Babble Without a Pause

December 8, 2015

Perspectives On Being Fleeced (and other stories)

paul-noth-then-we-carefully-disguise-the-bribes-as-legal-fees-by-changing-the-word-new-yorker-cartoon

INDIA (2005)

  1. Passport office. 10am. Stand in line 4-5 hours to get your passport renewed. Wait for hours. Get told to come back the next day.
  2. You decide it’s not worth your time.
  3. You pay some Rupeeses to expedite your application processing.
  4. Case AUTO-MAGICALLY gets processed the next day and you have your passport.

    BRIBE, they call it.

    “Third world country. What did you expect?” I overhear.

    200_s

 

U.S.A (2015)

  1. Submit application to have your work visa renewed. Wait 4 months for  a process that typically takes a month or two (AT MOST). Get informed by friendly neighborhood attorneys that it could take up to 6 months more, BUT nice guy that you are, you could technically continue working while waiting for approval, but you are virtually under house arrest and literally cannot leave the country for vacation, emergency, or even if Jesus returns (because History lesson, Jesus was from the Middle East, not Amurica).
  2. You decide to not have to be stuck for another 4 months due to government inefficiencies and red tape.
  3. You pay some Dollarses in fees to expedite your visa processing.
  4. Case AUTO-MAGICALLY gets approved in two weeks and you have your visa.

    PREMIUM PROCESSING, they call it.

    “First world country. Things get done quick.” I overhear.

    200_s

#JustSaying

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September 21, 2012

Meanwhile, at Apple HQ

__________________________________________________
From: Kwon Oh-hyun [mailto:ceomail@samsung.com] 
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 1:21 AM
To: Tim Cook
Cc: Samsung, HTC, Motorola
Subject: RE: Hahahahaaaaaaa …..

Timmy,

You were saying …..?

__________________________________________________

From: Tim Cook [mailto:stevewasbetter@apple.com] 
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 4:12 PM
To: Steve Jobs
Cc: Samsung, HTC, Motorola
Subject: RE: Hahahahaaaaaaa …..

 
Over his dead bo….. Oh.
Sent from my Blackberry
__________________________________________________

From: Kwon Oh-hyun [mailto:ceomail@samsung.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:45 AM
To: Steve Jobs
Cc: Samsung, HTC, Motorola
Subject: RE: Hahahahaaaaaaa …..

 
Hey Steve,
What’s up, my man. No longer at Apple, I see. They kick you out again?
PS – When are you coming on board with us. You know we always have a job for you, here at Samsung.

 
Regards,
Choi

 


__________________________________________________

From: Steve Jobs [mailto:noreply@apple.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 8:20 AM
To: Steve Jobs, Tim Cook
Cc: Samsung-Worldwide
Subject: [Out of Office] RE: Hahahahaaaaaaa …..
I am out of office with restricted access to email, dependent on the 3G connectivity at the place where I must, like all others, go.

 
__________________________________________________

From: Kwon Oh-hyun [mailto:ceomail@samsung.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 8:15 AM
To: Steve Jobs, Tim Cook
Cc: Samsung-Worldwide
Subject: RE: Hahahahaaaaaaa …..

 
Dear Apple,

 

Hows about you use some of that $1 billion we loaned you, to make your maps not suck. And while you’re at it, perhaps you could use leftover funds toward hiring an actual adult artist to make your 3D maps not look like something a 4-year old drew while high on ingested crayons and inhaled glue.

 
Best,
Samsung

 

__________________________________________________
From: Larry Page [mailto:callmelarry@google.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 9:00 PM
To: Sergei
Cc: Samsung, HTC, Motorola
Subject: Hahahahaaaaaaa …..
Hey fellas,

 
Look what I just found. Some Friday lulz for everyone. Tee hee hee.
http://theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com

 
TGIF!
Larry

 

 

January 11, 2012

Where everything’s made up and the point don’t matter

This morning I awoke, like I always do on a sunny Monday morning, with a smile on my face. Several minutes of scratching and belching, a couple of looks in the bathroom mirror, more scratching, and a glass of juice later, I happened to sit down to read Cricinfo, as I always do, and happened to chance upon the following tribute written in the wake of India’s crushing loss to Australia, replete with gyaan from past and present intellectuals, cricket pundits, and miscellaneous afficionados, including such greats as Maninder Singh (a former cokehead whose worldwide prominence can be gauged from the absence of even a photo on his obligatory Wikipedia page), but mercifully devoid of  scholastic analysis from that extraordinarily articulate cricketing mind of our time, Cricinfo’s very own Sambit Bal.

 

Having made it through aforementioned piece, I was filled with this sickening feeling in my stomach. No, not gas. It was the familiar feeling of having just wasted 10 minutes of your time reading an article so replete with horse manure, that you start experiencing the all too familiar existential angst of why you are where you are today, what is the meaning of life, and how the 10 minutes you just spent has forever been lost, to the infinite universe around you.

 

For those of you too lazy to click the hyperlink above, let me put it to you in a nutshell. India sail to Australia to play cricket. Ok, US citizens and NRIs and general non-cricket-watcher-types, here is where you get off the train.

 

Where was I? Oh yes:

  1. India sail fly to Australia for 4 test matches.
  2. India lose first 2 test matches.
  3. Experts start calling for heads to roll.

 

Cricinfo, let me start with you. When you began, as a small, lowly startup, much the same as CricBuzz is today, you were good at what you did. You were the shooting star in the online cricket world, trying to bridge the divide left behind when cricket, like most sports (kabaddi being the exception) began crossing over from the print medium of brilliant magazines like SportStar to the online medium. Over the years, you began crossing over into the Reality TV channel of cricket, where every move, every quote, every statistic, and every match no matter how contrived, banal, irrelevant or pointless began to be analysed, overanalyzed, and hyperanalyzed to the point that Elton John began feeling left out. Rather than stay a pure medium of reporting on cricket for India and its cricket-hungry passionate crowd, you sellouts then, well, sold yourself out to ESPN, becoming in the process, ESPNCricinfo, a web portal that, for all intents and purposes, has a live scorecard that auto-refreshes at a pace slower than the plot of ‘How I met your mother’ moves. You have become the Bollywood Masala, the ZOOM of cricket websites, keen on filling up your pages with backtrack links, ‘expert’ opinions, reports, galleries, plays, bulletins, opinions on reports, comments on galleries, and that god-damned Facebook ‘Like’ button. It is sad to see you fall this far.

 

Sanjay Manjrekar, whose sole claim to fame is __________ (anybody who knows, please fill the blanks), is one of those diehard supporters of Thayndhulkar. I understand, Mumbaikar and all. Even so, to hear him say: “VVS averages 20 in last 12 overseas innings … Even if he gets a good score in next Test it will not serve India long…” was appalling  expected. Well, Mr. Manjrekar, by that erudite rationale, he should not have been selected in the first place. His spot should have been handed to Rohit Sharma from the get go. Would’ve saved Rohit the embarassment of being thrust into the furnace without adequate preparation. It would’ve spared Laxman the humiliation. And it sure as hell would have spared us from having to see your post-hangover-face, babbling babble into the Cricinfo webcam.

 

If you think I’m being overly harsh to Cricinfo and it’s ilk, let me eliminate all traces of perceived bias, and simply present the facts for you:

  • Dravid: 39 (by the time you read this).
  • Sachin: 39 (by the time Cricinfo begins re-runs of ‘Men in Blue are the awesomest‘ articles come April)
  • Laxman: 37 (Atleast till November).

 

I agree, the process of phasing out the seniors is of paramount importance, to ensure Team India is where it wants to be three, maybe four years from now. In the context of India’s ageing stars being replaced, the logical choice would be to bring the curtains down on Sachin Tendulkar. Or perhaps Rahul Dravid. I guess what’s confounding me is, in what context is Laxman the automatic first choice to be given the pink slip. He is the youngest of the three, has the best record against Australia of the three, and in all probability will be the last of the three middle-order stalwarts to retire. Yet he’s the one (surprise, surprise) in the crosshairs.

 

The point one erudite member of the Cricinfo bandwagon made was interesting. In his article, he says among other things, (and I paraphrase): ‘Laxman has averaged a shade over 40 in the past 12 months. That average is significantly bolstered by a 58* and 176* he made against a dispirited West Indies side at the Feroz Shah Kotla and Eden Gardens last year’. Ah yes, the doesn’t-matter-because-it-was-made-against-an-also-ran-side innings. Perhaps we should exclude innings of that kind from your career record, Sanzay Manjrekar. Or you, Ravi Shastri. It would be worth taking a gander at those stats then. It can be safely said that the same dime-a-dozen commentator would’ve been crawling out of the woodwork to criticize Laxman had he not performed against the same ‘lowly’ West Indies side. How does one win with you guys, I wonder.

 

The icing on the dung cake that is cricket punditry was this gem from Anshuman Gaekwad:

Sachin still has the class, Rahul is very hard-working but I am not sure how long Laxman will be able to continue.

I see. Rahul Dravid is hard-working, VVS is not. Sachin has the class, Laxman …. (I won’t dare repeat those words, for it is, in my opinion, blasphemy). For the record, it will be well nigh impossible to discover another batsman, in this generation, or the next or even TEN generations from now, that will have the class, the grace and the beauty of batsmanship that Vangipurupu Venkata Sai Laxman charmed the cricketing world with. The man made batting a thing of beauty, the wristy flick to leg an art form.

 

In case I haven’t already, let me make it clear. I’m not trying in the least to imply Laxman is a better batsman than either Dravid or Sachin. The three of them have, between them, more than 30,000 runs in tests. All three have their place in the pantheon of Indian greats assured, whether they retire today, or two years down the line. But to call out Laxman, a man who single-handedly won India matches in the 2nd innings chasing, for the past 2 years, is abominable, nay reprehensible. Where was Gautam Gambhir, for example. Or MS Dhoni. Where, even, was Virat Kohli. This isn’t to pin the blame on the proverbial donkey. All I’m saying (as I’m sure a lot of discerning Indian fans understand), is that it takes a team to win, just as it takes a team to lose. India did not lose the two test matches so far on account of one man’s failure. It has been an abject batting display for a while now, and, given Laxman’s golden run against Australia, it is a fool who would call for blooding Rohit Sharma at Perth, Australia’s famed paciest, bounciest wicket. Sure, Rohit deserves a chance, sure Laxman will retire one day. Given his contribution to the team’s growth and improvement of their overseas record over the last decade, the least we can do is give this Indian great his chance to walk out on his terms. It isn’t like young upstarts like young Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma or Suresh Raina or even Yuvraj Singh (I know, young?, what was I thinking) have exactly burst through the ranks, scoring centuries at will, or standing up when needed, so to play the age card is a disingenuous excuse for the selectors and the aforementioned pundits.

 

Gentlemen of the on-field caliber and off-field class and upstanding spirit of Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar have rarely been the type to sit around playing into their twilight years, for records, endorsements or money, that much is guaranteed. Neither are they likely to hop into the commentary box at the drop of a hundred dollar bill (I’m looking at you Shastri and Gavaskar). When they leave, it shall be on their terms, for they will know when they hear Father Time blow the whistle to call a stop to their careers. So, this one time, I address you, Harsha Bhogle, Ian Chappell, Sanjay Manjrekar, Ravi Shastri, Maninder Singh and you countless other corporate country clowns. I also address you ‘fans’ who were drooling all over Sachin when the man scored 200* a couple years ago and went on to win the World Cup last year, and have turned on him in a heartbeat with such status messages as: “Sachin kabhi to khelo jab India is in trouble……..”. I have but one thing to say to you:

Dayavittu nimma pie-hole annu shut maadiri.

Krupaya apna pie-hole band kar de.

Dei Rascala. Pie-hole shut panna da.

Krupa karun tuza pie-hole band thev.

SHUT. YOUR. PIE-HOLE.

October 30, 2011

Trash Metal and the Indian Grand Pricks

Delhi. That land of political scams, that Indian-Italian lady, and anti-corruption protestors with varied names like Ramesh, James, Iqbal, Mona, Donna, Shoewalla, Rocketwalla and Jain, wearing placards and all holding banners saying “I am Anna”.  Identity crisis? Me thinks so. Their parents would be so sad. Yes, the same Delhi that last year played a clueless, ill-prepared host to the world’s athletes (and some local stray canine friends) at the Commonwealth Games, and came out with its head held high, by some stroke of blind luck.  Yes, that very Delhi was in the news for all the wrong reasons (shocker!) yesterday.

First, certain hardcore music fans took the term ‘Trash Metal’ a trifle too seriously. Word on the street is that some half-wit Delhi loons, upon hearing that Metallica and co. had expressed reservations about the security arrangements, took it upon themselves to express umbrage the way only Delhi waaley know how. By storming the stage for a theatrical re-enactment of St. Anger, followed by the customary mother/daughter/sister slogans, and general destruction. Metallica, you only have yourself to blame. The people of Delhi when asked, chanted in unison that you are hereby Unforgiven. To them it’s all about the music, and Nothing Else Matters.

The violence on Friday was a perfect advertisement for the Formula One race coming up on Sunday, where a dog almost ran onto the track during practice on Friday, almost causing an accident that would’ve added to the list of unfortunate casualties in auto racing in the past week around the world.

Speaking of unfortunate accidents, Lady Gaga is scheduled to perform at an exclusive after-party at some yuppie upscale watering hole in some ramshackle downscale suburb of Old Delhi. An after-party hosted by Arjun Rampal, a man I thought was possessed of some semblance of dignity and common sense. That is, until, when asked about the ₹40,000 price tag for a seat at the concert,  he opened his mouth to say : “One has to understand that the costs are very high. Maybe if we had a bigger venue with capacity for more people, we could have gone easy on the price. But with less people, it becomes difficult to lower the price. After all it’s business, and we have to break even.” Indeed, break even he has to, for he is a struggling businessman with no other source of income but to fleece India’s teenage monsters. The local media have been going gaga (I’m sorry, it really was too easy, I can’t believe I held that one in so long) with reports of the exclusive after-party and Rampal’s scarcely contained glee, as he giggled and blushed like a little 10-year-old girl waiting with bated breath for Miss Gaga to perform at his exclusive event.

Out on the streets, Delhi’s sex workers were heard expressing anguish and outrage that Miss Gaga was able to rake in upwards of ₹40,000 for crooning lyrics as profound and soulful as:

Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick
I wanna take a ride on your disco stick
Don’t think too much, just bust that kick
I wanna take a ride on your disco stick

while they are barely able to command ₹500 for offering the same (in roughly similar sounding words) to commuters and passers-by at red light areas.

Back to the Formula One race itself. A long-cherished dream of every Indian. Almost as cherished a dream as becoming an engineer, once upon a time. Cue an incessant stream of Facebook news feed updates with posts titled anything from “I’m so proud of India”, to “Vande Mataram”, to “Vijay Mallya for president”. Call me silly, but I’m willing to wager a not-too-small sum of money, that AR Rahman been booked well in advance, to be up on the starting line singing the National Anthem prior to, after and during the race. Why you ask? Because it is a matter of national pride, to host a global event of such delusions of grandeur and prestige. Remind me again, why Indians are not up in arms against this race, like we all were when the La Tomatina festival reared its rotten head in Bangalore, Delhi, Ahmedabad and other cities around the country a month ago. Back then the outrage was borne out of depriving farmers of their hard-earned living, paying them a pittance, and we all were suitably outraged, venting on MyFace, YourSpace, Tumblr, Grumblr and a million other social networks out there.

To be clear, I’m not against the sport itself. But let’s try and get this straight shall we, it’s JUST a race. And like any other race, it is a sporting spectacle, run as always, by politicians who got their cut of the government money that went into financing this exercise in phallus size comparison. It is no reflection of the power of a country, it is no statement of prowess or ambition. All the pundits will tell you it is GOLD to host an international event. It brings in tourism, it boosts revenues, and gives our economy a massive erection. But maybe we can put off the jhanda waving and the tricolour hats until we don’t have as many underage children getting sold as sex slaves in the capital. Until our bhai log in the capital can keep themselves civilized at public events, instead of  going apeshit crazy at the drop of a hat. Until, perhaps, the leader of our country grows a pair, and does something significant towards bringing to justice a hardened remorseless terrorist after 3 years of dawdling. Scratch that last one, it ain’t gonna happen.

Till then, perhaps we can put hosting global events on the back burner, focus on things that need focus, and go back to paying ₹1000 to watch Shahrukh Khan whoring himself out on any number of commercial ventures *cough* movies, and give our film fraternity a well-earned pat on the back for their achievements in the field of scarcely-credible-cinema-making.

April 8, 2011

Ind-glorious Basterds


2:30 am – It could be pre-match anxiety, the cold in my matchbox apartment, or the acid reflux in my throat from having wolfed down 3 parathas with paneer makhani barely an hour ago. Either way, I can’t seem to sleep. I take a walk outside my apartment in 40⁰F weather, thoughts all the while on what might transpire over the next 10 hours.

2:45 am – Back home. The walk definitely helped. Dilemma time now. Stay up for another 1 hour, then get ready. Or sleep for an hour, and risk oversleeping and missing the 1s (possibly Indian) innings. I fall asleep …  still weighing my options.

3:46 am – Hmm, so there is such a thing as a biological clock. The alarm I set for 4 am has yet to go off, yet here I am, wide eyed. Possibly the first time I’ve woken without hitting the snooze button 10 times or smashing the clock against the floor. Time to take a shower, methinks. Sri Lankan cricket team stinks, that doesn’t mean I should too. A quick shower, brush my teeth and I’m set. Meanwhile, in my apartment, 3 of my friends are snoring, having driven down from New Jersey to watch the match.

4:20 am – Frantic calls from fellow cricaholics,  enquiring my latitude and longitude, and how long it might take for me to walk/drive/fly the quarter mile to our rendezvous point, their apartment. I assure them I’m ready and leaving, but end up getting distracted and online, chatting for a few fleeting moments with the fiancée, who’s not yet fallen asleep.

4:35 am – Phone rings yet again. Friends yet again, wondering if I got mugged while walking down the road in ‘The Greatest City In America’. I assure them I’m not, and proceed to close said chat session, much to fiancée’s chagrin. Run blind from the apartment, jump into the trusty BatMobile Honda Civic. Fly at 70 mph (I think) in a residential area. I’m there. FINALLY.

4:35 am – Yes, it’s been exactly 0 seconds from leaving my apartment, to getting to the friends’ place. Impressive, yes. Why thank you. We leave, walking at a brisk pace, still faster than Munaf Patel can bowl. In between, we walk through the university campus, discussing the merits or lack thereof, of the theme song, “De Ghuma Ke”, in context of the 1999 anthem; “Come on India, dikha do”.

4:45 am – We’ve walked a ¾ mile in 10 minutes. We’re HERE. We walk up the 2 flights of stairs to where the room at Nolan’s should be set up and ready for action. A BIG queue outside the entrance seems to indicate it is already house-full. Apparently, not. The undergrad student in possession of the keys seems to have a malfunctioning biological clock and is nowhere to be seen. The faithful stand intently in front of a laptop showing the live stream, and stand at attention as the national anthem is played. Goosebumps. Some sing it loud, others whisper the words, still others with eyes closed When it’s over, the WOOOs, YEAAAHHHs and whistles pierce the early morning silence.

——————————————————————————————–

5:00 am – Ok, so we’re in the room. Front row chairs immediately grabbed, and apparently, we still don’t have the keys to the inner control room which has the remote controls for the projector and the ceiling mounted big screen. In the sea of 50-odd Indian fans in the room, we now spot 3 Sri Lankan fans, dressed in their team uniforms, and draped in the SL flag. It shows you what this game should be about; bringing people together. Folks pull out two laptops, mount them on strategically placed tables on left and right sides of rooms. Connection to WillowTV established, we are just in time to see Tharanga and Dilshan take guard, to our man, Zak.

5:04 am – It’s slowly become apparent that there’s a delay between the two laptops. Left-side-of-room Lenovo is 5-6 seconds ahead of right-side-of-room Dell. We figure this out after entire left side of room erupts in joy. We wonder why, and then erupt again, as as Tharanga falls on our screens too, to a stunning catch from Veeru. Jai Ho, and all that good stuff. 1 down. 9 more Lankans to go.

5:05 am – Funny status update from friend on Facebook. “Pehle goron ko haraaya. Phir haram khoron ko haraaya. Ab Sita ke choron ko haraaya” [Roughly translates to –  “First we beat the whites (Australia). Then we beat the (insert expletive here) Pakistanis. Now to beat the kidnappers of Sita”] On a side note, projector room keys have now arrived, and thanks to some nifty work by the IGSA guys, we are all set now, and watching the action on the proverbial big-screen.

5:25 am – A large crowd seems to be heading to the back of the room. Come on, it can’t be over that quick, I think to myself. Turns out, a certain Donuts company of the Dunkin’ kind, has very graciously offered to sponsor a light breakfast for the 100-odd people assembled. Mmm, bagels, chocolate donut and potato chips, topped off with coffee.

5:30 am to 9:10 am – I’m not sure what happened. Woozy on the details here, but I’m woken from my blissful sleep by a friend who tells me SL have wrapped up their innings. About time. Boy, that was some good boredom-plus-food-induced coma. It’s true what they say. If Kumara Sangakkara won’t put you to sleep, then Kulasekara Mudiyanselage Dinesh Nuwan Kulasekara (yes, that’s one person) will.

——————————————————————————————–

9:23 am – Sachin and Sehwag stride out to the square.  I’ve always wondered why it’s called that, especially since from where I’m sitting, it almost certainly appears to be rectangular. Oh well. Note to self. Go to an optician and have your eyes checked. Watching them take guard for the innings that could shape the fate of this cup, I am itching to yell ‘THIS IS SPARTAAA!!” but somehow manage to temper my excitement.

9:25 am – Gone. Out. LBW. To baal-ki-dukan. Whattaball. Stunned, we sit. Sehwag has immediately referred it, so surely there must be an inside-edge. He must know something we don’t. The side-on view – not a no-ball. Pitching? In line. Hitting? In line. Surely it hit bat before pad? Turns out it hit more air than bat before the pad. 3rd umpire verdict. OUT. Goddammit.

9:32 am – Ok, Sachin is in pristine touch. The ball seems to be rocketing off his bat, but for whatever reason, doesn’t make its way to the boundary the 1st couple of times.  The outfield surely doesn’t seem lightning fast as it did in the 1st half. Conspiracy theorist time. I’m betting they took out the outfield during the dinner break, and put in a heavy, sodden turf when no one was looking.

9:32:54.5 am – Sachin. Ramesh. Tendulkar. Bat – Straight. Power – Immense. Punch – Short. Ball – Flies. GOD. IS IN THE HOUSE.

9:40 am – Sri Lanka’s side-arm chucker bowler Lasith Malinga runs in. Bowls a perfect outswinger to the man. Who reaches for it, and a significant outside edge is gobbled by the keeper.

Malinga to Tendulkar, OUT, The ball that silenced a billion. Most of Wankhede is silent. Some of it is very noisy, and has Sri Lankan flags waving away in a frenzy. Sachin’s World Cup is over. No 100th 100 today. Malinga gets another over, another go at a wicket, and he responds with a wicket. It’s that patent back of a length ball outside off and as always, Malinga got it to go away. Sachin tried the same shot, last ball of the previous Malinga over, trotting across and looking for the steer through the off side. This time he edged it, and though it was dying on Sanga, he wasn’t going to put it down. He dives to the right and comes up with the biggest wicket of the World Cup

SR Tendulkar c †Sangakkara b Malinga 18 (21m 14b 2×4 0x6)

Hushed silence. So quiet, it’s almost as if as a nation, we’ve died 1.2 billion collective deaths. Some reach for their cellphones, to update foreboding I-told-you-so status messages on Facebook. Others ooh, aah and swear under their breaths. A friend looks at me and goes: “Ok, Macys’ chalna hai?”. Pat comes the reply. “Not a chance. Let’s sit and watch this pan out.”

——————————————————————————————–

9:45 am – It still hasn’t sunk in, that century no. 100 will have to wait another day. The poet, the romantic, the diehard fan in us all still thinks Sachin will walk back out of the dressing room, call for UDRS to review the decision, and that infernal heart-beat sound on the slow motion stump microphone will fail to detect the edge, thereby giving him another life.

9:50 am – Ok. Fine. Sachin didn’t do it. Gautam and Virat start off circumspect, knowing another wicket at this stage will cause irreparable damage. A couple quiet overs. It doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t. The expert commentator in each of us kicks in. There’s about a 100 of us in the room right now. Every run, every single, every forward defence, every leave is applauded as I have never heard before.

10:13 am – Gambhir steps out to Randiv. He lofts. It goes miles in the air (really Sunny Gavaskar? Miles? Where’d you learn measurement? Your physics teacher would be so ashamed of you right now, if, you know, you hadn’t scored those 10,000 test runs). Kulasekara gets under it, and …… drops it.  Gambhir, now on 30. “You just dropped the world cup, son”.

10:38 am – Gambhir tickles Murali around the corner. Murali doesn’t seem amused at being tickled in public. Maybe Gauti should try under the soles of his feet next time. Turns around for the second, runs in, desperately short, flings himself in to the crease. Thankfully Sangakkara hasn’t collected it cleanly, so our little man is in. The dive that inspired an entire Cricinfo article.

.

10:53 am –As Ravi Shastri might say, “against the run of play”, a STUNNING catch from Dilshan, whose name, like his famous Dilscoop, is suffixed with a TM. Seemingly innocuous ball. Attempt to whip to leg. Flies to the right of Dilshan. Who plucks it like a chicken’s feathers at a poultry store (Sorry, couldn’t think of anything more appropriate that could be plucked). Kohli is pretty damn pissed as he walks off. Well played Virat. No shame there.

10:53 am – WHAT? Mahendra Singh WHO is in? Are you effing kidding me? The guy whose top score all tournament has been 34. To face Slinga’ Malinga? Damnit. “If this guy likes living on the edge so much, perhaps we should just push him off it the next time” I think to myself as Malinga runs in to bowl to the Indian captain. Calls for his head ring out across the room. As the wise zenmaster Sidhu says: “IF if’s and and’s were pots and pans …..” something something

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Let’s be honest. When was the last time you sat through an ENTIRE 50 over innings. Never, I presume. Me neither. Yet here I am, sitting in the front row seat, surrounded by about 100 fellow maniacs, applauding every single, every forward defence, every box(cup) adjustment, and every drinks break. Dhoni reaches out, pats it down the ground to long-on? No worries. Applause rings out across the room. Gauti steps out and gently coaxes the ball into the gap? Even louder, we go “Gambhiiiir ….. Gambhir <CLAP CLAP CLAP>“. Inbetween, chants of “Jinkalaka naka-naka ooh aah, ooh aah” start up. The target is being whittled down with such assuredness, that us old-timers, followers of cricket from the mustachioed days of Kumble, Srinath, Ganguly and Azhar instinctively sense something ominous about to happen. Can you blame us?

11: 23 am – Gambhir and Dhoni, continue ticking precious runs off the target. The required rate goes above 6 barely a couple of times, and everytime it does, Dhoni steps back to a customary short ball from Muttaih Muralitharan, whacks it through covers, with deceptively ferocious power, and watches it rocket to the fence. Russell Arnold, he of the annoying nasal voice, says something about “destiny” and an Indian win, which seems totally arbitrary at the time, but as minutes tick on, he seems to be on to something.

12:20 pm – OUT! Gambhir has, as is his wont, tried to give the opposition a chance. As a country, we’re renowned the world-over for (apart from call-centers), being a hospitable people. As if trying to exemplify that fact, as he did thrice against Australia in the quarters, he runs down the pitch, and half-cuts, half-slaps the ball, which doesn’t bounce as anticipated, and the resulting edge cannons into the stumps. WHY the f*ck Gauti?!!! Anyway, once the choice abuses directed at female relatives are done with, we stand up as one to applaud an innings, scarcely believable not so much in its production, but in its timing and context. Generous applause continues for a whole minute.

12:30 pm – Powerplay time. 30 balls. 30 to get. 5 overs. 3 from Malinga. 2 from Murali. It’s come down to this. The atmosphere is still tense, as is the knot in my stomach. By this point, I’ve had so much coffee, I might soon Bleed Bru. Walking around the room trying to scavenge the last donut from the table in the back, it gives you goosebumps, looking at the crowd that has gathered. Apparently word has gotten round, so it’ s heart-warming to see an old gentleman and his wife, probably 70 years of age, sitting at the back of the room, holding hands, looking intently, squinting to catch a glimpse of the far away screen. They can tell you how it felt when we last won one of these. Glory days of Indian cricket, they will tell you. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, nothing ever will.

12:34 pm – Malinga has just bowled the last over for 3 runs. 27 required from 24 balls. For the first time in a while, the required rate is more than run-a-ball, with Murali due to come on next. Palpable tension in the room. And THEN. Sangakkara turns away from Murali. Apparently he doesn’t have enough faith in his trump card tonight. 800-wickets in tests. 534 in ODIs. But today, he’s been rendered toothless Just like his smile. It’s Kulasekara to bowl the 47th over. As one, each of us quietly says a thank-you to our brother-from-another-mother, Sangakkara.

1.4.1.4.0.1. Just like that, its down to 16 from 18 balls. Surely, we have it now.

12:38 pm – Malinga, for the 48th over. Ok, lets just see him off. Thrash Kula again. Dhoni has other ideas. Consecutive whips to the leg-side, fly away to the boundary. We’re up on our feet now. Everyone. Every known mother, father, brother- and sister-related chant rings out from literally every mouth in the room. I’m hugging strangers, back-slapping people I don’t even know, screaming choice abuses and high-fiving friends so hard that my hands are ringing from the impact.

12:42 pm (Probably) – 4 runs to get. 11 balls. Kulasekara runs in to bowl, lands it on a length, curving into Dhoni, who swings. Bat traces a beautiful arc, straight through the ball. Shastri is mumbling some tripe (as always), but stops talking, and changes mid-sentence. “….. absolutely magnificent ….  DHONNIIII ….. finishes it off in style!!!”. Side-on camera from square leg takes over. Dhoni stays still in his follow-through. Frozen in time. He takes a forward step, bat upright in left hand, twirls it a la Rajnikant in slo-mo, and holds it upright once more. Captain COOL indeed. What style. What a sexy. What an effing innings. Whatay match. I can’t even hear myself think, as pandemonium descends on Nolan’s.  Screeching, yelling abusing, shouting, hugging, fist-bumping. High-fiving.

We’ve beaten them. We’ve beaten them all. INDIA. CHAMPIONS. ONCE MORE.


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March 17, 2011

App-lied Religion

Early last week, the Catholic church announced with breathless excitement, the news everyone had been waiting to hear for decades now. No, the priests who sodomized children for decades weren’t finally found guilty and sentenced to life behind bars. The pope – who earlier the same week had urged his hordes of faithful minions priests worldwide, to “help people see the face of Christ on the Web, through blogs, Web sites and videos” –  announced the worldwide release of “Confession: A Roman Catholic App”, the 1st iPhone app officially sanctioned by the Catholic church (and now available through iTunes for only $1.99, YAY!), at a packed papal enclave at dawn.

For those not in the know, let me break it down for you. Catholic confession is an entirely futile exercise wherein non-ten-commandment-abiding sinners christians voluntarily enter a church-stationed wooden cubicle roughly twice a week, reveal saucy details of the wickedness and transgressions of their morally corrupt lives to a bishop, priest or cardinal on the other side of aforementioned box (separated by a veil), in hopes of absolution from the same clergyman who has lesser morals than an Aesop’s fable.

Retweeting the papal ordnance, a grumpy looking archbishop of Canterbury (better known by his twitter handle, @daddyneverlovedme) was heard incoherently grumbling something about how his church-sponsored iPhone was meant for snapping suggestive pictures of young altar boys, not for confession, of all things.

Aside from my barely-disguised animosity toward a catholic church besieged by scandal, and onto the star of this show, the app itself.  The login page of the app reads (and I am NOT kidding) : “Please touch a user below to continue”. Pardon my naivety, is this an app for confession or a how-to for repressed priests? Because, those guys have demonstrated quite conclusively that they don’t really need an invitation. It also purports to be the “Age, vocation and gender specific examination of conscience”. By that criterion, it baffles the mind how “Are you a middle aged, repressed lonely priest” is not the first question on this app. Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit. I hear that’s scheduled for release in Confession 2.0.

The home page on iTunes goes on to promote the serious utility of such a handy app, citing it as “the iPhone app for making confession easier”. Gee, I wonder why Jesus didn’t think of that. Instead of travelling light years from his home in the sky, to offer himself for your sins, all he had to do was look up the great cosmic iTunes store, download the salvation app, answer a few trivial (for him) questions; and VOILA  redemption guaranteed for generations of unborn sinners. Or Moses. Silly ol’ Moses. Rather than sitting on Mt. Sinai for 40 days painstakingly carving 10 comandments in stone, he simply needed to connect to HeavenWireless, and download the pdf onto his tablet. Perhaps the prophet Mohammed should have asked the angel Gabriel to download the iKoran app to his phone, turn on bluetooth and sync it to his notebook atop Mount Hira. I mean, Gautama Buddha sounds like he was genuinely off his rocker, taking all his clothes off and sitting under a tree, when enlightenment was just a download away. Were he alive today, he’d only have to plug in his 13.1″ laptop to his BSNL 56k dial-up modem, and lookup Kurt Cobain on Google, to find nirvana.

The three god-fearing, born-again, young Catholic men from South Bend, Indiana, crafters of this supreme innovation seem to be not-too-quietly patting themselves on the back at their newly earned all access pass to the pearly gates. “We tried to make it as secure as possible,” says Patrick Leinen, a 31-year-old Internet programmer who built the app with his brother, Chip, a hospital systems administrator, and Ryan Kreager, a Notre Dame doctoral candidate. Yes, you got that right. “As secure as possible”. An app, developed by 3 out of work computer nerdlings, ostensibly overseen and inspired by clergymen. Definitely nothing that could go wrong there. Surely no backdoor (pun MOST CERTAINLY intended) to relay the contents of your daily electronic confession to the waiting eyes, ears (and hands?) of a thousand bishops in underground Vatican sweatshops, poring over details of your everyday life. If the app takes off in popularity like it’s developers expect it to, you honestly shouldn’t be surprised if father TouchMeLot approaches you after sunday service to let you know that he knows who you poked this week (on Facebook or otherwise), and whether or not you were using protection at the time of said poking (Note to non-technical readers: no matter how much the pope Benedict tries to convince you that using protection is sinful, it is good to protect yourself from nasty viruses transmitted by poking strangers wirelessly in public. Don’t believe me? Look here). Cardinal Angelo Sexophile now has up-to-the-minute stats on  all your transgressions which in turn allows him, at the proverbial click of a button, to shame you for the stunningly accurate count of times you yelled ‘Bloody Mary’ at that loud annoying girl Mary from work, slouched in the corner of the pub, while swigging your 10th bloody mary on a sad, lonely Friday night.

Confession has long been promoted by the church as a way to get closer to God, the path to redemption for the sinful (read, all non-Christian gentiles) to ease the burdens of their pagan lifestyle, and touted as the way to a lighter conscience. And now, it appears, a lighter wallet as well. A small request to future developers of the iSalvation, iPray, iBhajan, iNamaaz, iZen and other copycat apps; please don’t make me have to touch this Patrick guy, whoever he is, just to login to my e-confession. Please. I’d rather not.

 

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