So little time… so little to do

November 7, 2008

Losing my religion

Filed under: sentimental,sports — Priyam @ 12:21 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have not been the most ardent of followers of Indian cricket of late. And that has really set me apart from most of the gang that I hang out with. Come on, cricket is the national religion and like in the real world I was an atheist with my love and following of football – wait, that’s soccer now ! Having said that, nobody can take away those memories and endless hours glued in front of the TV when Sachin took the best bowlers to the washers, those frustrating times when the TV would be turned off whenever he got out, wishing for another dependable batsman. Prayers were answered and a generation of Golden boys rose to the occassion with names like Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and Laxman. The skip down the crease for a artistic loft, the cover drive blessed by the Gods, the almost impenetrable defence of the wall, the yorkers of fire from spinning fingers and of course the flick of the wrist second only to perhaps Azharuddin. Heroes and villains, they have been in Indian cricket. Love them or hate them, but one can never forget them. We owe our childhood to them, our entire evenings playing street cricket trying to emulate their feats in our own little ways. Sadly, this golden generation of cricket is going to be no more. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get a glimpse of dada on his last artistic creations at the crease. Somehow, I now relate to the feeling of loss when the golden boys of Portuguese football (Figo et al.) hung their boots in quick succession.

A very potent article on this can be found at http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/current/story/376791.html . Pasting it below :

Losing my religion

The change of guard in Indian cricket has pulled the rug out from under the feet of a generation of cricket watchers

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (November 7, 2008)

The events of the last few weeks are freaking me out. Anil Kumble has gone, Sourav Ganguly will go, and the other three may not be far behind. I assume there is a large group of cricket fans in their mid-to-late 20s, like me, who’re grappling with the implications. This transition is messing with our minds.

Let me explain. For many of us cricket began in November 1989. Pictures of what went before are too hazy. I remember Allan Border lifting the World Cup but don’t recall what I was doing then. So I can’t connect Australia’s World Cup win to my own life.

Sachin Tendulkar spoilt us. He commanded that we sit in front of the television sets. He ensured we got late with homework, he took care of our lunch-break discussions. He was not all that much older than us, and some of us naïve schoolboys thought we would achieve similar feats when we were 16. We got to 16 and continued to struggle with homework.

Then came Kumble and the two undertook a teenager-pampering mission not seen in India before. Tendlya walked on water, Jumbo parted seas. Our mothers were happy that we had nice heroes – down-to-earth prodigy and studious, brilliant bespectacled engineer. They were honest, industrious sportsmen, embodying the middle class.

When we thought we had seen everything, they reversed roles – Tendlya bowled a nerve-wracking last over in a semi-final, Jumbo played a match-winning hand with the bat. We were such spoilt brats that we pined for openers and fast bowlers. We cursed the side for not winning abroad. Such greed.

Economists would probably have predicted the bursting of the bubble. We had a deluge instead. One fine day at Lord’s we got a glimpse of two new saviours: Delicate Timing and Immaculate Technique. Suddenly my group of eight friends was split into two camps. You were either with Ganguly or Dravid. In that period we even took Kumble and Tendulkar for granted. It was adolescent indulgence taken to the extreme.

When we played cricket on the streets, we had a number of choices. Left-handers were thrilled, defensive batsmen were happy, extravagant stroke-makers were delighted, the short boys didn’t need to feel left out anymore, spectacles became cool, and freaky bowling actions were no more laughed at.

In such a state of bliss did we live our lives. We flunked important exams, shed tears over girls, crashed bikes, had drunken parties, choked on our first cigarettes, and felt utterly confused about our futures. But every time we felt low, we had an escape route. One glimpse of Dada stepping out of the crease, or Jam leaving a sharp bouncer alone, or Kumble firing in a yorker, was an uplifting experience. So what if India lost? Could any of those Pakistani batsmen even dream of batting like Sachin or VVS

I remember Ganguly and Dravid soaring in Taunton, mainly because it was the day I got my board-exam results. And boy, did that provide some much-needed relief. I remember Tendulkar’s blitz against Australia in Bombay because my dad, who thought cricket was a waste of time, sat through every ball. So connected were these cricketers to my growing up.

Now, after close to 20 years, my generation needs to brace itself for this exodus. Some of my friends, crazy as this sounds, have been talking of needing to revaluate their own careers. Others are realising they need to recalibrate their childhood definitions of cricket. “Part of me just died,” said a college friend who was the kind of extreme cricket buff who memorised scorecards. “No Dada, no Jumbo. I’m positive I’ll stop watching after Sachin and Rahul retire.”

These players were not only outstanding cricketers but also great statesmen. However hard they competed, they were always exceptional role models. Now we dread the next wave of brashness and impetuosity. Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth are talented cricketers, but there’s no way anyone would want a young kid to emulate either. The younger crop seems worse – a visit to some of their Orkut and Facebook pages tells you enough – and things may only get cruder in a cricket world when you can make a million dollars in a little over three hours.

“Our childhood is ending,” said a friend from school, and in some way he was probably spot on. Tendulkar’s retirement may mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but for a generation of 25- to 30-year-olds it will mark the end of the first part of their lives. Switching on the television the day after will be a serious challenge

May 7, 2008

Soccer, from a footballers perspective

Filed under: sports — Priyam @ 8:16 pm
Tags: , ,

Ok, first let me clarify the title. All those years before landing on the US soil, one of the games that I was passionate about was football. Be it playing it for real, or catching it on the screen, big or small. A lot of my study times would be scheduled around the more popular fixtures of the Champion’s league and other matches where the heavy weights in Europe would face off. This latter part of the fixation with the game has suffered a sudden setback with my moving across the seas. The cable at home does not have a steady stream of popular games lined up nor am I am able to wake up and spare some time (that would be around noon) to catch the re-run of one of the matches played in Europe over the week. What has perhaps dwindled more is my presence on the field. Gone are the days when any acquaintance in my life in Mumbai would be able to point me out to the football field in the late afternoon/early evenings. The painful truth has been that I have set foot on the field countably finite number of times in the past couple of years. However, I have decided to take a stand against this and take corrective measures to fill up my days with atleast an hour of physical excercise. Now having said that, for me it is not as easy as hitting the gym or plugging into the iPod and chasing after girls on the jogging track (yes, for some that has been a motivating factor). I need to chase someTHING. Be it a ball or a shuttle. Hence, goodbye football, enter soccer and racquetball. (To spell it out more clearly, my references to football mean playing the game in India, soccer – playing the same game in the US. Wonder why this country chooses to name most things differently. Interestingly, what is called football here has less to do with the foot and more with hands !!)

I was more used to playing with the big boys (or men) in my previous experiences on the field. Being a member of the school/college/university team meant a kind of selection of people that one would want to waste their energy with on the field. After all, who would like it if going past or getting the ball from people became too easy. I, for one, like challenges. But the fact of the matter is, while football meant that I came across very few (try none) girls on the field, soccer has been a very different twist to the story. I usually count on my speed, skill and to some extent stamina to become a considerable presence on the football field. The soccer field has no dearth of either – and I am talking about men and, hold your breath, women !! Well, maybe not matching for speed but there are considerable number of women who play soccer in it’s correct spirit (and not just kicking the ball around). No wonder when playing here one does not discriminate against the fairer sex in tackling the ball. Well, maybe just that push doesn’t come to shove when fighting over the ball.

April 6, 2007

Ambidextrous….

Filed under: sports — Priyam @ 3:25 pm

I grew up in a city where most kids had very little chances of going regularly to a playground to play. By children I mean kids approaching their teens. At that time, it was not unusual to find a game of cricket or football (yes, football and not soccer) being played on the road in every other locality in the later afternoons. Atleast this was the case in the neighbourhood that I grew up in. I myself though am lucky enough to have got the gift of a school which prides itself in the availability of 3 playing grounds of differring sizes. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my co-curricular acitivities, which majorly involved football and badminton. I made my first appearance for the school football team when I was in standard 6 and from those very nascent days I made it a point to be able to use both my legs for the game. This was a point I thought was an utmost necessity to excel. Hey, it is not everyday that you find a right-legged player playing left back in a school game. I wish I could boast of equal fluency in both legs, or for that matter while batting in cricket (yes, I can bat with my left too, though my shots are limited).

Even though in football most players make use of both feet, they usually have one favourite. I am yet to come across a similar trend in any other game. Until now that is. I was really stunned to catch the news of an ambidextrous pitches in baseball. Purely amazing.

Wait for it. That isn’t all. The guy throws right handed to right handed hitters and uses the left arm for lefties. Wouldn’t it be a comical situation if someone could hit with both ? Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true. And so it did.

Excerpt from the NY Time article :

“A switch-pitcher facing a switch-hitter could make a fine Abbott and Costello routine. Against Nebraska last year, a switch-hitter came to the plate right-handed, prompting Venditte to switch to his right arm, which caused the batter to move to the left-hand batter’s box, with Venditte switching his arm again. Umpires ultimately restored order, applying the rule (the same as that in the majors) that a pitcher must declare which arm he will use before throwing his first pitch and cannot change before the at-bat ends.”

January 15, 2007

Up and Down…. on the rise again !

Filed under: sports — Priyam @ 4:36 pm

It is not how hard you fall, but what counts is how hard you bounce back. And if anything else Saurav Ganguly has certainly shown what determination is – on more than one occasion.

Not a long time ago when the whole Chappell-Ganguly fiasco arose I switched myself off from both the characters, and as a consequence Indian cricket as a whole. But being in a country where the game is a religion it is not hard but impossible to tune yourself totally off from the happenings on and off the field. As more controversies dogged the cricket scenario it made it easier for me to stop spending long hours in front of the tele egging on the men in blue, many of the times without reason. The dismal performance in South Africa has perhaps done nothing great to change all that.
But like every cloud, this tour too has a silver lining. The coming back of the Bengal south-paw. Not much earlier were Ganguly supporters ostracized and people were baying for the captain’s blood. But when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. And what better way to silence all than show it with performance. And after much drama, he finds himself in the possible 30 for the upcoming World Cup. Even more amazingly, people feel he should take up his old opening partnership with the great Sachin.

I know it is too soon to lionize him, too soon to predict his claim to lost glory. But he has certainly made himself known to the cricketing world as one whom you cannot write off. Arrogant, he is. And that is what has got him down on occasions. Yet again, that is exactly what has brought him back and made him stand out from the crowd. I will not compare him to other greats on performance, but I certainly think that he is of the rare breed who believe in not giving up. To me, that is the character of a true idol. I am so happy for Dada, my fellow Xaverian. All the best.

Nihil Ultra.

P.S. : Did you know that Saurav used to play in our school football team?

December 6, 2006

A lot of nothings…

Filed under: geeky,sports — Priyam @ 12:46 pm

Statutory warning : most of the stuff in this entry are technical in nature and may be boring to some (if any) readers. This is an aberration from the general content of my posts !

Well, what do you expect? It seems just like the other day that I arrived here, and the first quarter of the academic is year behind me already. Haven’t got much sleep for the last week or so, some nights out of necessity, some just for the heck of it. So when I warmed up my bed for such a long time today, it felt like a long overdue thing. So finally I get time to play around with my new laptop. People who know me know that I am the kind of person who spends time and (some) money on sight and sound. I am glad that I spent a few extra dollars on the slick screen that came with my new Dell laptop. I was really pissed off when the Ubuntu distribution I tried out did not give me the best effects out of the box. Google, google, hack, hack…. and finally !! A great screen. I would say it does not come far behind the excellent Mac ones.

There are other things in Linux to be taken care of still. The wireless thing is not readily supported, though the Ethernet car works just fine. I expect to get that working by today. And stupid Matlab will not install because of some display problem. Now these are real deal breakers. And high on the priority list of working around right now.

In my perpetual search for extensions to Firefox, finally my hopeless search of getting European football action delivered to my browser is satisfied. For sometime now I have been trying to get the latest news, scores and schedules of the big league matches displayed in my personalized Google home. That and the authentic weather of the three cities that I am interested in, the ones that I have stayed in. But things just refuse to refresh, with updated and authentic information. And finally, FootieFox looks like the answer to the football part of the search. This thing so excites me with what it promises to deliver that I am tempted to devote a separate blog entry for this extension alone. But I refrain from reporting too early. Let me evaluate it for a few days and then probably I will give it its just dues. Right now it reports that Reading leads Newscastle United 2:1 in the English Premiere League.

June 10, 2006

World Cup mania

Filed under: sports — Priyam @ 8:59 am

The biggest sports show on earth has started off…. the World Cup… true to its name, it has the whole world mesmerised and tuned to the game. It was but natural that I am excited yet apprehensive. You must understand that it is not really very difficult for me to set aside everything important to catch that game live. My apprehension stems from the fact that I have deadline to meet by the end of this month.

Three of us made an impromptu plan to catch the opening game at a nearby pub where they show the game on a projector screen. But little did we expect that for major part of the game we would be standing outside, trying to steal a look at the television from across the glass walls which separate the have-seats and have-nots. And what was more bothersome was the fact that many of those inside simply did not care about the game !! At the entry, I overheard a guy complaining to his lady love about the huge waiting time for some tournament of football… dude it’s just not _some_ tournament. What ignorance !

At the end of it all we did manage to secure a place inside in time to catch the ending 20 minutes or so of the game. Not the best of starts for me…. but then all that was made up with excitement of the opening game. I made a silent solemn self-resolve to catch the other games safely in the comfort of the screening that has been arranged in campus.

Cheers to the mega event… cheers to the cup.

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