Archive for April, 2010

Miles to go before I sleep

errr…Graduate. I head off to China tomorrow morning to start my business school studies. I hope to graduate next May, in a year. I’m excited to start this new chapter of my life, and look forward to some fun times in Beijing and Shanghai. Will be off the blog and twitter for a few days, till I set up myself in Beijing. I’ll then, hopefully, write about my experiences in China and Business School.

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Tap Tap goes the Phone

Since I got bored of all the Chirayu Amin, IPL and other useless stories going around in the media, I decided to look up more about the whole phone tapping issue. You know, just because it infringes on the civil liberties of the population, and yes I do feel that the corrupt politicians do deserve their civil liberties, even though these politicians are the ones who steal common’s folks right. Vir Sanghvi presents an analysis here about the whole issue. Now, Vir Sanghi is fine one to speak about poor discussions on TV. Ofcourse, there used to be a time, when he among other TV anchors was well respected.

There used to be a time when presenting the facts and news mattered, now it’s more important to shout and repeat Lalit Modi’s tweets, without analysis, and pass them off as news. If I come across as cynical, perhaps the problem lies in what I consider a distrust of any media personality, presenting news. This is a pandemic, and often I feel the same way when I watch Campbell Brown on CNN. Anways, I digress. This isn’t about what media does or rather doesn’t do.

A snippet from Sanghvi’s blog-

 This is the most likely scenario: It is possible that both Outlook and Chidambaram are telling the truth. The way phone tapping works is that the agency that wishes to monitor a phone line has to get permission in writing from the home secretary or a state chief secretary. Chidambaram’s denial indicates that in these cases, no permission was granted by the home secretary. But the truth is that phones are routinely tapped by the security services without bothering with any written permission. Partly, this is out of necessity. In most countries (and especially the US), intelligence services regularly scan the ether to see if they can pluck out conversations of value.

Sanghvi’s right in saying that often in US, intelligence agencies tap the phone to actually search for terrorist activities. Is this phone-tapping morally acceptable? The answer is no. But this is the price you pay for living in a post 9/11 world, where there are credible threats, and the only way to avoid them is by actually sniffing them out. However, this misses the point in the case of phone-tapping of Opposition leader, or leaders who’re renegade. This is a blatant misuse of power. Not to mention illegal and as I mentioned earlier infringing on someone’s civil liberties.

As far as Govt. not involved and aware of phone tapping. Hogwash. Intelligence Agenices are least interested in what Opposition leader does, unless he shows up on the radar due to unfortunate use of words. The reason I say so is what Sanghvi inadvertently points out – “Spooks” survive on politics and politicians, and thus sway with winds of power. Sanghvi further points out that Politicians are too smart to indulge in phone-tapping. Actually, politicians are too smart to accept phone-tapping, more so when they can order phone taps as word of mouth, rather than a memo. Good luck trying to prove Governemnt’s involvement. It’s very naive of Sanghvi to believe that any spy agency in India or any country for that matter operate independent of Goverments invovlement or its agenda.

In passing, what intrigued me was this bit-

 For instance, R&AW picked up the conversations of the 26/11 terrorists on board a dhow in the Arabian Sea during one such scan. It had no permission from the home secretary for this kind of surveillance.

What does this say about India’s intelligence agencies? I’m not going to analyse that bit, but it should really scare you if you’re living in India.

IPL Round up – Part 2

Yeah, so after some scandals, bollywood inspired entertainment, and cricket, spectacular and ordinary at the same time, IPL 3 is finally over. And with it perhaps comes the end of Lalit Modi as commissioner of IPL. Perhaps, the true fall out will only come after the IPL Governing Council meets Monday morning (India time). Per an earlier post, I was going to write about the 4 teams that made it to Semi-Finals.

Eh! After the boring matches, which included terrible batting and even more terrible fielding (see: Khan, Zaheer) I changed my mind. Nothing about the SFs and Finals is worth writing about, except a couple of points-

  1. Sachin, as a batsman, is par excellence. If you get a chance, watch the shot off Albie Morkel where he shimmies down the track, and hits an on the rise punch through cover. Stroke of a Genius! As a captain, he can perhaps even inspire his players to do well and overachieve. IPL 2010 league stage was a good example of that. Tactically, he’s a bad captain. He can be outsmarted and outdueled very easily. Two moments easily stood out – Batting order of MI was an obvious one. Sending Nayyar and Bhajji over Rayudu, Tiwari and Pollard was strange. In contrast, Dhoni specifically set his fields in an unconventional manner that got Pollard out. I have never seen a straighter mid-on, in our gully cricket that would have been called a no-ball.
  2. Zaheer Khan, is a terrible fielder. Often, India is called a bad fielding team. This is despite players like Raina, Vijay and Rohit Sharma, who are great fielders. The reason is Zaheer Khan and players of his seniority, who feel very comfortable in their position and realize their is no threat to their place them from outside. Players like Zaheer, Harbhajan and Sehwag put zero effort into their fielding. Often I have seen twos turn into threes or even worse a boundary. Zaheer in the over prior to his drop had been using choicest of languages towards his fielders for not attempting a catch. Cue the next over, makes a royal mess. Now as a bowling captain, and the Vice-Captain (Zaheer was captaining the team in Sachin’s absence in SF), Zaheer’s effort in trying to get under the ball was disgusting. If that catch gets dropped on a school cricket ground, you curse the fielder and you move on, in a final of tournament and as an international player you should NEVER EVER drop a catch for which you didn’t have to move more than 5 feet.

Alright, enough of the rant about MI’s decisions and fielding. Now, IPL Awards was on Friday night. A night filled with entertainment and celebrities from on and off the field. To recap some of the events-

And drum roll please….

Pebble Beach

Sigh…I have 2 tickets to this years U.S. Open Golf tourney. Unfortunately, my business school pursuits are taking me to China for the Summer, which means I won’t be in Monterrey Peninsula. Pebble Beach is the host of this year’s edition of U.S. Open, and is often considered one of the best venues to play Golf, period. I personally, haven’t been to Pebble Beach as yet but from whatever photos I have seen, it is a spectacular venue. The photo of 7th hole here illustrates my point.

Pebble beach would have been my first visit to a Championship event, and none come better than Pebble Beach. What prompted me to reminisce and write about Pebble beach was this story. I’m uber excited for this year’s open, and look forward to catching some action between studying, sleeping and catching up on my daily dose of Soccer World Cup. Oh yeah, this Summer is going to be awesome for the sports fan in me- Soccer World Cup, 3 Golf Majors on some of the most beautiful golf courses in the World, and other assorted Cricket action.

IPL Round up -Part 1

Amidst all the vodafone wtf moments that happened in IPL, the league phase is over. If you think that this was a loonnnng winding league phase, well watch out next year for Havells IPL round robin phase, consisting of 94 matches. 4 teams have made it to Semi-Finals, so lets focus on the almost Cindrellas, the teams who didn’t make it to the DLF knockout phase.

Delhi Daredevils – Led by their star commentator, Danny “Double Ds” Morrison, Delhi flattered to deceive. I was able to get hold of a transcript of a phone conversation between Danny and Mrs. Morrision-

Danny – Hi Honey, hope you and the DDs, er… I mean kids are doing well

Mrs. Morrison – What DDs and where are you at the moment?

Danny – Oh nothing, just been following Delhi Daredevils

Mrs. Morrison (screaming) – don’t you lie…I’ve seen you on TV, next to those cheerleaders

What, you’re not interested in Danny’s tale. Fine. Lets focus back on the cricket. Delhi would have probably made it to the Semi-Finals, if Viru or Gambhir had actually picked up the coach’s call.

Kings XI Punjab – If the competition was only limited to IPL nights party, Yuvraj would have the been the best batsman. Unfortunately, like anything sponsored throughout the competition, MRF Yuvraj’s Paunch was a disaster, to a point that his batting was a bright spot. Karbonn Kamaal dropped catches, Appam C. and Piyush “Aur Mere Liye” Chawla (courtesy – GreatBong) Punjab topped the league in Citi moments of failure.

MRF Balloon – Oh sorry…it’s a blimp, at the forefront of the technology, which doesn’t show one freaking over head shot of the stadium. Two important points here and here.

Rajasthan Royals – Naam hai Hollywood…Shane Hollywood, a bowler par expellence on and off the field. Preity Zinta may have more commercially successful and critically acclaimed films (okay fine, the score is 1-0 in Zinta’s favor), but a better playing team she has not. Shilpa’s team in their owners style, talent-less and no meat on their bones, overachieved. Quite frankly, I found this video more interesting than their matches

Kolkotta Knight Riders – Despite a  potent combination of this and this, KKR surprisingly didn’t implode like last year. Much more fun review here.

Part 2 of my review will follow after the Finals and the awesome closing ceremony and the even more awesome IPL awards.

[Disclaimer – I was not coerced, bribed or intimidated into using any of the sponsors name. I did solely because I thought I could win an award, or two, in the IPL Awards night on Friday. ]

Birthday thoughts of the day

Happy Birthdate Birthday to me! So, another 365.25 days have passed and the Earth has finished another revolution around the Sun…yipee! Seriously, jokes aside, thanks to everyone for the many wishes. Many thanks to folks who actually reminded me that I am finally as old as my wife! To commemorate my turning the big two-seven, a few mind dumplings of the day. Without further ado-

Seriously, what were all these people thinking. No, not the article, the comments

– I blame a lot my problems on my wife, these guys take it a step further

– This news story saddened me

– Eventually, there will no merit quota at all

– What the hell is a dependent view?

– As George Constanza would say, if you believe it, it’s not a lie

Sachin ‘The Man’ Tendulkar

April 2, 2011 – World Cup Final, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. It’s India vs. Australia, Aussies need 16 runs to win the match. Irfan Pathan steaming in to bowl, first ball a full toss, smashed to cover point for a 4, next ball a length ball squeezed for 2. Captain walks up to bowler and tells him to pitch it up, Irfan nods his head and says he gets the message. Next 2 balls, length balls and are promptly dispatched for 6s. GAME OVER!!! Oh wait, this was the fate of KXIP in today’s match against CSK. Lets try this again.

April 2, 2011 – India vs. Australia, World Cup Final, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. India is chasing 260 to win, and after a poor start, things are stabilized. Even after losing 3 wickets, Sachin Tendulkar takes attack to Aussies, and is nearing yet another ODI century. India are well placed with just 100 runs to win, 20 overs to go and decent batting to come. India is odds on favorite to win the match, Ponting searches for inspiration and finally gets one in Sachin’s wicket. Still with 6 wickets left and some heavy hitters to come India should win this easily. Operative word being should, however predictably, India lose all their wickets and lose a close match, a match they had no business losing.

Think this hasn’t happened before? Check this match out. Before Hyderabad, before Chennai, and before Eden Gardens, there was Wankhede. The match and the collapse, which prompted Mukesh Ambani, the richest Indian, to name his team “Indians”. He knew after Sachin gets out, his team is going to collapse.

My brother (Happy Birthday to him, btw) wanted me to write about my favorite Sachin innings. Any cricket fan knows the 200*, the 175, the Sharjah storms or many of his test 100s. But to me what represents Sachin and India cricket is this Wankhede knock. Sachin was in his 2nd year as his opener, and had become by then one of the most important, if not the most, player of the team. India was playing a league game against one of the favorites Australia, at Sachin’s home ground Bombay. An inspid bowling performance on a wicket helping spin, allows Aussies to score 258. Yes, in those days anything over 250 was considered a good score.

India’s chase is rocked by 2 quick wickets, and Azhar is not at his fluent best (at that point he was in team because there was no suitable alternative) and not scoring any runs. Crowd is getting restless, Sachin decides to takes matters in to his own hand. McGrath to Sachin- a cover drive for 4 of a full toss, McGrath offers a few words of advice. Next ball, a lofted drive over midwicket for a 6, run rate on the rise and McGrath goes back to his fielding position. Shane Warne comes to bowling crease, remember this was a wicket that was assisting spin, a pull to the straight boundary rounds up the over and India’s run-rate is back on track. Few pulls, drives and cuts later Sachin is batting on 90. At that point, with 117 to win in just over 20 overs. A run rate of less than 6 runs an over, with a batting line up to come that includes Prabhakar (a test century to his name, on a spicy Mohali pitch that too), Mongia, Srinath and Kumble. Awe-inspiring batting line up, no, but effective none the less. After all Mongia would score a century later that year, Srinath and Kumble had test 50s. This didn’t include Manjrekar who was batting at the time.

In any case, Sachin plays one shot too many, get out stumped to Mark Waugh, and all fall down. What seemed an aberration that time was repeated 2 weeks later in a more important match, WC Semifinal. Predictable pattern, indeed. What made Sachin’s innings special was the way he absorbed the pressure of losing 2 quick wickets, slow run-rate and then cut loose in a fury of shots. Oh and not to mention the pressure of 40,000 fans screaming their lungs out on HIS home ground. Talk about pressure.

The indelible memory from that match is that flick over midwicket for 6, off McGrath.