Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Its just not cricket!

I am reverting back to the topic of cricket again because as usual something in this domain has upset me. I was deeply disturbed and offended by Saurav Ganguly being allowed to play after he was correctly banned by Clive Lloyd. Indians, specifically Indian cricketers and especially Saurav Ganguly have scant regard for rules of any sort. He is more representative of the auto driver mentality of "traffic rules are for convent educated". I hate this attitude which has consistently surfaced with regard to the Indian Cricket team so far - the attitude of " I am an Indian. I am a born Idiot. I do not know how to follow rules. I would rather flout it and then use influence/political pressure to cover up my stupidity."

The "extenuating circustances" mentioned by Tim Castle is shocking for even a casual observer of cricket. The delay was for 1 hour. Does he know how many overs can be bowled in 60 minutes? 15 overs. I saw the game, Ganguly had no reason to delay the match except for constant discusisons and slow over rates. It was incompetence shown in the face of defeat. No other reason. Wet Ball, rain, cramps all amount to bad excuse. It cannot mean you cause a delay equivalant to bowling 15 overs.

I think India is playing the "oooh! I am poor brown man! I am being cheated by white english saheb! oooh! I am victim" card far too long. India has become a shrewd manipulator in International Cricket politics. It has arm twisted the ICC to make it tumble like a monkey-show on the road.

Michael Atherton , not one of my favorite cricketers, but one of my favorite commentators, has written an excellent article regarding this issue. He will be trashed, not for the contents of what he has written ( because they make too much sense), but because he is a british person. And Indians are pretty adept in juding/forming opinions based on race/ past credit history than deciding from more tangible logic at hand. So if you find anybody critisizing Atherton's comments dont be surprised when you hear them say " who is he to talk about this? He batted very slow in his day, he is an average cricker, he is a snobbish person". Not one person will actually refer to the logic of the article. Purely because it makes too much sense. And we can have none of that.


ICC Has Lost credibility ( by Michael Atherton)

At first sight there might not be too much in common between this week's decision by the International Cricket Council to overturn Sourav Ganguly's two-match ban and the shenanigans surrounding England and their tour of Zimbabwe. Bear with me.

Ganguly, rightly, had been banned by the ICC match referee Clive Lloyd because his team took an hour too long to bowl their overs in a one-day international. As someone who sat through India's soporific over-rate during their Test series against Australia, it was a ban long overdue. Ganguly, though, appealed, hired a lawyer, was cleared to play in the first Test against South Africa in Kanpur and has now had the ban overturned for the second in Kolkata.

The appeal adjudicator appointed by the ICC was Tim Castle, and he said there were extenuating circumstances - a wet ball and an injury to a Pakistan batsman - for India's pathetic over-rate. Was Lloyd asleep during the match? Malcolm Speed, ICC chief executive, welcomed the move. He said: "This decision demonstrates the independence of the ICC's appeals process. [It] highlights the exceptional circumstances that prevailed whilst also emphasising the general importance of maintaining over-rates during international matches." Absolute crap. The only thing it shows is India's power at the ICC table.

The day before that drivel uttered by Speed, Ehsan Mani, the president of the ICC, admitted that for the first time his organisation had some sympathy for the England and Wales Cricket Board's position on Zimbabwe. Why? Not because, in a radio poll, 99 per cent of the British public felt their team should not go. Not because England's cricketers were holed up in an African hotel, for the second time in 21 months, being treated as political pawns in a much bigger and murkier game than the one they are paid to play. Not because England have a unique historical relationship with Zimbabwe, the nature of which taints every decision - political, sporting or otherwise - between the two countries. Not because Robert Mugabe has openly spoken of his contempt for Britain and will do anything to make it look foolish. Not because the ECB has long felt impotent because of the potential swingeing fine that the ICC have hung over their heads like the sword of Damocles. And not because of the appalling, worsening human-rights situation in Zimbabwe, one that England have been warned they will be complicit in should they tour. No, for the first time the ICC found a little sympathy in their hearts for the ECB because 13 journalists had been refused accreditation. Ridiculous.

Since this sorry saga began the ICC have done absolutely nothing to suggest that the wellbeing of English cricket means anything to them at all. Here is a recap: during the World Cup, Nasser Hussain's team sat, confused and threatened, in Cape Town ahead of their fixture in Harare; from the start, the ICC refused to accept the England team were under unique pressure; they refused to allow morals to enter the equation, thus taking a deeply amoral stance themselves; they refused, according to Hussain's book, to take the threatening letter from the Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe seriously; later, the ICC outmanoeuvred the ECB by asking David Morgan to delay a vote on England's next tour to Zimbabwe until after the Spring meeting of the ICC in Auckland, at which the Future Tours Programme was enshrined as an ICC regulation. Since then, the ECB have had a potential nightmare of a year's ban hanging over them for non-compliance (despite ICC officials regularly briefing the media that such a ban is unlikely). The ICC are often referred to as the head of the 'family of cricket'. The way the ECB have been treated is no way to care for a sibling.

If the ICC had really wanted to help England, then they could have done so. Remember that India and Pakistan had not played against each other for years with the ICC's blessing. The only reasons countries can give for not playing - security or government pressure - were formulated to allow India and Pakistan the freedom not to play. No, while the ICC are prepared to bend over backwards to help India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe there is something deeply anti-England at the heart of their decision-making.

Throughout the week it has been Morgan who has received the brunt of the criticism. He has dithered and has lost some respect over the way he seems to want to fulfil the tour no matter what. He also missed an open goal by refusing the opportunity to pull out when the journalists' accreditation was turned down. But he and the ECB have been placed in an intolerable position by the ICC. Making decisions about Zimbabwe is hard - as everyone else in this tale has found out. In 21 months the only person to make an unequivocal stand, and say enough, has been Stephen Harmison. Morgan deserves some of our sympathy.
Relatively, the Ganguly issue was a small one. But, after the ICC's treatment of the ECB and English cricket throughout the Zimbabwe affair, it merely served to emphasise that the game's governing body has run out of credibility.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Festival Of Lights

I am back to work! I feel terrible. I am like a 2nd grader who is being pushed to go to school because.. really .. there is no other option!!! If there was a better place than school wouldn't we all love to go there? I wish for a better place than work. In fact I precisely wish for a pot that just keeps pumping out money and my only job would be to spend that money. I guess this feeling is a hangover from last weeks celeberations. I have got quite a few mails (especially from those on the other side of the atlantic) asking me how the 7000 Rs was burned to dust. Writing about it makes me wanna resign my job and go away( in general i want to do so).. but hey.. I need money for next years deepavali :-)

The sound of fireworks at 4:00 AM woke me up on Deepavali. But that wretched " 5 more minutes ma!" made my actual wake up time 4:35. I am not sure if its common across all people.. but ever since I could walk and trouble elders for fire crackers, Deepavali starts with "maruthaani"-on-your-legs routine. As a kid, I got lined-up with other kids in the kitchen. The new dresses would be kept in the Puja room the previous night. Either my mom or grandma would make everybody sit down one-by-one and put "maruthaani"(mehendi sort of thing) on our legs. A line each by the side of the legs and two lines perpendicular to the (oh! well.. i am getting old.. in my college days i would have made a smartass comment) leg-fingers. And a big dot is kept between those two lines. Then we will have the shortest oil bath of the day. All the time until we finish our bath, there is growing frustration of the clock ticking and depriving us of prime real-estate deepavali time. The cracker sounds outside gives that "others have started .. you are lagging behind" feeling.

Whenever I was dressed, ready and waiting in the terrace for other's to join me, I used to think of the legendary "Swamy and friends" stories, where our hero comes early for the evening cricket and is lazily tapping the ball until others join him. Essentially the morning of Deepavali is a race against time! you just cant afford to be late! The stupid sun rises at 6:30 and spoils all the fun! This year like the many before, I spent the morning wait-time lining up the flowerpots, the ground chakkars, deciding the order in which I would burst the stuff! I Partitioned the crackers for morning noon and night! The ladies are generally late but this deepavali ( after constant critisisms from pervious years) they were up much early and we men folk were kinda lazing around.

So we started at around 5:30AM and had a full 45 minutes of flowerpots and stuff before the Sun announced a change in menu item . As the day wears on atom bombs, red-fort crackers, bijili's shivaji, lakshmi, netaji, sparrow, crackers come into focus. Everything except red-fort is a piece-by-piece item. It makes reasonable noise and consumes lot of time (which in no way communicates less fun). For the past N years at 7:00 AM Postal Colony IIIrd street, West Mambalam, stops and watches my neighbour's show of power. He buys crackers for 7000 Rs. Buts just four to five 10,000 walas. Nothing more Nothing less. He rolls it out like unwrapping a carpet, lights it on the front back and middle and for 30 continuous minutes four 10,000 walas shatter the air like anything. All the old mama's and mami's will be whispering " too much money for a government employee. Dunno where the money comes from" and they will give a wink (this is a different wink). This year was no different. Buses, autos and cycles stopped to watch the display in absolute amazement.

In general this 30 minutes is when people choose to call from out-of-station and end-up asking Silly questions like "oh! are they bursting crackers ha ha ha" and replies will be like " what..whaaat? ya ..they are bursting crackers". I remember visiting my great grandfather every deepavali until he passed away in 1999. He was a little short of hearing( actually he couldn't hear at all) and in the middle of my conversation with him, the crackers would start bursting. Blissfully unaware of this, he would go on talking and I would struggle to tell him to press the pause button. A couple of years he was thrown off by my frantic face gestures when he was talking. He must've thought I was getting electrocuted or something.

Apart from fireworks, sweets and TV programs, visit to various relative's houses is also a source of joy! On the road you have to pause every 10 yards to let an atom bomb finish its thing or 3000 wala blast its heart out! During the 80's we were the "Bajaj Scooter" family, where my dad drove the quintessential Bajaj Super ( There is the Lamby, Girnar, Bajaj Chetak, Bajaj-M80 variants too) scooter, I stood in the front ( my head barely popping out over the headlight/speedometer thing to get a view of the outside world). My mom sat in the back with my brother precariously rested on her laps. This is the classic Indian family advertisement. 9 out of 10 people on the road resembled this prototypical family. I still see this "scooter family" sometimes on the road and reminisce with joy. Whenever we had to stop for a "firework" break, I would get down watch with ample glee the "free" cracker show and then get on the scooter and carry on. Every aunt's place we stopped, my dad would carefully park this precious scooter behind the bushes and instruct two kids to take care of the scooter(it was more valuable than a BMW to him.. in those days Bajaj Super which could climb the Gemini flyover without coughing was a source of prestige and a status symbol :-) ) . For kids like us these stops were "bonus miles" where we mingled with the local kids to burst more fireworks at cousin's expense.

There is the "Deepavali Lagiyam" (deepavali medicine) which deserves mention on any description of this festival. Its given on most houses. My mom never makes them because we get to eat tonnes of that in my aunt's house. A little bit of this is supposed to be good for the stomach. Too much of it though eats the stomach away!! and we had twice as much as what "too much" constitutes.

For those of you down south, Television programmes also have a tradition on deepavali. There is the morning "melam", which is the traditional 20 minute 'miruthangam' music show. There is the Solomon Popaiyah "Patti Mandram" ( excuse the spelling ) which is the annual "debate" on some important social issue. In the days when "Hindustan Contesa" was India's only anwer to the Ferrari, "Patti Mandram" was a big rage. The "Men" Vs "Women", "Mother Vs Daughter-in-law" debates continued among the public ( in government offices and banks at the public's own expense) even after Mr. Popaiyah had given his verdict.

I usually detest going to movies on the day of deepavali. I made exceptions for Manirathnam movies. Since he hasn't released a movie on deepavali after "Thiruda Thiruda" in 1993, I have been spared of this discomfort. Usually Deepavali is when Kamal and Rajini face-off and showed their might. As far as I can remember 1991 was the year when the biggest line-up of movies thundered the theatres. All the 6 top heros then, Rajini ( Thalapathi), Kamal( Guna), Sathyaraj( Brahma), Prabhu, karthik and Vijaykanth had a big release. After 1992 Kamal ( Devar Magan) and Rajini (Pandian) decided not to release a movie on the same day owing to huge fan-clashes. Since then I somehow feel, the thrill of Deepavali movie releases has gone down. Ananda Vikatan readers will also remember that a new story by somebody as famous as Sujatha is usually launched on Deepavali day. I remember there was a story series called "Aaaaah" by Sujatha that got started in AV from 1991 deepavali. its a complex psycological thriller about a voice inside a man's head. That was the first tamizh full length series I ever read. This deepavali, I did not see the television at all. The cable TV blackout in certain parts of Madras ( well.. parts of W.Mambalam) was the reason. I missed drooling at Trisha and Reema Sen ... otherwise no big misses.

A wonderful mail from Sridhar (Dallas) reminded me of the pleasure involved in ripping apart Red-fort crackers to single bijilis and bursting them patiently. Afternoons flies away fast if we do that. Another interesting thing which many may relate to is throwing the Bijilis by hand. You light it and wait until the flame is tantalizingly close to the white part of the fuse and throw it high in the air. If its bursts on air, there is that satisfactory smile. Otherwise its considered a shame! I am not sure if many remember "vengaya vedi" It is the one which resembles an onion and if you throw it on the floor/wall real fast it burst. It sort of simulates a hand grenade. I guess after some years of constant misuse it was banned.

The finale on the evening of Deepavali was fantastic. This year was totally unbelievable. The skies just lit up like anything. We lit crackers in our terrace which was in the fifth floor and the atmosphere was almost surreal. Pothys( or some shop near it) has a big 7 flash light thingie. 7 flashlights rotate randomly throwing bright light into the sky ( resembling the flash lights used in war). With rockets and special fireworks lighting up the sky almost every second , the atmosphere was simply unbelievable. I had around 20 special items, 120 rockets and tons of ground chakkars/flower pots and red-fort saved up for the night. I started at 6:30PM and we kept continuously ( i mean without a seconds gap) until 9 :00 PM.

There was a new thing called "butterfly magic". This is a tiny thing and if you light it up it rotates fast and lifts into the air. Out of the 10 we tried 7 were flops were it just flew at us in random directions. The three which were sucessfull just flew up neatly in the air like a butterfly and went in the direction of my neighbours house :-). There is this electric flowerpot which also deserves special mention. It goes up like a regular flower pot but its more electric ( well.. yeah) . It does just throw up flame drops like regular flowerpots but each drop is like an electric thing making sounds and glowing by itself. Mighty impressive . Need to cut down on the regular flower pots and buy this next year. The rockets (30 or so still left unused) were satsifactory. Although there is that constant fear that rockets can go anywhere, most of what we lit flew up and burst safely in the skies. There were some "ooh" and "aah" moments when you think the fuse is gone off and the thing suddenly takes off when you go near it!. Its heartbreaking when 200Rs special goes "bussss". But we invented a technique where we inserted a sparkler into the fuse hole and lit the sparkler from reverse. Two of our "almost flops" lit up the sky magnificently this way. Another thing that stuck me from Sridhar's mail was that since childhood I watched some of the more affluent neighbors burst for a zillion rupees. I mentally made up a resolution that when I grow up and earn I would buy crackers for zillion rupees and burst the living hell out of my neighbourhood( its a completely different matter that I lost patience midway and decided to realize my ambition using my dad's salary itself :-) ). Somehow burstin crackers regardless of its value etc. gives a sort of special satisfaction and unqiueness no other fetsival does.

At the end of the day, there is always that sadness isn't it? I mean the next one is 365 days away and you really dont know whether you will be able to spend it as grandly as this one. Thats the unpredictability of life ( and part of its charm also). I get this feeling almost every deepavali. Maybe I have this sinking fear that they wud stop bursting crackers from next year onwards. But mainly because of the yearly granularity, every deepavali usually results in a massive change in our lives. Many people whom we assumed to be part of life' background fade away and then we suddenly find after they are gone we don't visit their house (now occupied by their children) anymore. It feels as if the only 'live' link between 'us' and 'them' is gone. A couple of deepavali's I have definetly thought "oh man! they were here last year.. but now..". This day probably more than any other day reveals to us the changing nature of our lives. This deepavali when I went visiting there were at least two moments when I sincerely wished certain people would live a little bit longer to see one more deepavali. Like the way the Indian cricket team moves from kapil dev-gavaskar era to the sachin-kambli-sidhu-azhar era to the sachin-saurav-dravid-yuvraj era. The closely-knit teams with which one celeberates deepavali changes over time. If we compare today with 10 years before, the people who call you and the ones you visit change dramatically. The speed at which we progress(if progress is the word I want to use) towards this certainity has never ceased to scare me. This is one of the days that deserves more than 24 hours. Before going to sleep and the cracker sounds slowly fade away, the only thing anyone can hope for in a rapidly changing world is an unchanged replay of deepavali next year too!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Who is bigger "The Institution" or "The Man" ?

This is regarding the stunning arrest of Kanchi Seer, Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal. But I'll bring my argument from a completely different perspective. I will beat around the bush but at the same time set up the perimeter for my argument.

The set-up of assumptions:

The main difference between US and India is the fear for authority. In the US citizens are more afraid of the diciplinary and police authority. They pause for a few moments near the "Stop" sign at 2:00 AM in the night, because they are afraid that some cop maybe lurking around and give them a ticket. Beyond just money, there is the points system, consequent increase in inurance premiu, loss of credit history leading to non-issuance of housing loan/car loans. This is why people ( including Indians) in the US follow the rules meticulously. Because it adds up to a very big picture consequences. Rather than take the risk and committ a small offense , most just follow the rules because the risk-to-rewards ratio is not worth it.

In India, we are bought up to violate rules. If there is nobody on the road, i know people who say "its common sense to drive on the red because people behind you are waiting". Leave out popuation explosion and non-applicability of rules to the indian system. Its the feeling that "if we break the rules no one cares a damn!". "Nobody can hurt me! I can get away with anything" . There is fact that nobody is there to watch you, then there is bribe and even if you have to pay fine, its just money.

Arguing from Angle 1: Kanchi Mutt is one of the 3 or 4 mutts that been around for more than a thousand years. The historical references and traditions are so steeped that it transcends even time. Kanchi Mutt is by far the most popular and has most followers. Any other mutt is a distant ( and really distant ) second. In many ways its a symbol of the way we live. I can tell this without much analysis that any Mutt that commands so much history must be loaded with "rules and regulations". It will have time on when the Head of the Mutt can wake-up, when he should go to sleep. Rules almost granular to every second of the day on what he should be doing, whom he should see, where he can travel and how he should travel. The greatness of the mutt comes because N generations of Seers have followed it to the letter. They were conformists because conformism was the main criteria for such a responsible position.

The Fear Factor: Its not credit history of loan payments they were afraid of . This is the ppurest form of devotion. They were afraid that someday in their after lives something bad will happen to them because they did not follow the rules.

Arguing from Angle 2:
No I wont go into the question of "what happens when we get a non-conformist"? . I will again continue beating around the bush but it sets up the perimeter for my argument. Remember the age old saying " idle mind is a devil's workshop" . It is a cliche because it is so truue. When you are extremely busy and can't spare a moment, there is no time for idle politics. You wont do things you normally wudn't do... in effect..you get into trouble less. To follow the rules laid down by the Kanchi Mutt, a seer cannot waste a second. He has to keep performing Pujas or other rituals, that cannot offer him a second to spare on worldly things.

Arguing from Angle 3:

Traditionally follwers of Kanchi Mutt was restricted to Brahmins. Strict rule-following Brahmins met the seer and apart from observing, how he performs his daily rituals, possibly learn from it. This generation of rationalism has brought about a refreshing change in that; all castes began to be considered as equal. Furthermore in the last decade people of many castes began expressing interest to involve themselves in religious activities.

How did the Kanchi Mutt react to this. It followed "market principles" of globalization and commercialization. This completely vitiates what the "outsiders" in the form of non-brahmins were looking for in the Mutt. What attracted them to the Mutt in the first place ? They did not come to just to piss of the Brahmins. No! Brahmins are not that important that a person will change their whole lifestyle just to irritate them. So what is the reason? A good organization, a clear cut understanding that God and his rules come first, people come second. This impressive purity of purpose attarcts any bystander. Everybody from all castes wanted to worship God and they want to know the right way to do it. Since Brahmins knew how it was done, the followers of the Mutt increased.

Why do "outsiders" such as the Indians in the US like the US ( as opposed to the US bashers who stand in front of the consulate to only and funnily protest against concrete walls and a Guard posted in front of the wall). It is because of the discipline. A committment to follow the rules. Because everybody wants to live a luxurious high-standard life and they want to experience it.

How stupid would it look... if US relaxed its traffic rules and asked traffic policemen to accept bribes just to accomodate the Indians. Think about Mutt's globalization from this perspective!

The build-up to the arrest:

For the past 1 week, Sun TV has been going on and on about "suspicious activities in the Kanchi Mutt". It did its usual " For the Retarded Idiots" news item which shows Karunanidhi saying something completely stupid and then typing out whatever he says in printed letters. They want to make doubly sure whatever this idiot says will have to be emphasized to those who are educated enough to read but illitrate enough not to "hear" him.

Sun TV is Karunanidhi's mouth piece. It is 100% biased towards DMK and thats the only purpose and agenda behind its creation. That it provides good entertainment is not an "end". Its a means towards a bigger end. It will continue damaging the ADMK goverment by complaining ad nauseum. Its a ruthless "complaint excercise" which they will do no matter what. They know people may get tired of it.... but they will complain until its in our blood stream.

5 days before where I heard Sun TV quote karunanidhi saying some smart comment " yaam ariyom paraaparame" I was thinking " Wow! so he is approaching the enemy head quarters. I just hope its clean enough to survive the attack". But I was stupid. The battle was already lost.

Why Shri Jayandra Saraswatigal Should be removed immediately and diassociated from Kanchi Mutt ?

1) I am sticking my nect out here to say an opinion. Sri jayandera Saraswathigal was the riskiest appointment in the history of Kanchi Mutt. If ever there was a seer who was capable of getting the Mutt into trouble, it was him. I dont need to give extenive proof for this apsect since everybody i spoke to(this is all you can speak today in Madras ) from all castes, mutt followers seemed to understand this implicitly. Anyway it is no more a theory.. the 'fact' has already happened. The Mutt stands disgraced like never before. I don't know (nobody knows) or really don't care about his involvement in the murder. Having been a student in "Sri Jayandra Saraswathigal Swami Silver Jubilee" school, I have for two years listened and seen many Mutt representative give talk about this history of the Mutt. Many of the students there and some of the followers are still my good friends. They are all sad. All interested parties in Kanchi Mutt were praying that his term would pass without any major damage to the Mutt. Well! that fear was not unfounded. Apart from rumors of indiscretions, the trip to china what pissed me of was the commercialization.

2) Giving out unwarranted statements on Ram Temple construction

3) With the growing Nationalist "Hindu" movement along with the BJP, the Mutt gained dispropotionate status because it was heading the largest Hindu Contingent in India. It did not know how to react to the larger than life status.

4) Making Kanchi Mutt a "brand". And Shri Jayandera Saraswathigal as a brand ambassador. He travels to all-religion forums. Gives photographs with a bishop and a muslim religious person. ( Does the "rules and regulations" permit such travel ? Doesn't it have a say on where he can, sit, sip, eat drink , touch! ? )

5) Makes unwarranted comments about the "true" origins of Thirupathi temple. When it can be of no consequence. Face it! if Thirupathi temple was proved beyond doubt to be a Murugan temple, is it logistically conceivable for it to be changed to a Murugan temple ? will Andhra Govt allow it ? whats the use of such controversial statements. Whats the need to go to press at all ? When there can be no concequence at all why indulge.

6) Giving advice to Jayalalitha. Acting as tamil Nadu's 'godman' and unofficial religious advisor to the government.

All these six reasons ound good but there a bigger reason than that.

7) Did not follow Mutt rules. Let his idle mind become a devil's workshop. Instead of doing rituals and worshipping god, he was doing a "larger than life" activities. Mutt is sacred and one man cannot and should not be allowed to besmirch it.


The DMK Factor:

Karunanidhi is a jerk! no doubt! but he is a shrewd politician. A small chink in the armor and he will pounce. Sun TV will trumpet his views and his strategies get amplified. Karunanidhi is already pissed off that Jayalalitha takes advise from Sankaracharya.

For the last 5 years or so, Sankaracharya is involved ina needless verbal duel with this jerk. The exchange of comments through the media was embarassing. There were 3 media exchanges which Sun TV capitalized big time

1) Some abstract argument on the definition of "Hindu" by karunanidhi. Even when BJP leaders kept quiet. There was a shocking reply from Kanchi Mutt. Which was pasted on Sun TV's " News for the Retarded" section like anything.

2) Another argument about a stupid ..stupid interpretation of Bhagavad Gita. Deliberately mis-interpreted by karnanidhi and as usual Sankaracharya walked happily into the trap.

3) About a weeklong debate on the orgin of Thirupathi smashed everyday on Sun TV headlines. They got a one-line reply from Thirupathi " we dont indulge in petty politics". But Sankaracharya made Sun TV very happy by giving out statements. one after the other.

Nobody can argue that such an embarassment was not building up. Karunanidhi could never have arrested Sankaracharya in his term as CM. The consequences would have been disastrous. Now Sankaracharya presented him with a golden opportunity to do so in Jayalaltha's term as CM. He has besmerchied the name of the Mutt. As the heading of this blog suggests , he is not important and he must go.

The only person he is to blame for all this is himself. Why? Regardless of whether he committed the murder or not. Regardless of whether he was correct in all his above arguments, views .... anything at all. He was defeated the moment he chose to enter an argument. He chose to let focus on his daily activities drift and bite the bait. The Mutt is one of the authorities of resisting temptation and now it has contradicted itself because of him. His arguments became part of a larger argument by Sun TV. They are arguing and persuading people to vote out Jayalalitha. They have used CBI-Jayalakshmi, Veerappan etc as tools in their argument. Now Sankaracharyar follows the "illustrious" ( read verappan, jayalakshmi) line of people to be used as a tool. How sad is this ? The very though makes my blood boil! For a institution of the stature of Kanchi Mutt and the responsibility of the position under question. He must go. He may never have committed a single crime... but He must go.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sweets ... No more than that

Status report From My grand'ma

Sweets:

Laddu : Done ( no sweat)
7-in-one Cake: Done
Gothumai Alwa: Done
Badusha: Done ( Grade A+)

General:
Mixture: Done

Status from my mom:

Sweets:
Laddu : Done
Gulab Jamoon: Done
Rava laddu: Done
Cocoa Sweet: Done
7-in-one Cake: Done

General Items:
Mixture : Done
Ribbon Pakoda: Done ( due to last minute request by her son, when he learned that his future ma-in-law was preparng those. ribbon pakodas are just too awesome to be left out)

Outside Items:
Badam Sweet, Cashwe nut sweet, Mysore Paa.

My Grand'ma had an early lead as of Monday. She wrapped her cooking by tuesday evening. My mom had a tight finish ( what with me at home asking coffeee thrice every hour) and just went past the finish line.

Waiting for cousins to line-up at 6:00 clk. then its off to the terrace for some burstin!

Ooh! Crackers ( Day B4 Deepavali)

How would Jughead feel if Pops opened the store for him, 1 full day for a "eat all you can" free food.

I feel like that now...Freaked out in the crackers department today. Have no shame in admitting it, I bought crackers worth Rs.7100. Have lied to my dad ( did a quick minus 2000) about the price. I am just hoping it doesn't rain all over my Standard fireworks and Sony fireworks. It rained for 30 minutes today morning and the skies looked really angry. My grandma's says it will rain atleast for 10 minutes during deepavali every year.

yah! Sony have a fireworks product line now. Its still made in Sivakasi. My dad bought the initial installment of crackers on Sunday for Rs 3500. He thought that would shut me up. No it didn't. That purchase was too rocket intensive and didn't have Red-fort at all. So I raided a Standard Fireworks shop today afternoon and bought all the special crackers possible. Cant list all the suff I have got ( I have to say humbly.. its just too many) Here is an item-wise description

Sony's Stuff.

1) There is something called "Lunik" rockets ( makes a lotta sound)
2) There is a special thing called "Raiders of the last arc". I dunno what it does but its real big.
3) Then there is a series of 1 piece crackers ( with sexy actresses on the cover). it supposed to go up and make a lot of light ( a bit like the previous one ..but hey! )
4) My Mom is a flowerpot fan and so my dad got 10 boxes of some special kind of flower pot. Its looks okay but flowerpots are for girls (he.. he)
5) there is something called hydrogen bomb and I am not sure if its really hydrogen. i just hope it makes a lot of noise.
6) 600 Walas. This beongs to the big league.

Standard fireworks

This is the big league dude!

1) 2 boxes of arial seven shot
2) 1 box parachute rocket ( the one which blasts and a parachute thing falls down)
3) There is something called golden shower, silver rain, yellow shower, blinding light, jasmine drops. all these are "special " costing Rs 200 a piece. Bought 1 from each variety the shop had ( yahh.. I rock!) . The shopkeeper came to attention when I told him " gimme all you got on the top row". Three people were posted near me and they kept asking " sir! do you want tea .. drinks". I bought every "special" item he had for sale. 1 each.
4) Then my favorite Red-fort. I am connosieur. Its gotta be 48 shells. if its giant its 58 shells. Yooohhooo. I bought 15 each.
5) There is something called swastik ground chakkars. which is supposed to be real sexy and better than zameen chakkars
6) I got sputnik rockets to compete with my dad's Lunik.
7) Double sound stuff for old times sake.
8) Rainbow rockets

Almost bought the 5000 Wala... But my cousin dragged me outta the shop.

All I need to do is setup the bottle for the rockets. Thats the crucial part which people forget. You got rockets you got agarbathis.. but hey.. where's the damn bottle. Then there is the tussle between the plastic bottle and glass bottle. If the rocket bursts within the bottle!!! glass bottles are unsafe.. but then plastic bottle can't hold the weight!... An experience hand needs to guide the whole operation. thank god for superman!(me) rockets burst safely in the sky and not in kanakambujavalli patti's patio.

Oh! ya forgot.. since i was the only geek to buy so much stuff.. i was given a special box as discount. its a 3 way pistol cracker. it flies up and then separates into 3 directions and makes a lotta noise.

Yipee... I am jumpin like Jughead with a lot of food. (actually i do have a lot of food to eat)

P.S: for dorks like Jaishankar ( happy "head" diwali). There is a standard label on every firework item which says " Children were not used as labourers in making this cracker".( it was there in Sony fireworks..and it seemed like a rule to me) That should settle the debate.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Festival Time: Deepavaliii yahoooo!!!!

Today! I am leaving on a 11-day vacation to Madras ( Diwaliiiii rocks!!!!). This is the only motivation for me to live through this week. The festive smell in the air ( not in bangalore.. which pretty much sux in this regard) is inviting me(" yit beyckons") from Madras. The festive atmosphere in Madras during deepavali cannot be compared with any other place. Grading on a scale of 1 to 100, Madras would get some 98. Bangalore would get 3 ( I received a circular in my apartment saying that they have allocated 3 hours on the day of deepavali to light crackers on the terrace). Even other places in Tamil Nadu wouldn't measure up to this grand a scale. For example in Trichy or Nellai you wouldn't know the difference between Full moon day and Deepavali.

Already, last weekend, there were 1 million billion zillion people in that Usman Road-Doraisami Bridge junction.

I seriously believe our country is a not poor country. In front of GR.Thanga Maligai there were 2000 people. It is a jewellery shop. and for a jewelerry shop it resembles the size of a 3 star hotel and invites a stadium kind of crowd. People were rushing into it as if they were buying idlies or bread toast ( although there may not be so much crowd in front of a bakery ir murugan idli shop). 2 Police vans were standing outside begging people to stand in line etc.

Sunday morning 9:00 clk, all roads in and around Panagal Park were blocked. Thankfully nowadays the traffic police reacts quickly to such situations. By sunday evening 70% of roads were made one-ways and people were "take diversion" 'ed multiple times until they began to go around in circles.

But the festive spirit has to be seen to be believed. Its like the atmosphere in a stadium when Sachin Tendulkar walks out to bat. The excitement, the crowd the buzz. Especially T.Nagar. Wow! This is the place to be. I would give anything to spend a day sitting on the Traffic Policeman's booth and observe the maddening crowd keep buying saree after saree. ( I would also get to watch the neat tricks these policemen use to earn a few xtra bucks).

I havent bought crackers yet. My First batch of orders has gone to Sivakasi through my dad. This weekend I hope to loot a traditional cracker shop in G.N Chetty road. You won't believe it, its a marriage hall converted to a cracker shop. They have push carts inside. I look forward to some serious cracker shopping this time. Sun News have said that they have come out with some really new fancy crackers. ( yipeeeee)

Jayalalitha our beloved Chief Minister has strictly said crackers can be burst only between 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM. She has got to be kidding. She's been saying that since 1991 and I always let out a smile ( sometimes a yelp) when I start hearing cracker sounds at 2:30 AM in the morning. By 4:30 AM things are in full swing. Okay I am getting ahead of myself. But can't help it.. the excitement is getting to me. But heck! I am carrying work to Madras that promises to keep me occupied 2000 hours a day. Life isn't fair at all :-(

Will blog post-diwali!

Lazy Week

Have you ever been on a 100 mts sprint for a month, take a break for 3 days and then try an run again ? You'd find out that you forgot how to run!!!!

The amazing intensity in last two months of my life has left me confused. After a hectic sixty or so days, the kind of schedule I have never seen before, I decided to ( well.. thats a lie, my body refused to move) rest last weekend. Given that it was a long weekend ( monday holiday) in this part of the world, I practically went into to coma by monday evening. After I came back to work, the last three days have been like.. "walking in my sleep". I was in a four hour meeting yesterday for four hours :-) ( I always wanted to say that). I felt I was going in slow motion while everybody else were buzzing around like bees.

Wednesday was horrible. Couldn't focus on anything in particular. Just kept staring blankly into my screen giving out confused looks. Trying to get my internal motor running from wednesday evening. Finally managed to get the clock back to a 4:30 AM wakeup today. But Seriously!!! dragging my unwilling body to brush, bath and then to work is hell. I was staring at my monitor at home with a brush in hand for 15 minutes and I could sense a weak signal from my brain saying "mooove". ahhh.. when will this week get over ?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Talent

I recently ran into an old friend of mine .Both of us were equally surprised that we recognized each other. His name is Prashanth and studied 7th grade with me. Even though I studied in gzillion schools, i always make it a point to remember most of my ex-classmates. You would be surprised, how many people I remember from my 3rd grade. Someday I hope to write a book which has a chapter dedicated to each school I studied. This would give me an opportunity to describe some of the "characters" i have met.

Anyway back to Prashanth. The school where I completed my 7th grade was in Tirunelveli, a really wonderful town. I joined about a month after school opened and in my first day at school i was given a "weird" welcome by my new classmates. (As a side note: the first person, I met in this school, who was sitting alone in class when the school assembly was in progress, went on to become one of my closest friends. The person had skipped the assembly because he had a fractured hand he drove me away from the class and asked me to attend the assembly. From that year we studied together for 10 more years in 4 different institutions. But more on that later.) In the first interval break after the teacher had left, about 10-15 students swarmed around me and asked me to write one paragraph from some english textbook. they wanted to check my handwriting. "Not cursive at all" yelled one boy called Saravanan ( he had a crew cut with probably 1 mm hair growth in his head). I was thinking "cursive writing! what's that?". Then after asking my rank and statistics in my 6th grade ( which was quite embarassing and my thought when moving out of 6th grade was "thank god its buried here itself"), they asked me to draw some parrot. They wanted to know if I could draw as well as Prashanth.

I had never drawn much before, didn't consider myself to be an artiste. I usually concede defeat in such situations and say " no i am not much of a 'drawer'( in all forms of the word)". But the thought that they were comparing me with someone spurred me. I drew something that resembled a parrot run over by a bus. They were all happy. It was apparent that Prashanth's reign and the king of artists in "Sri Jayandra Saraswathi Samigal Silver Jubilee School" 7th grade would continue. Prashanth was a really good artist. He could clearly visualise what he wanted to draw and could draw from his own imagination. Which I thought was splendid. He was good in drawing replica's also. People would just gather around him, give him some photograph and ask him to draw. He would draw parrots, Kapil Dev's profile, butterflies, sunrise, man, woman, baby. His precision and surgeon like fingers would amaze us. For many years after I had left thirunelveli, where Prashanth had moved from real life to memory, I always used remember him and think "only if i had that kind of talent". I used to imagine prashanth becoming a big painter and leading a successfull career as an artist.

So seeing him as a software engineer was kind of bummer for me. All roads in India seems to lead to IT. I could not contain my dissapointment on seeing him like this and my 4th question to him was "dude!! whats up with the drawing stuff". He didnt even remember that he used to draw. He had abandoned that talent ages ago that he did not even account it in his talents. Amidst all the cybase, visual basic, C, C++, the pencil and paper got lost. I obviously don't blame him. He didn't come from an affluent family so he had to earn to support his family. But somehow I could help feeling sad for people like Prashanth.

The apathy that our country's educational system shows towards special talents saddens me. No other word to describe it. I can only quote Enigma when i say "sadness". A good system that values a person's unique talent as a sacred art must be able to nurture and find avenues to express that talent. But instead in the competitive herd such gems are buried forever. I only hope when he is 40 or 50 he has earned enough money, he would have the self-realization to do something about his talent. Again, that depends on him being aware that such a talent resides in him . talking to him made me feel that he thought the whole drawing thing was a joke.

I dont have a solution(not yet) or a career option for a perosn who has a talent to draw very well. I am just finding out that this IT industry is eating in everybody. sportsmen, painters, poets, philosophers everybody. I am not critisizing this either. Its just that i am unable to dismiss such stuff as one of the harsh realities of life.