Saturday, June 27, 2009

The King is dead!

The 'King of Pop'- Michael Jackson, passed away in LA yesterday. I write this post as a dedication to what the man meant to me.
Aow! - that was probably his biggest contribution to the world. I first started listening to him when I was around 7-8 years old. He was supposed to make a trip down to India and there was a show in DD promoting him.
The show brought me to the world of Michael Jackson. There were the phenomenal music videos and dance moves. There was the gyrating pelvis, the moon walk, the characteristic full throated yell that portrayed passion and energy, and I, like most guys that time, was floored.
I bought all his albums. I practised his dance moves and could even do the moon walk! (people who know me now will laugh, but I could at one time.) I even started to dress like him with the light blue denim shirt, buttons undone and a white vest underneath. I remember Dad saw me once like that, and he gave me an earful. He He!
That particular tour to India was cancelled, and he toured only much later. My fascination for the man though continued unabated.
My favourite song of his was 'Beat It'. There were others also. There was 'Billie Jean' also from Thriller, 'Smooth Criminal' from Dangerous, 'Bad' from the album Bad. There was also a video featuring Michael Jordan called 'Jam'. That was also brilliant. In Smooth Criminal there's a scene where from standing in the upright position he goes all the way down bending just his ankles. I was fascinated by that move and kept practising it. Unfortunately I'd always fall on my face! I later learnt that trick- photography was used in filming that particular move. :)
As I grew older, I moved on to other musicians and genres. After a certain point of time, it was no longer cool to be listening to Michael Jackson. I'd grown up. I got rid of all my MJ tapes and CD's.
Every once in a while though, there'd be an MJ song playing on TV. And I might have stayed on that channel for a second longer than usual, just to remember the old times. He was the first guy I'd ever confessed to being a fan of. And somewhere at the back of my mind, in my sub-conscious he was still there.
Yesterday's news brought back those wonderful feelings and emotions that were locked away in my mind/ sub-conscious. I remembered being fascinated by the guy and I still can't point out why. I didn't know what he stood for. I didn't understand the lyrics of his songs. His dance moves were maddening, his dressing sense was outrageous. And I still loved the guy. Gosh, what was wrong with me?
Well nothing was wrong with me or the millions of others he'd influenced in the same way. He had that magnetic pull, the charm and aura. Commentaries and tributes to him have gone on and on about how he was a force for good and how he broke down the barriers of race and so on and so forth. I don't know about all that. The truth is that there was a force around him that was/is simply inexplicable. He was and always will be a one of a kind entertainer. He truly was the King of POP!
Thank you MJ. May your soul rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MCC- Makes History!

I joined MCC in 2003. It had topped the India Today ranking for best college in Sciences that year, and I was real proud that I'd been selected and that too on merit.
Like all kids at that time I'd been brought up to believe that my destiny was to do Engineering. And I'd really not thought of anything else. But my performance in the 12th exams and the entrance exams were not great and I couldn't make it to any decent Engineering college. When my MCC call letter came my choice was between a not so great Engg Coll and MCC. I chose MCC.
I'd got evening college. Not because of my marks, which were pretty good for B.Sc standards, but because I was not born the right caste/religion. I didn't mind. I'd accepted it as all guys do at that age. What can you do about the system ah?
We were the first evening college B.Sc Maths batch in MCC. Oh the best was yet to come. We had completely new faculty who had absolutely no experience prior to that in teaching! Wow. One moment these ladies were all nice and friendly and the other moment they were complaining about our lack of discipline. I didn't mind. Maybe we were a bit on the naughty side. But just in the adjacent class you had the B.Com guys, who were always hooting and up to all the scandalous things that make for a good college life. In my class there were just two folks( me included) out of a grand total of nine who could be labelled scandalous. But even we were discreet and kept most of it outside the classroom. We didn't want to get in to trouble after all the mischief in school. But lady fate had different ideas for us.
The games still went on. Initially when I'd sit in their classes, I'd be amazed at their grasp of the concepts, their examples, the language they used, the notes they made you take down. It didn't fit coz these ladies didn't look the type. Something was wrong and I couldn't figure it out. When they made you take notes their language was impeccable. They never looked into notes or books and they knew where exactly the commas, the semi colons, the hyphens etc would come. Initially I was truly amazed. Only later on as I was going through the reference books, did I discover the true con. Word to word rote from the reference books! Not one word coming from their mouths was original. Not one example that they gave was their own. It was as good as someone reading to you from a tape. Like one of those audio-books. I was truly amazed. Here are people respected for their academic credentials and they couldn't make one sentence or one example for themselves. One lady was the Gold Medalist in Maths from our college in both her UG and PG. The other lady was doing her PhD. They were often stumped when I asked them doubts. Change things a bit in your answer paper and you'd make them cringe! They want word to word rote. Simple!
I still didn't get why they harboured this strong antagonism towards me. They were constantly picking on me. They'd sent me to the coordinator(our equivalent of Dean) a couple of times. It was only later that I realized that the real reason for all this. Which was that these dames feared me. I could speak better than them. I understood the concepts better than them. I could complicate things for them by asking them doubts and they'd be found out for the mug pots that they really were/are. These things were building up and that's when they got bitchy. These dames' manipulations reached such heights that they even managed to get me suspended from college.
Looking at these dames I lost interest in my course. You can't seriously hope to study something when two stupid(really stupid) females are in your faculty. These were people who'd excelled in the system. Ya right... neat system! And to this illustrious list were added another two fine females in my final year. Things were only getting better.
I managed to clear my U.G. I couldn't make a decision as to what to do next. So I decided to study. With my marks I couldn't hope to get anywhere other than MCC itself. So I applied and I got through the ex-students quota. Some advantage of being MCCian.
Now I was in day college with the great faculty and better class mates(I hoped!). I expected to do some real learning. But was I about to be disappointed or what.
Most of my fellow class-mates couldn't construct one sentence in English properly. These were guys with 80-90% in their UG's! I didn't understand how these guys were writing Lagrange's Theorems and Group Theory and explaining vital concepts in Real and Complex Analysis in their answer sheets! I was soon about to find out.
Pointers to clearing tests in MCC. Mark 10 important questions from last years' papers. Leave your brains out of the whole thing. Mug them throughout. Go to the exam, vomit your shit and clear with minimum 80%. Not once in my 5-6 years in MCC did I have to apply my mind to a problem. Not one challenging problem. You could complete your Masters in Maths not having attempted a single problem! That's the beauty of our system.
Oh the faculty were all super stars with years and years of experience. But from them I got the impression that they'd given up. A few of them retired. Guess who came to replace them???? My Gold Medalist winning faculty from evening college! Promotion! She was now going to give her gyaan to 2nd year PG. Lucky lucky me!
So again I screwed up my PG. Most of my class mates have got out-standing marks. And what do most of them want to do??? They want to become teachers!!! They still can't do one sum properly... they still don't know how to frame a sentence in English. And they are so brain dead that you give them an easy sudoku and they could be there with it for hours and still not complete it. In all of my UG and PG life I was the only one in class who asked any doubts. I know it's unbelievable but it's true. These are tomorrow's teachers Ladies and gentlemen.... do I hear applause??
This is where and how my dear Gold Medalist bitch came in to the teaching line. This fine system of ours manages to produce many many such enlightened souls who will continue to enlighten our society further.
This was and is MCC. I have hence stopped my subscription for India Today. Thank you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

ICC WT20- PAK are Champions!

Well ever since India were knocked out of the tournament my interest in the whole thing had waned. But it is still a world cup and I'm sure guys out there from Pakistan and Sri Lanka were following their teams and were really excited for the big final.
When the T20 game was conceptualized I'm sure most cricket fans feared that, with this version, the domination of bat over ball would be complete. Great bowlers seem to be a rare and dying species. And most countries seemed to be preparing flat beds for both domestic and international matches, where the ball would never spin or swing, so that the cricket could be "entertaining". Scores in excess of 300 in ODI's and 200 in T20 were a common feature.
This World Cup was different. Full credit should go to the groundsmen and administrators in England who had the courage to keep sporting wickets throughout the tournament.
Batting heavy sides like India and Australia were found wanting. While teams that were more balanced like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa performed exceedingly well and made it in to the semis.
It is to the credit of the organizers that it was the two best bowling sides in the tournament that made it in to the semis. Their vision might have just revived the dying breed of bowlers and I hope the Indian board has taken notice and decides to do something about our own tracks. The Sri Lankan team were unbeaten in the tournament. Pakistan had peaked at the right time and made a surprise victory over South Africa in the semis, who until then were firm favourites to lift the cup.
Pakistan played to a plan from the beginning and it was only Sangakarra's brilliant effort with the bat and some swash-buckling cricket from Angelo Mathews the brought some respectability to the total. However it did not prove enough and Shahid 'boom-boom' Afridi's half-century was enough to see the Pakistanis through. Pakistan have always been a supremely talented side. The problem has been with their temperament. In Younis Khan I feel they've found a leader who can guide them in the right direction. He reminds me very much of the old Dhoni. He's calm and cool under pressure. He says the right things in the press conference. Is shrewd and tactful in his cricket.
I remember Younis said in a press conference that his team were taking the tournament lightly and were more intent on having fun than anything else. Compare that with the obvious pressure that the Indians were under. And also note how the 2 teams ended the tournament. :)
Dhoni has come under intense scrutiny from the media. From being the media-darling he's been transformed in to the media-villain. It will be interesting to see how he comes out from this. Being the big fan I hope that he comes out tougher and stronger.
Next on is the India vs West Indies series starting in five days time. I'm not sure if I will blog for those matches as I'm moving out of town. I will try and keep my posts coming. Do drop down every once in a while. Take care. Cheers! ;)

Monday, June 15, 2009

ICC WT20- Ind vs Eng

Well well well... what I feared most as an Indian fan has happened... India are out of the World Cup... and people back home are already getting their daggers ready! ;)
India played poorly. England played the better cricket and deserved to win the match. Should be case closed there itself. Ah ha... you thought so? No way.. this is India after all!
I never thought I'd find myself saying this, with me being the big fan and all, but I feel that it was Dhoni's tactical blunders that cost us the match. It was good to ring in a few changes from the last game. But dropping Irfan Pathan was not called for. He was bowling quite well and was doing a decent job with the bat also. Zaheer or Ishant could have been dropped. They have not been performing as well as the team wants them to.
I thought the bowlers did quite well to bring England down to 153. Pietersen and Bopara had gotten off to a handsome start and things were looking ominous for India. But Ravindra Jadeja had different plans and he removed both Pietersen and Bopara in an inspired spell of bowling.
Playing R.P. Singh was a good move and he did bowl really well. Why then didn't he bowl his full quota of 4 overs???? Ishant was getting clobbered all over the park, and he still bowled out!
The leg-side line from the bowlers was defensive and doesn't suit this team. This is a team that plays aggressive. Dhoni is an aggressive captain. When you see him ask his bowlers to bowl a line like that, you know he's not in the right frame of mind.
The Indian fielding was hideous. No dropped catches fortunately, but the ground fielding was just horrible! India needs to work on this urgently.
Predictably the English bowlers dished out the short stuff when the Indians came out to bat. Raina and Rohit Sharma found it extremely tough going and succumbed . Both players will have to work on their game(especially against quality bowling on fast/bouncy wickets) if they are to survive international cricket. Playing Ravindra Jadeja @ No 4 was preposterous. When I saw him walk in to the ground after Raina got out I was like "Oh NO!". I was hoping the guy would prove me wrong, but he didn't. Dhoni didn't read the game well here. It was obvious that the English bowlers were bowling short. The run rate required was rising and it would have been ideal to send Yuvraj or Yousuf out to bat. They would have handled the short stuff better and also the run rate. As things turned out Dhoni left things for a little too late.
Once the required rate reached 10-11, India was always going to be playing 'catch up'. Yuvraj got out to a brilliant piece of wicket-keeping and from then on it was England's game. Dhoni couldn't find any touch and couldn't get any boundaries(edges behind not being counted!). Yousuf and Dhoni did bring it close with some good running and good hitting (from Yousuf!). But England held sway and walked away with a victory that ended India's hopes of defending it's title.
I think more than anything the Indian players should take a good break. The team looked jaded. Probably one of the reasons for the insipid fielding performance throughout the tournament. Dhoni seems to have aged with all the pressure and non-stop cricket. He needs/deserves a good break.
I know many of you out there will be disappointed and generally be critical of this team. But this still is a very good team. I think we need to give the guys a chance and some time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

ICC WT20- Ind vs WI

India were out played by a high- spirited West Indies team at Lord's last night. It gets tough for India to qualify for the semis now. They have to beat both South Africa and England to get through. With the South Africans playing as well as they are, that's a task that's going to take some doing.
West Indies played to a plan. The bowling was aggressive. They bowled short/just short of length to all the Indian batsmen. I remember at least 3 Indian batsmen getting out trying to play the pull.
India lost 3 early wickets and Dhoni and Yuvraj had to consolidate in the middle. Dhoni got stuck and his hitting form will be of concern to him and the rest of the team. He scored a mere 11 runs of 23 balls and doesn't seem to be able to score as freely as he used to. I think MSD just needs to be more positive. He's been playing the role of sheet anchor quite successfully for India and has been quite successful in Tests and ODI's. But any good player should also be able to raise the tempo when he wants to, especially in T20 cricket.
Yuvraj was brilliant again. It's like he was built for the T20 game. It was his innings and Yousuf Pathan's late flourish that took the team to a respectable 153.
India started off the second innings really well. Being able to keep Gayle tight for over 6 overs was excellent work by the opening bowlers. Irfan bowled well and brother Yousuf also played his part. Zaheer was disciplined. Dhoni kept rotating his bowlers in a bid to keep Gayle uncomfortable.
Bhaji's maiden over to Gayle was a treat to watch and was the highlight of the initial part of the second innings. For the true connoisseur of cricket it was off-spin bowling at it's best. It was an interesting duel between the spirited Punjabi and the big Caribbean bloke. I'm happy that the duel went Bhajji's way.
But it looked like India had plans only for Gayle and no one else in the West Indies batting line-up. Most of the bowler looked short of ideas when the other batsmen came in. When Bravo joined Simmons in the middle, India looked completely lost. The pair were able to score runs freely. The required rate was about 9-9.5 an over, and these batsmen were getting them easily! There was a boundary being scored every over, and Bravo was running like his life depended on it.
A note here on the Indian fielding. I remember two miss-fields where the ball went right through the Indian fielder and to the boundary. Generally the fielding effort was lethargic. India didn't seem to have 'the bite' when it was fielding. There was no running around and diving, no incredible saves, and the returns to the keeper were horrible and need to be worked on urgently. The energy and passion seemed to be missing. India seemed to lack that X factor on the field (which was so visible in the Windies fielding). It could be the fatigue from playing so much cricket and traveling over the past year.
Bravo proved to be too good and the Windies reached home comfortably.
Things look bleak now for the Men-in-blue. Getting in to the semis is going to be an uphill task. I think more than anything India just need to take a bit of rest, take a little time out, and then get back to things full-swing. India is still one of the top teams in the tournament and now it's for the boys to live up to their tags.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

To Cut a Long Story Short- Jeffrey Archer

I'd picked up this book just a day back and as with most of Jeffrey Archer's books I didn't put it down till I'd reached the last page.
Jeffrey Archer is definitely one of my favorite authors. This book is a collection of short stories and there is the trademark Archer wit and plot in almost every story. In some stories Mr Archer's writings border on perversion, but he manages to pull it off and I did enjoy most of it. There were some stories that I felt were not up to the author's standards. But over-all the book was a very good read.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Shopping!

Last Sunday I went to the Crosswords bookshop on Venkatnarayana Road, T.Nagar. I'd heard that it was a good place and I've been wanting to check it out for long. I'd been saving up some cash to splurge on books.
I'm still getting used to traveling by public transport. Till last year I had my bike with me. There was never any need to go by bus/ share-auto. Now tho things are very different. I've been using public transport a lot and I consider my self a bit of a share-auto expert. I prefer traveling in share-autos to buses. You get places to sit and you get dropped where you want on the main road. Better deal than the over-crowded buses.
Now coming back to books and the Crosswords book store.... I took a share-auto from my place to T.Nagar. Had to walk a bit to the store but that's k, I love walking. My first impressions of Crosswords were not very good. I expected it to be a lot bigger. But this was just one small place. There were not many books/authors to select from. That way I feel Landmark is still the best bookshop in Chennai. If any of you there know a better place do let me know.
I still did buy a few books though. I bought four in all. 'MOVERS AND SHAKERS- Prime Ministers of India 1947 to 2009' by Scharada Dubey. Then Narayana Murthy's 'A Better India A Better World', 'Stay Hungry Stay Foolish' by Rashmi Bansal and 'Maximum City' by Suketu Mehta, which incidentally I plan on gifting somebody.
There's been nothing much to do these past few months so I've been devouring books. I lost count of how many books I've read in the last month. My last read was Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner'. Really good book. Really enjoyed it.
I hope my latest quota lasts me at least till the next week. Maybe I should start adding reviews of books to my blogs? ;). I think that's a nice idea. Let's see how it goes.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

ICC WT20- Ind vs Ban

Well "cricket ka maha-yudh" is here. The ICC World T20 Championships is here. Though to be honest I think I've had an over dose of cricket these past few months. But well, it is the World Cup, and India are defending champs. So yes I'm still going to be following the games. :)
It was a nice start for India to the WC. Rohit Sharma seems to like opening the batting. Gambhir and Dhoni got stuck a bit in the middle and were not able to score freely. They couldn't create the momentum that was required. That job was left to Messrs Yuvraj and Irfan. Yuvraj was outstanding. It was just beautiful batting, clean hitting and awesome entertainment. His 18 ball 41 finally took India to 180 and that gave the score a bit of respectability.
There were plenty of nerves around with Holland having beaten England and WI having beaten the Aussies before this particular game. So B'ladesh must have been hoping that they too could continue with the 'giant-killing' spree. But it was not to be.
Though the openers did a fantastic job in B'desh's run-chase, India kept picking up regular wickets, and the pressure just proved to be too much for the B'deshis to handle. A good bowling performance by Pragyan Ojha, where he took four for 21, settled the game in India's favour. The rest of the bowling, with the exception of Bhajji, looked a little rusty and that will worry the team management. I don't think Zaheer was 100%. Irfan and Ishant couldn't halt the momentum that the B'desh innings had gathered in the beginning. It was Dhoni's move to bring Yousuf Pathan early on that gave India it's break through and from then on wickets kept falling.
I must admit that I was impressed with B'desh. The bowling was good. They faltered a bit at the end under the Yuvi onslaught. But generally the bowling- especially the spin bolwing was very good. The fielding was exceptional. And the way the B'deshi batsmen went about chasing down India's target was good to see. They seemed to be fearless and played some very good strokes. It's very different from the B'desh players I remember watching a few years back. I'm sure that this young team is a team to watch out for the future.
India's next fixture is against Ireland and should be a fairly easy one. That means India should cruise thorugh in to the super 8's. That's where the real competition will be.
Hoping Dhoni and his boys will continue the good run. :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Although outwardly it seems that I have a lot of friends it's not really how it is. I have a few friends. A core group. A select few and that's all. As for the rest, they're merely acquaintances.
Outwardly I appear to be an extrovert. But inside I'm not that guy. I'm a different chap. I'm a guy who loves to spend time on my own. I need my own space. I don't share my secrets with everyone/anyone. My friends know this and allow me to be this way.
It's not important to them that I explain things. For them things fall in place. They might not know the parts but they understand the whole. And sometimes it surprises me that they do, because I've never told it to them. I don't think I've ever revealed myself to anyone. But my friends know me and that's the way it is.
Sometimes I feel all the trouble that I have with my folks is that they don't understand me. I'm not like either of them (no I'm not adopted, just a Hybrid!). I can't communicate with them the way they want me to. That's the root of most of the problems I have with my folks. There's absolutely no communication. A friend of mine once advised me to open up to them. To seek their support and understanding. But I couldn't. I can't. It's not like me to open up.
You see even with my best friend I'm not completely open. It's not that I'm not honest. No.. it's not that. It's quite often having/creating my own space to maneuver around life's problems. I don't see it as a fault. I'm extremely touchy about my privacy and have been so ever since I can remember. People close to me don't try to get too close. And that's the reason they're close to me!
The last few weeks/ months have been tough for me. I reached a nadir in my thought process. Nothing was going right (I don't want to go on and on about my depressions here like other bloggers do. But well I am talking about it so it's only fair that I touch on it a bit. ).
I haven't opened up to any one friend. No one. It's not that they can't help me. But it's that I want to find my own way through this on my own. And also I don't want to burden anyone with my worries. At least not the whole lot. I break it down. Ask for suggestions on different things from different people. Use that and try and find my way.
Some friends have really helped me these past few months. I'm not going to name them. But if they go through this blog they'll know. My friends after all! I just want to thank you people for being there.
If there's one thing I want for you guys and gals it's this.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Love you