Friday, 9 May 2008


I am actually wondering how a particular friend of mine would react when he opens this page, to see me out of all people blogging about cricket. The last time he tried to explain some detail, I shushed him and said don’t bother ‘cause its all Greek and Latin to me.

But IPL goes much beyond cricket. See, honestly, I haven’t seen a single match and don’t want to either. Cricket just isn’t my can of coke [which happens to be the soft drink I’m addicted to]. The way I see it IPL is India’s new Bollywood, the new phase of the entertainment industry of our multi-faceted multi-cultured country. It’s like a movie, something that is appealing to all the people of India and abroad of course without the barrier of language or cast or any such.

The IPL reminds me of a circus of sorts, and that too not just any circus, it’s more like cirque-de-soliel, or like a composition showcased at Broadway or a dance-drama of sorts choreographed for Julliard. There is a lot of melodrama, action, storyline, locations, the hot women, the sturdy macho men, the sorrow of loss and the jubilance of victory which means that at least one team always has a happy ending. And before I forget, there is the also big money involved. Pretty up everything needed for a potboiler masala flick.

There is not one newspaper or magazine or channel that is not hyping the IPL. And it all began much before the actual cricket, the publicity, the drama, the controversies. Players from around the world were auctioned off, and the amounts paid almost made me faint. The owners are all characters by themselves, movie stars, business tycoons and a beer baron with a golden stud. Right from day one, it was evident that this was going to unfold to be interesting and amusing and entertaining to say the least.

Then I believe came the names if these teams and media hype. Shah Rukh and the Kolkata Knight Riders, Mallya and the Bangalore Royal Challengers and what not. The credit must be given where its due and so kudos to those who coined these names, ‘cause they’ve managed to invoke enthusiasm and gusto just by hearing a name. Lets not forget to mention the billboards, hoardings and the other advertisements that were used to announce that the teams have arrived and that the INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE is almost upon us.

Now pardon me, but since I’m not much of a follower of the game, I don’t know the minute or major stuff that happened in the build up to the event. But once it did start the tamasha was awesome. If I am nit mistaken, the hullabaloo started with our very own Bhajji and Sreeshanth. Both team-mats at the national level but on opposite side of the fence, field rather for the IPL, one said something, the other slapped him and they got punished, but the one who meted out the punishments was not really doing the right thing and the person investigating the case is appalled by the video and so forth.

Then came the whole Shane Warne-Saurav Ganguly fiasco. Now I don’t quite know who said what to whom and why and all but, I am aware that there was hungama, something to do with the third umpire and the unspent tempers of the aussie& the desi.

And how could I not mention, the hot pulsating women. Gimme a this and gimme a that, the cheerleaders. There’s nothing left to say about them, I guess. About how they are reducing the standard of the gentleman’s sport with their pompoms and how they are adversely affecting the Indian men and how they polluted the Indian morals and values. But really, don’t these politicians have anything better to do than try and cover up these women who are only trying to do their job, of adding a little spice to the game?

And then there’s Shoaib Akhtar, the banned now, but suspended till the last date of IPL dude, who will be joining Shah Rukh and his knights, adding to the hype of the IPL.

And of course, I do believe there’s good cricket too, you know. That too, it has succeeded in bringing rivals together, to play in one team, to work together , to plan together and to play together. If not for anything else, then definitely at least for uniting gifted players and beginners from around the globe, IPL deserves applause.

Controversies may come and go, but we have to all unanimously agree that the Indian Premier League is a triumphant enterprise. It has the formula for success. Glamour, game, power, publicity and a cricket hungry following. It has written history as the new era of cricket as well as entertainment. I do believe that the Indian Premier League is here to stay.

Monday, 4 February 2008

India, As I See It

I haven’t yet decided what to call this blog or what exactly this is about but I guess I’m more or less going to talk about the contradictions within a country like India. Honestly where else in the world will you find such a cornucopia of languages, religions or race, where else in the world will you find the richest of the rich and poorest of the poor living together, where else will you find human demi-gods like Amitabh Bachchan uniting the populace to enjoy a movie or function and in other parts people killing in the name of thier God, where else will you find such a weird blend of technology and tradition, we even have Sadhus carrying cell phones these days...where else will you find normal people being true philanthropists and the people in power being so corrupt...which other country can create hype and enjoy both a movie like a touching Taare Zameen Par and a nonsensical Om Shanti Om with equal fervor..

You know the best place to watch life in India has to be in a Mumbai local train. One of my professors used to say that people think the space inside one of our local trains is infinity, and mind you, people do pour in like that… I remember the last time I went, oh my God, squeezed in one corner, it’s not like I need much space but still. In the Mumbai local train, you can see all sorts of people, from all walks of life, all ages, all religions and casts, male and female, from the rich brat to the street children, people who are so comfortable hanging onto the railing confidently and using their new iPods or phones and even people who are too scared that they hold on tight to their handbags. It’s a funny experience to watch how the people change from sane normal calm people to the total opposite while boarding or exiting the compartment because it barely stops for 20-30 seconds at each station. And the Mumbai local train sure has commendable spirit, just hours after the blast in July 2006 where 175people were killed, the train was back to life and in full swing. Kudos to Mumbaikars for that !!

Mumbai has to be one of my favorite cities of the world, not that I’ve travelled much but nevertheless, Mumbai is so, I quite don’t get the word for it, but full of life, the city is so alive, always buzzing with activity. No matter what time of the day or night it is, there is so much life, so much hustle bustle. It is amazing that Mumbai has Dharavi, the largest slum area in the world and in its vicinity it also has The Hyatt, the 5 star hotel. Imagine that the slum and five star hotels existing side by side, people who cant afford food for their children and people who can afford to buy the world if their child demands it, people who cant afford to buy food and clothes and side by side, people who rain money for one serving and who’re dressed in Armani and Gucci, that too from the posh locales around the world. It’s a plethora of opposites, rich and poor, old and the new, the modern high rise buildings and malls, Inorbit being my favorite, and the lovely old architecture and buildings like at the VT station, the exorbitantly prized stores and the much cheaper shopping areas like Linkin Road, Crawford Market etc, of bullock carts on the same roads as an BMW or Mercedes, the beautifully constructed buildings and the ugly pot-holed roads.

The other places which I totally adore in India have to be Goa and Kerala. I’ve had my best and worst holiday in Goa. Goa is a magnificently beautiful. It definitely is a blessed place. It is so serene and peaceful. Everyone should make it a point to visit Goa at some point of their lives, it is true that the booze is very cheap and you get all sorts of other ‘stuff’ too, but the place is just right to relax and de-stress. It definitely is a heaven on earth, the golden sands, the blue sea, the starry nights, the works. It definitely is the just the perfect place to unwind and let your hair down. One amusing incident that is still clearly etched in my mind is when we went to the flea market. The natives who had come to sell their wares there had an accent which really surprised me and my friends, they had a very good American accent and we were in awe actually, because the way they looked, you’d think they wouldn’t even know the language. But they had a very good American accent and knew more than enough English to sell their goods to make their living. It shows both their adaptability as well as a sharpness of mind, ultimately the need to survive is the most prominent, innit?

Kerala or God’s own country as its also known is glorious; the story goes that Kerala was born at the spot where Lord Parashuram threw his axe. The extensive coast line, the soaring coconut trees, the luscious green fields, the mouth watering delicacies, the tongue twisting language, all in one package. These are some of the things I love about the place. I love being in Kerala, apart from being there just to visit my family, I love sitting on the rocks and listening to the waves, walking down the shore with the waves nibbling at my feet, and just enjoy being one with nature. I used to come to Kerala for my holidays back when I was in Bahrain, and I used to love the feeling of it, slow, steady, relaxed, tranquil. No hustle-bustle no hurry just let your hair down, enjoy life, enjoy nature.

Mumbai on one hand and Goa and Kerala on the other, one a city which enjoys life at a maddening speed and the others, serene and calm, two ends of a spectrum but both, wonders within one country.

I have been living in India for about 3 years now, yes I am an Indian citizen and quite a proud one at that, just that I have been born and brought up outside the country, I used to come here for about a month every 2 years, just to meet family and it used to be fun. Anyways, living here is totally different from visiting once in a while, the country humbles you, it teaches you very many lessons in life, compassion, hope, humility to name a few. Somehow, this country makes a human being out of everyone who lives here. The truth be told, I was freaked out about living here especially since the first sight I got as I exited the Mumbai airport is the slum area. But it wasn’t that bad, the whole experience of living alone in India is enriching to say the least.

India, a country which has a woman president, something which hasn’t even happened yet in the so called great nations like the United States, a country which has given birth to great women visionaries like Mother Teresa, to great businesswomen like Indra Nooyi and yet at the same time it’s a nation where evils like dowry and female infanticide are still prevalent. A nation where the women play equally important roles as wife, mother, sister, daughter, teacher as well as a bread earning member of the family. A nation where the woman will suffer abuse from her in-laws or even husband, in dignified silence, in order to protect her family and her tradition. A nation where the woman’s priority is not her self, but her family and her tradition. A nation where the child starts learning values even before the alphabets.

As far as I see it there are three main problems with the country: the bas abhi teek hai, the satisfied and content attitude, the need to poke noses into other’s business and of course, the government system which gives power in the wrong hands. Let us examine it one by one, from the last.

The government system, India is a democracy , the largest democracy there is and that sounds so amazing, but when you get into the nitty gritty, it isn’t a pretty picture. India is country with a population of more than 1,129,866,154 people, and it is a democracy. The problem lies in the lack of awareness, about the leaders who they are voting for, the problem lies in illiteracy and poverty. And even if the people are aware, we Indians somehow always believe in giving one more chance, we always hope that the next time they will be better leaders, hope that the net time they are elected they will be less corrupt and actually keep their word. Corruption is a sad truth that is prevalent at every level of Indian governance. Most of the voting crowd is illiterate, how many college students actually go out there and vote? Hardly if any. We should start and start soon, to right the wrong judgments made. Analyze each candidates portfolio and vote for the right reason, not because he’s from your caste or religion but because you believe he can make a difference.

The second problem is that we are always nosy, we are always wondering what is happening in the neighbors house rather than our own. We will criticize and comment on others way before judging ourselves and this has given rise to a fear of society, a fear of what other people will think, this stops us from giving ample opportunities to the children to develop their talents and what they desire. Thanks to this attitude we push and push to make engineers and doctors and toppers out of them, but not give heed and help develop what they are born with, drawing, dancing, singing, all come secondary. We should learn to be strong enough to help the children develop their God given gift.

Indians are very complacent people. It takes very little for us to be content as a matter of fact and the problem lies in that. We stop working to better ourselves once we reach that line. We stop aiming for the stars; we just aim at like 24th floor of a building, so to speak. And this nature makes us find temporary solutions which again will not help us in the long run. Like I said earlier, not everyone votes as they believe somebody else will. We don’t take things into our own hands, not even our own lives’ decisions, we let others, parents, peers, and society to make those decisions. We blame others but not attempt to make it right ourselves, and because of that nature, we are still where we are and not one one among the developed nations where we have the potential to be.

To conclude, I quote [with a little editing] a dialogue from Namastey London in which this was said to a Englishmen, ‘When we greet one another, we fold our hands in Namastey because we believe that God resides in the heart of every human being; we come from a nation where a lady of Catholic origin, stepped aside for a Sikh to be sworn in as prime minister, by a Muslim president, to govern a nation of over 80% Hindus; It may also interest you to know that many of the origins of English words come from Sanskrit, for example Maatre becomes Mother, Jamitri became Geometry and Thrignomati becomes Trigonometry; we have 5600 newspapers, 35000 magazines in over 21 different languages with a combined readership of 120 million; We’ve reached the moon and back but yet you people feel that we’ve only reached as far as the Indian rope trick; we have the third largest pool of doctors, engineers and scientists; that was about brains, now lets talk about brawn, we have the third largest army in the world and even then I fold my hands in humility before you because we don’t believe that we are above or beneath any individual’

India, the land of rich culture and heritage, the land of values and traditions, the land of the Himalayas and the Ganga, the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, the land of the Taj Mahal, the land of picturesque locales and breathtaking scenery, the land of gorgeous women, the land of the Ambanis and Mittals, the land of divinity and superstitions, the land that is blessed by the Lord, India, the land of contradictions.