Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Office humor - part 6!!!

Did you get the mail???


I received a message on my phone from an ex-colleague. For next few minutes, we conversed through text-messages.
“Hi. How are you doing?”
“I am fine. How are you?” I replied.
“I need a favor from you” he replied back.
“Tell me”
“A friend of mine is looking for a job. Can you forward his CV to your friends?”
“No issues. Mail it to me.”
“Can I have your mail-id please?” he enquired.
“It’s fultoo.bakar at gmail” I replied back. In our conversation, I gave him my real mail-id but I am not typing it here. Never give away personal details on a public forum is what I often hear.
“I’ve sent it in a mail. Could you please acknowledge the receipt?” he replied.
“No mate. Haven’t received anything”
“Can you please confirm your mail-id?”
“It’s fultoo.bakar at gmail” I replied back.
“Can you check if you have received it now?” he wondered.
“No luck. My mail id is fultoo.bakar@gmail.com” I had to do what I was trying to avoid till now – searching for @ and dot symbols in my phone and typing it.
“Sent again”
“I got it this time”
Now why did the delivery of the mail failed in first two attempts and succeeded in third, I leave it to you to decide the reason. I have not been able to figure it out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Australia!!!

Australia - the land of commodities i.e. the iron ores, the coals, and the BHP Billiton’s of the worlds. Australia - the land crowded with 2.25 billion people, an amount similar to what we add every year or an amount much lesser than what Mumbai holds. Australia – where 80% of the population resides on less than 20% of the land. Australia is perhaps only country in the world where different states are separate by straight lines.

Australia – where almost everything is grand in size be it size of the country itself, people or the grounds. Some of the Australian grounds are so big that sometimes fielders pray to god “Hope it crosses the boundary line else they will run five”. And cricket, cricket is hostile, competitive and a treat to watch – thanks to channel 9. Cricket means bowlers hurling hand grenades at our batsmen, batsmen pounding millions of runs against our bowlers and their fielders grabbing at everything which passes within 20 meters of their vicinity. If cricketing excellence isn’t enough, there is sufficient “having a go at each other which keeps the game away from being dull” sugarcoated in form of mental disintegration. Like the most permanent thing in life – change, some of them have changed over the year. Or maybe lots of them have changed during last three years.

However, come an Australian tour and mind goes back to the memories of getting up early in the morning as sun rises there few hours before it rises here, covering yourself in the blankets before switching on the TV as we normally play there in December-February period. Normally it’s fun unless your team isn’t badly mauled by Australians – watching the picturesque Australian grounds further beautified by channel 9 cameras while enjoying the winters. Here is how I remember our Australian tours –

1991-92, the half a decade long tour – We travel to Australia with probably the best batting line up in the world, on paper that is. In Tracer bullet and Cheeka, we have a perfect mix of defense and aggression. We have a future star in Sanjay Manjrekar, hero of Mecca Dilip Vengsarkar, magician of wrists Azhar and child prodigy Sachin. We bat deep. Our bowling is a worry though. We play 5 tests, possibly 10 ODIs in B&H cup and in the best case scenario, 11 ODIs in the WC92.

We lose in Brisbane. We lose in Melbourne. 2-0 down in a 5 match series isn’t the best of starts.

Come year 1992 and we decided to fight back in Sydney. Tracer Bullet scores a double hundred. Sachin scores an unbeaten 148. Australia is playing a blonde and round leggie who has come with a big reputation. He scores a 150 too albeit while bowling. Sydney is supposed to be spinner’s paradise in Australia. Australia has to bat out on day five pitch to save the match. Our spinners are going to bundle them out for nothing. But do we have spinners? Holy cow, we are playing 4 pacers, in Sydney, on a pitch full of cracks. Our only spinner is Tracer Bullet who takes 4 for 45. In desperate need to bowl spin from both ends, even Manoj Prabhakar bowls a few overs of spin. Border and McDermott save the test. We manage a moral victory. 

We move to Adelaide, the batsmen’s paradise in Australia. Australians are surprised when they are asked to bat on such a supposedly benign track. They are so surprised that they get bundled out for 145. We surprise them by getting bowled out for 225. Sanity prevails. Australians score big in their second innings. We need 338 to win in 4th innings and manage to lose by 38. Azhar, the man with magical wrists, scores a wonderful century. Series score line reads 3-0.

We move to Perth for final rituals and lose. Michael Whitney takes a career best 7/27. Sachin scores his one of the best centuries and shows he has it in him – the fire inside to fight the fury. By the way, we did play a specialist spinner in pacers paradise called Perth. Maybe we compensated for Sydney.

We somehow manage to reach the finals of B&H cup. Australia scores a tad over 200 in the first final. We are almost sure to win thanks to snail-paced innings by Tracer Bullet and scintillating half century by Sachin. We need 20 of 18. Sachin gets out and sets a trend for the rest of the decade – if he cannot win it for us, we cannot win it. At one point of time we need 14 of 10 with two recognized batsmen at the crease. We lose.
WC92 arrives. We win our world cup i.e. the match against Pakistan. Pakistan wins the real world cup. Thank god the tour is over.

1999-2000, the massacre – We travel to Australia with a completely new set of batsmen, barring Sachin. Problem begins there itself. Barring Sachin no one looks like competing.
Adelaide – Sachin scores a half century in the first innings and a shoulder-before-wicket dismissal in the second innings. Agarkar scores 19 in the first innings. That remains his only score in the test series. He scores a golden duck in the second innings. We lose.

Melbourne – Sachin scores a century in the first innings and a half century in the second innings. We lose. Agarkar collects a king pair.

Sydney – Sachin fails. We lose. Agarkar misses the king pair this time by surviving his first ball in the second innings he gets out in the second innings. He is named Bombay duck now. But just before we lose, we see a glimpse of our future. VVS Laxman leaves Australians gasping. He leaves all of us agape. He leaves Australians chasing the leather. He leaves all of us lauding his efforts. His 167 in Sydney is the best I’ve seen any Indian play in Australia – I didn’t see Sachin’s 114 in Perth-92. Series reads 3-0. Some say - winning doesn’t always matters, competing does. We do neither – win or compete.

We do ourselves a favor by not making it to the finals of B&H cup. What is the point in playing 2 extra matches in the finals and getting beaten in an insulting manner? We win a match against Pakistan and come back happily. That remains our only victory on the tour. We are actually happy to come back.

2003-2004, Adelaide – First time in my cricket viewing career, I can say with some confidence that we have a team which can compete. Australia is missing Warne, courtesy some banned drugs mistakenly given to him by his mom, and McGrath. Yet, Australians are Australians. Steve Waugh is determined to avenge the shattering of his dreams of winning the final frontier in 2001. He threatens of chin music. We all are worried for dada.

Brisbane – Chin music begins. But before that, Z roars. We come back to chin music. Bengal tiger roars. We avoid defeat. After ages, we will be going undefeated in the second test of a foreign tour. BTW, Bombay duck breaks the sequence of ducks – he scores a few.
Adelaide – Australia scores 558. India is reeling at 85 for 3. Someone reminds Dravid of Eden2001 – how he helped India winning from a position of complete discomfort. But there he had VVS for company. Here he is batting with Dada. “Get lost Dada, I want my favorite partner to bat with me” he says and runs out Dada. We are 85/4 now. VVS joins Dravid. They start the magic. They bat, bat and bat. VVS goes. Dravid continues. India fall short of 558 by 20 odd runs. Bombay duck wakes up. He takes his revenge. Australia collapses. We need 220 to win. Australia keeps making our life difficult. But they just cannot cross the Wall. I will never forget that cut shot, realization that it is going for four, that taking the cap out and lifting of those hands. Wall you beauty.

Melbourne – I get up late and run towards the TV room in my hostel. I am in for a shock – we have scored 120 odd without loss in the first session. “Footwork my foot” is the headlines in one of the newspapers after Sehwag scores a scintillating 195. Fresh from the victory in Adelaide and 249 for one on day one in Melbourne – it’s a recipe for a series win is what I think. I am outthought. We lose. 1-1 it stands before we move to Sydney.

Sydney – Sachin’s cover drives have been failing him till now. He decides to chuck them. Chuck them he does - 241 to Sachin, without cover drives, 704 to India. Australians are tottering in reply. It’s down to Katich and the tail-enders now to save Australia. We resort to our favorite strategy of “Let the better batsman breathe easy and target tail-enders”. As expected we fail. Australia avoids follow-on. They need to bat out the last day. Bowlers keep creating chances. Parthiv Patel keeps fluffing them. Steve Waugh shows what he has been all these years. He walks out of the ground and cricket but not before saving the match. 1-1 it is.

We compete better than our last two outings in the triangular ODI series. Yet we lose the finals. But overall, this has been the best tour so far. I will never forget that cut shot, realization that it is going for four, that taking the cap out and lifting of those hands. Wall you beauty.

2007-2008, controversies – We land in Australia and go straight to Melbourne to play our first test. Story resorts back to what happened in 90s. We lose. We lose badly.

We move to Sydney. Things change. Australia is tottering before Steve Bucknor fails to hear an edge which is heard in even West Indies. May be he should have been in West Indies. Symonds rocks. Australia scores a decent score. India begins its reply. Sachin scores a ton. Harbhajan and Symonds fight. Harbhajan scores a 50. India gets a slim lead. But we bat last. And our batting doesn’t last. We need to survive 12 balls with three wickets in hand. We lose them all to a part timer, the same part timer who turned the match on its head in Mumbai-2004. Hell breaks loose after this match. But that does not happen because of cricket.

Perth – Australia have won 16th tests in a row. Last time they tried winning 17th in a row, Eden 2001 happened. This time Australians are going to play in their own den, on their ground which has been an unassailable fort for ages. It’s Perth. Australians say they will beat us in 4 days. After all it’s supposed to be the fastest wicket on planet. Their new opener, Chris Rogers, suggests otherwise – he says we will be beaten in 3 days. Chin music begins. Yet we manage a decent lead in the first innings. Australia bat last. They need 414 to win. Pathan makes sure their openers remain a formality. In comes Ricky Ponting – the man at the peak of his powers. A rookie pacer is bowling to him. He bowls a sharp in-cutter. Ponting is beaten. The rookie does it again. Ponting is beaten again. It continues. At one point of time, Ponting looks ashamed to be at the crease. It’s like David dictating terms to goliath. This spell must be one of the best. Finally Ponting’s agony ends and he falls. So do Australians. 2-1 it is now.

Adelaide – We manage a draw. Sehwag makes a comeback. We lose the series by 2-1. It could easily have been 2-1 in our favor but Steve Bucknor and his colleagues had other ideas.

Finally we manage to win the triangular ODI series and salvage lot of pride.

I must admit, for the first time we look to have our chances better than Australians. But I thought so for the England tour as well. You all know what happened there. I don’t remember it. I hope this Australian tour does turn out to be a memorable one. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Superstar!!!

80s was coming to an end. Last decade of the century was starting. Cold war was in its last phase. Germans, from two different sides of the same wall, were getting reunited. Situation in the Middle East was getting trickier with each passing day.
At home, Congress was realizing twice in two decades that ruling this country wasn’t its birth right. If a new star was born in form of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, another star in Amithabh Bacchan was fighting his way back to super stardom through movies like Toofan and Jaadugar

And I, I was soon going to enter my teens.


Anil Kapoor was declared as next super star courtesy his 4 hits – Ram Lakhan, a multi starrer hit; Tezab, movie which positioned him as a replacement of Amithabh’s angry young man image; Rakhwala, a movie where credit went to him and only him and Eeshwar, a critically acclaimed success. But very soon, his success turned out to be the boom of 2010 after the recession of 2008. So did Amir Khan, Salman and the rest. 

Watching a movie wasn’t really an easy option during those days. DD showed one movie per week, there was no cable TV and to watch it in a cinema hall wasn’t really an easy option for school-goers like me. A very prevalent trend used to be “Video-Shows” where you would hire someone to come with a colored TV, a VCR/VCP and few video cassettes of your choice. He would charge you around Rs. 30/- per movie. We watched these movies throughout the night.

Someone in my neighborhood was celebrating his kid’s birthday and arranged for the video-show.

First movie to be played was a movie about which I had heard multiple times from my father – Guide. He used to talk about the movie and its hero – Dev Anand, at length. Dev Anand used to be his favorite hero. One day I read Dev Anand’s interview in a newspaper where he claimed to be “the super star”. I asked my dad about it and he told me “Dev Anand will always be much bigger star than your Anil Kapoors or Amir Khans of the world.  He even beats Amitabh in the pecking order”. Dad left me puzzled, how come such an old man could be “the super star”. He hasn’t even given a hit in recent times. I hadn’t seen a single Dev Anand movie till date.

Although the movie of my interest was to be played after Guide, as it was a movie based on cricket, I watched Guide with lot of interest. I didn’t understand the movie completely – movie was a bit too intense for a kid, I still liked it in pieces. After all it was supposed to be an entertainer. But what interested me most was Dev Anand’s style of acting – his right hand was always stretched out, his left hand was always adjusting his scarf and head was as stable as Sensex is these days. Sunil Gavakar would have committed suicide if he had ever seen Dev Anand holding a cricket bat and batting – “A batsman must hold his bat as still as a dead man” is what Gavaskar often says. To be honest, I was a bit bored by the time Guide ended – maybe the movie was too heavy for my age or maybe I couldn’t wait to watch the next movie – Awwal Number.

Awwal Number was about the subject of my interest, in fact the only subject in which I was interested. It was about cricket. It was about a “no-one”, being handpicked by the chairman of selectors – Dev Anand, replacing the “star of the side”, the hatred generated out of this turning into terrorism and demanding withdrawal of India’s forces from Pakistan Border. Aamir Khan played the “no-one” and Aditya Pancholi played the star – both in the starting phases of their respective acting careers. If you see the current state of affairs, you will realize that Aamir khan has managed to make a respectable acting career whereas Aditya Pancholi is yet to start acting. The difference in the acting was visible in the movie itself. While Aditya Pancholi tried acting to bat like a star, Aamir the “no-one” did bat like no one does – not even Ashish Nehra. Hope Nehra doesn’t sue me on the basis of I mentioning his style of batting and Aamir’s batting in Awwal Number in the same sentence.


Coming back to the movie - after being replaced by Aamir khan in the side, Aditya Pancholi takes extreme steps. No, he doesn’t announce his retirement like some Pakistani cricketers do or alleges everyone of match fixing like rest of the Pakistani cricketers do. He takes the route which lots of normal Pakistanis take – route of terrorism.
Aditya Pancholi, with the help of some terrorists, plants a bomb in the stadium where Aamir Khan would make his debut. This gets converted in a serious law and order situation. Director General of Police, Dev Anand, takes the situation in his own hands. Terrorists demand withdrawal of India’s peace keeping forces from the border and government of India appoints a negotiator, again Dev Anand, to deal with them.


The match goes on. Aamir Khan single-handedly takes India to victory. Crowd, oblivion to the fact that they are sitting on a bomb which is being monitored by Aditya Pancholi in a helicopter hovering above the stadium, enjoys the cricket match. Clock keeps ticking. The moment of explosion keeps coming nearer. India needs a savior –off the ground. India needs a hero.


In the end, it all boils down to one man who keeps informing the press about the situation of the bomb, tells terrorists that India doesn’t negotiate with them, hunts down all the terrorists, nails down Aditya Pancholi from the helicopter and finally defuses the bomb. That hero is Dev Anand. And no, there are no multiple roles. It’s Dev Anand who plays the role of a chairman of single man selection committee, deputy general of police, the national negotiator, one-man ATS, government representative to face the press and the bomb diffuser. He also had to carry the duties of writing and directing the movie. I was mighty impressed by this multi-faceted, multi directional, multi dimensional performance by the legend called Dev Anand.


Rumor has it that Dev Anand was going to play the role of Aamir Khan but he didn’t do it at the behest of some senior politicians. They didn’t want Sunil Gavaskar to commit suicide. It is also rumored that these politicians granted permission to Dev Anand to make a movie where he was going to play leader or the ruling party, speaker of the parliament and the ruler of opposition.


No. My intention is not to make fun of a great man after his demise, not at all. The intention is to salute the spirit of his.


Okay. To be honest, I have never been a great fan of Dev Anand – apart from some of his old movies when he wasn’t really old e.g. Hum Dono, Guide.


But what I always liked about him and admired was his dedication towards his profession of movie making and courage to continue with it by defying his age. He looked like a man hungry for acting, writing, directing and acting. He looked like a man hungry to be involved in every second of he did. He looked like a man hungry for life and living every second of it.


When he wrote, he would be the pivot around which the story revolved. A murder mystery maybe about the suspects, the murderer or even the murdered but it’s the one who catches the murderer gets away with all the credits. Dev Anand played the cop who nabs the murderer in Sau Crore.


When he directed, it would be him to occupying the maximum length of the reel. When Awwal Number stars focusing on terrorists instead of cricket, chairman of selectors has no role to play in the movie. Hence Dev Anand also plays the deputy general of police. When matter goes beyond police, Dev Anand becomes the one who catches the villain and diffuses the bomb.


When he acted, he would be the hero, the good cop, the good politician and the one who gets to romance with the hottest chic in the movie. He was everyone. Everyone else was no one in his movies.


The man loved his profession beyond the boundaries of craziness. The man was so much in love with himself that he could be termed as self-obsessed. The man lived a life. This is what he teaches – not only to love what you do but also to love yourself. If you can do so, nothing can stop you – not even age. After all it’s for nothing they say – he wasn’t 88 when he died, he was four times twenty two.


I tempt to say the usual - may his soul rest in peace. But I am sure, somewhere in the heavens; he would be busy preparing the script for his next movie.