Friday, June 26, 2009

Moonwalk

A peep into the mechanics of the Moonwalk dance move and the whole Billie Jean performance. This is probably one of the most meticulously articulated stage song-dance sequence in the entertainment world. It is orchestrated to have the artist precisely move and position himself for a bunch of pre-set camera angles and thereby evoke a sense of 'magic' in the minds of the viewer.

The 'Moonwalk' was originally invented by an artist called 'Casper' (who unimaginatively called it the 'slider'). It later became a worldwide phenomena because MJ executed it (for the first ever time) in the end-closing sequence dance moves of his first ever Billie Jean performance. This happened on 25th March 1983 during the 25th anniversary of Motown. This was staged at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and called "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever." The Moonwalk occurs exactly at the same time and in the same way in every Billie Jean performance Michael has done since that one. It is carefully planned to start at a specific beat. It has pre-moonwalk and post-moonwalk moves that go with it. While Michael, over time, has improvised and expanded the Billie Jean performance (the videos below show the improvisations) - the basic structure has remained the same.

Putting on the Hat: The song starts with Michael putting on his hat exactly at the same time the unique multiple layer drums (by the famous Leon Chancler) starts. Then familiar bass guitar/synth is played on top of it and then the chord progressions are created (Sound Engineer Bruce Swedien remixed this 91 times before finally settling on the final version). It is a magical song that he starts creatively. The silence that he creates before putting on his hat is exhilarating. In later performances if Michael is already with his hat ON, then the drums and bass guitar is silenced for a few minutes, only to restart at the exact time he puts it on. The Hat, single-glove, stone studded socks and the jacket are an integral part of the Billie Jean performance.

Pump: After putting his hat on, Michael does - what is called as - the 'pump'. Pump is a simple thrust of the abdomen. The artist is in a bent position and almost looks as if he is watching his crotch thrust out and in.

Swivel: Michael's talent lies in telling the camera men (even if the show is not his) exactly where to position the camera and while dancing he is aware of the various poses he has to strike for those camera angles. If you see all his Billie Jean live performances (Munich 97 and Bucharest especially), camera angles (for viewing in giant screen) totally cranks up the level of his performance. The swivel typically has 3 poses and starts when the drums is accompanied by soft 'shakers'. The first move he does is lift his right leg up, points his finger and toe seemingly towards a person in the orchestra and pauses. This is Pose 1(you can now hear the 'shakers' do a 'chik-chik' sound). Then he swivels and points his right leg to the other side of the stage and points his finger/toe towards someone there. Then he strikes a couple of poses left and right - each with one leg straight and the other leg forming an R shape.

Throw the hat away: Throwing the hat away is done in a very interesting fashion as it almost mimics the onset of a moonwalk. But is a fake. He crosses the legs first and spreads his hand out (I call it the 'no way dude' move) and then he crosses the leg other way to point in the direction he will eventually throw the hat. The way he throws the hat has changed over time. He essentially has two throws: the 'soft throw' that lets him pick it up later and then the inward throw to the crowds. The first throw is always the soft throw. Because he needs the hat for later.

The combing and the start: He never starts singing with the hat on. So after the throw he pretends as if he is taking a comb out, combs his hair and keeps the comb back on his pocket. Don't get distracted by his hands. His legs are striking a pose, which is accentuated by where the cameras are placed. Then he briefly places his hands like a triangle on the crotch and starts singing "she was more like..."

The song: His movements are limited when he is actually singing. The song itself is sung in a mix of falsetto and his regular voice. In this song he introduces a brilliant 'hiccup' way of singing (which he repeats in every other album - 'man in the mirror' and 'who is it' are examples). You can see him do his usual stuff - 'legs sliding towards each other back/forth' and 'hands-in-my-pocket' thing. But he introduces two key moves which he will expand at the closing stages of the song. The 'spin' happens exactly before he sings 'the kid is not my son' (and again before 'do think twice'). He 'spins' and goes into that line. Then he does a bent robot move (which he did till his 'invincible' videos: see video 4 below for that). Here he bends down and moves his hands and face like a robot. This is a common move among African American dancers but he does it with class.

My favorite 'singing move' is when he is really bent down with mike by his side (comes at 2:10 in video 1 below) and sort of does a mini sit-up while singing "on the floor ..". Another favorite moment of mine his jump before singing the chorus "Billie Jean". You haven't seen the moonwalk yet. And he is waiting for the end guitars to start before he shows you that.

The Moonwalk Package (Spin, Moonwalk, Spin, and Toe Stand): The moonwalk package of Billie Jean is stunning for people who have never seen anything like that before. His rhine-stone studded socks and his single glove (it is always one glove when it is Billie Jean) accentuates the slide of the moonwalk. Before the Moonwalk, he shouts a 'hee' (to the left hand side crowd) and 'hoo' (to the right hand side crowd). Crosses his leg to mimic the 'hat throw', bends down and then does a full version of the 'spin'. He then lifts his pants raising them upward, strikes a pose and then begins the slide backwards. The backwards slide apart from giving you massive goose-pimples, almost makes you feel the floor is slippery or fluid. The camera angle makes a significant difference here. The high that you get from watching it done is wonderfully capped by a BIG 'spin' and a toe stand. The toe stand is so difficult that it is almost ridiculous that he even does it. Sometimes he can simply stand on his bent toes for like 3-4 seconds (if he is dancing only with his socks). In the Motown video below he doesn't really get the 'toe stand' right (he said later that he was very nervous about pulling it off) and so quits it soon.

In almost every Billie Jean performance, he does a variation of the Moonwalk after the song ends. Sometimes he Moonwalks sideways (his face front and he moves towards the left - see 3rd video from 7th minute onwards) or does a stop-moonwalk. Where his hand is sort of showing a stop-signal to the front and he moves behind. His stay-in-the-same-place and moonwalk ( 2nd video, minute 6:53) is simply incredible. Blows your mind out.

The End Dance: His Billie Jean performances have changed over time and he began to put a lot of drama in taking out the trade mark single glove, hat and Jacket to whip up the frenzy. This makes your adrenalin pump up like crazy (see the 3rd video beginning). But he also extended the song's ending segment by having a dedicated dance sequence. If you see the second video below, which is his best Billie Jean performance so far: At exactly 6 minute 20 seconds he would reclaim his hat, pretend to clean it up and put on the hat. Then all the lights and other instruments would switch off. Its just drums and a spotlight. Your heart is beating fast not knowing what to expect. Here he would showcase all his newest and best dance moves.

The Robo Revolve/Rotate: This is my most favorite of all his dance moves. He introduced it as part of his Smooth Criminal song sequence in the movie 'Moon Walker' (He had done it once before in 1988 Grammy Awards). Sometimes tears flow if you try to imagine how he really does it. Here, in this move, he stays in a single spot and sort of revolves around himself (see minute 7:30 in Video 3). Its almost as if he splits into two people and one person does a break-dance revolution around the other stand-still person. It looks incredible provided you saw it from the correct camera angle.

Video 1: The Legendary Motown Performance



Video 2: Munich 97 Performance



Video 3: The NewYork performance almost 20 years later.




Video 4: Music Awards

Look at minute 0.50 and 1.12 on his improvised Robot dance.

MJ II

Older Post reviewing his book, life etc.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson

The world you lived in was too stupid to understand you. You are the last super star the world will ever see.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Boys Can Swim

Pregnancy is 3rd most common symptom of indian marriages. Right after 'thalai deepavali dowry' and 'porn free computers'. Inspite of that there is no clearly defined rule on who can have a baby. Let me tell you this: if there existed a baby world unto itself and if the inhabitant babies ever had an unanimous opinion on who the villain of that world was - that M.N.Nambiar would undoubtedly be me. Bachelors feel smug and superior when they see parents manage crying babies. Especially those who manage crying children on airplanes. Nobody wants to sit next to them. I constantly gave them dirty looks. They were species who had to pack 700 thousand things if they had to leave the house. They couldn't just take their keys and walk out. Every time they left the house, even if it was to see a neighbor down the block, these parents had to carry 6 different bags with them.

As a college going teenager I formed anti-children societies, where we held "dharna-porattams" against children who (a) made lot of noise, (b) cried too much and (c) broke stuff that belonged to others. In the US, desi children are glued to the parents - almost inseparable. Unlike India, parents can't leave these children @ home and go to (a) a movie, (b) a party or (c) to a friend's house. So now you have noisy movie halls and public gatherings with wailing children. I squarely blamed parents when they didn't shut their child's mouth if the noise it made drowned cricket commentary (or) if the parents were oblivious to the fact that their child was trying to tear off my MJ poster. They wouldn't shut the child down but instead hold a conversation with them that went like "no! Akyutesh! please don't do that". You are thinking to yourself "what akyutesh needs is a sound slap". The thing these parents don't get is: Akyutesh is not interested in the conversation. He probably does not understand what the parents are saying anyway.

At one point children could instantly sense my hostility just by being around me. A rumbling tumbling happy baby would stop doing all its gurgling noise in my presence, stare at me for a while and quickly start wailing. They too - like many would-be parents - go through pre-birth trainings with other expectant foetus(es(es)). There they have been trained to sense anti-babyists like me. Given all this - anti-babyists still produce children. For no reason at all. I don't know what brainwashing people go through to move from being a anti-babyist to a procreator. It is like you make fun of old people but go on to become old yourself. Here are a few top N reasons to have a baby that I made up

1. Maybe people want to play god and so stop mid-marriage and say, "you know what? Let us create more human beings."

2.
Maybe it is naricissm turned sideways "I need to show love to someone. I have this compelling urge to be selfless. It will look odd if I make cho-chweet remarks to myself and praise myself to the sky. So lets create another human being just like me and love/praise the heck out of him."

3.
Maybe its plain selfishness "who will take care of me when I am 90 and senile? Besides, we don't like the people we meet. We really need to be making our own kind of people."

4. Maybe its like getting promoted from 8th standard to 9th standard. You go from bachelor to married and then to fatherhood as a matter of fact.

5. Maybe they want to show off that they are having sex.

Some married couples pretend as if they are considering several hundred options and one teeny-weeny option among that is to have a baby - somewhere down in the future. "I am thinking of whether or not to have a baby" - they say. And they kid us. Statistics tell us that they are going to have a baby at some point in time. However, it is considered good social status if you pretend to ignore it. Some even peethify - "having babies is not my lifestyle ..man". And you are thinking "mudraa vennai" because such peela masters have a baby earlier than others. On the other end of the spectrum some couple do a thing - which my periappa calls - "hit a century before lunch". Those who do that are the butt of all jokes. They are really in soup with their friends. You could have retarded, dumb, comatose friends who cannot add 2 and 3 without a calculator but they still would be capable of doing lightning speed calculation to find out if you had a baby before your first wedding anniversary. Regardless of where people are in the spectrum, somewhere down the line married people have a pause in the conversation and just to break the silence one or the other says

He: "you know what.. we should be a couple with a baby".
She: "you mean ...parents!".
He: "no .. no..no _couples_ the kind who travel a lot and still have fun but also have a 3rd person in the house"
She: "you mean parents.. who travel to grocery stores and pediatric clinics"
He: "no..no no.. that is not it..."

So two people decide to manufacture babies just the way Toyota manufactures cars or the way Intel manufactures micro chips. The good thing going on in human being's favor is that you don't have to write up a project plan, secure funding, commit resources and work for 30 months to manufacture other human beings. Imagine this - if nature's requirement to have a baby was that a man and a woman had to put their hands into a bunch of earth worms, take goo out and put the goo between two metal rods and beat the rod to pulp for 6 months. If that is how we reproduced, humans would have become extinct long ago. The way it is currently arranged - having a baby is very easy for the woman. The woman gets to do the fun part of puking for 9 months, mutating for 9 hours and running behind the younglings for another 20 years. It is, however, slightly difficult for the man. The man has to have sex, which is a terrible thing. Because men hate sex. Its the last thing they want to do. They spend all their teenage years trying to avoid sex. The only reason they agree to have sex for the purposes of procreating is - as my grandma says "edho aanju rendukku pazhuthu illai" - because it is at least better than pulling goo out of earthworms.

Friday, June 19, 2009

LSE Prediction

NYSE:C price will go down dramatically next week. I wouldn't be surprised if it traded between 2.6 - 2.9 next week.

P.S1: I am trying to monetize my LSE super powers.
P.S2: This post caters to popular demand by people I know. They have asked me to publish the stocks I buy (they prefer CNBC does a newsflash on my purchases) so that they can either (a) short it or (b) not buy now but wait for it to go down instead

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Kobayashi Maru Test

So, after last game's heroics I finally got back my opening slot, walked out with this guy to open the batting. Let me tell you - walking out to open the innings with a 19 year old isn't what it used to be 10 years ago. My entire team was looking at him feeling very defensive about their respective ages. A couple of people were deeply hurt that the world was still making 19 year olds. They would say "what.... you are 19" and look around shocked. We probably made him feel that his "youngness" was a sin and a very offensive one at that.

I don't know what happens to a person when they walk out to bat. People tend to be nervous and so out of breath that it almost feels they are walking to the gallows instead of a game of cricket. Walking to the crease with 11 eyes watching you, taking guard, standing and actually being able to spot the ball rushing towards you seems like the most scariest thing in the world. It seems so easy in the nets but a completely different experience in a match. Its like presenting in front of a few people or giving a speech at your school assembly (which is freakin' scary). Opening the innings is probably as tough as it is made out to be. After a few failures one thinks to self that maybe - I am an opener because I want to be a good opener - rather than the more preferred - I am an opener because I am built to be a good opener. One feeds the other but once you start thinking like that it can ruin things a little bit. I have argued both sides on mental ability Vs talent. And this where I think being (relatively) comfortable with fear is a key mental skill that cannot be underestimated in any sphere of life.

Last year I was the new guy in the team, so this South African opening partner (who looked like Hudson with a moustache) asked me to go face the first ball. Now if there is something more scarier than opening the innings - it is facing the first ball. It is the unfortunate new guy or the person who can't say "no" who gets to do that. I do not know if there is any real psychological advantage of being a non-striker and getting to see a few balls being bowled before taking strike. But the perception of such an advantage is powerful and very popular. When I started opening for the very first time I'd insist that I be the non-striker. From last year onwards, I simply asked my partner to pick his preference and then do the other thing. This time however, I selfishly asked poor Niyantha to take first strike and he manfully did the task.

Division B cricket in the US is never a tough division. Most teams have one good bowler and then 3-4 others who can roll their arm over. So if you saw the opening spell off the only person who can get you out was you. And people who could stop their alter-egos from going for cross-batted heave across the line typically did well. Niyantha faced a bowler who was clearly moving the ball away. He pitched at 2/3rds length and it would move away at about shoulder height. The bowler I faced had just one good ball - the attempted "in-swinging" "yorker" at gentle pace. It is made a difficult ball to play only because you are new to the crease, cannot sight the ball and are nervous as hell. The other variation he bowled was the wide ball. With the heart thumping and brain not wanting to focus I was barely seeing the ball and sometimes was relieved that it hit my bat because it happened to travel in the direction where I poked my bat out. Typically teams all over the world have 3 or 4 default sledges that they repeat like a parrot everywhere. They shout "batsman has no clue. no clue at all" or something like "he wants to give his wicket away. let us help him" with the hope that you hear them and get that into your head. It works surprisingly well and that's why people keep saying that again and again.

5th over Niyantha fished outside off and got beaten. The very next ball he was tempted to go for a cover drive, was late and edged to slips. Felt very sorry for him. But he is very talented and am sure he will do well this season. Next over the new batsman faces this in-swinging yorker guy. I pleaded to this batsman that he should not play across the line, which he duly did play and top edged a catch to mid-wicket. Next batter walks-in and is warned by the outgoing batsman and me that the bowler really knows to bowl just one ball and a "non-straight bat" response would mean that he'd hit if we miss. He too plays across to an in-swinging yorker and is LBW first ball. So we are 3 down for 30 or so. The #5 batsman and I shut shop and defend like there is no tomorrow. Over time the ball's visibility gets better and I can actually see it hit my bat. Then comes the 10th over and the last over of the in-swinger's spell. The non-striker and I decide that we are going to ultra-defend until the 15th over. Now I am standing a foot outside the crease to counter the swing. That makes this bowler's delivery a rank full toss. I can't resist. I heave across the line, miss, get hit on the back-foot. LBW. 10 overs of defending comes to a naught.

Lost the opening bowling spot, again, as a result of last week's heroics. We pretty much sucked and gave the game away soon. Niyantha, was our best bowler and as I keep telling him he has an exact replica of Kumara Dharmasena's action. The day ended with a terrible defeat to a team with as vile a name as "Chuck De Oregons".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lightning Strikes Everyday

For the first time since I started this blog, I thought 'why not mention this blog's birthday?'. When actress 'Jil jil rani' can celeberate the birthday of her 'naikutti' I guess this blog's birthday should be accorded some respect. Its been quite a ride - these 5 years. We've shared some laughs, some controversies, made friends, irritated quite a few people, nakkal adichified everybody you can think of and in general behaved like a 5-year-old (which is very precocious because the blog just turned 5). Looking back it all started on a Friday afternoon on June 11th. I always look back at that phase with some fondness. Things were changing rapidly then. Doing life changing stuff or going after something doesn't happen as often as we think it does. So that time was exciting. I was buried in b-school essays + IIM prep + a few other things. And was caught as a slave in a project that felt like a mental hospital at times. Then I got engaged.

So one afternoon I had a conversation with a colleague that resembled something like this.




A conversation I'd have several times with several different people. I was especially pissed off about the cruelty of the 400 word limit on Harvard essays. I was so freaking bummed with the conciseness requirement of all the b-school essays that my night's sleep was consumed by an infinite loop of dreams where I was optimizing sentences in a 'olai chuvadi'. So the conversation then led to several other opinions about my dissatisfaction with life in general and the disagreements that I had with people who inhabited it. We talked about the general distrust over people who claimed to be "experts" and kept ridiculing one particular guy who smugly kept predicting the future (of the project). "Start a blog. You are PGW fan. Cut and paste shit from his novels" said this colleague. I knew what a blog was and followed some blogs. But I left saying "no dude". My virtual world interaction ended with 'carnatic raagas in film music' or the 'ARR Vs IR' section of tfm forums.

So later that evening I thought about it and in peak 'raahugalam' started this blog. I was tired of 400 word limits, experts, and 'i will tell you how to $1Million in stocks' guides. I wanted a place where I could just run amok. Some people drank alcohol, some smoked cigarettes, some chewed bubble gums and I wrote a blog. It wasn't something I leaned on but it was an excellent distraction from the ridiculousness I had to encounter everyday. So for the first few years the blog was a hiding place where I could write about stuff that had nothing to do with the main thing going on in my life at that time. Later it became a test-bed to try out new pet opinions and theories. Sometimes it served to ventilate. But it wasn't hard to write these posts. I finished most posts in about 20 minutes. Didn't think much about it later. I guess you don't need a lot of time to state the obvious.

5 years have gone by and I still wonder about the title I chose that Friday evening. In case you forgot, I am still thinking about this (many many years before this movie got released mind you). Like when I was all set to submit my Harvard application a few hours before deadline and the internet stopped working once I hit submit - forever. Or like last week where almost a year after the previous attempt, I tried to print out some page recently. It was just two pages, I didn't need them in a hurry and they were unimportant - so I thought the gods would not strike me down for this. 2 hours later it became an ego contest and I had clicked the print out dialog box for the 1000th time. Everybody around me came to the printer, collected their papers and left. It was just disgusting.

How does an odd person communicate an oddity to the outside world - especially if it is to do with little insignificant things? The first time I mentioned all my little idiosyncrasies, fears and doubts to my roommates in TOSU (if Major Major Mohandass was still lurking around he would not find the "what if the plane fell into the ocean but you find yourself alive and unable to swim" or "who will pay for the student loan then" question funny now) they thought I should be put under observation. Maybe they are right. Maybe not. I can tell you the exact day I first began to realized this power of randomness over me. Things that I don't have control over scare me slightly but what scares me the most are (a) things that I think I control but I really don't (never did) (b) Things that are important to my life but I am not even aware it is important (I don't know what I don't know) (c) Things I should be controlling (which every body else can control easily) but I cannot. I continue to live under the fear that something completely random or unexpected would happen and screw me out of happiness.

And I tell you every time something has gone wrong it has gone wrong because of "safe bets". From job interviews, stock quotes, exams, applications, and networking events things that people (the idiots) have advised me as "good options" "high percentage play" or "safe option" have all gone wrong. I have lost trust in anybody who claims to know stuff. Any stuff. I really have lost that trust. Probably that is why I look at these Obama (or any political person) worshipping bloggers with cynicism. Because people really don't know what he (or anybody else) is even planning to do or capable of doing.

Forget bloggers - they are silly people. Take any person expressing an opinion with conviction. The conviction of his opinion is inversely proportional to the number of questions you ask that drill down to the details of that opinion. Every time someone says things like "I am real estate agent so I know current prices will increase in the future" - "I am an ICICI bank mutual fund investor I can double your money in 3 years" "i am trader so I can help you with stocks" or "I am an travel agent I can help you book tickets to India" - I think they are criminals looking to cheat me. I have stopped booking tickets to India. I normally am not present in the same room when someone is booking my ticket to India.

They say that lightning never strikes a man twice. Apparently the probability of that happening is very low. They are wrong. Did I ever tell you I get struck by lightning everyday? Which is why I wonder. About randomness and about life. And so view life from a confused perspective of an outsider. And hopefully this confusion has been clearly reflected in this blog.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Star Trek

Most people are children at heart. Kids often ask their parents to tell the same story again and again and they love it when the parent embellishes the story with new details, new subplots, prequels and so on. Hollywood is like that master story teller and tells us the same story in many different ways. Batman, Superman, Spiderman, James Bond has been rebooted so why not Star Trek? The reboot of Star Trek is a delight for fans of first generation and hopefully should be fascinating for newcomers. This movie steers clear of all the mistakes that the first ever Star Trek movie did (no content but too much hype) and gets to the action straight away. One can almost compare this to the 'Wrath of Khan'.

There has been considerable effort to reference many of past Star Trek dialogs and character profiles. Spock also quotes Sherlock Holmes again "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” When the movie begins the first sound you hear are those small tweet sounds from the original Star Trek. That in itself gave me goose pimples. And then the references continue almost every other scene. When Shatner played Kirk, he had several episodes where he'd cheat death and always go for the win-win option. This trait has been referenced here. The Kobayashi Maru test is shown in the movie the way Kirk described it happen in "Wrath of Khan" (while eating an apple). Dr. McCoy's famous line "I am doctor not an X" (where X != Doctor) already has a count of like 4 or 5. Captain Christopher Pike is here and has a plot that neatly fits in with his eventual fate that will (has already) happen(ed). Leonard Nimoy makes his customary appearance. Several (really really lot of) inside jokes exist which is bound to keep a Star Trek fan completely interested.

The plot in itself is interesting as most time travel conundrums tend to be. And needless to say this movie does leave a few gaping logical holes that is congenital with time travel stories logic. It also also leaves some open ended questions and a revolting romance between Spock and Lt Uhura that should really be quickly terminated. The plot: Nero, played by Eric Bana, a Romulan is back in time to avenge Spock's error of not saving Romulus from a supernova. His time travel alters the life course of Kirk's father, James Kirk himself, the younger spock, spock's mom (my dream woman Wynona Ryder plays Spock's mom) and the rest of the cast. The resulting time conundrums and complexities are very entertaining.

This movie certainly has a creative (a master stroke really) way of restarting a series with the time-travel/time-altered history of the all the main characters and re-introduces familiar characters who now face a different future. It also does the James Bond reboot thing of doing the customary title introduction "space the final frontier.." in the end (and Spock curiously says "where no one has gone before" instead of "no man" just to be politically correct). Rodenberry's Star Trek wasn't simply about finding new life or new civilizations. It was about finding the true human nature when in strange worlds and civilizations. This movie focuses on character descriptions of the crew a little too much for comfort. Star Trek ain't about that. Its about complex stories and plot situations that essentially tests the human nature of the crew and the captain. In this movie the plot is just an excuse to reaquaint with long lost TV friends, which is good but it better stop with this movie. Hopefully J.J. Abrams will remember this theme as it starts a new series of movies.

Highly recommend this movie.

p.s: I wouldn't have forgiven myself if I failed to catch it before it left the theaters but a midnight IMAX show saved me from missing this.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Kiriket

Since I had my most eventful day in the last 1 year of cricket in Seattle, I decided that I should write about it. Also because - sadly - if I don't no one else will. Really had to blog this 'bayangara' extraordinary change in fortunes over a short period of time w.r.t my cricket life last weekend. Unexpectedly, I opened the bowling for my team. However, getting to know this after the toss and seconds before we walked into the field kinda messed up my mind. Usually I bowl first change. So when the captain looks at me and does his shoulder wiggle thingie (that somehow has come to mean "warm up you are in next") I begin to visualize where I'll pitch the ball and "pre-determinedly" mug-adichufy what to do when I get to my run-up. This way when while bowling I am not really thinking but simply executing. Keeps everything clean.

This time, I nervously said "right arm over" to the umpire, went to the top of my run up with a shining new red "cherry" and then ....was momentarily confused. There was a leftie on strike. Its not as if this was the first time I'd be bowling to a lottai but somehow not knowing it beforehand made me pause because (a) am confused (b) was already nervous about opening the bowling. After some thought call to the umpire and said "around" knowing fully well that I hadn't bowled around in the last year or so. Then went on to bowl 7 consecutive wides. Sometimes you never know WTF happens to you when you lose confidence mid-runup. Especially if you are used to the habit of deciding where to *try* and pitch the ball before runup and then execute it. Poor confidence meant that I was confused about where to pitch it until delivery. While bowling my 7th wide I was actually thinking "I have no idea where this is going to land" at delivery stride. So gave away 12 runs for the first over. I was prepared to not be asked to bowl again and went and stood sulking @ gully.

That was until I caught a total blinder next over. Batsman slashes at a wide ball and it screams to gully. I jump and grab it one handed. If I was given 5 more seconds to think about it I would have dropped it but strangely not been given enough time, in this instance, worked to my favor. That momentary 'undo' on my pathetic bowling performance gave me another over. Then I went on to bowl 5 overs, 4 maidens and squeezed out a wicket. 6-4-13-1 looked awesome now. Was removed from attack and brought back for the 38th and 40th over. The Pahisthaani left hander was still around batting at 110 or so. I gave 2 sixers in the 7th over and 2 more sixers plus a four in the last over. And was brought back to earth. 8-4-41-2 wasn't going to retain my opening bowling spot. Strangely there used to be a time when playing against pagisthan type teams pumped me up but that day I just dropped my pants and bent over.

Chasing 237 in 40 overs isnt easy. During lunch captain looks at me and says 1-drop. I get all excited. Last year, I got into the team as an opener peethifying that I was Sachin Tendulkar of Palayamkottai but ended up being demoted due to poor performances. After scraping around the bottom of the batting order all last year, I finally got opportunity-part deux. I go in at 20/1. I again mentally prepare to dokku-vechufy for 2-3 overs before even thinking of scoring. Third ball I face, the bowler drops it short, I go back and pull over mid-wicket for 4. Bayangara sandosham and confidence happens and resulting adrenalin makes me give the '36 mottaigalin attagasangal' kind of batting performance. 40 scored of 43 balls: 7 boundaries. Finally got out when team was 101/2. Checked my shot in the last minute while going after a off-side full toss and dragged the ball back to the stumps. We ended up losing by 50 runs. But on the bright side "hope are there mama" that I will be batting higher up the order next game.

Orrey the looking forward to this season.