A blogger's dilemma

It is being reported that 20 million blogs on the net are either dormant, or left un-updated or do not serve up the desirable content to keep the visitors interested. This is certainly true, maybe not to its complete extent but surely there is some meaning to this.

It is impossibe...oops...difficult to continuously think up topics and type your thoughts and ideas on them. After all, we are no superstars or national icons that we have a daily dose of inspiration or fun reading to provide to the world. Our lives are very ordinary and it is difficult to continuously come up with new, user-friendly reading material. A blog is a true expression of a person’s feelings, like a diary entry. But what can you write that keeps the page visits flowing and the visitors satisfied?

The reason why I wrote this blog itself is probably because I did run out of options. Let’s see. What happened today? I woke up early, missed a lab at college and then had a dull day on campus. I came back, got refreshed and wrote this “dull” blog. I hope I haven’t left you bored.....

This is no “The adventures of Indiana Jones”. This is a very ordinary “common man”. My deepest sympathies to all who made the painstaking effort to read this out.....

That Winning Feeling

There was an interesting editorial in the Times of India recently. Titled "The Desi Fan", it went on to reason out why India's cricketing fraternity & fan base do not go hand in hand. The basic Indian cricket fan is a confused person, who expects the team to perform well at any cost. A good thought. But it shows the lack of sporting attitude in the country. It is an essential aspect of any nation to first and foremost understand the concept of a sporting team before going on to batter the side.

The one point that caught my eye was, quoted "India is a nation of losers. Its sports teams win at nothing but cricket". This is an essential aspect of the new-age India. Despite a widespread presence of the brightest youth, there is no real standout Indian sportsperson (the only exception could be Khel Ratna winner Pankaj Advani, although his sport ain't inspirational enough or masculinity-defining) who catches the imagination of a billion people.

The lack of "that winning feeling" in the common Indian is characteristic of the nation's virtual ignorance of the word "sport" itself. Young Indians resort to watching Formula 1 races, tennis Grand Slams and of course, European and international football to burn their sporting needs from the inside. This is where they do find sporting grit and will. But the lack of one of our own is a major drawback in the entire process of sports education.

Only someone who expresses your own thought and attitude will ultimately go on to make an impact. The foreigners may be exceptional talents and even inspire many of us, but there is clearly a missing piece to the puzzle that we all must solve.

One of our own – the only solution to India’s sporting problems. The obvious and foreseen lack of a sporting hero, apart from cricket of course, will eventually peak and the country might not even consider playing in football's World Cup or registering an Indian in the history books of Grand Slam winners. As it is, India's football World Cup qualifiers are a formality and the rise of Sania Mirza is all hype so far.

On a final note, we can still look up to the Europeans, South Americans, Africans & the Aussies for our dose of sporting medicine. Trust me, it heals.....

End of an Era

2:30 am – Probably not a suitable time to write a blog. But it is only at the moment of the occurrence of an event that your feelings scream the loudest and breathe the hardest.

The nation is obsessed with negative thinkers in such large numbers that I am avoiding penning just another obituary for the Indian national cricket side, which has just exited cricket’s World Cup of 2007. Let’s analyse the events in a technical way. There are 3 reasons probably for the failure (yes, it is only a routine failure. It happens with every sports team in the world. Of course, we are bound to gawk at it as if it some national tragedy. But think a little more professionally) of India’s star-studded side:-
1) Tactical failure
There was a clear tactical failure on the part of Greg Chappell and the Indian think-tank. The failure to create a stable line-up exaggerated at the World Cup and we all saw the results with our naked/spectacled eyes.
2) Underestimation of opponents
The Indian side clearly under-estimated the talents in the Bangladeshi & the Sri Lankan teams and failed to, or probably the strategy created just didn’t work out.
3) The time has finally come to re-structure the team
This is probably a lesson from the failures of the team. It is high time that we call off the Ganguly-Dravid-Tendulkar era. That does not mean that they don’t play a part in the national team’s future. Of course, they can play. But, it is time to shift the focus. Rahul Dravid’s captaincy is certainly under scrutiny and he is unlikely to resume service. What we also need is an Indian coach, who has lived it all that cricket can offer. Mohinder Amarnath seems like a perfect replacement for the outgoing Chappell. The important thing missing is instilling a certain dose of patriotism into the players.

But the most crucial aspect of our failure is fan reaction. Maybe, we should take this unexpected failure on the chin and call it a tweak in the system. It happens with every team. There are cycles, which complete a full circle. The best things we can do are love and respect our heroes, despite the West Indian adventure-turned-nightmare. Stand up and salute them for whatever they have provided us with in the past, because even God fails. These are only mortals.....


Usually, I don’t enjoy movies. But Hollywood sometimes comes up with exceptional exceptions to that. I went for the 10:45 am show (I know it’s a drab timing to watch a movie) of 300, which is a war epic based on a novel. What I would experience in the next 2 hours was probably the greatest definition and construction of courage and manhood that I had ever seen. The film was a power-packed punch of inspiration that would make any man proud of his genitals, if he puckers up the courage to be so himself.

Gerard Butler, the less-known thespian who portrayed the character of Sparta’s King Leonidas to perfection, is a Scottish actor whose major breakthrough is the movie. Apart from the key protagonists, it was the awe-inspiring landscape of the movie that would leave us stunned in admiration and shocked out of instinct to devour such a treat to the eyes.

The story surrounds 300 Spartan men who take on the invading forces of Persia (which are huge in number). The magically-weaved dialogues and the truly awesome screenplay make this movie a must-see for anyone whose hormones include testosterone. No, no. If you think I have been asked to market this movie, then I would say “Yes, in a way”. God, himself (if he is a male), has asked me to market this movie.

A certain drawback, which is absolutely of no loss to me, is that I saw the movie for 30 bucks, which is way too cheap for a classic of this stature. The movie lasted 1 hour 55 minutes, which was rollercoaster ride into the re-definition of male hood and the re-incarnation of brute power. Thank you for re-inventing mainstream movies, Mr. Zack Snyder(the director of 300).

A final note: Congrats to the Indian cricket team for pulling off a superb win over minnows Bermuda at the cricket World Cup. But of course, this is only the beginning. Like Leonidas says in 300, “We shall burn in hell”. Turn it on, Team India…..

Pride & Prejudice

I was sitting in the lobby of a 5-star hotel recently, waiting for a few friends to arrive as we had planned to hang out at a joint inside the hotel. One of my friends was with me at the time. We were keenly observing the surroundings. Just then, a couple of white-skinned people aka 'Goras' just passed by us. My friend suggested that we turn the tables around and racially abuse them when they are in our country. An interesting thought, I wondered. Abuse the whites when they are here, because they inflict it upon us wherever we go. But there are several reasons as to why I reminded my good friend, that what we would be doing is a purposeless pursuit.

The problem with us that we lack the necessary ego. Yes, you read right. It's a dose of ego that we need. Ego, which would make us proud of who we are. Ego, that would help us appreciate our own race. Ego, which would allow us to break down the discrimination that we face, that the so-called Third World faces. The fact that I am stating now is likely to shock you, but we even racially abuse ourselves, hence compounding the complexity of the crisis. Whether we are black, white, blue, green or purple, our tendency to discriminate between ourselves itself wipes out the concept of racial revenge. We give the whites the respect that they get. Remember, they don't really deserve it. Just imagine yourself. Whenever you meet a member of the "First World", you will raise your courtesy levels beyond the maximum. But it won't be the same if you meet a fellow countryman, with a coloured skin, probably even the same as yours.

A bigger problem than the one stated above is that even national icons don't stand up to represent us. Our cricketers have been racially abused, but they just look down or continue doing their job. S Sreesanth is probably the only example in the current crop, who went some way in helping out. Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty was gift-wrapped an opportunity to stand up and make herself, and us, count. But she opted for the cash. Have fun counting your bucks, Shilpa!

The only way ahead - develop an ego that makes you proud of your race. It doesn't really matter whether you are deserving of it. We are not the children of a lesser God. Maybe, we only assume ourselves to be so.....

C for Cricket, C for Crisis, C for Catastrophe

Pakistan bowed out of cricket’s World Cup in utter shame yesterday with a shocking defeat to debutants Ireland. I pitied them because of their glorious cricketing history and the fact that I would have loved to see an India-Pakistan clash, but then I get the news about India (Yes, I didn’t stay up whole night watching the game). Certain words which cannot be expressed publicly came up to my mind when I heard about the defeat. How could India lose against a team that doesn’t even vindicate its Test status? How could the team fail, except of course Sourav Ganguly, against a side that is just making its third appearance at a World Cup?

The haunting factor here is that let’s hope we do not see a repeat of the “riots” that took place following India’s defeat to Australia in the 1st round last time out. Let us pray and hope the country stays calm and gives the team a chance, although they wouldn’t be much deserving of any sympathy should they follow Pakistan back to the sub-continent. Life comes to a standstill with such a morale killer, doesn’t it?

A look at the positives of a defeat (I know it’s a boring sporting cliché, but do you have a better phrase to put it in?) shows us that it can’t get any worse than this. I mean, let’s admit that we have hit rock bottom. Ganguly’s warrior-like willingness to build the innings after the unexpected opening breakdown is a major positive and the man’s determination, even at his age, is remarkable considering that a whole nation had virtually lost hope in him. Yuvraj’s resilience also made us feel like it was going our way.

A final note - Keep your fingers crossed; your prayers focussed. Control your rage. It’s not over yet. Peace.

Dead Men Walking

Yesterday, I stumbled upon the FIFA football world rankings while surfing through some news sites. Argentina went top of the list of the best of the world’s favourite sport. Brazil slipped up. France, Italy, England and all the major European giants remain in the Top 10.

I continued to scan the list and suddenly nostalgia crept upon me. India! Wow, 165th! That is something! , I wondered. But remember, there are only 207 registered FIFA countries. Cool, isn’t it? A country of 1 billion, and counting, can’t produce a competitive 11-man football team that at least qualifies for the Asia Cup, for a start. Sometimes, it hurts that cricket’s popularity is overriding everything else. The typical Indian man’s brain has restricted his thinking to only cricket and Bollywood.

It hurts, being a football fan. It hurts, because there are so many talented footballers in the country but no one makes a career out of it due to lack of opportunity. It hurts, because success in the world game will give India more worldwide recognition than cricket does. It hurts, period.

I am 20 years of age, and I know I am going to breathe my last in a maximum of 50-60 years. Probably, my only dream is to see the blue of India playing in a football World Cup.

Oh! What am I writing? Cricket’s showpiece event has just "kicked off". How can I even consider mentioning anything else, especially when India’s prodigal sport is being played in the Caribbean? Sorry to all other Indian sportsmen and women, who are winning recognition and merit in other sports. Your talent is unwanted, guys. It is not going to be recognised. Consider selling your gold medals and earning some hot cash from them, because if you can’t play or watch cricket, then you are not needed. Cheers.

PS: This was for Sania Mirza, Pankaj Advani, Abhinav Bindra, Saina Nehwal, Jeev Milkha Singh, Anju Bobby George, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the Indian hockey team and of course, the 165th-ranked Indian football team…..

Meaningless Marketing

Solutions provider AMD made a trip to our institute, supposedly on a training pretext. I was told that I am supposed to attend an "expert lecture" from the 64-bit microprocessor developers. I went into the magnificent auditorium of the Diploma section, specially used for national and cultural meets.

Seeing the aura surrounding the stage, I mean literally(there were huge AMD placards put up around the stage, one each on AMD’s partnerships with the Ferrari Formula 1 team, former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and on the 64-bit microprocessors that they develop), I knew in one shot that this was no expert lecture. It was probably one of those regular we’ll-teach-you-but-you-gotta-buy-us trips, which even a company like Microsoft had made in the recent past.

The worst part about the whole thing was how they kept mentioning that it was not a marketing effort and then going all the way out to compare AMD dual core’s performance and architecture with Intel’s. They ripped apart all of Intel’s technologies (Dual-Core, Centrino etc) and insultingly promoted their own.

The interesting part of the afternoon was yet to come. Questions were asked and freebies were handed over, which obviously had AMD encrusted on them. Marketing is an exciting adventure, but what makes it weird is that we forego our own ethics in advertising our products. I prayed for it to end and when it did, we were again shockingly told that it wasn’t a marketing stunt! I left the hall frustrated about what a waste of time I’d been through, and prayed and hoped that if I ever was hired by a company, I won’t be sent on such ridiculous marketing trips.

Maybe, they didn’t know what the difference between teaching and marketing was. On a healthy note, at least the crowd’s boos provided the music…

Here's a picture from Wikipedia :-

Translucent Truth

READ THIS INTERESTING NEWS ITEM FROM REUTERS.COM (I believe it appeared in the Times of India and other newspapers too)

One of India's top engineering schools has restricted Internet access in its hostels, saying addiction to surfing, gaming and blogging was affecting students' performance, making them reclusive and even suicidal.
Authorities at the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai said students had stopped socialising and many were late for morning classes or slept through them.

Now, a student doesn't even know who lives two doors away from him because he is so busy on the Internet," said Prakash Gopalan, dean of student affairs.
"The old hostel culture of camaraderie and socialising among students is gone. This is not healthy in our opinion."
IIT-Mumbai, with about 5,000 students, is one of seven IITs across India which are considered to be among the finest engineering schools in the world. They are also a talent pool for global technology giants.

But their exacting curriculum, tough competition and reclusive campus lifestyle have taken a toll on students.
Depression and dysfunctional lifestyles are known to be common among IIT students, and at least nine have committed suicide in the past five years. IIT-Mumbai has seen two suicides in two years and several attempts.

Students have unlimited free Internet access in their hostel rooms to help them in their studies, but many also use it to surf, chat, download movies and music, blog and for gaming.
Starting Monday, Internet access will be barred between 11 p.m. and 12.30 p.m. at IIT-Mumbai's 13 hostels to encourage students to sleep early and to try and force them out of their "shells", Gopalan said.
"There has been a decline in academic performance and also participation in sporting, cultural and social activities has gone down," he said.

But the move has not gone down well with students who say they hate their lives being regulated.
"Now they will say we need to listen to a lullaby to go to sleep," said Rajiv, an electronics student who gave only one name.
Student anger has also spilt on to several blogs run by IIT alumni where bloggers say "the birth of the virtual world had led to the death of the real selves", but add that they resent regulation of students' activities.
Gopalan said authorities at the other IITs were considering a similar curb in their hostels.

Understanding Democracy

Two trips to the RTO made me realise the pangs of living in a democracy. Power to the people - sounds like a beautiful concept, doesn't it? But it can take the steam out of us, especially when you wait in those long lines waiting for your turn to come and just when your turn does come, you see the a poster which reads "Lunch Break". Patience is probably the key ingredient that defines the taste of democracy. All the energy in our bodies will drain out, our sweat will vaporise and our legs will cry out in agony saying - "Please spare us".

Democracy's biggest drawback is probably in the concept itself. Enriching the people with the power is an ideal world, but not this world. This world is probably similar to the universe itself - expanding in opposite directions. There are unions, groups and like-minded people, but in India, that is probably only restricted to cricket. Maybe, because of lack of options.

People from different cultures, different religions, different societies and different idealogies all form one India. Unity in Diversity is what we pride ourselves upon. But that is now only a text book term. Maybe, power to the people itself is ridiculous, given the highly-publicised recent failures of the Judiciary.

Democracy is something that cannot be changed. But, we can make life a bit easier by living smartly. Be the government, but employ the ideas that privatisation runs on. Maybe, unity in diversity might arise just from that.....

Hurley in India

Many of us have dream women. Well, one of my all-time favourites, Elizabeth "Liz" Hurley, is currently in India (Jodhpur, Rajasthan) for her much-hyped and paparazzi-hounded wedding with NRI biggie Arun Nayyar. Hurley, who is undoubtedly one of the world's most beautiful women, has irked at Nayyar's Indian links. I remember the last time she was going to make the trip, she said she couldn't bear being in India.

Our streets undoubtedly don't breathe pure oxygen into her nostrils, but what happened was an exaggeration of what has become the world's biggest disuniting factor today - Racism. It is clear that the white-skinned can't bear living in the country due to their over-rated luxury, which is ubiquitous in England & the US of A. But they have no right to fling paycheques and then shout out loud that the place sucks. Our very own Shilpa Shetty, who recently had the chance to become the face of anti-racism campaigns, chose to rake in the pounds and stay quiet. Credibility is a word only left to the dictionary nowadays, I guess. The woman herself had said that she had been racially abused and then all of a sudden, she turns hostile.

Shilpa made truckloads of money, Hurley's respect for India is restricted to the heritage and culture & Indians abroad are injected with the poisonous venom of racism again and again. But not for once does a brown/black human stand up and be counted. This is no crisis. It is probably a mindset till we choose to change it. Till then, keep waking up to racism.....

PS: A correction for the previous post. Virender Sehwag did not return to form. Let’s pray he does it against the Windies.

Cricket's conundrum

Ok, this one's straight after seeing an over of the India-Netherlands Cricket World Cup warmup game. I am sure the country's busy drooling over the prospect of a 2-month cricketing carnival, but let me warn you all. The first couple of games could be extremely un-cricketing.

7 No-balls from the Dutch bowler(I don't even remember his name) characterised by Virender Sehwag's return to form. No wait. That certainly is not cricket in it's true class. Sehwag was spanking the ball around like as if an India U-12 bowler had him play along. That is not the Sehwag we know, at least not the one of the last few months ;-)

India should sweep-romp-crush-bundle(4 words combined gives a dynamic effect, doesn't it ?) the Netherlands by the time I get home after writing this post. Maybe, cricket's truest and deepest truth is that the game is best played by the 10 nations most capable of playing it...What say?

The Times of......

The Times of India must be the opening chapter of every day of our lives, I guess. I hear it early morning on the radio, then the hardcopy itself is waiting at my doorstep, waiting to be picked up and flipped through. Today was all cricket. These Times guys are smart. They publish pictures which have double meanings. The photo of Sachin Tendulkar walking past a billboard post of "Welcome to Jamaica" and 2 girls in the background, supposedly made me think there was some kissing going on. Controversies !!

The media of the nation is obsessed with controversies. They are a part and parcel of our lives. But controversies are very misleading. It would be wise of us to not be cynical and become a mouthpiece for the media. Because they earn when we spark debates on controversies.

Sometimes, I wonder whether the Times is genuinely the "national newspaper" of India. They are so ridiculously Bollywood-oriented, that they would prefer gossip even on the front page. Tomorrow, the Times of India might come with Abhishek Bachchan & Aishwarya's Rai's wedding photos on their front page and sell a billion copies.

Business corrupts the mind, doesn't it? We have to live with it, until we can make a difference. Till then, it is the monopoly of the Times of......

Budget Blues

Funny day today was. I woke up in the morning to see the newspaper being slipped through my door. It is the Times of India that i read, unfortunately of course. But I have no option but going with the flow. I took a look at the time. 8.20 am. Oh my God, I wondered. Late for college again. But wait, it's also Budget Day.

Our honourable Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram(most of us don't even know what P stands for in his name), had given out the Annual Budget to the country. Then I switched on the radio and echoes of disappointment bounced off my eardrums. People were disappointed in general, I believe. Service tax increased(indirectly), Petrol duty came down, Education got an additional one percent cess. These were probably the highlight's of the "common man's" budget, as most of Mr. Chidambaram's budgets are known as.

Then I read another thing about the budget not interesting at least 44% of the people of this country. I agree that it is absolutely difficult to implement national activity and awareness into our already super-tight working and studying schedules. But maybe knowing what you should know is important.

Anyway, I resume living another financial year in the country...