Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hu Haa India, Haar Gaya India

I hope Pepsi does not sue me for distorting their ad-punchline "Hu Haa India, Aaaaya India". Well, even if they do, I don't care. It doesn't matter now. India is out of the world cup (unless a miracle happens and Bermuda defeats Bangladesh).

The writing was on the wall yesterday when Ganguly was dismissed. He really surprised me. Ever since he has made that splendid comeback in international cricket I have found him the most dependable among Indian batsmen. While batting, he seemed to be playing in a totally different cricket field; batting only for scoring runs without pacing his innings according to the team's requirements. After he was dismissed the only hope I had was Sehwag; he is one man who has never displayed any nerves on the big stage, for the big game. For him, every match is same, he would never change his batting style come what may. He started well and was playing very fluently before Murli got him. I went to bed after that believing that it was all over. When I woke up today, I found that Team India had lived upto my expectations and did not surprise by pulling off a highly unlikely victory.

So, what does this mean for India? Well, not much for me personally. I am not that big a cricket fan now. But for the millions of die-hard fans, this will be difficult to digest - the team which boasts of the strongest batting line-up in world cricket has not even made it to the second round. It would be a big financial loss for corporate giants like SONY, PEPSI, NIKE etc who had invested heavily in this tournament. According to estimates, SONY stands to lose out appx Rs 1500 million in ad revenues which it would have gained had India advanced. Many restaurants who had invested in big screens to attract crowds stand to lose out. The story can be extended to multiplexes, fast food manufacturers, sports good manufacturers, TV manufacturers, garment manufacturers etc. It seems like a national economic setback!!

Lets look at some positive sides of this setback. For one, again there will be cries from all corners to make cricket more professional - linking players' salaries and perks with their performances. More important than that would be to link sponsorship of team/players with performance. Today, players make much more from brand endorsements than they do from match fees, BCCI contracts etc. This needs to stop.

Second, others (like me) start losing interst in the game. It is high time that we treat cricket like a sport and nothing else. We should stop glorifying and deifying cricketers after every victory and crucifying the same people after a defeat. We should grow up.

Now that India is out, it would be interesting to see which ads will dominate the TV channels in world cup. Will the ads glorifying Indian team and urging them to win still be shown? I hope not!
Also, now I hope SriLanka wins this cup because then we will be able to say that we lost to the best team ;)
Go Lanka Go!!!! Huu Haaa Lankaaa, Aaaaya Lankaaaa...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I read Papillon last week. I had first heard about it around 3 years ago but never thought of reading it. In past 4 months, I found two of my friends reading this book and both of them talked about how interesting the book was and how they couldn't keep the book down once they started it. This piqued my curiosity and I picked the book last week and finished it in 3 days!! Needless to say, I was in a hurry to finish it once I had started reading it.

So, what is Papillon all about and more over what does Papillon mean?? Well, Papillon (butterfly in French) is the real story of a man (nicknamed Papillon because he had a big butterfly tatoo on his chest) who was wrongfully convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to serve a life sentence.

The book details 13 years of his life from the day he was sentenced in France to the day he was freed in Venezuela. It goes through every little detail of all his escapes and adventures until finally he escapes after 8 unsuccessful attempts and then remains free.

It is a heart-rending tale of an unjustifiably cruel penal system, human courage, endurance, helpfulness, trust, as well as misery, and incredible instances of sadism, curruption and forced insanity.

This book is all about the character of a man; how Papillon refused to be bogged down by his repeated failures to escape, how he refused to give up, how he stood up against the penal system and its perpetrators.

It is also about mankind; it covers wide range of men that exist in society - the wicked lawyer who used his skills to get Papillon the sentence which he did not deserve, the prisoners who helped each other in times of adversity; the lepers, the poorest of the poor and others who helped Papillon when they had nothing to expect in return. Thus, it teaches us not to judge a person by the color of his skin, his nationality, his economic status or his past.

All in all, it is a must read book.

Monday, March 12, 2007



These were the first words uttered by our "professeur" in class today. You must have guessed that I am referring to the French class. Today marked the beginning of my second stint at learning French - an official language of around 41 countries.

We were a group of 15 people (8 girls and 7 guys) gathered to learn French. Our proff told us that she would only communicate in French and would not translate anything in English which means we have to condition our brains to understand French without relating it with any other language. It is difficult to do it because after speaking English/Hindi for so many years, the mind inadvertently tries to convert every single word/phrase to find its equivalent in one of the known languages. I guess the earlier you learn languages, the easier it is.

Nevertheless, learning language is fun - you get to laugh a lot at the linguistic blunders committed. e.g. when proff asked a student "vous comprenez" (do you understand), he replied "merci" (thank you). Then there were the common gender mistakes (étudiant/étudiante, indien/indienne etc). These incidences make learning really fun. Hopefully I will not only have fun but also successfully learn "Français" pretty soon.

Au Revoir

Monday, March 5, 2007

Colours of Holi

Happy Holi!!!
This was the jist of all the messages that I started receiving on my cellphone since Sat evening. Its interesting - sms is a good way to keep in touch with people with whom you do not regularly interact. I received messages from some friends with whom I haven't spoken in a couple of months. But come Holi (or any other festival), and I am sure that I will receive messages from these friends. This is an advantage of being in India. You have festivals all around the year which offer you a good opportunity to send sms to your friends so that they know you remember them...

Back to the colors of Holi. Normally, I am not a Holi person, I mean I don't love playing the colorful Holi that is usually played in North India. In my childhood, I used to dread the H-day; On that day, we normally kept the front door of our home closed to prevent any unruly elements entering. But when some acquaitance or even a family member entered the home after having colors smeared all over the face and body, I used to literally shut myself in a room (sometimes under the bed) waiting for the signal from my Mom that all is well.

The first time I played Holi was during my engineering days. Even then, I was fooled into playing it; I was tricked by some trusted friends. It was decided that they would come to my place, we would use "gulal" to mark the ocasson of Holi and then spend the entire day eating and watching movies. Little did I know of their "other" plans. To cut the long story short - they came, they smeared pucca colors (pink and green) all over my face and body, we then ate and watched movies and they left after that leaving me all colored like a peacock. It took me the longest bath of my life(appx an hour) to get back into my "presentable" self again. On that day, I took an oath that I would never ever trust anyone on the H-day.

Yesterday, I played Holi again after a gap of almost 4 yrs. Even yesterday it was unplanned but then no one tricked me yesterday; I walked into the trap. I woke up yestreday morning to the loud noises of kids running all around the building parking area and common area throwing water and colors at each other. Some were even accompanied by their parents. It was a lovely sight, watching those kids having fun. It reminded me of my childhood days which were so different.

I was alone at my flat and was getting bored. So I decided to pay a visit to a good-old college friend's home. When I entered his building, he was barely recognizable - his face coated with different colors and he was busy "painting" others. Once he saw me, he shouted with joy - "Ek aur aa gaya"!!! Such was the delight on his face that I could not turn back and return to my place. So then, history repeated itself after a gap of almost 4 years. I was thoroughly painted - green and pink colors being smeared all over my face, hands, legs etc etc. Such was his expertise in using colors that even I was unable to recogonize myself in the mirror after he was done.

I would not say that I really enjoyed the ocassion - scrubbing myself for almost an hour to get back to my normal self was irritating and painful, but then it was a memorable ocassion.