Category: Rambling

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.

 

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?

On Happiness

Where I get philosophical

So basically, I’ve discovered to figure out if one is happy. Huh? Don’t you know when you’re happy? Well see, it’s like this. Happiness is such an intangible sort of thing. Is one happy after having an orgasm? Possibly. After eating chocolate? Probably. Abusing a substance? Artificially. Ok, ok enough of ramble.

Phoenix/TTG’s definition of Happiness

Happiness is being able to say:

I could be dead tomorrow, and it wouldn’t matter me

Yep. That’s it. Anti-climactic, possibly but I don’t think so. Of course, once can criticise that statement and poke holes in it. But too bad. It’s late at night, and I’m too lazy to ramble more.

Resurrection

I am almost whole again

This voice has spent the last 16/17 hours reconstructing his blog. It is almost done. What’s left to do?

  • Enable all of the outgoing links, which currently point to an odd place
  • Enable the viewing of all the images embedded in the site
  • Inaugurate a new design?

One thing that is causing me great regret is that there are 2 posts which seem to un-recoverable. This is a shame. It takes away from my complete-ness. The reason completeness is so important is that I feel as though I couldn’t continue writing into the future, unless I had the cushion of my past. Well, I have it now. Restored to almost full glory.

In other news, unrelated, I have 2 sets of relatives from USA over these days, and we just saw the Academy Awards.

2 minus 1 Nation Theory

I think we can all safely call the 2-nation theory an abject failure.

So we approach Diwali 2007. Another Diwali, another festive season. Went to the Great India Place mall yesterday, with A and her ‘sisters/cousins’ or they will be once she gets married. Her Fiance ditched me, leaving me at the mercy of so much oestrogen (or however that’s spelt). The mall is huge, the Metro line is almost built, and the DND toll bridge just keeps expanding westwards and eastwards. Ah progress

Speaking of Progress…

Dear Musharraf – thank you for declaring an Emergency in Pakistan. Will somebody please suggest the disbanding of Pakistan as a country? Please? Those people are better off under Indian rule. Pakistan and Bangladesh are both ridiculous jokes as countries go. It’s time they stopped pretending to be separate countries and re-joined the Indian Union. We all know this is the ideal solution for everyone, though nobody wants to say it. Why is it ideal (WARNING: MBA Bullet Points ahead)?

  • Those nukes will no longer be pointed at India, but a part of it. Safer.
  • With more Muslims as a part of India, communal violence will decrease, not increase
  • We’ll wipe out the stupid Taliban threat and send Bin Laden packing
  • The people of Pakistan/B’Desh will actually get a taste of economic growth, political stability, and RELATIVELY more AUTHENTIC democracy.
  • KASHMIR KASHMIR KASHMIR

And I’m sure you can come up with more advantages.

As a start, I suggest the Indian Government make this announcement on live television now.

And then, as step 2, we’ll rename both Countries Purav & Paschim Islam Pradesh or some such thing temporarily before reverting to the actual state names (Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, East Bengal, e.t.c) while the transition takes place.

Then we need to appoint some temporary leaders. Ambassadors, this is your chance. Make ’em the viceroys or Chief Ministers of the new states. Say you that you will give moral and diplomatic support to all citizens of the former Pakistan/Bangladesh in their fight to rejoin the Indian Union. Let them rally round the Indian Embassies as a focal point, and get rid of their existing idiot leaders. I’m willing to wager many of these people will happily join up.

Of course, there is the issue of whether we want this rabble to join our country. I say yes, we do. They will be much better off under Indian rule than not. But I’m no George Bush. I don’t suggest we walk in with an army and impose Indian rule on them. I think judging by recent events, it should be obvious which country these people want to be a part of. If we all get together and nudge them in that direction, maybe we can bring this transition about peacefully. I’m serious.

Yea, you can call it a crazy idea all you want. I know I’m right, and you know it’s the truth.

A short vacation

So I’m off to Bombay for 4 days…

…where I will get to see lots of celebrities and ‘High Net-Worth’ Individuals at an art exhibition being hosted by my sister. I will also attempt (for the 7th/8th time) to try and keep an open mind about the place, and see it the way everyone else sees it. I have been unable to do that thus far (if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, that would be pretty obvious). I’ll do this by wandering the city by myself in search of….er.. I have no idea. Well maybe I’ll just walk along Marine Drive ogling at couples and pretending to be a Shiv Sena gangster. Or not. It’s 9.30 am and I am very sleepy. Yawn. So the to the 3/4 lurkers out there contributing to my hit counter, I’ll see y’all on Monday, or later.

Just so that it’s recorded…

Basically….

I had a dream last night, where I dreamt of a kazaki (cossack?) girl who used to be in my school. I thought I had a crush on her in school, but it only lasted for about a day – had to do with being dumped by first girlfriend… 🙂 This kazaki was a bit _too_ decent for me…

Anyways, she had nice eyeliner in my dream, and all we did was have a passionate conversation. I wish knew what it meant…. dreaming about somebody you haven’t even given more than 5 minutes thought to in over 11 years…

Ah well. I will go look her up on Facebook…