Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Money Crunches!!!

It was a typical boring and tiring day. I thought of calling my sister in the evening and suddenly realized that I have been denied this facility. My mobile service provider releases a warning to pay some interim payment on 25th of every month and if I do not pay within two days, they show their supremacy. Whereas my mobile bill always crosses the ever increasing credit limit set for my account. Even after my repeated requests, they have not changed the date for making the payment. Wish they could understand the economic life cycle of my bank account. As a new month unfolds, it starts as a member of middle class society and it drops down below the line of poverty even before the last week has arrived.

Being a gregarious person, I always boast of having loads of friends, so just thought of borrowing some money. After all what are friends for?

First target was my college friends. And I was stunned to see not even a single reply for my loan application. And for two of my most trusted friends, they were almost computer illiterates few months back. Bloody where did they learn sending mailer-demons?

Next target were my room mates. I belong to underprivileged strata of bachelor’s society who share their shelter with same sex. One of my room mates gives stringent competition to my bank accounts poverty. Other one asked me to hold on for a second, and that second lasted for hours. I targeted few others in vain.

Its 31st today, hopefully my account will drastically change its social status.

But sometimes its fun when you are finically squeezed. When you pass by a gas station on your vehicle, you look at the gas station with dreams and your gas tank with worrying fear. You pass by an ATM and your heart fills up with loads of nostalgia. You start respecting your credit card more than your employer. And suddenly the four letter word ‘wait’ starts sounding longer then ever. But it is fun.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Murphy is smiling!!!

I am an optimist. I do not believe in Murphy’s laws. But the ‘Ashes’ is making me believe that when it starts going wrong, almost everything goes wrong. It happens to such an extent that a bad judge of a run tries to find an excuse in the law for substitute fielders. It pulls you to a level where you start defying your definition of Gentleman ness. Even the good balls start finding their way into the crowd, your best fielder starts dropping sitters and even terrible shots start falling yards from the fielders. Perhaps Murphy has chosen Australia as his guinea pig this time.
Too close for comfort. Nail biting. That’s what Ashes has been this year. Apart from the first match, Australia has been in trouble because of some excellent cricket played by their opponents. England has been in trouble because of their stupidity, although they have managed to get out of it almost every time.
Hats off to England for there outstanding performance. But one should not overlook Australian efforts. Their last two wickets were able to reduce the margin of defeat from over a hundred to just two runs. Next time, the last pair was able to deny the defeat by surviving hand-grenades from English pacers. And yesterday, when England was chasing a modest total, they made sure that entire Barmy Army was counting their heartbeats.
There is the difference between greatness and sparks of brilliance. Greatness is achieved by years of hard work, planning and whole lot of things. Sparks of brilliance could be your talent getting synchronized with the lady luck.
India played some very good cricket between years 2002 and 2004. Reasons could be a coach who could make the difference, a captain who could lead the side, young blood with refreshing attitude or many more. In fewer words, it was just another story of all the pieces falling into their places. But it was not greatness. As soon as lady luck alienated the individual talents we are so proud of, we find ourselves tottering against a side like Zimbabwe.
Look at Australia, ever since Alan Border took over, they started building it brick by brick. They achieved greatness. Even with terribly out of form Hayden and Gillespi, even with an injured Macgrath, even with a Gilchrist looking to compete with Parthiv Patel in stupidity, they can come close to squeezing the best English side we have seen in years. That is what expected from a great side. Even in their worst days, they are able to make a heart specialist a bit richer.
A lot goes in making a building, but it lasts for years. Accumulation can only give you a heap, and it cannot even survive the wind.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Who writes Blogs!!!!!

I slept at 4 o’clock in the morning. Within a couple of hours I felt as if I was sitting in a cricket stadium and everyone around me was yelling for Indian bowlers to bowl tight line and length in the slog overs. Pretty soon I realized that the feeling of being in a place, I would love to be was because of Air Deccan. They had opened their counter for the most awaited air ticket in the history of mankind. It charges you almost nothing for taking you from Bangalore to Delhi. Try booking your tickets and if you and your ISP are fast enough, who knows?

Welcome to the world of small airlines. Their target segment is AC-III tier train travellers. And they are getting ample help from their direct competitors. Go check Spice Jet’s ad on Indian railway’s homepage.

It’s a simple business model. We have a fast, trendy and young population, especially in main cities. Everyone hates to take the pain of long train journeys and they do it even more. And in a country like India where displacements have always been lesser then distances, why do you need food, leg space and other avoidable facilities in a flight? The competition is increasing everyday. In fact it has reached such a stage where piece of meat is becoming the main attraction. Not the one you get to eat but the one you get to see. And why not, more then half of our population is below my age. B for business is the first word in the lexicon of Vijay Malaya. No matter if this trend last or not. Starting small airlines was a perfect example of recognizing a business opportunity and capitalizing on it. It’s about seeing through future. To give yet another example, let’s look at the business of matrimonial sites. Considering the average age of our country, sites like shadi.com were launched at the best possible time. They are enjoying the time what banks providing investments opportunities will in few years down the line.

It’s all about visualizing the future and visualizing it correctly. Only few in millions do so while others write blogs.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mangal Mangal!!!!!

An actor with tremendous potential, an off-beat director and a great music director, all with a backdrop of a great revolution. What do you expect? A good if not a great movie. But Mangal Pandey, the rising fails to fulfill this promise. All we get is extremely intense acting from Amir Kahn, 4-5 sensuous songs, tons of cleavage and a typical BollyWood movie bed scene. Otherwise the movie is much below the expectations built by Amir Khan’s Mangan Pandey appearances in last few years.

I have never been able to understand one thing. Why the hell on earth, every character in our movies must have a love story. He/she must sing songs, shed loads of tears and kiss only chins and cheeks when they are making love.

I hate reading but whatever history I have read, Mangal Pandey is not blessed with many words in history books. He seems to be a very small character in the great revolution. Still if Amir Khan and Ketan Mehta claim that they have done loads of research on the character, they deserve some credit. But what was the result of that research? Love stories?

Movie would have been much better if they would have given more importance to the symbols like “Roti” and “Lal Quila” than a Bengali widow sleeping with a British Officer. Wish they had paid more attention to the story than songs but making a movie in India without songs requires guts. Only Ramgopal Verma has those guts but unfortunately Mangal Pandey was neither an underworld don nor a ghost to interest Ramu.

All in all, it’s been an injustice to wait of four years for an Amir Khan movie. Yet another case of “would have been an epic tale”.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Morality is a heavy word

Bangalore is the most ideal city in India only if one could reduce its population by half, only if one could increase the size of roads by double or only if one could ……and there are so many ifs. Traffic really kills here. Few days back I was driving back home when a traffic policeman caught me. He asked me for my license, I did not have it. Bike-papers, I did not have them. Karnataka number, the bike did not have it. And on top of that I was drunk. I was due a fine for whole lot of things which would have eaten up whatever I had in my account. I used my bargaining skills and the policeman used his. Ultimately we settled down at some amount and the problem was solved. Its not called bribing someone, its giving respect to each other’s needs. I reached home; there was news on TV about some scam. For next two hours I, along with my friends, was discussing corrupt politicians & officials and how they are poisoning our system.
Morality is like a party for a truly unwanted reason. You can enjoy it only if you are not paying. All of us boast about our ethical values and complain about the irregularities & discrepancies in the system. “Wish I had a magic sword to eradicate this” is the most popular saying. But as soon as the sword seeks your own blood, either you will the first to run off or we design the sword so that it will not recognize your blood at all. One must be flexible right?
Australia has been champion side by some distance for quite a lot of years. Suddenly they have realized that greed to win has introduced tons of dishonesty in the game. And it’s their moral responsibility to force it out. So they offered a “walker” policy to England in the current Ashes series which says “Do not wait for umpire’s decision, just walk off”. Sometimes poor decisions do make bowlers toil harder then they should. And with aging bowlers, Australians definitely wanted to avoid it. But Ponting was disappointed to know that their opponents were inferior to them not only on playgrounds but also on moral grounds.
With in the span of few weeks, first conception met the bitter truth. And last evening, this bitter truth taught Ponting that flexibility is a trait one must have.
A Steve Harminson bouncer forced Ponting to play a false shot. Ball just kissed his gloves and Jones accepted the catch gleefully. A loud appeal and something very basic to human nature occurred. Ponting did not walk. The whole event took some 5 seconds, but one could see a 3 hours long BollyWood emotional drama on his face. The edge was clear even without a replay. But what if umpire misses it, what if umpire is bluffed with the honest image Australians have pretended in the series, what if……….? There were still 4 overs left to be played and next batsman due had a record for most number of ducks. Getting out at this stage was allowing an inroad to England to take a 2-1 lead in the series. “Did I promise to walk,….no way”. Why not take a chance? Even a nod from Billy Bowden did not make him walk. “Hey he just nodded his head; I am not out unless he raises his finger”. And he did.
“Tension, being indecisive, confusion, fight with your inner soul, pain are all feelings. One cannot see a feeling.” Is it so? Go watch his dismissal. It was all there on his face. Perhaps this was the only blemish in Ponting’s marathon effort to save the shame. But if you are bold enough to call yourself a gentleman, be brave enough to be one. Else do not pretend.
Morality comes at a heavy price. Be ready to pay for it before you honestly define it.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Day Full of Realizations.

It was a day full of realizations. It was a day when Michael Vaughn realized that being captain is not his only responsibility, he has to bat and score runs as well. It was a day when Ian Bell realized that he can play Shane Warne with his bat also. It was a day when Matthew Hayden realized that its not only wicket-keepers but also slip fielders need to crouch down and get up late to take catches. And it was a day when Team Australia realized that it’s not every day your opponent will surrender to you, just because you are Team Australia. And the biggest of the all, all of us realized that medical science has advanced so much that 2 cricketers, one walking on crutches and other in the hospital, could be made at the notice of only few minutes.
The match is beautifully poised. It’s not tilted in favor of England. I say so because this match reminds me of some other match. On Boxing Day, 2003 India was playing against Australia in Melbourne. They had just won the last match and their tail was up. At one stage Sehwag was murdering Australian bowlers and Steve Waugh looked completely clueless. He introduced Simon Katich to bowl his innocuous left arm spinners. Sehwag, at 195, was completely thrilled. He was even more thrilled when he saw a full toss from Katich, heaved it only to find a fielder in deep midwicket. At the end of the day, India was 350 for four and ultimately lost the match.
Yesterday Ricky Ponting was looking clueless against his counter part when he introduced Katich. Katich’s juicy full toss compelled a false stroke from Michael Vaughn who was looking ominous at 166. Vaughn did miss hit it to the same deep mid wicket fielder. At the end of the day, England was 341 for four.
Being so close to Independence Day, I sincerely hope that England learns absolutely nothing from Australian team and loose it in the manner India did an year and few months back.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Ashes: What has changed?


“While the England of old could have easily thrown away this match, today's England showed that they have the stomach to fight.”
Cricket is such a cruel and unfair game. I have simply copy-pasted above lines from one of the web sites where they were trying to suggest that there has been a revolutionary change in the balance between these two sides. The current England side is like never before in years.
But had Geraint Jones dropped that catch and the ball would have raced passed the fine leg boundary or had Michael Kasprowicz not nicked and hit next ball for four or had…………………. After all it was such a close call. Even if an extraordinary fielding effort saving a certain boundary by one tenth of a second would have failed, and even in that case we would have appreciated that effort, result was going to be in favor of Australia.
Same lines would have been writing about how Baggy Green guys never give it up, the “never say die” attitude they wear, they can win in any situation and what not. As for England, they just cannot win against Australians.
Being late by just one tenth of a second would have changed the history. Agreed this England side is better than the sides in recent past. Agreed they outplayed Australians for a considerable period of time in the test match, but still, has anything else changed.
England still seems to believe that Pieterson and Flintoff are enough to score loads of runs against Australians so others can save their form for future. They scored 407 on the very first day, but there was no Glen Macgrath to counter with. And the worst of all their beliefs, Shane Warne is a living legend; Every English batsman should donate his wicket generously.
That is the cruelty of cricket. You can always pull a length delivery. If you succeed, “Wow, the guy is such a good judge of length, can pull even good length balls. If you do not, “Has no one taught him the basics, pull only if the ball is shot of length?”
Difference between success and failure could just be a few millimeters on you bat.
Or taking the biggest example, remember that famous tie match between Australia and South Africa in 1999 world cup? Result was tie, means no team was better than the other. Still Australia got all the accolades because they qualified for the finals thanks to the tournament rules. Every one was either praising Australia for their game or crucifying South Africa for being chokers. But was the difference between the two sides was as big as it was shown? Donald run out was a goof up but were there none from Australia? What about the two simplest of catches dropped in final overs by Paul Reiffel or inability to stop Lance Klusner? Only if Klusner had saved one more of his so many bludgeons for that final over. With a changed result, Gibbs would have taken retirement without any guilt feeling.
But ifs and buts count only for those who write fiction. Reality is much bitter and cruel. And strangely all of accept the existence of luck which is nothing but a synonym for ifs and buts. But in case of failure only person who feels its existence is the victim. Like Australia would have been doing right now. Till then, let’s enjoy reading how this England side is a full of spirited and hungry-to-win cricketers.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Love-Hate Relationship.

India lost to Sri Lanka in the last match from a position any good team would have won. And next day you can find a link on a popular website, Villains for Indian cricket, and then follows a web presentation featuring Dravid, Sehwag, Ganguly as a villain. It’s a different matter Dravid averages 41, 37 and 57 respectively, in the seasons 2003-2005, Sehwag is proving to be one of the most destructive batsman in the world cup and Ganguly has been the best captain we have had so far.

Agreed. We have lost to Sri Lanka in last two matches and did not win as convincingly as expected against a second grade West Indian side. For that matter we have been doing quite badly in last one year. But that does not mean we need to term our players as villains. If they do not play well, criticize them, don’t crucify them.

But that has been the problem with Indian cricket for years. You win a match and media will go paint the town red as if we have won the world cup. You loose next and we demand our team to be thrown into Indian Ocean.

People complain that Indian team never lives up to what has been expected from it, they always perform below their potential and embarrass the country. But who asks you to have such high expectations. Did Mahendra Singh Dhoni ask TOI to write on its sports page, “We have got another Sehwag”, after his century in very second match against Pakistan. Or Sanajay Bangar asked these news papers to compare him with Tendulkar when he scored a hundred in Indian conditions against not such a strong attack. Articles like these build our expectations. And the very next day, in case of a failure, a derogatory article makes these Media-Made heroes look like good for nothing. Hence our attachment with the game is replaced by the attachment with cricketers, be it good or bad. In India we do not love cricket, we love cricketers. Otherwise why would we take more interest in Ganguly’s temple date with nagma as compared to Debashish Mohanty taking all ten wickets in a Ranji match? Actually how many of us even know that how many competitions we have at first class level in domestic cricket? “Who cares, all I just want Tendulkar to score a hundred in every match and win for us”. If he does not do so, throw him out to retirement. “He just plays for his own records, get some one else.” But get who? Considering the state of domestic cricket, we are not going to get Clarkes and Husseys as replacements. Our options are limited. And if we do get some one new, support him till he exhausts all the chances he deserves. But I did see Raina’s name in the list of villains. Give me a break mann!!! The lad has just played three matches, agreed he needs a lot of improvement, but do not turn him a national villain after just three matches. What about three splendid run outs? Do not forget, Ganguly was thrown out into the oblivion after just 10 balls in international cricket, but what a remarkable come back he has made.

But this is the way it goes in India, you score a 50 against Kenya on a dead track, you see a full page photo of yours in next day’s newspaper which will be painting the town red for you. You fail in next match, and could be rest assured that your house would have been painted black. It’s a perfect love-hate relationship or the same old story, success has thousand fathers but failure was born an orphan.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Need credit cards???


“Good afternoon sir. This is Laxmi from so and so bank. Do you hold any credit cards…..?” Most of us get these calls everyday. They can come anytime no matter if you are in a meeting, driving, facing wrath of your boss or getting cozy with your spouse. And the very natural reaction is, “What the F****?”

These companies hiring these callers make sure that you get a call from opposite sex. Well I do not mind receiving calls in such mellifluous voices as I hardly listen to a female voice in office. There are only three of them in my team, one is of my mother’s age, one is married and the one of my age does not speak Hindi and English has always been a distant dream for me.

Ever since economic boom in the country, products like credit cards and mobile phones are fast becoming omnipotent. And now service and product providers are feeling a desperate need for all Indians to have these, as many as possible. They will try their best to reach you in as many ways as possible, be it telemarketing, direct selling, mails or anything else still in pipeline.

I do not know about other countries, but in India, mobile spams are not a rarity.

If I am not wrong, this strategy comes under target marketing. Target marketing applies concept of identifying groups of people (targets) who are more likely to buy your product or service and then delivering the message directly through direct marketing techniques.

These organizations get your contact numbers from various sources, recognize you as a potential customer and target you. But is the strategy as effective as it should be. I do not have any data with me to support any of my arguments. Perhaps one of ten potential customers turns to be an actual one. In fact the only credit card I hold is because of one of such telephone calls. So probably the strategy is effective, just that extent of effect is debatable. But what about getting calls from same organizations to buy their services or products even after your continuous denial? Accept it or not, these calls are irritating more often then not. And repetition irritates even more. This is one aspect of the strategy which needs lot of attention.

A painful thanks giving.


AAAAAhhhhhhhhhhh…………..waiting desperately for my clock to tick 9:30. I have to because client wants to thank us for our hard work. Now there are two things wrongly placed. Number one, I did not do any hard work so why to hold me. And even if you want to thank me, thank you for your painful thank you. Actually my work is yet to get into production; else the same bugger would be asking my boss to hold me up in the office. I hope there is still sufficient time before this formal thank you turns formal threat.

And this clock is moving so slowly, I’ve absolutely no idea how to pass my time. And then I realize what else I have done since morning apart from clicking mouse here and there. So I’ll keep on doing it……btw the call is over and I m off….

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

News!!!!


Finally life is coming at its normal track in Mumbai. Although on of my friends told me last night that it is still raining there. No one knows extent of loss, be it tangible or intangible.

Although I am miles away from Mumbai, thanks to information media, I feel as if I have seen it all myself. You open any website, play any channel on television, chat with any of your friends or call anyone; there is a continuous flow of information about what is happening in Mumbai. In fact one of my friends was giving us a continuous update mails about the well being of my two other friends who were desperately trying to reach home.

Imagine same scenario few years ago, when access to internet meant that you must studying in one of the IITs, when carrying a mobile phone was a symbol of affluence and when DD was the only choice for most of us. You would have received same news and pictures hours, months later after all this happened. This tells us how the advent of new technologies has changed the meaning of life for us. You open your television and all entire channels will be showing you the same news with same picture, claiming that they were the first to get hold on them, and making sure if you miss it on one channel, you do not on other. This is true with every media. And suddenly you start getting bored, no matter what is the severity of the issue. One cannot watch same news all the time. On the other hand, these news providers try their best to sell it. No matter where you go, they will present you same dishes. If you do not want to watch wrath/pain of a common man, hang on. They will get you sexy Celina Jetley to share her experiences and she will tell you she did not move out that day because her cute, love and god knows what puppy was ill that day and how thankful she is to her puppy for saving her life. Or if you claim to be intellectually rich, they will arrange tons of talk shows for you. One thing is certain, they will make sure that you know that there has been flood in Mumbai, or a WTC has collapsed or Vivek Oberoi and Salman Khan are having a fight over Aishwarya Rai or What colors Lalu Prasad used for this holi or………..and the list goes on and on.

We can’t blame them solely. They show it because we see it. So it’s our fault not theirs. But what we do not realize is that too much of information dilutes the issue. You can listen to your partner’s grievances once, twice or may be thrice but not every time and everyday. More the repetition more is the dilution of emotions we should attach with any event. One of the most basic traits of human nature is, “At the end of the day, it’s not my house on fire. Why should I bother?”. And too much flow and repetition of information/news brings this very much avoidable trait to the surface. You’ll remember an instance for your lifetime it someone died in front of you, but what if you are a butcher yourself?

This consistently increasing pace of information is making life easier for us, but it is also making humanity less important by imprisoning in our self centered world where I takes precedence over we.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Cricket is back!!!

Finally the much awaited season for Indian cricket has started. Much waited because our generation’s most favorite news paper, and you all know why, has bored us enough by informing about the progress of Indian cricket. Sports page has been full of what Mr. foreign coach is doing and how he is going to reform our team. What exercise players are doing, with poster sized-pictures and what meals they are taking? What they have to say about their future and what their distant uncle’s neighbor has to. If you are looking for some sports news not related to this, try your luck. You might find a couple of lines about it somewhere near the corner.

About the matches, no batsman looked in form apart from Dravid. Batsmen are getting bowled because they are not able to judge the line. Sehwag is consistently dropping catches in slip region. Apart from Raina, every one has looked to be below their best in the field. Not sure what kind of tips, Mr. Chappel has given to the team. And so far both the matches have been played in, a welcome surprise, on bowler friendly pitches and against not such potent batting line-up. Bowling is yet to be tested.

About team combination, everyone was furious when India lost to Srilanka and there was no Kumble in the side. Tell me something, how do you get him in? I agree that he is a great bowler and currently enjoying the best time of his cricketing-life. But how to make a place for him? We had to play three pacers because conditions were so. And they did justice to their selection. Kumble would have played in place of Harbhajan but that would have changed only one thing. Harbhajan would have been receiving sympathies what Kumble is receiving now. Last option was to play six batsmen and five bowlers. After all we have such a formidable, though off late it has failed to deliver more often then not, batting line up. And if six batsmen cannot do the job, seven cannot do either. But if one looks at the record, it’s the seventh batsman who has been the savior in many cases.

Actually in conditions conducive to fast bowling, it’s a choice between Kumble and Harbhajan. And in these conditions only one can be included in the team, other will have to satisfy himself with 100 crore+ sympathies.

And team selection is going to be more troublesome as Laxman becomes fit, Dada comes back and Tendulkar’s elbow realizes that his game is cricket, not tennis. Then it will start what has been a bane for Indian cricket, a tussle for between current performances and past records as selection parameter. Seems like our problem is abundance of “potential talent”. But we have had that for so many years. It’s just that the potential has not been able in performing in most of the cases. But you never know about Indian cricket. Whenever you expect them to do well, they just don’t. And our expectation levels reach such a nadir that even an average performance after that seems to be excellent. But to their credit, whenever they’ve been considered as underdogs, they have done better than average.