Sunday, September 21, 2008

Defying Expectations!!!

Apt title is not “exceeding expectations” because it goes either way. But for all its shortcomings, team India is exceptionally consistent in one thing, proving the expectations wrong. When you expect the team loaded with most formidable middle order to murder a rookie spinner who had just sent tremors in the Gen-Next to follow, they fall flat to him. Few months back when you expected the same team to surrender meekly in the most deadly track against two lightening fast quickies in Perth, they came out winning. Be it 2007 world cup debacle or charismatic come back in 2003 world cup, they have always flourished when very few expected them and floundered when very few did not expect them to do so.

Hence, when a year back when Dhoni was handed over the captaincy for the T20 world cup, team India was written off even before the members got their security checks done at the airport. The experienced spearheads of batting line up opted out of the tournament – one because the format was almost alien hence not taken very seriously and two because they considered themselves too old to play a bang-bang game. It was taken as just a platform to test the new generation players. For any tournament which consisted of teams other than minnows, a team without Sachin, Dravid or Ganguly could not be imagined in last 8-10 years. If there was a team like this, it was a second string side like in common wealth games in 1998. Reason given behind choosing the young team was – it’s the fastest version of the game which has no place for people over 30. Critics said – what will the team do by saving runs as no one in the side is capable of scoring them. Anyhow, they did leave for South Africa.

India had just played one T20 match before the tournament and there was not much in the domestic cricket as well. The batting was relying on the shoulders of Sehwag who was making a comeback after a consistent inconsistency in ODIs, Yuvraj Singh who was struggling for form since world cup, Dhoni who was considered to be more of a pinch hitter, Gautam Gambhir who had a habit of pulling a short ball to boundary and getting out on very next short ball, Robin Uthappa who was hardly an year old in international cricket, Rohit Sharma who was, well just a name. Bowling department did not have a Zaheer Khan making it look completely inexperienced. Although, it did have RP Singh who bowled exceptionally well in England and a promising Shree Santh but they also had an ever inexplicably selected Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan who was re starting after his journey of next Kapil to nobody.

Australia was the most favorite contender for the cup for the reasons well known. Apart from South Africa and New Zealand, England was another favorite and seen as dark horse because they did play a lot of T20 games in their domestic cricket. India was considered good enough to get the title of “also ran”.

What followed in next 13 days was something which was going to be a miracle.

First match against Scotland should have been taken as more of a formality to reach the Super eight. But team India has recently had a casualty in form of a formality in WC2007. The match was washed off meaning India was almost certain for the next round. “So what, reaching super 8 was not a big deal by any means in this format” was a typical remark. Though the same format cost a great deal to West Indies cricket board’s revenue just 4 months back.

If team batting first set a target of 142 in IPL, the match was considered to be lost for them. But IPL was not invented yet. No one knew how to approach a target in these games plus wet conditions, good tight bowling and exceptional energy shown by Indians on the field made it look like a real tough one. After a lot of twists and turns, when 1 run was needed of last 2 balls, match ended in a tie which India won in a bowl-out. Most of Indian supporters, as the tradition has been, considered it as the world cup win. When they did not know was that their team had not only won the match but also a very good friend in Misbah-Ul-Haq.

When India lost next match to New Zealand, it looked as if the team had run out of fuel after the last match. As always, every match in the cup became crucial for them. Yuvraj Singh’s six 6s won India the next match against England. Yuvraj Singh created history but since then he has been living in the memory of that one over.

Vey next day India played against the hosts South Africa which not only had firepower in bowling line up but was also an exceptional fielding side. India needed to win this match to stay alive in the competition. South Africa could do even without a win but the margin of defeat needed to be small. Just before the start of the match, India lost Yuvraj Singh to an injury. “Ah, same old bad luck and it’s the end of tournament for India” was a typical reaction looking for an excuse in a perceived defeat. After a decent start, India slumped to 61/4 with Yuvraj Singh’s replacement Dinesh Karthik scoring a first ball duck. Dhoni and Rohit Sharma took the score to 153 and India had defended a score lesser than this before. Well, South Africa clearly showed why Steve Waugh allegedly called them Chokers. Brilliant bowling and superb fielding suffocated their batting. Dinesh Karthik might have scored a duck but he did take a splendid catch to dismiss Graeme Smith.  

India was into the semi finals. But it was to be till semi finals because they were meeting Australia there. Circa 2003 WC?

Someone needed to do something spectacular in all the departments of the game to beat Australia. Yuvraj Singh scored 70 off 30 balls and India set a mammoth target of 189. Shree Santh gave away only 12 runs in 4 overs and clean bowled both the Australian openers. Team fielded brilliantly. With 31 needed of last 3 overs, Australia suddenly lost it. A team which was not given any chance by most of its supporters had beaten the mighty Australians to reach the finals.

The Finals – India V Pakistan. Organizers of at least 6 world cups would have prayed day in-day out for this but God did not listen to them. South African organizers must have prayed really hard this time.

Like the first match between these two sides, the final too went all the way to the wire. When the middle order failed, Gambheer’s 75 took India to 157. When Pakistan was reeling at 77/6, their friend of the first match Misbah took the center stage and looked like winning the match alone. When 13 were needed of 6 balls, Dhoni gave Joginder Sharma the last over. May be Chetan Sharma was to be reincarnated after 1986. It soon became 6 of 4. But just then Misbah failed second time in a row when he must not have and his dreaded scoop landed in Shree Santh’s hands.

India had won the inaugural T20 world cup. The miracle had happened.

What followed were celebrations and celebrations and celebrations till they got too vulgar. But the team did play exceptionally well and will be celebrating the first anniversary of this win on 24th of this month. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Happy Birthday Again!!!

Finally after an on-paper birthday and an averaged out birthday, here it comes – my real birthday which is today. I wish myself from the deepest core of my heart and expect everyone else to wish me from the deepest core of their pockets. Birthdays, as you get older, present numerous opportunities. They have given me my only chance in the entire year to thank my bosses when he wishes me as other occasions of thanksgiving have been rare - a good appraisal as I have hardly stayed anywhere to get appraised or appreciation for good work as I have hardly had any work at any of the places I have worked. Birthdays increase my orkut scraps by a decent amount and I can massage my ego by telling my self how popular I am. It gives chance to interact with some annual friends who I talk only during birthday greeting conversations. Those who owe me money prefer sending SMS. Those who have lent me some money, make sure they do wish me on this auspicious day. However I have decided that I will do a reverse this time, call back to say thanks in reply of an SMS and cut the call and send thanks as SMS replies. I know I would be busy sending SMS most of the times. It is also a chance to get sweet birthday messages from old flames leading to a quick chat. No flames in my case though as I have always liked Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire”. Actually, it never burnt also.  

As I try to look down the memory lane which is getting longer and longer, I recall some of my most memorable birthdays

Pre Dravidian Era – I mean the year before 1996 when Rahul Dravid made his debut. All I knew about 9th September was that it was my date of birth. I never celebrated my birthday on this day. For all those products of Lord McCauley’s conspiracy against the culture of our motherland, we have our own calendar and my birthday was celebrated as per that calendar. It was in 1996 when my school friends (5 of them) celebrated my birthday and I spent a grand sum of INR 72/- in a restaurant which was the highest amount I had ever spent without my parents being with me. My dal Khichadi for today’s lunch billed me as much. Someone has said that money loses its value with time. I add - I lose money with time.

 1999 – It was a special day. For the first time during my graduation, a by default bottom ranked guy was about to walk shoulder to shoulder with his “scholar” classmates. First, let me give a bit of backdrop to the story. 4 of our classmates were always in the bottom 4 in any subject and we called our group “Harkat-ul-ansar” which it was for the academically inclined – a terror for academics with your truly as one of the proud member of this highly notorious group. Coming back to the day, I had scored 20 out 20 in a subject which had 3 parts of 10. I was expecting 10 out of 10 in the third part as well which would have been my only moment of academic glory in more than two years in college. Answer sheets were corrected and displayed. I got 9 out of 10 and was highly disappointed. For the first time in my life, and last also, I went fuming to the respected professor’s (an old man from the lands of Jats)  room and asked for the justification of denying me that 1 mark which would have given me a chance to look down the topper of the class – he got 29.

Me - “Sir, I should have got 10. You have given me 9.”

Respected Professor - “That is because you deserve so much. I wonder how you managed even 9.”

I pick out answer sheet of one of the toppers and throw it in front of him.

“Sir, you can match my answer with him. In fact I have written it in a better manner. This fellow has even missed several steps”

“How dare you compare yourself with XXX. How the hell you do it”

“But sir…”

“No if, no but…sirf Jatt”

Okay, I made up the “sirf Jatt” part but “No if, no but” was so thunderous that even Sunny Paaji copied it in Jo bole Sonihal. Anyhow, this was my only birthday when I made a resolution and have not broken it till now – never to see my answer sheet after the exams and take it to a professor seeking some clarifications.

2003 – For most of you who primarily ask “How much is ikyasi?” when someone says 81 in Hindi, it may sound strange but I did cut my first birthday cake in 2003. At home, it was always celebrated in traditional manner where cake was mainly referred as Gobare ka Chhot (a heap of cow dung) and blowing candles was considered to be against our culture. Not that I missed cutting cakes though. In fact traditional celebrations were much more overwhelming.

Only place I found cake cutting as a tradition after leaving home was at IIM Calcutta. Tradition was, you cut your birthday cake, blow off the candles before that, distribute Mishti (sweets) kept in a Handi (mud – pot, not sure what it is called in queen’s language) among everyone present and go booze.   

What used to happen was – get bumps i.e. 20 odd desperate souls would be bashing your butts with wet chappals, belts, bottles and whatever hard they could find? Then you would be asked to cut your cake with a Gudang Garam put on it instead of candles, as soon as you near your face to the cake, it would be dumped into the cake. Everyone else would be looting and distributing the rest of the cake where as you would find some eggs put inside your underwear and people kicking them to explode. As soon as you realize the presence of nature’s best hair conditioner in the most unexplored caves of your body (assuming you are not a George Michael fan), you would soon be thrown sweets (i.e. Rasogullas) on you. Then you would be taking bath in the sweet jelly of Rasogullas, soon the Handi would be put on your head and people would be trying their karate skills to break it. Some sane souls are always around to make you run from everyone before you are mobbed to be given electric shocks after having made to sit on an iron chair. Luckily, the second part never happened. You would rush to the bathroom to take bath and since you are so body-painted with your annual gifts, you would decide to take it seriously. But soon you would find yourself painted in blood – it’s the mosquitoes and mid night is when they are merry making in the bathrooms. Finally you get the sweetest of all the gifts – the Royal Stag Whiskey with soda. People generally wait for their birthdays for multiple reasons but with the recipe of celebration given above, you might actually prefer to fall sick on your birthdays especially with some big ulcers on your bums.

2006 – A bike ride to INOX in beautiful Pune weather and seeing a movie with not so many in the hall – sounds like an interesting date. Just that I had an 82 kg Male friend sitting next to me and we were watching bollywood’s first ever adventure thriller Naksha. As we came out, it started raining and it was so heavy that we had to swim our way back on the bike.         

Okay, last one was no where close to being interesting. May be some would say the same about the entire post. But be nice, drop comment and drop appreciating comments. And in case you want to give me a birthday gift, my preference is  cash. 

Friday, September 05, 2008

The said and the meant!!!

HR of a company to you after the interview – We will get back to you.

  •  We will call you if we can’t get a cheaper labor than you.

HR of the same company to you after the interview – We will get back to you soon.

  • We might call you as you are coming really cheap but just don’t send me a mail as soon as you get out of this building.

 HR of the same company to you after the interview – We will definitely get back to you soon.

  • Just get lost.

HR, okay of a different company, during the negotiations for the pay package – Yeah, we are in the process of finalizing your salary structure. I will call you back.

  • You have asked for something which even your interviewer is not getting. Drop your price, come and take your offer letter.

In reply to a query regarding your project from someone – I will get back to you regarding this.

  • I simply copy-pasted the stuff. Just don’t call me again.

You call up your client – Sir, is it right time to talk? In case you are busy, may by I shall give you a call tomorrow.

  • I called up to tell you I am working on your case. Now don’t call my boss and ask about the progress.

In reply to a question during a presentation – In the interest of time, can we take this offline?

  • Who the hell told you to be so inquisitive? Just keep your mouth shut and fuck off.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

There is something in the name!!!

We all cherish our college days little bit of beer and “Best days of my life” in the background. I am restricting it to a bit of beer because my track record with beer has never crossed this limit without me being off my foot. We want to carry almost all the memories with us as we move ahead in life but for a few. For some it’s the dismal show in what they were supposed to do there - studies, for some it’s the lost cause in what they were not supposed to do there – politics, for some its what they were supposedly doing there – ILU-ILU whereas for lot of us, it’s the nicknames that we want to get rid of especially with growth in age and family.

I had this realization not so long back when I was talking to one of my friend who was nicknamed Mama.

Dude!! Good news. We have had a baby boy”

“Arey sala, badhayi ho Mama” (Congratulations, translating for semantic psuedes)    

“Dare you call me Mama again? We are no longer kids. In fact I have just had a kid.”

He was right. With his nickname being much more popular than his actual name, he can’t get more embarrassed than his son calling him Mama one day.

Nicknames were always an attempt to pull other’s leg based on their typical characteristic. Like if someone has the habit of dropping his drunken friends to the safety of their rooms and then lecturing next morning, he would be called Bappa. Any girl with a visible weight over 75 Kgs would be Gadda(mattress) and if the weight at right places, she would be BMW. The one who teaches well when asked and preaches a lot when not asked would be Baba. If you have come from some unheard place like Sasaram or Fatua, you know what your nickname is. If you have the most wanted collection of visuals/text in the college days, your name invariably is Pondy.

Sometimes they did become insulting and gave/could have given genesis to strange scenarios. Like if a girl was nicknamed Ghodhi(mare), the typical term of getting married – “Ghodi Chadhna” would have become ironical for her would be. Hence if someone asks her boy friend about their marriage plans –

Aur Guru, Ghodhi kab chadh rahe ho?”, (When are you riding the mare or when are you getting married)

He must be thinking, “Roj hi chadhta hoon aajkal” (I am riding everyday these days)

Or you won’t like your girlfriend to be asked by someone, 

“Hey, are you serious about him?"

"Yeah"

" Do you really love Chaddhi (Underwear)?”

As time goes by after getting out of college, people do tend to get rid of these embarrassing tags attached to their names, especially if they are nearing the threshold of their marriageable age. If everyone calls you Bhai (Brother), you won’t like your wife to fall in the habit of calling you so. You would surely not like a discussion like this among your children when you meet for some alumni meet

Kid 1: “You know, my father’s nickname is Tatti(shit).’

Kid 2: Why?”

Kid 1: “Don’t know. May be he is always lose motioned that’s why.”

Kid 3: “I just heard my dad referring to your mom as Shakeela

Kid 4: “Why is that?”

Kid 3: “I don’t know”. Thinking (he is 16), “Go read Fultoo Bakar, you will know why”

Kid 2: “My dad is nicknamed Kamjor”

Kid 1: “What?”

Kid 2: “Yeah, Mera baap kamjor hai!” Thinking,

I am sure you would like this discussion to be more of Sharma Uncle, Mishra Uncle, Kamble Uncle Types. But sometimes nicknames are better than real ones. If your name is Shishu, be rest assured that a kid with his limited abilities of pronunciation, will call you Shu-shu uncle. Hence if your friends have been kind enough to nickname you Tiger, let it be that way.

BTW, my name is Vibhash.