Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One of the costliest slap...

If MTV gives viewers 'One Tight Slap', someone else gives that in a cricket field. By now a lot of hysteria has been generated over a match between Mumbai Indians vs. Kings XI Punjab in the on-going IPL season. The latest I read yesterday was that the inflammation is sorted now and things are back to normal and entertainment continues. Back to sixes, fours, and not to forget the cheerleaders dancing.

After the angry slap incident, a panel investigated on this foolhardy behavior of Harbhajan on the field which amounts to level 4.2 offence under the ICC Code of Conduct. Level 4.2 relates to physically assaulting a fellow player, match official or spectators. The final verdict related to this issue was rendered by the IPL match referee and former Test stumper, Farokh Engineer. Bhajji was slapped a 11 match ban and he can't play in the remaining IPL matches.

But these brought to my mind few points.

1. This one is purely related to the economics part of it. This slap will go down in history as one of the costliest slap ever. In this case, both Harbhajan and Sreesanth would be immortalized with the former as the conferrer and the later as the recipient of the most high-priced slap. Harbhajan was auctioned for a whopping $8,50,000 (approximately Rs 3.4 crore), the buyer being Reliance Industries.

Just simple mathematics shows close to what Harbhajan earns and what he losses in this opera. Assuming that there are 14 matches he is going to play for IPL.

Gain = (3/14)*3.4 = .73 crores INR.
Loss = (11/14)*3.4 = 2.67 crores INR.

Bhajji, 'yeh thapad tujhe baahut mAhAnga paada dost.'

2. This is kind of a googly for me. Is Harbhajan that unfledged, a school kid, or is he a professinal who has played for India for close to 10 years in the test and one day format of the game ? Does he not know that his heroics and skirmishes will have ripple effect later. He knew what happened in Australia a couple of months back, was that sequence not enough to ring alarm bells ? Is caution the key for him or his short temper attitude? I guess Bhajji knows what's the best answer is for him.

3. I feel like laughing to see poor Sreesanth, crying like a kid after the slapping incident. I personally feel that Sreesanth's weeping was more of drama and role-playing than reality. The entire crowd and TV viewers know how he makes faces, good, bad, ugly on the field. I can equate his act to that of Italy's Marco Materazzi, who re-acted as if a missile had pierced his heart, when he was head butted by Zidane. Man, c'mon in the practice sessions in football, they are trained for more severe physical onslaughts. Anyways, after lot of brassy news over the cheerleaders, this incident added a new twist to IPL and made for some interesting news.

4. Everyone knows, at least I consider this, if I put it the right way, Mumbai is the Mecca of cricket in India. Bhajji donned the captaincy hat because Sachin was injured. So didn't he not realize that, he had a whole lot of more responsibilities and obligations as he was replacement for someone, who is one of the biggest legends of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar. The way Bhajji behaved, displayed it was a smacking not only on Indian cricket, but also on the city that breathes cricket and is passionate about it to the core. Think of Sachin Tendulkar, how many times in his career he has been haunted and tormented by the media and others during his rough patches, when marked by under-performance. How many times, has he raised his voice even while replying in the press, forget being aggressive with the reporters. He uses his bat and keeps cricket lovers stunning with the passing years, his bat does the speechmaking and not his histrionics.

Also, everyone knows that IPL is all about cricket with oodles of entertainment, glamour, money, etc involved in it. Come to think of it's sheer business, barons and tycoons have pumped in tremendous amounts of money, so each of the teams would try to outshine the others. But that doesn't mean that with a loss, someone is going to behave irrationally. Fine, agreed that Mumbai team had lost all its initial matches, but that doesn't mean the team lacks talent. It's just that this is a different fast-food format of cricket, and there is whole lot of new experimentations (ex: player X from Y region is not playing for Y region but for Z region.). Also many people forget that Mumbai has the maximum number of Ranji Trophy Titles (a pure and original format of cricket sans the showbiz), i.e. 37 which as far as I know is the highest number won by any team. So what if they are little behind in this new phaata phaat generation cricket.

Bhajji, was this too much of gyan for you?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Green Earth Day...

Someone calls it the 'Earth Day', someone calls it the 'Green Day'. Do we need to shudder and get scary with tomes of news on global warming? Some basic questions come to our mind, Is the world really heating up? Are all the takes on greenhouse gas emissions just void talk or is something really happening? Or is there concrete statistics to augment the catastrophes and tragedies that may occur because of global warming, the world's greatest environmental threat, ...right now?

One school of researchers and analysts, feel that the greatest global threat is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco.
The problem here is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public, bureaucrats and politicians alike. Governments generally choose not to receive policy advice on climate from independent scientists. Rather, they seek guidance from their own self-interested science bureaucracies and senior advisers, or from the IPCC itself. No matter how accurate it may be, cautious and politically non-correct science advice is not welcomed in Westminster, and nor is it widely reported.
But the other school the covers the rest majority feels that, 'Yes' there is a change in the world: climatic, environmental, societal, ecological and in other related domains.

Let's not get into the complex web of questions and the mesh of answers that would spring up. Let's tackle or talk about something that is very basic and affects our life in someway or the other.

How does it feel for someone who resides in Bangalore, to drive back home in the late evenings or in the afternoon? Has the summer temperature risen? Do you feel the same as you used to feel in the night, say ten years back in the city of Bangalore, incase of a power failure? Lets not delve into metrological data to find a reply to these questions. We experience this everyday and even one need not be educated in basics of science to understand the underlying causes. Each one of us knows that there are some external factors, few man-made and few natural, that are acting in a devious way to cause this state of suffocation.

Can we avoid this?

Yes, we can avoid this. Avoid not by indulging in big talks and sessions, like take the case of the US President, Bush. This chap goes around the world stating that we need to do this, we need to do that, the fast growing Asian economy is the biggest chimney for the disaster. Contrary to this, the US adds more pollutants and toxins to the atmosphere and environment than any other nation in the world. Let me not digress here and stick to the pivotal point, that is each one of us as a responsible citizen can make a difference.

There is a lady in Bangalore, Janet who has planted more than 650 trees so far in the city which today witnesses ruthless mowing down of trees for broadening of roads and adding new physical infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing economy.

I also know of an interesting initiative, spearheaded by a team of nature lovers, that has gathered momentum in the city of Mysore. The team is known as FORT (Friends Of Roadside Trees) and to know more you can check its site here.

Even the IT and technology firms have taken proactive actions to contribute towards this endeavor in their own smart ways. A couple of days back, I read an article that states how Google partially powers its huge data centers with solar power, using the energy derived from the solar photovoltaic panels.

Recently Yahoo! launched a magnificent information portal that is a one stop center to gather info about climate change and environmental news. The Yahoo! Green website page has a number of tabs, each catering to a specific topic, Global Warming, hints to lead a Green Lifestyle, etc. Two of the biggest internet giants, with their game plans for a greener world and this tickles, Michael Arrington from Techcrunch with a curious question: Google vs. Yahoo, who cares most about the environment?

Last weekend, I was in IIMB for the Barcamp and there was an interactive session on 'innovation'. The intention of introducing the word 'excogitation' or 'innovation' is to highlight the fact that with a little bit of out of the box thinking, we can recycle and reuse for a greener planet.

It's simple, just ride a special type of tricycle to a local water source, fill water to a small tank in the back of the tricycle. Pedal back home and by the time you reach home, you get a tank of 20 gallons of filtered water and also in the process you didn’t add any pollutants or toxins to the atmosphere. Add to this, you even did physical exercise while cycling.

Watch the video to see how it works.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Today one word 'reading' in my usual blog signature 'Keep reading and remain connected.' triggered a debatable question. To me reading (other than news and blogs) is synonymous with having my own hard copy of the books. This corresponds to a simple equation, books need pages, pages need paper, paper need trees to be felled. So am I responsible? or Should I turn fast to be an e-book lover? I am confused now.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Verbal Slips...

Grrrrrrrrrrr, someone again has become a feed for an unfortunate verbal stumble. Barack Obama's name has been mauled many a times in the past, ever since he started his sprint for 2008 White House run.

In 2007, CNN confuses Obama for Osama.

Then later in the year, around Oct'2007, the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was again bit by this tongue-twister-in-name bug. Or was it kun'fyoozhun. It was a classic mix-up and this is how it went. In this case Romney was referring to the audiotape of Osama bin Laden and holla he just mis-spoke.
"Actually, just look at what Osama - Barack Obama - said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. ... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded."

Now thumb rule if you are contesting for the hot seat at the White House. Don't have a name that has any semblance in diction or in spelling to any of the warlord honchos. I am not joking here, many people may not be aware that Obama's full name is Barack Hussein Obama. Now, the second word in the name is/was tied with 'Hussein' tag of the military strongman Saddam Hussein.

All this tittle-tattle, doesn't end here. Even Barack and Iraq sound the same phonetically towards the later part. It's like 'ack' and 'aq' end up producing the same sound.

Now as if all this was not enough, another boo-boo happened this Monday in the presence of hundreds of news executives and TV cameras at the Associated Press's Annual Luncheon.
Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP's board of directors and head of Denver-based MediaNews Group, slipped when asking the senator if he could envision sending many more US troops to Afghanistan, where "Obama bin Laden is still at large".
Ah ha Obama bin Laden. Senator Obama like a kid had a questioning look and then goes on to say, "I think that was Osama bin Laden."

Singleton apologized for the faux pas but Obama handled the situation with a dose of humor and with a mild laugh, told the audience.
"No, no, this is part of the exercise I've been going through for the last 15 months," Obama said. "Which is why it's pretty impressive that I'm still standing here."
The crowd cheered the leader for his attitude and also offered him a sympathetic round of applause. Clap clap clap, anyways the media had a ball of a time.

Now why did this bloomer, cause so much of interest in me. Suppose someone has a name 'tanay' and just a minor adjustment of alphabets makes it 'tanya'. Now this alteration creates a hell lot of difference, do I have to say more, you better decide.

Btw, Obama, I can understand what it feels like, when one is a prey to these modest verbal goof offs. Let's not bother on these verbal slips, we have lots on our plate to do, you continue on your campaign and let me continue with my mazdoori.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Common Man...

'Whatever I make must be affordable to the common man'. These were the words of Chinni Krishnan who is acknowledged as the father of the sachet revolution in India.

But who is the common man?

Is he the fictitious character which R.K.Laxman, created that has decorated the Times of India's front page even before I was born. A man in his puckered dhoti and a checked shirt, ever silent yet always representative of the hopes, aspirations, troubles, achievements, strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies of an average India.


Is he is part of the crowd that is today most sought after by the various engines of India's burgeoning economy. A 'Nano' car for the common man, 'Nokia' mobiles for the common man, 'Simputer', the computer for the common man, 'Air Deccan', the common man's airline, etc.


Is he the one who is today fading in the shadows of anonymity? Someone lost in this world of consumerism and inflation, hunted down by the agents of power and prestige, someone who puts his sweat for his daily bread, but whose voice is on the fringe of decision making circles.

Replies to this simple question: 'Who is the common man?' was the theme of an interactive play, 'The Common Man' by the Yours Truly team, that I attended a couple of days back at Rangashankara in Bangalore.

The Common Man

Before we proceed, let me tell you, why this was tagged as 'interactive' play. The plot of the story would flow for a while and then it stops abruptly in the midway. Then the audience is asked to weave its viewpoints to end the chronicle. Opinions are then stitched to end the story, after which the actors complete the ending as given to them by the audience.

The story begins with the birth of a common man who like you and me attends school, becomes ardent follower of rote learning, graduates from an average college, gets married, has a regular job and runs his family. All these stages are 'ordinary' and 'common' and is very much a part of the social fabric that surrounds us.

In this portrayal of daily life and its interconnected parts, the artists on stage covered a kaleidoscope of events. To cite a few are, the regular neighborhood scuffle, the incursion of mobiles into each and every aspect of our lives, traffic jams, etc. The common man works in an office among some smart IIT-IIM educated graduates, believes hard work and honesty as priceless tenets only to realize one day that the 'Best Employee' award is feted to someone always kowtowing to his boss. The common man witnesses tinges of city life and wants to be a part of that lifestyle, but his meagre pay cheque throttles his inclinations. The dark irrational blocks of thought acting like a corrosive fluid had destroyed the way he looked at life. As time passes by his only child grows, is educated and is married to a girl who prefers to be a part of the apartment culture, rather than stay with the in-laws. In short, the plot swinging between modernity and bumpkinly, clouds the common man in state of confusion.

For someone, part of a herd known for slow cooking and eating leisurely, adjusting to a microwave cookware generation is not easy. The common man finds himself in such a situation.

Life goes on and everything moves on the regular way.

One day while returning from work, something unusual and not so ordinary thing happens. Out of the blues, the common man is selected to appear on a TV interview.

Stop stop stop, the story comes to a sudden halt here.

Will the common man come on TV interview? If yes, why? Will he speak and if he does, what will he speak? This opened a train a questions, the answers to which was provided by a potpourri of views by the audience. An air of camaraderie engulfed the auditorium as comments bounced back and forth among the viewers before tailoring the final plot. It took about twenty minutes to complete this exercise.

The performers were sitting on the stage and listening as the plot was knit. They were back again on action without any rehearsal once the final plot was decided.

The common man attends the TV interview and for the first time in the play, he opens his mouth and speaks out. He becomes a small time celebrity, an unheralded change from his previous image of a common man. Few in the society look upto him with awe, offer him regards and perfunctory politeness. The common man is still the same person as he was, before metamorphosis to his new stature to his family members and a handful of his relatives. Some things change for good, some remain as it was before, but the inner soul of the common man is still in turmoil, in civil war. One fine day, he breaks free from the monotony of life and ventures into a secluded place where he can find peace. Shaky but much better perched, the common man starts writing his autobiography highlighting the traumas, the annoyances, the triumphs, the frictions, etc. A dozen different scenarios all fleshed out in considerable detail.

Then there is a brief silence. The common man cries like a child and says, 'time goes fast and yet it is so dull here and all he wants is to be the same common man and lead his life the common way'.

The play ends.

All these scenes were played on stage with the effective usage of light and gestures, without any props. The only accessories that were used were a few colored dupattas and a bunch of umbrellas. The performers on stage made good use of tingling umbrellas which when used in a bunch symbolized the vexations that crossed the common man’s mind.

The sudden appearance of the common man in a TV interview was a symbolic representation of reality programming that has put the viewers at the heart of a transformation. A transformation that is allowing a few to attain the 'megastar' status, leaving rest others as small time celebrities who are tickled for a short while to be left on their own to struggle later. This was my interpretation.

The team was definitely enjoying while performing on stage as the audience could feel the flow of energy and enthusiasm in a palpable wave. The play was written by Nandini Rao and was directed by Nandini Rao and Ranji. The young cast consisted of Amit Agarwal, Amrutha Varshini, Gaurav Gupta, Karan Shah, Nandini Rao, Pramod Nair, Radhika Mehra, and Sumit Acharya. There was no elaborate settings for music too. The background music was through a keyboard played by Vasanth Mohanraj and few songs that garnished the play were by Gaurav Hombali.

All in all a good performance that all the more made an otherwise ordinary evening stuck in traffic, more pleasant.

The play got over by 9PM and I went out for dinner with Ni at a restaurant. Once we were done with the dinner, it suddenly started raining cats and dogs. Ni left for home and I was all alone on a lonely road, rain pouring down with ferocity. I was walking with a meek umbrella above my head, which couldn't bear the pitter-patter of the rain drops as they danced violently over the thin membrane. An unappeasable wonder which believes that there is a speck of a general truth in every thing, suddenly traversed my mind. I guess it was right, as like the common man with an umbrella, I was another common man, with my umbrella fighting with low visibility to reach home soon.

There was a comment that temporal, an editor at Desicritics had left. I liked the fluidity of his expression.

i do not know when i became a 'man'
yes i was young once and watched
other boys playing cricket in the street
i was naked and had runny nose
and other boys would not include me
but i did clap and leapt with joy
whenever someone hit a six
sometime later the other boys would
hit on my sister, but me? no such luck
i was scraping the floor at iron smith's
and while helping the old geezer
i would still applaud when the boys
returned from school and played cricket
occasionally my boss would curse and
twist my ears red for applauding a six
in some years they became babus
and i learned to mold iron in clay
and got married and had my own kids
one after another with runny noses
and bloated stomachs and they also
applauded from sidelines wistfully
i am forty now and look sixty plus
and i still do not know
when i became a 'man'
this is my common story

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