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Archive for November, 2006

All in a Game

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A few months back, Graham Gooch had suggested that India are peaking a bit too early. That was the time when the new captain, Dravid was lauded for his captaincy and Coach Greg was the flavor of the season, his “experiments” bringing that extra dash and zing to what Wright had left the team. Gooch was severly criticised by a nation which was then riding high on the great season of cricket, something that we are not much used to.

Cut to today. We’ve come a full circle now, haven’t we? Dravids captaincy style is termed unaggressive. Chappell is in the eye of storm. But I can tell you, he is not as bad as the media makes him out to be. His only problem is that he speaks out his mind. Nothing wrong with that, except he speaks it to the media. While he has given a lot of masala to the Indian paparazzi, by the time he leaves India, he would have less Indian friends to come back to. Surely, he could have taken a cue from John Wright, but that’s another story altogether.

For some days, I had been wondering about this whole issue. This slump of form, these allegations and Indian cricket in general. Some observations. My two cents…make it four:

Observation #1, Specifically in India and Pakistan, traditionally, we have had a tendency of blaming the captain for all the debacles a team goes through. A prolonged slump carries a simple solution — sack the captain. Now, this seems to have changed. We don’t just call for sacking the captain, we also call for the sacking of the coach. We should stop blaming those two individuals, for they are just that — two individuals. A new captain-coach combination will not bring with them a magic wand to cure the team of poor form. As a matured cricket society, and I am sure we are one, we should stop thinking on these lines.

Observation #2, we have too many strokemakers. Way to many, actually. Guys like Dinesh Mongia, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, even Gambhir, are of the “strokemaker” mould. Now, you should have players like these in the team but these are too many. These players have a tendency to play too many shots irrespective of the nature of the game and the scenario. That seems okay in certain conditions but its suicidal in pitches of South Africa and Australia, where the basic idea should be to settle down and spend some time on the pitch before showing that flashy upper cut. This leads to a fragile middle order. Call of the hour, then? Players who can spend more time in the middle. You could call them the “test player” mould. I am not saying a batsman like that is the solution to all batting woes, but the probability of success is increased by a few folds.

Observation #3, sometime in the late 90s, it sparked off, this whole issue of home pitches tailor made for the batsman and that how they spoiled the typical Indian batsman by giving them conditions suited for batting. There was this talk of “improving” the state of the pitches and all that but I am yet to see any change. This is exactly the reason why we have hyped up players coming in the squad, doing nothing, game after game, only to be forgotten a few months later. Venugopal Rao, for example. Suresh Raina could be going the same way too. A bad domestic cricket system leads to many not-very-good players and finally to a team that wins only in home conditions only to loose everything in far away lands. Years have gone by, the pitches have been the same for domestic cricket. In fact first class cricket has seen less change (one of them being all the domestic matches being recorded on TV, a good move).

Observation #4, our cricket board has started acting like a money minded, mean, bad businessman. It’s getting business because of these times of no competition and it’s taking things for granted. At times, it has given a bad name to the country — I blame the administrators who manage the cricket in India. The BCCI is a very unprofessional body, often going to the lengths of ignoring ethical and moral practices. On the other hand, I have time and again stated, The ICC could be the worlds weakest sporting body — but if that is so, BCCI could well be the worlds meanest, most unprofessional and ironically, one of the richest, sporting body.

Talk about being sporty…bah!

Written by aditya kumar

November 29th, 2006 at 1:35 am

Posted in Cricket

Together for Panjim

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Tourists to Goa are amazed by the beauty of the place. Actually, it’s not just the tourists who are amazed, it’s residents like me too.

It’s a privilege to live in Goa.

Most tourists do not realise, it is not just the beaches that make the beauty of Goa. One of the most important ingredients of the Goan experience is the neatness itself. There is an effort that the citizens and the Government collectively undertake to keep the cities clean and neat. I have lived in cities all over India and Panjim has to be the cleanest city I have ever seen. It is not that the municipality workers work overtime to make it what it is. It is an example of how a city could be, if residents take care of it.

And this effort, it has a name. It’s called “Together for Panjim“. It has worked for the city.

That is not to say that there is no scope for improvement. But mostly, it is a city you could photograph in any nook and corner and love the end result. Just like the pictures I took last month, which I post below.

My suggestion: If you really want to enjoy the city, don’t ride. Take time out and walk.

Meanwhile, the pictures:

More Panjim!


Panjim, city old bridge

Written by aditya kumar

November 28th, 2006 at 12:43 am

Posted in Personal,Travel

Much Mush

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…But romantic neverthless. Found this poem somewhere on the internet and thought of sharing with you all here. Here goes:

What Matters to Me

Time is the only healer, but I guess,

I am still to walk that road.

I still feel warm and loved I confess,

When I think about those words I wrote to you.

Yes, I do wonder what you must’ve thought,

Wonder, if you saw things from my point of view.

And I can’t just keep that heart back at its place,

Or pack my bags and just walk away.

But it doesn’t matter now, I am sure.

You are living your life, so lovely, so happy,

And that’s all that matters to me.

Written by aditya kumar

November 28th, 2006 at 12:25 am

Posted in Personal,Writing

91 all out

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If I were not a cricket fan, I would laugh at all the cricket promos that go on the TV. The “blue billions”, the ones which promise you taking to the World Cup and especially the one which increases your prepaid mobile phone balance when India wins.

And then, I would pity the cricket fans. I would look at them, for the poor souls that they are, foolish people who stay awake half past midnight, very well aware that they have to report at work in the morning, only to see their team go from one defeat to another and in the process getting bundled to “lowlies” like 91 runs.

But I can’t, since I am one.

Tell me if I am wrong, but I am tempted to think if the last one dayer was not poured over by the Gods, we would be 0-2 by now. The Gods have been with us, for the most part of the season. When they haven’t been, there’s been sunshine and the results have been for you and me to see.

I could have written this tomorrow. New morning, a new day, new thoughts, the best time to write. But I write this half past 1 AM, for humiliation tastes best when fresh.

You know, the problem is not with defeat. I am not against the idea of getting defeated. The problem lies in the manner of achieving, (yes, we are achieving) defeat.

Barring a couple of players, the willingness to go on is absent. Their eyes are cold and don’t talk, just like their bats. Look for yourself, it’s not much difficult in this age of zoom cameras.

I just hope our so called heroes in South Africa realise this. I wish they loose sleep too, just like their fans.

If you are to feed me with defeats, I ask you to put a topping of Grace on it.

Written by aditya kumar

November 23rd, 2006 at 1:42 am

Posted in Cricket,Personal

In Defense of the Devils Advocate

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Karan Thapar is one of the toughest journalists to be a part of the Indian Media. I know people who hate Karan Thapar for what he is, for he is a wee bit too assertive on his candidates, he is even harsh at times. But that’s alright, ask any journalist and he will tell you, one can never make everyone happy. It’s the call of this profession, you make enemies as much as you make friends — in fact, maybe more.

Karan Thapar is not always an overly aggressive interviewer. There are times when he needs to be harsh but then it’s the case of fighting iron with iron.

For example, the interview on CNN-IBN tonight, in which he had a tête-à-tête with The Supreme Court’s Senior Lawyer Ram Jethmalani. Now, Jethmalani, as I know, likes to come on TV, loves to grab attention and has been involved in “startling revelations”, but lately this seems to be coming at the cost of his morality, ethics and what not.

That is the point of the whole interview. That is the nucleus.

Little doubt in my mind that this was one of the most explosive interviews taken by Karan Thapar. Some Excerpts:

Karan Thapar: You have been there several times as a customer.

Ram Jethmalani: I have seen Tamarind Court once.

Karan Thapar: Several times you have been to Tamarind Court. Several times you have been to Tamarind Court. You have been seen by people in Tamarind Court and you have been to Tamarind Court to even ask for drinks when drinks weren’t available.

Ram Jethmalani: No. No. No.

Karan Thapar: Yes. Yes. Yes.


Karan Thapar: Do you regret the collapse in your standard?

Ram Jethmalani: I am sorry. I regret the collapse of the character of people like you that you try to please some people and you are here to please them and not conduct a legitimate gentlemanly interview.

Karan Thapar: If I am asking questions that are so preposterous, why are you losing your temper?

Ram Jethmalani: I must lose my temper. I am entitled to lose my temper.

And then the big one:

Karan Thapar: But the point I am making is a simple one. There may be many things in papers that you have alleged have been published. You are using them as your defence, but do you have to fall so low to use every dirty trick. That’s the point I am making. Are there no principles that you uphold? The morality you observe.

Ram Jethmalani: I am sorry, Karan. You are taking advantage of my hospitality. You are in my house that’s why I don’t want to tell you that. You are falling to low of every kind of standard of morals of an anchor and a television interviewer. You are taking advantage of the fact that you are in my house and that you are my guest. Otherwise, I would throw out somebody here.

Though words shall not recreate and do justice to the intensity of the interview, I still urge you not to miss the full text version of the interview here.

Thapar treads dangerous paths, igniting the minds of the people he interviews in their own homes, provoking them to an extent as witnessed here. But, there is an element of confidence that never eludes him. I understand the tremendous amount of research he must be conducting before any interview. But this is not about the basics of journalism, we are way past that. This is something else and I think his experience serves him well.

I saw Karan Thapar once, I think it was back in 1997, while we waited outside Delhi’s only multiplex for a movie to start. He seemed to have no company, just like me. During those twenty minutes of waiting, a nervous I, toyed with the idea of talking to him but ultimately decided against it. I think the only thing that prevented me from talking to him was his on-screen persona. For twenty minutes, a black suited Thapar and I wasted time, together.

God, what would I not give today, to have a five minute talk with him.

Written by aditya kumar

November 20th, 2006 at 12:06 am

Programmer Blues

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A friend I know, one of the many programmers in the city, told me over dinner that he is facing problems with his job.

What kind of problems I asked.

The company he works for has barred the employees from using the Internet. It is common, of course, network administrators keep on applying policies to block certain websites, I said.

No, they have not restricted the access. They have completely barred access to the Internet. Any website. Even Google is not accessible.

According to my experience, this happened, well, maybe 5 to 6 years ago. Mostly for cost reasons. I must admit I was surprised to hear this from him.

As a programmer, I realise how important it is for me to connect to the Internet while I am at work. There are a thousand serious reasons, even after you exclude the Instant messaging to your friends (Yes, that too, is serious, to an extent).

The prevalent thinking in his organization is that a programmer should be able to program without referring to the Internet. S/he should be capable of that. In a way I am glad that they have such faith in the people they recruit for the job, but beyond that, it is, well, stupid.

Companies like these need to realise that 1980s are gone. When the only programming languages used were C++, Perl, Cobol or the likes. When you could use a single programming language for the whole project and you could buy a big fat book of C++, keep it with you while at work as a quick reference. And that was all that was needed.

Today technologies are changing with the speed of light. There are at least three entirely different technological aspects to every project, however big or small it may be.

While talking about this, even if I dare to keep aside the aspect of technology, the fact remains that there is always more than one way to do a thing. How is the programmer expected to know that?

So where does a situation like that lead us, in the long run? The programmer is stuck for longer time on problems that could be solved in a matter of seconds after a Google search. S/he tries to convert a String to an Integer to feed it into a method when s/he could have called the same method directly with the Integer. But for that to happen, one has to know that the method supports Integer as an input as well.

It takes more time. It goes on to increase the frustration for the programmer and the people involved in it. Whats more, the programmers reputation is at stake!

One of the reasons why companies come up with stupid policies like these is that the people who make the policies for a company (which has 80% of its employees as programmers) have never written a single line of code in their lives.

In contrast to this, if you have ever worked in an organization which has been founded, nurtured from its beginning by a bunch of techies, you will feel that issues like these aren’t an issue at all! These are small trivial things. The focus should be on getting the job done without writing trashy code. That’s all.

But it’s very rare.

Written by aditya kumar

November 10th, 2006 at 8:57 am

In the train…

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This was written a couple of weeks ago, posted now

The family of four with whom I share my bay with, in the train, are strange, irritating people.

The two boys are noisy. They could be aged 3 and 5 years. I mean you expect kids to be noisy, it’s understandable for kids to be noisy but this noisy?

Then of course, there are the parents. Every now and then their mother, shouts at them to be quiet. In hindi, sometimes in English. Be quiet, be still, she insists albeit with little effect. Little effect for the kids that is, but her command carries a lot of effect since while shouting, she is louder than the kids. Its 10:30 in the night and if the kids fail to wake up the few sleeping passengers, she, with her “be quiet” and “chup raho” guarantees to leave a mark.

I get a feeling, these people always need to be in the midst of their comfort zone, no matter where they are. There are special clothes to be put on for sleeping, special sandals to be used while in the train. Special food, home made, of course. All this for a 12 hour journey. Dinner is served at 9:30 and it cannot be shifted an hour plus minus, so what if the train starts at 9pm.

The husband of the lady (alarmingly, it seems he is the head of the family), is another character. He needs to get into his “comfy” night clothes (bottoms, actually). What else could be ideal, than to wrap a bathing towel around oneself and change it right there, in the middle of half a dozen strangers? Why go all the way to the bathroom for that? He insists that the kid do the same. The kid, ashamed, resists but papa is always right says mom and bingo.

Morning time, the gentleman in his 60s, sleeping above me turns out to be an early riser. At 7am, he slams down and wakes me up. Sooraj aa gaya hai bhai, kab tak sona hai? One of those guys who are the preachy kinds and get some kind of pleasure in commanding others while being rude, especially to the younger lot. Something in me wants me to get up and bash this man up. Similar emotions were not evoked when last night he insisted to sleep at 10-30 while I was not ready for bed and yet I had obliged. This time too, I wake up and close the middle berth so that he can sit at the cost of my sleep. I need to show some resistance from now on.

The kids wake up too, much to the dismay of their mother who’s still snoring. The elder kid has an obsession for counting parallel rail tracks seen out of the window. The numbers increase and then decrease as tracks merge with each other, as if automatically and in motion, as seen from the window of a fast moving train. Hunger strikes and subsequently the kids are fed with potato chips and all the junk food that their parents, now awake, carry with them. Coffee cups, water bottles, empty snack packets – the place is littered in no time. I am trying to read my book but I really want to put it down, slam it on the small table and tell their father, that this is the time. That this is the age when you teach your children some manners because if you don’t, they will grow up to be bad citizens of this country, with no civic sense — just like their parents.

But I stare out of the window and I see two boys playing a game with ping pong bats and a badminton shuttle. Almost like badminton with ping-pong bats…It could be called Pong-inton…

Then the kid throws a bottle of water on the table, there is noise and then an even louder “STOP IT” scream and I am back at where I was…

Written by aditya kumar

November 7th, 2006 at 8:35 am