Friday, 28 November 2008

This too shall pass, unfortunately

For the past two days I've been in a state of slight numbness, trying to keep track of what's been happening in Bombay while going about with work as usual. I worked there for a couple of years before moving to Bangalore, I have friends there, I spent a fair amount of time in and around Colaba, my dad used to take me out to dinner at the Taj or the Oberoi when he used to visit the city. Before me, my sister fell in love with the city, and since I do a fair amount of sibling hero-worship, that would have been reason enough to feel bad about what's been happening. For those around me that do not have that personal connection, this is just another in a series of attacks, to be followed on TV and discussed over coffee and then forgotten like the last attacks and the ones before, relegated to some dark corner of their memories by the time the next cricket series shows up. And I don't blame them for it. This is how we've come to live with the sadness around us. I am benumbed to the pain of those affected by terrorism in Kashmir or  in the north-east; I found Amit Varma's poems about farmers dying in Vidharbha mildly amusing. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, just hope that it stops by 10 o'clock so you can get some sleep. 

Which is why this particular attack comes as a jolt, set up to grab our attention no matter what. There's no going to sleep thinking that the bodies will be cleared up by morning and we can go back to the old tropes about the spirit of the Mumbaikar.  In an era where others out-sourced their work to us, we had out-sourced our willingness to think and form opinions to an increasingly shrill media, which followed the same pattern after each attack - day 1: gory stories of the attack; day 2 - everyone comes on TV saying that India will survive and we will work together; day 3 - the same people come back on TV to blame each other for what happened. Watching the news these last couple of days made me realize just how far we've let things slip in that regard: presenters getting almost orgasmic in their enthusiasm to talk about the latest details, politicians straining to stick to the sort of quotes that come on day 1 and 2 when they want to get started on the day 3 denunciations, Shobhaa De talking rubbish. It almost made me feel like throwing something at the TV. 

But that would be wrong, because the fault lies as much with myself and people like me. The sort of terror that was unleashed may not have been predictable or stoppable, but the apathy that lets us get by without facing up to its causes or consequences is something that we could have dealt with. I've lived in this apathetic state for a pretty long time, and I'm sure a lot of my contemporaries have too. I've had the right to vote for almost 8 years now, I've carried out that duty not once in that time. Which is why, it's our own fault. And yet, I was trying to make that change, as were others. I decided to finally get registered as a voter, and signed up online through to get the basic details of how to go about it. I got a mail on the morning of the 25th from the site, saying that they had already signed up one lakh visitors, making it possibly the fastest growing voter registration campaign in India. In a quieter, happier time,  I would have pointed out that this wasn't bad for what started out as a CSR exercise for a tea company. Right now, I can only point to the sad irony that the company that is sponsoring it is Tata Tea, whose parent conglomerate also owns the Taj Mahal hotel.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

All Ur Lolspeak r Orginaly Belong 2 Indian Criket Fanz!!1!

In the years to come, as linguists document the rise of Lolspeak as the lingua franca of pet owners with too many cute-sy pictures and too much free time, they will also come to realize that a parallel argot evolved independently amongst the various cricket fans of the Indian sub-continent, almost simultaneously with the rise of cheap text messaging and Cricinfo. It allowed them to vent their their spleen on the various imperialist know-it-alls who dared to make any disrespectful remarks against their cricketing demi-gods, without requiring the patience to identify either constructive criticism or syntactical correctness (to say nothing of the tedium of perfect spelling). 
It would seem to be only a matter of time in this vastly inter-linked world before the two language forms would come together, and yet it looks like there's nothing out there yet. 
And so, without further ado, I present : LOLballz!! (in case you ask, LOLBatz was already taken).

And Finally,

PS: Han, I thought about the initial part of this post a while back, though seeing the lulz on your blog gave me a definite push in terms of figuring out how to flesh it out. 
PPS: Yeah,  ok the commentariat's English isn't as badly mangled as all that, I just needed an excuse to put these up anyway. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The sad part about getting older is...

...You can't wear clothes with years printed on them without thinking thoughts like '1987? Sh*t that's 5 years after I was born!'.

Sorry about the minor hiatus from blogging. I can't think of anything I want to write about that can't wait, and in the meantime I'm trying to get used to the idea that I am now on the other side of 25.
Thankfully, the recession means that I can keep any talks of an arranged marriage at bay by saying that I can't think about it because I'm worried I might lose my job. That's not really true, but it's just scary enough to keep my mom quiet.
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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

..And Bhajji Would be Robin

Now that Anil Kumble has announced his retirement, it seems odd that so much coverage at the beginning of this series was only about the batsmen, the Fab Four, and how it might be the last time that we might see them all together, but not much was said about him. Consider, for example, this article on Rediff comparing them to the original Fab Four - Sachin as Paul, Sourav as John, Laxman as George and Dravid just falling short of being Ringo because he wasn't as much fun. Thinking over that analogy, I realized that it didn't work for me simply because the author wasn't aiming high enough. Instead, I present to you the true super-group to compare the nucleus of the Indian team to - the Justice League (albeit without Wonder Woman)!

To start with, Virender Sehwag would obviously be the Flash - all quick reflexes and fast scoring, but not necessarily the smartest in the pack. The occasional match-winning innings, but otherwise quick supporting roles, as it were.

Rahul Dravid would be the Martian Manhunter, brooding, introverted and yet with great abilities. He can shape-shift from stodgy Test batsman to innovative ODI-player when the mood becomes him, and yet also be strangely vulnerable at times to fire, or at least fiery fast bowling. His arange of abilities would put him second only to Superman.

Who, of course, would find his parallel in Sachin Tendulkar. Supernaturally talented, expected to carry the hopes and dreams of at least a billion people, and as his testimony after Sydney proved, he is considered to be the defender of Truth, Justice and the Cricketing Way.

Considering that Sourav Ganguly is called the Prince of Calcutta, he would be Aquaman - the King of Poseidonis, the underwater kingdom. He has his own powers, including the ability to withstand a lot of pressure, and to pierce the off-side (even without a harpoon for a left hand, heh), but mostly his powers are supplementary to those of the other members of the team.

The Green Lantern would be personified by VVS Laxman - with the bat in his hands, he has the almost magical ability to visualize strokes and bring them to reality, and yet without it, becomes a mere mortal, dropping the simplest of catches and looking somewhat lost.

Which brings me to the last of the founding members of the JLA (except of course, WW) - Batman. Amongst a group of supernaturally gifted heroes, he is 'only' human. It might seem like he'd get his butt whipped by pretty much anyone else out there, and yet, when the going gets tough, the rest of the team picks up its cues from him. To quote Wikipedia: '
Unlike most superheroes, he does not possess any superpowers; he makes use of intellect,..., physical prowess, and intimidation in his war...'. That would pretty much sum up Anil Kumble quite nicely, too, I would say.

Like all such comparisons, this post too is basically a lot of faff. You could come up with any number of reasons why these comparisons don't hold true, since these are after all merely sportsmen out to entertain, not to save the world. And yet, for at least one player, I think the comparison would hold. I remember watching M. Night Shyamalan's 'Unbreakable' back in college, and coming away tickled by the concept of the Square Jawline of Good, as explained by Samuel L. Jackson's character, Elijah Price - basically, that comic book heroes are always depicted as having sharp, square jaws. In cricket,then, there can have been few men with squarer jaws or greater claims to heroism than Anil Kumble.