Monday 28 December 2009

The hirsute angle of Kotla fiasco

Pacers hunt in pair. Commentators haunt in couple.

Hear it here first, Gavaskar and Bhogle are a couple. Strictly numerically speaking, lest there is any confusion or worse, a defamation suit!

Gavaskar missed Bhogle in Kotla. Mind you, Bhogle is no Neo-commentator, rather he is the archetypal. And Gavaskar is a pal of the archetypal.

The moment he saw the Kotla track, it reminded him of Bhogle’s dome and Gavaskar said it was hair transplant pitch. Few knew, that was a tribute to Bhogle.

Not even the Sri Lankans who confronted Gavaskar in the evening. They wanted him to issue a rejoinder. It was not a hair-transplant strip. It was hair-raising, they argued.

And they took off Kandamby's helmet to drive home the point.

The Lankans also put forward the case of Samaraweera. The same Samaraweera whose bullet-blunting stunt in Lahore put him in the same bracket with Dharmendra.

But even the same Samaraweera was not ready to bite the bullet this time and was rather happy to be back to the pavilion.

In fact so happy that he offered a cup of tea to Kandamby -– who had sold him down the river calling for that non-existent run -- when a juicy thwack on the latter’s posterior would have about met the case.

In the end, Gavaskar was convinced. Staying with the hirsute theme, he apparently was in no mood to split hairs.

Friday 25 December 2009

When Santa met Bhajji

When two boisterous men, both bearded to the teeth and turbaned to the gills, come together with Christmas in the air, bear hugs and mutual backslapping are expected to be the order of the day.

But at times, even the most perfect of scripts go awry and what follows is something starting with a P and has a demon in it. I think Pandemonium is the word I'm groping for, unless it's one of those chemical elements which sign off with an 'ium'.

So when Santa Claus met Bhajji, one expected them to hit it off like a house on fire. Instead, it turned out to be a harrowing experience for Father Christmas.

Bhajji was in a foul mood. In his elements, if you insist.

In contrast, Santa had enough warmth in his voice to force another Copenhagen as he greeted Bhajji.

"Merry Christmas!"

The bonhomie was somehow missing on Bhajji's part.

"Oye Papaji, mind your language. Has your Pyo brought the exclusive rights that you go about the town claiming 'Meri Christmas'? If you don't want me to box your ear, tell 'It's Everybody's Christmas'."

Santa shielded his bafflement with a patronizing smile.

"Well, it's everybody’s Christmas of course."

Bhajji sort of relented but clearly wasn't convinced of the stranger's bona fide.

"That's better. By the way, haven't seen you earlier. Who the hell are you?"

"I'm Santa Claus."

Bhajji's eyes bulged again.

"Santa what?"

What followed immediately is the experience I have undergone more than once in my childhood.

It's the standard modus operandi of the neighbourhood bullies to grab you by your arm, twist it as if it's a doorknob and pull it up like a lever till it's horizontal to the terra firma – thus preempting any resistance – before planting some of the juiciest on your defenceless back.

More than the assault itself, its suddenness had unnerved Santa and emanating from the depth of his facial undergrowth was an assortment of Err, Hey, Ohh, Ouch, Stop, What-the-Hell before he finally managed to free himself from the vice-like grip.

Massaging his mangled arm, Santa sounded less genial as he instituted an inquiry.

"What the hell...I mean why did you attack me? You nearly yanked my arm!"

Panting after his attempt at disarmament of the opponent, Bhajji was clearly baffled by his naivety.

"Why I beat you? Santa CLAUSE! Must be a relative of that *&%$#@ Whereabout Clause. Don't I know you have a bottle in your sack and you have been shadowing me all along to see when I relieve myself?"

Last remnants of geniality gone from his eyes — and honestly one could not blame him – Santa finally exercised some authority.

"Stop it, you moron. I don't know what the hell you are gibbering about. See, there is no bottle in my sack."

Bhajji was clearly shaken. At least stirred, if not shaken altogether.

"You mean you don't even know Whereabout Clause? I'm sorry then. No hard feelings, ok? See I slapped Sreesanth also and he too made peace later. We exchange dance steps now. You know what? Lalit Modi had actually threatened to auction us, not in IPL but among the cannibal tribes in Papua New Guinea, if we did not kiss and make up."

The change in air did little as Santa still eyed Bhajji with no little suspicion. Bhajji, on his part, was at his garrulous best, trying to strike a conversation.

"Sure you aren't Ramesh Powar trying to make a comeback in disguise? (laughs) I'm kidding buddy. So you come from North Pole? What brought you here?"

Santa was under the impression that Bhajji's query was on mode of transport.


Bhajji was surprised. He outstretched his arm and then looked at Santa.

"Rain! It's not raining dear. Why should it rain in winter? And I don't see Duckworth or Lewis either. They appear without failing whenever it rains."

A little explanation was the need of the hour but Bhajji retained that baffled look.

"Why reindeer man? Get a life, get a Hummer. I have one. Dhoni has one. If you want I can talk to the distributor for some discount."

Having retained his sang-froid, Santa finally opened his mouth.

"Thanks but no thanks. Sonny, my arm comes in the way of saying it was a pleasure meeting you. Never mind, I have something to give you before I depart."

Santa fished out a rolled strip and handed it over to Bhajji.

"I don't watch cricket but I'm told you've forgotten the basics. So I give you this tape to measure your line and length. You still will be left with another yard or so and for humanity's sake, tape your mouth with that. Bye."

Sunday 20 December 2009

Moksha, at night

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.

Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me-
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.

Rest at pale evening...
A tall, slim tree...
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.


Damir Dokic, Jim Pierce, Peter Graff, Richard Williams, A S Bindra, Yograj Singh...

As a class, fathers of sports celebrities tend to talk crap.

But I remember a particular interview of Sourav Ganguly's father for its rare insight into the agony of a flawed enigma.

The Prince had become The Pariah and stayed aloof even at home.

Affectionate friends and careworn family members would take him to a corner, put a sympathetic arm around his shoulder and tell him that chasing rainbows has never done anyone good.

Ganguly would nod but no one was really sure they were being listened to.

When the world around him had withdrawn, a sleepless Ganguly would get a domestic help to throw ball at him in the middle of night and do the knocking in their sprawling drawing room.

In the adjoining bedroom, an upset Ganguly Sr would shake his head and tell his wife how their tormented son had completely lost it.

And what followed was the mother of all comeback stories.

From Bengal Tiger to his American cousin.

Reports trickle in that Tiger Woods, a thoroughly deserving butt of popular dirty jokes, eagerly waits for the night to descend on his Florida mansion so that he can sneak out to a nearby golf course to ease his mind.

Away from prying eyes, a dimly-lit, empty course with the man and his craft.

The same guy who relished flashbulbs now seeks obscurity in the dark and all his own making.

Tiger has fallen from grace. Responsible parents have removed his poster from their kids' study room and burnt it in the backyard.

But let there be no illusion. Golf has seldom been in more need of a comeback story.

Friday 18 December 2009

REVEALED: Sehwag was Attila in previous birth!

In a way, he could have been Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha, widely suspected of eating broken bottles and turning into a werewolf at the time of full moon.

Discerning eyes will seldom miss the semblance of Conan the Barbarian.

But years – no, actually hours – of research, into history and his story, led Doosra to this mindboggling piece of jaw-dropper.

Hear it here first. Sehwag was Attila the Hun in his previous birth!

Picture them together and you have two identical thickset men, topped by a sizeable dome.

History books -- rather dicey source of unverifiable gossips about loonies who have decomposed long ago and hence not in a position to expose the fraudsters who spread the canard – suggest unlike his peers, Attila fussed about triumph.

He insisted it be soaked in blood and made to look as gory as possible.

In fact I’d hazard that if you could frisk him and lived to tell the tale, you’d have invariably retrieved from his pocket a chit with the existing blood-shedding record written across it.

Now closely watch Attila in his reincarnation.

Others merely bat but where Sehwag differs is in his penchant to make the bowlers bleed. Sixes and fours that is. After all, Sehwag inhabits an allegedly civil society infested by suspected human rights groups!

Returning to the rail, Attila perpetrated Vandalism. Sehwag practises Virenderism.

Attila chest-thumped – his modesty clearly nothing to write home about – "Where my hordes has trodden, no grass grows."

And note how the same vegetation-scorching streak finds ample manifestation in Sehwag’s ground-strokemaking!

The Romans, their manicured tails neatly tucked between their dainty legs, considered Attila a devil.

Sehwag, on his part, is an unabashed and rather a contracted Daredevil, Delhi Daredevil to be precise.

Lack of access to the willow Sehwag wields does handicap any honest effort to establish a link between the Sword of Attila and the Blade of Virender.

But as far as savagery is concerned, it would only suffice to say that both have really raised the bar.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Why? Why? Why?

# Tiger Woods -- census at the time of going to press puts his collection of mistresses exactly level-par with his 14 Majors -- has, well nearly had, a drink named after him;

# Rafael Nadal, known for his feat of clay, has an asteroid named after him;

# Gabriela Sabatini, the alpha ooh-inducing racquetier of her days, has a rose bearing her name;

# Even Jonah Lomu, who earned his stripes rewriting rugby records in the day and stealing protégé’s wife in the night, has a volcano named after him;

Any explanation for this inordinate heel-dragging in naming one of the rocket-launching stations after Virender Sehwag even when a toddler knows that he has planted far more spheres in the orbit?

(P.S Also read 11 Indian cricketers and things that could be named after them.)

Monday 14 December 2009

Why you need to think twice before getting chummy with Yuvi

What do you do on your birthday?

Majority of the populace tends to throw a party in the evening. Blowing some timid candles here, cutting an innocuous cake there, if you know what I mean.

And then you realise that the fiends who run the local bakery have sold you down the river and gift-wrapped what is essentially glorified cow dung, the mass consumption of which is liable to invite hardball genocide charges.

Too late to pencil in a substitute, you figure out the lone purpose that the crystalised bovine excreta can serve under the circumstances. So you astutely declare open the face-smudging ceremony, a microcosm of the dog-eat-dog world we live in.

Eggs all over face – for that is supposed to be the binding agent in a cake – everyone is out to deface every map in circulation and you grope in vain for that elusive face-saver.

From fitness point of view, it's quite a calorie-combusting exercise and the verve and vim of the frolic party nosedive once they have completed the gamut of faces on offer.

This is invariably followed by generous knocking back of the liquor on offer and benevolent wolfing down of the munchables around.

A clandestine stocktaking of the gifts and a formal vote of thanks precede the dropping of the curtain and that is by and large how an average birthday party goes.

But then some people have other ideas.

For instance, Yuvi is not content just being the pie-chucker, as Kevin Pietersen had once classified him.

History witness, Yuvi takes his birthday bash quite seriously, and literally as well.

On his 25th birthday party, Yuvi bashed one of the frolickers, apparently because he had the guts and gall to be his namesake.

On his 28th, Yuvi bashed a Lankan side which had at least two of his Kings XI Punjab pals in it.

Well, lack of data on his other birthday bashes sort of undermine the credibility of this study but since prevention is often better than cure, think twice before you gate matey with him.

For it comes with that 'at-your-own-peril' tag.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Why BCCI deserves a Padma Bibhishan

When you have a 10:1 cerebral advantage over your opponent, theoretically your win is merely a matter of time and formalities.

Unless one of your siblings responds to the name of Bibhishan, that is.

An average Norwegian was content munching his lutefisk or Kjøttkaker, depending on his preference, and humming Ja, vi elsker dette landet.

Till one of them, a blighter by the name of Vidkun Quisling, popped up to facilitate the Nazi invasion of his own country.

Siraj-Ud-Daulah had a fair chance in the Battle of Plassey. Before his lieutenant Mir Jafar crossed the floor and hugged Robert Clive, that is.

India's stint as the No. 1 Test team could have been longer. But then BCCI had meticulously cooked their goose and inked just 2 Tests in the next 11 months.

You probably feel like borrowing the 5-iron wielded so deftly by Elin Nordegren and spank the colossal fatheads at BCCI.

A less violent breed, I demand a Padma Bibhishan for Shashank Manohars and Lalit Modis.

Monday 7 December 2009

Sehwag redefines beauty

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Or something to that effect.

That was by and large what Messrs Shakespeare & Franklin told us and needless to say we took them at face value.

Untangled, the saying basically means you may categorise Paris Hilton as God's unfinished project but there would always be colossal fatheads like Cristiano Ronaldo who would drool over her, even if momentarily.

Or take the vastly polarising act of spitting on others for instance.

While it's generally accepted as one of the five sureshot ways of incurring a black eye, the same act would endear you no end if the other guy happens to speak Maa, worship Engai and live in an Inkajijik somewhere in Masai Mara.

It's a matter of perception, we are told.

Now sample this:

In the dressing room they told me I was hitting the good balls too. But if you look at it my way I hit only the bad ones.

Don't allow the Team India bonhomie con you. Sehwag clearly doesn't see eye-to-eye with his teammates when it comes to the aesthetics of a delivery.

What his teammates perceive as good appears simply rotten to him.

He has redefined batting. Now Sehwag redefines beauty.

Let's get the saying right. Lack of beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

(P.S. Revisit the 7 tenets of Sehwag's batting)

Thursday 3 December 2009

Why ‘keepers should not be skippers

It is like opening a hair salon in a locality where the Yul Brynners jostle for space with the Bruce Willises, Michael Jordons, Ben Kingsleys and Syed Kirmanis.

Or like stacking the racks with long gowns and then expecting a clientele that includes prominent minimalists like Kim Kardashian, Jordan, Pamela Anderson and Rihanna.

How else can you explain the plight of MS Dhoni's country-cousins-in-gloves?

Truth is the Parthiv Patels, Dinesh Karthiks and Wriddhiman Sahas have hit their cricketing cul de sac.

There is just one vacancy at the top and Dhoni has sealed it for good. Now where does that leave the Parthivs, Karthiks and Sahas?

Every day, they get up in a trance, shove their fists in those roomy gloves and hit the nets. Balls after balls thud onto their palms till they are numb and fingers sore.

But at the end of the day – even at the start of the day, for that matter – they know they are going nowhere.

Well, not exactly. Karthik is going places, but only literally.

Karthik spends most of his time in airports, clocking up frequent flyer's miles as Dhoni's cover. Pathiv is apparently contemplating a Dhokla joint near Royal Albert Hall in London. Saha says his IPL riches allows for a modest Telebhaja counter near Sealdah station.

The desperation has had some worrying effects on Karthik's sensitive psyche.

Already he has started chasing the umpire, tried his hands at bowling and did some crazy captaining – declaring Tamil Nadu's first innings only to see Himachal Pradesh overtake them!

All in his bid to reinvent himself and make him relevant.

I'm afraid, this career stagnation can lead to stranger things.

For instance, spiking Dhoni's drink with a steroid at the first available opportunity and fix him for good.

Or praying that cricket’s loss becomes Bhojpuri film industry's gain.

Or making a career switch altogether.

The point I'm driving at – 'keepers should not be made skippers. It can stamp out an entire generation of stumpers.

Sangakkara used to keep. Now he keeps it to himself, while PJ keeps to others.

High time BCCI took a leaf out of the Lankan book.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Gauti no dino

Frankly speaking, I have not seen anyone getting nostalgic about his or her Life Science book.

You just cannot be about what is largely an assortment of outrageous lies that suggests our forefathers had their tail between their legs and it's not metaphorically speaking.

It further claims till date, we are carrying a defunct remnant of that embarrassment tucked somewhere down our spine!

Elsewhere, they want you to believe that in another era, snakes shook a leg, pigs could fly and fishes used bicycles to commute.

Utter nonsense. Childhood would be better off without those ghastly lies.

A little more plausible was the chapter on dinosaurs. How they went about the place throwing their weight around – even their infants weighed more than a full-fledged Inzamam-ul-Haq -- and flexing muscles as if it was their parental property.

And then one fine morning, the giant lizards simply dropped off the face of the earth.

It turned out the colossal fatheads were too busy munching junk and bullying others to evolve and had to make a hasty exit.

Moral of the story – evolve or exit.

Gautam Gambhir burst into the scene as a brash southpaw, devoid of the natural grace of a Gower or Lara, and with a penchant for wrecking bowling figures and picking fights with oversize opponents.

One leisurely noon, he turned the pages of the Life Science book and stopped on the chapter on dinosaurs.

Now he can perform solo, play second fiddle, go ballistic, stay anchored, open the floodgates, finish a match...

Moral of the story – Gambhir is no dinosaur.

P.S. Kafka is reportedly itching in his Prague grave to write a sequel to 'The Metamorphosis', replacing the salesman with a cricketer this time.