Posts Tagged ‘India’
For the last two days, since the news of the terror attacks on Mumbai (which is still not over as I write), I have been through a myriad range of emotions – deep sadness, sorrow for the victims, horror at the widespread carnage, helplessness, depression……and anger. Anger that such an audacious attack could happen in India’s most precious city with the intelligence community totally caught unawares.
And then I am further pissed when I read things like this….
Sources said though the plane carrying NSG Commandos was ready by midnight, it could not take off due to the delayed arrival of a VIP, who wanted to accompany them to Mumbai, at the Delhi airport. Worse, the Commandos had to wait for a vehicle at the Mumbai airport until morning.
Pretty much sums up our lack of planned response for such attacks – even though recent history shows that such attacks could happen anytime. Last time in India, around August navigating the bureaucracy, I was frustrated by the ad-hoc , highly disorganized method of doing everything. We as a people, in fact sometimes even celebrate the fact stuff actually gets done in spite of the ‘chalta hai’ attitude. Unfortunately, the lack of organization is severely exposed at such times of crises.
I am also angry at the foreign media – which suddenly seems to have woken up to the wider problems of Islamic terrorism in India, mainly because westerners were targeted (CNN since last night is droning on about the Jewish community – now nothing wrong in that, but you would think that only foreigners died in this terrorist strike)!
And the less I say about the insensitivity and ineptitude of the Indian media, the better.
I am pissed at idiotic articles like this, that provides an half-assed thesis relating the mindless brutality of religiously-motivated terrorists to the social dynamics in India !!!
But the highly symbolic attacks dramatise a much wider set of struggles: the product of growing wealth for some and a revolution in communications.
I mean, could it get more WTF than this ? Even Somini Sengupta would be hard pressed to come up with such a mindless pontification like this.
Perhaps it isn’t appropriate at this time to post rants like this. Perhaps I should have waited for some healing to happen. But I need to get some of the feelings out of my system. And it is easier to write about these visceral emotions, than the much deeper sorrow that I am feeling at the moment.
Before I end, a quote from Amit Varma that echoes another train of thought:
People are calling this Mumbai’s 9/11. In the sense that this city will never be the same again, I agree. But in terms of what we do about it, I’m not sure.
Once it was clear that 9/11 was caused by al-Qaeda, the US went after them, not bothering with niceties like their geographical location. From the information available at the time of writing this, it seems that we can soon be equally certain of who’s behind this. So what will we do?
And finally, even though it may sound trite and cliched, a salute to those who fell during the counter-terror operations – Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Hemant Karkare, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, and other unnamed policemen (more about them here)
Gautam Gambhir apparently purposefully elbowed Shane Watson yesterday in the third test between India and Australia. The Aussies are furious. How dare Indians turn cricket into a physical sport ! It should have been an innovation coming from them.
I reckon they have a fair enough complain, banging into opponent players has no place in cricket. However, reading most of the reports from the Australian media, you would have no idea about all the sledging being indulged by the Aussies all through the day. Or the fact that just before Gambhir’s elbowling, Watson had in a very unsporting manner stuck his hand out to block Gambhir’s running.
Local lad Gambhir and Watson continued their series-long feud and exchanged verbal barbs from the moment Gambhir charged the blonde fast bowler. This tension escalated when Gambhir appeared to purposely nudge Watson in the ribs when he completed a second run in the 51st over.
Nope, the Aussies were as pure as freshly fallen snow. Just watch this video and observe the Aussie bowlers indulging in ‘jaw exercises’ through the day.(you can see the elbowing incident here too) Now suppose the exact incident happened but with Matt Hayden elbowing Ishant Sharma. Here is how Australia’s leading cricket journalist Malcolm Conn would have seen it:
Having copped a verbal barrage all day from the frustrated Indian bowlers and close-in fielders, matters reached a boiling point when Sharma – in a blatant contravention of the spirit of the game – blocked Hayden on his way to the first of an easy two runs. In response, Hayden nudged Sharma with his elbow on his way back, a gentle reminder to the young speedster that it was the burly Queenslander who held the upper hand at that stage of the game.
This hasn’t happened in the last decade: touching home base twice within an year, far less the same calendar year. It wasn’t planned, but so much in life isn’t.
So there it is……waiting in Singapore to catch the evening flight to Kolkata. Much business to be taken care of in Kolkata, involving lots of loitering around the passport office. Then to Mumbai, briefly, and back to Kolkata, hopefully finish the business there if not done already (the more likely scenario), then back to Mumbai for the main business(this is opposed to the original plans for staying in Mumbai all the time).
Question in my mind: will it be worth it ? It is a sort of closure, so we have to go through with it. But, as a prominent blogger-friend asked, do we want it ? It is a philosophical question, answerable only after a few martinis.
Sorry about the vagueness, just in a mood for rambling….
Anyhow, hoping to meet up some people in Kolkata, and having fun celebrating a very close cousin’s birthday – last time was ten years ago just before we had left homeland and her age could be counted on one hand. Now she is into modeling and physics !!
Also looking forward to being in Mumbai after ten years.
Mumbai must have changed, although I might not even notice much difference as even while living there, I mostly cloistered myself within the Powai campus, usually not hazarding a local train journey unless on weekends. But have fond memories of walking from VT to the Marine Drive, all the way down to Nariman Point. Or, catch a dinner first at Bengal Lodge and then walk to Marine Drive. The best meories of Marine Drive was actually once when my train to Kolkata got delayed by 12 hours and I had to roam around with nothing to do. The monsoons were on, it was windy, and the sea was spectacular.
Not so fond, in fact , nightmarish memories of the daily commute from Powai to Anushakti Nagar for about three months (summer internship). It started out well, there was a direct express bus right from the campus door-step, easy to find a seat and got there in less than 30 minutes. But wouldn’t you know, it got cancelled two weeks after I started commuting, forcing an additional bus/auto trip to get down the hill and then catching the dreaded Route 399. That was a bus that meandered all around town and took more than an hour (sometimes worse as the monsoons set in and traffic got worse). Sometimes I would spend about 4 hours a day commuting (which, to be fair, wasn’t as bad compared to what many Mumbai commuters face all through the year).
The pain of the commute was more than amply made up by the availability of government subsidized canteen food at BARC. The food was tasty too – hot jalebis with savory upma – try the combination sometime. And Friday lunch chicken biryanis – Rs 10 only per plate e my very second one in the city.
The worst Mumbai commuting story, however, would have to be my only second experience in the city. Again, this was monsoon season. It was my first visit to the city, and somehow I had managed to reach the Powai campus from Dadar Station without any adventures. Now, having finished the business at the campus, I had to reach my cousin’s place in Thane, with no money for cabs, and a very vague idea of where Thane was located geographically or how to get there. Someone told me I could take bus and numbers such and such – so I stood at the bus-stop. Now this was when they had decided that no Arab numerals would be used on the front of the B.E.S.T buses, only Marathi on the front. So unless the bus actually pulled up, I would have no idea what route it was and where it was headed and this being Mumbai peak hour, by the time I realised I should step into a particular bus, it was either full or it simply rushed off. Took me a while, but I eventually learnt the Marathi numerals (which helped in future as well) in the two hours of waiting in the constant downpour that is the Mumbai monsoons. Eventually, I did find my cousin’s place, after reaching some place in Thane by bus, then wading through knee-deep water for a while to get to the wrong rickshaw-stand and therefore charged 40Rs extra (a princely sum for a poor student at that time), only to be dropped off at the wrong gate of this humongous apartment complex where people in one block of the complex did not know the location for a block at the other end and oh – it was still raining, and there was a power-cut, and hence quite pitch dark. I never loved the sound of my cousin’s voice nor found chicken curry so delicious after a hot bath as I did on that night.
Hopefully, I can avoid such nightmares this time around.
Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma.
Names I had not even heard of before this Aussie summer. But names that should come up frequently if this recently concluded series is any indication.
And if people had told me back in January that this combination was going to win India its first ODI tournament in Australia in a gazillion years of trying, I’d have asked for a puff on the obnoxious weed they were smoking.
But it was the youthful energy of these guys along with the likes of Gambhir, Uthappa, Sreesanth, Dhoni etc., and the prescence of just one ‘senior’, the evergreen Sachin Tendulkar that lifted the CB Series trophy at the Gabba last Tuesday. And in the process they have also made me (and a few other bloggers) eat a humble piece of my own words.
But I hardly care, I will write down those words and eat the paper too; after a long, tumultuous summer, we gave it to the mighty Aussie – winning on the field and delivering a bitter taste of their own medicine off it. And that just warms the cockles of my heart.
Back in late January however, it had begun real badly – a total rout in the 20/20 at MCG. But then, slight flashes of brilliance in bowling and batting at the rain-soaked GABBA encounters, followed by a good win at the MCG, and then losses to Australia in games that could have been won, a trundling win against Sri Lanka, followed by an emphatic one. Still, it seemed we were consistently doing what we do best: being inconsistent.
And then something happened: Mathew Hayden, FSM’s gift to the foot-in-the-mouthers, came on a Brisbane radio show and graciously expressed his opinions on gardening, demonstrated his acute grasp of the Indian accent, and shared his pugilistic fantasies of beating up young kids. In the same breath, he also mentioned something like ‘Indians are always losing…..’.
The rest, as they say is history. After that interview, Australia promptly lost three in a row. Over the two finals, Harbhajan Singh, the bete noire of the Australian cricket team, public and particularly the media, took the wickets of Symonds twice, Hayden once and had a hand in the run-out in another.
Irony, divine justice, karma, call it what you will. And to top it all, Sachin Tendulkar, long castigated for never winning it for India ‘when it mattered’, joined the party and played two highly innovative innings.
All followed by wonderful celebrations; and especially, as I mentioned before, the wide eyed innocence of the small-town boy, Praveen Kumar, while accepting the MoM award. (the other great moment was in the first final at Sydney, where Yuvraj and Harbhajan started a bout of mock boxing after Hayden’s dismissal).
A special salute to Captain ‘Uber-Cool’ Dhoni.In situations where Dravid would have frowned deeply, Ganguly thrown fits, Dhoni calmly – with nary an expression on his face – handed the crucial last over to Pathan. It was a strange decision given Pathan was certainly the worst bowler on display through the day, but he repaid the confidence. Since being appointed 20/20 and ODI captain, it has been a good season for Dhoni. Most of his decisions regarding player selections, backing of youngsters (a point he did not forget to make during the presentation speech) paid off handsomely – they may not in future – but his unflappability under pressure has me impressed .
So once again, here is to the young lads in blue ! Cheers !
: As if I required more reasons to like Dhoni, read about his departing words to the Aus media. Very cheeky
“There was a time when it seemed like he was like Michael Jackson, the way the media were following him,” Dhoni said before flying out of Australia with the Indian team.
“I think it would have been better if they (Australian media) stuck to cricket.
We win the series. Who would have thunk ?
Possibly, the most touching moment:
Praveen Kumar is the Man of the Match for his four wickets and he looks a bit embarrassed, all beams he has to be taken on to the stage by his captain, Dhoni, a touching moment. He takes the cheque and runs back off the stage, grinning, still embarrassed.
Here is the video of the post-match ceremonies. The Praveen Kumar moment is about 1:40 into the video:
Here is another one:
While the Sydney Morning Herald continues to embarrass itself by its near apoplectic harping on the ‘scartching’ non-issue (see the previous post), one of its writers, Greg Baum, cuts through the crap (via):
“There are a lot of young people sitting here, and it was inappropriate,” one spectator told The Age. “If he wants respect, he has to treat others with respect.” This spectator, who was so concerned about young people and so insistent on the need for respect, was sitting in a crowd that in chorus was calling Harbhajan a “wanker”.
Another spectator complained in the Herald Sun that Harbhajan spat in his direction, six or seven times. “Spitting is not on in my book,” he said. “That’s a bit out of line.” This spectator, who was so upset by Harbhajan’s demeanour, was wearing a fluorescent green T-shirt inscribed: “Monkey see … monkey do.” (link)
And the idea of a sporting crowd staking a claim to the high moral ground is absurd.
Make no mistake. Harbhajan has been here long enough, and seen and heard enough, to know better.
If he did make monkey gestures towards the crowd on Sunday, he knew what he was doing, and should be sent straight home and told to stay there
Well said !
PS: At the same time, I find BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah’s retort “Let Australia come to us and see what the crowd might do.” in extremely bad taste. This is borderline hooliganism. But do we ever expect any sensible action from the BCCI ?
PS2: Inspiration for the title goes to Naked Cricket’s comment.
….err in the arm-pits. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the gesture is racist (apparently a monkey taunt) !!!!
Check for yourself and judge:
I won’t be defending Harbhajan if indeed he made monkey taunts, but if this is the picture that forms the basis of their accusation, it is a very weak one.
[Not justifying anything, but apparently the crowd was also having quite a go at him with shouts of 'wanker' (typically Australian) to 'knob head'/'cut your hair', a reference to his Sikh religion. Classy stuff.]
The Aussie press has really gone ballistics after their invicible team lost last night. Most of the reports keep focusing on meaningless stuff like how much the Indians celebrated e.g. how Yuvraj and Harbhajan cheekily started a mock shadow boxing round after Hayden was out (hilarious stuff IMO), rather than the game itself.
W hat a bunch of sore whiners.
Take this absurdity from Malcolm Comm whose list of Harbhajan’s past trangressions include:
Others included poking his tongue out in a one-day match against SriLanka and running most of the way to the boundary during the SydneyTest before doing several awkward rolls after dismissing Ricky Ponting
Now you cant stick your tongue out ?!! What about Brad Hogg then ?
And of course, Peter Lalor is at it again, this time raking up a bunch of pathetic excuses for Ricky Ponting’s slump in form. I am too tired to fisk him, but Mohan at i3j3Cricket has done a pretty good job.
Updated: Here is the actual mp3 of the Hayden interview from Bisbane’s triple M (via). Apart from the comment on Harbhajan, Hayden mocks Ishant Sharma, mimicking an Indian accent, while inviting the 19-year old into a boxing ring. As I said, real classy behavior from one of the seniormost Australian players.
Matthew Hayden, otherwise known as a god-fearing, church-going bloke, and a celebrated cook who also opens the batting for Australia, obviously does not feel that dissing and bad-mouthing your opponents in public is anything that Christ wouldn’t approve of.
Matthew Hayden has stirred already troubled waters by calling Harbhajan Singh an “obnoxious weed“, a comment that will only serve to further deepen the animosity between the two sides which has surfaced during India’s current tour.
In the same breath he says:
Hayden played down the incident, accusing the Indians of complaining because “they are losing every game they are playing,”
Erm……even forgetting that India won two games recently againt Sri Lanka, Hayden obviously has a very short memory of his own team’s performance. Btw, Hayden also says that Harbhajan “has been charged more than anyone that’s ever played in the history of cricket.” which is a blatant lie (also consider that Hayden’s captain, Ricky Ponting, has the same number of charges as Harbhajan).
Finally, Hayden is even gracious enough to offer some advice to young Ishant Sharma (who was fined in the last match for helpig a lost Andrew Symonds find his way to the dressing room):
“He is just young. I have said to him many times, ‘You are 19, take it easy’,” Hayden said. “At the end of the day he is 19, why doesn’t he just worry about his bowling for a while?”
What a novel idea ! Wonder if Hayden will heed his own saying and worry about bludgeoning bowlers out of the park rather than talking up shit.
Eventually, it is unfortunate how all these slanging matches are deflecting attention from some fantastic cricket this summer. I am pretty pissed off (at both sides) to the extent I am considering not going to the stadium to watch the second final at the ‘GABBA. Saves me money and the headache you get from drinking XXXX all day.
The recurring theme for the first two days of the test match has been India on the verge of putting Australia away for good, but a combination of luck and Aussie resourcefulness sees the game back on even keel. Most commentators are saying that India are on top, but I still think it is anybody’s game, especially with three days left and the wicket still playing true.
After a disappointing morning with the bat, we had the Aussies reeling at 61/5 and hopes were up for a 100-odd runs rout. But then Gilly and Symonds managed to get into the usual rescue act, and what a partnership they produced! Would have loved to be a non-partisan viewer during that period of the game, but sadly their swishing and slaying held little joy. Of course, they were helped to some extent by poor fielding – couple of really sloppy moves by Ishant in the deep let off Gilchrist twice – and importantly, few slices of luck. Symonds is certainly having a charmed series. He was dropped at 3 by Tendulkar, then got a lucky reprieve when a RP Singh yorker squeezed through his defense and yet spun away to miss the stumps. Hopefully his luck will run out at a crucial time during the Australian second innings.
But overall, no one could have imagined this situation three days ago. Actually, it was predicted that a pace attack would rip through the opposition batting – only it turned out to be Indian medium-pacers, with their wily swing that coaxed out the vaunted Australian batting. The Indian bowling is arguably a second string line-up, given the absence of Zaheer, Munaf and Sreesanth, yet in the scorching heat of Perth, they have bowled with heart. Kudos to RP Singh, Pathan and Sharma. Keep it up fellows – we need it once more this test.
Speaking of Indian bowling, the main news of the day: Anil Kumble reaching a great milestone: 600 Test wickets ! (and what a wicket it was – breaking up the Symonds-Gilchrist partnership).
Make no mistakes, the guy’s a fighter at heart – perhaps not the in your face street-fighter like Ganguly – but all the same, an indominable warrior (and he manages to hide it well behind the modest smile and unfailing gentlemanly conduct). No other moment captures his resilience and grit better than this picture:
Not much later, just after news came in that Kumble was flying back to India the next day for surgery, out walked the man himself. Heavily strapped up, with bands going around his jaw, over his head and across the back of it, a semi-mummified Kumble walked out to the middle.
The ball was tossed to Kumble and a slider slipped past Lara’s outside edge off the very first ball. There was much speculation about the wisdom of such a move. Perhaps it was foolhardy to ask a man with a fractured jaw to bowl?
All talk was put to an end, as is so often the case with Kumble, by one delivery. Tossed up, fizzing through, pitching on off and spinning in just a touch, Lara’s across the line swat was not good enough. The pad was struck, Kumble appealed as well as his plaster would allow and umpire David Shepherd confirmed that Lara (4) was plumb lbw.
Congrats Jumbo. Now onto 700 !
…..in case you missed it, there was cricket played over the last five days as well. And some top-notch cricket at that with an even contest right upto that fatal Micheal Clarke over.
(Okay this is the final post about the recent test match…..and will try to restrict to cricketing aspects )
You have to admit that the Indian team demonstrated a lot of fight in this game. Their preparation was less then ideal: Beaten comprehensively at Melbourne less than a week ago, with no other practice games in between, they lost their frontline pace bowler to injury and then the toss on a good batting pitch. Yet they made a spirited start with two young seamers and an early umpiring error (first of the many to plague the game) notwithstanding, had Australia on the mats at 134/6. Then there was the (in)famous Symonds reprieve where the batsman luckily nicked the ball to the keeper just as Bucknor had settled into his late morning nap. The rest as they say is history. India had other opportunities to draw or even win the game but were outplayed (and some will say, out-umpired).
Irrespective of all the umpiring errors – India got a couple in their favor, especially Sachin’s lbw reprieve, but on the whole the errors were loaded against them – and what could have been, there are several cricketing aspects where India lost the game, or lost the chance to draw it. And not surprisingly they are the two old bogeymens haunting our cricket – fielding and running between the wickets.
In the field, Australia dropped a few catches (even the ever dependable Gilchrist dropped two easy ones) but on the whole they saved quite a few runs due to athletic fielding. The Indians, barring the a couple of hard chances by Yuvraj, took their catches, but allowed Australia too many easy singles. And its those single which I believe were quite crucial. On the crucial fourth day of the match, India, with a still healthy lead of about 56 odd runs, bowled well. Both the seamers and the spinners created a few problems and run scoring was not as easy as the free-flowing Aussies would have liked. Even with the close-in field, boundaries were hard to come by. Yet, both during the Hayden-Jaques and later the Hayden-Hussey and Hussey-Symonds partnerships, the run-rate never went below 3 to 3.5 odd. That’s because of some excellent running. Moreover, it was not just the sprinting capacity of the batsmen, it was their technique to a great extent where Hussey, Hayden and Symonds all used soft-hands to prevent the ball from reaching the fielders quickly, allowing that extra moment to get the run. Of course, the Australians are masters at the cliched ‘converting ones to two and twos to threes’ game. This ability ensured that not only the scoreboard kept ticking over, but no one batsman had to face the probing line from the Indian bowlers for more than 2/3 balls at a stretch, giving them ample breathing space. I my opinion, this was a decisive factor. Unfortunately, during the the Indian innings, this kind of singles were taken only during the Harbhajan-Sachin partnership. Not surprisingly, it was the one partnership that really rankled the Aussies.
Of course, the fact that India was carrying two passengers in the batting line-up: Jaffer and Yuvraj did not help matters. In the fourth innings, we were effectively playing with 7-8 batsmen. When your number 10 and 11 scores freely against Brett Lee while number 1 and 6 can only shuffle at the crease uncertainly, there is something horribly wrong. Jaffer surely needs to be replaced by Sehwag. If not anything, we might get 10-20 odd runs from the wild slashes and thick edges flying over the slip/gully . As for Yuvraj, he seemed totally disinterested, weather fielding or while batting – it will not be harmful if someone with a better attitude, like Pathan, who could be an useful bowler as well, comes in his place.
But overall, I am quite proud of the manner in which India obviously rocked the Australian domination boat. With a few decisions going the other way, we were even in with a chance of winning till the last day.
Mike Procter, the match referee for the recently concluded, controversial India-Australia Test at Sydney, determines that Harbhajan used a racial slur against Andre Symonds (called him a ‘monkey’). Yet he provides no evidence other than the fact he is “satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh directed that word at Andrew Symonds and also that he meant it to offend on the basis of Symonds’ race or ethnic origin.”
Anantha expresses it much better.
PS – Apparently, Symonds was upset that Harbhajan was patting Brett Lee’s bottom.
Symonds said Harbhajan’s bewildering decision to pat Australian fast bowler Brett Lee on the bottom during play on Friday in the second Test had sparked the furore.
When Symonds asked Harbhajan why he had done this, the fiery Indian – then batting – allegedly called the Queenslander a “monkey”.
Symonds feels he had a greater claim on that piece of ass.
PPS – News Corp is racist. Here is the proof:
PPPS (hopefully the final one): I am not condoning Harbhajan using a racist slur, or even trying to debate whether ‘the word’ is racist or not. There was apparently an agreement between the teams beforehand that ‘the word’ was not to be used against Symonds. But only IF Harbhajan indeed used ‘the word’. The way the inquiry was handled makes it far from certain if it was the case.