Friday, July 30, 2010

Death By Batting

You don’t know what a sigh of relief is unless you have had one now that you have realized that the ongoing test match between India and Sri Lanka just ended. In five days of relentless onslaught by batsmen, only 17 wickets fell. Not a single session was dominated by the bowling side, though there was only a small point in the match where Sri Lanka could have gotten through to India, but then Tendulkar the immaculate accumulator stepped up to the plate. Cricinfo ran a good stats article today about the batting averages of Asian batsmen within and outside Asia. Not surprisingly, only Tendulkar has an average of 50 both inside and outside the sub-continent. Players like Jayawardene confirm their stature as subcontinental batting bullies. Jayawardene in a classic case. In this test match, he broke Don Bradman’s record for most number of centuries in a particular location. This was his 10th or 11th century at the SSC. Ask yourself: how valuable is this record if this is the regular fashion in which this pitch plays? In fact, Sri Lanka has a simple plan – win the toss, rack up a big score, and hope the score induces enough pressure that the team chasing cracks for them to win. This happened in the first test match, where Malinga and Murali (with Malinga in particular) exerted the pressure and got through to India. What is remarkable is that Sri Lanka seems to win the tosses with regularly frequency! Maybe Dhoni should skip batting practice and do some practice to ensure he calls the toss right :)

This match brought back memories of test matches in Sri Lanka in the early 90s. Sri Lanka consciously prepared home tracks with the objective of ‘not losing’. Winning would have been a bonus. Batsmen racked up huge scores at that time (and of course, India was on the receiving end on several occasions), including the highest test score of all time. But it made for terrible test cricket, with no hope of a result in sight. Sub-continental pitches are notorious for being batsmen-oriented, but statistics highlight the attitude of teams in play. Sri Lanka and matches played in Sri Lanka have the highest percentage in terms of number of draws for matches played.

Harsha Bhogle’s article today talks about how curators are burying bowlers with these kind of pitches. That is spot on. I’d like to add that they are burying the spectators and the game too. Test cricket has enough going for it to thrive, but you need to get the bowlers back in the equation. The ongoing matches in England are a case in point. Australia is due in India in October for two test matches. The Ashes hype aside, this particular match-up has been consistently produced good cricket for a few years now. I hope the pitches for these matches are sporting enough to have a chance for a result. That’s the least that can be done. And oh, no more India-Sri Lanka matches please!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Migrated Decade

It has been ten years to the day since I made my move from the Orient to the Occident. The day I would board my first international flight with one of my closest friends as we headed to the land of Uncle Sam under the guise of getting higher education. The day I would acquire my FOB (Fresh off the boat) status. (It never made sense to me, unless boat is a metaphorical representation for an airplane.) The day I would journey in the footsteps of other immigrants who left a known world to pursue an unknown dream. Leaving behind family and friends (yes, yes, a girlfriend too), my city, my country, my identity in pursuit of an unknown adventure, with a nebulous idea of what lay ahead. Ten years is perhaps a short time to call the adventure complete. Ten years is perhaps a long enough time to judge how the adventure is going.

From finishing my studies that I thought would be hard to finding a job that I thought would be easy, from getting married to the aforementioned girlfriend to being a father of a lovely little boy, from possessing unbridled curiosity to maturing – in age, looks and hopefully wisdom too, from sharing a love-hate relationship with my country to sharing a love-hate relationship with this country, from vacillating between the need to go back to the need to stay here, from the successful exploration of one’s abilities to the lonesome discovery of one’s inadequacies, from pursuing old passions to exploring new ones, from slowly shying away from people I was close to only to discover some others that I might never part away from, from finding a comfort point in life only to determine that you can never really get comfortable, the last decade has been a lifetime within a lifetime.

The tale of immigrants is so similar to others and in its minutiae, so different as well. We fly out of our homes with two bags of belongings, and two decades of experiences. The destiny we shape is often uncontrollable even though we may think we are our own masters, but we forge a new sense of identity each day of our passing lives in a foreign land. Perhaps the new identity entails always treating yourself as a displaced entity in a foreign world, or perhaps it sees itself as expanding our horizons in a global village. Decade after decade goes, and just like the start of the previous one, I wouldn’t hazard an accurate guess on how the next one will go. For the moment though, I will celebrate ten years gone by, a life not derailed, an adventure developing as we speak, a story not yet complete.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Silence

It must be the fissures
In relationships
Where the words disappear

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Slumber

The television and the dragonfly
Joust through the night
The dragonfly: with a constant hum
The television: with constant light

The arbitrator sat through all of this
Eyelids closed, breath heavy
As the remote lay in his right hand
With a finger on ‘Mute’

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Romeo Juliet conundrum

What of love stories that achieve greatness ? Did the lovers set out with aspirations of immortality – that little irreplaceable slice of eternity’s memory? Did they always sense that their seeming innocuous actions would illuminate the path for generations of lovers? Did they know that tragedy lay in their future? For immortal love stories are inked with the blood of the protagonists. A tragic end is a balm for the saga to protect it against the ravages of time. An insurance, if you will, against the simple abject possibility of normality. Did the lovers live a normal life not knowing what lies ahead? What of normal love stories then? Those guided by the simple matter of heart and head. Are they blessed with the kind of banality that inspires comfort? Should those lovers comfort themselves that immortality is too high a price to pay? Would it better to go down in history or to not go down at all?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Beacon of Liberty



Captured this photograph from the Staten Island Ferry last weekend. Got lucky with the time of the evening. I thought I might share this here since it has been a while since I have uploaded any pictures.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Tourist

I was in New York City in the recent past. Walking on foot like a dutiful tourist, to places I was told are the heart of the place. I walked around looking not at the sights with which I was already familiar. I walked around looking at the hands and feet and visages inhabiting the place. Walking around in seemingly Brownian motion, each one of those pairs of hands and feet were guided by a pair of eyes to a fixed location. It struck me then that I like cities with histories. Not recent settlements like Seattle, which are a century old, but places where generations have trodden and made the place their own. A city is a new shiny firmament built on ruins. A city is a ruin waiting to give way to a new path. The rubble is lost, but the myths are never buried. They are carried through across generations. The stones and pathways and the buildings each guide its latest inhabitant to live within this newly created environment. Without the knowledge of its denizens, it creeps into their language and lifestyle and accidents and successes and instills a sense of pride as a long lasting scar. I did not see New York City the way the brochures intended me to. I saw it spread thin and luminous and lonely, on those faces, carried by a pair of hands and feet to their destinations.