Thursday, November 14, 2013

End of an era

Today is Sachin Tendulkar's 200th and farewell test. I have literally grown up watching Sachin Tendulkar play. Now that he is retiring a part of my growing up seems to be retiring as well. I can’t remember the countless pleasures that he has given me, and billion others around the world, over the years, growing up and watching him play. I used to pray when he would go out to bat. Watching India lose in the nineties  was a common occurrence. What stood out in those matches was the resilient Sachin scoring in every match, against any opposition in any country. The way he dominated the opposition right from the time he went out to bat was an inspiration for an India still trying to find a footing at the world stage. 

I remember the days when the markets would come to a standstill when Sachin would come out to bat. People who were out of their homes would stand outside the shops selling TVs and watch the match. He has been the cricketer whom everybody looked up to and still does. He showed his genius at a time when the other batsmen in his team were falling around like nine pins. There was a time in the nineties when the matches began and ended with Sachin’s batting. In those days when he got out early the matches were as good as over.

The current Indian lineup has a lot of exciting cricketers and we are among the top teams in all formats of the game but somehow with no Sachin in the team it does not feel the same. I already have lost interest in ODI and T20 and I think his retirement will be the final nail in the coffin for the test matches as well. I will continue to watch cricket but it will not be the same anymore. No more having a Cricinfo window open when India is playing, not going out of the home and being glued to the TV when Sachin is playing, denying a remote to the rest of the family when the play is on , asking people in your surroundings to stay in the exact position that they are in when Sachin nears a century, lest he gets out. As they say- it is the end of an era.

P.S- I wrote this in a hurry. This is not a tribute to the genius of the man just the first thing that came to my mind when I logged on to the TOI website for watching the match.

Monday, August 12, 2013


I have been following The Ashes closely. There is something about the matches on grounds in England, Australia and South Africa. We are used to the noisy atmosphere in sub-continent grounds and either clichéd commentary by the likes of Shastri or verbal diarrhoea by the likes of Harsha Bhogle on TV. Not to mention Mr. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan with his school kid monotone of ' The grass is green....the sky is blue... yada yada". For some reason this guy is present in almost every match played in India. I think the broadcasters use him as filler. Probably he pays the broadcasters to put him on air. It helps if you have played for India.

All this changes in England. The noisy cacophony is replaced by a coherent symphony. From the general silence intermittently broken by claps for every good shot or a wicket to the loud boos for reasons like umpires leaving the ground after suspending the play due to bad light or some unsportsmanlike conduct- it all makes for good television viewing. One can sit at home and still soak in the ground atmosphere. The commentary is also a welcome change with the likes of Nasser Hussain, David Gower, Michael Holding, Bumble, Shane Warne etc behind the microphone. Even the after-match discussions that David Gower hosts seem like a breath of fresh air. The garrulous and diplomatic Harsha Bhogle could learn a thing or two from him about subtle hosting and the power of silence. They even have fantastic off the field programming. I remember watching Shane Warne, Nasser Hussain and Andrew Strauss displaying batting and bowling nuances on a practice pitch during the thirds day's play of the fourth Ashes test. The way Shane Warne explained how he approached setting up batsmen was a revelation. I am sure a lot of kids or, for that matter, even professional crickets, would have learnt a tip or two from him. 

Finally, another good part about the telecast is the reduced number of advertisements in between the overs. Broadcasters in India don't even allow the commentators to finish their sentences at the end of overs so that they can sneak in one more 10 sec adv. It ruins the viewing experience. The only thing that I wished was Australia putting up some more fight. They have shown spine in patches but have been outclassed by England so far. It is sad to see a meek Australian team after watching their predecessors rule the roost for almost a decade.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Paul-the octopus

The 2010 FIFA world cup will be remembered for a lot of things- perennial underachievers Spain winning their maiden world cup, early exit of heavyweights like Italy and France, refereeing blunders leading to the oft-repeated demand for the use of technology in the game, the Jabulani football ball, Paris Hilton drug scandal, the pro\anti-vuvuzela campaign and Shakira's 'waka waka'.

Many a celebrity players like Rooney, Messi, Ronaldo flopped miserably and new heroes like
Forlán, Mueller emerged. But the biggest celebrity to emerge out of the world cup was 'Paul the octopus'. As an oracle, Paul made one right prediction after the other denying its skeptics their gotcha moment. No media coverage of the matches by the news channels across the world was complete without Paul's prediction as the main attraction. So much so, that after the German loss in the semifinal calls were made to kill the octopus. The Spanish prime minister on the other hand was ready to send bodyguards for its protection.

The other animals across the world, however, were not as lucky. Even the humans masquerading as astrologers/oracles/know-it-all-analysts could not get the pre match predictions as accurately as Paul did (he had a 100% record, after all).

Astrologers in India, who have been routinely making wrong predictions on almost everything happening under the sun can now eat crow, dump the parakeet and have an octopus as a pet.

Image Courtesy: Received in an email forward. If you own this image and do not wish it to be displayed here, please write so in a comment to this post. I will remove the image.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Vuvuzela anyone ? .....naaah

A world cup football match, sitting on the couch in front of the TV set with lots of goodies to munch on-sounds like a perfect evening. Isn't it? Wait until you hear the monotonous, irritating noise in the stadium. The match is about to start and the football stadium has been attacked by a billion bees. The worst part is that the bees are trying to kill the spectators and the players, not by stinging but by making an annoying and deafening noise.

Just when you start praying for the safety of the pe
ople inside the stadium, you realize that the noise is because of the fans blowing en masse into an instrument called vuvuzela.

It does not make for pleasant TV viewing. All you hear is the 'angry bees' and any chance of soaking yourself in the wonderful experience is gone. If big sporting events are viewed as a platform for promoting a country in the international arena, then vuvuzela is definitely not the way to go.

However, all is not lost. Vuvuzela noise-haters have some options that they can try:
Take one with you at the stadium and throw it on the field. Make sure you do not hit anyone; that way FIFA will ban the instrument and you won't be charged either. Make sure you are not surrounded by people carrying vuvuzelas or else you might find yourself on the ground.
2. Protest by making your own 'noises' about the 'noise' so that the chorus outshouts the 'noise' and the organizers finally ban the instrument.
3. The TV viewers can download and use the software from here. (I have not tried this so do it at your own risk)
4. Accept that it is a part of the tournament's cultural identity and live with it. One option for the people visiting South Africa is to buy some vuvuzelas and take them back home. They can later be gifted to the kids of parents you do not like.

SA, FIFA, ESPN are you listening?

Image courtesy: rediff

Monday, May 31, 2010

Two late trains and a wedding

Last week I went to attend a friend's wedding at Bagalkot (630 km from Bangalore). The train journey (Solapur Express) that was supposed to take 12 hours actually took 15 hours for no reason. Frequent travelers to the place said that the train is almost always late by at least 2 hours by the time it reaches its destination.

Reaching Bagalkot late meant that I missed most part of the wedding ceremony especially the rituals part, which is boring anyways (except for the bride, groom and their immediate families). All I could do was to have a quick photo-op with the newlyweds and lunch. Not that I am complaining, but you would expect to do more when you travel a total of 1300 km (back and forth). The good part was that we were treated royally by the friend's family from the moment we reached Bagalkot.

I returned to Bangalore the same evening. The return journey was the same as the onward journey. Only this time the train(Golgumbaz Express) was late by 5 hours. It arrived 2.5 hours late at the station and the only thing that I could do in the meantime was to listen to songs-everything from Hanuman Chalisa to Pink Floyd.

On a more positive note, now when I plan to go to the North Karnataka tourist circuit of Badami-Aihole-Pattadakal (Solapur Express can be boarded to reach these places), I already have a first hand knowledge of the fact that I have to take into account the extra 3-4 hours that would be wasted in the train journey and can plan accordingly.

Railways should either make the train run on time or change their bloody timetable to reflect the actual running time.

Oh, by the way, may D and A have a happy and a prosperous married life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Sometimes you work relentlessly towards achieving something and don't get it. You just don't get it-no matter how hard you try, no matter how well you deserve it. At times things just fall in place like God\nature (whatever you prefer) had charted out a perfect dream plan for you. Sometimes life drags along like a daily soap; you can ignore the world around you for days and when you actually take notice it is all still the same. Time passes and yet is paused. At times it takes you in the fast lane like a Ferrari on nuclear fuel. Sometimes when you think that you have reached the summit, you realize it is just the base camp. At other times you reach the destination just as the journey begins.

I think in the end everything is right. If it is not right it is not the end.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The joy of running

So, finally I started running. Some part of me always wanted to get up early in the morning and go for a short run. I started running some weeks ago and was quite gung-ho about the whole thing for the first week. As the days progressed I fell back to my old routine of walking up late and taking it as an excuse for not running in the morning. Running on the road in the evening is not a good option in Bangalore, what with the traffic and the pollution.

The first day when I started was an eye-opener. Any kind of cardio exercise can leave you exhausted when you are on the wrong side of 25 and have not done any kind of physical activity in ages. After just about a few hundred meters the mouth cracked and I was gasping for breath. So, I alternated between running and walking. When I returned home the whole body was hot with blood and wet with sweat. Although I was not very exhausted, the muscles were sore; but I had some satisfaction that I had completed the distance. This was probably my most vigorous physical activity in the last couple of years (I have played some tennis and done some trekking but these activities do not compare to running).

I think running gives some kind of high. Not sure if it is just me or if it happens with everyone, but it does elevate the mood and is also a great stress buster.

I ran 3 km on the first day in 16 minutes. Today I did it in 12 min. I am not sure how much time an average beginner should take to run 3 Km on a part-concrete-part-tarred road. For now though, this seems enough motivation. I have decided to run every alternate day, slowly increasing the pace and the distance. Let me see if I can stick to it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Another day, another milestone

Just when anyone who had ever heard of a game called cricket (yes, I am including the ones who have never actually played it) was giving Sachin the advice to give a valedictory speech and retire, he did what no one else could in the last 39 years. This after proving himself day-in day-out, on and off the field, with a career record that requires no mention and in the last one year a performance that is much better than most in the world.

Sachin, like fine wine,
is getting better with the age.

He truly rocks and for the suckers who had written his cricketing obituary-go get a life.

P.S: I had written this post just after Sachin had completed the first ever ODI double hundred. Somehow was busy with work [;)] and could not post it earlier.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Need I say more :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vidyarthi Bhavan

I am not a fan of south Indian cuisine especially the one that is served at average restaurants in Bangalore. But there is one place that serves wonderful masala dosa- Vidyarthi Bhavan (VB). Located in Gandhi bazaar, Basavanagudi, the place reminds one of the Bangalore of the olden days. Unlike the plush eating joints that one can find all over Bangalore the ambiance in VB is nothing to write home about(except for the sketches of Kannada luminaries on the yellow, painted walls). It is often overcrowded and the service is not excellent either.

VB serves the usual south Indian fare that most restaurants do but what sets it apart is the hot and crispy masala dosa served with delectable coconut chutney. The dosa is smaller than what most other places serve but by far the best that I have ever eaten. Whenever I visit my friend in Basavanagudi , we often go to VB for the dosa followed by a cup of steaming coffee.

Masala dosa and coffee
The crowd mostly comprises of old timers who have been eating here for decades and they vouch for all the fare that VB dishes out.

The menu

Left:The crowd,mostly old timers.Right:Sketches of Kannada luminaries
To keep up with the changing times the owners of VB may have to change the old-world, homely ambiance that they have had for decades (as the patrons claim). As far I am concerned I do not mind it as long as the masala dosas remain the same.