Thursday, September 29, 2005

No Car for me when I get a job

Can you imagine these are autorickshaws designed by TVS and can actually be on the roads in the near future ?

I mean, With Autorickshaws like these, why would I spend obscene amounts of money to buy a car ?
TVS Auto Rickshaw

TVS Auto Rickshaw

Just wondering when these beauties will reach Calicut roads.

Thanks Laloo

Finally, after 11 years of requests and representations, the voice of the people of Allahabad has been heard.

The Railways have finally agreed to extend the famed Prayag Raj Express, Allahabad's link to the country's capital to a whopping 26 bogies,making it the longest train in the country, and has eliminated the quotas for all intermediary stations.

Yay!!! No more waiting Lists.

Thanks, Laloo.

I know, some of you might be thinking that I must be off my rocker, thanking Laloo and all that, but you must consider the fact that none of the politicians from Allahabad, including erstwhile power centre and minister in the previous BJP-led NDA government, Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi, had bothered to do anything about it for so long. So there.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pichchur Hall - Salaam | Namaste

Crap. Utter crap. Except for the credit roll at the end.

Guy and gal meet. Fall in love due to a variety of reasons. They get to know each other more after moving in together. Circumstances lead to the realisation that they have different priorities, different takes on how a life should be lived. They split, only to realise that they cannot live without each other,despite the differences. They come back together and probably live happily ever after. What the hell is new in that ?

The live-in angle was supposed to be the big deal. Intimate sex scenes and the usual stuff. New wave. Modern cinema. Give me a break. Have a look at any of the dozens of typical Hindi movies being churned out by the dozen these days. Loads of physical contact, smooching, even overt sexual activities on display. The stories are set in any time and any location. The guy can meet the girl in Paris, take her to a restaurant in New York and then to a hotel room in Switzerland, all in the same day.

In such a world, what exactly is the big deal if the couple are shown staying together. In fact, it is more of a live-OUT than live-in in this movie since they both have to go to their jobs and hence cannot devote all their time to each other or fighting the bad guys or singing around trees in the rain or swinging from trains in the alps.

So that takes the wind out of what is supposedly the USP of the movie. The rest is pedestrian anyway. The music is not just forgettable, it barely registers with the title track probably good for playing 2-3 times on the FM channels, nothing more. The acting is insipid and forced, at least from the lead pair.

Even Circuit, aka Arshad Warsi, is uncharacteristically subdued. Save for some outrageous hamming from Jaaved Jaffrey and a brief but entertaining cameo by Abhishek Bachchan in the climax, which is inspired by Nine Months, the rest of the cast is merely going through the motions.

Though I hate to admit it, but the Chopras and Johars were probably right in casting the King Khan as lead in their movies. At least the hamster's energy was infectious.

The credit roll is damn funny though.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

sawaal paanch hazaar ka

This blog recently crossed the 5000 hits mark. The 5000th visitor was on my blog for 58 minutes 16 seconds and reached it using the search phrase "deepak nautiyal shashank aditya" in Google. Interesting indeed, considering that this trinity is my original set of childhood buddies. Both Deepak aka Deepu and Shashank aka Mukki have found mention on this blog previously.

The mystery visitor accessed the net using a Satyam Broadband Connection, from somewhere in India. Now will this lady/gentleman please disclose their identity before I start spamming the mailboxes of everyone from my school/college days in Allahabad ?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Amitabh Bachchan's birthplace

The Bachchan's home in Allahabad

This is the birthplace of the man who has reigned Bollywood for decades now and still rules the hearts of millions of people of Indian origin the world over.

Yes, this is the place where the famous poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan lived more than 20 years of his life, where he created the immortal Madhushala, and of course, where Amitabh Bachchan was born.

Situated in the Katghar area of Allahabad, its derelict condition stands mute testimony to the apathy that the local authorities and residents have shown towards preserving what deserves to be designated a heritage landmark, doubly so, for the achievements of either the father or the son.

Recently, the long dormant Amitabh Bachchan Fans' Association, headed by former mayor of Allahabad, Ravi Bhushan Wadhavan, has sent a missive to the Big B himself, requesting him for assistance in restoring his birthplace to its original glory.

While this whole exercise stinks of political overtones, I hope something good comes out of this dramebaazi and our future generations are not deprived of the opportunity to see the abodes of the doyens of Hindi literature with their own eyes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Kitaab Ghar - Maximum City

Every now and then I come across a piece of literature that forces me to re-calibrate my understanding of the world around me, the tinted periscope with which I gauged everything and attempted to make sense out of them.

Dominique Lapierre's Freedom at Midnight was one of them. O Jerusalem! by the same author was yet another. Suketu Mehta's expression of his love affair with the Maya Nagri Mumbai, or Bombay as he calls it, in Maximum City - Bombay Lost and found is the latest in the series.

584 pages and 11 hours of non-stop reading is what it took for me to get to the end of this tome on Mumbai and find relief. The intervening time was agonising and immensely satisfying at the same time, such was the spell that the book held me in.

Born into one of those quintessential families that constitute Mumbai, the diamond trading god-fearing vegetarian gujaratis, Mehta's ability to pick out faces from the Kumbh Mela that the city is that are representatives of what Mumbai means and stands for today is uncanny and probably attributable to his capacity to look at Mumbai from 'out of the box' yet as an insider due to his having been a resident of New York for a long span of time.

In Maximum City, Mehta sketches out the power of politics, both subtle and strong, and how it manifests itself in myriad ways of affecting the daily life for a rickshaw driver, slum dweller, cable operator, mill worker, computer coaching institute teacher and local corporator. His ability to strike a rapport with almost anyone, on both sides of the line called law, a very fuzzy one in Mumbai anyway, enables him to put on paper facts and aspects that would have remained hidden for ever, unstated and unaccounted.

To avoid gang warfare inside the jails, the government has earmarked specific jails for different gangs. The Gawli gang is spread out over the Yerwada and Amravati Jails, the Rajan gang is in Arthur Road and the D company is put up in the Byculla, Thane and Nashik jails. Near the Nashink jail, the D Company has purchased a number of flats and autorickshaws and hired cooks and delivery boys.

Chefs in the flats prepare breakfast,lunch and dinner, and delivery boys hop into the rickshaws and deliver hot meals to the jailbirds. It is a thoroughly planned, thoroughly efficient catering system. The man lucky enough to be arrested after a hit looks forward to a spell inside, with all his needs taken care of in style.

And there is also a strange kind of competitive generosity behind bars. During the Ganesh festival, Arun Gawli sent a box of sweets to the D Company jailbirds in Thane,one of them had told me. 'The D Company boss said "Achcha ! Is that so ?" and sent a huge plate full of halwa back to Gawli.'The stark menace of the famed Mumbai underworld looms large but invisible. In fact, so strong is its presence and influence that Mehta renames it to Overworld.
In business, so entrenched has extortion become that the Bombay High Court recently rules that extortion payments are tax deductible as a legitimate business expense.

Mehta uses his contacts to get in touch with members of the various gangs to get an inside account of their ways of operating.

(Mohsin) followed Daruwala as he left the dog and his visitors to take a leak inside a country bar next door. As he was pissing, Mohsin came behind him in the bathroom and raised his hand with the fun. It would have been an easy shot, but Mohsin was suddenly struck with a scruple, a man should not be shot while he was pissing. He would wait for him to finish.
Different shooters have different ways of dealing with their work. Afterwords, some drink. Some get stoned. Some celebrate in the ladies' bars. After Satish murders somebody, he eats a huge strictly vegetarian meal .
He goes straight home, has a bath, does a puja to Hanuman.. He wont even eat eggs.

He even talks to Chhota Shakeel himself, over the phone after an attempt to meet the ganglord in person is foiled because of a sudden increase in the pressure from Pakistani authorities in Karachi where the don stays with Dawood Ibrahim.

The mastermind of the largest criminal syndicate in the subcontinent now comes out with a line from JFK. 'My intention is, What can I do for my country ? Not, What has the country done for me ? '. Then he adds, 'Think about that.'

I am thinking, which country ? What is he doing for that country ?

After re-discovering the famous Irani restaurants, Mehta moves into the seamy underside of that most unique of Mumbai's specialities, the dance bars.

What follows is a series of tales that gradually reveal the many layers that this business, called the 'bar line' by insiders, hides, nurtures and sometimes, destroys.

'Why are they doing this ? What do these men get in return ?'

'Five minutes' attention. Even a garage mechanic can come here and get attention from these girls.' This is one place where the classes meet, where the only thing important is the colour of your money.
The moment the customer walks in, he's the star in his own custom-made Hindi movie song. No matter how old, or ugly or fat (or poor) he is, for the two hours he's in the bar, he's a movie star, he's Shah Rukh Khan.

The frustrations of the members of the force acclaimed to the 'Second Best after Scotland Yard' also finds a mention.

Ajay Lal is a cop with a dream. It is a dream of the last gesture he will make as a police officer. It is not about arresting Dawood Ibrahim, or accepting a medal, or setting his troops on fire with an inspiring speech. It is a dream of micturition. 'I would go to police headquarters and stand in front of it and abuse all my corrupt seniors, reveal everything. Then I would pee in their direction and turn around and leave the force.'

Mehta tracks the lives of a top cop, a bar girl, a crossdresser, a student and budding poet from Bihar,and the progress of Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Mission Kashmir, a movie that he co-wrote. He weaves in narratives from Bollywood, heart-rending tales of struggle, and frequently, defeat.

Amidst all this rather chaotic sets of stories, he attempts and probably manages to come up with an understanding of what Bombay, or Mumbai, means, to him and to the millions of other residents, each of whom calls it his, or her, home.

I realise, with a start,I am one of them.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Pichchur Hall - Seher

Seher ek alag prakar ka chalchitra hai. Mayanagri Mumbai mein banane waali adhikansh chalchitron ki leek se hatkar, isme yatharth paristhitiyon ka jo bebaak chitran kiya gaya hai, wah aaj kal virle ki drishtigochar hota hai.

Poorvi Uttar Pradesh, ya kahen Poorvanchal, mein chal rahe Mafia-raj aur usko protsahan de rahe rajneetigyon aur nyay-paalakon ki santh-ganth ko jis satyanishtha evam samvedansheelta ke saath pradarshit kiya gaya hai, wah chalchitron ke liye ek anootha evam utkrisht maan-dand siddh hoga, aisa mera manana hai.

Poorvanchal kshetra ke rajnayik sameekaran evam ek taraf mafia ke prakop evam doosri taraf junta ke badhte akrosh se joojhti police force ki duvidhaon ka atyant marmik evam bhavpoorn chitran bade dhairya evam gahan shodh ka parinaam hai jiske liye nirdeshak sadhuvaad ke paatra hain.

Chitra ke naayak, Senior Superintendent of Police, jiska paatra Arshad Warsi ne bharpoor utsaah se nibhaya hai, apne vishwaash pe adig rehne waali ek aisa sainik hai, jiske antarman mein uski ma ka kahe shabd goonjate rehte hain " Jhooth ki raah pe chalna to duniya ka sabse asaan pesha hai".

Apne varishtha adhikhari ke ashirwaad se wah ek Vishistha Karya Bal ka gathan karta hai jiska ekmatra dhyey Uttar Pradesh se yojnabaddh apradh ka samool nash hai.Ye Karya Bal apne dhyey ki samprapti mein kis seema tak safal hoti, ye jaanane ke liye to aapko swayam ye chitra dekhna hoga.

Vastutah,ye chitra poornataya kalpanik nahi hai. Isme pichchle kuchh samay evam vartaman ke kuchh prasiddh apradhiyon ke jeevan se liye gaye vrittanton ko piroya gaya hai. Shree Prakash Shukla, Babloo Srivastav evam anya anekon durdant apradhiyon ke kukrityon ki jhalkiyaan aapko chitra mein spasht parilakshit hongi.

Chitra mein nayika Mahima Srivastava ka paatra to poornataya gaun aur avanchhit hai, parantu doorsanchar visheshagya ke roop mein Pankaj Kapoor, jinse hum aur aap Karamchand, fateechar aur anya kai lubhawne paatron ke madhyam se parichit hain, ka atyant mahatvapoorna paatra hai jise unhone apni chir parichit mit-bhashi kintu prabhavshaali shaili mein nibhaya hai.

Pramukh khalnayak ke roop mein Sushant Singh ne apni prashansaneey abhinay kshamata ka poonah shaktishaali pradarshan karte hue apne paatra ke saath poori tarah nyay kiya hai. Ye kehna kadapi atishayokti nahi hogi ki is chitra ke apne darshakon par itna prabhavshaali asar chhodne mein unka yogdaan sarvopari tha.

Mujhe asha hai ki yah chitra aage ane waale samay mein anya kai nirdeshakon ko aisi hi anek yatharth-poorn evam rochak chitron ko parde pe laane ke liye utprerit karega.

Somehow, after watching the movie for a second time, I couldn't stop myself from thinking in the lingua franca of the region depicted in the movie and had to express my thoughts in Hindi.Pavan, this is for you.

Update: For those who are not conversant with Hindi, here is my attempted translation -

Seher is a different kind of movie. Quite different from most of the movies churned out by dream-city Mumbai, its frank depiction of ground realities is seldom seen these days.

I believe that the truthfulness and sensitivity with which the Mafia-raj in eastern UP, or Poorvanchal, and the politicians who are hand-in-glove with the upholders of the law, have been portrayed, will be a unique and stellar benchmark for movies.

The immensely moving and emotional representation of political equations of the Poorvanchal region and the quandary of the police force in battling the mafia on one hand and the increasing anger of the public is a result of a lot of patience and intensive research, something for which the director deserves kudos.

The movie's hero, Senior Superintendent of Police, a role which has been fulfilled by Arshad Warsi with full enthusiasm, is a soldier who sticks to his beliefs. His mothers's words keep echoing in his heart and soul " Straying from the path of truth is the easiest vocation in the world".

With the blessings of his senior officer, he forms a Special Task Force whose sole aim is total elimination of organised crime from Uttar Pradesh. To know how effective this Task Force is in achieving its objective, you will have to see the movie.

In fact, this movie is not entirely fictitious. It has elements from the lives of some famous past and present criminals. You can clearly spot the misdeeds of Shree Prakash Shukla, Babloo Srivastava and many other dreaded criminals in the movie.

While the role of heroine Mahima Srivastava is totally void and unnecessary, Pankaj Kapoor, who we are familiar with through the medium of Karamchand, Fateechar and many other heartening characters, has a very important role, in the form of a telecommunications expert,which he has performed in his well-known soft-spoken but powerful style.

Sushant Singh,in the role of cheif villain, has yet again given a powerful display of his exemplary acting skills and done full justice to his role. To state that his contribution towards ensuring that this movie leaves a powerful impact on its audience was the most significant, will not be an exaggeration.

I hope that this film will motivate many directors to bring similar realistic and interesting movies on the silver screen in the time to come.

Friday, September 09, 2005

of bans on dance bars and elections in bihar

After the ban imposed by the Maharashtra State government on dance bars, the bar girls, devoid of a source of living, are doing strip-shows in far flung rural areas in Bihar, as part of the campaigning for the state assembly elections.

The coming elections have galvanised politicians of all hues to indulge in all sorts of unscrupulous activities to entice the voters. In fact, the more influential Sarpanchs are even being provided with prostitutes from Mumbai and other metros in guest houses hired specially for the purpose.

In a typical entertainment programme, there is a mix of popular Bollywood ditties and folk songs, on which the girls dance and slowly shed their accoutrements.

Charging a minimum of Rs. 6000 per show, their prices vary as per the venue. Dancer groups from Buxar, Gaya or Muzaffarpur charge upto Rs.10000 while groups from Kolkatta can charge upto Rs.25000.

Go vote. Its your constitutional right and obligation. Now if only, my college vacations coincided with the elections to allow me to vote.

Of course, His highness Minister of the wonder of wheels called the Indian Railways and Shahenshah of the joke of a state called Bihar Shri Laloo Prasad Yadav ji, must deign to permit my name to appear on its rightful place on the electoral rolls. I doubt that he will.

Ba-ah !

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

sangadak vigyan ke vichitra halaat

Things in my beloved home town of Allahabad, have been getting curiouser and curiouser, to put it in Lewis Carroll's famous words from Alice in Wonderland.

Yesterday, when students of the B.Sc. stream in Allahabad University showed up for the FOURTH paper of Computer Science, they were handed the SECOND paper !!!

On further enquiries, it was revealed that the professor himself had set the SECOND paper by mistake !!!

Now,what possible kind of mistake could involve a professor not realising which subject he is supposed to make the question paper of ?

Let me see...

Letter to the Professor -

Dear Professor Ji,
You are hereby requested to prepare the question paper for "C programming and Object Oriented Programming" for B.Sc. IInd year supplementary exam and submit it to the Examination Controller's office latest by 31st August,2005 in strict confidentiality.
On submission of the same, you will be issued an "Supplementary Work Statement voucher (examination)" which you can submit to the Accounts Section for payment of the Allowance for the same in your account.

on behalf of the Examination Controller

Allahabad University

The Professor (thinking) : Hmm.. bugger it ! Why can't I be allowed to just enjoy my work, overloaded poor fellow that I am ?

Here I am, taking 1 out of 3 scheduled classes, showing up late for every 3 hour practical session by 1 hour atleast, and not attending any seminar organised to train the faculty of the university on effective usage of IT, which has resulted in the Fine Arts and Sanskrit teachers putting IT to better use than myself, a professor in the Computer Science department, and they give me this impossible task of setting a question paper,again ???

What a grave injustice, this ? I mean, preparing a question paper is hard work indeed. You have to write out 6, in hand no less, questions culled from the past 10 years' question papers,and allocate 36 marks among them randomly. Its not like I can use a word processing application for the same, since I dont know how to use them as I haven't attended any seminars to learn it.

It has to be manually written, 150 odd words of text, for which I get a measly 1500 rupees as Allowance.

I wish something could be done about it. I mean, why do all this drama ? I am not going to read the answer scripts anyway, who has the time and patience ? I will just skim through the pages and randomly scribble numbers on a few of them. My assistant will then total the numbers and if it comes out to be more than 36, he will divide it by 2 to get the "New Improved Total".

Hell, I know what I will do. I will make a xerox copy of the questions I had prepared 3 years back for "Microprocessor design and Programming" and submit the same for this paper too.
Aam ke aam, guthliyon ke daam.

What is worse is that if this scenario is indeed what happened then all the professor had to do was the change the title of the paper from "Microprocessor design and Programming" to "C programming and Object Oriented Programming" and no one, including the students, would have been the wiser.

Trust me, I was there for three years and have seen the absolute apathy among both faculty and students for the rigors of academics. Hell, if one or two students would have complained about the paper, they would have been told to copy from their neighbours and shut up since they obviously haven't studied properly and don't know their facts right.

God save the computer science students of the Allahabad University.

ICICI over-steps in its zeal

If you have ever wondered about the extent to which private banking institutions can, and do, go to recover their dues from defaulters, well read on.

Agents of Shiv Shakti Consultancy, an agency apparently with expertise in this type of work, misbehaved with the Assistant Public Prosecutor Someshwari Prasad and threatened him with dire consequences, in an attempt to force him to pay up on his dues to ICICI Bank, on 25th August, here in Allahabad.

This resulted in a group of people vandalising the local branch of the bank, protests and wide-spread condemnation of the rather aggressive recovery practices of the bank. A series of lawsuits were also filed which resulted in some of the bank employees being arrested and taken into judicial custody.

ICICI bank then swung into action on behalf of its employees and filed counter-suits demanding compensation for damages incurred, both punitive and exemplary and also filed a Habeus Corpus writ to secure the release of its arrested employees.

The Allahabad High Court has taken cognizance of the typical absence of applicable legal precedents in such matters and referred to a separate bench the task of determining -

- Whether the contract between ICICI Bank and Shiv Shakti Consultancy for debt realisation is valid ?

- Whether ICICI Bank is liable for acts, both of civil and criminal nature, committed by the said consultancy ?

- Whether ICICI Bank can circumvent or ignore the procedure laid down under Act 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act ?

- Whether private banks have the right to circumvent the legal procedures employed by the nationalised banks for recovery of dues and contract with private agencies for the same ?

- Whether banks have a right to arrest the defaulters and hold them in the bank or some other premises ?

- Whether the fees paid to the recovery consultants is recoverable from by the defaulters ?

A lot of the muck currently associated with the dubious practices employed by the private banks in recovery of dues would be cleared when the judgement on this matter is passed.

This is one case I will track closely.

Till then, please do not default on your loan or credit card payments to the private banks. Who knows, what they might come up with to arm twist you into paying up. You can, of course, default on the nationalised banks, they will merely send letters to your supposed permanent addresses for years ;-)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

R Benaud caught Channel-9 bowled Sky 42

Richie Benaud, the best spinner that Australia could boast of before a certain Mr. Warne was smashed for more than 200 runs in an innings for just the solitary wicket in a test match down under, and legendary commentator, has decided to retire from commentating in England after 42 years of some awe-inspiring bits of oratorial wizardry. I remember listening to him sometimes and getting so enthralled by his words that I would lose track of the happenings on the pitch.

First English cricket viewers lost free-to-air cricket broadcasts atleast till 2009, after BBC expressed its inability to show test matches and Channel 4 lost out to the mighty Sky in bidding, and now this. Whats really ironical is that it is happening at the exact same moment when the English cricket team is finally claiming its place at the top of the world cricket hierarchy by giving a hiding that the Kangaroos will be hard-pressed to forget.

Such has been the dominance that Matthew Hayden and Jason Gillespie are almost certain to be out in the wilderness, probably for ever. And horror of horrors, even Adam Gilchrist, the tornado with a bat, has been unable to pull them out from the holes they have repeatedly digging themselves into.

With the notable but not spectacular exception of Simon Katich, whose workman-like innings of 50s and 70s have saved Australia from further embarrasment, none of the famed Aussie line-up has fared to their billing. In fact Shane Warne's average in the last 3 tests is probably higher than any of them.

And now I read that the English are coming to India early next year to play 3 tests and 7 one dayers on a 60 day tour. So a strong team, with determination to conquer something of a minor last frontier, and enough time to acclimatise will be pitted against one which lost 8 wickets for 44 runs in a one day match the other day in Bulawayo.

It reminds of the time when Graham Gooch lead a team to India which included Mike Gatting, of the Shane Warne ball-of-the-last-century fame, and everyone expected India to capitulate. In fact Swatantra Bharat, the Hindi broadsheet daily that we used to subscribe to then, actually came out with a set of articles which covered the entire 8 pages of its daily all-colour supplement Uphaar and were titled

Ek taraf Gooch, Gatting
doosari taraf lachar batting

I found it pretty corny, and still do, but it pretty accurately reflected the mood of the media at that time. That Anil Kumble, Venkatpathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan ran circles around the English while Navjot Sidhu and Sachin Tendulkar ground them into the dust is now the stuff that old cricket records are made of and will be pointless come January 2006.

The last time they came to India, Ashley Giles had to pitch the ball behind the the backward square leg fielder in an attempt to bore Tendulkar to death, so useless were his regular balls while Andrew Flintoff was merely the trundler who was asked to bowl only to give some much needed rest to their frontline pacers, who were about 5 mph slower than Kumble, and some easy runs to the Indian tailenders who were pretty useless with the bat in the best of times.

The sight of Matthew Hoggard, with clean shaven head, running in earnestly and bowling with his guts in his mouth, only to be dispatched to the cover boundary by every Indian batsman from the opener to numbers nine, ten and jack is still fresh in the mind.

But, and this is a crucial but, Ashley Giles has reportedly got three Aussie wickets in one innings in a test match, Andrew Flintoff is knocking batsmen over and blasting runs like nobody's business and Harmison and Jones mean business like no English bowler has meant before.

In Michael Vaughan they have a captain who is in pretty good knick and, more importantly, knows how to use his players effectively while in Kevin Pietersen, or PK as he is lovingly called by Shane Warne, they have a batsman who doesnt even give any heed to the conventions of test cricket and hits all and sundry as if every innings is a Sunday Benefit Match. Not to speak of the other minor irritants like Marcus Trescothick, Ian Bell and even Mark Butcher will be back from his injury with Robert Key waiting in the wings.

I wonder how Saurav Ganguly will react to an almost certain repeat of the Flintoff shirt waving drama. maybe I shouldn't. Ganguly might not be around till then.

Interesting, indeed.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Fresher party pictures, finally

Well, my laptop is back up and running, the end-terms are over and I finally have some time available before I leave for home by a 3 day train journey.

So I will fulfill the promise I have made to many people here at IIMK and publish the snaps I took of the Freshers' party for our juniors at the Taj, that I had blogged about some time back.

For some wierd reason I am unable to put the album here so I am putting them into the sidebar on left. You might have to scroll down a bit to see them.

Note: The snaps shown are a random selection which keeps changing randomly. You can click on any of the snaps to access the entire photo set.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Its reversing at about 95mph

Ashley Giles, England's answer to Shane Warne, talks about emotions during the final moments of one of the most tense test matches in recent cricketing history.

As we lost wickets I was thinking: "This can't be happening to us, we don't deserve this."

We have dominated the series since losing the first Test at Lord's and we were half an hour away from Australia retaining the Ashes and Ricky Ponting waving a stump in celebration on the pavilion balcony.

You never have a right to win a game, no matter how much you have dominated it, not when you have someone as talented as Shane Warne spinning the ball at you in the fourth innings and Brett Lee reverse swinging it at 95mph.

In the coach's room I tried to knuckle down, to plan ahead. I tried to assess how Lee and Warne were going to try to get me out.
I crossed when Jonah was out, so Hoggy came out to face Lee for the first ball of the next over.

"Come on, let's you and me get it done," he said, with a bit of a smile.

"It's reversing at about 95mph," I told him. I thought it was best that he knew.

I have played with Hoggy for about six years and I have never seen him drive a seam bowler through extra cover. It was quite extraordinary.

Read this rather interesting insight into the atmosphere in the pavilion and on the pitch here.

Also, Mike Brearley, arguably the most astute cricket captain ever, explains how England have out-aussied the Aussies themselves.

Two teams, two mentalities. Australia seemed to approach this Test in a state of exaggerated intensity, with the hyped-up camaraderie of a revivalist spiritual meeting. A piece of good fielding by Shaun Tait at wide mid-on, and Michael Clarke runs from cover to pat him on the back; a dropped catch by Matthew Hayden and he's swamped by team-mates full of commiseration and encouragement. One half-expected a resounding and prayerful rendition of Psalm 23.
When Geraint Jones came in to bat, Ponting placed a sweeper on the cover boundary before he had scored a run (and he got off the mark with a squirted single in that direction). To Flintoff, before he had scored 40, Mike Kasprowicz was bowling with no attacking fielders at all.

How does such an approach make the batsman feel? Flintoff must have been encouraged to believe that Australia regard him as no end of a batsman (which of course he is) and this must not only help his confidence no end, but also enable him to cruise along without having to take risks. At the same time, the bowler must think his captain has not much regard for him if he can't give him a single attacking fielder. He must also wonder how on earth he might get a wicket, except by waiting for a mistake.

When Tony Greig was captain of England, he almost always kept two slips for the quicker bowlers, however otherwise defensive he might have been. After all, the basic line is off stump or just outside, and the bedrock of one's strategy is to find an outside edge. This, of course, also applies if the aim is to swing the ball in for a leg-before decision or to bowl someone, for being able to pose such a threat gives the bowler his best chance of inducing a slip catch with the ball that goes the other way, or stays straight.

Some great insights into the thinking man's sport. Read it here.

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