Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hye yeh Angrejji!!!

One of the biggest regrets for me in life, except life itself, has been my inability to find terms with the language – English. Having studied in hard core Hindi medium schools which always boasted off their one sidedness in sexual diversity, this didn’t help either. Just look around at the fair sex in your vicinity, they converse in the language of queen with such effortless ease that a conversation in an Indian language looks fit enough for lesser mortals. I have always witnessed that it’s the presence of females or the effect of divine liquids forces even the worst to upgrade in their language. I have always faltered on the former, often flourished on the latter.

The main reason I took up blogging was to see if I would write anything apart from my name in this very language with the help of numerous helping aids available. I keep forcing my friends to read it and they have been kind enough with not so discouraging words in the name of sense of humour. I have never disappointed them by always rejecting the discouraging comments.

It’s always been confusing. Like is than is a comparative word or then? If the period between Monday to Sunday is week or weak?

I remember a friend of mine asking me over the chat after I had taken an off from the office due to some illness –

“How are you feeling today?”

“I am feeling week”, I said.

“Wow, I am feeling month”, his reply was.

Or how I never knew if a word separating an L & an N by I & O could mean something other than the king of the Jungle till I saw the movie “Loins of Punjab”. I still cannot differentiate the phonetic differences between these two words. I was explaining to my wife -

“We have nicknamed our MD as Loin”, I said.

“Why?” she asked in a surprisingly perplexed tone.

“Because he is the king of the jungle, my office”, this breed called females will never understand my sense of humour, I thought.

“Then say Lion, not Loin. Did you pronounce it as Loin deliberately? I am sure you did.” May be I should remove the derogatory remark in the previous statement.

“Yeah, I did”.

“To sound funny, But how? I don’t get it.” now reply to this. Thankfully I reached the omnipresent no network zone of Airtel and the leading lady in my life saved her husband’s embarrassment by not probing further into the matter in the comeback call.

But the best accident of a semantic failure I have seen in my life was during my graduation days – and yours truly was not the victim this time, just a catalyst.

The word this time was “pardon”. When someone says something to me and I fail to hear or understand, which often the case is, - I say, “Repeat please” (If I have to sound educated else I make faces to avoid blunders). We had heard the semantically intellectuals to be more stylish and use the word “Pardon” instead. So did this batch mate of mine, lets call him Mr. Babe Magnet which he was. Mr. Babe Magnet was shamelessly sleeping in the class with his head down on the desk. My jealous nature got agitated with his deep sleep and I suddenly fingered him in his ribs and told – the professor is staring at you. As he woke up, he heard the professor telling some definition. Believing that the professor was staring at him and to prove that he was attentive, he asked

“Sir, can you pardon the definition?” having heard the word so often, he actually though pardon means repeat.

“What?” the professor was more stunned with his rich knowledge of the language rather than him sleeping in the class which he wasn’t even aware of.

“Sir, can you pardon the definition?” he repeated his innocent question.

“Sure, but I cannot pardon you. Get out of my class.”

Mr. Babe Magnet got his wish. I learnt what the word Pardon actually means.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Ghost looks to be dead!!!

Television was a big luxury in those days and we had just bought it. I was a small kid of 7-8 years. I had seen India beating Pakistan in the finals of Champions’ trophy in Australia a couple of years ago. Till the day I am talking about, India had never lost to Pakistan at a neutral venue. I remember watching the match right from start and cheering for India in front of my black & white 14” television. But the only live action I still have fresh in my memories was the moment which went on to haunt India for almost a decade and a half or even more. Yeah, it was the famous last ball six by Javed Miyandad of Chetan Sharma which won them the Sharjah Cup. That very moment inexplicably changed everything between India-Pakistan ties. From there on all I remember that a loss to Pakistan in an ODI was expected with inevitability and accepted with our inability to beat them. No matter what the situation of the match was, some Salim Malik will appear from nowhere and score the faster 50 in ODIs at that point of time to score 72 of last 6 over’s or a mediocre pair of batsmen in form of Manjoor Ilahi and Salim Yousuf snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Sharjah. We mostly played Pakistan in Sharjah because we couldn’t play at each other’s den anywhere else due to political scenario in the sub continent. This doesn’t include other neutral venues like world cup in 1992 when we beat them with respectable margin and we still maintain the “all-won” record against them in world cups. But this victory was an exception as a rule.

I remember sprinting back from school to my home to see the famous Indo-Pak rivalry on a cricket field which mostly ended in capitulation from India. Another strange coincidence was – our inability to win against them on Fridays. Either the match would be one sided our hopes to win would be killed by some extraordinary performances like Aqib Javed’s 7 wicket haul which included a hat-trick. We complained about umpiring. We complained about the venues. We complained about our own team’s mental strengths. But we could not win. Finally we avoided playing in Sharjah which, at one point of time, had the record of hosting most number of ODIs thanks to the huge number of Indo-Pak ties hosted there. As soon as India stopped playing there, its ranking in the list of top venues hosting cricket ties started slipping drastically. India – Pakistan were playing more regularly and at each other’s home now and this also helped killing Sharjah as a cricket venue apart from its controversial connections.

More regularly we played; more was the dilution of intensity of these ties (especially from the viewer’s perspective). It’s become so regular that we would be playing against each other in a series for the third time in last 7-8 months. I know if we loose to them today, we can thrash them in this month in a different tournament.

Our record has also improved against Pakistan significantly. We have won 8 out of last 11 matches we have played against them. The current team seems to have come out of the trauma of that last ball six because most of them weren’t old enough to remember it and some of them were not even born. For them, Miyandad is not a miraculous tormentor to our bowlers but just a retired cricketer who keeps fighting to get the post of the coach for Pakistan. They do not have to face a “can bowl 6 balls in 12 ways” Wasim Akram or a “will certainly fracture your toe by his Yorkers” Waqar Younis or a “guest bowler invited to play against India as he bowls well only against them” Aquib Javed. The bowlers are not haunted by Pakistan’s “India Specialist” batsmen like Sayed Anwar or Ijaj Ahmed or Salim Malik. The current generation of players is not haunted by ghosts either as seen in last 80s and 90s. To me, this transformation started with the emergence of Sourav Ganguly in Sahara Cup’97. We lost by 3-2 in 96, won by 4-1 next year. Since then a match against Pakistan has not been a certain defeat. We didn’t win regularly but we didn’t loose before the toss either. It was getting a bit on even keel. They lost in 1999 world cup also although Wasim Akram (their captain) claimed to be taking this match as a practice match.

The next crucial juncture came in 2003 world cup. Pakistan had two old W’s and a very fast Akhtar. India had the best team they have played in World Cup as long as my memories go. If in 90s we capitulated at 180 odd against their 270 plus scores, in 2003 we chased it with perfection. If in 90s our openers simply surrendered to their pacers before no four could pad up, in 2003 Sachin Tendulkar massacred them. If in 90s our middle order thought they would never reach the target even if the openers gave a decent start, in 2003 Rahul Dravid/ Yuvraj Singh sailed through without even hinting to be in trouble even once.

Since then, India has beaten them in Pakistan by 3-2 in 2004. Very next year India lost to them in India by 4-2. In 2006, India defeated Pakistan by 4-1 in the most one sided manner and won the home series again by 3-2 comprehensively. I am not counting the series played else where like India lost to Pakistan in ICC Knockout trophy.

Today we play them again. Pakistan look a depleted side but every side does when they are loosing. Their officials have given them a thrashing which looks like more of a motivational tool. Do not be surprised if they look a different side today. Do not be surprised if India looks a different side today as we have the habit of slipping when on top.

But as of now, with exactly one hour to go for the match, India is the clear favourite. Most probably they will prove why. Even if they do not, at least they seem to have recovered from the ghost of that last ball six.



Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Fall out of Opium Trade!!!

Just trying to visualize the future –

Pakistan's star cricketer Mohd. Asif gets caught at Dubai airport for keeping illegal opium with him. Asif claims that the drugs were planted by airport official to have their revenge as he had slapped one of them. This gives rise to an international issue – Pakistan government does not want their genuine national hero (they are far and few in Pakistan) to get behind the bars for 4-6 years. Officials at Dubai Airport (if Asif's version to be accepted) want to prove him wrong because it jeopardizes their image.

Questions are being raised on how he managed to dodge the screening at Mumbai Airport.

Mumbai’s one of the most famous nephews who have global ambitions with local intellect claims that it must have been because of the screening was done by officials who belong to a certain part of the country. These people are dishonest and spoil the culture of his soil. He demands 80% reservations for locals and 32% for lower castes in airport jobs. Taking a cue from the book of a famous colonel from Haryana, he blocks all the train traffic from in and out of Mumbai which calls a chaos.

Thankfully we have a PM who understands us precisely as reflected in his statement below.

"I do believe that to the ordinary people of our country, games like hockey and football have [more] significance than the world of cricket."

(How incorrigibly correct?)

He calls for a peaceful solution for the problem. Mamta Banerjee opposes the PM’s request, not the nephew. Being an eternal leftist, it’s her duty to oppose whatever the government proposes. She calls for a nation-wide bandh in Kolkata. This disrupts Mayavati’s rally in Kolkata where she was to unveil finger pointing statue of Kanshiram and her own. The BSP head takes it as an insult to the sentiments of lower castes and declares to launch five more Kanshiram Parks where her devotees can establish her statue whenever they want.

Barkha Dutt calls for a debate on her TV show on NDTV with Superstar Tushar Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Mahesha Bhatt, Alec Padmsey representing public’s views and the effect of entire fiasco on Aam Aadmi. Mahesh Bhatt declares to make a film on Mohd. Asif. Viewers can send an SMS on weather Imran Hashmi should play the lead as Asif using there Spice Connection. Since Spice was one of the sponsors of Kings XI Punjab, person sending the maximum number of SMS would be rewarded with a DLF Maximum hug from Preity Zinta.

Spice receives over seven hundred thousand SMS and suddenly becomes profitable. Instead of selling of their stake to some foreign company, they persuade Mukesh Ambani to invest in it. Mukesh goes ahead for two reasons – One to have a weapon against his brother’s telecom arm and two to make Mumbai Indians a better team. As soon as he is told that in cricket a straight drive is much better shot than a push behind the middle stump, he drops Robin Uthappa and buys Rohit Sharma form Deccan Chargers. Royal Challengers buys him because they had too many of straight drivers in their team.

The famous nephew again complains that people are giving preference to migrants for Mumbai’s team and completing ignoring local talent like Vinod Kambli. For rest, please go to step second paragraph and re-read. To calm things down, Ambani hires Kambli’s wife as MI’s brand ambassador.

Anyhow, it was proved (at least it looks like so) that the drug was actually an ayurvadic medicine "Shilajit" and it was all a "misunderstanding".