The Anglo-Indian Premier League

Finally India has its own club sport game on an international level…worth talking about. Sure we have had football for scores of years, but I bet you can’t name one foreign player (make that three for Bengalis, Goan and Mallus). And No, Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Chettri are not foreigners.

Anyway I digress. IPL has caught everyones imagination. Anyone can rattle off their favourite team’s combinations as well as dole out dollops of punditry on its fortunes.

Sounds familiar? For any football fan it should. That’s pretty much what every fan of the EPL talks about the whole year long. So I thought I would attempt at drawing parallels between the teams in the IPL and the EPL.

Chennai Super Kings, or CSK, go through the round robin stages without much fanfare but yet, somehow manage to end up at the top of the heap at the end of the season, season after season. And that damn Manchester United does the same thing. Eerily, both teams have a core that is unchanged for quite some time now consisting of one or two stars along with a handful of when-the-bloody-hell-did-he-start-playing-so-well type of players. An ex-CSK player, Fleming, becomes the new coach and maybe the same for United –Giggs or Scholes is your call. And their fans are almost the same – arrogant, boastful, ‘whistle podu’ people who walk around at the end of the season with that I-told-you-we-would-win look.

Ambani is like Abramovich. Well at least both are filthy rich and their names start with A and own we-can-but-we-wont-win teams. Like Chelsea, Mumbai Indians start off the season with a bang and flatter to deceive with startling consistency. Both sides arguably boast teams that have the right-man-for-the-right-job-in-the-right-place – a scenario so perfect that it leaves them also awestruck at times. And then they are the proud owners of the tag of most expansive waste of money ever -- Keiron Pollard and Fernando Torres.

Kolkata Knight Riders are the perfect copy of Arsenal, where the team owner/manager outshines the team consistently through the season – a battle where I think Wenger wins by a nose. Their fans perhaps have the best technical knowledge which is good considering they have to argue their case every year for their eternal problem of why-our-team-messed-up-yet-again-so-close-to-the-finish. While KKR managed to rid themselves of Dada, Arsenal are still weighed down by the dadagiri of Fabregas.

Royal Challengers Bangalore, like Liverpool, is the forever challengers. They have one central player around whom the team keeps changing – Gerrard, also known as Kohli in namma Bangalooru. And then they make the buy of the season … that one player who spins their fortunes around singlehandedly. Yet sadly since the buy was in the middle of the season, it turns out to be too-little-too-late by the ever-smiling Suarez/Gayle. And just as King Kenny keeps inspiring the team, King Kumble does the same in his managerial role.

Rajasthan Royals are like Everton, forever punching above their weight and punching damn hard and true while they are about it. They both wear blue and while Everton don’t have a flamboyant player/coach like Warne, only their fans know what David Moyes has inspired an average team to achieve consistently for almost a decade.

Delhi Daredevils of the season past were one heck of a maverick team boasting some of the stars of world cricket – Sehwag, Warner, Dilshan, DeVillers, Gambhir, McGrath, Vettori – and all came to naught. Manchester City someone? Despite the likes of Boateng, Kompany, Lescott, Silva, de Jong, Toure, Balotelli, they continuously rely through the season on just one man … Tevez. Daredevils anyone? Sehwag is still around now, while the others are gone but in the coming season it may be the reverse for City – the rest of the team will be there, but their talisman may not. The pyrotechnics of one man can run a show for only so long!

Deccan Chargers can never be faulted for a lack of effort. They have a team full of almost-stars or waiting-to-break-out type stars. Each year they strive very hard to be counted among the cream of the league, but they never quite make it. Very reminiscent of Tottenham Hotspurs. Maybe something in the name --- Spurs … Chargers --- both sound like they are destined for a Sisyphus-type future. At times, their games are superb and a Luka Modric or an Amit Mishra lit up matches with consistently excellent performances. Still, after all is said and done…not quite there yet.

Kings XI Punjab and Aston Villa. You know they are teams with potential and yet you never quite expect them to trouble the top teams much. But they seems to be great places where someone hones their talent – Stewart Downing or Paul Valthaty - and then wait to get snapped up by the bigger teams. And they have the one big name move in the season. Interestingly both Adam Gilchrist and Darren Bent are former players of Chargers and Spurs.

Blackburn Rovers … Venky’s … Sahara Pune Warriors … more chicken, less warrior … roasted this season … enough said!

Kochi Tuskers Kerela ... I’m at a loss here. First I thought of matching them up with a sheikh owned team given it’s a Mallu team and all. Then I thought of equating them with a ragamuffin, discards team, but then they gave a damn good account of themselves. I would say they are scrappers who know how to put up a more-than-decent fight and on that account I would liken them to Sunderland. And then you have the foul-mouthed characters like Lee “Sreesanth” Cattermole – one minor difference being that I don’t see anyone getting away with slapping Lee.

Of 10-packs and the after-effects

A joke I read some time back was: Who left 6-pack Shah Rukh and 8-pack Aamir in the dust?
Ans: A 10-pack Ramadoss.

It's been 4 months since the ban on smoking in public places. So what did the ban achieve? Let’s do a ten count, shall we?

1 – Attached Gandhi’s name to tobacco. So years down the line, a ‘This Day That Year’ column will read – Gandhi born, Smoking banned.

2 – Ensured that the names Anbumani and Ramadoss would die with him. No sane parent of our generation would ever name their kid that. You don’t find little Satans and Hitlers running around, do you?

3 – Caused bars to lose revenue. No, I don’t mean because of a lower footfall, but due to smart alecks who step outside after a few drinks on the pretext of a smoke and then vanish even before the wisp of smoke fades away.

4 – Getting policemen to be lax. Not that they were the epitome of alertness in the first place, but now with the hordes of people haunting the gates of buildings, now they are content to rock themselves to sleep on their paunches.

5 – Vindicated weathermen … or so it seems. Weathermen, famous for getting a prediction on their own spittle wrong, now boldly announce ‘tomorrow there will be a lot of smog’ and then … smoke, fog same thing.

6 – Population control. With smokers chasing pavements, pedestrians naturally avoid the ‘fog’ (weathermen are to be blamed here) and go on the roads. And the cars and trucks happily play target practice.

7 – Made dogs insomniacs. Pavement smoking leads to coffee-cups being dumped on streets and strays happily lap up the remaining drop. A few 20-30 such cups through the day turbo-charges them for the night. And god knows what horrors graveyard shifters are subject to by these werewolves, especially in Bangalore.

8 – Led to the ruination of about 0.1 percent of the Amazon forests. Every pub, bar, office, restaurant, mall, and hitherto smoker-friendly zones has huge “NO SMOKING” signs…about 10 every 2 inches.

9 - Free Cigarette Advertising. It beats me why tobacco companies are banned from advertising. Cigarette packets that were till now sent to dustbins now litter the pavements. The eyeballs that the millions of packets get on the road are much more than even the most famous ad. So no wonder the number of surrogate ads are dying.

10 – Laid to rest the smokers anthem. On the last day before the ban, a popular Bangalore pub announced that that would be the last time they played ‘Sutta Na Mila’ by The Zeest. And just like that a cult song lost its meaning.

Oops! my packet is over. I'm off to get another one.

Satyam Shivam Sumdaram

That apparently means "Truth is God and God is beautiful"
As of this week, one down, two to go.

Is it really surprising that ‘truth’ has fallen? After all it is only everyday that someone somewhere is cooking up a story to feed you.

Let's start the examples with our beloved politicians - enough said.
The government lies – there is no such thing as tax-free.
Your vegetable vendor lies – yes potatoes are cheaper elsewhere.
Weathermen – I once met one who was caught in the rain.
Horoscopes – else Bejan Daruwala would be heading the Planning Commission.
Advertisements lie – all the axe in the world won’t help some people.
Your boss lies – you deserved that promotion or hike ages ago
The kaamwali bai lies - one person can have that many relatives who keep dying/falling sick.
Your friends lie – they were free last weekend.
You get the picture. Add as you see fit.

We have even invented different sorts of lies to accord various degree of evil. So a white lie is acceptable, a noble lie is something politicians lay claim to, a jocose lie is something I am subjecting you to right now. Key in 'LIE' in Wikipedia if you don’t believe me.

Our language is also suited to fuddle meanings. Sample the conundrum in this sentence in any language you know: "This sentence is false."

Gandhi introduced us to the principles of ahimsa and truth. That was over 60 years ago. It’s time for them to retire and make way for new credos. ‘See no truth, hear no truth, speak no truth’ or simply, make like Lady Justice, tie a blindfold and pretend to ‘see the truth.’

Today there is no vendor of truth in India. Of course, there are no buyers either.
And that my friends, is the Truth.

Satyamev Jayte.

This year some of the things …

That I will dread are …

My birthday
This year like any other I become a year older clocking in at 27 and the dream of “18 till I die” becomes almost a decade old.

My family
This year, when I holiday at home, the rheotoric of why aren’t you saving more, you are still so thin, why don’t you call, marriage, visiting aunties and uncles etc will make me wish I had planned a shorter holiday.

My job
This year at the time I get my annual hike, phrases like cost cutting, recession, credit crisis will translate into a lousy hike.

My country
This year I know that yet again terrorism, vote-bank politics and financial fiascos will dominate everything else and make me less proud of my country.

My friends
This year I will lose touch with a few more friends as different strings will pull them away from me.

That I look forward to are ….

My birthday
This year like any other I become a year older clocking in at 27 and I am guiltily thankful for that after a year when terrorists visited almost every part of the country.

My family
This year, when I holiday at home, the rheotoric of why aren’t you saving more, you are still so thin, why don’t you call, marriage, visiting aunties and uncles etc will tell me that no matter what, they will always care.

My job
This year at the time I get my annual hike, phrases like cost cutting, recession, credit crisis will translate into lucky to still have a job.

My country
This year I know that despite terrorism, vote-bank politics and financial fiascos the ‘aam aadmis’ voice is growing louder as people rally under the tricolor.

My friends
This year despite losing touch with a few more friends as different strings will pull them away from me, some of them keep in touch via this blog.

Mumbai Meri Jaan

It took close to 60 hours to wrest Bombay back from terror. But it took barely 5 hours after that to circulate this SMS …

“The tragic events in Mumbai remind us how precious life is. We r with u always. SMS FG to 567678 for Total Insurance Solutions or claims if any. Future Generali”

Is it me or is it actually perverted that people take advantage of a tragedy of this scale to market themselves? In the first place, I find a total lack of professionalism to use SMS lingo in such corporate marketing, ala “We r with u always.”

I’m sure many of you have been bombarded with similar pitches for a virtual garage sale. For all I know, bullet proof vests, guns (machine or otherwise), grenades, will be hawked side-by-side with all sorts of insurances – life, property, hospital, general etc.

Somebody will make a video game; while someone will sell debris from the site online as mementos. Toy companies will make commando figurines and cellphone operators will make a killing from disgusting forwarded messages.

Facebook and Orkut will create patriotic/sympathy groups and bloggers will add their two-pence worth views. Some photographer will peddle his photos, while the media will do just about anything to get their TRPs.

Speaking of the media, it is amazing how they gain access to places where seemingly even the NSG and the marines can’t go. To get their ‘breaking news,’ they will broadcast any rumor that is doing the rounds. For a soundbite, they will shove their mikes into the faces of anyone who looks remotely, pardon the expression, terrorized.

And how can I forget … I am waiting for the beloved leaders of our country to shamelessly bellow their take on the horror. One party will fall all over itself blaming the other, while one will cry itself hoarse that this is a time for national unity.

National unity my a**. Those goddamn terrorists are more united than us, more fearless than us, more devoted to a cause than us. I give them that much.

Let’s take a leaf out of their book and learn from them the values of honesty, loyalty and sacrifice and use it for a better reason.