The Real Challenge

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An year has passed since a bunch of goodwill ambassadors came from across the border showering the city of Mumbai with brotherly bonhomie, a very Pakistani kind of joi-d’ vivre  springing from the well of affection that country has for us. The anniversary of that monumental event was observed recently with the lighting of candles, the singing of hymns and a serious series of allegations-counterallegations between widows of slain police officers and those who were in charge a year ago.

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Appeal For Votes And An Update On The Book

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Update 1: The confirmation email, sent from “confirm_vote@Sparklit.com” and may be stuck in your spam. Remember your vote is not registered till you click on the link you get sent to your inbox

The Indibloggies 2008 is taking place and Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind has been nominated, aap ki kripa se,  in two categories: Indiblog Of The Year (Category 1)  and Most Humorous Blog (Category 5)

[Voting link]

In an ideal world, I would have been able to promise many things to get your vote—tubewells, blankets, quotas, the opening of an IIT or IIM in your neighborhood, free desi liquor or at least guarantee that my “friends” will not torch your house out of “spontaneous anger” should I lose.

But since we do not live in Utopia, I only appeal to the goodness of your heart.

If this blog has touched you in appropriate ways and in appropriate places,  please vote for Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind in the Indiblog Of The Year and Most Humorous Blog categories. [direct link into voting area]

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The Party

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A White tent in Monsoon Wedding style on the lawns of the White House. Music playing: Aja Nachle

Dr. Singh, the PM, ambles about.

Bill Clinton arrives.

“Hello there Dr. Singh. I had a favor to ask of you.”

Dr. Singh: “Oh Mr. Clinton, I thought you were not coming to the dinner.”

Bill: “See that’s the problem. That blasted wife of mine dragged me along—didnt want me to be alone with the new lady secretary I hired to look over my papers [wink]. Would it be possible for your country to invite Hillary over for like a week or two on some excuse?”

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Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani–The Review

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Some readers have noted the lack of reviews on this blog recently. While the fact that I am finishing up my book is one of the reasons why movie-watching has taken a backseat, what has been an even more important contributory factor towards my reticence towards Bollywood has been the presence of a certain Miss Kaif in almost every other major release, an H1N1 of pain.

Make no mistake. Miss Kaif is undoubtedly hot and can do a fine Chika-Chika. But she is definitely the size-zero of histrionic ability and the ground-zero of talent —-from her stilted Hindi to her monotone to the paucity of facial expressions, sometimes so weak as to make “deer-in-headlights” Amisha Patel look like Smita Patil. Not that I would expect Oscar-worthy acting in “Blue” but even then it is difficult to sit through even those little gems when someone is as consistently grating .

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Sachin The Underperformer?

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On Hariprasad Poojary’s Facebook page, I came across a link to this article written by Kapil Dev on Sachin Tendulkar’s twenty years in cricket. Standing apart from the universal chorus of applause, Kapil Dev raises a dissenting voice. His contention is that considering the monstrous promise Sachin demonstrated in his teens, he has under-achieved over his career metamorphosing into a record-breaker than into a destroyer, more a Sunil Gavaskar/Boycott than Vivian Richards.

This article will generally be met with two types of reactions. Sachin fans will dismiss it off-hand with a smirk  reminding people of  the irony inherent in Kapil Dev criticizing someone else of playing for records when he himself dragged his career to beat a rather irrelevant record, in the process depriving the country of the best years of Srinath’s career (I of course do not blame Kapil so much as I blame the selectors for not showing the backbone needed to do what needed to be done). Sachin detractors, and that’s also a significant constituency, will get up from their seats and applaud Kapil for saying what is not politically correct to say right now.

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Mumbai Meri Jaan

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There have been several events that have taken place in Mumbai of late which I cannot let go without some comment.

For one, I must congratulate the Shiv Sena for tearing down posters of Kareena Kapoor’s bare back. Someone needed to do that, in order to save Indian culture and our collective sanity. [Link]

She is known as ‘Size Zero’ of the Indian Film Industry. So we decided, let’s just call her ‘Half a Bagel’. She is slim, sleek and sexy. Kareena Kapoor is taking Bollywood by storm since a year, and taking the paparazzi by frenzy whenever she is spotted with boyfriend and actor Saif Ali Khan. Off screen, Kareena, popularly known as Bebo in Bollywood, exudes a smaller-than-life, self deprecating persona. She always looks hopeful about her future, whether it’s family, films or Saif Ali Khan. She is unique. She has the sort of untouchable star quality about her. In person, she is quite remarkably beautiful and lean. So lean that she seems almost to be a trick of perspective.

I am sorry but this worshipping of super-leaness just has to stop. When your body seems to be an optical illusion (a trick of perspective) then you are not only a danger to yourself but also to society.  Here’s the deal. If I wanted to look at Kareena Kapoor’s bare back, I would be looking at a skeleton hanging in a dissection room thank you.

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SachinTwenty

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Twenty years ago.

It was  in game reduced to a charity match that which we first saw the reason for the hype. A sixteen year old had gone to Pakistan, amidst some media frenzy (for the time that is) with none other than the great Sunil Gavaskar gifting him his pads with a statement of the sort “This kid plays as good as me. And can play way more strokes than I ever could.”  While people remember the savage flood of sixes against Qadir and Mushtaq, what I remember is how, of all the players in the Indian team, only he showed a willingness to fight and give it his all, respecting the time of people like me who were watching the game when they were supposed to be studying Life Science, something that  the rest of the team could not be bothered as they went through the motions, talking and laughing, since it was not an official match (as if anything involving India and Pakistan can be unofficial). It would prove to be one of the defining characteristics of the man for twenty years— his commitment, his seriousness and his utter professionalism.

Trying to understand the legend that is Sachin, one needs to look at him through two prisms—that of the game and that of everything but that.

Whether Sachin is the greatest batsman after Bradman has been debated threadbare on many forums with reams of statistics drawn from Statsguru and it is not my intent to go over that. Arguing about the greatness of a batsman with numbers and averages is to me mostly an exercise in futility, somewhat like evaluating movies based on box office collections or the taste of food by its glycemic index.

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Red Eye

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With Mamata Banerjee shutting out the CPM comprehensively in the Assembly by-elections with the wife of one of its most dependable leaders, the late Subhash Chakraborty, losing her seat the sun looks about to set on the Marxist empire in Bengal, something that many people of my generation never hoped to see, no matter how much they may have wished for it. But then again Caesar never thought his empire would end and neither did Queen Victoria.

I belong to the generation that grew up in the Red shadow. I hated it. Not that I understood much of politics as a young kid, but it does not take much of political antennae to detest hours of power-cuts (“load shedding”) which uncles would say was Jyoti Basu’s gift (There was an amusing political poster in those days –it had a picture of Jesus Christ (Jisu) saying “I will take you from darkness to light and then a picture of Basu (rhymes with Jisu..well kind of) saying “I will take you from light to darkness”). If long hours of darkness before Half Yearly examinations and during Chitrahar was not torture enough, it was even more infuriating to see far more reliable power supply being provided to “government quarters” where some “officials” stayed and even to the club-house of the neighboring “local boys” since they drew power from multiple sectors, under the full patronage of the local administration. I realized soon enough that in CPM rule, there were two kinds of people you did not mess with, two kinds of people who are never wrong—–those who had strength by virtue of position and those who had strength by virtue of numbers. And since a middle-class family like mine did not have either, we were consigned to listening to commentary of cricket matches on our trusty transistor.

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Observations On India Australia ODI Series 2009

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Observation 1: While we came very close to becoming the statistical number 1 ODI team in the world, the fact remains that we have far too many fundamental problems to claim that we rightfully deserve the top rank.

For one, Australia showed us where exactly we stand in one of the defining  criteria for excellence as a sporting country—depth of talent.

The Australia of 2009 is a pale shadow of that of 2007 in terms of ability. On top of that, more than half of their first team were not available due to a rotten run of injuries. And yet second and third-choice players  like Bollinger were able to turn in match-winning performances in conditions, totally foreign to them and with very little preparation since many of them were hurriedly drafted into the squad. In contrast, the Indian side seems to be unable to recover from the absence of just one player—-pace-spearhead Zaheer Khan for several series now, an absence we have had sufficient time to plan for.

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