Monday, April 26, 2010

CSK - the "fair" winners

Chennai Super Kings made it to the final of the IPL in 2008 and 2010, lost in 2008 and won in 2010 - but what they won both times was the Kingfisher fair play award. Ostensibly just another category allowing a heavyweight sponsor to stamp its brand, this award nevertheless created a different perspective to view the proceedings from - awarding the means rather than the ends. And CSK scored a perfect 10 this time!

Just a bit of background - the fair play award consists of 10 points per match to be awarded by the umpires. Up to 4 points on how the team upheld the spirit of the game, and up to 2 points each for the respect the team showed to the opponents, laws of the game and umpires (2 = exemplary, 1 = good, 0 = average). At an age where we are almost accepting sledging as the fourth aspect of the game, where we revere the brash Australian ends-justify-means competitive spirit; recognizing and rewarding "fairness" is probably the carrot everyone needs.

The T20 format in itself rules out a lot of negative tactics we see in tests and ODIs, but there is still a lot of personal discipline and ethics called for from the players. Its hard to keep aggression, pressure, disappointment and triumph tacit, but not that hard to keep it unoffensive. Have you ever seen Dhoni utter so much as he did after the couple of sixes he hit off Irfan Pathan at Dharamshala? Probably not. But did that offend anyone - absolutely not. In the finals, Sachin gloved a ball down the leg side, Dhoni appealed but it was given a wide. What happened then? No words exchanged, no angry glance, no dissent for the umpire; a bitter pill swallowed and moved on. Respect to umpire, opponent and laws of the game - all embodied in a few moments of doing "nothing".

We once admired the mighty Australians who were at the top of the ranking charts in any which form/aspect of cricket, and tried to learn from them, but that learning came with a side effect that was visible on Zaheer Khan in the 2003 WC final. Now, IPL is the new craze, IPL champions the new heroes, and we want to learn from them too - but this time without any side effects. When you can lead like Dhoni, bat like Vijay, field like Raina and bowl like Bollinger you don't have to make gross predictions in the press conference like Ponting, throw jelly beans like Flintoff, talk about the batsman's wife like McGrath or declare your intentions like Aamir Sohail.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Just finished watching Dev D, and I can't help drawing parallels with another re-told movie Mithya (Starring Ranveer Shorey and Neha Dhupia).
They were both based on retro superhits - Devdas and Don. There were "popular" remakes of both these movies, and both starring Shah Rukh Khan. Although, Bansali's Devdas will go down as another classic, Farhan Akhtar's Don will probably lost in the memory lane.

Dev D and Mithya are lesser-known directors' bold and unique re-interpretation of classic stories. In Mithya, Rajat Kapoor highlights the true sense of an identity crisis. The red diary in Bachchan's Don and the CD in Shah Rukh's Don were the sole evidence of the don-imposter's true identity, the loss of which puts the protagonist in dire situations, but is found eventually. In Mithya, there is no diary or CD, just the imposter's memory which tells him who he originally is - and the poor fellow loses his memory actually, and begins to think that he is in fact The Don. Now that's an identity crisis! The highlight of this movie - after the memory loss, Ranveer has a dream, where the scene he sees is from his original life, but the characters filling the scene are from the goon gang he is living with.

Dev D is Anurag Kashyap's no-holds-barred tandav! Its the same as Sehwag mercilessly assaulting the bowlers irrespective of the match situation or like Yanni creating magic out of disparate instruments in incongruous tones - "take that! its my choice, its my freedom!".
The re-interpretation in Dev D is more in terms of characters than the plot, except of course the fact that its set in modern day Punjab. Dev is the quintessential egotist, an impulsive one at that - a character for whom you sense early that he is on the doom path, for whom you feel like advising at first but later retort that he deserved this! The non-mortal end for this character in the story was the master stroke, because such characters exist in the real world, they survive.

Ram gopal verma ki aag... oh puhlease!! Lets not honor it by talking about it in this league.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

NRIPL - will be fun too!

I liked the ToI headline "IPL becomes NRIPL". Quite creative!

Anyways, I think the home ministry's strictness on this issue has been commendable. Elections are up ahead, and they very well know that this move will also be heavily criticized, (Modi said its a "national shame" and many more) but still they stood by it.

The reason why I say its commendable is, commitment does not always mean that you say something will be done, and do it. Commitment also involves saying "No" when you know you can't do it, or when you doubt whether you can do it. Best effort is not commitment. The government could have stretched a bit, but it chose playing it safe, but what the heck, that's exactly the players want.

Lets evaluate the other arguments against moving it off-shore:
Financial losses - the IPL bosses are not sports-maniacs, but businessmen. For them, a bigger loss would be if the tournament was not played at all. They've in fact, mitigated a lot of risk.

Viewer sentiments - Yeah, for those who throng the stadium, this is quite a blow. But have anyone considered this - inadequate security is as much a threat to the public as it is to the players.

Lets see some advantages:
Risk aversion: One has to admit that no one can guarantee 100% security. Suppose the government complies to the security request, makes all necessary arrangement, and there's some minor disruption some where - even if that is safely dealt with (no casualities, all miscreants captured), I don't see the tournament continuing from that point onwards. Even a safely averted attack will be detrimental to the tournament's progress! Vettori, Oram and co. will be scared, and the next day we'll see pictures of Vettori with his wife and new-born in Auckland airport.

Timings: In the first edition of IPL, everyday we had one match in the afternoon slot, and one match in the evening slot. With South Africa 3.5 hours behind, both those matches will be at post office-hours for India. Talk about viewership!

So Mr. PC and Mr. Lalit Modi, I say good call!

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Alchemist

Atlas Shrugged Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Phenomenal!!!! the best i've ever read.. [I screamed out this part, when I was just about half way through the book:]

The best gift this book has given me is an identity to several of my thoughts and instincts, which earlier I could not streamline with any school of thought that I came across in my life so far - they were antagonistic to my religious college's "spiritualism" and a bit out-of-bounds of our Indian middle class pragmatism (accept the reality, what can we do anyway). I could not stand certain attitude, but I did not know why; and I absolutely admired some others, again I did not know why. I wondered whether they were just a knee-jerk hostility and an enchanted awe blinding me, but now I can see that they were just the abuse and embrace of a single doctrine - objectivism.

And the best part is, my way of thinking is just the starting point of the Ayn Rand framework. I always knew I had a long way to go, and this certainly is the best guide to choose and follow the right path.

View all my reviews.

Cry baby vs Mr. fix it

Things happening at my work place makes me remember this lesson from the book "One Minute Manager" time and again -

An employee goes to the One minute manager (OMM), and says 'I have a problem, this thing is not working. Its wrong'. The OMM replied ' what's the right thing to do then, which is not being done now'. The employee says 'I don't know', to which the OMM replies 'Then you are not reporting a problem, you are just complaining. Come back to me when you have solutions (plan A,B,C etc) for it'.

So, based on this criteria I have two sets of people in my office, as the title suggests. I strive to be in the Mr. Fix it category, though I haven't been perfect as yet.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Tale of Two Banks

Among nationalized Indian banks, only SBI has been able to match the quality of service provided by banks like ICICI, HDFC and the other multi-nationals. I spent 2 years at IIT ruing the fact the we had to forcibly bank with Canara bank. So this one experience in Bangalore was as much astonishing as it was refreshing.

I had to get a DD to pay for Karnataka state road tax. I headed off to the nearest ICICI branch (couldn't do it online, needed it immediately), asked a neat tie-wala fellow there for which queue to stand in for a DD, stood in that suffocated little enclosure (their AC was down) for about 10 minutes - just to find that my DD could not be made. Dunno whether their systems were down or there was a network issue - all I was told was the DD process may not get complete, do I want to risk it? The ATMs were down too, couldn't even withdraw cash and get the DD done at some other bank.

Then I went into a nearby PNB branch, its ATM worked fine. No suit-ties, no AC but it was spacious, fans were all round, it was confortably cool. I deposited the amount at the cash counter and was waiting for my DD. Ahead of me in the DD process queue was a labourer boy who was sending about 10000 rupees home through a DD. When the bank officials saw that he was sending a DD to another PNB account, they summoned him and explained to him the electronic funds transfer facility, that he did not need to get a DD, post it, have his folks cash it there and instead just get the money transferred there in 10 minutes. He was very skeptical but they patiently allayed all his fears, convinced him to his satisfaction, and transfered the amount he had paid (10000 plus the 42 rs charges) to the recipient account.

I had to wait, but never before my wait was so pleasant.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

As random as a concentrating mind

I've graduated from being at home with family in Ahmedabad to living with roomies at Rajkot and Pune, to living alone in a hostel room in Guwahati, and finally to living alone in a flat in Bangalore. Parallely, my inclination to talk and share with others have gone from 100% to, say 10%, decreasing exponentially with each transition. As a honest confession, I started this blog because I wanted others to read what I think and write (and not just because I wanted to speak out. Whenever I wrote, I waited restlessly for any of my friends to refer something about my latest post). Now in real sense, I just want to speak out, blurt out anything and everything. I believe this will help me bring up the 10% figure.

Bangalore, the Mecca for any Indian software engineer, the silicon valley of India, the garden city... yeah yeah World, create more hype! I didn't find any magic in this city... no youthful fervor, no sense of belongingness! Probably, this is a city where software people come to settle down after having their fun in Pune, Gurgaon or on-site locations.

The companies pay a handsome amount, which the entire city - from your landlord to the sabjiwala, from your investment advisor to the rickshaw driver - conspires to take away from you. So your real occupation is to save yourself the precious little that you can salvage in this trade between two third-parties. The customer care people (cell phone, banks, internet connection, gas connection or even driving classes) are trained to not protest when an irritated customer calls up and says 'do this, else I don't need your services. Refund my deposit'. There wouldn't be a split second for you to save your pride before they reply 'ok sir, you can withdraw your subscription by tomorrow evening'. Logic says it's basic economics, demand exceeds supply so much that you've got to expect this, but India mein senti blackmail chalna chahiye yaar!! any place!!

Being an extremely small part of an extremely big company doesn't exactly feel like the seventh heaven, but it does present an opportunity. Unlike my sadistic previous section, I'm more optimistic about this one. Although I wanted to be part of a start-up, be a reasonably sizeable part of a 'smallish' company, I am now happy at my place. One of my friends is in such a company, but thanks to some unknown rascal in the US defaulting on his home loan, my friend might face the axe.

India-Australia test series kicks off tomorrow in Bangalore, and as any other short-memoried Indian cricket fan, I am optimistic about this too. I have my tickets to the stadium for the fourth day. Ganguly is all over the news today, I really hope Dravid scores though. He is yet to score a century here. Yeah, I am a 'Dravidian' in more than one sense! Recently a Wall was erected in the stadium in Dravid's honor, and he had this to say about it "when they (karnataka cricket association) first came up with this idea, I thought it would be embarrassing, but then they said it would inspire youngsters. I finally agreed’.

Rahul bhai, you have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. You were over-shadowed by Sachin and Ganguly even in your prime, its high time you raved in whatever comes your way. Because the next time this bullshit media will write good things about you would be only when, like Ganguly, you announce your exit.

After cynicism, optimism, and more optimism, here is absolute delight. The last three Hindi movies I watched were an absolute treat to any not-dumb movie lover. I saw A Wednesday, Mumbai meri jaan and Welcome to sajjanpur. Spoiler alert – ha.. who am I kidding?

Although I correctly guessed Naseeruddin Shah’s intentions at he very beginning, his monologue at the end was mind blowing. Second outstanding monologue this year for him, first being in Khuda ke liye. My favorite line of the film is when Jimmy Shergil tells the terrorist ‘ek aam insaan ki hat kya gayi, tumhe rok hi nahi, thok bhi raha hai’. Bravo!

One has to have lived in Mumbai to really appreciate Mumbai meri jaan. One has to have a strong “i’ll live in india” ideology like Madhavan to really appreciate Mumbai meri jaan (God forbid, some incident changes that in me. But now I know it can be changed.. changed by events beyond my control. I wont brag my ideology anymore). And one need not be an avid fan of Paresh Rawal to really appreciate Mumbai meri jaan, you’ll love him anyways.

Sajjanpur was a class-apart. I’ve not seen any of the Shyam Benegal movies, but now I have to. In my opinion, the character Mahadev tries give the most positive end to every sub-plot in his book though the reality was different. The compounder and the widow were told to have lived happily ever after, though in reality they were hanged by fundamentalists of their own caste on their wedding day. (obvious)
The eunuch Munnibai was killed, though in reality she goes on become the sarpanch and much more in politics. (brilliant)
Dying for a cause one is fighting for is the noblest end one can give to any hero (hero as in.. ab samajh jao). Remember the ‘Dark Knight’ line – “you either die a hero or live long enough to get corrupted”. This movie is a sheer stroke of a genius!

Anything and everything qualifies as miscellaneous, a forwarded email educated me.
I sent my girlfriend an anonymous bouquet of roses to her workplace. A risky affair given the fact that she’s has kept this under the wraps so far. More risky because I’ll have to face her wrath even if nothing alarming happens at her work place J
A note about the heading - whenever I consciously try to concentrate (as in yoga or meditation kind of concentration), the mind wavers so much that it feels as if I was at my concentrated best a moment before I decided to concentrate. Thus, I felt that a mind attempting to concentrate can be an excellent example for randomness.
Just received an sms:
TC to sardar – ticket dikhao
Sardar – ye lo
TC – yeh ticket to purani hai
Sardar – to yeh train kya abhi showroom se nikali hai