Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Muslims for Pakistan...?

Must say it was pretty frustrating and upsetting to hear Shoaib Malik thanking all Muslims for their support to Pakistan after the match - this really is ridiculous! I guess Shoaib forgot that the man of the match was a Muslim, his brother was there too, and another prominent Muslim was out in the stands - and none of them were supporting Pakistan! When will the Pakistanis learn to distinguish between religion and nation, between fundamentalism and patriotism

Horse Riding 201

Last Saturday, twenty one of us from my team landed at Japaloupe for a workshop on "Understanding Self" by Advait Dikshit - I had arranged for it because I wanted my team to benefit from him, and also because, at some level, I wanted to go through the experience again!

After the workshop, we did horse riding - and since I had already had two sessions earlier, I was taken separately and enjoyed the attention of a dedicated trainer. From walking and steering the horse on my own, to making it trot, I went through a gruelling but enjoyable 45 min, before wrapping up by stretching on the horse - turning around in the saddle, and then, finally, standing up on the saddle :)

I spent the next two days nursing my extremely sore back!

Movie Review: Dhamaal

Returning from a 15 hour trip to Mumbai, including 6 hours at InOrbit and HyperCity, we decided we had not had enough excitement for the day - which explains why we spent exactly 2.5 mins at home before rushing to Esquare for the 1045 show of Dhamaal. A friend came to our rescue and managed to get us the 5 magic tickets from the management quota - and all our rushing and running paid off as we made it to the theatre right in time for the opening item song.. (bear in mind, even at 1020, we were still on the expressway!)

The movie itself is a complete remake of "It's a Mad Mad Mad World", except the last scene from the English version - which had already been lifted by Bhaagam Bhaag.

Ritesh and Arshad are good, as usual. Javed Jaffrey is good too. Sanjay Dutt looks great. There are no women in the film. Lots of kids, though. The jokes feel recycled, the humour tends to be loud - overall, Dhamaal entertains as long as you keep your expectations at home.

We Are The World!

In a scintillating performance at Johannesburg last night, India beat Pakistan by 5 runs in the inaugural World Twenty20 Cup, creating history and propelling the nation into ecstatic celebrations...

India won the toss, and as expected, decided to bat first. First ball - Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan (Irfan's brother) scamper for a single, Yusuf dives into the crease, and survives the direct throw. The battle has begun. Fourth ball - Yusuf heaves the bowler over long on for a six, and the Indian juggernaut has started rolling.

Gambhir top scores with 75, and Rohit Sharma playes a cameo innings, ensuring that India managed a fairly decent 157/5. However, Yuvraj and Dhoni fail with the bat, which mean that India have not really managed to get the 180+ they were looking to set.

RP Singh starts with a good over, before Sreesanth gives off 21 in the next. Indian hearts start sinking... however the bowlers stick to the guns. RP is devastating, and so is Irfan. Both scalp 3 wickets each, leaving the Pakistanis tottering, with an asking rate of around 11 and very few wickets in hand.

Harbhajan is then carted for 3 sixes, and another one follows in the next over. Pakistan are now 17 runs away, in 8 balls, with 2 wickets to go. RP castles the batsman in the next ball - 17 more, just one wicket to go! And then it's a 4 - 13 to go off the next over.

Dhoni hands the ball to Joginder, the weak link (he later explained that Harbhajan was not sure he'd be able to bowl the required yorkers) in our bowling line up. Misbah on strike - and the first ball goes for a six. Indian flags sink, our hearts sink with them. Joginder loses his nerve - the next ball is a wide. One dot ball. Now it's just 6 in 4. Joginder takes his run up, Misbah moves out towards the off, and scoops the bowl over his head towards the fine leg boundary - however, his smart move turns to be fatal - Joginder doesn't have the required pace - the ball goes up, wobbles, and then comes down, straight into the waiting hands of Sreesanth! India have bowled out Pakistan with 5 runs to spare - India have won! India are World Twenty20 Champions!

India have so much to take from this tournament, and so much to be proud of! Coming in after a tiring tour of England, without the big 3 (Sachin-Saurav-Rahul), an inexperienced young captain in Mahendra Singh Dhoni, without a coach, and with only one T20 match before the tournament, India were not even expected to reach the semis. However, this Indian team was too young to fear failure, and too dangerous to take for granted. After defeating Pakistan in a bowl out, India lost to New Zealand, but then bounced back beating England and South Africa to top the group, and then convincingly demolished the Australian batting in the semis to set up the dream final.

And as SRK watched from the stands, and Chak De played in the stadiums, Rohit Sharma, RP Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Sreesanth, Jogindar Singh, Robin Uthappa - the boys - proved that youthful exuberance could take on, and defeat, experience. MS Dhoni impressed one and all with his cool head, his attitude, his clever field placements and bowling changes - and when he took off his shirt at the end of the match, he was perhaps only making one statement, a new Dada had arrived! And as the Times of India aptly put it, the boys in blue had turned into men before our adoring eyes...

Back in Pune, I watched the match with Siddha and Shweta, and erupted into riotous screaming and shouting as the wickets tumbled - as soon as the last ball had been bowled, we all left to join the thousands of fans celebrating in Pune's streets - FC, JM, MG - all roads and gullies were chock-a-block with cars blaring horns, hundreds of proud Indian flags fluttering and waving in the wind, our Lisa blared out "Chak De India" - this song has virtually become a war cry for young Indians in the last couple of months - a PMT bus passed by with a dozen fans and flags perched on it's roof - a group of youngsters ran down FC with a huge flag spread out flat, blessing the countless cars and bikes as they passed underneath. Everyone was shouting and screaming Bharat Mata ki Jai, and as the police did an awesome job of keeping the roads open and traffic moving, impromptu dance floors sprung up every now and then, and occupants jumped out of their cars to join the party, before another police bike arrived to make them move on... people hugged and shook hands and smiled at everyone - it was just such an awesome awesome night none of us are likely to forget for decades to come!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lonely Tree

Clicked this tree at Marcel - something about it makes me want to keep staring at it... it's scary, and yet, it's so attractive!!!

India beats SA

Another Twenty20 match, another awesome win for India. Put in to bat in difficult conditions, India managed a fighting 153 backed by an amazing 50 from the young Rohit Sharma, who got his 50 off a last ball six. And then the bowlers took over, restricting SA to 116 for 9 (including 25 extras!), not only winning the match and moving into the semis, but also kicking SA out of the tournament in real style! Harbhajan and RP Singh (4 for 13) came in with devastating spells, Dhoni switched roles from wicket keeper to mid off fielder in the middle of the game to back his bowlers (I love this guy - I love his spunk - I love his attitude), and Dinesh Karthick came up with a spell-binding catch in second slips to make sure we didn't miss the 6-in-6 Yuvraj, who had to sit out today with an injury.

This is a young, live wire Indian team hungry for victory - backed by millions and millions of proud Indians screaming Chak De India. The Indian juggernaut is rolling - watch out and get out of the way!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ganapatis from Marcel

Marcel is a nice sleepy Goan village-town with a lot of temples, but it really comes alive during the Ganesh festival when the village hosts some of the best Ganapati pandals in the state. Here's a sampling from Ganesh Chaturthi 2007 in Marcel, Goa...

This one rides on the back of a moving Peacock

This one's in the middle of a river...

Ganapati from Ganapatis!

Six in Six

And while I have been blogging, Yuvraj has just hit Chris Broad for 6 sixes in an over, got 50 in 12 balls, and then gone ahead and hit another one in the next over, before getting out on the second last ball, with 58 in 16 against his name. India finish at 218 for 4.

Update: for the record, we won the match by 18 runs

I Need Some Attention - Poor Me!


In the midst of the Twenty20 overs, you will frequently see a package of 2 ads - one for the Nokia 6300 (true style never shouts) and the other for the Ford Fiesta (go Fida in 5 mins)!

Did anyone say I have good taste? :)

Quote for the Day

True style never shouts. Nokia 6300 Ad.

ps: I own one :)

Twenty20 World Cup

Last Friday, I was on a bus to Goa. Last Friday, India beat Pakistan in an absolute thriller in the first Twenty20 Cricket World Cup. And while I did not get to see it live, I enjoyed every ball - thanks to my friends who cared to send me ball by ball analysis and commentary on SMS for the last 30 mins of the match!

India batted first and managed a not-too-impressive 140 odd runs. Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals, giving us a good shot at victory, until an Ajit Agarkar over that cost over 20 runs, and brought defeat in sight! The last over still needed around 10 runs, and then it was 1 off the last two balls! Then a dot ball by Sreesanth, and guess what, the last ball was a dot too! Scores tied - and on to the bowl out!

So what's a bowl out? Each team selects 5 bowlers, to take a go each at the stumps. The team scoring more hits wins the encounter.

Sehwag goes first, and gets the hit! Pak misses. India 1-0. Harbhajan goes next, and hits! Pak misses again! India 2-0. Robin Uthappa then goes up, gets the hit, and does a little jog, taking his hat off to the crowd! Afridi takes the bowl, and misses! India win 3-0! (and maintains it's spotless record against Pakistan in the World Cups). And to add to the fun, the Pakistani captain later makes a statement that the team was not aware of the bowl out rules! Lol...

Interestingly, my bus was about to get out of cell phone coverage area beyond Kolhapur - but through some divine intervention, the range stayed on till the last ball of the bowl out!

When I first saw Twenty20, I was not too impressed - it seemed like slam bang all the way. However, this world cup has seen the game mature, and teams coping better with it. The matches have all been exciting, the differences between the super powers and the newbies gradually becoming smaller and smaller and matches more equally balanced, new strategies and new ploys bringing a lot more to the game, and of course, it's all over in just around 3 hours! Interesting times ahead...

Oh, and by the way, last Friday, Dravid resigned as India's captain :)

Riding on India?

Have you noticed how more and more ads today are riding on the concept of the new India and appealing to the new Indian? From Hero Honda's "bike for the new Indian" who refuses his dream American job to stay back and contribute to the new India, to the Frooti ad, which focuses on how a lot of things have changed in India - the key visual being the new "cool" Indian picking up someone else's trash and dumping it in the garbage bin - but not the favourite drink, and on to the the BA ad - the world waits for India with folded hands, the focus today is definitely on the new, proud India like never before.

From the Hindu rate of growth to today's 9%, as the world's most robust democracy and a responsible nucelar power, India is certainly taking center-stage, and we should all feel privileged and proud to be part of this new India!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Was watching Mega Structures on Nat Geo today, in which they featured the world's tallest viaduct - the Millau bridge in France. At 2.5 km long, and over 250 m high in the middle, the construction involved challenges which can only be described as fool-hardy! Stuid. Preposterous. Almost blasphemous.

And yet, here it is - the most awesome, the most beautiful bridge in the world! (Pic courtesy: samizdata.net)

The challenges were many - from pouring out concrete into the super complicated shaped pylons (an Architect's dream may be an Engineer's worst nightmare!), which required reshaping and reinstalling the multi-tonne casts every 4 m, and over 250 times in all, to figuring out how to push out the steel decks over the slim and slender pylons. Here's how they did it (from Wikipedia):

The bridge deck was constructed on land at the ends of the viaduct and rolled lengthwise from one pylon to the next, with eight temporary towers providing additional support. The movement was accomplished by a computer-controlled system of pairs of wedges under the deck; the upper and lower wedges of each pair pointing in opposite directions. These were hydraulically operated, and moved repeatedly in the following sequence:

1) The lower wedge slides under the upper wedge, raising it to the roadway above and then forcing the upper wedge still higher to lift the roadway.
2) Both wedges move forward together, advancing the roadway a short distance.
3) The lower wedge retracts from under the upper wedge, lowering the roadway and allowing the upper wedge to drop away from the roadway; the lower wedge then moves back all the way to its starting position. There is now a linear distance between the two wedges equal to the distance forward the roadway has just moved.
4) The upper wedge moves backward, placing it further back along the roadway, adjacent to the front tip of the lower wedge and ready to repeat the cycle and advance the roadway by another increment.

When I see these programs, I realise how we tend to over-glorify ourselves at the smallest achievements!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hockey Updates

Defending Champions India beat Asian Games Champions Korea 7-2 in the final of the BSNL seventh men's Asia Cup hockey tournament in Chennai today. Earlier, India marched to the final with an authoritative 4-1 victory over a fighting Japan in the second semi-final on Saturday.

The women's team didn't do too bad either, but lost out to Korea 2-5 in the semi-finals.

Chak De, India!

Movie Review: Heyy Baby

No, it is not a remake of Baby's Day Out. It's a very original script - and although it's a little similar to Three Men and a Baby, they didn't have Vidya Balan in the English version, remember?

Actually, come to think of it, it really isn't a full fledged copy of the original, and is a pretty good weekend option. Akshay, Ritesh and Fardeen are three sex-crazy bachelors who suddenly find themselves forced to take care of a baby left on their doorstep. The first half is hilarious, as it follows the travails of the forced baby sitters and their adventures with baby food and diapers. Things turn serious when they try to get rid of the kid, which falls terribly sick - although the baby recovers, the three bachelors see a whole new meaning to life and become devoted fathers. Post intermission, there is a big turn in the story - away from the kid, and into the history of it's conception - yes, the baby belongs to Vidya and Akshay. The rest of the movie alternates between some serious drama and some hilarious moments, and ultimately ends with a nice, happy, big family.

The movie starts with the Maa of all items songs - parading all the beauties of the screen you would ever wish to see, with little more than kerchiefs around their waists - and you thought it was a movie for the kids??? Set in Sydney, it has the typical high gloss and rich colors of movies shot in Austraaailia. Akshay repeats his now common "flirt-acting dumb-turning good" performance. Ritesh is at his dumb-but-funny best - his fight with the kids, invoking the Maratha warrior, might well get him in trouble with the Saniks one day :) I think Fardeen is a highly under-rated actor - and pretty handsome and lovable too! Vidya looks beautiful and fat, and of course, continues her welcome tradition of at least one intimate scene per movie. And the surprise package - well, none other than the King himself, in an energetic cameo appearance as the Raj from DDLJ - which earns him a "Love you, SRK" credit at the end!

Overall, the movie gets a thumbs up from me...

What were you Thinking, Mr Captain?

India lost miserably to England in the last and final game of the Natwest tournament, losing the series 4-3.

The only question that has been tormenting is - why would a team that is so good at chasing, go into a final match with 4 bowlers and a stunning batting line up, and then choose to bat first under heavy overcast conditions??? What were you thinking, Mr Captain?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cricket Updates

India won an amazing match in the Natwest series today, chasing 317, and squaring the series 3-3 after being down 1-3. India had done well to hold England till Mascarenhas hit 5 sixes in the last 5 balls off Yuvraj. Dada continued from his man of the match performance in the last game (his 300th) along with Sachin, who scored yet another 90, to give India a solid start, and then Uthappa finished the match in style hitting two beautiful boundaries in the last and final over.

As Uthappa hit the winning runs, the stadium erupted with thousands of tricolors as the stadium blared the mantra of the new, confident, shining India - Chak de, India!

Such an awesome feeling....

Sunday, September 02, 2007

An Evening at Japaloupe with the Horses

With Siddha and Sweta in town, we decided to do something different this weekend - and ended up at Japaloupe Farms for an awesome evening with the dogs, the horses, the geese, and the goats.

We took our first formal horse riding lessons, and it was just awesome! Starting with how to climb into the saddle, to how to hold the reigns, we learnt and practiced walking the horse around, and then moved on to the canter, learning to feel the horse's rhythm and moving with it in complete sync...

An hour and half later, we practiced swinging our legs around and turning full circle on the horse, did some wind down exercises, and finally swung off the horse and gingerly took our first steps back on terra firma.

Then it was time for some hot tea and bhajis, while watching Sarah (check the jump in the pic below!), Rohan (the owner of Japaloupe) and his boys play a real exciting version of polo - one person with a kerchief tucked in his side, and the rest of the riders chasing him trying to snatch the kerchief away!

Here you see Sarah taking a beautifully executed jump. An accomplished rider, Sarah was a treat to watch as she put her horse through the motions...

This is Siddha with the kill - oops, I forgot to add the tiger in the shot!

And while we spent the rest of the weekend nursing our sore backs and thighs, we promised ourselves we would come back again, and again...

India Wins the Asia Cup - Football

In the midst of the India-England series, and Chak De's success leading to the resurgence of an interest in hockey, one interesting event almost went by unnoticed - a young, excited, talented Indian football team had a dream run in the Asia Cup, piping Syria 1-0 in the finals to lift the cup, for the first time after 12 unsuccessful tries.

I am not a football fan really, and I do not watch too much action in the sport, but I did see some snippets from various matches on Doordarshan, and I was pretty impressed.

Driven by new coach Bob Houghton, and inspired by the ever-youthful Baichung Bhutia, youngsters like goalie Subrato Paul, Sunil Chhetri and NP Pradeep, are definitely giving football crazy fans in Kerela,, Bengal, and Goa, a lot to look forward to in the coming months...