0 comments on Kolkata Knight Riders – the most loyal IPL team

Kolkata Knight Riders – the most loyal IPL team

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I am pretty sure that, in coming times, the current team of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will be the epitome of loyalty and devotion. The long serving executive of a company or a bull dog will lose its place to this bunch of cricketers. Now you might be wondering what kind of loyalty I am concerned with. Well, it’s about their whole hearted effort to be the extension of their owner Shahrukh Khan!

Mr Khan has the unmatched ability to pick up fights with anyone on anything. And as this piece is about cricket, I am skipping his long list of brawls in the film industry. And even then, the ugly spat between him and the security personnel at the Wankhede Stadium during IPL 5 commands a mention here.

And as KKR won the trophy that very year, it might have got into the team that whenever their owner is knee deep in controversy, the team excels. So taking a cue from that, the players of KKR have decided to follow the footsteps of SRK this year! And so far, they are doing an excellent job! Now that’s called loyalty, isn’t it? And having an I-am-always-frustrated looking Gautam Gambhir as the captain is just more that what the team could have ever demanded!

Their fighting spree started with the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) where Gautam Gambhir found himself amid a verbal volley with his counterpart Virat Kohli. But, the KKR skipper might have got a mouthful from the I-am-happy-to-abuse RCB man! So he changed his strategy.

As per the new scheme of things, KKR chose someone whom he thought a soft target – Rahul Dravid. This time, already frustrated to death Gautam Gambhir had a who-is-he Manvinder Bisla for company. Though both tried everything to instigate The Wall, all they got was the famous Rahul Dravid response – Zen like calm! But fans responded in the only language that Gambhir understands. And like every cricketer who sledged Mr Dependable in the past and later on apologized, Gauti also tweeted his admiration towards him and said that he respects Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid. Some call it the foot-in-mouth disease!

But before we could be sure of Gambhir’s mended ways, the bacteria infected Jacques Kallis. The veteran South African all-rounder got involved in a disgraceful exchange of words with the umpire during their match against Pune Warriors India. Kallis appealed for a run out off his own bowling and the third umpire declared the batsman not-out. A visibly disappointed Kallis turned to the field umpire and gave him a piece of his mind which was totally unnecessary!

However, all these acts might have pleased Shahrukh Khan in every way possible. He has got a team who not only follow his command, but also is trying to model themselves on their master! Well, SRK can be a loyalty trainer for corporate houses now. After all dancing in marriages and birthday parties is not going to last forever, courtesy his back problems!

0 comments on An Indian tragedy

An Indian tragedy

An Indian on the cover of the ‘Time’ magazine is a news that is definitely ‘material’ enough to go boasting our nationality and the pride of being Indians. And what more? Its not an aam aadmi like you and me who made his/ her way through the cover of this prestigious publication- its our Prime Minister himself!

But the hiccups start and a classic farce unfolds when we see the tag given to Manmohan Singh- ‘The Underachiever’. Apparently the magazine has put the tenure of Manmohan Singh in a fix with some fatal questions on his achievements as a Prime Minister.

Personally, I am a non believer of any political idealogy and for that matter any political party , be it left, right or the centre. So what the Time has stated or how the opposition is cashing on it is not of my concern. The magazine has its own research and facts-figures whereas the opposition has its own agenda.

However, all said and done, a queer case of irony amuses me at this incident. For a PM of a country, to be on the cover of Time with a tag of being an underachiever is definitely an irony of fate. At the same time, it reaches the stature of a classic Greek tragedy when the man in question is Manmohan Singh. The reason being, when we rob him of his political side, we find a man with enviable feats which are known to all of us. Not to mention his role in the reforms that Indian economy underwent during the early 90s.

Like a true Sophoclean tragedy, here we are witnessing a man of honour biting the dust of humiliation. And why did it happen to him? To go by what Aristotle stated, there should be a fatal flaw in his actions. Sophocles makes provision for a weakness in the protagonist that leads to his downfall.

So, what’s the blunder that Manmohan Singh committed, what’s the Hamartia?

And what are we, the Indians supposed to do- indulge in merry making or lament this?

0 comments on Farewell to Hiru da

Farewell to Hiru da

Came across the news a few hours back- renowned poet from Assam, Hiren Bhattacharya (better known as Hiru da) passed away in Guwahati. After the demise of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika last year, this is another blow to the collective sphere of Assamese culture and society.

For my non-Assamese friends who are not aware of Hiru da- he was a poet who used simple words to express some of the most simple nuances of human life that ultimately culminated into masterly poetry with universal appeal. And for the Assamese fellows who still google about him; well, keep googling!

He was someone who conversed with his beloved in a very poetic manner saying that ‘this poet’ had nothing expect an old shirt with ‘loose buttons’. So simple an imagery, yet so iconic its significance and relevance! I am sorry for this poor translation, but my vocabulary is not enough to capture Hiru da’s class.

Read a few of his poems during my school days in Assam (some as a part of the syllabus and some to take part in poetry recitation competitions). But one aspect that still fascinates me and of course, thousand others is his view on death. To him, ‘death was a piece of art- a beautiful sculpture crafted in the stone called life’. I wish Emily Dickinson, who compared death to a gentleman could read Hiru da…

…However, Dickinson passed away long back and today, we lost our very own Hiru da as well.

A humble tribute to his final journey towards an artful afterlife…

0 comments on Question over perception

Question over perception

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I am not an ardent follower of Satyameva Jayate; but, it caught my attention when the issue of dowry was raised in one of its past episodes. It happened so that, one of my friends shared a clip from that very episode on Facebook that featured the excerpts of an Assamese lady sharing the tradition and custom of an Assamese marriage which is devoid of dowry system. Subsequently, that clip got viral online and raised a lot of comments and discussions from all around the nation.

It made me happy and immensely elated; not only because I am an Assamese guy married to a non Assamese girl who admires the wedding practices of Assam, but also because it throws light on some valuable aspects about the North Eastern (NE) part of India that the rest of the nation needs to know. And some of them are:

1. The NE region is a part of India. (I will explain it later on)
2. People in NE don’t live in jungles (even though we have several national parks)
3. We are aware of computers, internet and iphones
4. There are Mercedes, Audis and BMWs in NE
5. There are airports (for the records, Guwahati has an international airport)
6. Not everyone in Assam is an extremist
7. We do have roads and highways
8. There are schools, colleges (medical, engineering and agricultural) and universities (including the national ones)
9. Hospitals, banks, Govt offices and NGOs are there
10. The cities have got restaurants, bars and shopping malls
11. We are much more beyond tea gardens, petroleum and rock music

Many more points like these will come up. But for now, bear with these ones.

…I am not suffering from ethnocentrism (judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture), let me be very clear about that. Whatever has been said or is going to be stated, are based on my personal experiences. At the same time, it is not a comparison between two or more cultures. I have respect for all the cultures and I am not at all interested in forming flawed views on any region of the country. If I don’t know anything about a culture, I have no right to be judgmental about that. But it immensely pains to see and meet some people who believes in what they don’t know or has never seen.

Speaking of my personal experiences, I have to travel back to the days when I was quite new in Delhi and was a student of mass communication. It was just the early days and the interpersonal communication among the students were in the vogue when I faced two questions (one normal, the other shocking) from one of my classmates.

His first question, “kahan se ho tum?” (where from are you?)
I gave him the answer.
Then came the shocker. With an expression beyond my limited vocabulary, he stated, “oh…matlab ‘hindustani’ nahi ho.” (that means you are not an Indian)

What to say! He was a PG student of media studies and that was his take on his own ‘hindustan’. But, it makes me think, what was the glitch- his abysmal knowledge of geography or a biased perception about the NE region? And like Led Zeppelin sang, ‘it makes me wonder’! And he was not the only one, many like him have popped up with different faces but equally mind blowing questions (read perception).

Being unsure about a different culture is natural. We can not know everything about any state or their culture and practices. So we should ask the relevant questions rather than forming vague perceptions and arriving at some idiotic conclusion. Just to include, I am lucky enough to have some friends around who asked the questions and were very much enthusiastic about the answers.

And finally, a genuine ‘thank you’ to Satyameva Jayate for doing something that the media has long discarded- offering an unbiased take on any issue or region. After all, Sunny Leone and Prince William are not the only news to cover guys!

0 comments on Great Expectations!!!…(not the Dickensian one, however)

Great Expectations!!!…(not the Dickensian one, however)

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It’s a small story on ‘expectations’ or rather to be a bit literary, some ‘great expectations’ (as mentioned in the title, it has nothing to do with the Dickens masterpiece). To some extent, as you will be discovering that it can also be termed a saga of- t’rust’. Now, time for some flashback!!!….

…After almost six years of public transporting in New Delhi, a bike knocked on my destiny and of course, my wallet. There started one phase of ‘expectations’. ‘My office commuting will be a cake walk now sans the occasional traffic snarls’, ‘dependency on auto rickshaw and their manual counterparts is history’, ‘visiting the nearby market or shopping mall is not a bother anymore’…and the list rolled on.

But like a feature film, came the turn of fate and evil loomed large… (some distress background score needed). My small little list of hopes and expectations got the shock of its life when the government announced a hike of over Rs. 7 on petrol prices! Tragedy struck and quite interestingly, after some analysis, it dawned that it’s actually a farce- a mockery of the common man and millions like me!

And then, the eternal dilemma- ‘to be or not to be’ (read ‘to smile or not to smile’). It’s a farce, so some laughter is necessary. But how to flash my teeth when I am one of the actors in it? My ‘expectations’ became, with a single blow- ‘ex’pectations!

However, I thought of having a full tank before the new rates are implemented. And even asked friends and relatives to do so. But, at the end of the day, I didn’t do that. Because, at that point of time, retrospection ended and the mixed phase of ‘expectations’ and t’rust’ commenced.

Like a true citizen, I showed full faith on the government of my nation. In my opinion (no issues if it doesn’t matter, I will shoot my mouth), it’s an unintentional mistake on their part and they will pull back this decision soon. The main opposition party and the left parties also will contribute to it. They are such good entities, always concerned about the common man. I have great expectations from both the ruling side and the opposing side…

However, for now, I am thinking of saving the remaining amount of petrol in my bike till these good fellows rectify their human error…oh yeah, it feels so good to be ‘opt’imistic!!!

0 comments on Electric or electrifying???

Electric or electrifying???

Perhaps every good thing has its own unique side-effects. I am not here to raise a debate on this subject. Just want to share my experience with one of these ‘good things’ of the days we are living in.

My wrath falls upon the electric scooters!

Before the ‘eco-friendly’ community puts up a price on my head, I want to clarify that, my observation has nothing to do with the envirnomental preservations that these vehicles are supposed to be doing. I don’t know how much our Mother Nature values these obscure looking two-wheelers; but the kids in my locality surely love them!

A bunch of some would-be-distorted-versions of Valentino Rossis (aged anywhere between 14-18 years) are always ‘seen’ swinging along the roads on their scooters. Yes, they are seen; these scooters are soundless, in other word- dumb (pun seriously intended).

Okay, it is reducing sound pollution. Taken that, hands down! But, these racers in my neibourhood seem to be raising the bar higher. They never blow the horn! First, the dumb scooters, then the over sensitive environmental crusaders riding them and finally, the out of the world swing they take right next to your knee! You dare be a pedestrian.

Guys, they are just some electricity driven vehicles, not electrifying terminators. Spare them the mis-identification and us the horror!

0 comments on Demo(n)cracy unleashed! Sorry, Salman Rushdie…

Demo(n)cracy unleashed! Sorry, Salman Rushdie…

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Just read a news story on the BBC website mentioning that Salman Rushdie has pulled out of the Jaipur Literature Festival. Such a shame on our nation! We did it to M F Hussein and now it is Rushdie! What was the big deal if the author was invited to attend the most prolific literature fest of India?

A ray of hope dawned when the author posted on his twitter account that he didn’t need any visa to visit India. Though it was in a mood that mixed jovial tone with a rebellious instinct, chances were there that he might turn up. But, now that he has called off his visit, it feels me with disgust rather than disappointment.

What a breed of people are we? Had Shakespeare been alive, he would have penned- What a piece of work Indians are! We claim our patent over Rushdie whenever he receives any laurel, be it his mastery over magic realism, his Bookers or anything like that. But, when a particular segment of our society cries foul over his arrival, we turn blind and play ‘pass the buck’ game. Now, is that what the word ‘hypocrites’ mean? I guess so.

All that the govt authorities were supposed to do was to provide him tight security for the time he would have been in India. He wasn’t there to stay back for the rest of his life! If some MPs get Z+ security for their tenure of five years, why not for an acclaimed author for just a few days or even hours?

I have nothing to say on the views of the religious bigots. They have their own funda’mentals’ and being in India, they also have the right to expression. But, is this the behaviour that we expect from a secular nation, a democracy and a free country?

Facebook and Google are already asked to monitor their content (press/ media is the fourth pillar of a democracy- utter non-sense!). Who knows what comes next!

0 comments on A messy park, a game of cricket, some empty bottles… my evening

A messy park, a game of cricket, some empty bottles… my evening

On a rather lazy evening, I found myself surrounded by the circle of smoke that the cigarette let out through me. Seriously, I was blank at that moment…still and numb to think or feel anything. And, I didn’t give any attention or put any concern on that. I believe, all of us have this eerie feeling now and then…I am not the only one.

However, the deep dark corners of our own self are not my concern today. We have our own definition and defence to describe it. But, in that kind of a non-reactive state of being, what caught my attention were a few random pieces of voice coming from the park in front of my rented accommodation. (Delhi has this type of parks in the residential areas where it is made for one particular block of houses. Some are well maintained; some are not. The one under title is ‘under developmental works’- in a word- it is a mess now).

It was evident that the ones creating hue and cry in the park were children. I went out to discover a bunch of kids playing cricket with an old bat and a tennis ball. Nothing new for Indian kids. I have done that, you have done that…we all have done that.

As I have mentioned before about my barren state of mind, I found it more interesting to see the kids play than to slog my mind in some abstract musings. Believe me, I hate to do that; even though I have a tendency to pen them down and had the madness to share them on this very space on several occasions.

I liked the cheers, whistling and yelling of the kids. Going by the uniform they were wearing, I assumed that those kids were straight out of school and doing what they were expected to do- having fun! The school bags were kept in one place and the get-together of over 10- 12 bags made it look like a heap of ruined parts of some forgotten castle. The sweaters were hung either on the open end pillars of the park or flung across the benches that would be accommodating the elderly evening-walkers after a few hours.

Being ‘under developmental works’, our park is dusty and those children were creating exactly what the neighbourhood didn’t have wanted- a fog of dust. Personally, I am kind of allergic to dust (being a sinus patient). So, all I remembered and kept visualizing was the ‘feel good’ scenes of the series of TV commercials where a particular detergent powder brand preaches- ‘daag achche hai’! The kids were enacting almost the same sequence. The difference was- those kids were more natural.

Visible from where I was sitting was the gates of a few houses that happened to be my neighbours. While I kept my eyes on panning mode for some time; I spotted a ‘kawariwala’ (garbage picker) stocking up some empty liquor bottles from one of those houses. Then followed the bargaining between both the parties- the ‘kawariwala’ and the guys whom I assumed to be the owner of those bottles. I overheard them complaining that the garbage picker was foul playing with the prices as he offered the same rates for all types of bottles- bigger and smaller. I understood the story- to the ‘kawariwala’, it didn’t matter if the bottle was of a scotch whisky or a cheaper beer; if it is empty, the value becomes the same!

Hey! That’s great! It is quite the fact of life. While we are living, we fill ourselves with our position in society, our money, our material belongings and so on. In that process, we become either a bottle of expensive scotch or a humble beer tin. It all depends on how much we can acquire!

But when the content (read scotch or cheap liquor) goes off our bodies (read bottles); we all become the same- just some empty bottles! Death is such an equalizer! Our bottles meet the same fate, either cremated or buried. Bloody hell! Those empty liquor bottles are of more value than our mortal bodies- though empty, they are still fetching money. How much money can our life-less bodies pull? We can only ponder over that…

…another blinding storm of dust and cheers. I saw the fielders jumping in joy around the bowler.

A wicket has fallen.

0 comments on Unpaid art = no art?

Unpaid art = no art?

In a very upscale shopping mall in the equally posh (at least it is believed to be) South Delhi region, you might find a man sitting on a piano playing several tunes. He doesn’t wear the look of a typical music guy, not to speak of a rocker! He is a normal looking and rather quiet kind of a guy who plays that instrument with seemingly no passion and emotion visible on his face or body language. Quite unusual for anyone who plays any musical instrument, isn’t it?

…When I went to that very place a few days back with my friends, I saw that man romancing the piano and reproducing some awesome and melodious tunes. But what took me by surprise was the fact that, nobody bothered to listen to him for a while. A few people were sitting on the benches that were placed near the piano. However, it was visible form their expression that, they were there just because of the tiredness that took over them after a long time of roaming around.

Here, please let me drag you to a flashback. I had been to that mall on several occasions. Before that day, the piano had been always put on auto play mode and it continued with the set number of tunes without any human player. Interestingly, people were more curious then to stand and stare with the awed expression of- ‘how the hell that thing is playing on its own!’. But then, as there was a man sitting in front of the keys, the expression was of- ‘oh, that’s only a man playing it today, nothing important.’

Great! Human efforts and excellence is nothing as compared to technological advancement; we are so bloody enlightened 21st century animals!

…A thought struck me- that man was playing there with finesse and rhythm with no one appreciating him. Had he done the same in an auditorium, possibilities were there that the so called ‘art enthusiasts’ and ‘music lovers’ would have paid to see him; he would have been appreciated and at least, listened to!

Why does it happen that art is only upheld and valued when it has a price? We pay for art (be it music, literature, sculpture, painting and every other fine things in the creative genre), and it becomes worthy of being shared and admired. And we always believed that, art is beyond money and publicity!

Why we fail to stand still and listen to the blind singer who plays an ‘ektara’ and sings his soul out in the railway station? And if, by any wild stroke of luck, he becomes famous, we don’t even think twice to spend our bucks to experience his creation.

0 comments on Pedestrian ways, books and a shopkeeper

Pedestrian ways, books and a shopkeeper

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I remember once mentioning on my Facebook profile, the road-side book shops (I wonder if they could be called ‘shops’ with only a folding bed with no roof) in the Kamla Nagar market area in North Delhi. The proximity to the Delhi University campus might be one reason behind the fact that one will locate many books there- from classics to the recent trend of ‘best seller’ tag bearing paper back entertainers. Said so, I have also read a few of those to utilize some time otherwise wasted in office commuting and sleeping.

…For the records, I have spotted the likes of Salman Rushdie, Khalid Hosseini, Arundhati Roy, Khushwant Singh, Amitav Ghosh and lot more during my kind of regular visits to the said book shops.

…It was just another lazy evening on the busy; but narrow pedestrian ways of Kamla Nagar with two of my friends. While both of them indulged in purchasing pullovers for themselves, I thought of hitting the book shop that I frequent very often. Even though I have bought many books from that very shop, I never felt like striking a conversation with the shopkeeper. This time around also, I had no intention to start chit-chatting with the guy. However, that happened.

…I picked up a book and asked for the price and when he quoted it, I felt like doing some bargaining (oh yes, you can bargain here). Always bad in bargaining, I just flashed a smile and let him know that I was a regular at his place and purchased number of books from him, so his over-priced quotation is not fair. He gazed at me for a while and with a smile came down to the price range that I associate with that shop. It seemed that he recognized my face!

…And then, without any prelude, he started his story of starting that shop some ten years ago (I don’t remember the exact year he mentioned). Without me asking anything, I got to know about the commercial property rates in that area during those times, the change in reading habits of his customers and how dumb he was not to own shop space for himself when the prices were considerably low. He was addressing me in between announcing the prices of books to other customers while I continued my book hunt. What I found interesting is the nature of the conversation- it was totally lop-sided! He kept on talking even though I did not encourage him.

…Is he a talkative person? He might be, no big deal. Or maybe it was something that he keeps buried inside himself and spills out when it reaches the level of saturation. And I am sure, that I am not the first stranger with whom he had shared these things. The unusual tendency to express ourselves in front of complete strangers is not a new phenomenon.

When my friends caught up with me at the shop after they were through with their stuff, another aspect of him as a seller came to the fore. Both my friends started picking up books and kept on asking him, ‘yeh book kaisa hai bhaiyya?’ (how about this book?). And to our amazement, he gave sufficient information about the plot and setting of almost every book he was offered to explain.

On our way back home, we arrived at one conclusion about him- ‘saale ka achcha knowledge hai’ (that chap has good knowledge of his business)!