Archive for March, 2007

If Muslims can’t back Pakistan, can Bengalis…

31 March 2007

At the height of the pseudo-nationalism of the Lalchand Kishinchand Advani kind, a key crib pumped-up Hindus held against Muslims was that they (Muslims) cheered for Pakistan in India-Pakistan matches.

Never mind if it nobody ever saw the crackers going off or slogans being shouted, never mind if only a few Muslims in some ghetto were “guilty”… but by repeating the lie ad nauseam, the charge stuck and helped stereotype the community.

Today, NDTV 24X7 is running a news item from Calcutta on Bengalis supporting Bangladesh in the World Cup. Whether these are Bengalis in general or just Bengali Muslims in particular we can only guess, but shops are apparently doing brisk business selling the green-and-red Bangladesh jerseys.

Is this OK? Is this OK only when India is not taking part in a match or tournament? Is it OK to support Bangladesh but not OK to support Pakistan? Or does sport always transcend borders, mental if not physical, which fundamentalists of either kind will never recognise?

Success is about getting up that one extra time

31 March 2007

Indian cricket journalism rarely rises above hagiography. Rarely does one hear a new bit of information or a startling insight into the game and its practitioners. But Vedam Jaishankar had an interesting point to make while discussing the genius of Anil Kumble last night on CNN-IBN.

“The secret of Anil is his ability to reinvent himself. If someone says you did a bad show or wrote a bad article, the instinctive reaction is to run away and hide. But look at Anil. When he was a teenager, he was a medium pacer, and when somebody called him a chucker, he went and reinvented himself as a legspinner. When he was a Test match cricketer and they said he didn’t turn the ball, he developed variations like the slider. It’s this ability to constantly reinvent and reengineer himself that has enabled him to stay on top. Which is why, over a period of 17 yers, no single batsman has ever been able to overwhelm him. Yes, he has had a bad match now and then, but never once has a batsman attained completely mastery over him.”

The chief minister and the damsel in distress

30 March 2007

Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy‘s flying “private” visit to Mangalore on Tuesday has kicked off all manner of rumours. The juiciest one, which nobody in the JDS is even bothering to counter, is that the “Man of the Year of 2006″ had actually gone to the coastal city to look up an actress admitted to a hospital. Who could this damsel in distress be? And why may he be so concerned about her condition?

A gentle giant says bye in gentlemanly style

30 March 2007

A television grab, courtesyof NDTV 24X7, of Anil Radhakrishna Kumble announcing his retirement from one-day international cricket at the Karnataka State Cricket Association today.

As usual, “Jumbo” was gracefulness personified. He refused to fall for the bait of blaming anybody for his increasingly fewer appearances in the short version of the game. He said he never believed that seniority alone should secure a place for a player in the side. He said he wanted to quit four years ago but was dissuaded.

He said fans alone didn’t feel the disappointment for the World Cup debacle; so did the players. He said he understood what Rahul Dravid as captain was going through having led India in one ODI. He said the players weren’t running away from the media and the public.

He said he took away great memories of the Hero Cup finals in Calcutta when he bagged 6 fo 12; the 1996 World Cup victory over Pakistan in Bangalore; his own batting along with Javagal Srinath in Bangalore. And he said he was thinking of putting his experiences and photography between the covers of a book.

Sehwag, Sachin in Worst of World Cup list

30 March 2007

Despite India’s (and Pakistan’s) early exit, the 2007 World Cup has been decidedly exciting. Great knocks (Hayden, McCullum), great individual achievements (Gibbs, Malinga), etc. But it has also had its share of flops.

Cricinfo invited readers to contribute the worst players of the World Cup, and the final list makes for interesting reading: Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayle, Lou Vincent, Younis Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Andrew Flintoff, Mike Hussey, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Daan van Bunge, Rana Naved ul Hassan, Dwayne Laverock.

Read the full article here: Top of the flops

Related link: Look into that mirror, Sachin

Will anybody miss Anil Kumble’s bowling?

30 March 2007

The first SMS of the day this morning was a brief intimation that Anil Kumble would announce his retirement from one-day internationals this evening at the KSCA so that he can concentrate on Test match cricket.

Coincidentally, last night on television, there was a fascinating discussion on ‘Extraa Innings’ featuring Ian Chappell, John Wright and Charu Sharma on the plight of spin bowling in the so-called land of spin: India.

The 2007 World Cup has been a showcase for top-class tweakers: Muttiah Muralidharan, Brad Hogg, and Daniel Vettori have all demonstrated their wile and guile that should put Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to shame.

What’s happened to Indian spin, was Charu Sharma’s question, as Chappell repeated his oft-repeated story of E.A.S. Prasanna bowling as if he had a string attached to it which he pulled back as the batsman advanced forward. And how Vettori was outfoxing batsmen with his slower ball not just by holding the ball differently, but by bending his back knee at the point of delivery.

So, who killed genuine Indian spin bowling? We are not talking of spinners who could turn the ball by a mile like Shane Warne, or who could turn it on a glass top like Murali. We are talking of spinners who could outthink batsmen through flight, loop, pace, turn, tactics.

The usual answer which everybody trots out is too much one-day cricket: but haven’t Murali & Co been playing that? The other answer is heavier, better bats, which enable batsmen to bludgeon slow bowlers and ensure that even mis-hits sail into the stands: but haven’t Murali & Co….

Wright, who was coach of the Indian team during its glory days under Saurav Ganguly, had an interesting explanation. He said whenever they landed at an Indian venue for a one-day match, Kumble and Harbhajan would often ask him to get the ropes moved out!

Reason: organisers would have made the boundaries shorter to accommodate the advertising hoardings and those triangular pieces which now serve as the boundary. And to ensure that there was a rain of fours and sixes to keep the crowds in the stands happy!

So, who killed spin bowling? The board which doesn’t know the balance betwen bat and ball? Captains who didn’t know  how to treat spinners? Safety-first spinners whose only objective was to keep the runs down and keep their place in the side? Or, selectors who couldn’t pick the real talents?

The numbers, records and feats speak for Anil Kumble. His grit, humility and workmanlike attitude speak for Anil Kumble.  And this evening, his teammates and friends will speak eloquently for him. But did Kumble motivate young people to take up spin bowling?

Will any tears be shed now that he is saying goodbye?

CHURUMURI POLL: Is the ban on FTV right?

30 March 2007

The moral police constables are at it again. After imposing a ban on AXN for its “Sexiest Advertisements” show, the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry yesterday decreed that FTV, the fashion channel, should go off the air. The official reason: “The programmes aired by the channel are against good taste and decency and denigrated women. Such shows were likely to adversely affect public morality.”

Questions: Should the government be in the business of deciding what is decent and what is not? Is it right to deny access to the channel to everybody just because it is not of liking to a few? Who decides what public morality is? By this yardstick, how “decent” are most of our movies and fashion shows? What will the government ban next? Who should decide what you watch: you or the mantris and babus?

CHURUMURI @ ONE: THANK YOU VERY MUCH

30 March 2007

It’s March 30, and churumuri.com is one year old today.

It was on this day, last year, that this site gently opened its eyes on the world wide web and uttered its first innocent words, “Munde Magane“.

A year is but a wink in the geriatric park that is the Indian media, where our big newspapers are wizened old centenarians and sesquicentenarians. So, celebration and self-congratulation should be necessarily muted

Still, it is a momentous occasion for churumuri.

Momentous, because of the very nature of the new medium—instant, interactive, idiosyncratic. Momentous, because from a tiny corner of the globe, we seem to have touched a chord in hundreds of thousands of readers on every continent.

churumuri did not set out to replace your newspaper or television. It set out to do what they can’t do or won’t do. And to bring alive the colour, chaos, crackle, cacophony and controversy of Indian public life through interesting, provocative journalism. We are not vain enough to claim we succeed all the time, but we try.

This post you are reading is the 1,075th. There are over 7,500 comments across these pages. And if you click on the map on the right of the screen, you will see where you and your co-readers come from. In the process, we have spawned two more enterprises—a media blog (sans serif) and a food blog (kosambari).

We thank you for making us a part of your browser, and for talking to us and talking to each other on a range of issues. And we thank each one of our contributors who have put mouse to pad with no expectation except the desire to reach you, entertain you, and to engage you in debate and discussion.

It’s been fun and we hope it’s been fun for you, too. As a great editor once said, good journalism is like sex—it has to satisfy both partners.

Happy birthday to us. All of us. Everywhere.

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Read our first post: Munde Magane

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Arjun Singh be sacked?

29 March 2007

The Supreme Court’s stay today on the implementation of the 27 per cent quota for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in institutes of higher education is a resounding slap on the cheeks of HRD Minister Arjun Singh and indeed the UPA government of Manmohan Singh.

Rushed through with great speed, without relevant up-to-date data, the OBC quota move now lies in tatters, with the credibility of government and Parliament in question. It’s a victory for the students who opposed the move to further divide society on caste lines.

Is the SC right to call reservations “vote-bank politics” despite the ground reality? Will the politicians now bulldoze their way with something more drastic? Should there be a referendum on the issue as V.P. Singh suggetss? Should the PM sack Arjun Singh?

Also see: How to solve quota tangle

Can we really trust the government?

Why was A.P.J. Abdul Kalam silent for so long?

One question I am dying to ask… Rahul Dravid

29 March 2007

India’s early elimination from the World Cup does not just mean disappointment to the Indian fan. It means disappointment to the players, too, and there has never been a player more proud to wear the India cap, more committed to delivering when the chips are down, more hungry for victory than Rahul Sharad Dravid.

For 11 years, he has batted India out of trouble on more occasions than the mind can recollect. And, at the acme of his career, it all comes down to this. What is the one question you are dying to ask Dravid? On his captaincy. On his batting. On his relationship with his team-mates. On the team’s performance. And on his future.

Please keep your questions short, to-the-point and civil.

Why Narayana Murthy will make a poor President

28 March 2007

ASHWINI A. writes: The Cauvery Tribunal’s final award has ignited feelings, passions, emotions in the State. For 50 days now, we have seen individuals and institutions, register their shock and protest in their own way. True, some of the Public Display of Anger has been ugly but almost everybody has had an opinion on the issue, and has not been afraid to air it.

All, except, it seems, three honourable Members of Parliament elected from our very own Karnataka. To wit, “Dr” (!) Vijay Mallya, M.A.M. Ramaswamy and Rajeev Chandrashekar. Yes, the last named did make some noises but it appeared more of an afterthought for public consumption, for he has promptly gone into hiding again.

What, for example, is the stand of Mallya? King of good times, shrewd businessman, multi-billionaire, etc etc. He is a son of the Cauvery soil. He is a member of the Rajya Sabha from the State. He is supposed to represent the people and interests of the State. What is his opinion on Cauvery ? Nobody has a clue.

Perhaps, like Marie Antoinette, he believes, “If they can’t have Cauvery water, let them have Kingfisher beer.”

But what he does he think of an issue that is so important to millions of people of the State whose representatives elected him? Are people not obliged to know what is going through his mind? Does he think injustice has been done? Does he plan to raise the issue in Parliament? Does he have a solution?

Will Mallya take a stand? I doubt it. Because he is afraid that the moment he says anything pro-Karnataka, the Tamils will take to streets asking people to stop drinking UB and Bagpiper, stop flying Kingfisher Airlines, and do things that will hurt Mallya business interests in that state.

If Mallya says anything that is seen as anti-Karnataka, one does not have tell what the consequences will be.

Ditto M/s Ramaswamy and Chandrashekhar the better. Our MLAs and MLCs bent backwards and bent every rule in the book to elect them. Yet, what does their silence eloquently say on a vital issue like Cauvery?

Put more bluntly, why does Karnataka have to suffer such public representatives?

The larger point I am trying to make is : Businesmen make lousy public representative. In fact, they are very impotent when it comes to handling issues that affects the public. They must, therefore, stop wanting to become MPs, Ministers, etc.

Whatever opinion you hold of politicians—they may be corrupt, scheming, cunning—they are at least available when people need them and can take a stand, right or wrong, without fearing the consequences.

This leads me to my final point: Businesmen are good conducting their business—no more, no less.

Their success and leadership is confined to their area of work and domain (campus). Once they are out of the comforts/challenges of their expertise and in public life space, they come a cropper as they have their business interests to protect—and that always seem to come before the public interest.

The same applies to Infosys’ N.R. Narayana Murthy whom the middle class in India and some armchair columnists and journalists consider as a “beacon of hope” among other allied nonsense.

Since his name is being tossed up, quite irresponsibly I think, for becoming President after A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, I think it’s time to debate this whole issue of corporate leaders being unfit and even dangerous being in public life. We should even consider a law barring such people from holding public office.

The Cauvery crisis gives the world a good opportunity to learn that the successes of corporate leaders are often limited to their large campuses, often grabbed from poor people and illiterate farmers, and that they are duds when they have take a stand on issues that means life or death to the people at large.

How they are killing Mysore—softly but surely

28 March 2007

Not too many are aware that Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan worked and lived in Mysore as a professor at the Maharaja’s College before he became the President of the country.

Radhakrishnan’s residence was a magnificent bungalow, with a sprawling garden, on the road linking Kukkarahalli Lake to K.G. Koppal—behind the University quarters, bang opposite what is now the Government Textbook Press.

This YouTube video you see is of a construction that is coming up next to—yes, next to—Radhakrishnan’s house.

Maybe, it is an authorised construction. Maybe all the right permissions and clearances have been taken. Maybe, the new structure will accommodate hundreds more, and be of greater use, than the desolate bungalow.

Maybe, Radhakrishnan’s house and the building housing the NCC headquarters are not strictly “heritage structures” as decided by some adipose-laden bureaucrat sitting in some pokey corner of the Vidhana Soudha.

And maybe the new structure is only the latest violation on a road which is being raped and sullied by the second.

But the question we need to ask is, should wonderful structures like these be brought down with such disdain? Will Mysore’s march as a “Tier-II” city be greatly hampered if we cannot get a few developers to kill a few hundred trees, pull down a few hundred-year-old buildings?

Towards the end of the S.M. Krishna regime, there was talk of declaring Mysore a “Heritage City” with clearly laid out laws and by-laws on what could or could not be done in its precincts. Whatever happened to that? And to the Heritage Task Force?

Will we wake up to save Mysore’s heritage after the marauders have totally plundered and pillaged our past—like they have done Bangalore?

The team is gone. The pain doesn’t go away.

28 March 2007

TARLE SUBBA captures the angst, anger and anxiety of the Indian cricket fan as the dark shadows of forces beyond the boundary extend not just into the playing turf but also into the hotel rooms of the non-playing staff. And sends up a prayer for the return of sporting spirit into a game that is now no longer just a game.

The truth about Woolmer may never be out

27 March 2007

MURALI KRISHNAN writes from New Delhi: A week after Bob Woolmer, Pakistan’s national coach, was killed in the upscale Jamaica Pegasus Hotel where he and the rest of the Pakistan squad had been staying, investigators are nowhere near knowing who committed the murder, let alone who ordered it.

Perhaps they never will.

Celebrated cricket columnists and would-be investigative reporters have now written tomes since the horrid incident midway through the World Cup about the possible motives of bumping off the ‘Man Who Knew Too Much’.

What was it? A hit job, a team plot, a disgruntled fan seeking revenge, the betting and match-fixing mafia theories have all been explored and dissected but Jamaica’s Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields and his able men are still befuddled as is the rest of the cricketing world of the possible reason.

Don’t be surprised. That has been the case in every mucky episode that has hit international cricket in recent years. A flurry of inquiries which then drifts to a disturbing silence.

# How did $11,500 mysteriously appear one fine morning in December 2003 in the hotel room of Sri Lanka’s then captain Marvan Atapattu during a Test match gainst England? What happened to the probe ordered by Sri Lanka’s criminal investigation department and the investigation of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Security Unit to get to the bottom of this?

# Why was there no further follow-up to Tarannum Khan, the dancing girl of Mumbai’s Deepa Bar, arrested in November 2005 who was alleged to be involved in a huge cricket betting scandal and known for her proximity to key players n the Sri Lankan team and Indian bookies?

Before Hansiegate in 2000, the betting market underworld was notorious, setting up a majority of international matches and their influence was so overpowering that most of the players stayed tight-lipped.

New Zealand cricket captain Stephen Fleming should know. He was offered $370,200 during the 1999 World Cup to join a match-fixing syndicate, which hinted at links to prominent sportsmen.

He details the incident in his book, Balance of Power, saying he was approached in the bar of the team’s hotel in the English city of Leicester during the 1999 World Cup by a man later identified as sports promoter, Aushim Khetrapal, an associate of notorious Indian bookmaker Sanjeev Chawla—the same man who proved to be Hansie Cronje’s nemesis.

The full story of the match-fixing scandal in 2000 that came close to destroying world cricket will never be revealed.

In his seminal article following Cronje’s unexpected death in a plane crash in May 2002, Daniel Murt of London’s Observer noted quoting an investigator close to the case: “A lot of people wanted Cronje dead.”

“They feared that he (Cronje) would one day tell the full truth, and then many more would be implicated. I know people who have looked closely into what happened but who were warned off by threatening phone calls. They’re scared of getting a bullet in the head. I understand that police have found vidence of sabotage, but they’re reluctant to go public on this. The full cost of a follow-up investigation would be too great in a country that is already riven by crime.”

“It suits the police to have a closed case.”

Like Woolmer, Cronje too was also planning to write a “warts and all” book.

Many had expected that cricket had been purged of the taint of match-fixing and betting syndicates after the King‘s Commission in 2000 when cricketing boards around the world got their act together by slapping fines and handing
out life bans to cricketers.

But the untimely death of Woolmer, whom Clive Rice, his closest friend, unequivocally insists had been murdered on the instructions of a betting syndicate, clearly shows that the mafia is still up and kicking.

So, as Scotland Yard trained Shields pores through fingerprints in Woolmer’s room, examines DNA samples of the Pakistani team, scans CCTV footage and inspects card key swipes of those who had access to the twelfth floor on that fateful night as well as scrutinises why bookmakers were offering odds of 8-1 for Ireland to beat Pakistan, the conjectures and speculations swirl.

Perhaps, for the sake of cricket and more importantly for the memory of Woolmer, one of the best-known names in cricket and known for his reputation as a sportsman with a strong set of ethics, this case needs to be busted!

Don’t tell me, don’t ask me, don’t show me

27 March 2007

It’s a cruel world, and this is another cruel forward now doing the rounds on the Indian team and its debacle.

Pssst, just what are we good at as a nation?

27 March 2007

PRATAP SHARMA writes from Delhi: Most of India’s best cricket writing is done by non-cricket writers—try Prem Panicker, Ramachandra Guha, Mukul Kesavan—who feel no obligation to be parrots of players, administrators, advertisers, sponsors, et al.

And as if to prove the theory, The Hindu‘s political columnist Harish Khare has a scathing piece in today’s paper on India’s early exit from the World Cup, after the “unrealisitic and unjustified national hysteria” whipped up by the above worthies.

Khare makes the provocative point that India was able to win the World Cup only when a strong, purposive and self-assured Prime Minister presided over the nation’s affairs. Be that as it may, there are a couple of stand-out lines in the article.

“The 2007 defeat would be worth the national pain if we manage to underline two collective failings:

a) an almost civilisational inability to distinguish the ridiculous from the sublime, and

b) a visceral disinclination to realise that the external world will not lower its standards just to accommodate our mediocrity.”

That set me thinking on something I have been thinking for a while now. We cannot go into the second round of a “World” Cup with barely a dozen serious participants. We cannot win an Olympic medal half-way decently. We cannot pick up a Nobel Prize in medicine or mathematics. We cannot make a movie which will sweep the Oscar or BAFTA awards, or an album which will win big at the Grammy’s. We cannot write a global best-seller.

We cannot make a single product—a car, a computer, a phone, a TV set, a plane, a submarine—that the world will queue up to buy. We cannot create a single, magazine newspaper or television channel that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the world. We cannot nurture a world-class University. We cannot build a laboratory or do pathbreaking research or making an earth shattering discovery. We cannot think of an Indian multinational. Etcetera.

You get the picture?

Yes, there are glorious exceptions—our philosophy, our yoga, our ayurveda, our food. But, as the saying goes, the exceptions only test the rule. Which opens up an interesting question: just how good are we as a nation and just what are we good at as a nation? And let’s not even get started on corruption, communalism, casteism, criminalisation.

Are we, as Khare suggests, a mediocre nation just wallowing in our own vomit while merrily providing the numbers for the world to gape at? Are we just a nation of telephone operators? A nation of consumers waiting to be sold to?

Why?

Read Harish Khare’s article here: Beyond the humiliation at the World Cup

Happiness = Health + Money + Social Life…

26 March 2007

Every one has his formula for happiness. And Scott Adams, the amazingly versatile creator of Dilbert, has one too. Happiness, he says, is Health plus Money plus Social life + Meaning. Scott being Scott then splits each of those parameters further. Health, he says, is sleep plus diet plus exercise. Sleep is consistent bedtime and waking time plus no reading or TV in bed plus no booze or caffeine…

Read the full article here: The Happiness Formula

What’s your formula?

What a fall, my country men and women

26 March 2007

 

The most forwarded email in the last couple of days has to be morphed pictures of what the Pakistani and Indian players will soon be doing after their early exit from the World Cup. In the interests of balance and fairplay, we present four of them, Sachin Tndulkar and Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi and Robin Utthappa.

CHURUMURI POLL: Next captain Sachin?!

26 March 2007

Even before Rahul Dravid can pick up his boarding pass for the journey back home, the stage is set to slaughter the captain on the tarmac of ad-hocism. BCCI sources have let out word that The Most Reliable Batsman in the History of Cricket will be replaced following the team’s ouster in the first round of the ninth World Cup. And the replacement could be Sachin Tendulkar because —hold your breath—Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh are “not ready”.

While Dravid’s removal will propitiate the demons of public opinion, the question is should Sachin (who scored ‘0’—zero, zilch, nada—in the crucial innings against Sri Lanka) take over from Dravid? Was there anything in Sachin’s first stint to suggest that a great batsman can become a great captain the second time round? When Sachin can barely hold his place in the side, should he be thrust the responsibility? Under Sharad Pawar and Dilip Vengsarkar are we returning to another spell of regionalism?

Those were the days. Those were the lyrics.

26 March 2007

VADIRAJ HOMBAL sends us a YouTube link to a fine C. Ashwath song Bettada tudiyalli from the movie Kakana Kote, based on a play by Masti Venkatesha Iyengar and directed by C.R. Simha.

Why Lalu Yadav will be a great cricket coach

26 March 2007

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: There is unnecessary brouhaha about India’s untimely, if not shocking, exit from the World Cup. But the president of BCCI kept his emotions under control and one could easily see why the Union Agriculture Minister is always a cool cucumber even when farmers are dying like flies in Maharashtra.

Mr Pawar, you must be equally shell-shocked like anybody else with India thrown out of the World Cup?”

“Shocked, yes. But, not to the extent of foregoing reason and logic. I have already decided we must look for 2011 and prepare for it from now on.  We have no time to lose.”

“That’s very sensible way of not learning from tragedy. What steps are you going to take?”

“First things, first. Infrastructure. Do you know we have one of the worst ratios of Stadia vs Population? And even the ones we have, we don’t have proper air-conditioned pavilions for our boys. How can we ask them to sweat it out on the field when they don’t even have nice air-conditioned viewing section from the pavilion? I want to correct that. Luckily, Reliance Sr. has already agreed to take care of that.”

“Oh, is it? Will you do something about fielding? We were one of the worst set of fielders in 2007 WC..”

“Don’t say WC! It reminds me of ‘Washing & Cleaning’. I have already told you that I am not going to look back on 2007 WC, ere, World Cup. Fielding can be good only if we have layers of lush green Mexican grass so that our boys don’t get hurt when they slide on the ground. We are ordering from Scotland one million hectares of velvet grass to be laid on all our grounds. We have time and again ignored our paying public; I feel very bad about it. I will have matching satin cushions for the seats. I am sure Reliance Jr. will pick up this bill.”

“It looks like you are going all out to improve cricket in the Country. What about improving the very basics of the game, batting for instance?”

“Don’t forget we’ve had always had the best batting lineup on paper! Since I am looking at 2011 World Cup, I have to get a 2011 calendar first. I want to change everything lock, stock and barrel. No point in keeping the old eggs any more as they rot and smell.”

“Good! You want to start everything a fresh and apply a fresh coat of paint all over.”

“Yes. But I don’t want to be too hasty. After all Sachin would only be 37 and Kumble around 41. Along with Ganguly, we will have the nucleus of an ‘Experience Bank’ India is always looking for… I am sure I can convince Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan to come for an ad with Hrithik Roshan. We should have an ideal blend of youth and experience. We have a lot of time to do experiments in between.”

“That reminds me…What about the coach? Are you going to have a new one?”

“Yes and no. Greg Chappell will be our coach up to 2009. He will do all the experiments up to 2009. I will give him fresh set of white coats, ‘rabbits and rats’ that go with any lab. From 2009 we will have a new coach who can think on his feet and turn around India’s cricketing fortune.”

“Who do you have in mind?”

“My colleague and the Railway Minister, Lalu Prasadji. He has offered to be the new Coach. For one thing, he knows how to milk any cow. He has experience. He can milk the BCCI Cash Cow dry. He has some revolutionary ideas like buying neutral umpires etc. Since he has grown fodder he knows a thing or two about pitches, watering etc, his experience will come in handy preparing the pitches. He will know what type of pitches will suit our team. He is confident he can win the 2011 World Cup for me.”

“Pawarji, you have some brilliant idea to rebuild our team…”

“No, no. I want to win the World Cup first. I have hundreds of ideas of rebuilding the team which can come later. But, there is a hitch. Laluji wants the BCCI headquarters and cricket academy shifted from Mumbai and Bangalore, respectively, to Patna. He feels milking is easier in Patna. I agree with him.”

Why everyone wants to work for the government

26 March 2007

MARK BRADSHAW forwards a good one:

***

Four men were bragging about how smart their cats were. The first man was an Engineer, the second man was an Accountant, the third man was a Chemist, and the fourth man was a Government Employee.

To show off, the Engineer called his cat, “T-square, do your stuff.” T-square pranced over to the desk, took out some paper and pen and promptly drew a circle, a square, and a triangle.

Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the Accountant said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Spreadsheet, do your stuff.” Spreadsheet went out to the kitchen and returned with a dozen cookies. He divided them into four equal piles of three cookies.

Everyone agreed that was good.

But the Chemist said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Measure, do your stuff.” Measure got up, walked to the fridge, took out a quart of milk, got a 10 ounce glass from the cupboard and poured exactly 8 ounces without spilling a drop into the glass.

Everyone agreed that was pretty good.

Then the three men turned to the Government Employee and said, “What can your cat do?”

The Government Employee called his cat and said, “CoffeeBreak, do your stuff.”

CoffeeBreak jumped to his feet, ate the cookies, drank the milk, shat on the paper, screwed the other three cats, claimed he injured his back while doing so, filed a grievance report for unsafe working conditions, went in for Workers Compensation, ad went home for the rest of the day on sick leave.

That’s why everyone wants to work for the government.

A quotable quote for the bhaiyyas in blue

25 March 2007

“A dream is not what you see in sleep. A dream is what does not let you sleep.”

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Pardon us, is yoga becoming a bit of a scam?

25 March 2007

Yoga has given India a stunning international shimmer. The ethos, values and practices of a long ago past, of a far away country, seem to have been directly, successfully embedded in the minds and bodies of millions in a manner in which even IT and Bollywood—put together—haven’t, can’t. There isn’t a city without its local yoga guru dispensing his/her wisdom. Cities like Mysore and Poona resemble mini Olympics Games villages every day of the year.

The biggest magnets, of course, are B.K.S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois, but there are dozens more gurus, aspiring and perspiring, straining every sinew to keep the turnstiles swinging. But is yoga as a cottage industry, if not here elsewhere, in danger of being commodified and reduced to a pale shadow of its original intent noble and purpose?

Yoga mat, yoga mat-carrier, yoga-speak, hot yoga, yoga tapes, yoga books… a kind of supermarket yoga that is just another word for burning fat? The Bikram Choudhury intellectual property rights scandal in the United States has been much documented. Baba Ramdev‘s USP has become rowasana, in which he wriggles out of a controversy a day.

Now, on Slate, Ron Rosenbaum twists the knife further.

“[What] once was—and still can be—pure and purifying has been larded with mystical schlock. Once a counterweight to our sweaty striving for ego gratification, yoga has become an unctuous adjunct to it.”

Read the full article here: The hostile new age takeover of yoga

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How can yoga be prevented from being completely overrun by the marauders? Should it?

The ultimate World Cup debacle excuse

24 March 2007

Maybe it was just a bad bad idea to liberate East Pakistan?


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