Monday, June 12, 2006

Shame in the time of west indies........

This last week has been a sports buffet of sorts. Take a few slices of BeckHam and Rooney, add a few chopped Nadals, Federers and Henins, garnish with Clisters; a few slices of Roddick and Sharapova, stir and let cook. Serve with a side dish of Bravo Salad, and Dravidian Shrikhand........

Long haired chaps going ballistic over a ball in Berlin. The audience in a "vilambit alaap" with their lips mouthing an "O", waving their arms around as if to bless their own teams. Big grown up chaps in a frenzied game, sliding, kicking, pumping their fists and occasionally making a goal. The way the players behave on field, one feels its not just adrenaline, but maybe a sparkling variety of it is cruising through their veins.

And then there is another set of chaps whipping rackets at each other as a ball just grazes the white line in Paris. If you dont have the strength, as it happens, sometimes, with the women, a grunt will do. And so you have endless amazing volleys, stretching the limbs as well as your imagination. Since the days of John Mcenroe, on field tantrums , though not absent today, have taken on a slightly civilized veneer, and are judged harshly. The seat Umpire is his/her own third umpire. Well, Federer just lost out on receiving another Cow. Last time he won a grand slam title, the Swiss canton from which he hails, presented him with a superior quality Swiss Cow. Merci Beaucoup. Wonder what Nadal will get now.

And then we have our chaps in the West Indies. Doing very well one might say. And then you have Brian Lara; if I were him . I'd be ashamed of myself; if I were BCCI, I would be even more ashamed of myself.

Dhoni is at the crease. He hits. Some guy messes up, or appears to mess up/not mess up a catch at the boundary line. So the 3rd umpire is called in. He watches the television replay, and he watches.... and he watches ... and he watches. Cannot make up his mind. So what happens ?

Brian Lara. Goes up to Dhoni and tries his Dadagiri. (Even our ex-team Dada, who is NOT one of my favourite people, never did Dadagiri of this type.) Larabhai, (and it hurts to call you bhai), ITS JUST NOT CRICKET.

Dhoni refuses to budge till an official result is declaredby the umpires. 13 people on the field, and 3 guys cannot make up their mind about what happened. Failure of technology, followed by failure of common sense.. Fifteen minutes of something that should have never happened. Fifteen mintes that evoked very strong reactions, except from people directly associated with the game, in a broader sense. The captain CANNOT suddenly be the judge; worse still, declare so himself. The smartest thing to do under the circumstances would be for the 3 umpires to declare that ball null and void and pretend it never happened and play it again, thus allowing both teams to vent their angers and insecurities in the way they should be vented: on the field, in the spirit of the game.

Dravid takes the decent way out. He declares, thinking he was going to do so anyway. A diplomats way out, in a world full of Dada's.

And what happens? Sehwag is fined for appealing too loudly.(Apparently 15 degree bent arms are ONLY seen on the subcontinent. Simlarly, ICC should now define the pitch and decibel level and continent, of objectionable appeals) The ICC treats Brian Lara like you treat a small child who accidently spilled hot milk (and doesnt matter who got scalded). . And the BCCI, the high Oracle of all things cricket in India, who should have protested the intimidation of Dhoni at the crease, is as quiet as a cat; a cat that is licking its lips in anticipation of more matches , and more earnings; and to the hell with the players. Its like DROP ONE, GET ONE FREE.

Brian Lara, who is often held in the same esteem in the world as Sachin Tendulkar has just fallen several notches, andthat too, badly. Think of all the times Sachin was given what is called "Khota out" (False out). Amazingly fake LBW's that had the knowledgeable man on the Indian roads seething. He walked. Did not talk. Either to his partner at the crease, or the umpires , or the bowler or whoever. Then he came back in the next innings , and played to show how cricket is actually played.

When we were children, whenever we did something wrong, the elders used to say that God will punish us. We believed it then. I still think it holds true. Look at Brian Lara's score in the West Indies innings.

Makes you think. Hope it makes Brian Lara think; (when he gets the time from thinking of Trinidad and Tobago in the World Cup , while getting messages about it from players in the pavillion); no wonder he is behaving like the football types).....
To know about Plaques, click plaques

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Special Days

Many many moons ago, when i was young, the only days we were aware off were of two types; school days and holidays. Till say about 20 years ago, when my son was in kindergaarten, the only days they celebrated were Childrens day (Nov 14th-Chacha Nehru's birthday), and Teachers Day (September 5, Dr S. Radhakrishnan's birthday). Nehru's empathy with children was wellknown, and it rose above the executuve and judiciary and legislative aspects of his life. There was no StarPlus with its sans's and bahus, no ESPN with guys continuously running between wickets in some country trying to beat some other country, no nothing. Only Doordarshan. So the younger ones saw cartoons, documentaries on Nehru , punctuated with " Amchi Mati Amchi Mansa" the program with the highest farmer TRP's. The kids would draw a card at home, attentively colour it till the pencil pierced through the paper; never mind.... ; it was given and accepted with much grace and appreciation . If you had a garden, you plucked a flower, and clutching it as if it was gold, took it to school, to present it to your class teacher. Paanch rupaiyya, ek phool was blasphemy.

Once folks got a whiff of theimpending globalization, we were suddenly subject to an onslaught of Mothers, Fathers and Valentines Day. Not to speak of Friendship Day. Shopkeepers , whose limit of ambition had reached upto selling Maggie Noodles, suddenly started stocking, satin ribbons to be sold by the metre, for Friendship day. Nine shining inches of a silky ribbon , when tied on the hands of someone , you probably met only when you wanted some classnotes, signified eternal friendship ! Just in case your interest waned, or you appeared to be responding to your parents suggestion of not wasting money on such things, the TV channels ensured that you did the stuff , lest you be branded a kaku type...(unfortunate name, that).

I thought time had come to define certain indegenious days , more in keeping with our desi ethos.


1) BNBC (Be Nice to the Bus Conductor) Day. My eternal tribute to the BEST bus service of Mumbai. the buses may creak, rock, rattle, the driver may do the same, but the bus takes you from A to B, while the conductor exhibits an uncanny ability to slither through a packed bus from back to front, without outraging anyone (or anyones modesty). (Suggested activities : carry exact change, share a chocolate/chikki with the conductor, get up when he tells you to vacate a ladies' seat (without an argument or frown). Say Thank you to the driver and conductor when you get off. Ram-Ram is even better. See how he goes into first gear with new vigour on the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Rd.

2) HRD (Hamara Rasta Day). Please note that HRD has no connection AT ALL with a ministry of the same name. On this one day, folks should desist from saying "Kya ye aap ke baap ka rasta hai ?". (Suggested activities : take a detour around the bhajiwalla, instead of leaping close to the tomatoes; shake your head instead of mouthing something bad; exchange high-fives with the vadawallah after you politely move aside to let a truck pass a foot away from the stall.)

3) Hornless Day (HD) : There are a variety of ways ine can observe this. Keep your vehicle at home and walk. Be creative in communication through your vehicle window, if you are forced to use the vehicle at all. Glaring at a taxi driver and saying "dikhta nahi kya ?" does NOT earn you any points.... Drive at a sedate pace, so others are forced to drive the same way. Enjoy the scenery, the trafficjams, the dug up roads, the wandering bovine population looking for a relic of the past - a blade of green grass....

4) L+ Security day (Short Form unusable :-)): This will be ONE day on which the X, Y, and Z security types are left to themselves. The several jeeps, constables, inspectors, lights on vehicles and sirens can be put to much better use. And L+ will be a day dedicated to the Ladies Security . Remember Chivalry ? Well, Let the ladies get into the bus ahead of you. If you see someone pretending to be thinner than he is, and trying to squeeze through to the front of the bus through a congregation of ladies, make him remember his "nani", a super L+ lady. If you are travelling at night in the suburban train, travel after 7:30pm in the ladies dabba, not because its allowed, but beacuse the few ladies who travel late may feel they have someone to help them. If you see guys whizzing past on cycles and motorcycles dangerously close to ladies with glistening long mangalsutras, take a diving leap to stop the thieves, in a manner that Moammed Kaif would approve ....

5) BhajiwaliBai Day (BBD) : Avoid the Bhajiwalla Bhaiyyas (BB) on this day. Buy your vegetables only from the bahji ladies on this day. Notice how you get more of bhaji, suddenly. Say Mavshibai, and ask her where her hometown is. Comment on how smart her son is (who is arranging the lemons artistically), and pretend NOT to notice as she adds ONE more sheaf of Kothmeer in your bag.....

6)Immobile Day (ID) : Leave your mobile at home, along with the hands free kit. All those who think you are mad when they see you talking and laughing with yourself on the road, will be reassured. Music in the cacophony of buses is sometimes OK; but have you heard a Sonata in 392 Major, where "Saare jahan se achcha", 'just Chill Chill' and "kajra Re" continuosly play while you are trying to shout the name of the bus stop to the conductor ? And sometimes everyone speaks so loudly on the phone, that you wonder why the require a phone at all; just holler. All Talk time is permanently free.

7)Class 7 day (C7D): The immediate consequence of everyone getting hyper about classes 10 and 12 is that once the children go to class 8, parents get into PUSH Mode. Free time from 5 am to 8 am ? No Problem. Join a class. Last years highest was 99.9. Its always "WE mange More" (and I am not talking about the selection committee for cricket). Study, Study, beat your buddy, you must get 99.9999. On the occassion of C7D, take the children on an excursion somewhere. Honor the sportskids in your school. Applaud the artists and admire their art work and performances. Have some non-engineers, non-doctors, and some such , come and chat with the kids on what they do. Get your kids to visit an institute for differently-enabled special kids. Play cricket with them . Life consists of SO many things other than Engineers, doctors, computerscientists, and managers....

And Finally,

8) Local Train Day (LTD): They are the Lifeline. While we cling in doorways, squeeze into compartments, specailise in saying "zara sarkoon ghya " (just push that side a bit...), so one more can lay claim to 36 square inches of plywood , day after day, month after month, the motorman simply follows the Bhagwad Gita ; he continues to do his work, without expectation of any reward. Instead, whenever there is a train strike, and some senseless people take their anger out on trains, these guys get beaten up. NO one, and i repeat , no one, ever, waves , smiles, and says thank you to them, when they stand taking a breather at the terminus , in the doorway of their train cabin, waiting for the next signal to fall. So, on an LTD, meet your motorman, wish him well, introduce your children to him, and tell him you admire his difficult job. If he has an off period, have an impromptu chai with him along with the people in the railway dabba.

Any more Days you can think of ?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Monsoon and the Met office....

Since the monsoon of 2005, folks in Mumbai have a thing about the rains .

After a lifetime of braving rains, and attending schools/offices/appointments- come what may; for the first time, the newspapers reported that people stayed home, or left offices early, after the first hint of the monsoon on May 29. Some folks still have a post traumatic stress disorder due to last years experience of getting stuck in rains, that flooded everything till your eyeballs. Houses that got flooded like 7 feet, for the first time in 60 years.

On May 29, with tons of maps decorated with isobars , heavy thundershowers were predicted for the following 48 hours. This kind of prediction is now PREDICTABLE from the Met Office.

To set the record straight on what actually took place, , the "next 48 hours" were a set on nice cloudy days, with rain drizzling mostly at night, making the days more bearable.

The way the met office functions, reminds me of my General Science examinations in school, where we used to have a section called "Give reasons". You had to give scientific reasons for certain facts , as asked.

Everytime some unusual weather occurs , it is almost always NOT what the met office predicted. So what happens? Its GIVE-REASONS-time.

Its as if they exist to amswer questions after everything has happened. They start saying that the "western/eastern/etc " disturbance, which was expected to reach Mumbai on such and such a date , didnt; or, the DELUGE of 26th july 2005, happened because there was a CLOUD CEILING of 15 meteres above the city, which simply emptied itself or whatever.

They take great pride in reporting that such and such a place had so many inches/cms/mms of rain. If only they predicted it instead of reporting.

Excuse me.

I pay my taxes so some smart met office type is able to guage the size of the cloud cover, nature of the cloud cover , and give a probability of what will happen , when. Notwithstanding the fact, that the "western/eastern disturbance" , like me, can have a mind of its own, one expects the met office staff to be trained to use suitable technologies to predict the road the disturbance will take.

They are supposed to predict and warn people of these things BEFORE it happens. I dont pay my taxes, so the government can organsie offices, which display scientific instruments to pretend they are using them. I pay my taxes so the government can TRAIN staff to predict the weather based on observations from these instruments. If these are obselete, I pay taxes so the government can invest in better instruments.

The only thing that seems to happen with amazing regularity is the "raising of danger flags , " in various ports, to tell the fishermen , not to go to sea that day.

Do we need the met office at all ? What funds are wasted on this every year ? Every year , sometime in May, there is a news item about monsoon prediction; how someone is looking at more variables in their computer program this year, how El Nino, or El Nina , is doing stuff it should or shouldnt be doing this year. (So whats new. A lot of folks are doing something they shouldnt be doing, anyway.) Reams of newspaper wasted on this.

And any farmer or fisherman who has spent a lifetime observing nature and its implicit signs, can tell you when a rain or storm is imminent. Maybe not in inches, centimeters , etc, but relevant enough to those to whom it matters , like farners and fishermen. He doesnt even know how many extra parmeters he is using this year for his prediction; there has not been an upgrade in his biological machine for years; if it has, then he hs earned it from years of experience, and NOT from George W Bush allowing the import of the CRAY machine, or CDACT presenting the PARAM.

And all this time, helpless mango growers in Kokan can only watch as an unseasonal rain destroys the mango blossoms that year. Onion farmers in Nasik are reduced to tears that have nothing to do with onions, but everything to do with the now rotting onion crop due to rains that messed up acres and acres of crop. And lets not talk about tomatoes.

We are
so good at holding seminars. Solid waste managenment seminars in a city, for which, everyone enjoys a free attache case, information material (the backs of which are used by your children to do their practice sums) , daily lunches (with a choice of dessert) , one banquet at a 5 star, cultural program on one evening, folks going about importantly in suits with id-tags around their necks, gracefully hiding their names in their shirt pockets (along with their mobile phones..).

Reminds me. Recently one heard of a solid waste management seminar organised in Goa . Wow. What is NOT so wow, is the fact that my friend who stays in Betim, across the river from Panjim , the capital city, has to dump her waste into the river as Betim has NO waste management ........ .

No comment at all.

All the while, the
real waste is not managed at all.

Its not the Mithi river. Dredging it to widen it is like increasing the insulin for an uncontrollable diabetic. You actually need to make lifestyle changes at root. And so what the government needs to do is to find the local goons who encourage settlement along the Mithi for a price. Or find those in the hallowed precincts of the Municipal Coropration, that develope instant cataracts while dealing with payments to cheating contractors , who specialise in pouring mud where concrete is required.

Buildings in Mumbai are suddenly being declared dangerous these days. Its supposed to be a crumbling construction, dangerous to the lives of the inhabitants of that building, something that was built, when the powers that be were sticklers for rules. But subsequent senseless, unscientific additions/changes/deletions to the constructions have weakened the edifice, leading to a fear of an impending catastrophe.
All of it done , because someone in authority specialsed in looking-the-other-way .

When will we learn, that todays corrupt authorities are what the buildings are a symbol of. The rot has penetrated right in. It didnt start that way.

And its just a matter of time before it falls.