Dec 16, 2008

I was there!!

I was there! When India romped home on the backs of a dazzler from Sehwag and a classic knock from Sachin. I was determined to see a cricket match when I got the opportunity because the idiotic organizers believe
places like Rajkot, Ahmedabad (and even Delhi) have better grounds and cricket afficionados than Chennai since time immemorial. So the next time a match comes Chennai's way (without the possibility of being curtailed by rain) might be too far away. I waited my chance and let the first 2 days of the match go by. With India struggling on the 3rd day a draw or defeat seemed likely and the balance tilted to the latter at the end of Tea on Day 4. But then wham!! Before anyone (Dhoni included) even knew what happened, Sehwag grabbed the match by its collar and shook it till it swooned and fell into the clutches of India. Though he got out by the end of the day, a required target of 256 runs was a juicy prospect with still much of the Indian batting left to come (and the prospect of Sachin scoring yet again at probably his most favorite ground).

So I headed out to Chepauk in the morning. The MRTS was packed with people who alighted at Chepauk. The A stand offered a good view and by the time the match started it was packed. So was the notorious B stand. The stadium was about 40% full. Every single run was cheered. Even a defensive prod that killed the spinning ball was applauded. Dhoni was definitely not going overboard when he praised the Chennai crowd at the end of the game. There were all sorts of people sitting around me and I had a good time chatting with them all. What stunned me was their knowledge. There was this lady behind me who screamed at Pieterson to remove the gully and move him to the short midwicket because of the way Laxman plays. And this guy who came to the match yesterday, pointing out precisely the stands and rows where the ball landed from Sehwag's sixes. This is just an example. I expected to be surrounded by many people who just watch the game and cheer for boundaries but when I was pointed out the difference between Sachin's defensive stance and Yuvraj's prod, I had to admit that I had goosebumps.

The stage was set for Sachin and he did not dissapoint either, scoring the winning runs and bringing his 41st century with the same boundary. Needless to say, we all went ecstatic. This is the 2nd game I have seen at Chepauk. The 1st was an One day match against New Zealand which was washed out, but not before Sachin scored a 50. Cant think of a better way to spend 300 rupees in a day!


Dec 8, 2008

The Frenetic Week that was

I had around hundred things in my mind that I wanted to ramble about following the Great Economic Depression followed by the even Greater Farcical Comedy enacted by the US Senate during its 'inquisition of the CEOs of the Big 3'. Immediately, this was followed by the Mumbai terrorist attacks. As usual the (International) media coverage of it, riled me as much as the terrorists did: the dogmatic refusals of foreign media to acknowledge these terror invoking 'gunmen' as terrorists and instead subtly referring to them as 'gunmen' and 'militants'. Some even speculated that these could be 'discontent muslims' from within India. Somewhere, some guy had the balls to suggest that these could be LTTE too. I forgot if his article was in CNN or NY Times. But, there you go. That is a gist of what I had in mind. Things that would have made a several paragraphs of verbal outpour condensed into one. Meanwhile, a friend of mine referred me to this article in NY Times. Maybe, the world is not doomed yet.

PS: And what is this entire 'War on Terror' thing. I am not from Oxford but nevertheless it does not make sense to me. Should it not be 'War on Terrorists'?(Even that is silly. Something like crusade against terrorists would befit. But I guess crusade is a word nobody wants to use) How can there be a war on terror? Terror is an emotion. Can there be a war on laughing or a war on crying? War can be waged against Comedians, against sadists but not on the emotions inflicted by these men on the people.
Oh anyways. Who cares. The media found something and likes it. Try grabbing the bone from the dog's mouth.

PS2: Why Indian media have to keep posing the question to everyone if this is India's 9/11? What does that mean? Are you trying to grab the attention of US by self declaring it as India's 9/11? "Hey Bush (or Obama). Look, look we got our own 9/11 now. We are also affected by terrorism. We are now automatic allies in your 'war against terror'. Please throw us some bones too" Why does it have to be 9/11? India has fought terrorism in days when people in US did not know to spell the word. So why wait for US to acknowledge that we are hit by terrorism. Why declare 'Terrorism is a global thing now. This murderous act in Mumbai shows no country is now free'. This is a statement that should have been said probably when Al Qaeda attacked US. Not when LeT attacked Mumbai. Because, it is not a surprisingly new phenomenon. In short, stop sucking to US everytime.


Nov 12, 2008

Make hay while the sun shines..

"He wanted to rise, but on his own terms; he was not hungry enough to sell himself short. He is Obama in white clothes"

 - Peter Roebuck on Dhoni
When a person commits himself to writing atleast a column every week, I guess he has no choice but to scrape the bottom of the river and claim that the pebble he finds is a gold.


Nov 6, 2008

Thanks to an entertainer

"We (Sachin & Sourav) got to know each other so well that I could predict what he would do on the next ball. 

That, for me was special' 
I will definitely miss the sight of these two batting together. It was truly a golden period.


Nov 4, 2008

The Hype Masters

American media is chronically prone to sensationalizing everything right from McCain's morning coffee schedule. Every year, there would inevitably be a football game that would be declared as the Game of the century and I dont know how many games of the century we can have in a century.
Similarly, there is another claim that the undergoing election is historical and of unprecedented importance. I am sure it is easy to excite people about something that is happening or going to happen than something that happened 4 years back, but I strongly believe that the 'election of unprecedented importance' happened 4 years back and not the current one. Because it paved the way for another 4 years of Bush's presidency leading to invasion of Iraq, dumping of hundreds of billions of dollars in invasion (I refuse to call it War) and creating a conducive climate for the recession to occur. Had Bush not won, things would have different a long way and the economy would have been better off and the current election would not have gained such prominence (though the media would have found something to talk about it).


Nov 2, 2008

The MK Family tree

A good article, for someone interested in TN politics, elaborating on the spread of Karunanidhi's family and its whereabouts.


Nov 1, 2008

Yes. I want change soon and that is why I am very much looking forward to the American Presidential election. Not because I am 'hoping for change' with Obama or hoping that McCain would 'guide America and the rest of the world through this turmoil' but soon the media will stop their obsessive coverage of the campaigns and they will talk about only one person, the President, and forget the other three soon.


Oct 29, 2008

Gavaskar is rather irritating at times with his stupid comments and fanatic denouncement of anything Aussie, but I am sure there are times when we can silently chuckle at his antics as the Australians deserve their own medicine too and he is the only one bold enough to give it back without inhibitions. 

Just the way one would hate Subramaniyam Swamy and still smile in silent approval of his skirmishes.


Oct 21, 2008


I guess it is going to be a monumental day for ISRO with the countdown for the launch of PSLV C11 carrying Chandrayaan already begun. This is one live event I am not going to miss for sure. ISRO is all set to broadcast it in its website. Hope all goes well.


Dont whine.  What happens on the field stays on the field!!


Oct 19, 2008

Self Realization

One interesting about the current market crisis is the realization by the American society of their extravagant spending ways, something which the 'Rest of the World' always grumbled about in the past and points out as a reason for the downfall now.

But what is more interesting is the sudden interest evinced by the media in the paycheck of all CEOs and their property holdings. A report on CNN called these CEOs of Wall Street firms as 'Fat Cats' who drew salaries that are 500 times that of an average American (whereas the ratio was supposed to have been 25:1 a few decades back). Further, the reporter covered a party in Manhattan attended by many Wall Street operators. Wordings used by the reporter as well as the inevitable discussions by a panel included 'amazement', 'furious', splurge', 'flowing drinks' to describe the party which to me did not appear to be any different that has been covered by the American media in the past. But this one makes them furious and hurts them because of the back drop of the crisis.

It is very funny to suddenly see this nation point fingers at top level CEOs for amassing wealth and their self-indulgence, when that defines the very fabric of the American society.


Jul 19, 2008

This town deserves a better class of criminal... and I'm gonna give it to them

I have been to many movies in the theaters but very few of them have had the audience clapping. I have witnessed spontaneous clapping for funny scenes. But at the end of the movie when the audience claps as one it would not be due to a few well shot scenes. Rather it has to be the sign of a movie that so captivated the viewers, that appreciation at the end of it is as much a spontaneous reaction as leaving the theater once the end credits starts rolling. The Dark Knight is one such movie.

Having been a fan of Batman all my life, I hate the earlier movies because of the utter frivolousness it brought to the character. Batman Begins brought about a wave of freshness from its sickening predecessors. Christopher Nolan bravely decided to inject a story to the life of Batman. Batman Begins was not a conventional superhero film in the sense the movie offered the viewers a look into the minds of the character(s) and not just at Batman's lives saving actions. And the movie had such a taut script with no loose ends, I believed that it would be the best Batman movie ever. Any attempts at a sequel by Christopher Nolan, I believed, would be more to recreate the magic once again and the resulting predestined failure of the sequel should be something that can be forgiven.

I missed seeing The Dark Knight on the opening day but I saw rave reviews and I believed them to be due to the initial euphoria. But I got to see the movie today. Wow. It is probably one of the best movies ever. Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker quite stunningly steals the limelight from the protagonist himself. The character is such a masterpiece because of the way it has been shaped. The Joker does not run around pointlessly causing mischief and laughs inanely. Instead, every second he takes up the screen time is an insight into the mind of the character himself that almost leaves us to believe we are actually seeing such a character in real life and not an actor in a movie. Full credits to Heath Ledger and Nolan. When the Joker says, "This town deserves a better class of criminal... and I'm gonna give it to them" it comes out like a statement that also appears to say that its not just the fictional Gotham city but also the history of Batman movies that deserved a better criminal (and a better movie). Some tout this to be a Oscar winning performance for Heath Ledger. I am not sure about that. But he has immortalized the Joker with this performance and given a new dimension to the character. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent has also been great. The scene where the Joker corrupts the minds of Harvey Dent at the hospital is a classic.

There were some reviewers complaining about the long running time of the movie (2 hours 30minutes). My only complaint is that the movie was too short for me to see enough of the characters. I have seen movies dragging on pointlessly but here was a movie that could have gone on for another hour without the audience noting the difference. If there is another Batman movie coming from the stables of Nolan in the future, the only regret would be that Heath Ledger is not alive to recreate the magic once more. Just like the Joker said to Batman in the movie, "You've changed things... forever. There's no going back"

P.S.: Oh Yes. Chistian Bale is one of my favourites now and I was thrilled when there was a teaser for the Terminator Salvation slated for release on May 2009. Also, I would highly recommend the movie 3:10 to Yuma in which Bale has starred.


Jun 17, 2008

Damn them

Yup. Blame it on them for everything.


Jun 15, 2008

En Iniya Thamizh Makkale (aka) The Dasavathaaram Experience

I have had some bad experiences in seeing movies but I have never had a bad experience and ended up not seeing the movie. But now I have that too. I went with my friends to the Dasavathaaram screening at Cincinnati. From my previous experiences of seeing tamil movies at Columbus, Ohio I knew that the movie screening would be poorly organized: the movie will start at least 20 minutes late every time, the tickets will be overbooked and the organizer, in order to make the most profit, will rent the cheapest theater in town which would have an audio system as good as a 20W Logitech desktop speakers bought at a Thanksgiving sale and a picture quality as vivid as a camera print. And I also knew that we have to be early to get good seats as all fellow movie watchers would be our dear thamizhargal who would rush into the theater once the door opens and pandemonium would ensue.

So we arrived about 30 minutes early for the 6PM show and promptly found ourselves waiting in a queue that did not seem to move at all. And then 6PM came and went and 15 mins past 6 PM we were still standing outside the theater. One guy said 'potti innum varala' (meaning the film reel has not come yet). But another guy said the theater is already full as they have over booked it. I already told my friends that these fools would do that but this was not an ordinary over booking. There were about 40 people still standing outside with tickets for the show (which we bought through An American lady was collecting the online receipts and issuing tickets to enter the theater. She said the theater is full and we can sit on the aisles or at the back. Some people who were ahead of me started asking about refund to which she said the organizer is the one who is responsible for that as she is only the theater personnel and organizer is the one who has the money. And of course, that organizer was not to be found anywhere in the vicinity of the theater.

We first got the tickets and went inside the theater to see how its like inside. It was a dollar theater (a theater that screens movies that released months back for a dollar or so) having second rate seats, narrow aisles, dim lighting, speakers hanging from the walls well above the heads of those who got seats at the end of the rows, and a screen that was slightly brighter than a bioscope. I got frustrated and decided to come out as I did not want to stand and watch a movie because of some dumb ass to whom I paid $16. That organizer still had not turned up and nobody knew of his whereabouts. Not even the theater managers. So I went back inside the theater and stood with others at the back. It was about 6.30PM and still they were showing slides about coca-cola's rewards and 'please switch off your cell phones' for the 100th time. My friends said we will just shout and enjoy ourselves for the money paid.
I always enjoy every second of watching movies in theaters: the big screen, the DTS audio system, plush seats etc.,. When I was a kid I always made sure that I was inside Udhayam theater before the curtains rose inside just before the trailers are played. And later on I always went to the theater early enough to see all Prince jewellery and Vicco turmeric ads. So for me seeing movie standing at the back with dozen other people with some sitting near my feet is impossible. Added to that is a pathetic audio system and an equally pathetic screen. And so I went out again to see if this nincompoop of an organizer has turned up. This time he did and there was a small crowd of people around him. We shouted at him to refund the money.

There are some people who are too soft natured to even voice when being trampled upon. There were such people ahead of me who were asking, ' enna saar ipdi aiduchu? padam paakalaam nu wife elaam kootindu vandhen saar'. And then another guy who was closest to the organizer and waving his ticket at him for a refund said told others.' lets form a line so that we can be organized and we can get the refund easily'. Immediately two people said,' aama sar you are correct lets form a line and approach him one by one'. There are some times I lose my patience and shout at anybody and this was one such moment. I belllowed at the first person,' Yov ozhungaa organize panni padam kaamichaanganaa namba yenyaa ipdi gumbalaa vandhu nikanum. enamo organized la line la poi pesalaam nu solra?' Two people put ching-chak for what I said also and said 'yaya what you are saying is also correct'. Then some more people got angry and shouted at the organizer and he accepted to refund the ticket cost and he did that immediately. People who were before me were getting money from him as if they were labourers getting daily wages from company boss and said 'Thank you sir'. This angered me even more. So when my turn came I asked him in a high voice, "What the hell did you over book it for? Did you think you were selling tickets for Greyhound bus so that you can have another bus running if all passengers turn up?". He immediately drew a long face and replied in horrible english,' No saar. This people you know what they did? They bought tickets for 1PM show which was telugu version. Ticket is only $12 for telugu show. They brought that receipt now and got tickets and went in. So half the people inside are now people with tickets for noon show'.
Me: ' What the hell? Wont you check while getting the receipts from them?
Organizer: No saar. I was bringing film roll to theather and got lost and arrived 30 minutes late. By that time the American lady from the theater office admitted all people in without knowing they have come with tickets for noon show. All people want to see Kamal movie but wont want to pay more than 12 for it. What can I do saar? Also I see 12 people who got refund for tickets now going back into the theater for seeing the movie.
Me: (I blew my fuse at this reply) Yov, when people like me are shouting at you for $15 why dont you go and kick outside the people who cheated you for hundreds of dollars?
Organizer: (Just drawing his face longer and giving a dying dog look and not saying anything)
I decided I am not going to allow myself to be pushed over the edge of sanity and came off.

So my dear thamizh makkale. I know we are all cut throats. But now I realize that we are no better even if we are thousands of miles away from Thamizh naadu. We still would be same.
Vaazhga thamizargal, valarga India.


Jun 8, 2008

Being generous in assistance

Is the concept of International aid more of a protocol nowadays than an actual humanitarian act? For example, India has given $5million aid to China as a relief for their earthquake victims. Now broadly speaking, I am sure the $5 million would not be a big issue for the Chinese Government. Had this been given to some African country to which this amount would matter more then it would make sense.

On a note aside, India refused International aid from countries such as US, UK and France when Tsunami hit the Indian sub-continent. At that time, people from those countries went to the extent of declaring India as arrogant for refusing to accept their aid and some stated that India wanted to display its economic self sufficiency to the world more than anything else by that act of refusal.

It would be more useful for the recipient country (the likes of India, China etc.,) to get support like trained rescue teams than to have monetary aid stuffed down their throats.


Apr 8, 2008

The Predator

He wiped the blood from his face. He had not slept a wink in the last 4 hours as they followed him continuously. There are times when the prey outruns the predator. A cheetah chasing a young gazelle may not be always as one sided as it might appear. But he had no such luck today. Wherever he went to, they got to him, crawled onto his face and hands, biting deep into his flesh and drawing blood each time. Every time he had to rip them off his body and start the elusive run again.
They first attacked him when he was sleeping and caught him completely unawares. They were so smart that they now know the places he frequents.
Defense mechanism has always been a part of nature. Some plants turned poisonous to ward off herbivores animals. A few animals evolved chromatophores with which they changed their colours. Elephants grew tusks and butterflies had facial contours of larger birds on their wings. But the most dexterous animal of all, the humans, did not develop any inherent defense mechanism more due to the lack of any threats than anything else. They overcame the odds by using ingenious tools and warded off all predators. But not all can be warded off. He was facing one such species.
He first spotted them a few weeks back. They were rather few in numbers. And he had the satisfaction of killing them as they appeared. His friends warned him that they are resilient and will strike back with full vengeance. He was unperturbed. He had faced them in the past. They had one weakness and that was Ultra-violet rays. He had gone to their lair, uprooted their entire hideout and threw it under the sun, exposing them to the sun and successfully killed them all. But this time he did not have that trustworthy ally of his last battle: sunlight.
Even then he did his best. He had equipped himself with weapons acquired locally. Some said these are not sufficient. He did not bother as he was sure of his plans. But they were smarter this time. They came out in larger numbers and struck when he was most vulnerable: at nights. The battle lasted all night. He struck them down as they pounced on him. Some even got into his shirts. One was pricking his left ear. They were drawing his blood and as he killed some of them he felt blood on his face. He lost out. His inability to defeat them this time frustrated him. Things have now gone out of his hands. He had to call in professional assassins to do the job. The assassins came the next day. They had a gun in their hands and the ammunition was being fed to it from a tank. But unlike him, they did not use their physical might. Instead they resorted to chemical warfare. As their guns spewed the toxic agents all over his hideout, he had the satisfaction of seeing them die one by one.
He smiled. He has won another battle against the dreaded Cimex lectularius, commonly known as the Bedbugs.

* Inspired by a true story
** Written a long time back
*** I do realize the glaring yet subtle difference between parasites and predators well enough to indulge in a bit of twisting the facts, made possible by literary freedom


Apr 2, 2008

Gokka Mokka 2

Now all wannabees from Chennai have a new place added to their list of 'hang out' places that include numerous coffee shops that charge 50 rupees to drink something that can be obtained by adding 2 gallons of water to home made coffee.
But Saravan Bhavan has disgraced itself more now than all of Annachi's scandals put together did to it. 42 rupees for a bun with cheese, raw lettuce and tomatoes when HSB can provide sumptuous meal for the same itself is too much. But HSB paying 400,000 for the same trash for however a good cause it maybe is a news as indigestible as a McDonalds burger.


Mar 25, 2008

Gokka Mokka!!

From Cricinfo,
Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, presented him (Anil Kumble, on his getting 600 wickets in test Cricket) with a special ball, weighing close to 300 gram and studded with 1,500 of the finest diamonds sourced from Antwerp. Made by Orra Diamonds, it was interspersed with approximately 600 oval rubies.
Had India done poorly in Australia, Kumble would have been pelted with steel balls. And they accuse the Indian public of being whimsical!


Mar 19, 2008

Tamil Cinema's loss

My first post in a long time - unfortunately an obituary. I was doing my routine 'check' on when they had a set of pictures titles 'Raghuvaran laid to rest'. Knowing the standards of their articles, I assumed that these pictures were the stills from a movie. Half way through I saw Actress Revathi among the crowd and realized it was real. Funny, that his death did not receive much media coverage. He really looked older than his actual age in his last movie 'Bheema' and it was obvious that it was not due to any make-up.

He was a talented actor who towered above his colleagues, not just because of his physical stature but also due to his acting prowess. He had his unique style and mannerisms. Some like it and some do not. Some people perceive him as an actor who lacks variety, though I would say it is his standard style adapted to different scenarios that makes him appealing to the audience.

Some of his performances including the "I know" scene will stand in the memory of myself as well as Tamil cinema lovers forever. Here is to the one who enthralled us for more than two decades.


Feb 12, 2008

Pirivom Santhipom

There were good reviews about this movie on all channels as well as papers, so I went on a Sunday noon to see this movie (without an advance reservation). The movie was running to packed houses at Sathyam and Inox, and so I ended up going to Devi Theater. A few words about the theater first. Devi Theaters, which was the pioneer of DTS in Chennai, was considered one of the best theaters in the city. But now the theater is in a very bad state now but the tickets for the movie were sold out. We managed to get the Rs.30 tickets in ‘black’ for Rs.50. After wasting time at Sathyam to get tickets there we ended a few minutes late for the show at Devi and the ticket counters were closed. But a flower vendor sitting in front of the theater saw us coming late and immediately came to us and offered us tickets for the show that has just started. The guy who takes all the late entrants to their seats with a torch light for assistance was obviously in cahoots with the people who sell black tickets, as he was the one who collected the money from us. We found that there were people sitting in ‘our’ seats. The ‘torch guy’ verbally abused all the people occupying our seats at the top of his voice and chased them away to other seats. All this while a song was going on in the movie! It was damn funny and a bit embarrassing too as we were standing and blocking the view for many people even as the guy was chasing people away one by one.

The movie was good. It was a neat concept to start with. Sneha has lots of friends and likes to be in big social circle. So she readily accepts Cheran’s hand for marriage (arranged) as he lives in a huge joint family. The marriage is shown rather elaborately in Chettinad style and looks good on the big screen. Cheran finds it difficult to have privacy with his wife while being in such a huge joint family, even as Sneha loves it. So he is overjoyed when he gets transferred (Cheran works in a power station) to a remote but picturesque village in the hills. Sneha is silently devastated even as her relatives congratulate her saying she would be having a prolonged honeymoon in their new place.

Cheran is away at work from morning to evening and Sneha occasionally keeps herself occupied by visiting her neighbour. But the loneliness slowly gets to her as she gets depressed and does strange things like recording the sounds she hears everyday. She also desperately seeks the company of people and purposely pulls out the nuts of the fan mounting or damages other items so that the electricians or any other repair men come home and she can have some one to talk to. These scenes are well shot and directed. ‘Kanja’ Karuppu once again does a good job playing a role that does not take up too much of the screen time in the name of a comedy track. Sneha’s acting is realistic and so is that of Cheran who lives up to his title of ‘Edhartha Nayagan’. But the story which runs at a leisurely pace for 2 hours suddenly starts to move rapidly and in the process loses some credibility. Jayaram, who portrays the doctor, diagnoses the ailment of Sneha just from the one line uttered by her when he visits her house and on hearing the sounds she has recorded. And immediately the movie hurtles on predictable lines to the end. Irrespective of the rather incongruous ending, the movie is a good watch. A decent family movie (as claimed by the movie makers) that does not have unnecessary melodrama in the name of romance and action and has already begun attracting repeat audiences.


Jan 15, 2008

Kick starting Chennai trip with a bang!

As I walked amidst the crowds in Terminal B of Newark Liberty International Airport, I started to feel sleepy mentally preparing myself for the prolonged transit time at the Airport before my next Jet Airways flight to Chennai. It was then that I saw this guy sitting at a table furiously typing away in his Blackberry phone. I was afraid that I was mistaken. Surely it couldn’t be him. So I did some rounds around the table he was sitting in, taking in his face from all sides to confirm, and indeed it was him! A.R. Rahman!!

I wanted to go and talk to him but he appeared busy. So I put my bags in the table next to him and was pondering for a few minutes. Then finally I made up my mind and went to him. It was a true “pepsi ungal choice” moment. “Helloo, Rahman saaraa?? Ennala nambave mudila saar, naa ramba sandhoshamaa iruken!!!” (Ok, it is an exaggeration but you got the drift). So here I was speechless. I said ‘hello’ and he smiled back and said ‘hello how are you’. And then I asked the dumb question of the day,’ what are you doing here?’ (Ok, you meet Rahman like this and try starting a conversation). He said “I am going to Atlanta for a meeting and what about you’. I told him about my trip to Chennai. And then some random guy came and also started questioning. Rahman was a bit flustered and this guy immediately asked him if he can take a photo with him. R said 2 mins later even as he was furiously typing something in his Blackberry. I took the cue and told him that it was nice to meet him and went and sat in another table.

After a few minutes Rahman himself came to me and told me that he is going to find some lunch and if I would join him!! I was more than happy. I bought pizza. Rahman said he hates pizzas so much so that he would puke at the sight of it. Moreover he wanted to avoid non vegetarian food as it is the ten day period of Muharram and so he got a salad bowl. I joined him in his table at the food court. It seems he had come to Newark in Jet Airways and so I asked him about the flight as I was traveling in Jet for the first time. Basically I was trying to keep a conversation going as I was too thrilled.

He was going to Atlanta for a meeting. He talked about his plans to start a ‘music conservatory’ in Pallavaram, something akin to a musical college, specializing in Western Classical music and is hoping to rope in some faculty for that. I was surprised about the genre of music and I asked him why Western Classical music as it is not quite popular in India, to which he replied that precisely that is the reason for it to be the focus for the school. He explained a bit to me about Western Classical music and how many composers had drawn inspirations from it including Ilayaraja, MS Viswanathan and himself.

Then the topic shifted to some of his works and I asked him the question which I always had regarding music composing. My doubt was whether the lyricist and the music composer sit together while making a song. He clarified that mostly nowadays it is the tune that is made first and then the lyricists come up with lyrics that suit the tune but sometimes it might be the other way too.

At this time four Sri Lankans came to Rahman and one of them asked him, “Sir, are you AR Rahman?” Rahman was amused and he replied in the affirmative. They were obviously happy and expressed the sentiment to him. They also smiled at me and wished me probably thinking that I am some close associate of Rahman (felt full pride at this moment however worst you think it is). They requested him to stand for photos with them and he acceded. After the end of the photo session he asked me if I would be around for some time as he wanted to go to the restroom to freshen up. He left his laptop bag and phone with me and came back in a few minutes.

He then inquired about me. He was interested in knowing about the job prospects of students who complete their degrees here. On knowing that I studied in Ohio, he said that he came to Cincinnati once for a show and that he liked Ohio very much. I then told him that I had been to his show in Chicago and complimented him on that. According to him it was a logistics nightmare performing on a place on one day and then taking a flight and going to another city to perform again. But he said he is a bit used to it now and moreover seeing people dance especially to Tamil songs energized him. He asked me what my age is and when I told him he smiled and said,” that is half my age”. He also cautioned me on the ‘big, bad world’ I would be in now that I am going to start working soon.

He asked me if there was wireless internet available in the lounge we were in. I told him that I already tried for the access and saw that it was not free and it requires some login. He stated taking out his laptop but then put it back inside and surfed the net using his Blackberry. I think he came across some news item about the new Tata Nano because he commented on how the new Tata Nano is revolutionizing the market. I opined that it would also clog the roads now. He agreed and said how Chennai traffic is at its worst and he is not even able to come out of his house nowadays.

I asked him about the news that Rajini is doing Robot with Shankar and he did confirm it. I said when are you starting the work and with a smile he replied “It has already started”.

It was then time for him to board his flight. I asked him if I can take come photos with him too and he obliged. He then said goodbye and went away. Two hours with AR Rahman! Man, if that isn’t luck….

P.S. My luck streak continued in the flight and I got seats in rows in which there were no other occupants! There were few others who got seats in such rows and we all comfortably stretched out in the seats for sleeping like a train berth! :)


Jan 6, 2008

Aussie high-handedness

I am not sure which is more despicable: an on field umpire trusting a fielder for a doubtful catch at a crucial juncture of the match or a captain eating his own words publicly in front of a global audience. India has been at the raw end of many unfortunate umpiring errors in matches abroad but none more than the just concluded match at Sydney. Its just that for some reason or the other just when India plays some good cricket, all the good work is undone by the umpires. We saw it in England before. We saw it in South Africa. And its happened in Sydney now. India has been very consistent in Test matches last two years or so. This is especially due to their good performance outside India.

I am not going to talk about Bucknor's decision to Dravid. Bucknor, who generally takes an hour to give a decision even if the batsman gets clean bowled, was quick to give Dravid out caught by Gilchrist. Its a different story that ball was no where near the bat. Umpires do err. But to be so consisently inconsistent against a team is frustrating to say the least.

The icing on the cake (or salt onto the wound whichever you feel) was done by Benson. I have seen batsmen stand for more obvious catches. If the Umpire has a doubt he consults the leg umpire. If they are still unsure, the third umpire is called up to see if the catch is clean. But on this occasion Benson thought it to be prudent to go by the word of Ponting who was not even the catcher. The ball was caught by Clarke after a bounce. The thing that irked me the most is Ponting's indication that the catch is clean! He was not the catcher and he cannot claim that. If his argument is that he was close by Clarke and so can vouch for the catch, it shows him more clearly to be the liar he was at that moment. In the post match conference, Ponting argued that before the match the two captains have agreed to respect the judgement of the catcher for close catches, instead of going to the third umpire. Obviously that applies only to the batsmen who are to take the word of the catcher and not the Umpire. Benson is an idiot to listen to what Ponting says as to the legality of the catch. If he relies on the players to make decisions, then what is the third umpire for. He might as well ask the batsman the next time if he thinks he is out lbw.

Add to this Gilchrist's appeal for a catch off Dravid's pad (which was upheld) and Ponting's appeal for a catch off Dhoni's pad (the ball hit the ground and Ponting also grasses the catch) you have a perfect pattern for the day. Video replays clearly show Ponting grass the catch and when questioned his reply is : "There's no way I grounded that ball. If you're actually questioning my integrity in the game, then you shouldn't be standing there,". So he assumes that nobody has the right to question him. A clear case of Aussie high-handedness.

If you think this is as bad as things can go, you are wrong. The Australian commentators were acting the clowns. Especially Mark Taylor who was justifying the action of the Umpire. How can a person be so pathetically blind to the obvious. Its normal to swear allegiance to a team. But you cannot call a bluff by trying to hide the plain truth. Taylor said that the umpire Benson was right. The reason is, in his very own words while commentating, Benson had to take a decision and he could have asked Bucknor for help or asked the fielding team as to the validity of the catch. And he chose to do the latter. So he did what he can do and so he cant be blamed. Probably he assumed that the third umpires are wax dolls installed to fill the seats in the stadium.

I can now sympathize with the adrenaline rush of all the psycho killers in the world who go running around with an axe because I felt highly inclined to do the same with Taylor and others. They had other similar excuses and they even cited the Ponting-Kumble pre-series agreement about taking the word of the catcher as if it is a written code of conduct and so batsman should not question the fielders word. Just imagine if things had been other way around and Australia experienced these things in India. The moment they set foot on Australia, Ponting would come out openly against the umpiring standards, verbally thrashing the umpires and how Indian players did not uphold the spirit of the game and were a big let down for 'him'. And ICC will not penalize him for breaching the code of conduct for openly complaining against match officials, while had any of the Indian did that last night a disciplinary action would be initiated immediately. And the Australians accuse Harbhajjan of being a racist!!

I wonder how Kumble managed to remain sane at the end of the day.


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