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

July 3, 2008

Patriotism in question

Filed under: arbit — Priyam @ 12:43 am
Tags: , , ,

It is said that patriotism is the love for one’s country. I will argue more towards love for one’s countrymen, one’s culture and heritage. And pride, yes ! The latter is very important. You have to be proud to be Indian. But lately, I have been less proud of the happenings in the country. With election approaching, it seems like the country is being held at ransom by Ram, Shyam and whosoever can be an Indianised version of Harry. I have known people who have left India in search of greener pastures (read dollars and affluence); I have known people who have left India in search of better opportunities; I have known people who have left India in search of knowledge. In each of these classes many vow to return, many vow not to. I do not doubt the patriotism in either camp. However, it seems that such a question does arise in my mind about those who are entrusted with the reigns of the nation. Let me cite few reasons for my doubt :

  1. Reservations in higher education : I admit that reservation has its positives and negatives. But reserving seats in portals of higher learning when options for even the general public is limited. The supreme court has made its verdict, but the ruling coalition seems to be of the opinion that this will not have significant impact on its vote bank. Hence, play a more populistic politics. What stuns me perhaps more is the silence of the opposition. It’s a known fact that opposing such a movement is not going to go down well with the minorities. Who cares if the country’s bastions of higher learning and pride are raped.
  2. Reservations for faculty positions : This is just mindless. Take into account that the minimum requirement for such a position is a PhD. So even after a PhD one would need the help of a crutch to further ones career. Does that not bring into question the quality of the education itself ? It becomes laughable when you consider the fact that the IITs find it difficult to fill in the required faculty positions even from candidates of “forward classes” since they are not ready to cut down on quality. The reservation however comes with a clause. In case the reserved seats remain unfilled for a whole year, they are dereserved. By which time the ruling parties can claim their victory in the election and the whole issue is forgotten. Who cares if the IITs have to make do with fewer (or even worse, lesser qualified) faculty ?
  3. Sections of the society are now fighting to be qualified as backward classes. Way to go. Does this seem like reservation taking the country forward ?
  4. The creamy layer is rightfully omitted from such favours. This I totally support and believe that economically driven reservations are needed to level the playing fields considering the fact that education provided in governments schools are rarely enough for most to make it to one of these IITs and the extra tuitions are by no means cheap. However, it blows my mind when the income cap is proposed to be increased to become 4.5 lakhs per annum. (Not to mention that some states from down south thought this should be 10-25 lakhs !!). I still remember that only a couple of years ago, the graduating class from IIT-Bombay itself had offers that hovered around the 2.5-3 lakh mark. 4.5L means that people with sufficient means can still take refuge of the soceital clutch while the really poor are still left to limp by. Good idea, bad execution.
  5. You think reservations are the only problems that I have ? Well, let’s now focus on other issues, but related to education. The center believes that more institutes like the IIT need to be opened to cater to the need of the nation. True, and this is not only of the applied sciences, I believe. Hence proper funds and efforts need to be channeled to deal with the setup of these educational centers. But the heads of our nation seem to be in a hurry. No prizes for guessing why ? The result – 6 new IITs created and made operational within months ! It would have been a plaudable effort but I somehow cannot come to overlook the real reason when I consider that some of these do not even have a campus yet. They will be run out of the various existing IITs. Not to mention that some of these themselves are undequiped to deal with the increased load that they will take on from this year. Creating opportunities is good, but it comes back to bite you when done in an unplanned haphazard way. It’s a sin when you have ulterior motives behind the goodwill !
  6. Ah ! Who can forget religion. Our country has been so successfully divided on this issue that this can just not be let go by our politican “brains”. Shrine board gets allotted land. Result – bandhs, curfew. Land allocation revoked. Result – ditto. And oh ! Have you heard ? The nuclear deal is apparently anti-islamic ( Read this).
  7. Coming to the India-US nuclear deal. It has come to such a serious issue that the government might crumble over it. The ruling party no doubt seeks to credit itself with the deal during its tenure. While the opposition and others not gaining enough momentum out of it are obviously opposed to the hurry. Again hurrying is bad. But somehow my trust has become so thin that I only see the fact that denying such a deal with be more of political gain than saving the country of a fiasco for these parties. Such a shame (if that is indeed the case).
  8. And last, but not the least, opposition parties acting in the true sense of the word. Crude oil prices have been rising alarmingly internationally and the government can only absorb so much of it. This results in inflation and growing food prices. However, India is not the only country affected by it. While this is a major political debate everywhere, I feel the opposition in India is going overboard by suggesting that the ruling parties have been unable to curb rise in prices. They have taken to the streets, forced bandhs and strikes on people. In the end, it is the people who end up paying more for the fuel, as well as not being able to earn the extra money to do so. Somehow this is not politics for the people. Certainly not of the people and least of all by the people. I obviously need not remind the readers that bandhs have already been outlawed by the Supreme court of India.

Even though I have been concentrating on the negative issues that have hogged the limelight recently, I must also point out that there are still achievements of my countrymen that make me proud to be an Indian. Sadly, these quarters of satisfaction are rarely provided by the “netas” of our country.

My patriotism is being tested. I revolt in the form of this blog. My voice (and likewise millions of my countrymens’) will obviously not be heard by the ones plotting their personal gains at the mantle of power. Thankfully our country seems to be doing well in spite of the government and the babus. Wonder how long that will last. Jai hind.

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