Thursday, September 29, 2005

What's Your Age???

I just turned 27 this month. But if you divide the country’s population based on age, I’ll fall into the senior and less populated segment. Suddenly it all fills me up with nostalgia about my younger days. Shut up!!!!! I am still young and will be so for years to come.

But the size of younger segment and an opening economy has really changed the face and soul of our society. So has been the extent of changed that one of my friend changed his decision of shifting his kids from US of A to India because he found us a bit too modern for his liking. Believe me, I am not exaggerating.

There have been drastic changes in spending patterns. Spurred by the liberalization process, there has been a gradual move away from a supply-constrained economy to a demand-driven one. Moreover, the typical Indian consumer's mindset has changed as well. Austerity is no longer considered a virtue and debt is not a taboo any more in a typical middle-class Indian family.

As per KSA Technopark survey, 12.1% of annual income used to go in savings and investments in 1999. In 2002, the figure dropped to 5%. Spending on home appliances, movies, eating out, health care and so called hang-out activities have been much more than ever before. With so much of youth, we proudly say, “We have a productive future”.

Although I agree, these survey teams never reach the poorest and darkest parts of the country. Such an economy does lift the standard of living of middle class but it does increase the divide between those who badly need and those who already have.

But what is the fate of this demand driven and consumption based economy after 10 years. If the average age of country is around 25-30 currently, it will be touching 35-40 in next 10 years.

Come ‘on, at 40 you cannot go out and booze everyday. You will have kids to worry for. You will have the cut off for retirement of 58 years to watch for. And you will have a whole lot off things to watch for. Suddenly the spendthrift youth will turn a “save for future” matured. The saving bug will catch up with most of us. It might well be a U turn to supply driven and saving based economy. But what about all these pubs, malls, cinema halls?

Its not that whole nation will turn old. But they will definitely draw lesser crowds and hence face a challenging economical misbalance.

This is the problem, if a country has age distribution which is dominated by a particular age group. The fate of the economy becomes highly age driven. It gets into a vicious cycle and takes ages to come out of it.

But vision and economics are the two words non existent in my dictionary. So if even a synonym of one of these two words exists in your dictionary, you have all the rights to disagree with me. But that does not deny me of my right of writing any crap I like.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Let's Just be Friends!!!!

I received a mail titled “of Break-ups & Friendships (written by a gal)”. It started with the lines “Let's just be good friends.”

And I could not help but agreeing with the rest of the content. The most painful words you can ever listen to if you have been in love. It is not my personal experience but I have been tired of writing about cricket. So why not write on something least expected from me.

It has always been the most painful bane of one sided love affairs. “Oh ho, you have been such a nice friend, let it be the way it has been.” “I see you as such a close friend, but I am sorry. You cannot be more than that”. Words feel like molten glass into your ears. You feel like killing the person who is designing and decorating you with adjectives and ending the sentence with a painfully killing six letter word “friend”.

“To hell with friendship, I am person good enough to have loads of friends.” “Bloody hell. I did not need to speak my heart out, just to find out if I was a good friend of yours or not. ” Come’ on. You cannot speak it out.

“You are a gem of a person, but not of my kind.” Or “I cannot help it if I like someone else”. Or “I am not the right person for you. I’ll only spoil your life”. These are the standard replies you get.

And you reply, “hmmmm….okay. That’s fine”. Not to forget, with a cute and crying smile on your face. But deep down you heart you are like “Wish I could kill you bitch/bastard”.

Slowly you start telling your self, “Life is much more than just valuing a person more than you should. Get on with it”. Alcohol and few friends come as a savior for you.

It is the decision time. If you have been intelligent enough to realize that life is bigger than a four letter word, it starts becoming better for you. But if you have been foolish enough to fall for the adjectives about your friendship, only God can help you. Its like a cancer, infection just multiplies. Chemotherapy is not the answer, only a surgery can heal it. As the time passes by, even a surgery may not save you. You spend nights and nights just to wait if a no will turn yes. But that does not happen. Because the other person knows, he/she has a perfect backup to fall upon. It becomes like smoking, you know it kills but just cannot live without your cigarette.

While your counterpart simply enjoys the attention you give to him/her. But you cannot help but let him/her enjoy. May be you become a bit too wary of loosing out on the sunk cost. The wait for the pain to end continues.

Meanwhile, if you have been suffering by the trauma explained above, simply avoid me. In true sadist spirits, I’ll make you feel the pain even more than it actually is.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Earning 175k USD does take some doing!!!!

There is one thing I like about software industry. You are never short of any information. Greg Chappel wrote an email to BCCI few days back. It does take sometime to leak out such confidential documents, but just take few seconds to spread the word. I have received three copies of the mail from three different sources and in three different formats. And EOD still seems pretty far.

When BCCI started the most high profile quest in the history of world cricket, search for India’s coach, it was a fortune on offer. Contacts and brand image took precedence over the past proven records. BCCI managed to miss Dave Whatmore and hired the man with great aura and a huge mouth, Greg Chappel. It followed by loads interviews, news about his magical methods and magnanimous promises that he will change the fate of Indian cricket.

Within the first few months of his stint got started, we are facing the biggest controversy in last 5 years. To be fair, there has not been any controversy in Wright era. I do not want to get into the discussion of who should captain India or what should be the composition of final eleven. That is a different matter all together.

But if such is the chaos created, God help Indian cricket. If Ganguly was wrong in leaking out the talk between him and Chappel, who is responsible for the email leak out?

I agree that on batting performance, Ganguly does not deserve a place in the side. In Australia, they pick the best 11 first, and one of them captains the side. And if anyone performs below par, chuck him out. You chuck out one Mark Waugh, you get Katich. Michael Clarke forces out Darren Lehman. But this is India. We have not been able to find out a specialist opener ever since Gavaskar retired. Wicket keepers enter with loads of promise and disappear into oblivion with in no time. That’s what dada said when he was made captain, “We lack serious talent”. We do not have readymade talent as in Australia. We need to mushroom and groom talent and tolerate their failure. If dada is blamed to spoil Kaif’s and Yuvraj’s test career today, it’s his policies of being patient with them that they have groomed to become a threat. I do not want to comment on Ganguly’s inclusion in the side in the current squad. But what message you send across the team by saying that if you do not perform, just move out. No chances given, no questions asked.

Young brigade was the biggest gun in Ganguly-Wright era because it was given the confidence that the will to perform will get precedence over failures on the field. If you have will and talent, it does take command of the situation sooner or later.

Chappel missed the whole point here. He tried to be a bit too fast in his methods. It ended as a bit too furious. It was “Lets drop off the garbage ASAP” attitude. But we mostly have garbage. So you have to find out the best from the same lot again and again. We do not have many and ‘worth trying’ replacements. And such a step hampers the confidence of our over hyped (not their fault, mind you) cricketers badly. We are so used to of protected economy. A sudden free trade is seen as a murderer for us. But protection does bring in ‘must avoid’ complacency. To keep it away is a Himalayan task. But then, you do not get a suit in Taj Residency and 175 thousand USD for writing blogs.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Let's give the Devil it's Due.

As expected, India wrapped up the series with ultimate ease. There was no resistance from Zimbabwe. And where is their future heading, no one knows.

But spare a few thoughts for Heath Streak and Tadenda Taib, probably the only world class players Zimbabwe has.

Cricket is not the number one game in Zimbabwe. Even in mid and late 90s, when Zimbabwe cricket was seeing its best days, they were selecting their player from a limited bunch of cricketers. Fending a sponsor was a problem even them. Playing for Zimbabwe not being a lucrative career option forced many key players like Neil Johnson to move out of the country. To make the matters worse, Mugabe appeared with his political theories. Whether they were right or wrong, they did hit their cricket badly. With in next few years, they lost most of their stars of 1999 world cup. Age, fitness reasons and politics deprived them off the talents like Flower brothers, Whittel, Johnson, Olonga and many more. These names may not be world record holders, but they are good enough to make any side a competent one.

All black policy brought Taibu as the captain of Zimbabwe. And he has been a real star for them. No team can expect anything extra from a player. Zimbabwe’s attack has been kind enough in allowing opposition to pile on runs and runs. Taibu keeps wickets for all that time. Only help he gets from his talented (???) bowlers is the rate at which opposition is allowed to score. So if with a normal team he would have kept for 100 overs for a certain score, his bowlers don’t let him keep more than 80 overs for same score. Then he has to bat as a pseudo opener. He is generally in within a few overs. If that is not enough, he has to roll his arm over to break partnerships.

Now Heath Streak. The guy is a good enough all-rounder to get a chance in any of the English counties or in Australian or South African domestic cricket. But he refuses to do so. I do not know about his bank balance, but he is definitely missing on some extremely good opportunities abroad. He is their best bowler by far, best fielder and apart from Taibu, only BATSMAN in the side. Just imagine the amount of hard work he needs to put in to keep him fit. Without Heath Streak, Zimbabwe’s attack is not even club level.

I salute to the grit and determination of these two cricketers. Wonder where they get the motivation to get them going. Especially if they do not get the respect and recognition they deserve.

It is easy to call Shane Warne the best leg spinner so far and spend rims of papers writing about him or about Shachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara or any other cricketing legend. No denying their talents, but they always got enough rewards and claps to keep them going. And there is no better motivation than your hard work being recognized.

But as per two Zimbabwe players, there is no external motivation. They have to generate it from within.

And why should there be any external motivation? Bottom line is, there team is a failure, and so are their efforts.

It’s so typical of human nature. Success has many fathers, failure dies as an orphan.

Be it cricket or life, success is always a result of an equation which contains four letter word called luck. If Taibu was born in the poverty of Zimbabwe and not India, it is not his fault. There is nothing he could have done about it. And if Shane Warne was born in the affluence of Australia and not in Zimbabwe, there is nothing he has done in it. Luck ends there, it’s your hard work, grit, determination, mental toughness and achievements what make or break a person. All these are purely in his/her hands. And if the person has been honest enough to acquire all these, give the bloody respect he/she deserves.

On these parameters, Streak and Taibu are no smaller players than any of the big names. But a four letter word has handicapped their efforts forever.We never do it, even though we all fall prey to this trait.

Sometimes human nature becomes the most fetid creature on this planet. It skinks only when the pain is in our own hearts.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Stop "Ganguly Bashing!!!!"

“I have always been the whipping boy.” That’s what Suarav Ganguly said when he failed to earn a berth in Asian XI playing against African XI. Forget it, there are some very good in-form batsmen in Asia. You cannot completely disagree with the selectors even if you stay in Behala. Even I did not disagree with the selectors.

Today, Dada scored a hundred against Zimbabwe. It was a slow one. Although I have not seen the match, but I am sure it must have been a patchy one. But an international hundred is a hundred. And it did help India in scoring a match winning score. No matter how many balls Ganguly faced how many lives he got and even he managed to run out Laxamn by his notorious running between the wickets, he does deserve a pat on his back. Instead, all my colleagues were praying for him to get out ASAP. “Ganguly should be thrown out”. But tell me why? And tell me who will replace him as a captain.

Let’s get this straight. Ganguly is not in the side for his batting prowess, he is in the side for his leadership qualities. Leave aside his record, he has been instrumental in grooming talents like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Kaif, Pathan and many others. A good captain is not just about winning; it’s also about designing future.

Ganguly has been more successful than other captains in the recent past.

Forget it all. If you remove Ganguly, someone will have to captain the side. Tell me who? We have very few options,

1. Dravid, but do you put your backbone over your head? He goes out to bat within the first few overs because more often then not, Sehwag’s madness gets precedence over his madness. Agreed, let him captain the side. But remember, with Sachin never fully fit, you risk of loosing your best batsman. And then Ganguly and Dravid are of same age. It does take some time to mature as a captain. By the time Dravid matures as a captain, time for him to say goodbye will not be far away.

2. Sachin, but we have seen him in the past. He is a great cricketer but a poor motivator. And his injuries are so fond of creating epic tales. For his name in the squad, rarity has taken precedence over regularity.

3. Sehwag, a remote possibility. But looking at the current side, only he has the certainty of a place among the youth brigade. But its way too early to let him lead the side.

Mike Brearly played 39 tests for England with a batting average of 22.88. He captained England in 31 tests, won 18. Brearly is regarded as the best cricket captain ever played for England. Looking at his record, it is crystal clear that he could hold on to his English cap only because of his captaincy skills.

Compared with him, Ganguly averages 38 as a captain. Why cannot we do the same with Ganguly? Just that England had a very good option as Brearly (Botthom played under him); we do not have any choice.. His last year has been a total disaster. But name one player who has performed consistently since then. Even Dravid was clueless in the series against Australia. Just give Ganguly one more chance as a captain. I agree if he is not captaining the side, he does not deserve a place in the side.

But I admire Ganguly for his grit, mental toughness and determination. When the entire country is against him, he is standing tall and scoring runs. Does not matter to me if its against Zims, a test hundred is a test hundred.

To hell with Behala if it does not support Ganguly, I support out Indian captain.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Let's Laugh.

Are you sick of Ekta Kapoor’s painful soap operas which are all about family problems, extramarital affairs and loads of tears? Where no one is a legitimate child of his/her parents? Watching one single episode means you cannot have the courage of watching the entire serial for next few months. And if you are stupid enough to watch it again after few months, you wonder as if time stood still for last few months.

Ever since cable TV entered our lives, lot has changed. As far as I remember, it all started in early 90s. Before that, it was all Doordarshan. And DD always ensured that entertainment through television was a luxury. Consider yourself lucky if you get 2 movies a week, forget asking what movies. You get to few some songs every week in Chitrahar or Rangoli. Although they were so repetitive that sometimes radio sounded better than your television set. As far as sports, you were at complete mercy of DD.

But things started changing in 90s. It’s changed so much that I wonder if people, especially in cities and town, remember that there is a channel called DD.

But excess of everything is bad. If DD provided entertainment like a trickle, cable TV is pouring it in abundance. But excess kills quality. And you do not only know it, you feel it when you reach home everyday. We just swap channels instead of watching anyone of them.

But after so many years I have liked a TV serial so much that I actually watch commercials in each episode as well, just to make sure I do not miss anything. And it is true with most of the people I know. “India’s Greatest Laughter Challenge” is like a new product in the world of TV serials. It falls in the category of “Meri Aawaz suno”, or “Fame Gurukul”. But skills tested deserve much more respect than they have been credited with.

To be a singer, you must be blessed with an audible voice. And then you can learn singing. But to be a comedian, its all about your wits and timing, you do not need any god gift. To make it more difficult, no one can teach how to make others laugh. Plus, you need to be an excellent observant.

Comedy is such an ironical art. A below average singing performance can easily avoid crowd’s rage. But a slightly below average comedian, forget it. Crowd will teach you the meaning of the word “nightmare”.

But this serial makes sure that you have few tickles it not a loud laughter. At least their top three performers always force you to smile. Be it “Buddha Gabbar” by Raju Srivastava or “ Bhavnaon ko samjho” by Sunil Pal or hilarious style of Ehsan Quraishi.

Keep going guys. I have paid in five figures for my television set. I want a payback.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Raining Ashes!!!

I am not an Australian supporter. Neither have I carried any form of animosity against England team. All I wanted was a good cricket series. And what a wonderful series it has been.
But I do believe in destiny and my belief has been strengthened by the way rain god showed his bias towards England. England wrapped up Australia’s 7 wickets with in the span of few overs. But it was a blessing in disguise for Australia. From that point on, only two results were possible.
Either England could bat out for 90 overs or so, score 300 odd runs and try to bowl out Australia in nearly 50 overs. Most likely result was a draw.
Second possibility was that Australia could bowl England out for a small total and then chase it. And if overcast condition could help Hoggard and Flintoff so well, they would have definitely helped Macgrath even more. Plus, there was, more than even desperate to take wickets, Shane Warne to tackle. He claimed England’s highest scorer of the first innings with a hard new ball. God knows what was in store for the future. But unfortunately for Australia, it was just dark and gloomy clouds. If Shane Warne was given a chance to make a wish, he would have wished night vision for English eyes.
I liked the way English and Australia supporter’s reactions. One party was too eager to show off their umbrellas where as the other one was dying to take their shirts off. It really cannot get better then this.
Today Australia has only 98 overs to protect their 16 years old glory. A result is very unlikely. But Warne will believe that “It takes just 10 balls to get a team out.” Yet another engrossing day of cricket is insured. But no matter how small the cloud is, it can always hide the sun.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Man is an animal: A social one.

One of my friends has suggested me to read a book called "How to win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I’ve just gone through the brief of the book, courtesy google. It suggests not to criticize, condemn or complain, to give honest and sincere appreciation and to arouse in the other person an eager want along with other tons of things. All in all, it teaches us to just be goodie-goodie. The book seems to be talking a lot about friendship and love as well.

But is it not common sense not being very common. All of us want everything to be nice to us. We all like others being polite to us, we all like criticism in its sweetest sugar coated packing. Who does not want to be pampered by others? But like a true fast bowlers, even though we love to receive juicy full-tosses while batting, we try our best to deliver hostility while bowling. When we are down, we want others to show the niceties of an angel, but never miss a chance to pass the harshest of comments. Hypocrisy and humans start with the same alphabet. Politeness and humbleness are rare entities.

Or probably it’s the animal instincts in human blood. Even in this age when modernization belongs to the list of clichés, murdering a human is not completely illegitimate. One just has to have a reason for it, be it war or capital punishment.

Similarly love is not the first word starting from L. Lust is. The greed to satisfy one’s basic needs will always supersede the intellectual richness of humans. And it will never let us learn the meaning of love. To love someone, you may not see him/her at all, leave aside talking or meeting. But human mind starts from meeting and ends at mating. Lust wins over love. It’s your greed for meat like animals. This want for meat is to mate.

Probably man is not destined to be a human. He will remain an animal forever. Just that he calls himself a social animal.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Resuffling the Pecking Order.

Ian Chappel predicted a 3-1 result before the series. And it could well be true. What a great Oracle? Only difference is, it’s exactly opposite to what he predicted. After 16 years, England is all set to bring its glory back. The last test at Oval will reshuffle the pecking order in test cricket.
Picture looks perfect for England but for Simon Jones’ ankle. Their batsmen are in form and more importantly leg byes are not the only options for them against Shane Warne. Flintoff seems to have decided to send Ian Bothom into oblivion.
They just need to find out a hiding place on the field for their “best fielder” Pietersen. He belongs to a different breed all together. Rahul Dravid made us wait for ages to score his first test ton. Agarkar took 6 years to get his first five wicket haul in tests. But why just talk about batsmen and bowlers. Pietersen has decided to earn some respect for fielders also. And whole country is waiting for his first catch.
Picture does not look so rosy for Australia. Macgrath is still fighting injuries. People run away from retirement. Heyden seems to be doing exactly opposite. Gillespi is making all kinds of terrifying faces but still not tasting any success. Looks like as if even lady luck has decided to use her travel Visa.
Australia has ruled the world cricket for so many years. I think it’s high time some other team takes over. This is extremely essential for cricket to sustain as a game. Even a 2-1 lead has made it the numero uno game in England. Just wish, one day, India also realizes its belongingness pecking order.