Category: Non-Rant

The Dance of Democracy, a decade later

Welcome Back

10 years and 9 days ago, I wrote my very first blog post.  I talked about how I voted for the BJP, and that we ought to value our democracy more. Over the course of the next few weeks, when it became clear that the BJP had lost, I expressed my doubts over what comes next.

But what stumps me is how the country forgets that the Congress hasn’t been providing basics for a lot longer than the BJP…could it be secularism? I don’t know. What I do know is that Congress is actually going to have to perform this time, because the people have had a taste of non-Congress governance, and they don’t completely hate it….

 

 

Sonia Gandhi? Yes or No? At one point, it seemed certain she would be the next (Official) PM of India. So, grudgingly, I accepted it. And then, some history was made.

Swiping power now means that by the time Rahul Gandhi comes of age, people really may be fed up with dynastic rule. This could simply be preparing the way for him to take the reigns when he is ready, by sacrificing herself.Better to rule by proxy now, putting Squeaky-clean Manmohan Singh up as the face, and she rules from behind….

More reasons for her decision should be posted in the comments section…
(and u could also see the BBC)

In the meantime, I think it would be cool to have Manmohan Singh as PM. The Business community would be in ecstasy if he does become PM – time to buy some shares in anticipation…

Political Schizophrenia. Even then, we knew what was happening and why – but we were still full of hope and optimism, that no government could arrest all the good things that were happening to the Indian economy?

So this brings us to the Prime Minister-elect Manmohan Singh. He’s been called a puppet, soft-spoken, Sonia’s pet e.t.c. e.t.c. but he may turn out to be different. After all, power corrupts, and ruling 1 billion people (with the help of some 545 elected representatives of course) is close to absolute power…

Or could it?

 

This voice hopes desperately that somehow, our new leader(s) will display some real leadership, and actually do something good for this country. As an upper-middle class salaried person, life is going to get very tough for me, and for all people like me. Higher taxes are certain. Petrol price rises are certain. Free power is certain (which means more power cuts). Re-nationalisation of private power companies? (tremble) Possible….

This voice expects this country to deteriorate in the next 5 years. It is unlikely that anything will get better. The only thing that may improve is ‘communal harmony’. Though frankly, I doubt it. If that were true, Sikhs would not have been slaughtered under a Congress government, even if they did murder Indira Gandhi. Secularism, my left foot. But the public has a short memory, and it seems so far, it only stretches as far back as Gujarat 2002…..

 

10 years ago, I was wrestling with the idea of The Common Man / Aam Aadmi. Now there is a political party that aims to speak for him. Hmmmm…..

In a country as diverse as India, There is no such thing as the Common Man. There are however, lots of Common Threads.
We are all Indian, regardless of caste, creed, income, whatever.

So let me make a suggestion: Instead of performing services that benefit this ugly, disgusting stereotype of a Common Man, let’s do things in the Name of India, and Indians.

If there are less poor people on our streets, then as Indians we can all feel proud.
If women are treated more equally and with respect in our country, we can all feel proud.
If everyone in our country has access to clean drinking water, we can all feel proud.

 

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All hail the IPL!

I think we can agree that it’s here to stay

The Indian Premier League is halfway through its 3rd year. And it is awesome. And permanent.

Here to stay folks. As a goofy young teenager back in 1996, Phoenix followed the (ODI) World Cup with the same passion that teenage boys follow breasts (did that too, not relevant here). After the semi-final disaster against Sri Lanka, with a crying Kambli, and trashed stadium, I remember thinking – why the hell isn’t the selection of the National Cricket Team more transparent, goddammit?!

And the solution to my young mind at the time was the setting up of a commercial domestic league, in the format of all American sports. City playing City, State playing state, t-shirts, caps, funny names, the whole shebang. I remember many of my friends laughing at the thought:

Who would want to see the Delhi Dangers take on the Bombay Bombers? That kind of thing would never work in this country

And I would sigh and figure, that yes,  they are right, but why not give it a shot? Clearly, I am not the only one who had that idea. It also struck a man by the name of Modi. At this point – I must say – hold up!- hang on a second! – this is not going to turn into a “praise Modi” article. It’s just to point out that there exists at least one other dreamer like me, who actually was in a position to something about it. And he did.

The first year, the criticism was enormous –

How are they going to build loyalty for the franchises?

The franchises will never break even!

Twenty20 isn’t even real cricket!

I love Uday Chopra!

Whoops, I don’t know who was yelling the last line, but it was also heard in the din. Maybe everybody had had a little too much to drink..or er… possibly smoke.

So yea – how are the franchises going to build loyalty? Well they didn’t have to build it. It was there. Each team had a local player, but even if they didn’t, everyone wants to support their city. Bombay was always going to be behind the Mumbai Indians, whether Sachin was playing or not! Delhi, in its ‘I’m too cool to admit I am loyal to my city’ way was always going to faux-nonchalantly support the Daredevils (Proof that such loyalty exists can be found in M-Block Market GK1, where people gather outside a clothing store to watch the Delhi Daredevils play). What people wanted to see was good cricket. And they got it (more on this below).

Did the Franchises break even? Well according to the papers, hell yea! Not much needs to be said about this – one just has to look at an IPL player’s uniform to understand the amount of sponsorship money thrown their way.

Twenty20 isn’t even real cricket – this objection always make me laugh. Why? Because just needs to hark back to World Series Cricket and Kerry Packer, to understand why this is a case of history repeating itself as farce. When One-Day cricket hit the big-time, they said the same things about it. It was pyjama cricket. It was smashing the old traditions. Who ever heard of using a white ball? Yada, yada yada. And it did challenge test cricket. Test cricket became boring in the days of Sharjah, and Sachin Tendulkar, and the chance that India might repeat its World Cup win again.

But you know what happened? It came back. And it will always remain an awesome game in its own right. Test cricket is a chess match – and there is a lot of beauty in the strategies required to play that game. Twenty20 is, well, different. But that doesn’t make it bad. Or only for amateurs.

Twenty20 is the distilled mojo of a One-Day game. Allow me to explain.

Anybody who has watched One-Day cricket (I refer to the one-day cricket of the 1990s in this case), usually follows this pattern:

  1. Is India batting first?
  2. If yes, who’s opening? Oh it’s X & Y. Well let’s watch and see if they tear the opening bowlers apart
  3. If yes, we keep watching, until X & Y get out and Sachin Tendulkar comes on. Have to watch Sachin bat!
  4. Sachin gets out on the 3rd ball. Sigh. It is to that same ball which was sent down off-side, and swung enough to induce an edge. Or…Steve Bucknor was umpiring, and decided that today, the day of the most important match in series against Australia / South Africa / Pakistan, is the day he would choose to make his usual SHITTY lbw umpiring decision
  5. Shit. Sachin is out. Turn off TV. Do something else.
  6. Hear some screams from the neighbouring house 2 hours later. Something good must be going on. Turn on TV, and catch the last 20 overs of the match – where Ajit Agarkar is hitting 4s and 6s (I am sure he did this at least once. Maybe not more than that. But once for sure).
  7. Yay! India has done it – 292 runs! Awesome.
  8. Watch Sidhu and Bhogle blab in the middle, and hope to God that one of the miserable excuses that India had for bowlers manages to do something with the ‘Belter’ track that has so obviously been laid in order for India to be able to make 292.
  9. Ok second innings! 2 big white men come out. Bowler bowls first ball. FOUR runs. SHIT
  10. Switch from being a too-cool atheist to a pleading polytheist, invoking all the greek, hindu and taoist gods, hoping for a batting order collapse. MISFIELD!$#@$#! YOU BLOODY SAND-NIGGERS. THE BRITISH SHOULD NEVER HAVE LEFT! MATCH-FIXING M********DS. Followed by: SIX. Then FOUR! Then SIX. Then having to endure the agony of having Geoff Boycott talk about his mother and her rhubarbs.
  11. Turn off TV. Rail against the universe, and wonder, when, when will your day come? Go off to read Lord of the Rings. Then just as Frodo is about to reach Rivendell (ok maybe I read fast), you again hear someone from the neighbourhood shout “OUT!”
  12. TV is on. There are 10 overs left. they need 76 runs in 60 balls. 6 wickets are down. Can they do it? Who knows, but the Indian captain is trying everything. Sachin has been called in to bowl. He manages to get a good economy rate. Overs pass. Maybe one four, maybe a 6. People start leaving the stadium because they can’t bear it. 5 runs, 2 balls. Aargh, the whiteys / pakis can still win!
  13. Heart goes into mouth. Mouth starts to tremble. Sweat on the palms, on the forehead. Even the TV starts to sweat and sparks start to fly out… and then IT’S DONE! YAAAAAA INDIA HAS WON. YAY!

Anybody who has watched cricket will probably be familiar with the above on a Match day. It doesn’t happen much anymore, because India has started winning a lot more. It’s not big deal to beat Pakistan, we trouble Australia from time to time, and even lose to Bangladesh, just to ensure our public remains humble and mystified. But in those days, that was the fanaticism.

The point of that ramble was this: Note when the TV was off – the middle overs. You looked to the opening 5 and the last 10-15 overs for the match to be defined. Of course, you sometimes also got an unpleasant shock when you turned on the TV and found India all out for 98. But that is another matter. So some smart Englishman decided to cut out those middle overs, and distill the one-day match down to its essence, it’s mojo. 20 overs.

As a cricket fan of the 90s, it was also a fantasy to see South Asian cricket team formed, which would consist of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram in the bowling department. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly in the batting department. Oh and Atul Bedade just to add some randomness, and Inzamum-Ul-Haq because, yes, we’d like some (supersize) fries with that.

And on days when the Superpower Australia, with its Waugh brothers, Warne, Gilchrist & McGrath Gods walking this earth, would slaughter any opposition, as an Indian, one couldn’t help but wish – man, if only we could have a team like that.

We got our wish. The IPL made it happen. Tendulkar faces off against Sehwag. And I cheer for Sehwag. Because I support the Delhi Daredevils. I’ve caught each and every one of their matches. I watch the others with a mild interest (I just want to see Bombay defeated so it doesn’t win the cup. Blasted bombay buggers, always putting Delhi down). Gilchrist leads an INDIAN team. He plays for Hyderabad. Wow. Gilchrist plays for a local Indian team? Chaminda Vaas, bowling against Sangakarra? Shane Warne, being cheered by Rajasthanis? Wasim Akram coaching Saurav Ganguly????

Is the world turning in an opposite direction? Do pigs fly? Can a half-black man become president of the USA? Could someone ever be nuts enough to pay a bazillion dollars to own a Mallu-headquartered cricket team?

There should be a medal…

For knowing what happens next….

So the first link comes from the Other India, who seems to have hired some kind of newbie who isn’t in the mould as the others. This is a very moderate, tempered article, relative to the usual crud.

And the second link goes EXACTLY according to plan, from our own beloved Hindu. (Link courtesy Recursive Hypocrisy .

What am I going on about? Why THIS, of course!

Another ray of hope…

Can’t think of an Economist-style sub-heading…

In the battle of Delhi vs Bombay (of course, most Bombay-ites pretend there isn’t one. Whatever), Delhi wins on the airport front, because you don’t see the massive slums lining the side of the airport. What you will get to see these days is a broad 4-lane-on-either-side highway, with a few choke points (where the highway is still being built), and other points where the traffic flows at about 120 kilometres/hour (or 60 miles/hour for the cavemen out there).

Now what they also will see is a new airport.

I present this and this to you….

The Boy Who Read?

Notes on the Boy Who Lived, with spoilers

First off, am I the only one who has no life and who bought his reserved copy at 11 am today, and finished the book by 2.15 am of the following day? I see no reviews from anyone else on Google Reader…

There is a vague recollection of some interactions with humanity and the outside world, let me go check my pensieve….argh,never mind!

So to answer the burning question on the potential reader’s mind:

Harry, Ron and Hermione DO live happily ever after, but there were points in the book where I thought one or more of them was definitely set to die and thinking I’d stop reading if any of them did. But they saw the light of day.

Second, JKR was true to her word, and did not do a “Gandalf” with Dumbledore. 😦 It would have been nice to have him back. But his death was explained away brilliantly. This woman…she does know some magic. (C’mon, gime some points for getting in so many cliches in such a short period). It still annoys me though, because there was TONS of evidence throughout the books to show that Dumbledore wasn’t dead. The most obvious being the fact that he told Draco Malfoy that a death could be faked, just minutes before he himself died. I’m c’mon people. DOn’t be so unobvious.

You can’t mention Dumbledore’s death without mentioning the Murderer.

Did Snape redeem himself? That was one of the better parts of the story. There are some odd parts, some draggy parts, and parts that I disliked. I thought Ginny & Neville would have a much bigger role than they did. But they were a bunch of sideys. For shame! And I was especially annoyed to see that Prof. McGonagall, being a member of the Order and all, has no role at all to play. For Shame x2!

And I can say I’ve had my fill of death, thanks.

However, in short, the last book was totally worth the wait! But there are a few things – it is definitely written in a more mature style, complete with a few minor cursewords here and there. I can just see some parents getting annoyed about that.

FUQ-Us

The Meaning of Life (FUQ-Us)

Is 42, but I’d rather 69…ooh did I just say that out loud?

Ok so this is not a post about the meaning of life.

So, TTG, what is this post about then?

Well, lately many people have unasked me lots of questions, so I thought that I’d make up a list of Frequently Unasked QUestions…or FUQ-Us

You lame-ass bastard. Couldn’t you find a better joke to make?

No, Mysterious, Abusive Alter-Ego, I could not.

So get on with it then.

You’re in bold, so… you ask the questions…

Ok, Question 1: What the FuQ-U does your blog title mean anyhoo?

My blog title – Voice From A 2.5-World Country – is a shockingly clever attempt at highlighting the fact that India is no longer a 3rd-World country, but a 2.5-World Country. For some reason this title is too clever (or causes too much disbelief amongst the unwashed masses, ‘typists’ and “don’t-label-me-free-market-hater”s).

I started this blog in 2003, when “The India Story” was just beginning, and there was a lot of negative publicity about India, and severe lack of awareness in the country of my Alma Mater (Sam Uncle). Before setting up this blog, I used to have this circle of friends whom I used to e-mail – I would send them pictures of India which they would not find in the MSM. Pictures of the NOIDA toll bridge, a few malls, GK-1 M Block Market, The whole New Delhi Area (Raj Path, Rashtrapati Bhavan, e.t.c), and of course, pictures of me, complete with the rants. Unfortunately, some of the people I e-mailed were American, and they took offense at some of the things I said, and decided to Reply All to my e-mails, giving me a sound cursing (which was visible to my friends too). So I abandoned the e-mail idea… then when I read about this thingy called Blogging one day, I went to Blogger and set up an account (2003). But I realized I had nothing to say, because I was too busy dealing with a woman who I thought was my girlfriend-but-wasn’t. So the account lay idle for a year, and lack of sex (ok actually, it was the fact that Google was giving gmail accounts to active bloggers..) basically frustrated me enough to start writing in May 2004.

Anyway.. so this blog was meant to give you a “different” take on living in India.

“You take the average of 1st-World and 4th-World” blah blah

I didn’t ask for a whole treatise. Question 2: Are you gay? (not that there’s anything wrong with that)

No. Are you?

No. Question 3: What the F is up with your Alias, and that funny little logo thing?

In my dark past there are a lot of incidents. Some of them I have revealed over jugs of Alcohol, and others I have not. There was a particularly nasty incident involving me in my high-school days, which I will not recount (but will mention that it has something to do with the girls’ bathrooms), that left me with an Ironic Nickname. That nickname was Tarun (The Great). TTG. One day, when me and my friends were not busy making the art teacher cry by drawing boobies instead of pears (and getting -20 on blank pieces of paper), I was just doodling around, and came up with a way of putting TTG together. It was true art, I tell you! So that’s where the logo comes from. I’m sorry if you were expecting a better story. I don’t live to impress YOU, comprendo?

Uh-huh. Question 4: Why do you rant so much?

Why not? We all blog because there’s something lacking in our lives (or so I believe). It could be a Mercedes we’re missing, it could be a boyfriend/girlfriend, or, in my specific case, it could be a lack of people with ears which are strong enough to withstand my ranting, cursing, loud voice.

What do you have against Dilip D’Souza, Deesha.org and the other blogs on your former “Blogs I Dislike/Disagree With” list?

Nothing personal. I started out by blogging less, and commenting more. Commenting and flaming was fun, but it started losing its charm when people started remembering my name. It really lost its charm when they started ignoring my comments. So sulking, I I started posting more often (big mistake!).

Question 5: Why are you so obsessed with Anoushka Shankar?

a) I have nothing better to do
b) She is a ‘Famous Person’ and I was actually only one degree of separation from her
c) Actually, I am in love with Norah Jones (because of her voice, SEXY, DUH), and I figure I could use Anoushka to get to Norah…eventually…

Who is terah475?
I don’t know, but anybody who can write that many poems in my comments section needs to be mentioned.
What kind of a last name is “Pall” anyway? Why the double L?

Sigh. Long story. Pall is actually Pal. But ancient, inherited school-leaving certificates determine your name. So it’s Pall. Further, Pal is actually just the middle name of my long-gone Paternal Grandpa. I won’t reveal my last name, because that would reveal my caste. HA! And no, I am not even remotely Bengali.

Who is John Galt?
Find out for yourself…
Okay now lemme cheat and ask you an FAQ, instead of a FUQ-U. Is there something up with you and eM?

There is absolutely nothing up between me and eM. A really,really,really long post has been written on this…and it’s languishing as a draft, while I await my visa. Once I’ve skipped town, the whole story will out (don’t get so excited, it’s not half as interesting as you think).