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Posts Tagged ‘India

Anger

with 2 comments

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 refusal of news outlets like the BBC to call a spade a spade, constantly equating India and Pakistan as joint-sufferers of terrorism (more here). Even after reports like this.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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)

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

November 28, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Posted in India, Rants

Tagged with , , ,

In which I am Conn-ed

with 3 comments

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.

(inspired by this post and my comment there).

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

October 29, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Kolkata bound (yet again) and Mumbai musings

with 6 comments

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.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

July 30, 2008 at 12:06 am

Posted in Immigration, India, Kolkata, Life, Personal

Tagged with , ,

Weeding Monkeys

with 4 comments

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 [1].

So once again, here is to the young lads in blue ! Cheers !

(Picture: Cricinfo)

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[1]: 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.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Yahooooooooooooooooooooo!

with 3 comments

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.

UPDATE: 

Here is the video of the post-match ceremonies. The Praveen Kumar moment is about 1:40 into the video:

Here is another one:

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 4, 2008 at 7:42 am

Posted in Australia, Cricket

Tagged with , , ,

The Scratchy Itch…

with one comment

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)

The clincher:

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 !
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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.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 3, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Dont scratch yourself….

with 9 comments

….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.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 2, 2008 at 7:14 pm