Wednesday, March 28, 2007

THE World Cup

The cricket world cup has taken the (cricket-playing) world by storm. It seems to be all that Indians can watch, think and talk about. No morning is complete without an update of the team standings etc. and of course no morning is complete without more on Bob Woolmer's death investigation.
This world cup seems to be like the cricket version of the Munich Olympics (albeit on a smaller scale) surrounded by death, scandal and inexplicible losses.
My interest in cricket can be described as moderate, at most. Being Indian one is generally swept away in the mood of things. I still remember a world cup match from the years past. The Indian team was playing in Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore and of course the top order had crashed (or had it?!). Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble (designated bowlers!!) were at the crease, they battled it out and won the game for India. The game ended after 10 pm and everyone went crazy! People were gathered on the streets, distributing sweets at traffic lights. No, it wasn't like India had won the world cup, we had merely won our way into the quarter finals (I think it was) but the Bengaluru boys had done us proud and we were going to make sure they knew it!
That is my most distinct cricket memory. Since then I have never felt such pride and triumph. After moving to New Zealand my interest in the game withered. Although, I was happy to stay up to date with current goings on and every so often got a chuckle out of listening to my friends bicker about the ODI rankings, I never really felt much for the game.
Cricket is India's national game and I will not let anyone convince me otherwise (Hockey?! you can't be serious!). Nothing else could explain the fanatical actions that follow a win or a loss. I have lived in Australia for over two years now. Australia is the undisputed champion of cricket (as far as I am concerned). They have exhibited skill, resolve and sheer determination to seal their position as the world's best. Yet, I have never seen the Australian people burn effigies of their players when they lost to Bangladesh. This fanatic streak, I have seen predominantly in the sub-continent (and maybe English soccor fans!).
However, I digress.
There was much speculation following India's loss to Bangladesh and from the snippets of information I gathered that India had.... wait for it... a bad day! A top-ranked, world class team is beaten by a team (Bangladesh) that played very well and everybody says India had a bad day. Alright, granted.
I do not discuss cricket with my friends anymore. They all are of the opinion that India is a great team with a lot of bad days. They pull out age-old statistics and are more than willing to sit me down for hours and explain to me, on the basis of statistics, that the Indian cricket team is a good cricket team and anyone that thinks otherwise does not know a thing about cricket.
I cannot argue, I do not know statistics, I do not carry match scores around in my head and I cannot rattle off Tendulkar's average per game or what-have-you. All I know is the opinion of a country, of course that is not good enough!
However, this world cup has changed all that. These 'ardent fans', these 'true fans', these people that know cricket, live and breathe it have been taught that one cannot expect much from somebody who is really without much potential. If we are good, they are better.
Actually, that is a fact of live. If you expect nothing, something is good enough. If you expect something, nothing is good enough.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I pride myself on the fact that books and movies don't make me cry. But this is not without exception and it goes to show that I am not dead inside.
The first book, if my memory serves me right, that brought tears to my eyes was Anne of Green Gables. It is impossible to keep those tears at bay when sweet ol' Matthew Cuthbert dies.
It was nearly 12 years later that I cried again. This time it was a movie, 'Life is Beautiful' no less. I will make the tall claim, that is this one of the best movies I have ever seen. I found it very hard to get through it. It filled me with a void in the pit of my stomach, one that returns every time I think about the movie. I felt despair, hopelessness and helplessness and at the same time joy at the triumph of the human spirit (spirit, not life).
One could cry at the plight of the Indian cricket team or the waste of man-power, resources and time put into making some Bollywood movies, but this would be a waste of good tears that, if we must shed, let us shed on the countless lives lost in war, massacre and discrimination.

It is a very dull and dreary day outside. It is freezing inside my cubicle at work. I have tried to be nice about it and request them to turn up the heating. My request was met with an incredulous stare and retort saying 'its centrally controlled'. I was tempted to say 'by whom? a penguin?' but bit my tongue. Turns out they dont turn up the heating until it is officially winter. So some weather-man-type has to officially 'pronounce winter open' and everybody will say 'oh! ok then lets turn up the heating'. Till then the likes of me will have frozen twice over!
So I take the only alternative, wear full eskimo gear to work and am ridiculed with snide remarks like 'cold enough for you already' to which I usually dead-pan, 'yes it has been for the last two years'!
It is very difficult to stick your hands in an optical setup, complete with mirrors and all that can scratch if you breathe too hard, with a sweater and a jacket on.
My fingertips hurt with a few hours of typing, and my head hurts the minute I walk in the door. The only consolation is the hot tea that is provided twice a day.
Weather man I beseech you. Pronounce it winter!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Poetry - Literature in metrical form. This is how poetry is defined (in a dictionary).
Such a description could only have been coined by a human being so utterly devoid of emotion and so terribly vain as to take on the task of defining 'poetry' in four words.
In saying all that, I personally prefer poetry that rhymes. Rhyme, rhythm and metre are more the tools of poetry rather than the defining quality.
I read/heard/recalled a few lines of a shayirii (couplet).

Khud ko kar bhuland itna
ki har taqdeer se pehle
khuda bande se khud pooche
ki 'bata teri razah kya hai'

Loosely translated, this means

Raise yourself to such great heights
that God himself, before he pens your destiny,
asks you 'tell me mortal, what is your wish'.

Now this is profound! In four lines this shayar (poet) has managed to describe an impossibility (not just because God himself is a debated concept!). What amazes me is the sheer magnitude of thought. When I am sitting at my desk eating lunch in front of the computer, thinking about how all that awaits me for the next 6 hours is endless darkness and scans of one kind or another, I question 'destiny' too. I also thank destiny when good things happen, but that for another day. So amidst all this questioning it never occurs to me that maybe, just maybe I could rise above it all and think 'darn it! I'll do these scans and not question anyone or anything because these scans will not define my whole life, I will'. Lo and Behold! one tiny thought for Amrita and a giant leap over destiny!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Odds n Ends

The strangest thoughts come to me in that semi-conscious state just before I fall into deep sleep. In fact they would make for the best blogs, sadly they are off and gone by the time I wake up.
I tick off in my head the things that tick me off (or what really 'grinds my gears' as Peter Griffin would say) -
Right up on the list would be Canberra weather, it seems to want to make an example for the rest of the world by going through more than four seasons in 24 hours!
Coming in a close second would be my persistent allergy/cold/blocked nose, whatever the heck it is that has come and decided to stay indefinitely. Making me want to sneeze at the most inappropriate of times and causing me to try all sorts of tissue from Eucalyptus scented to Aloe-Vera, to no avail. Homeopathy, aleopathy, spritual healing or natural healing, im willing to try it all just to get rid of this blasted nasal irritation.
Third on the list would possibly be 'An year' and 'leaving to so-and-so place'. I do not claim that I am God's gift to the English language, however when I am wrong, I do my best to correct it.
Fourth would absolutely have to be bawling babies. I feel that requires no further explanation. Everyone has had an annoying 'bawling baby' moment (or hour!).
Other than all that, life is beautiful.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Such goings on...

So the heartiest congratulations are in order - to Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker :-D
It is strange this Oscar business (otherwise known as movie-making). The winners are not necessarily winning for 'best acting' per se, its more for 'best portrayal' of someone else.
Gandhi was immortalised in film, as was Jack the Ripper! So it seems as if a movie will be made for a life-less-ordinary - good or bad no bar. You dont have to be extraordinary - just uncommon.
So if Spielberg or Scorsese came knocking one day, I would say :"Yes, where do I sign?!'.
"And pray tell, why would they come for you?" you ask. Agreed, I am no Ugandan 'ruler' with a (unconfirmed?) fetish for human flesh nor am I the Queen. Agreed that nobody would want to make a movie about a twenty something year old student living, of all possible places, in Canberra on (nearly!) minimum wage. Can my current existence be turned into a 'life' by any stretch of the imagination - I ask myself. Any suggestions? I did'nt think so.
To digress: I finished reading the Kiterunner. I will take a moment to describe the atmosphere. A storm was brewing outdoors. I settled into bed, prepared to read for quarter of an hour, no more. I was halfway through the book and things had just turned very interesting. Soon the storm turned well-brewed and hail beat down on the tin roof of the carport outside my window. Any last 'ambitions' of sleep were lost and I continued reading. Emotions continued to rage within the pages as did the hope for redemption. My sister knocked on the room door and informed me that she will be sleeping on the couch for all the racket outside. I mumbled in acknowledgement. Last pages, it is turmoil, calm followed by storm and the cycle continues.
The Kiterunner is a powerful book. In the same league as 'Diary of Anne Frank' or 'Life is Beautiful' in its portrayal of atrocities on mankind, but told with a slight tinge of detachment which, by some twisted reverse psychology, makes it more real. I guess the trick is in adopting the same point-of-view. The writer is as much a bystander, a witness to the goings on, as the reader. While the events are described in the writer's language, his feelings and reactions are not imposed on the reader. So one is free to choose - react, feel and conclude. It is uniquely interactive, for a book. Read it!