The Opening Ceremony

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The IPL, as we all know, is characterized by good taste and subtlety. The opening ceremony of this year’s IPL stayed true to that spirit of understatement, with an aesthetically choreographed show that brought out the essence of what the tournament is all about.

Being held in Kolkata, the birthplace of the Indian Renaissance and the home of Kobiguru, it was but natural (and poetic) that the ceremony should begin with one of his works being recited, in English, by Shahrukh Khan, as Bengali as Ilish maach and nolengurer sandesh.

I might have been carried away but I could not help feeling that somehow, somewhere, we were celebrating the cosmic connection between these two brand ambassadors of Bengal, one who brought the Nobel Prize to Bengal and one who brought the IPL cup. What made it even more poignant were the words “Where The Mind is Without Fear”, capturing brilliantly the state of Kolkata and Bengal today, where those who forward cartoons are celebrated by being thrown into jail, and where those who dissent are tenderly called Maoists.

Truly magical.

And as East-European “Bideshinis” , clad in traditional Bengali skimpy-wear and fake smiles, cavort to Shahrukh Khan’s emotion-drenched voice, one cannot but feel how happy Rabindranath Tagore would be, up in heaven, looking down at the spontaneity and honesty of the performance below.

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Retirement

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History books, and I am talking about the ones prescribed for us in school, tell us simple stories. Like how Gandhiji brought us freedom.Like how non-violence made the British leave.

Not that we complained—after all the last things one wants in late teenage life are complexities, especially of the type that can come to bite you on your ass during Board exams.

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Yeah ! We Will Be Playing Cricket With Pakistan Again

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As that line from Poltergeist goes “They are here.” Or more precisely, as the line from Poltergeist 2 goes “They are back.”

As predictable as a Veena Malik publicity stunt, as inevitable as a Shahid Afridi retirement, as irresistible as a Musharaff speech, and as destructive as Nargis Fakhri’s acting.

Pakistan is back here. And this time they are not coming in a boat.

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IPL High Five

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I love IPL. Of course, just like most self-appointed cricket pundits, I blame it for everything—from Sehwag’s creaky shoulders  to the declining moral standards of today’s kids (so much so that women are now being provided official “male escorts” in an IIT ). But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, at least as much as I enjoy national treasure and  my choice for the next President of India  T Rajendar showing how…well…you decide [Video]

Correction. I used to love the IPL. A long time ago. This was when Lalit Modi, the second most controversial Modi in the country, a visionary like the Ringling brothers and Heff, used to be the impresario. He realized that people don’t as much love the game as they do the excitement. And so he manufactured it. Four-play. Fore-play. Fashion shows.  Passion shows. Hyperventilating anchors. Hitting the sweet spot while being DLF-ed. Quick strategic time outs with just enough time for an out-and-out strategic quickie. Citi moments of success on the ground. Many more off it.

Sure it was not cricket. But why should it have to be? As a matter of fact, when I close my eyes, the most pleasant recollections of IPL are almost never truly cricketing. All the games have simply become in my mind, a continuum of vaguely formed images, set to Ravi Shastri  saying “Nomoksar Kolkota are you ready?” , Arun Lal exclaiming “The excitement at the ground is just so exciting”,  and Sunny’s contented “Mmm…mishti doi”.  All a mess in my mind, a flicker of randomly moving  bats and bouncing balls, jumbled up like the sequence of events or the faces of the actors in a porn video, sought to be recalled, years later.

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Farewell Sir

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If Sachin was the teacher’s pet marked for greatness ever since he joined the school, Ganguly the arrogant gang-leader of the cool kids and VVS Laxman the freakishly-talented loner in the corner, Rahul Dravid will always be the hair-cleanly-parted, diligent “good boy”, the one who studies every waking hour to get the best grade.

The perfect student.

Not for him the arrogance of knowledge. Nor the satisfaction of absolute success. Dravid was always learning, and as one of the  first ads he shot for so prophetically said, “always practicing”.

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