Saturday, December 29, 2012

In God We trust...

This was written before Sachin retired. I had every intention of posting it before that day. My PC stubbornly refused to start. It was right after the Kolkata test match. Before the world changed.



This is one of the most difficult times for you, Sir. This is one of those times when you have to dig deep and pull out a gem. And you did. Against England. You dug deep into that limitless talent pool of yours and pulled out one. It did not satiate many. They’re still calling for your head. It’s evident Sir, your time in the sun is running out.

Many say that cricket is the only life you’ve ever known. Well, cricket without you is a life I’ve never known too. And I don’t want to. I remember running home from school on match days to breathlessly scan the scoreboard. If the wickets column was anything but Zero, and you weren’t on strike I would frantically search the screen for the familiar short statured, wide legged figure at the other end, one hand on the hip and body weight resting on the bat handle. It had such a calming effect. It didn’t matter then if we were 10/1 or 10/3 because you were at the other end. Nothing mattered.

Just like the bowler never mattered to you. You were more concerned about the sight screen. It was just a white background for most batsmen but not for you. You were finicky about it. It used to be followed by the most ungainly, recognised and characteristic set of movements - that adjusting of the guard in the front of the pants. And you were ready. So were we. As the bowler went up in appeal, a billion heartbeats would stop, there would be a billion sharp intakes of breath followed by fervent prayers to various Gods. The umpire shakes his head and a billion would then sigh in relief.

As the bowler went back to the mark, the fervent prayers would resume. A nation would stop as the bowler steams in from the top of his run up. He pitches it just short and you pounce on it quickly. A reassuring thump off the back foot from the iconic MRF blade, that image of the ball searing through the covers, a quick nod of the helmeted head. And living rooms and stadiums would erupt in joy. The bowler charges in again and strays, every so slightly, onto the leg stump and it is followed by the trademark flick, not so much of a shot - just giving the ball direction. And all else is forgotten. The World is Sachin and Sachin is the world.

We all have tried to imitate that nod of the head, that ungainly adjusting of the guard but we could never even come close to playing THAT straight drive or the backfoot punch or the uppercut. Other batsmen could play the cover drive too. But none like you.

You made children complete their homework early, made housewives forget their daily chores. You made the ailing feel healthy and the healthy to call in sick at work. You’ve made the weak strut and the strong tremble. You’ve stopped Bombay, You’ve stopped India why, even Time stood still when you batted.


In those dark days of mediocrity and inconsistency, you were the only hope we could all look up to. In our eyes, you were Superman, the hero we all craved for. You wielded the willow like it was Thor’s hammer. Impregnable in defence, rock-solid yet destructive. The one who would offend and not defend. Yes, you were larger than life and we always expected too much from you and much less from the other ten. Yes, and we expected it every time. You were superhuman, yet a kid with our middle class values. An Aapla manoos. We were the junkies and you were our fix.

Yet, your time in the sun seem to be running out Sir. It’s painfully clear but yes it is. That twinkle in your eye seems to be missing now. You look worried. It worries us too.

It seems that it was not so long ago that every thing was alright. We remember it what it was like. We who have missed flights but not fights for you. We who turned living rooms into stadiums and stadiums into bull rings. We who have seen you spoil equations and destroy reputations. We who have seen you weather storms and invoke sandstorms. And now, we are just as flustered.

Yes, you are 39 now and questions about your future are bound to arise. Yes, the score board makes unhappy reading and you’ve fallen to better deliveries in the past but there still are legions – lots and lots of people who still believe in you and want you to do well. If you wish to retire, let it be your decision only and not because some half wit asked you to. Your time in the sun may be running out, but his never came.

May that day never come Sir, but if a day comes when you decide to call it a day and tuck that bat away; we will retire too. We will follow the odd game, cheer an Indian victory and even gasp when Kohli tries a Tendulkar, but it’ll never be the same. We are a generation that grew up watching you and learning from you. We know what it’ll mean when you would no longer be there. It means that our time in the sun, will be up too.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

That Streetcar named Desire...

“Whoever you are... I have always depended on the kindness of strangers...”


I first heard the dialogue in a play called “All about my Mother” where Ratna Pathak essays the role of Blanche DuBois. I loved the dialogue and it stayed on my mind. A Streetcar named desire, was always a Brando movie for me. Until yesterday.

The movie is set in New Orleans with Blanche boarding a Streetcar named ‘Desire’ to visit Stella, her sister. Stella DuBois, now Stella Kowalski is married to Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando). Stanley takes an instant dislike to Blanche.

Upon realizing that Blanche has ‘lost’ her family’s ancestral property, Belle Reve, Stanley takes it upon himself to prove to his wife that her sister, Blanche is phony. He believes that Blanche squandered the family money and has cheated his wife of her inheritance. Blanche, on the other hand calls the boorish Stanley an ‘ape’ and constantly berates her sister to have married a brute.

Blanche coquettishly warms up to Stanley’s friend, Mitch. It acts as the catalyst and Stanley cruelly exposes Blanche’s past.

Streetcar II

Whatever the theme of the movie maybe, for me, it is the showdown between Stanley (Marlon Brando) and Blanche (Vivien Leigh).These two, for sure, can never be BFFs! Their conflict is epic and the tension is palpable every time Brando enters the room. It is like the ultimate battle of the sexes.

Not for once, do you feel that this is Brando’s second film. His dialogue, “Hey Stella” just echoes into the night. Even the most mundane acts, like that of changing a shirt, has it’s own distinct style. His anger is so intense that you too, cower along with Stella and Blanche when he ‘Clears the table’ and offers to clear theirs as well.

The star is Vivien Leigh albeit by a small margin. She plays Blanche with such panache and adds such complexity to the character that she makes it her own. Blanche is Leigh and Leigh is Blanche. Some of the most tender scenes are when She goes on a date with Mitch. She seems so pathetic in the scene that you want Mitch to embrace Blanche and at the same time you realize that Mitch has to run away from the trainwreck called Blanche. Her disdain for realism and a desire for magic is so incredibly portrayed. It’s only when she is faced with reality, her voice deepens and she looks bitter. The following line is so heartbreaking..

“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic. I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don’t tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth.”

Finally, the enmity culminates in an ugly triumph. That’s when Blanche gives a weak smile and delivers that cathartic and deeply disturbing dialogue about depending upon the kindness of strangers. She kills you when she walks with the doctor. And that was when I realized that while Brando had raw, animal magnetism; Blanche too had the same magnetism, only that it was weak and broken.


P.S. I don’t know how to end it.  Disappointed smile

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On a Ventilator? Seriously?! :D


Are you on your deathbed Sir?
I heard that you’re dying of old age. Please, Sir please tell me this is not true because if it is, then I swear Bombay will burn. Yes, Bombay will burn, bhaiyyas will be beaten up, we’ll throw out some Muslims & Madrasis, molest some women and tear down a couple of Archies’ and McDonald’s for good measure.
I cannot believe it, Sir! It seems like it was only yesterday that you set Bombay on fire with your fiercely communal speeches. I was a kid back in ‘92 and I thoroughly enjoyed all the holidays that I got because of your frequent bandhs (My father used to grumble about missing office though!) Not me. I revered you for bringing out the bile in the poor, working class people. Your opposition to the Valentines’ day celebration on grounds that it was poisoning our minds was legendary too!
And of course who can forget your act of transforming the city of maximum debauchery, Sins and Migrants to a cultural hotbed of jingoism, narrow mindedness & hatred by simply renaming it! You speeches were so awesome. You used to mimic your rivals in such a wicked manner. You pointed out the flaws in the ruling party so well. It’s a different matter that you never said what you’d do if elected. I still loved your speeches. I used to envision an India under your rule and I used to shudder sorry, I used to get goose bumps!
I’ll miss you so much. I made a living out of hating you and making fun of you. If you die you’ll be relegated to a second grade portrait in future SS gatherings.
I so wish you live another five years! Your health is so poor that you cannot threaten the Pakistani team anymore if they come to play in Bombay. Or threaten me for using the forbidden ‘B’ word. It’s such a pity that you cannot enjoy the millions and zillions which you too, embezzled.

I’d humbly request you to slog it out for another five years. So that your party does not come to power on votes given out of sympathy. You can then watch the wretch you call a son squander all your ‘good’ work. Besides, it’d be easier to believe in God if he extends your miserable life.
I know you have only hours if not weeks left.. but I sincerely hope.. pray that your misery continues..

Yours lovingly,
A gleeful Indian

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Does Truth really Triumph every Sunday?!

satyamev Jayate

Does Satyamev Jayate work? Asked Pritish Nandy. It’s the same question that I’ve been asking myself since Episode One. TRP wise, yes it works big time. It also serves as a catharsis for so many ‘worldly-wise’ individuals. It puts Aamir on a different plane altogether considering the fact that his contemporaries did mediocre shows like “Kya aap paanchvi pass se tez ho?” or “Sawaal Dus Crore kaa”. But does it really work the way that it set out to or it claims it set out to?

The show is presented & packaged very well. But the approach is dubious.The title says “Truth shall prevail” but Aamir just dons the hat of a journalist and peeks into the lives of unfortunate, downtrodden and affected people. It’s no different from the other voyeuristic news programmes that we’ve been accustomed to. Aamir takes a moral high ground, zooms into the lives of victims and makes them relive their worst memories.

As audience, we click our tongues patronisingly at the alcoholic journalist who threw it all away. We blame the doctors for being so money-minded, for conducting sex determination tests & abetting female foeticide. We berate our leaders for not making India a disabled friendly country. We blame parents of children who were sexually abused for not paying heed and finally, we LOVE to blame the younger generation for drinking and driving!

This is where the show succeeds. While Aamir tries to pinpoint the ills that plague “Our” nation, we look at the mistakes of “Other” people. Along with him, Aamir successfully elevates us to a morally higher ground as well.

The format of the show is the same every time. Aamir begins with a sombre soliloquy and then invites a couple of victims with sob stories to share. Aamir then dutifully sobs at each story and gasps as well, lest the sobbing become boring and one dimensional. Then walks in an expert who gives his two cents and sometimes a celebrity is thrown in for good measure. All through the show we are bombarded with facts and trivia that we are only too aware of. It’s the same story the next week as well albeit, a different problem.

Maybe I am being too harsh here and the show has indeed affected a lot of people. But as I said in the beginning, it’s the approach that concerns me. The show is nothing more than a news report with a glamorous, weeping anchor who pretends to understand. It’s a welcome change from the macabre news reporters of India TV. The show pretends to attempt to make a change but Aamir stops short of it by a long, long way. And that, is a big flaw.

Each issue, is accorded an episode. These things can only be resolved by proper, regular and annoying follow ups. Else, what do we do with so many sad stories? Aamir merely presents the problem, never the solution. I would love to see him file an RTI or a PIL. To be fair to him, he could’ve done a “Paanchvi Pass se tez ho” as well but he chose to differently. As Nandy says, Aamir isn’t a change agent but he has attempted something. Hats off to that, and hopefully truth shall prevail someday.

Until then, it’s not Satyamev Jayate every Sunday it’s our version of the Oprah Winfrey show and that’s a big compliment!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Office Journeys...



Having missed the regular bus for Office, I was running late. It could have been worse but it was thankfully, a Friday, which meant that I could just slip into a pair of jeans and head for Office.

   I did not have to wait for long for another bus to arrive, it came almost immediately. Thanks to some brilliant planning on part of the local Government, the road outside my house is always dug up and traffic snarls are as common as muck. It then immediately opens into a broad, lush road. Drivers can’t resist speeding there having just gotten out of a traffic jam.

Our Bus Driver was no different. We were cruising at a fairly high speed. I was standing by the rear window when the Driver applied a sudden brake. Everyone was thrown out of his seat and poor standees like me fell upon poorer standees. Some people bumped their heads on the railing and some, like our Bus Conductor, just swore. It was evident that the bus had run over someone. Slowly the bus moved ahead. It was moving too slowly, in inches,  obviously the driver was carefully avoiding something. The passengers were glued to their windows, anxiously looking at the small crowd that had already gathered.

           I was the first one to see it. As the Bus moved ahead at a snail’s pace, I saw a puppy lying on the road. It was very small and was lying helplessly on the road. On the other side of the road was it’s Mother, down to her hunches and whimpering, fearing the worst. The other passengers too saw the scene and realised that their Bus had ran over someone who had a life. The anger immediately dissipated and it gave way to an overwhelming wave of pity. Nothing evokes more guilt than a dead puppy. We all were sadly looking at the dead creature and the bus was also trundling guiltily.

       And then it happened! The puppy moved a little and in one moment, it was jumping around as if it got a new life. Apparently, the driver had saved a life and not taken one. It’s mother was caressing it and jumping at the same it. I could feel the Mother’s relief in it’s joyous barking. And then I heard clapping. People around me were jumping around and clapping as well..!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

You know you work at a Call Centre when...


Call center 1

1. When ‘First Shift’ means going to work at 5.30 in the evening.

2. When you find that you’re more familiar with the 50 states of the U.S. than our 28 states. (Or is it 29 states)

3. When you say that you had a ‘good night sleep’ and you actually mean that you slept from 6.00AM to 4.00PM.

4.  When you say your name and your company’s name at the beginning of every call and still get asked ‘Who’s this and what company are you calling from?’

5. When you compare your company’s hold music with that of other companies’.

6. Everytime your phone rings, you have an inexplicable desire to put  on headphones.

7. When your Manager calls for a meeting everytime he feels lonely.

8.  When you’ve mastered the art of twiddling your pen, using the keyboard, waving at your friends and of course, talking with the customer at the same time.

9. When your Manager calls the above activities ‘Multai-tasking’ when he really means Multi-tasking.

10. When you pronounce ‘Zed’ as ‘Zee’

11. When you discuss the climate of Florida and that of Arizona as if it’s really in your backyard

12. When you regularly get called by something other than your name.

13. When you're more comfortable with a Coffee vending machine than a real coffee boy.

14. When every other person you meet tells you conspiratorially that he just wants to get out of this industry and that he ‘just isn’t interested in making a career in this industry.’

16. When you know that B stands for Bravo and not Bombay and though you know what L stands for, you don’t even have a clue as to what ‘Lima’ actually is!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Needh kaa Nirmaan Phir Phir...


           The clouds gather ominously. The gentle breeze starts blowing with the force of a gale. Lightning strikes. It hasn’t begun raining yet, but you can smell the rain. Trees are ravaged, bent over double by the gust and the only sound you can hear is that of leaves swishing violently and that of tin boards of shops falling over. The sky darkens even more as the sun sets and it is accompanied by loud thunder. All you can see is clouds of dust rising up towards the sky and it is difficult to keep your eyes open. You look up towards the sky and you see that one sparrow which is being bullied mercilessly by the wind. It looks so vulnerable, a small sparrow braving the mighty wind. For every thrust ahead, it is pushed twice backward. And sideways. Still, it fights doggedly and survives another storm.

And then sheets of water start pouring.

And people scamper for safety.

It reminds me of a Hindi poem that I learnt in school and I love quoting it. It is written by Harivanshrai Bachchan and it’s based on perseverance & re-generation. I couldn’t recall the whole poem and therefore googled it. I shall soon post a translation as well.



Yah Uthi Aandhi Kii Nabh Main
Chaa Gaya Sahsa Andhera
Dhooli Dhoosar Badalon Ne
Bhoomi Ko Iss Bhaanti Ghera
Raat Saa Din Ho Gaya
Phir Raat Aayi Aur Kaali
Lag Raha Tha Ab Naa Hoga
Iss Nisha Ka Phir Savera
Raat Ke Utpaat Bhay Se
Bheet Jan-Jan Bheet Kan-Kan
Kintu Prachi Se Usha Ki
Mohini Muskaan Phir Phir,
Needh ka nirman phir phir
Neh ka avhaan phir phir!

Kruddha Nabh ke Vajradanton Main
Usha hai muskaraati,
Ghor garjanmay gagan ke
Kanth main Khag pankti gaati
Ek chidiya chonch main
Tinka liye jo jaa rahi hai
Vah sahaj mein hi pavan unchaas ko
Neecha dikha rahi hai.
Nash ke dukh se kabhi
Dabta nahin nirmaan ka sukh
Pralay ki nistabdhata mein
Srushti ka navgaan phir phir.
Needh ka nirmaan phir phir
Neh ka aavhaan phir phir