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The Bullet

“Where are you from”? A very Indian looking lady asked this question just when we were getting down at the Nikko station on a train. “India” my wife replied. “We are from the US. How come you are not traveling with a tour?” The underlying assumption was that all Indians go on tour buses. We were traveling on the JR pass and that was the most racist any one was to us on the entire trip. God bless our Prime Minister’s land where people have the money but no manners. I was made aware of the fact the moment I landed on the flight back. The noise, the abrasiveness, the rudeness. I was back in my country even before reaching it.

The eternal puzzle that is Japan can be described in a couple of sentences. They don’t allow one to smoke on the road (there are smoking zones in place on the road) but smoking in an Izakaya ( a cheap pub) is fine. There were people who came to pick you up when it was raining, with their umbrella but didn’t get one for you or even offered the ladies theirs. (He was an Australian) and there were people who got out of their shops, walked with us to direct us to our location.

If Pink Floyd were Japanese they would have ‘Shrine my diamond’ as their bestselling album. All of them (the shrines) are diamonds, some Kohinoor, some artificial. For the Sanghi trolls lord Vishnu is one of the gate keepers to the Buddha. Go troll. For the shrine the game is simple. Get any hill/ mountain, start at the base and go up. However bad you are as an architect the natural beauty will cover you. All you need is a good gardener Mr. Perry Mason.

For all those who say that the Japanese society is ageing, I would offer a stay during the last 2 weeks of May. The overwhelming number of school children out to visit the tourist attractions will negate that view instantly. They were in every nook and corner. As an Atheist I may not believe in God’s presence everywhere. But Cockroaches and Japanese school children, I won’t question, at least in Japan.

Japanese food is a veritable feast. The fish, the eel, the beef. Not one thing that one ate there was unworthy. If somebody had to sacrifice a life, doing it for Japanese cuisine is not the worst thing to do. A vegetarian person in Tokyo, on the other hand, is reduced to a complete anti thesis of Mary Antoinette. Can’t have cake, only bread. Sometimes conducted tours do make sense!

3 things that I would always remember about this country – Tomohiro Sasaki (my friend from early career days) and his lovely wife, the silence on the Tokyo Metro and the craziness of the Harajuku street.

There was no cherry blossom season IMG_2608when I visited and yet somehow I saw it everywhere in this country.




Gardish mein Taare

I had the misfortune of going and watching a play called “Gardish mein Taare” a couple of days back. I sat, sat and sat, hoping for something to happen. Sonali Kulkarni kept on singing in her screeching voice. Arif Zakeria acted worse than Aamir Khan. The dialogues were worse than Comedy Circus. Where do I start?

Supposedly taken off on Guru Dutt’s life, this play starts with Dev Dutt producing a BIG movie which is destined to flop. The Play then gets into how he beats up his wife, how she becomes a drunkard and cheats on him with his ‘supposed’ friend Vikram (Ludhianwi) when he is going around with another actress (Wahida).

The sets are gross. The acting amateur at BEST. The singing is what you hear in your own bathrooms. If this is a play that you ever produced, you will take a deep breath, say, ‘never again’ and try and forget the worst nightmare in your life.

I have been scarred for life. Do you want to be as well?

Vijay Dina Nath Battera’s history of Cricket

Tired of all the bashing the BCCI has been receiving from cricket fans across the globe for taking over the ICC and the game of cricket from England and Australia, the BCCI has decided to give a befitting reply to these allegations. The befitting reply is understood to not have anything to do remotely with Srini giving an interview to Or(s)nob. The earlier attempt to do so where the oft repeated phrase ‘Let the courts decide’ was as well appreciated as another oft repeated phrase ‘Women’s empowerment’ from another classic. The BCCI has issued a book by noted historian Hon. Vijay Dina Nath Battera, whose Cricket knowledge is reflected in his surname. The book will be issued to all Indian cricketers along with the MCC rule book as ‘supplementary’ reading.

The theme of the book is purported to set the record straight for all those who believe that the British invented the game of cricket. The epic Mahabharata has a lot of hidden references to it and it wasn’t an 18 day war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas but the first timeless Test in World History between the two sides. The clinching fact being that playing hours were only during the day and play came to a halt after sunset. We present some excerpts from this exceptional book which throws some light on the origin of a lot of cricketing terms.

  • Krishna was a very talented player and both the teams wanted him to play for them. But he feared that it would make the contest lop sided and offered the teams a choice between his services as a coach or some players from his team. The Pandavas chose him as a coach. The importance of coaching was validated by the result and modern teams have followed that practice even in today’s day and age.
  • Sanjaya was the world’s first TV commentator who gave live commentary to Dhritarashtra. There is not much known about his style but Mr. Battera believes that the words ‘the match hangs in the balance’ were first uttered by him.
  • Bheeshma was the first ever player to go out of the field ‘retired hurt’. He could not manage to come out to bat again.
  • Abhimanyu was the first cricketer to be sledged when a lot of the Kauravas ganged up against the poor chap which led to his dismissal.
  • The concept of cricket under flood lights first came in to play when Jayadratha, who thought it was the end of day’s play had to come out to bat again and was promptly got rid of by Arjun.
  • There were no neutral umpires those days and Yudhisthir claimed a catch against Drona by murmuring ‘Naro va Kunjaro va’. He was fined for this unsportsmanlike conduct but this was a suspended fine. He paid it only at the end of his career.
  • The term ‘Mankaded’ should have actually been ‘Pandaved’ as Karna found to his horror when caught in no man’s land.
  • Duryodhana was the first man to be wrongly adjudged Leg Before Wicket as Bheem had hit his thigh. As we all know that ball would have gone over the stumps. The need for a third umpire was felt for the first time after that wicket.
  • Ashwatthama was the World’s first immortal cricketer who never aged. It is suspected that now days he plays under the name Shahid Afridi.
  • Betting was an integral part of cricket right from it’s inception. It was gambling that led to the Test Match

The Book also lays down some do’s and don’ts for budding Indian cricketers.

  • Indian players should drink Ganga jal during drink breaks. It will cleanse their spirit and they will always be able to stick to the spirit of the game.
  • The players shouldn’t say coach but Acharya while addressing their Acharya.
  • Players should touch the Acharya’s feet before going on the ground.
  • Cricketers shouldn’t jump and shout like foreigners while celebrating wickets or centuries. They should chant Gayatri Mantra to celebrate their success.

The book has been sent to England and is expected to motivate them to save the 3rd Test. The reaction of Duncan Fletcher when addressed as Acharya is eagerly awaited. Mr. Battera is already being asked to be ready to take on coaching duties in an emergency to take India back to its glory days in Cricket.

Note: This is a satire and shouldn’t be taken too seriously by all those academicians who may question the veracity of the claims here

No one is supposed to even jokingly mention of a sports person who goes through depression and leaves a tour mid way. Just like no one is expected to write disparaging obits. Just like broadcasters are not supposed to let viewers hear when a captain says to the opposite # 11 that he better get ready for a broken arm. Just like no one is supposed to question the political opprtunism in giving the nation’s highest award to a massively venerated sportsperson on the eve of his retirement. Just like no one can question Suresh Raina’s place in the team. Actually the last one is palpably untrue but just wanted to wake the reader out of his/her slumber.

David Warner comes across as a person with an IQ in low double digits and with the perceptiveness of a bull in a china shop. But he surely used the entire backlog of his mental capacity by the one inspired comment he made when talked about Jonathan Trott at the press conference post day 3 of the 1st Test Match at the Gabba. If only he had used the word ‘mental disintegration’ it would almost compare to an Obama-like eloquence, but that would mean that he would have to wait till the age of 60 and most of us would be dead by then.

Because on a day that Trott was flying back home there were articles about Australian ex-cricketers urging not to reign in the team’s aggression. On a day when a lot of articles are being written about how sportspeople do not need to be Macho and how Trescothick was the pioneer in showing way to others of his ilk undergoing depression there are articles about how the Aussies were not crossing the line with their ‘banter’. The same Aussies who were mouses in India. The same Bailey who said he didn’t like sledging or some such on the India ODI tour? The same Watson who was complaining when Shikhar Dhawan imitated his injury on the field? Such boorish behaviour has to be stamped out of the game.

Was Mitchell Johnson’s bowling one of the last stress straws on the camel’s back? And if that is the case was Warner’s comment THE last straw? So wasn’t Warner crossing the line? Most probably he wasn’t. Trott’s returning may have had completely different reasons and there is no shame in going off if you think you can’t contribute to your team’s performance. The only objection there being isn’t it an easy way out by terming it as ‘stress related illness’? That word will always generate compassion from all politically correct majority. Is there any reason why the tour withdrawals have happened to England players only? And if there is then it brings us to the final point.

Given that the English dressing room has more support staff than the actual players themselves doesn’t it have a psychologist? And if there is such a professional in the team what has he been doing? Especially given the fact that such incidents have already occurred twice in the past few years isn’t the ECB looking out for any such preliminary signs and educating players about such issues? And why did they take Trott on the tour? So either the ECB has to be blamed for hiring incompetent psychologists or Warner like selectors who insist on selecting a player who has been identified as having some issue.

I do feel sympathy for Trott. Twitter has always had #Trott’sfault as a popular hash tag. But this time it wasn’t.

Some unpublished reactions to THE retirement

Amitabh Bachchan – “He retired? What does that mean?’

Abhishek Bachchan – “Hang on there Arjun! Even I haven’t made it to the big league yet.”

Amir Khan –  “Who is retiring next? I hope it will be before the Dhoom 3 release?”

Kiran Rao (who?) – “I hope Amir doesn’t keep that T-shirt on till the next retirement.”

Ram Gopal Verma – “I will make a movie on his life.”

Sanjay Leela Bhansali – “Ram Leela is my ode to him.”

Gautam Gambhir – “I will carry forward his legacy.” (He actually tweeted this though it seems)

Darren Sammy – “He retired but my team got gratuity from the BCCI.”

Puneri cricket fan – “I bought the season ticket for 5 days and match got over in 2.5 days.I want a refund.”

ACP Pradyuman – “Kuch to gadbad hai Daya. kuch to gadbad hai!”

Arun Lal – “He is dewy eyed. That reminds me. Did the dew factor play a role in his wicket?”

Kohli – “No more weight on my shoulders BC!”

Wife – “I heard the speech was nice. What time are you going for the match tomorrow?”


Plain old stuff

Have you ever wondered how it feels to be old? Really old? Maybe it takes another 20 years to the 40 year old readers to understand that feeling. To the 30 year old’s its almost as long as watching Chennai Express.

A Federer will never feel it. Its as smooth as his game; the coming of age over age. The cut of a sharp knife that the victim never feels. TIME kills one very smoothly. The first cut of the knife is never even felt. Only when the last blood is drawn is when one starts feeling the pain.

A Tendulkar still enjoys his game (so he says). So does Federer.  They are men who as Jagjit SIngh says in the album Sajda ‘Mili Havaon mein udne ki woh saza yaaron’ flying over us silly mortals. They sailed over us and we still remember them that way.

The cruel question is; do the spectators still enjoy ‘their’ game? In the ‘He-man’ series an ordinary man turns in to a super hero whenever he takes out his sword and raves and rants. But in the real world its the other side that wins. A super-hero almost turning into an ordinary human being.  And he doesn’t even need a sword.

When a Tendulkar gets Out to a Monty Panesar or when a Fed loses to some unknown guy; how does it feel? Pure unadulterated sadness. They were never built to lose.Nor was Schumacher. It is like prime horses getting shot when they hurt their foot. No performance,? You die! It never happens in this race unless someone wants to shoot oneself in his/her foot.

so they continue.  A Tendulkar is a phenomenon that I can’t explain to a kid 15 years younger to me. He gave me immense happiness by just being watched. The kid has watched him for the last 5 years and (s)he never will understand the genius of a guy who took India to a WC final on his own in 2003. They still blame him for losing us that finale.

They came, they saw, they conquered. Not any more!!