Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Hinduism I know

Like I stated earlier, the Internet is overflowing with communal outpourings and facist propoganda! The fact that the web allows one to publish stuff that no self respecting newspaper or daily would carry is a boon for raving maniacs. It is dangerous as wel,l as it has the ability to influence minds, young & old alike. More so in a country like India where people are only beginning to become literate & are positively unaware of the unreliability of the information available on the net!

I am providing links here to some of the more grisly comments that some posts have attracted in recent times. Go through these & be shocked at the kind of India we live in! Nothing in school or college or even work life prepared us for this shock. Did you realize that the person walking next to you on the road could possibly be one of the commentors on these posts? Somebody at work maybe?

We were taught not to discuss religion while we were growing up. We were told that it is impolite & in bad taste. And above all that it was personal. So despite the urgings of the sabziwala, the train companion, the new friend in school & college, I stoutly refused to answer any questions or indulge in any conversations pertaining to religion.

Until I realized recently that the only way we can live harmoniously is through better understanding achieved through dialogue. My friend Chacko too made that mistake. And LOOK where that landed us...!!!

Dialogue with who??? Who are these people that we are trying to talk sense into? You & I have grown up reading English Literature and therefore don't have a problem accepting their culture or religious choices. We grew up reading Amar Chitra Katha editions on the lives of Jesus, Buddha & Ram. So we don't have a problem accepting that culture or religion either.
The newspapers we read, the magazines we read, were the likes of the Indian Express, Outlook & Reader's Digest. Respectable journalism, neutral writing went into making us the tolerant forward looking Indians we became.

So who are these "other" people? What did they read while they were growing up? panchjanya sapthik??? And if they did read what we read, how come they turned out so different??? Who is to blame for corrupting a young mind? Who is to blame for creating hate-filled, pro-violence creatures from humans???

I have ranted enough. Here are the links to the comments that I am speaking of. See for yourself & judge.

See how the comment forum of a secular thinkers indictment of modi was corrupted by baseless propaganda!

This one is a set of slightly saner responses, but the strong indoctrination & factually incorrect view of history is evident in some of the comments.

& more defilers here...

It does seem to point to education & exposure doesn't it? If not that what else is it?
I am quoting a prominent Indian here, one obviously more qualified than the rabid-ranters I provided links to above. This gentleman is qualified, educated & has the kind of understanding & view-point that a only an open, tolerant mind can develop. In light of the previous comments you read above, please read what he has to say on Swami Vivekananda. And do please note the difference in his viewpoint & shourie's nonsensical propoganda!

This one should rank as one of the best short essays on tolerance & secularism. Do help in popularizing it.

God Bless the CJ.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


For the first time today, this blog has been updated with 5 new posts! 6 if you include this one!

I'm more surprised (even a little worried about Internet addiction) than kicked, and am providing links to each of the posts lest my beloved readers miss them!

Here they are:
Sports snippets
Tennis Update
Bollywood's two sides
King Roger v/s Pistol Pete
Sania... and a gloat!

ENJOY!!! And do let me know if you did!

Sania... and a gloat!

Sania Mirza is probably the most talented player Indian Tennis has seen yet. She has the groundstrokes, she has the power, she has the appetite for competition.

What she lacks is that one factor that separates the champions from the also rans: Consistency!

- She has the ability to hit an excellent groundstroke to set up a point, but lacks the consistency to follow it up with another one to finish off the point.
- She can hit an excellent approach shot, but totally botch up the volley.
- She can break serve, but lacks the consistency to hold her own & wrap up a set.

All of this is on display in her match against an obviously downhill Venus. She had the former Wimbledon champion on the run, but allowed Venus to come back & dominate the match.

Her talent is obvious. What is not so obvious is that she isn't in great hands at the moment!

She needs a Nick Bolletieri to coach her. He's the kind of coach who infuses players with consistent shotmaking & rallying ability. He's the kind that helps players improve their basics. Sania's groundstrokes & volleying, maybe even her serve would definitely benefit from a longish stint with Bolletieri. Not to mention that he would work her to the point that she isn't lugging around any left-over puppy fat!

Indian coaches & managers shouldn't lose heart. They've done their bit by getting her up to this point. Now it's time for them to take a bow & let the other's take Sania to her destination.

One thing to remember is that the people who've coached/guiding Sania uptil now have themselves not achieved much at the international level.

One has to pick coaches accoring to the need of the hour. Even Agassi needed a tour veteran like Brad Gilbert to teach him how to pull off matches despite not playing one's best!

So Sania, please go to Bolletieri for about a year. And that is when you WILL triumph over players of Venus' calibre. Consistently!

Edit: As I was hitting "Publish Post", I heard the crowd applaud Sania's spirited performance. Or was it Venus' victory?

... And I was right!

- Fedex came through in a 5 setter despite playing well below par.
- Team India stopped the Australian cheating machine in it's tracks. India will be remembered for snapping the Aussies match winning streak on the most acrimonious tour in recent history. Somehow the last acrimonious tour I remember was one that involved the Aussies too! Remember the Sri Lankans? That tour came back to bite the Aussies in the backside! Sri Lanka made Oz their # 1 enemy & demolished the myth of Aussie supremacy convincingly in the next World Cup.
Has Australia done India that favour this time? Have they managed to awaken Indian pride? Permanently? Only the 4th Test (& then some more) will tell.

Edit: In a later match Hewitt overcame the immensely talented youngster Baghdatis in a see-saw 5 set battle.
Don't misread me as an Aussie hater here, but I'm not too fond of Hewitt either, specially after his flirt with racism in that infamous match against James Blake.
The Aussies seem like some of the most misbehaved people on the planet. I speak from personal experience. I met a bunch of them at a party & they were making an absolute nuisance of themselves! They of course seemed to believe that they were having fun. Much like the eve-teasers that infest India.

King Roger v/s Pistol Pete

There's been some valid debate about who is the greater champion, Pete Sampras or Roger Federer.

Comparisions are bound to happen as both them of them had a fairly complete, all court game. Great one handed backhands both, very capable volleyers both. Sampras possibly had a slight edge on his serve, but undisputably the factor that sets Federer apart is his unrivalled domination of the sport.

Sampras was the dominating force in his time yes, but against players like Agassi & a few others, he seemed beatable. Federer's domination of men's Tennis is almost complete!

The above may be debatable, but then one has to consider this:
Sampras finished his career with 14 Grand Slam titles.
Federer has another 5 years left and already has 12 Grand Slams in his kitty! Barring a total unforeseen breakdown of the mind & body that make up the winning machine called Roger Federer, he will set records that will not be broken for decades to come!

But the sealing argument comes from Sampras himself. After the 3 exhibition matches they played, and Sampras winning the third, Sampras admitted that Federer was probably exhausted coming off a long season. He also stated that Roger had things to his game that he himself didn't have in his prime!
Read here.

I agree with Sampras.

Bollywood's two sides

Aamir's supremacy:

I've always maintained that Aamir Khan is the best actor of his generation. And if weren't for the malleability of the media, he would've been universally acknowledged as such.

With TZP Aamir debuted as director. Coupled with the theme he chose, the child star he picked, there were quite a few firsts involved. He was doing things he had never done before. And came up the way he has always done before: Triumphant!

And without the help of media machinations!

Wherever I look, whatever I read, whichever channel I watch, all I hear is praise for TZP. Not one soul has said anything negative about the movie.

In comparison, the apparent success of that OSO-sorry-a-film, was forcefed down our throats! No one seemed to mention that in the UK, DDD Goal made more money than this out & out commercial venture. I picked this tidbit off a solitary news channel, God Bless their souls & may their tribe increase!

Aamir has a history of successes with first-time or little known directors. In comparison, SRK fails even with established directors!

How then is srk the King of Bollywood??? (Commercially speaking, I've heard that Akshay Kumar currently charges more than anyone else in Bollywood?)

Aamir is the true King. And long after their careers are over, & the media has no incentive to back the pretender, Aamir's body of work will establish him as the undisputed King.


Sajid's stupidity:

In response to this, I have the following to say to Sajid Khan:

Sajid... If Hey Baby made more money than VVC's earlier films, it's partly because the times in which you have begun to make movies are more expensive times.
Also people today have higher disposable incomes.
Thirdly, the money a film makes isn't the greatest barometer of a film's worth. Every initial Govinda-David Dhawan film was a big grosser. Doesn't make them works of art.

Lastly, the difference between the likes of VVC & Govind Nihalani and a you is that, Tum log kiranewale ho, woh log artists hain. You're in it for the money, they're in it for good cinema. You're dancers on a kotha, they're part of the bolshoi ballet.

To each his own, like you eloquently began, touting democracy & freedom of speech.

Tennis Update

Cilic beat Gonzalez in 4 sets. Just as I predicted.

Tipsarevic is giving Fedex a hard time, but I'm fairly certain that the World No. 1 will wake up soon enough to triumph. The young boy is good though. Stretching Federer is good enough for most people!

Update @ 3:46 PM IST: Federer pulls it off in a 5 setter. The day belonged to young Tipsy though! Federer is expected to come through. He is a champion, he's probably going to set records that'll not be broken for decades, Agassi rates him as the "Best Ever"! But Tipsy made the day his own. He's the only one in recent memory to make Roger Federer scurry all around court like a mere mortal. Agreed that Fedex wan't at his best, but this kind of stretching of King Roger doesn't exist in recent memory!

And if Sania does manage to pull off a miracle upset over Venus Williams, it'll be a huge day for Indian sport! If the Indian cricket team wins as well, double celebrations!

Sports snippets

I remember when we were young, we used to wait for a weekly news programme called "The World this Week". It was a finely produced (by NDTV I think) news package & the most interesting part used to be the sports coverage at the end that used to carry a generous dose of Tennis headlines, an absolute treat for a starved Tennis lover like me in cricket obsessed India!

I've managed to catch some sports action over the last month (this new job is really great!) after years! So here's my version of the last 5 minutes of that show:

Tennis, Twilight, Tenacity, Talent & Hope:

Chennai Open: I should really have been in Chennai for the only major ATP event in India; one that attracts the likes of Nadal, Moya, Baghdatis, Youzhny etc!
The highlight of the tournament was the semi-final that Moya & Nadal played. Everyone expected Nadal to come out on top without much difficulty, after all he is the World No. 2 & the only real challenger to Federer!
But Carlos Moya had other plans. For himself & for the fans. Even though the first set went to Rafa, Moya matched him almost stroke for stroke, until the tie-break where Rafa pulled ahead.
The commentators oddly seemed to be echoing everything I was thinking. Sample this: Nadal is playing like the Carlos Moya of 10 years back! Oddly the older Spaniard must have been wishing that he was a couple of years younger because the one fact that separated them last night was the younger legs of Nadal.
It was a HIGH QUALITY match, with breathtaking shotmaking from both players. My wife isn't as tennis crazed as I am, but the boisterous cheering that the shotmaking was eliciting from her, could be heard by our neighbours I'm sure!
Vijay Amritraj's comment on Moya's aggressive strokeplay while down breakpoint, was simply, "NO FEAR!". It was true; Moya felt no fear. Why should he? Not only was he up against an opponent 10 years younger & the World No. 2, but more importantly Chennai had become his backyard over the past few years! He was a regular visitor here, one of the first marquee names to come to Chennai, and a 2 time winner here & as a result of these three reasons, he was immensely popular here. He had the full throated backing of the crowd! He had no reason to feel ANY fear!
Moya's play that day carried a very important life lesson for anyone who cared to learn: IT'S ALL IN THE MIND! There's no other way to explain his performance against Rafael Nadal that day! Despite having done precious little on the tour of late, despite facing a rising star in the twilight of his own career, he made Rafa dig in deeper than he has ever been made to in recent times! His 2 previous wins here make Chennai his home turf, and give him the confidence & pride like nowhere else. That's why he plays here like nowhere else! Like I said before, "It's all in the Mind"!
And like someone else said, "If you can change your thinking, you can change your life"!
This isn't just a quotable quote. This is a remarkable observation from life. It's possible. It has been done before. By the likes of Moya. And you can do it too!
But I digress... Moya came back to win the second set (in another fiercely contested tie-break), and force it into the decider. From there on until almost the very end of the match, he rode a wave of confidence. He played himself into a position where he held a series of matchpoints.
But the match was not only Moya's best twilight performance; it was also a tribute to Rafa's amazing tenacity! He isn't the World No. 2 for nothing. More than his wealth of talents, he is a fighter! Rafa saved 4 matchpoints and went on to finally win a match that will go down in the record books. The match could very easily have gone the other way if it wasn't for Rafa's tenacity! Even Rafa acknowledged after the match that he hadn't seen Moya play like this in ages!

The post match ceremony was brilliant marketing brainwave! What with the Amritraj Award for Sportsmanship going to Carlos Moya, thus ensuring that Moya will visit Chennai even as a 90 year old! Rafael Nadal picking up a cricket bat for the first time in his life to hit balls into the equally cricket crazy Chennai crowd. Vijay Amritraj seems to have contributed quite a bit to the success of this event on the ATP tour. Attracting top level talent, recruiting Moya as brand ambassador for the event, etc. If I get the chance, I am definitely going next year!

Amritraj was sombre while talking to Moya. I guess he realizes what it means to put in a superhuman effort in the twilight of your career & lose. Moya took his disappointment like a man. It's easy to see why this man is so popular in Chennai!

Historic Match said the commentators. We agree. It was a rare 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 win; more importantly it was the longest best of three final on the ATP tour in 15 years! It was a physically & emotionally draining match. It was the Final before the Final. As a matter of fact, the final turned out to be a damp squib! Rafael Nadal had nothing left in him to offer and Youzhny won easily. But with the kind of sportsmanship that Tennis is known for, Youzhny acknowledged that he wasn't playing Rafael Nadal on that day, he was playing someone else.

I wish cricket would be known for this kind of sportsmanship!

Currently in Oz:

I began writing this during the Gonzalez-Cilic match, at the end of the second set. Gonzalez is playing a pretty scratchy match, doesn't look at all like the player from last year. I can guarantee that Cilic will win this match. He seems set for tennis superstardom! Reminds me of an early Marat Safin.

And that brings us to the end of the Tennis section. After Lendl retired, Agassi ruled my Tennis world. While I will acknowledge that Sampras accomplished more, Agassi did more for the sport of Tennis than anyone in his generation. He inspired a whole new generation to take up Tennis (Federer reportedly said that Agassi was the one who inspired him to take up Tennis), he brought in the fans. And yes, he was the one who won a Career Slam: each of the Grand Slam titles during his illustrious career! And an Olympic Gold as well! Add to that his exciting strokeplay & his charisma & good looks & you have a collossus of a sports icon!
Marat Safin with his talent, unpredictability and strapping good looks has the charisma to rule Tennis consciousness. But he is a victim of his own mind. He would do well to hire a Moya or a Nadal as his coach. But the most endearing thing about him is his simplicity. He says of himself: If I play well, no one, I mean no one has a chance.
If he plays badly, he reminds us of the another talented but totally unreliable entity, Team India!


India looks set to win the Perth test. Unless they screw it up as only they can, this will be the smearing that Australia deserves and that the World has been waiting for!
The best part of this series has been Ponting being officially labelled Harbhajan's bunny, among other more serious labels!
Sweeter is that Harbhajan got him twice in this series. Harbhajan first got him when he was a 17 year old aggressive sardar. Ponting nudged him on the walk back to the pavilion & has probably held a grudge ever since!
Even sweeter is that 19 year old Ishant Sharma got him twice in this very match, both times rather cheaply!
Never been too fond of Ponting. He's been caught using a graphite composite bat, his team is misbehaved. He frequently crosses the line a la Cronje.
I like it when Ponting fails.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Male Today!

The ads at Delhi airport for the Mail Today are very apt. The positioning couldn't be more apt! Imagine a naked picture of a gay man, back view (send me one if you can find one; I'll put it up here!). Then the copy: Less Length, Less Breadth, More Depth! Male Today!

That's exactly what this new fangled tabloid is from the first glance I got at it. A disease of today's times. No focus on truthful reporting, trying to sell through sensationalisation.

There's this absolute ***** who writes for their b*llyw**d section, called kavita awaasthi. I read two articles by her & came away none the richer. There was nothing in them. Except bile. A lot of bile. The way she waded into Manisha Koirala, the way she was bitching about Aishwarya, made me jump to only 1 conclusion. She has a problem with women that heterosexual men find mouthwateringly delicious! God alone knows why.

One thing I've learnt from reading her crap is that I will tone down my rants. Getting personal is in very bad taste! I will avoid these two pitfalls if possible. Because whether or not I know what good writing is about, I now definitely know what bad writing is about.

The good thing is that both she & the paper she writes for are unknowns. Let's keep it that way! A la Jade Goody: make them disappear fast from public memory.

And to think that this is an offering from the India Today group!! Kisika bharosa nahi raha!

Monday, January 14, 2008

1conoclast's World Peace Awards

With the Internet offering the anonymity that the real world doesn't offer, I often find in my wanderings on the net, a plethora of communal or racist outpourings. Needless to say that these rabid rants are anonymous. It pains the heart immensely to read all that drivel.

Yet, there are people (and views) on the net that gladden the heart and bring back one's faith in human goodness.

It is to honour & celebrate such people and views that I am instituting the 1conoclast's World Peace Award. This will be an annual award & here are the winners of the first edition:

1conoclast's World Peace Award 2007 goes to:

Mukesh Adhvaryu

Amidst the ethnic hatred and religious madness that caught on in some sections of Indian society, Mukesh manages to keep a clear head and is unswayed by the extermism on either side. Just because of this is why he wins the 2007 Award.

The other close contenders were:

Citizens for Peace because for a million reasons. Actually I would've liked them to win the Award but Mukesh's achievement is that he is solo as opposed to the plethora of intellectuals that abound on Citizens for Peace, and that should count for something.
Indian Muslims Blog for presenting progressive, balanced, brave & fair points of view through their blog.
Knownturf, because of it's brilliant analysis of issues that impair peace here, here and here.
Zigzackly because of it's support to a million noble causes.

God Bless the winner & the runner's up; may your tribe increase...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Leave Sania alone!

This one was lying in the drafts folder for some time, but recent events have forced me to complete it.

What is wrong with people around the world? What gives them this bloated sense of self importance? Who are they to demand, ask, criticize another person? Specially one that has so obviously and honestly achieved more than they ever will!

Sania Mirza is a 21 year old girl for God's sake! She is a young girl who is doing more than other girls of her age do. She isn't hanging around college canteens achieving precious little. She's been working harder than most men (and women) who are criticizing her. She is bringing her country (primarily) & community (secondarily) into the limelight. She's making money & spending it all on getting better. Coaches like Tony Roche don't come cheap!

This girl is India's pride. She is representative of young, emerging India. She should be lauded, protected, encouraged, not pulled down the way some jokers are doing! Can we please file a PIL against anyone who tries to pull this kid down? Maybe the AITA & Globosport can do that. After all, they'd only be defending the interests of their player!

Let's count the number of controversies this youngster has pointlessly been dragged into:

A section of radical Muslims targetted Sania for wearing short skirts; exposing clothing which apparently brings disrepute to their version of community. Now I don't understand Islam very well, but Islam was never meant to be hard & fast about anything. Islam is purported to be one of the most practical religions. I have heard that Islam went to the extent of advising it's followers to hide their religion if it meant that their lives were under threat. With that kind of practicality, why can't a tennis player wear clothing that is acceptable in her area of work. This is my viewpoint. I believe that the people targetting her do not have the deep understanding that Islam desired of them.
I have a couple of questions to ask these radicals:
Would you rather have Sania Mirza being known as an Indian Muslim, Modern Muslim, Muslim Achiever or would you rather that people continue to have poor images of Indian Muslims. As ultra-conservative, regressive, underachievers? Don't put so much pressure on her that she cannot achieve more & do her community the service that she is doing.
If these radicals are so concerned about the image of Muslims, why don't they focus on the Muslims who beg. Why don't they teach them & get them jobs? Why don't they get them cleaned up? Get them off drugs?
Why don't they rush to cover up a poor beggar woman who is lying practically naked on the railway platform, who will in all probably be raped every night by people wanting to take advantage of her plight/mental condition? What if she is a poor muslim beggar? Forget muslim, what would these radicals do? Would they try & save her? Probably not. In the interest of practicality maybe? Then they shouldn't hound Sania anymore. Please.

Sania's views on pre-marital sex:
Leave her alone. She's a product of a young India. Also, she's allowed to make as many mistakes as children in any family make. You & I are not perfect. Why should she be expected to be? As long as she turns out OK in the long run, everyone will be happy. Anyway, she's not answerable to you & me. She'll be judged like you & I will be. You keep your hands off her.

Her Dr. getting threats for treating her &
the Mecca Masjid Controversy:
All this is giving muslims all over a bad name. Marat Safin & his sister Darina are Russian Muslim tennis players. They're not pulled up for anything by anyone. Why not? Are Russian muslims more evolved than Indian muslims? Are Indian muslims not concerned with the Safins? Why? Or is just that they don't even know about the existence of the Safins? They're targetting what they know & can see, and can target. The Russians don't give a rat's arse about what they think! So one can safely surmise that Sania too should just not care!!!

National Flag controversy:
Anyone who knows anything about tennis or even sport knows that entering tournaments earns the players money, while entering competitions like the Davis & Hopman Cup, where one plays for one's country & not the money, is done for national pride.
Sania plays the Hopman Cup, plays hard & gets us victories. No one clamours for giving her an award or compensation for the potential financial losses she endured to play for her country. The Bhopali soorma & the liar from Tirupati are both unknowns. They're using Sania to gain a little importance in their respective districts. Maybe it will help their business. Or if there is any truth to the Karma concept, they will lose whatever little business they have anyway. Hey! What an idea! Hit them where it hurts! Their names have been published in the newspapers. Let's all blog about & call for a total boycott of their services for wasting Sania's time, the court's time, newsprint & our time as well! Let's ask the citizens from their hometowns to boycott their services totally until they apologize!!! This should work!
Why did these two jokers not congratulate Sania for her Hopman Cup service? Because they're ignorant. Sania is a potential Olympic medal hope! Can't they see that? This will only distress her & allow her to lose focus. They should apologize & back her unconditionally!

What do these guys want? Do they want her to fail for a more sinister reason?
Do they want her to get frustrated with India & leave her country to live elsewhere like many many other tennis players do?

Can the radical Muslims for a moment not consider this: Sania may have been born into a muslim family, but what if she isn't a muslim by faith. Being muslim is about following the religion. What if she doesn't want to follow the faith she was born into or any religion for that matter? What is she believes that her work is her worship & that she will be judged by her service to her fellow-men, her countrymen? Like I said earlier, who are we do judge? We are mere human beings like her, & definitely not greater than her!

Can the uber-nationalists consider a scenario where Sania gets totally frustrated with us takyanoosi Indians & decides to migrate to Florida, change her nationality & play for the U.S.? Win Olympic medals for the U.S. & not us?

Please leave the girl alone. She has much to give to all of us. Let's sit back & enjoy what she has to offer. And pray for her success!

Note: Ideas that will help us protect this young girl who has made India proud are highlighted in red. Please feel free to use/implement/propogate them.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bombay ka khula balatkar!!!

The incident outside the gates of JW Marriott on New Year's Eve is to my mind the gangrape of Bombay. Bombay was a safe haven for girls. It was a city where they could have some innocent fun without feeling threatened. But on that night, as Bombay prepared to enter the New Year, she was gangraped!!!

What a terrible start to 2008!

In response to HT's question from yesterday:

Yes. Bombay is becoming another Delhi. While there's always been a Delhi influx into our city, I wonder if it has now reached critical mass! Also, could this be a socio-economic situation? Previously poor, still illiterate Indians, now flushed with disposable incomes, leading to booze fueled molesting sessions? This needs some social research (Tata Institute of Social Work, VV Giri Institute?). And it needs some very stern judicial measures! 50 lashes maybe!

Also, if this makes the sons of the soil wake up & do something... This wasn't the case when the name was still Bombay.

While I'm no HT fan, Kudos to the HT photographers.

Others who have blogged about this despicable incident:

talented debutant

Here's a new entrant to the blogosphere. His interests are diverse and range from poetry to lyrics to films to advertising to social activism. If he can translate his interests into regular posts, this promises to be a very interesting blog. Please sample his work & give him a warm welcome here.

Specially tagging the Knownturf author and other poetically inclined bloggers to visit & provide constuctive feedback.