Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baghban!!!

Baghban , a movie with Ghosts of superstars and host of TV stars, was released in 2003. Few know that it was a sequel of DDLJ where Raj Malhotra, after getting divorce from Simran and loosing everything in it, comes back to India, joins ICICI and marries Pooja. Simran goes on to marry the son of a noted stuntman. This part of the movie has never been told and that is why very few, those who have read this post and yours truly, know this. Raj and Pooja are disappointed that could only have four children hence they adopt another one and raise all of them. Now if I go by what my batch-mates tell me, in ICICI’s salary one may find it difficult to raise himself/herself. So if Raj has raised 7 of them (5 children, Raj and Pooja) he must have got some other sources of cash flows. This is where suspense of the movie is. Simran, as token of thanksgiving to Raj for freeing her from Parmeet Sethi, sends Raj money so that he could live the life he wishes to. This is again not shown in the movie and only you and I are privileged to know this piece of vital information. Anyways, the movie goes on with real sons kicking Raj and Pooja here & there and adopted son saving them. In the end, all gets sorted out and they live happily ever after.

I don’t know about the box office was a super hit in my clan. It all started by my mother’s youngest uncle watching the movie. He liked the movie let know everyone know about it. So, all his brothers went and watched the movie. It is then when the hell broke loose. The movie became talk of the town. I, in Kolkata those days, very well remember the conversation I used to have over the phone with my parents. The movie was only thing we talked about those days. Our phone calls were like -

“How X went to see the movie and cried after seeing the plight of Raj Malhotra and Pooja? When he came back home and asked for tea, his daughter in law served him tea without sugar.”

“Well he is diabetic, isn’t he?” I asked.

“Yeah but his children are not taking good care of him” ‘Promise you will not do the same’ was the underlying tone.

“What? If you are diabetic, I will definitely do the same. Sugar is prohibited in diabetes, right?”

Every phone call was full for stories like how Y was forced to walk to the temple everyday because his son wouldn’t drop him on his scooter. Well if someone goes visiting a temple, that too hardly 50 meters from home, at 5:00 AM in the morning he will have to go alone walking.

Then there were talks about sudden splurge in channels preaching spirituality and people watching these channels all the time. Well, you shouldn’t complain if people in old age watch these channels. At least it keeps them busy. It was much better than watching something like Bhagban which showed immediate catastrophic results.

If someone made his mother and father sleep in different floors because of space constraints, it happened only in case of guests arriving in millions other wise houses were no less than a mansion as compared to where we live now, people saw it as a primary step of separating parents. Exactly like Raj Malhotra and Pooja were done in the movie. And I wondered – how can they be separated like in the movie because unlike the movie, everyone (parents, children, their wives, their children) stayed in the same house. It was a joint family culture.

Slowly the younger generation, i.e. my uncles, started getting more and more irritated. Obviously you won’t like your father, even though you do your best to take care of him, telling a guest when asked about his well being – “Humara kya hai? Budhape mein insaan naukar hota hai aur hum wohi hain”(What about us? You are a slave in old age and that is what we are.)

The movie made everyone believe – their children are going to be their biggest foes in old age. Soon, a generation started losing belief in another generation which was younger to it whereas younger generation started feeling vindicated.

I used to get regular updates - if from parents, the tone was more worried about the future and if from my sister, the tone was in total awe about the stupidity of entire episode.

To make the matter worse, as soon as people in my clan saw the movie it was off theatres. Soon, a TV channel bought the broadcasting rights and put it in the league of Sooryavansham and the ilk i.e. the movie they show twice in a day. TRP of that channel went up faster than potato inflation during this year. Everyone had already memorized every scene of the movie. Seeing on TV gave them chances to revise it twice a day.

Impact of the movie was so gross that even the younger generation, i.e. my uncles, started appreciating it and seeing their future in the movie. Now, turn to bear the brunt started falling on my generation and with time, its severity kept increasing.

Even today if I see my mother watching this movie, I get jitters. Because I know, if I ask her to switch to Star Cricket she will look at me as if I am not her son but Aman Verma.

In India, movies have been banned because they have hurt religious beliefs, have insulted regional sentiments or have been disparaging some person/group/community/caste/race.

This movie has been posing serious threats to the most basic and important element of our society – family. This movie has potential to bring two generation at loggerheads and do it generations after generations.

Whenever I talk to my sister about the movie – we reach the same conclusion. This movie should be banned and all its prints must be burnt to ashes. I hope my son doesn't go through this ordeal. Please support us in our cause or show it to your parents. I am sure you will support us after that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If then else!!!

Life is like a big nested if-then-else loop or a like a big decision tree where a decision on each node can take a totally different path. It will still end at the bottom of the page but I am talking about life and not death. Sometimes a small incident/decision/indecision can give a completely different shape to your future. Here is one of such incidents in my life.

While preparing for engineering entrance exams, I had filled forms for IIT-JEE, Roorkee Engineering College (It wasn’t an IIT then) and MNREC. Everything was going on fine till the last month when I realized that everyone had received their Roorkee Admit cards except me. I got a little worried and went to IIT Kanpur (centre of exam for Roorkee in Kanpur) to find out the status of my admit card. Like me they also had no clue about it and asked me to wait for some more time. I did. But it didn’t and there were just couple of weeks remaining. So I called up Roorkee Engineering College but no avail. I got worried because no admit card means I could write only 2 of the exams. So I was going to lose 33% of my chances. Although it struck me later that it also worked in my favour. If earlier the probability of clearing 1 out of all the exams I was writing was 1/3, now it had gone up to half.

But I didn’t give up. I kept waiting.

I waited till the exam day. Being the month of May, I went to play cricket at 5:00 AM in the morning. We were fielding but my eyes were always on the road to home thinking - Dad will come running and say “Hey, we got your admit card. Roorkee director himself came to deliver it.”

Our batting started and I went to open it. Mix of frustration and anger made me a totally different batsman and I hit opponent’s fastest bowler for 4 consecutive fours. Everyone was shocked to see a guy weighing less than 45 KGs hitting with such power. I bet I, in those 4 balls, was better than Sehwag these days. I tried to do the same on 5th ball but got out. As I turned back, I saw my father standing just out of the ground.

“Well played” he said.

“So finally my admit card has come. If we rush, I can still get 1 hour of maths exam”

“Why are you always in such a hurry? If you were a little patient, you were still batting there” he said. He had played at club level with the likes of Gopal Sharma, Rahul Sapru etc. “Forget this year, be patient and try next year.

Luckily I got through JEE and Roorkee didn’t matter.

Few years later, 2003 to be precise, my family visited me in Bangalore where I was working. One day, my father came to me and said

“I have to confess something to you” he said.

“And what would that be? I am adopted and the usual filmy stuff?” I expected him to find some sense in my humour.

“Shut up!!!” obviously he failed to find it.

“Okay. What is it?” I asked.

“It struck me last year. Initially I thought I would never tell you this but you must know this. But first promise me, you will not get angry”

“You bought another insurance policy for me with premium being more than my salary?”

“No. That will not be a confession. That will be informing you about a transaction to be coming in your books” he was an accountant.

“Ok. What is it?”

“You remember you couldn’t write Roorkee exam?”

“Yeah how can I forget it?”

“You remember the address?”

“Why? Are we going to Roorkee to find out what happened with my admit card?”

“No. The address said some typical name which I can’t recall. Let’s say it was Ramgarh”

“So you want to confess you don’t remember the name of the place. Dad, it is not a confession. It is accepting that your memory is ageing” I laughed.

“Apart from UP (Roorkee was still in UP then), there is a Ramgarh in Rajsthan also” he said.

“So? Is this a confession? I think it is geographical knowledge.”

“Remember I posted your form. I sent it to Ramgarh in Rajasthan”

“What?” I did not get it clearly.

“I sent it to Ramgarh in Rajasthan. Whereas Roorkee’s Ramgarh is in UP”

“That means postman must be searching for Roorkee Engineering College in some village in Rajasthan. The college never received my application form hence no admit card”

“Yes. Now don’t get angry. You promised”

“Dad? You spoiled my career?”

“Spoiled? I saved you. You got through JEE. Since you knew the JEE result, you never wrote MNREC exam. Had you cleared Roorkee, you might have got confused. But it is good that you didn’t write it. You avoided confusion and went to best college available to you as per your rank”

“But Roorkee is an IIT now. IT BHU is not.”

“Come-on. It’s just the difference of one I. Okay. May be I made it. Take it as a gift“

“And how is that?”

“I took away the I of IIT from you but gave you the U of BHU”

“So?”

“Between I and U, I always give more importance to U”

I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I was just wondering what if that form was dispatched on correct address; I had cleared the exam and joined Roorkee. What difference it could have made?

But later I realized I wouldn’t have been doing any better than what I am doing currently. After all it is said in economics – “In the long run, every economy achieves its maximum potential”. And 13-14 years are long enough I guess.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The heart breaker!!!

Every time Sachin scores a century, be it an ODI or a test match, all my cricket loving friends send congratulatory messages to each other via chat/SMS/mail/phone. Coincidently, all of us started following cricket around the time when SRT made his debut. And I can’t help but reiterate the fact, if he wasn’t around in 90s, cricket would not have got such a strong following in India. Its not just about how he helped India win during 90s, it’s also about how we capitulated against the easiest of challenges in his absence/after his departure or when he failed. Here is one of the examples – India’s loss against Zimbabwe in 1999 world cup. It’s completely based on what I remember of this match so factual errors are unavoidable.

What I like most about 1999 WC is that it happened during my summer vacations. Surprisingly, Kanpur had just 5-6 hours of daily power cuts during those summer vacations. Well if don’t you know Kanpur, 5-6 hours of daily power cut is like getting sugar at 12 Rs. Per KG.

We lost the first match against RSA where Lance Klusner was denied the credit he deserved for his power hitting during final overs of the match. May be this is because he was hitting Ajit Agarkar’s bowling. Klusner got so angry with this injustice that he killed almost every bowler who came his way in that tournament.

Next match was against Zimbabwe - an opposition which was always counted as 2 easy points in any competition. As the clock ticked 2:30 PM and I switched on to ESPN/Star Sports, I saw Harsha Bhogle with a sad face. To see him without a smile is like seeing a news item on Vivek Oberoi without Salman Khan’s name getting mentioned in it. He told that SRT’s father had passed away last night and SRT was headed back to India. I felt sad for SRT. I also felt a little worried about the match. In fact I felt a little more than worried.

“You heard?” my father called up at my tenant’s place which was ground floor. Actually, telephones were still not a necessity in our lives during those days. Since my tenant worked in telephone department, he had a phone (landline phone) and we also used it for our once-in-a-week phone call.

“Yeah. Sad” I said.

“Yeah. And we have lost the match also”

“But it hasn’t yet started” I laughed at him.

“Well, Sachin is not playing. That means we are going to lose it” he was such a big SRT fan.

“Oh come-on. Its not that only one player wins us every time”

“Is it? When was the last time we won when he wasn’t in the side?”

“Anyways, it’s Zimbabwe. We will win even with 6 players. What time you are coming back?” I was beaming with confidence.

“Around 6:30.”

“Great. By than we might well win the match as well”

“Haha” and he hung up the phone.

Match began. It was Zimbabwe batting first. I thought we would book them below 200 and chase down in 35 overs to make up on net run rate also. I don’t think we started that badly. But they kept on scoring and we kept letting them do so. A saying should have been popular among Indian bowlers during those days – “Always be careful of a florist in Zimbabwe because if he has not given you Grant, he will give you Andy. Both hurt real bad.” As in many matches, these two frustrated, piled, ridiculed, irritated our bowlers but didn’t get out cheaply. Andy scored a half century and Zimbabwe scored 252.

But surprisingly, there were only two half centuries in their innings and second one didn’t come from their side. Indians conceded more than 50 extras. When you do so, you eat up time as well. So India got 4 overs lesser than 50 to score 253. 253 weren’t going to be cake walk for sure.

India began their reply and started loosing wickets.

I looked at my dad. He gave me a “See, I told you” look.

Then there was a partnership between S. Ramesh and Jadeja.

S. Ramesh was an extremely talented batsman. He had no footwork. None at all. “But so what? Even Sehwag doesn’t have much of footwork?” some may argue. But if we compare Sehwag’s footwork with Ramesh’s, it’s like comparing Katrina Kaif’s oomph factor with Nirupa Roy’s. In the match against England in the same tournament, S Ramesh displayed how to make bowler kill himself by getting embarrassingly close to getting out without actually getting out. Later in his career, when criticised too much for his footwork, Ramesh did improve his footwork. He started moving his foot by a few inches after playing/ missing the ball.

Coming back to the match, as soon as Ramesh completed his half century, he decided to show his footwork against spinners. He started coming down the pitch and lifting the ball. Finally, after 2-3 attempts he succeeded and got out. Suddenly few more wickets fell including of Jadeja’s. Then there was a partnership between Mongia and Robin Singh.

Robing Singh again belonged to the league of batsmen who were extremely ugly but equally determined and effective. He was a true fighter but better known for puking on the pitch. He still holds the world record for vomiting most number of times on a cricket pitch. Jokes apart, he had the ability to finish a close match.

When we needed some 35-36 of last 5 overs, Mongia got out and in came Srinath. Last year Srinath, along with Anil Kumble, had won a match from much worse position against a much stronger team. I thought he could repeat it.

He hit two sixes over mid wicket and match was almost in the pocket. We needed 7 of 12 with 3 wickets in hand.

Campbell handed the ball to Olonga who was like a lottery. He could give away 30 runs in the last over or take a hat-trick. There was just one way to find out what he was he going to do. Try. Campbell did.

1st Ball: I think it was a dot ball.

2nd Ball: Almost Yorker length, Robin Singh tried to dig it out but was caught at cover. We needed 7 of 10 with Kumble-Srinath pair on crease. “They scored more than 50 against Australia last year. We need just 7 now” I told my father. He wasn’t listening. He was too tensed.

3rd Ball: I think Kumble took a single.

4th Ball: Srinath hit it for 2.

5th Ball: Bowled. Srinath had a special ability. Whenever he tried to hit a six, his success rate was decided by the direction in which he looked. If he looked towards the stands, he hit it for a six. If he tried to be a little God fearing and looked heavenwards, he got bowled. Pick up his video tape, I bet you can’t prove this theory wrong. Srinath, feeling nervous, did look heavenwards on that ball and was bowled.

6th Ball: V Prasad, the most inept batsman India has ever seen, came to the crease. He knew just one stroke which was to shuffle across the stumps, touch the ball and run like blinds. He played this stroke or tried to do so. The ball was an in cutter, hit him below the knee rolls, every one in Zimbabwe appealed and it was then when time stood still. Umpire started raising his finger. Till very last moment I thought he would put it in is nose to clean it up. Alas, it wasn’t SK Bansal.

Prasad was given out leg before. We had lost to Zimbabwe that too in a world cup match. Billion hearts broke.

I didn’t eat anything that night and neither did my father. Later I heard one of my friend’s neighbours broke his TV set.

I had seen defeats before. But grief here was insurmountable.

But as they say, there is always a next time which could be better than the last one.

We lost to BD in WC2007. This time even SRT couldn’t save it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bade Damaad Ji!!!

Staying away from the city where you are born and brought up certainly has some downsides. Not only you miss the support structure provided by relatives, but also you start missing to and fro visits to/by them. You also start missing fun during various family functions especially marriages and few typical characters during every such function which provide unlimited entertainment. One of such characters is Bade Daamad Ji.

So let’s go back a few years and try visualizing his character.

He was to get married a few years ago. And when he was, he was the king. He was the toast of everyone’s eyes including his own family and the ones who targeted him.

Then he got married. He realized that from the stage of “being targets of many” and enjoying the power to reject, he had reached the stage where he had lost it all. Now it was just one.

But he still enjoyed the importance given to him at his in-law’s place. He was still the cynosure because he was the only ‘son-in-law’ till then. When he visited his wife’s place ‘Sasural’, he was treated like a king. He would go to his wife’s place to drop her on the LML Vespa given to him in dowry. Once he reached his ‘Sasural’, he would get down from his scooter, park it and stand there with one hand on the scooter to strike a pose with swagger. He would strike this pose as if he was a hunter and his scooter was a tiger he had just hunted. One hand would be on the headlight where as his left leg would be on he scooter.

Then he would enter the house and get surrounded by almost everyone. “DaamaJi-DaamadJi” is something he could hear clearly. He would greet the ones older than him. He would sit and enjoy the different sweets and snacks and talk about LML Vespa being not so stylish whereas Bajaj Calibre looked really sleek. But he would also clarify that he wasn’t complaining about the dowry. In fact if he wasn’t forced on a gun point to take dowry, he wouldn’t have taken it. Soon a group of youngsters/teenagers would arrive shouting JeejaJi-JeejaJi. He acted as if he was a toffee seller surrounded by kids. The boys would start asking for the keys of his scooter which he would stubbornly refuse. He would flirt with the young girls in front of everyone because it’s the nature of relationship. It would be like a carnival.

Finally, he would get up to leave but people would ask him to stay for some more time. This would happen 4-5 times after an interval of 15 minutes and just before people actually ask him to leave, he would depart. As soon as he came back home, he would complain about the sweets he got as parting gift. He would have preferred Motichhoor ke Ladoo which he was never given. “Cheap People” he always thought.

Few weeks later, He would go back again. Every time people would take good care of him to make sure nothing irked him. He would keep rising bar for them by throwing super-starry tantrums. His every tantrum would be accepted with smiles.

And today, after a few years, one of his sisters-in-law is getting married. He is realizing that the monopoly he enjoyed in his Sasural is about to be lost. He will have to share it with someone else. He will no longer be ‘the only one’.

He is a few years older, has a few grey hairs in whatever is left on his head, wears glasses, has managed a small tummy and looks as if age is catching up with him. Realities of life and boredom engulfed with it have taken a toll on his cheerfulness. He has realized that there is just a little difference between a job and a marriage. Both look refreshingly exciting to start with but two years later, boredom sets in and you have to start finding interest in them. Just that you may get many shots with jobs but just one with marriage.

He, father of two, gets ready in the same brown suit he wore in his marriage. He is surely a little complainant about not being gifted a new suit by his father-in-law and no one buys a suit in India but for marriages. So he has to be contempt with the old suit. His wife is also getting ready in a red saaree, wearing old jewellery, putting loads of Sindoor on her forehead which looks so red as if the backlight of the scooter has been fixed on her forehead and also wears quintals of lipstick which make her look as if she has eaten a few rats.

He starts from home on the very same LML Vespa which has lost its shine, has a few dents, averages lesser by at least 10 KMS/Ltr and demands a service every 2 months. He makes smaller of the kids stand in front of the scooter and older one sit between him and his wife who is sitting in the backseat.

He arrives at the marriage-venue expecting the same importance he enjoyed earlier. He doesn’t get it as everyone is busy in the marriage. He puts his youngest kids down, asks his wife to get down with the older kid and parks the scooter. No longer is there a swagger of a hunter who has just hunted a tiger.

He holds his younger kid and walks inside the Shamiyana. Suddenly he realizes his wife runs and disappears somewhere inside where females of the house are sitting. He feels disgusted to be left deserted and it starts showing on his face.

Suddenly someone spots him, greets him and informs others.

“Bade DaamadJi- Bade DaamadJi” he can hear the whispers. From DaamadJi to Bade DaamaJi, he has earned a prefix which clearly signifies him getting old.

“Oh, so he has come. Go take care of him and make sure he doesn’t create any nuisance” some of the young ones are told. They come running to attend him.

He turns them away saying “Go attend the groom.”

“No no. You want something to eat?”

Arey ab naye waale ko dekhiye. Apna kya hai? Hum to baasi ho gaye ” (Go attend the new one. Who am I? I am a stale piece now). He starts to show signs of throwing some old tantrums but is not given a chance. His tantrums are no longer responded with smiling faces. Instead, people start neglecting him. He feels like an MP who has lost his seat in latest elections.

Marriage ceremony ends and he sees a new DaamadJi enjoying everything once he did – the importance, the gifts, tantrum-tolerance and the rest. His heart starts burning when he sees the dowry gift – a Bajaj Calibre.

“Bikes are not a match to scooter. A scooter can carry you, wife and three kids. Try doing that on a bike” he tells someone.

He feels jealous but deep down inside but realizes the brutal truth of life. Only thing permanent in life is change.

His smile tells his replacement – “Just wait for next one to get married. Then you and I will sit together and discuss how tasteless the Rasogullas were last night.”

His replacement, oblivion to the fact that his future’s smile has a message for him, enjoys his reign as if it’s never going to end.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The batting killers!!!

No matter how much I dislike Shahid Afridi because of his ability to almost always score runs against India and murdering our attacks, one thing I just cannot deny - when on crease, he is a treat to watch. Like him, there are many batsmen who, no matter which side they play for, are worth watching even if they are just killing your own team’s bowlers. This kind makes you love the game more than the one playing it i.e. the Laras, the SRTs, the Sehwags, the Gilchrists, the Haydens of the world.

But there is another kind which is actually a mirror image of this ilk. This kind, even if batting for your own side, sometimes makes you think if the game is for your entertainment or it’s a tool to improve your tolerance in life. This kind actually makes you hate the game. You start liking Golf-Watching more than Cricket-watching on TV. Here are a few of my favourite gems in this category. Skill set chosen – batting only.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul – This list has to start with him. Not because he makes batting look really ugly. That he surely does. But he has earned something none other has. His cricinfo player profile page describes him as possessor of the crabbiest of techniques. To get a word which can be termed as disparaging in one’s cricinfo player profile page is not a small achievement. Even Gagan Khoda hasn’t achieved this feat. When I first saw him during WI tour to India in 1994, DD commentators described him as a leg spinner who could bat a bit. Either those commentator didn’t know him or they actually were good at spotting talent. If they were true, those commentators should have been appointed as national selectors. Even if they were not so good in spotting talent, our team selection couldn’t have gone any worse in 90s.

Coming back to him, I have never understood his batting stance in which the most visible part of his body is something a man always wants to hide. May be he wants to prove to everyone that he actually has balls of steel. The way he has batted in last few years, he actually has them. No matter how irritating he looks on the crease, he always scores runs and takes his time while doing so. During that time I wonder how come a genius with full of flair like Lara played with him for so many years. Or may be that is why he retired - it’s much easier to watch Chanderpaul on TV rather than while batting with him. Chanderpaul might just get irritate-out any batsman. May be that is why in 84 tests Chanderpaul and Lara have played together, Lara’s average drops by 5 points.

But I have never understood most of the things about him – what has written below his eyes while he is playing, why he tries to bury the bails when he comes to bat or why he plays cricket at all. But I am sure I am not the only one.

Jimmy Adams – He needs no introduction. Perhaps one of the very few players who have, in 127 ODIs, scored over 2000 runs, taken 43 wickets and claimed 5 stumpings. He tried his hands at everything from batting to bowling to wicket keeping but looked equally unimpressive in whatever he did. With his strong penchant for pads, he used pads more than his bat while batting, always bowled to the batsman’s pads and always stopped balls with pads rather than using his wicket keeping gloves. His strike rate of 38 in tests suggests that on an average he needed to bat almost 50 overs to score a century. This also means Adam’s team needed to bat over 100 overs for him to get a century. No wonder his every century came after 9 tests because West Indies batting out 100 overs has become a rarity right since 90s. In ODIs, on an average he scored 3.65 runs per over to get his 28 runs whereas his team scored 4.53 runs per over with every batsman scoring almost 28 runs. But when his team lost, he scored almost 3 per over compared to his team’s 4 runs per over. Average for both team as well as Adams dropped to 20. Okay, this analysis doesn’t prove anything. But he was always running parallel to his team just that he was slow enough to be always behind by one step. By his scoring rates in this age, there is just one IPL team for him – KKR. KKR would have loved to add him to its other precious possessions for t20 i.e. the Chopras, the Bangars and the ilks.

Paul Collingwood – He is an expert in converting confirmed defeats to a sure draw and then getting out making sure all 11 batsmen get credit for a nail-biting draw. Graeme Smith will confirm it. During recent ENG-SA series, Mark Boucher tied Collingwood’s bat with his shoe laces to make sure he couldn’t lift his bat to play any stroke and get out. It didn’t matter as only time Collingwood lifts his bat is when he reaches a milestone. He didn’t do it in that innings because he didn’t even score a 50. But he played as many balls as Sehwag needs to score his third triple ton. Collingwood believes in one philosophy - keep the bat down and remain still. He remains so still that Madam Tussad has constructed his statue while he was batting. It will be put up in Lords pavilion during Ashes 2011. Those who think batting is all about flashy drives, pivoting hooks & pulls, classy cuts where even the follow through action is worth a picture, watch Collingwood. He doesn’t have any back-lift whatsoever, has very minimal follow through, and looks like a machine that has been programmed with skills to play only certain kinds of strokes. If a batsman can score 40 in 276 balls when even 4.0 runs per over in tests doesn’t surprise anyone, he must have been born in wrong age.

Gary Kirsten – I can recall every stroke he played because they were all similar. A walk towards the offside which turns wicketkeeper into leg slip and first slip into wicketkeeper, a constipated look on the face, run even before you have played the stroke and keep piling. His strategy was simple. When opponents target you with a 7-2 offside field, just turn it to your advantage. Walk towards offside and convert keeper into second leg slip, first slip into first leg slip and second slip into keeper. This converts a 7-2 field into 5-4 field. After all it’s all in the minds. Now every ball bouncing on real off stump will be targeting your virtual leg stump. Now you can even go to match referee and complain about body line bowling. His shuffles were so big that once he was given out ‘obstructing the field’ because point fielder complained of disturbance. He kept walking all the time but for when an incorrect decision went in his favour. And believe me, his tactics made batting look extremely irritating. And the length of time he used to spend on crease and amount of runs he scored, it made worse. To add to that, his face always remained same – constipated. I have never understood how such a boring batsman can suggest erotic theories like more sex improves cricket. Even before Kirsten denied having said so, I knew he couldn’t do it. Not sex I meant. He couldn’t have said it.

MS Dhoni – I know he is an Indian so I like seeing him bat. I know he has been the most consistent batsman in ODIs ever since he has become India’s captain. I know he can be given credit for many of India’s recent wins not only in ODIs and T20s but also in tests. But see him through neutral eyes. MS is an ugly batsman. Effective alright, but so have been others mentioned above. Once he used to be the kind of batsman who waited for 15 balls before cutting loose and tried to score a 50 in next 15 balls. But ever since India has done away with Rahul Dravid, MS has become wanna-be RD. One footed hits to Yorkers have been replaced by strange pushes to anywhere between third-man to long off. His cautious approach to first 15 balls has been extended to 50 balls and belligerence after that has almost disappeared. If you have seen him bat recently, you must have done so, just visualise his batting for first 80% part of his innings. How can a batsman play cover drive to mid off with both feet in the air? And how can commentators describe it as a beautiful shot? They must be charging extra for it because to me even Renuka Sahane looked more stylish in HAHK than MS looks while steeling a single to mid-wicket.

Mike Hussey – Thank God to Australia’s recent tour of India else Australians would have started demanding not only Knighthood but also Bharat Ratna for him. Indians made them taste the reality. To hell with numbers, Hussey is a boring batsman. He, like Adams or Chanderpaul, looks like those sincere and studious students who have been given last lifeline in the college so they start behaving like machines – no movies, no porns, no alcohol, no class bunks, no mischief, no girls and just books. His expressions while batting match my expression when I am fighting for breath in 8:22AM fast local to Churchgate. They way he is technically copybook in whatever he does, people say he remained constipated during his entire tour to India. Toilets given to him were Indian in style and he had never read about how to use them.

Other two most prominent names which, people claim, make batting look boring could be Rahul Dravid and Kallis. But I disagree. They may be painfully slow batsmen but just think about RD’s square cut and Kallis’ cover drive. I am sure you would agree with me now. They make batting look like an art and not engineering. Others are otherwise.

Disclaimer – My View, attempt on humor and sarcasm, and the rest of the typical stuff.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And he left me forever!!!

Today, I lost a companion of almost 25-26 years. It was someone who had always stayed 24X7 with me through all the thick and thin in life. It was with me when I had my first Pepsi. It was with me when I first tasted whiskey. The first piece of chicken of my life, before it made me feel as if I was going to lay eggs next day, met him before doing so. Once I bit one of my relatives because she refused to give me her kheer. The level of involvement can still be seen on her wrist. I lost a tooth today.

In fact during last few months I have been visiting my dentist so often that I wonder if I should write my name in his appointment diary using a permanent marker.

9:00 PM, Vibhash Awasthi, Tooth number 14 tomorrow.

He plucked it out in 4-5 pieces, handed it over to me and I brought it back home. Before cremating it tomorrow tin Arabian Sea, I am just lost in mourning for the demise of this dear one. If the theory of every normal human having 32 teeth in his mouth is correct and I can be counted as a normal human being, I am down to 29 now.

I remember the first one. I was around 10 – 12 years old when it happened. I have had loads of cavities since my childhood but what harm they can do is I am learning now. However, God who has always been kind to me saw my travails. So he blessed me with an additional tooth. Just that he had put it in inside a cavity itself. So the additional tooth, like regional parties supporting a coalition government, kept doing the work of a gap-filler but yet pushing the original tooth to fall off. My father took me to a dentist who, after seeing the X-Ray and showing it to us also, decided to pull it off. Then, I did not know if dentistry was actually taught in medical colleges. I actually thought dentists were ex-policemen, who after interrogating criminals, took dentistry as post retirement job.

The dentist gave me local anaesthesia and started his job. The moment I saw some instruments in his hands which looked as if they were stolen from a motor mechanic, I freaked out and started shouting at the top of my voice. And every time he bent down to come close to my mouth, I did it right in his ears. Dentist lost his concentration and broke my tooth. He had to take it out in 5-6 pieces. 10 minutes of job took more than an hour.

Patients sitting outside must have thought if I was given shock treatment. In fact 2-3 patients did quit because they couldn’t wait for over an hour and dentist did complain to my father - it’s because of him I have lost on business today.

I was down to 31.

For last couple of years I had problems at the last end of my lower jaw. Everyone kept saying – you must be wisdom tooth. But everyone among that everyone wondered on why I am getting wisdom tooth so late in life. I didn’t complain them coming no matter how late it was – who knows if they bring some wisdom to me, I thought. However, dentist revealed the reason for my dumbness. My wisdom has never grown in right direction, it has always grown horizontally. So were the wisdom teeth of mine. Doctor got rid off one of the wisdom teeth for me and I was down to 30.

Today, I have come down to 29 which will soon be turning to 28 since second wisdom tooth also needs to be taken off. May his soul rest in peace. As of now, its his body resting in pieces.

I can only hope it stops here.