Obama’s ‘Audacity of Hope’ right now.

I finished watching Babel a little while back. I don’t think I was as impressed as I expected to be. Perhaps it is repetitive of this genre of movies, starting with Crash: multiple stories, multiple settings, all interwoven in some way. The settings invariably revolve around trumping up third world misery and celebrating their goodness. I liked the music and some of the shot compositions in the movie, but not much else. I started this little list on the left of the page churning out the movies I have recently watched. Does anyone have a better idea about doing that? I am currently modifying the template to list them, which is irritating. I’d like a more expansive space where I can put recommendations and short comments on the movies themselves.

The Indian store that I frequent constantly has some songs playing on the TV, mostly new work. I heard a song for the first time that stuck in my mind because of its tune and the use of the word ‘sutta’, which is the colloquial term for a smoke/cigarette. I came back and searched for the song and stumbled upon a socio-cultural phenomenon of sorts. Here goes the story. A Pakistani band (seems like one guy) called Zeest released a song called BC Sutta. I won’t expand BC for obvious reasons, the same reasons for which the song was deemed un-airable. It soon became an ‘underground’ hit, crossed the border by way of the internet and is apparently a cult classic in hostels and colleges across India. The song claims to use sutta as a metaphor for all dreams that have to be abandoned in life. The song I had heard in the store was a rip-off with a video starring Meghana Naidu and claimed to be anti-smoking in its message. Here’s the original sutta song and the copied remix that I heard . The furor is over the use of words that are commonly heard but never published. Judge for yourself.

Monday, March 26, 2007

2 hr 27min 29 sec

I completed my second half-marathon yesterday (the first one was the Seattle half-marathon last year). The race in case was the Mercer Island Half Marathon, set right between the Seattle and the suburban civilization. The weather was fine this time, it rained only for the first half hour of the race. The temperatures were bearable and the terrain seemed much easier than the Seattle half-marathon course.

I started off fast, maybe too fast and had trouble settling into a rhythm for the first three miles. Just when I got everything under control, my knee popped around mile 4. There was a searing pain through the left knee and I knew something had gone wrong. That effectively ended my run. The remainder of the nine miles were part running, part walking and part limping. Up until mile 10, I had still managed to keep a reasonable time, but at that stage the knee gave away completely. The remaining three miles were a fast stroll to the finish line.

On hindsight, not the best of experiences, because I went into the race with a slight niggle and insufficient practise. Maybe that caused the injury, maybe it didn't, but I surely will need better preparation next time round. On the positive side, I was desperate and determined to finish the race and finish I did. The timing was actually a bonus, it could have been much worse. Some friends managed to best their personal times, and that's a cool feat. If not for the injury, I might have had a shot too. Maybe next year. C'est la vie.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Ground Beneath Our Feet

Mourn not
The scorching of prized dreams
The abandonment of Gods
The wilting of collective spine
The loss of the undeserving

What it truly is
The death of misplaced faith

P.S> This is as much for me to come to terms with the reality as it is for all those whose gut it wrenching right now

Friday, March 16, 2007

Where there's a willow, there's a way

The world cup is finally underway. Set in West Indies for the first time, this is probably a tournament that is thrown open to any team which shows the skills and the courage to play consistent focused cricket for a long period of time. By virtue of England and New Zealand defeating Australia prior to this tournament, there is actually a belief, a whisper of a possibility that someone else other than the team from Down Under might take the crown. How I wish for that to happen. I think there has to be democratization of cricket supremacy. West Indies had their reign, Australia have had theirs. Now another team should step up and claim the title. Australia are still the favorites, but they are beatable.

This is the first week, and it should be officially be labeled the ‘minnow bashing’ phase. Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa have already posted a 300+ score. Gibbs outdid everyone else by hitting six sixes in an over. It has never happened in an international match before. That is mind blowing, against any form of bowling attack.

However, let the high scores not carry us away. I remember seeing the highlights of the practice matches and the pitches were very slow. That implies that this tournament isn't necessarily going to be won with power hitting, when faced with good bowling. It will be won with skill to handle the slowness of the pitch, running hard for twos and having a lot of good slow bowlers in the team. On account of the third, I feel that that South Africa won't make it. They aren't a good team when playing other than their comfort zone, especially if Gibbs doesn’t fire. Teams like India and Sri Lanka then have a slightly better chance. Don’t rule out the dark horses West Indies. They are always a threat in their home conditions, and a couple of bizarre performance notwithstanding, I think they are a fairly good one-day team. They lack consistency which will be their biggest bane. Pakistan, England don’t have a prayer. New Zealand has a shoe-in because of their ability to chase down high totals. Plus they have a decent bowling attack with Bond and Vettori.

Coming to India’s chances, I think Sachin moving to 4 will be really critical. I think he will be brilliant in that position in these conditions where you need someone to shepherd the innings and set a tempo for batsmen like Yuvraj and Dhoni to come. The bowling is really good with Zaheer, Munaf, Agarkar, Kumble and Harbhajan. The two weak links for me are Sehwag and Pathan. Strange as it may seem, they should be competing for the same spot of an all rounder. Sehwag in his current batting form is a big gamble, but his bowling will allow us to go with only four specialist bowlers. He tends to bowl better than Sachin and Yuvraj in the one day format. Pathan was bowling at Kumble’s speed in the practice match, clearly showing how out of form he is. While he provides good batting support, I would rather go with a bowler like Munaf. The trouble is the batting order. If you pick both Sehwag and Uthappa, where do they bat? Does Dravid come at 3 and Sehwag after Yuvraj? Does Uthappa need to step down to 3 and Dravid to 5? These are the primary problems that India is going to face. Here’s my ideal playing eleven for India, not necessarily in this batting order.


My semi-finalists for this tournament are
West Indies
SA or SL or NZ

The fourth spot is tough for me to call out and I think that will depend upon how the leagues go. Perhaps I may be proved wrong about West Indies. The winner of the tournament. Why of course, India! :-)

P.S> I am following the matches on Dish TV at home, and it is a pleasure. I hate watching the matches on streaming video on a small screen. It tends to freeze exactly when the bowler comes to drop his delivery. I also realized that the World Cup has demonstrated the gulf that I have in my passion for the game and other friends who I thought were as passionate. Or, have I just refused to grow up? :-)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Trance Music?

If he tried a little, he would have heard:
leaves rustling in the breeze,
moths flickering around that sixty watt bulb

If his fingers were free, he'd have touched:
the coarseness of the stones, three hundred years old,
the deliberate designs in the columns

If his eyes were open, he'd have seen:
a decrepit old dargah, bathed in moonlight
qawwals, sitting on a shabby carpet

But he sat there, lost in a song
Ears hearing off the joy of finding the One
Fingers drumming the manic dance of a dervish
Eyes closed, yet watching beyond what the lids hid

For in the few notes, in that mystical essence which is music
He rose, transcending above the ruins, above the city
His ticket to heaven and back

Dargah = Shrine
Qawwal = singer of qawwali, a form of devotional music of the Sufis
Dervish = Sufis, some of whom lose themselves in the frenzy of devotion

Thursday, March 01, 2007

i'm Making A Difference

Philantrophy is built into Microsoft culture, coming top down from Bill Gates himself. Today morning I heard about this new effort that has been started. I thought I might share it out with everyone. is a new initiative that attempts to raise money through customer involvement. Quoting the website "i’m is a new initiative from Windows Live™ Messenger. Every time you start a conversation using i’m, Microsoft shares a portion of the program's advertising revenue with some of the world's most effective organizations dedicated to social causes. We've set no cap on the amount we'll donate to each organization." I set it up in about two minutes. Now if I can only get someone to i'M me, world peace would be reached must faster :-)

I completed reading 'An Equal Music' and thoroughly enjoyed it. I like the passion that Vikram Seth brings to his characters. There is no hindrance, no hesitancy, no quiet desperation. The words may not flow from their mouths, but the thoughts run unhinged. I have started reading 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet' by Salman Rushdie. Shall let you know how that goes.

Remember Rabbi, who rendered 'Bulla Ki Jaana'? That song was one of the biggest hits of the year, and won him a lot of fans for his refreshing voice and attitude. He has been roped into give the music for the movie 'Delhi Heights'. I particularly enjoyed 'Tere Bin', even though my knowledge of Punjabi is a little sketchy. Need to go back to the other songs once again.

Now that blogger has introduced labels, I decided to give it a go and retrofit labels on all my posts. Turned out to be a very time consuming job and its not perfect, but there has been a reasonable segregation of subjects. Let me know what you think.

Oh, and I crossed an ice age in cell phone land. I finally went from my barely functioning Sony Ericsson T610 to a Motorola Q. Finally a phone which can do more than just talk to a person on the other end of the line, which I frankly don't do a lot of anyway. The phone became smarter, hope the owner follows suit :-)