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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Friday, February 24, 2006


It's official.

Embattled, controversial, former Indian Captain Saurav Ganguly is out. The beginnings trace their roots to some e-mails some moons ago. Since then the pendulum swings, the eternal politics at work, saw him back in the Indian squad - that too against Pakistan.

However, brave the selectors, bending to the mounting protests and pressure was apparent. So as I look at the news this morning, I laud what certainly looks like the beginning of a brave new era.

To his credit, there is no denying that Ganguly has done his bit for Indian cricket. Though as that oft-repeated saying goes, all good things must come to an end. In his case, it was simply unfortunate that the stand-off with Greg Chappell had to take so many undertones - most of them ugly.

Speaking of Chappell, the man has shown he means business. Team India has gone beyond the customary huddles to actually win matches. That too in Pakistan.

And the Chappell mark is everywhere in the Indian squad announced for the first Test against England.

Banking on youth, the coach and the selectors are clearly setting their sights on next year's World Cup and beyond.

India's formidable middle-order led by Sachin Tendulkar had remained untouched for a decade. Crossing the first big hurdle - Ganguly's removal, shows the selectors are finally in a mood for change should players fail to perform in the days ahead.

How else would one explain moves like these:
- In addition to the former skipper, the selectors also dropped pacemen Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan. Taking their place, are seamers Vikram Rajvir Singh and S. Sreesanth, who was impressive in his performance against Pakistan.

- One-day batsman Suresh Raina has also been picked.

- All eyes though will be on teenage leg-spinner Piyush Chawla. He made headlines last year by removing Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni in a domestic one-day tournament. Then won heaps of praise after helping Uttar Pradesh clinch their maiden Ranji Trophy. Then went on to make news again with a four wicket haul for eight in the under-19 World Cup final defeat against Pakistan.

These are brave new choices, ones that deserve to be applauded. They recognise talent among the youth who need to be spotted and groomed to take Team India to greater heights, they cast the net wider and are daring with a capital D.

Monday, February 20, 2006


So India continued with their winning ways against Pakistan. Runs were chased, more records smashed. This was a brave new India. One that wasn't afraid of chasing totals. Which is why with the luck with the toss, Dravid put Pakistan in to bat yet again.

The four wicket haul by S Sreesanth was made even more memorable with that jiggly he broke into it. And despite their decent start, Pakistan ended play on 286 for 8 in their stipulated 50 overs.

A fairly competitive target, but not one to bother Team India.

We were missing both Sehwag and Tendulkar. Though that appeared to be the least of opener Gambhir and Dravid's worries. They put on 69 for the opening wicket. Along the way Dravid, also re-wrote another record.

With his 68th one-day international half-century, he became only the fourth Indian player to pass the 9,000 run mark in one-dayers. And after Gambhir and Dravid were out, it was left to Yuvraj Singh and the unstoppable Mahendra Singh Dhoni took to the crease.

Here was Yuvraj, cramping away when he was in his 80s but staying on for his team. Together the duo put on a perfect display of the controlled and the wild.

Just when the run rate looked daunting, Dhoni sent the ball in all directions. He took the pressure off by smashing three sixes in two overs and suddenly India were cruising. And then came the piece de resistance - Dhoni hit the winning runs and finishing unbeaten on 77 from just 56 balls.

Yuvraj was not out on 107 and the pair saw India home with eight wickets and more than three over still in hand.

Victory couldn't have been sweeter. India confirmed their dominance in the one-day series and Yuvraj got the much deserved 'Man of the Series' award for suriving brilliantly under pressure.

With yet another historic win, the Indian team has lots to cheer about. After all it's not just about winning the rubber, it's about being in the perfect frame of mind of take on England on home soil.


Just when you thought only the Indian babu-dom could specialise in stuff like this, wait till you see the restriction surrounding the Winter Olympics coverage.

Considering the enourmous excitement in the rest of the world that possibly revolves around sports like Bobsleigh, Curling and Alpine Skiing - among a host of several other enjoyable cold sports, is it any wonder that some achievements aren't making headlines.

Take a look at some of the restrictions. Nine points with sub-points in all, here are some of the simpler ones:

- Olympic Material may be used only as a part of regularly scheduled daily news programmes of which the actual news element constitutes the main feature Programmes"). Programmes shall not be positioned or promoted as Olympic programmes.

- Subject to the exception for all-news networks as outlined below, Olympic Material may appear in no more than three Programmes per day.

- The amount of Olympic Material used in any one Programme shall not exceed a total of two minutes. The duration of any Olympic Material contained in a Programme shall not exceed one third of the duration of the particular Olympic event being reported on and, in any event, shall not exceed thirty (30) seconds of each such particular event being reported on.

- Subject to Paragraph 6 below, Programmes in which Olympic Material appears must be
separated by at least three hours. However, if a broadcaster telecasts multiple hard news Programmes from 16:00 hours to 19:30 hours local time ("hard news" means Programmes focusing primarily on multiple, local, regional, national or international current events), it may broadcast reports utilizing excerpts of Olympic Material during one locally-oriented hard news Programme and also during one
network hard news Programme during this time period, so long as the combined broadcast time of Olympic Material shown in both Programmes does not exceed a total of two minutes. In the case of an all-news network, it may utilize Olympic Material during multiple news broadcasts, as long as the combined time of Olympic Material shown does not exceed a total of six minutes per day and does not exceed a total of two minutes in any one Programme.

- Non-Rights Holders may broadcast Olympic Material in accordance with the other
conditions contained in these News Access Rules, as follows:
(i) upon the conclusion of the day (i.e. 24:00 hours)in which the Olympic event has been broadcast by the Rights Holder in the specific territory provided that there shall be an interval of at least fifteen (15) hours between the conclusion of the Olympic event and the news broadcast of such Olympic event by the non-Rights Holder;
(ii) upon the conclusion of the day (i.e. 24:00 hours)immediately following the day in which the Olympic event concludes, if the Olympic event was not broadcast by the Rights Holder in the specific territory on the day which the Olympic event concluded; or
(iii) at such time as may be agreed by the Rights Holder for its particular territory and that particular Olympic event. Broadcasts of Olympic Material shall terminate not later than forty-eight (48) hours after the earliest time at which broadcasts of such Olympic Material by the non-Rights Holder may begin.

And lots more to go, before you actually get cracking on the swash-buckling snowy adventures.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


He ducked public attention for a couple of days. When he finally did come clean, US Vice-President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting companion during a quail-hunting party, had already made it to the American late night shows and more. The spoofs are still flowing in, here are some of the best of the rest:

I am bringing Dick Cheney as my date. He was so nice. He called me and invited me to go hunting
- Actor George Clooney

Good news, ladies and gentlemen, we have finally located weapons of mass destruction: It's Dick Cheney.
We can't get bin Laden, but we nailed a 78-year-old attorney.
No. 4 on list of "Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses" -- "I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me"
- CBS Late Show with David Letterman

Moms, dads, if you're watching right now, I can't emphasize this enough: Do not let your kids go on hunting trips with the vice president. I don't care what kind of lucrative contracts they're trying to land, or energy regulations they're trying to get lifted -- it's just not worth it.

- Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show' with Jon Stewart

Mr Cheney acknowledged that the man he sprayed with pellets on Saturday was not Ayman al-Zawahiri (the Al-Qaeda leader) but rather Harry
Whittington, a 78-year-old millionaire lawyer from Austin, blaming the mix-up on "faulty intelligence".
- Andy Borowitz on his political blog


So you've been blogging it all for days. Hoping some day, some where, someone will read it. And what happens after it's been read, commented or even flogged. If its a good day, your blog site could just be bought over. Yes, you can go from blogs to riches, or at least so says this piece:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Just saw the previously unpublished pictures of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison abuse.

'Deeply disturbing' - the official UN reaction is an under-statement. I am sickened to the core. The graphic images and vidoes suggest killing, torture, sexual humiliation and possibly more.

If anything they are a gross violation of human rights. They rob an individual of dignity. They abuse prisoners who are proved guilty even before they are charged.

If the US foreign policy hawks are still mulling over that vexing question - 'Why does the world hate us?', they'll need to look no further.

And if they are still pining for more insights into the most troubling issues of our times, a night out at the movies just might help. George Clooney with his spectacular take in 'Syriana' tells us all about the explosive price we are paying for peace on earth or the sheer lack of it.

From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, the film's multiple storylines weave together to illuminate the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power and what suffers in that relentless pursuit.

Now, if only someone, somewhere would sit up and take notice.


It's hard to believe. Soon my five years will be up at the station. It's been a spectacular journey marred only by the fact that so many of my good pals have moved on. There's the energetic Ginny, Connie, Veron and the always spectacular looking Sabrina. Tim is truly the last man standing. 'The World Today' just wouldn't be the same without him. Here are some BBQ snapshots taken a couple of moons ago.


THE KITE RUNNER By Khaled Hosseini. 324 Pages. Riverhead Books.

There are books and there are books. Some take you on unforgettable journeys, others are best forgotten. Some leave you gasping for breath; others make you wonder why they were written in the first place.

Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner' clearly belongs to the first category. It's been sitting on my book shelf for some months now. In that ever growing pile of must read books. One of the reasons I put off reading it for so long could be the whole journey with Yasmina Khadra's 'The Swallows of Kabul'. The book was so beautifully written, yet so profoundly disturbing, that I needed a breather before embarking on another Afghan adventure.

Thought it would take me much longer to read Hosseini's powerful first novel. I couldn't have been more wrong.

You start and you are hooked from the word go.

The soul-searching narrative is a historical sweep of a country devastated by conflicts. A tale of relationships - between fathers and sons, it is at another level a story of friendship and betrayal. One that starts with two motherless boys Amir and Hassan, who are inseparable at birth and during their childhood years. Amir is the son of a rich father, Hassan, the son of his father's servant.

It's a fragile relationship and the threads that bind them are symbolized by the kites the boys fly together. It is during the kite flying festival that their relationship is severely tested. Amir betrays his servant and best friend when he is being troubled by the well-off neighbourhood boys. Then with some carefully manipulated lies conjured to hide his own troubled truths Hassan ensures that their old way of life disappears.

The tale which has an almost Shakespearean beginning then takes you to America amid all the political upheavals taking place in Afghanistan. Amir and his father have to flee their land when the Russians take control.

It is in America, that Amir becomes a successful writer and embraces the country as it "had no ghosts, no memories, and no sins."

The journey back home happens for Amir when he learns of a childhood mentor who is ailing back home. The Taliban is now in control and the hazardous journey is worth every single step as it helps Amir atone for his past sins.

The soul-searching narrative makes it impossible to read this searing novel in one go, but it is well worth the meandering journey.

The prose is provocative and it comes as little surprise that 'The Kite Runner' - the movie is already in the works. Scheduled for release in 2007, it's to be directed by Marc Forster with the screenplay being penned by David Benioff.

Friday, February 10, 2006


10th February 2006

Was researching stuff on Laila Khan Rajpal, actor Feroz Khan's acclaimed artist daughter. She's visiting Singapore for an exhibition at the high end designer store Mumbai Se and came across this really interesting piece by India's prolific master writer Khushwant Singh.

As always it was tongue in cheek and summed it all up. The piece appeared in The Tribune way back in 2001, but the message still holds.
I'll highly recommend reading it in totality here.

If you are way too lazy to do that, then here are some key points in the piece....
- How unreliable best seller lists, book reviewers and even book sellers are when it comes to helping readers pick the right books.
- Why the rich who have it all - including the finest scotch and wine, do little better than a copy of Reader's Digest in their homes.

And just why is it that the rich who are the most likely to afford the books are the least likely to enjoy it, here is Khushwant Singh's take:
"To enjoy a book, a person has to have peace of mind. And that the rich do not have."

Beyond books, he of course, talks about the stunning Laila Khan Rajpal, who despite being born into Bollywood's famous Khan family, has made it on her own, with the brush strokes intact.

If you do happen to be in our sunny shores, you can always catch the exhibition at Mumbai Se on Saturday, the 18th of Feb. It runs through till the 26th of Feb.

Whether you'll be able to get one of her art works to adorn your walls is quite another story though. Her stuff's known to sell out in like 24 hours.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


8th February 2006

Each year on this day I am a bundle of nerves. So many things come back to haunt me. Painful memories of a childhood that once prided itself on perfection. The day is etched firmly in my mind. However hard I may try, it fails to become a memory.

It all comes back on days that seem mildly disturbing. A reminder that life which one day seems all rosy could end up looking dramatically different the very next day.

For my mum, that twist happened in 1976. It was just a simple fracture. She was seeing off some of our oldest family friends post dinner and her foot slipped on a small ramp. A fracture that healed, only partially. Then when winter set in, the doctors discovered that the pain in her joints was arthritis. A year later, when the pain started spreading through most of her body, she was to learn that it was more than just arthritis - she had cancer.

Often I think - how did she respond to the news? Was it that discovery that made her want to do so many things in such a tearing hurry? Was that why she always spoke to both my sister and I about how love could never be divided and that both of us would always be special? Is that why, she wanted to strengthen our faith and despite being in pain, ensured we made our Sunday darshan at the Gurudwara? Is that why she worked in such a tearing hurry to put a permanent roof over our heads? Is that why she carried on with her painting classes, her school job, not to mention raising the two of us - two hyper-active little kids - who in this day and age would probably be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

That was till the illness totally got to her. On December the 8th, 1980, my mother, whose life was only marked by boundless energy and relentless optimism saw herself bound to her bed. No longer could she run around, trying to manage the two of us. The steady stream of visitors that followed heightened our fears that something was wrong - even though everyone said everything was going to be fine. Another line that heightened the impending sense of loss.

When my mother started getting visions almost a week before everything shattered into a million little pieces, I was convinced something was going to change - forever. The end was near, though I was not prepared to accept the fact that the journey would end so soon.

I distinctly remember that day. It was a sunny Sunday morning. The date : February the 8th, circa 1981. My grandmother, my aunt (my mum's sister) and my father were all there by her side - did they already sense the impending gloom? My sister and I were sent off to play. Nothing beats that on a Sunday morning, particularly when home-work is staring you in the face.

After the endless rounds of hide and seek, stapu and pitthu, we were heading home all flushed with energy to fill her in on the day's events. It was around noon and just as we were about to open the gates of our home, our aunt came rushing out. She told us we couldn't go in. That just heightened our sense of anxiety. We were in tears, wanted to go home, but were sent to a neighbour's home for more play and lunch.

But this just wasn't the time for food or even for play. My sister and I prayed as hard as we could, that somehow someone who is supposed to be watching us all the time would fix everything.

Two hours later, when we were finally allowed to set foot in our home, my Dad came out all teary eyed. My kid sister was only 8, I was 11 and the news that would come next bore all the hallmarks of love and loss.

My father who has always been a pillar of restraint, let the tears flow. We joined in too, adding to the surreal pall of gloom. My mother lay lost to the world, hopefully more at peace in a world beyond ours. Her body that had once rocked the badminton courts and flirted with the artists brush - a wasted form now.

What were we do now? My immediate concerns then were getting past homework, snuggling into her razai on a cold wintry Doon day, missing the aroma of her fragrant cakes, the business of her little art corner complete with the turpentine and oil paints, her loving but firm voice, her decisiveness and her ability to control the wild child in us.

People who lent us their shoulder on that day told us things would be alright. We would cope and time would heal.

If only I could turn back now and tell them how wrong they were! Nothing can heal, time only heightens that first real sense of loss. The void gets deeper with each passing year, the heart still aches, what the body tries to forget the soul remembers.

And what I remember best is the pain my Mum went through in her dying days. I remember not being allowed to see her body consigned to the flames. I remember banging the door of the van where my sister and were locked up while the elders performed the last rites. I remember her brother being just a couple of hours too late and not being able to see his sister for that one last time. I remember my father shoulders slumped. I remember my aunt crying for a sister lost. I remember my grandmother mourning another death in the family.

25 years on, on this day as a mother myself, with a six year and a three year old for company, I remember all of that and so much more. More than anything else I pine for her voice, her touch, her love.

But some things, as they say, are just not meant to be.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Nothing is more painful than defeat. While it is alright to lose, failing to put up a decent fight is inexplicable. That's just what Team India did yesterday in the dismal encounter in Karachi.

Just look at Pakistan. 245 all out in the first innings. And how do we respond to that? By getting bowled out as well for an even more dismal 238 runs. At one point, the difference between victory and defeat was a mere 7 sevens.

Then in the second innings, Pakistan simply put the past behind them and surged ahead with an enviable 599 runs. In all, India was looking at a seemingly improbable task of chasing 607 runs for victory. I say improbable because we are not known to be fighters on the cricket pitch and the first innings had already set us back.

First to collapse on Day Four was the top order. In the very first over, the Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar had Indian skipper Rahul Dravid caught by Man of the Match Kamran Akmal. Dravid's score just two runs. The next over, simply wanted me to move away from the television screen. Mohammad Asif sent the middle stump of vice-captain Virender Sehwag, flying. His score, double that of Dravid's - four runs. With India tottering at eight for the loss of two wickets, all hopes were pinned on master blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Among other things, this was the same venue where he had made his debut in 1989. And he was only playing his second Test here.

Much was expected from Sachin Tendulkar who was playing only his second Test at the venue where he had made his debut in 1989. And all we got between him and VVS Laxman were 55 runs. That was before Asif baffled them with perfect inswingers and knocked back the stumps to leave India struggling at 74-4.

Beleaguered former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh then came to the fore. Never mind all the controversy around hi, at least Ganguly kept the score board ticking in both innings, taking India's total to a mildly respectable total. He fell to the first ball after tea trapped by none other than the tireless Razzaq.

The only glimmer of hope in this entirely dismal run came from Yuvraj, who played a brilliant knock despite getting absolutely no support from his other team mates. One only needs to look at the way Dhoni gifted his wicket away, when one was pining for something longer on the crease. What was even more surprising was how Yuvraj managed to keep all the bowlers at bay, the same bowlers who had unsettled all our so-called stars. So are there some batting lessons to be learnt from him?

Even as the wickets around him kept tumbling, Yuvraj continued with his effortless yet responsible batting. Despite that, we couldn't even manage to take the match on to Day 5. At the end of the fourth day's play, we were bowled out for 265 in just 58.4 overs.

With that we pretty much gifted Pakistan their first series win over India since 1987 - now, that's another record.

Sure, the victory looked improbable from the start, but surely we could have been valiant in defeat.


So it is that Paheli didn't make it to the Oscar Foreign Film Category short-list. Super-star and producer of the film Shah Rukh Khan says 'he's not disappointed'. Should he really be, considering the biggest Paheli was how it made it as the 'Indian Choice' to the Oscars in the first place. Things would have made sense if it had been a dry year for Bollywood. But no year ever is.

More so 2005. We saw riveting performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Rani in 'Black'. It, was and is in my view, nothing short of a masterpiece. Then there was the extremely well done 'Parineeta'. If one was looking for some soul-searching even 'Swades' made a better cut than 'Paheli'. Or if the choice was social commentary nothing could have been more apt than Madhur Bandharkar's 'Page 3'.

Surely, with a such a range of stunning movies, the selection committee couldn't have asked for an easier job in 2005. And just look what they did? Quite like our cricket team threw it all away, ignored the very best of Indian cinema and settled on 'Paheli'.

Some absurdities are truly beyond reason.

What's even more absurd is reading some takes on the rejection which come with titles like 'Are the awards overrated?'

Oh come on, do you really think so? One could have argued till the cows came home, if 'Black' had been nominated and didn't it to the short-list.

Hopefully, we'll learn some lessons from 2005, history won't be re-written in 2006 and the Indian selection committee will look beyond the current flavour of this month - Rang De Basanti.

If nothing else, it would help if they bear in mind that whatever India chooses should at least be on par with 'Mother India', 'Salaam Bombay' and 'Lagaan' - the only three Indian movies that got the nod for the Oscar Foreign Film Category short-list in the past.