Saturday, March 31, 2012

I am on a break

Meet up ? Next ?
After the break! Ting B-)
I will resume after a month or two.
Till then read the older ones. Adios.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

This Earth Hour 2012: 8.30pm, Saturday 31 March, celebrate your action for the planet with the people of world by switching off your lights for an hour, then go beyond the hour.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why Rahul is Dravid

Rahul always made runs that stood for more than their face value. 13,288 runs is a colossal achievement, facing 31,258 balls in Tests even more so. It shows his struggle and determination backed by water-tight technique to overcome adversity. Sidvee points out in his blog as to what makes an ideal Rahul innings “ The pitch must be spiced up or crumbling or smattered with cracks. A crater would be ideal. Or even a sandpit. He must not be offered predictable bounce. It ‘s all too insulting.” So, it should be a minefield of a pitch and then we will see the real Rahul come forth . Invariably this happens overseas.

As a batsman, Rahul contributed where India used to be its weakest – playing overseas. For far too long , ever since it started playing Test Cricket , they have been poor travellers with abysmal away records in Test matches on bouncier, livelier and bowler friendly tracks. He hit his first hundred versus South Africa at the Wanderers against an attack with the combined menace of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Brian McMillan, Lance Klusener, Hansie Cronje and Paul Adams. That 148 and 81 in second innings came agonizingly close in India winning its first Test in South Africa. Bad light on Day 5 helped South Africa escape defeat. Ever since, Rahul has taken great pride in his overseas batting record. Innumerable times he has walked in to face the cherry when India would be one down for next to nothing on the board and countless times he has weathered the storm and anchored the innings amidst the more flamboyant stroke makers of the batting line-up.

When Rahul took guard, India could sense an air of stability to the proceedings. You could take the eyes off the score during lunch and the he would still be there after tea, holding on the innings, running the opposition down with his classical technique and immense concentration. He had that determined intensity about him, about which Matthew Hayden quipped “ All this going around is not aggression. If you want to see aggression on cricket field, look into Rahul Dravid’s eyes.”

And yet that was on the field. Off the field, he was the assured, well read, articulate ambassador of the game. As Brett Lee, the jovial Aussie quick put it “ If you don’t get along with Dravid, you are struggling in life.”

Rahul is a man with a keen sense of history of the game. It is these qualities and the mountain of runs he scored at no.3 that he was called up to speak at the Bradman Oration in Adelaide in 2011, becoming the first non–Australian to do so. His astute oration every inch deserved the standing ovation he got after an address of 38 minutes that touched upon all the pressing issues that cricket faced and how he thought things can be improved. He clearly distinguished himself as a thinker of the game during this.

Success never came easy to him. There was a long phase in his early career when he just couldn’t convert 70s and 80s into hundreds. He kept trying and perfecting the technique in his formative years till he made that leap from being good to great .It should come as no surprise that most of Rahul’s superlative innings with recall values are all played overseas.

His 190 and 103* in the same Test in Hamilton, 148 in Leeds,217 at Kenington Oval, 233 and 71* in Adelaide, 270 at Rawalpindi, 81 and 68 in Kingston Jamaica in 2006, 93 at Perth and 112 in Kingston again in 2011 and his 3 glorious ones against England in his last tour of the Old Blighty.

I especially remember the 146 at The Oval in the last test of the series as India were hurtling towards a 4-0 whitewash.

Rahul Dravid was forced to open the innings in the absence of a regular opener. He carried his bat for an unbeaten 146 against a potent pace attack. The whole of Oval rose to give him a rousing ovation. Ten minutes later as, he came out again to bat after England enforced the follow on, he got another standing ovation. The Oval crowd could not help but admire the man as he fell for 19 to a tired shot. Those three ovations were for three different things that Rahul displayed-The first ovation was for his exceptional skill, the second for his resilience and the last was out of genuine respect and heartfelt affection for him.

Rahul’s love affair with England began with his debut at Lords. Since then he became the highest run scorer in the 99 World Cup held in England , had that exceptional summer of 2002, captained India to a series victory in England after 20 years and finally, the last purple patch of his career in 2011. In between he revisited England to play a bit of county for Kent and MCC and turning up for ODI’s for Scotland.

The English respect a thorough gentleman and they can spot one with ease. Rahul is undoubtedly one. David Lloyd went on to pay him a compliment on air, when he walked off when he felt that he has nicked one from Stuart Broad;hence saving the umpire the blushes and controversy. Lloyd said “ Rahul is honest as the day is long” I am sure he was referring to the long winding English summer because the days in winters can be really short !

I never had the opportunity to watch a Test match with my dad. I never saw Rahul play in a stadium, although I came close once in Sharjah. He would be the player that any father would like to take his kid to and ask him to aspire to be like. For Rahul is a perfect role model. Even in his endorsement deals he brought that humane touch and a sense of calm and assurity. When asked about his nickname ‘The Wall’ he joked self-depreciatively that the media had set him up for puns , so that when he fails, they come up with lines like ‘another brick has fallen ‘ or ‘the foundations are weak’! He had it in him to take a lashing and crack a few jokes.

It is often forgotten how he was viciously chided as not cut out for the one-day format during 1997-98. Rahul’s is an exceptional example of how he mastered the ODI format, when critics and fickle fans never ceased point out his slow scoring rate. But he kept at it, becoming remarkably successful in ODIs, excelling in the middle order with 82 fifties to his name. Just to cite his consistency, he went 120 matches without scoring a duck. He has kept wickets ,so that India could field a balanced team, opened when no one would put their hands up for it and captained with tenacity. Apart form all this, was his reputation as a catcher in slips with his world record tally of 210 catches in Tests. He takes the catches so smoothly, you can’t hear the voice of the ball hitting his hands.

Akash Chopra writes that he made look things simple. When everyone was being getting beaten all ends up, in a domestic game, there was Rahul , always taking a long stride forward to the balls that were pitched up, and then either playing with the sweetest spot of the bat or allowing it to go to the keeper. Chopra recollects “ Every now and then , one of us would ask the keeper if the ball has stopped moving. But the answer would always be that Rahul is making it look like that .”

We won’t miss him now. Not immediately atleast. We will see him play and captain Rajasthan Royals, taking over from Shane Warne. But we will miss him immensely the next time India is one down for nothing when playing overseas.For then, when the team is in trouble, there would be no Rahul to turn to. No one to bat for India, as if life depended on it. And that is why Rahul is Dravid. Like no other.

Monday, March 12, 2012

12 March 1993

Friday. 12, March 1993 was the day that shook Bombay; shook Bombay to the core because until then Bombay never thought it was susceptible. Today marks 19 years since that day.

For those of you who were little kids like me back then, Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday based on Mid-Day journalist S.Hussain Zaidi book , is a must watch to really get an understanding of the repercussions of those serial blasts .

The film shows the chaos and after effects of that fateful day, what led to these serial bombings and who were the people behind one of first acts of terrorism in India. The immaculate planning by Tiger Memon, the fund aiding and support of ISI, the arms smuggled into Bombay, the fleeting appearance of Dawood Ibrahim are given appropriate footage to create the necessary impact. The film traces the purpose of the blasts; it shows the state of mind of the people involved, their rigorous training and poisoning of minds while they are made to listen incendiary audio cassettes.

Black Friday had remained in the cans for more than two years after its completion but the product is still very fresh and more so relevant than ever before. The narration is interspersed with news footages and archives from the 1990s.The span of incidents that occurred during Dec. 92'-May 93' are sequenced unconventionally as it goes forth, then back, and then further back then forth again.

It was banned because it takes the names of people who were involved in the chain of events, presents the truth as it is without kowtowing to any individual, religious groups, political organisation or nation.The film is for an intelligent, aware and open minded audience who are willing and eager to know the truth and understand the gravity of this incident.

Black Friday shows the minutest of details about the incidents if viewed with suffice attention. More than anything else for our generation should watch it to learn about our recent past, to understand how communalism sprouted, how intelligence agencies operate, how everybody is vulnerable because there is more to the world than meets the eye.The events 19 years ago affected us then and continues to have an effect to this day.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind - M.K. Gandhi

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Formula 1 - Back on track

The new Formula 1 season begins next week Down Under.The hard work and long hours that the teams and their mechanics have been putting in during the winter testing for the new car will be up for all to see in an extremely competitive display.

The weapons for higher speeds are being hoarded, teams are pushing for new technology and fine tuning the aerodynamics. Some cars will be the light of the field, while some may find all their hard work go up in smoke or exhaust plumes, if you may.

This season is a potential blockbuster for a surfeit of immediately visible facts. There are 5 former world champions challenging the current champion Sebestian Vettel for the title which is an unprecedented situation. There is much enthusiasm about Kimi Räikkönen’s return to the sport magnified by the impressive showing of his Lotus-Renault team in testing.

Apart from that the teams are closer bunched together than ever before. The mid–level cars can potentially take a step forward and challenge for podium on their good days. Pirelli must be complimented for making the tyres and making strategy important again and they are expected to keep up the good work this year.

Counting from 2007, we have had 3 seasons out of 5 decided in the last laps of the final race – in favour of Kimi Räikkönen in 2007, Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and Sebastian Vettel in 2010. That 2012 would be such a season that would be on my wish list. More drivers winning races, more drivers getting up the podiums, middle level teams and rookies fighting tooth and nail for the share of spoils. If the whole grid is closer together, it makes for substantial overtaking on track .With that, mix in some tyre and fuel strategy and lap after lap of adrenaline pumping action is guaranteed. This year, the cars with their platypus nosed design might not be the most aesthetically designed machines. The reason being the change of rule for the height of the front nose and several teams insistence on continuing with their 2011 chassis. McLaren’s design doesn’t feature the platypus nose and it looks better than others. Whether it is a faster and better car than the rest of the pack would be fascinating to see.

And so for the upcoming season, the wishlist includes :

  • Closer qualifying, even closer split second racing.
  • Jean-Eric Vergne, Paul di Resta and Brunno Senna score podium finishes.
  • Felipe Massa winning a race. Can we please have the fighting spirit of the Felipe of 2007-08 back?
  • Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen being regular challengers for the podium.
  • All top 8 drivers win atleast a race each. That is both drivers from RedBull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes. If not, then 8-9 distinct winners of Grand Prixs through out the course of a evenly contested season.
  • Wet races in Monaco, Spa, Singapore, Japan and Brazil. Rain separates the men from the boys. Ask Jenson Button , who won the epic Canadian Grand Prix in torrential Montreal rain in June last year.
  • The RedBull is not the best car and the most innovative design feature lies in some other car; maybe Torro Rosso or Lotus Renault.
  • The championship is decided in the last race in Brazil in a 3 way shootout .

Formula one 2012 Race Schedule

Australian Grand Prix / March 18, Melbourne – Albert Park

Malaysian Grand Prix / March 25, Kuala Lumpur - Sepang

Chinese Grand Prix / April 15, ShanghaiShanghai International Circuit

Bahrain Grand Prix / April 22, Sakhir – Bahrain International Circuit

Spanish Grand Prix / May 13, Barcelona – Circuit de Cataluña

Monaco Grand Prix / May 27, Monaco - Circuit de Monaco

Canadian Grand Prix / June 10, Montreal- Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

European Grand Prix / June 24, ValenciaValencia Street Circuit

British Grand Prix / July 8, Silverstone – Silverstone Circuit

German Grand Prix / July 22, Hockenheim- Hockenheimring

Hungarian Grand Prix / July 29, Budapest- Hungaroring

Belgian Grand Prix / Sep 2, Spa – Spa Francorchamps

Italian Grand Prix / Sep 9, Monza – Autodromo Nazionale Monza

Singapore Grand Prix / Sep 23, SingaporeMarina Bay Street Circuit

Japanese Grand Prix / Oct 7, Suzuka, Suzuka Circuit

Korean Grand Prix / Oct 14, Yeongam, Korean International Circuit

Indian Grand Prix / Oct 28, Greater Noida, Buddh International Circuit

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix / Nov 4, Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit

United States Grand Prix / Nov 18, Austin, Circuit of the Americas

Brazilian Grand Prix / Nov 25, São Paolo, Interlagos