Vantage point

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Cartman vs Simpson

Here's a question for the ages.

Make a choice.

Bart Simpson or Eric Cartman?
"Eat my shorts" or "Screw you guys, I'm going home"?

Personally, I prefer Cartman.

Please excuse....another PJ

Q - What did Mahavira say to Tarzen?
A - You Tarzen, me Jain.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

True Story

One day, in a very old house in Mumbai, a wall started shaking. A civil engineer arrived to examine what was wrong. He examined the wall and arrived at the conclusion that the only way to balance this wall and protect it from falling, was to hang a painting on the wall. This would balance the loads on the wall, and stop it from shaking.

The civil engineering wanted to hang the painting as quick as possible, for the wall had started shaking omniously. However no one nearby had a nail. They all started looking for a nail but couldn't find it.

Eventually the shaking got too much and the wall collapsed.

A poet who was observing this whole saga commented -

"For the want of a nail, deewar was lost".

Hyuk! Hyuk!

Saturday, November 20, 2004


Kya aap GMail karte haiiiiiiiiin? Ya duniya se darte haiiiiiiiiiiin?
Aap GMail kyuuun nahi karte haiiiiiiiiiiin?

If some of you still need a gmail invite, leave your email ID in the comments. Ask and ye shall receive.

Laws ain't for Oz

I do not agree with many draconian laws of the ICC. But if the laws are there, they should be uniformly applied. If members of one particular team are consistently seen breaking these laws, and get away with it, while others are pulled up, then it smells of fish.

One law.... which I repeat, I do not agree with, counts the following as level 2 offences -

2.2 Showing serious dissent at an umpire's decision by action or verbal abuse

2.4 Public criticism of, or inappropriate comment on a match related incident or match official

The penalties for a level 2 offence could result in forefeiture of match fees or a 1 test-ban.

Now read the following things Shane Warne said to the media about his incident with Aleem Dar yesterday -

On the leg-side wides
I was trying to bowl a slow top-spinner down the leg side so [Jacob Oram] could top-edge a sweep. The umpire [Aleem Dar] said it was negative bowling so he wided me. I thought the first one was a bit wide, but the second I didn't think was a wide. I just asked him if it was negative, and he said you worry about your job and I'll worry about mine. I said fine, no problem.

On his comments being heard on radio
I also asked that if he was going to look at the laws he might want to check the lbw rule. He might have missed one or two over the years.

Now if this does not fall under 2.4, then I don't know what does.

But here we are, 36 hours after the incident, and no word about Warne being pulled up for this level 2 offence.

Meanwhile Ganguly was unfairly handed a ban by the ICC Match referee.

The issue here isn't whether Warne was bowling a negative line or whether Ganguly delayed the match.

On one hand, you have Ganguly's case where there are a lot of factors that might have caused the innings to be extended. The dew factor, the injury to Saleem Butt, the coming and going to runners. With all these factors, is it fair to blame Ganguly alone? Might not he deserve some benefit of the doubt?

On the other hand you have Warne, where there is a clear cut case against him. If insinuating that an ICC umpire does not know LBW rules is not an "inappropriate comment", then what is?

But then, the Aussies are above the law, innit?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Good article

From Wisden's Sambit Bal. Echoes what I myself was planning as a follow up to my post about Kumble a few days back -

Decision time for Anil Kumble

Bowlers Fight Back?

I may be making this comment on a very limited sample, but doesn't this season seem to belong to bowlers? Something for Amit and the guys at Cricinfo to ponder.

Just think of the spate of double centuries we saw last season, in addition to 2 triples and one quadruple. Just think of who were the headline makers for last year. (By the way, do you realise that before the Mumbai test, the last win by India which did not see a double century by an Indian came way back in 2002?)

And now, look at the number of five wicket and ten wicket hauls bowlers are chruning out throughout the world. And the big scores we are seeing are mainly hundreds.

Seems like the pendulum which had swung way too much in favour of the batsmen in 2003-04 is now gradually swinging back to normalcy. Hope it continues.

Here's to a year for the bowlers

Thursday, November 18, 2004

This summer Uma Bharti will Kill BILL (i e BJP ILL)

I have never been a fan of the BJP because it is an almost-entirely-but-not-quite-unlike Congress party.

I am not a great fan of the Congress. But given a choice between a bad product and a worse product trying to imitate an already bad product, I would choose the former.

This news - Uma Bharti ready to apologise is another chapter in this story. The BJP rebels are not rebels. They are almost-entirely-but-not-quite-unlike rebels. They just do not have the guts to rebel, and stick with it. First Kalyan Singh came whimpering back like a wet puppy. Now the supposedly "firebrand" Uma seems set to do the same.

The BJP still hasn't come to terms with the fact that it LOST the election. The only guy who seems to have accepted it with some degree of humility is Pramod Mahajan. But all the others are still trying to find excuses, and running around like headless roosters.

Vinashkaaley vipareetbuddhi.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Vaish the Great!

This is what I wrote in response to a guy on the "Vaishali" community on Orkut, who asked "What's so special about Vashali?"

I am an assal Punekar and I was never Vaishali-crazy in the days I lived in Pune. For me the place was way too popular, there were crowds waiting for you to get up, and the food was decent. But I always argued with my friends and rarely wanted to go to Vaishali.

Yet now, as i stay in Mumbai, one of the things I miss the most about the city is Pune. I have lived in Lucknow and had the most amazing chaaT in the world, but I still yearn for SPDP. I have lived in Bangalore and had yummy udipi stuff, but I yearn for the uttapas in Vaish. I have been to prettier, and "greener" places in Mumbai, and yet I miss the "crowd" at Vaish.

What's so special about it? Maybe it is the memories linked to that place. And the fact that the place attracts a young clientele, and the memories we form in our youth are the most enduring ones. Whatever the case, Vaishali is a legend, maybe because Vaishali is a shrine made of our youth.

If you are looking for a pointwise precise answer, my friend, then you won't find it. But you are sure to rub lots of people the wrong way by asking such questions. Maybe you don't mean to be offensive. But you know us Punekars. We live and die by our jajjwallya abhimaan. And you know what? It's infectious.

p.s. - i think Durga on Paud Road is well on its way to achieve a cult status similar to Vaish. Even that place leaves a lingering taste, not just because of its coffee and egg burjee, but the countless nights during submission time that we visited the place.

Such a Pity

It is pitiable to see how pathetic the lives of certain people are. They are so devoid of others' attention in their lives that they write tomes-ful on spaces meant for "comments" on other people's blogs.

That no one in their day-to-day life really gives a damn about their opinions is amply proven by their inferiority complex, which manifests itself in their reluctance to stand by their own identity. So these pathetic people hide their pitiable gutless selves in the cloak of anonymity. But their miniscule ego, browbeaten by failures in their personal and professional lives, finds itself stiffening a bit, if under this cloak, they say something stupid.

This kind of depravity is also found among people who make blank calls, or whistle at pretty women, or throw garbage on cricket fields, or scribble graffiti on historic monuments.

I know most readers are irritated by these idiots. But let us treat the idiots with pity. It is an exercise in restoring their egos after all. Let us think of this as charity, and bear with it. After all, the Anons choose to expectorate here because they know that on their own space, no one would even pay them a visit. So let them. I know even this post will be responded to with the same crap. Let it.

Whenever I go to historic monuments like the Red Fort and see graffiti on its wall, I do not think less of the creator of the Red Fort. I pity the mentality of the sickos who tried, in futility, to piggyback on the admiration that the Red Fort evokes.

While comparing this blog to a historic monument is a major delusion of grandeur on my part (hehe :)), I guess by comparing the Poltergeist of this blog with people who scratch their names on the monuments, I also do great injustice to the latter.

At least they had the guts to stand by their identity.

O Maria!

I am trying to remember the last time I opened the Times of India, and did not spot a picture of Maria Sharapova in it.

Not that I'm complaining of course. :)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Selling reforms to the poor

Economic reforms in our country have been against-the-tide, rather than a part of it. Every government that carried out reform did so because circumstances forced it to. Which is why what we have got are minimum quality reforms, implemented very timidly.

Why is it that it is difficult to find a politician who stands pro-reform, rather than not-anti-reform?

I think the reason is that no political party has ever thought of selling reforms to the public. Why is it? Is there no market for reforms? Or have politicians missed a trick? Or is it because the system is now caught in the vicious cycle of statist policies?

A few days back, during a long drive to a customer's office, I started talking to the taxi wallah. I asked him which political party he supported, and he said Congress. Next I asked him what according to him made India remained poor, and he said corruption. Over the next half an hour I had an amazing chat with the guy, as I sold him the idea of libertarian policies. I managed to convince him that widespread corruption is not the cause, but a symptom. The conversation was an eye-opener for two reasons.

In the conversation I used two different principles that are close to my heart. The principle of selling, and the principles of libertarianism. I found myself first talking to him, understanding his personal "environment", understanding what made him tick and what ticked him off. Just like we are taught to do in a sales job. Next I presented him my "solution" by tying it with his reference points. For instance I asked him the process he had to go through to get his taxi permit. Then I told him that in the system I believed in, he wouldn't need a permit. And I explained him how it would work, and not cause an over-crowding of taxis.

You know what? He was convinced.

People by and large have a reasonable amount of common sense, and libertarian ideas appeal to the common sense. That one conversation opened my eyes about how there was a huge untapped market for libertarian ideas in this country. And the reason all political parties were still selling rehashed Fabian-Marxist-Keynesian-Lohiaite-Gandhian ideas was because no one had taken the initiative of tapping this market.

The idea of Swarajya was confined to the drawing rooms of the intelligentsia for many decades in the Gokhale-Agarkar days. Gandhiji sold the idea to the lowest common denominator and transformed the mental landscape of India. Today libertarian ideas in India are in the same place as Swarajya just before the first world war. We need another Gandhi to yet again transform the mental landscape of India.

I am thinking of becoming a member of the Swatantra Bharat Party.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Shwaas Online

Here is the official website of India's entry for the Academy Awards this year -


Jumbo Year?

There are 4 more tests India will play in 2004. 2 against South Africa at home. 2 against Bangladesh away. In these four tests, how many wickets do you think Kumble can take?

Why do I ask? Well, he has taken 54 wickets in 8 tests so far. Hence,

- He is 21 wickets away from the most wickets by an Indian in a calendar year - Kapil - 75
- He is 26 wickets away from the most wickets by a spinner in a calendar year - Murali - 80
- He is 31 wickets away from the most wickets by a bowler in a calendar year - Lilee - 85

How many of us realise what a great year this has been for Anil Kumble? The best of his career already! And may be the all time best!

I have been among those who doubted his shelf-life for many years. But he re-invented himself and bounced back. Yet another comeback kid in this new Indian team.

Hats off, Jumbo!

Friday, November 05, 2004

W(h)ining Aussies

Another illustration of Aussies being bad losers. Another illustration of the Indian media sucking up to the visitors.

Having won the series thanks to a friendly pitch in Nagpur, one would expect the Aussies to show some grace in defeat. But no, they continued with their tradition of whining and blasted the pitch....also throwing in the usual "Warne would've helped us win" comment.

And if you see the interviews on TV, it is the Indian media which is digging out these whines by asking "So what are your thoughts about the pitch?". Did anyone from the Aussie media throw India any lifelines during press conferences down under? No! Why can't the Indian media get over its obsession of white skin?

The most appropriate comment about the pitch came from Geoff Boycott -

Okay, it was a poor pitch for batting, on which the match could not
go the whole distance. But it wasn't a dangerous pitch. No one had to
be given medical attention or taken to the hospital. Those people
saying that this pitch will be reported to the ICC are daft. (The ICC
rules forbid only a pitch that holds the danger of bodily harm to the
batsmen. As long as it is safe, it can be as dusty as hell.) Those
Aussies think all pitches must be the like in their country - flat,
hard, grassy. Well, to hell with what they think. It was the same
pitch for both teams, remember.

Exactly! It was the same pitch. Everyone was saying that it would turn from day one. If everyone knew it, one would like to ask why Australia played three spinners? Why was Clarke's introduction delayed so much? Why wasn't Katich given a bowl?

M/s Buchanan and Ponting are covering up for these errors that they made. Poor selection and poor rotation of bowlers.

Now coming to the pitch itself.

I have always wondered, for years, that how is it that the ultra
bouncy Kingsmead, Gabba or WACA pitches.... where few matches go into
the fourth day, and hardly any teams cross 250... because the pitch
gives exaggerated assistance to fast bowlers... are kosher pitches...
often applauded, and looked at as challenges.

Whereas dusty pitches, or cracked pitches... where few matches go into
the fourth day, and hardly any teams cross 250.... because the pitch
gives exaggerated assistance to spinners.... are supposedly a
"disgrace to the game".

The Wankhede pitch was not good for batting, granted. But was it as bad? I don't think so.

Runs were scored at a good clip by both teams. And the wicket did not get worse, as Manjrekar and Slater said. I think most batsmen, Indian as well as Australians, let the pitch get into their heads. Most dismissals were a result of either excessive caution, or reckless aggression.

It was not a pitch where you saw a lot of unavoidable dismissals. Unavoidable ones are those which you can't do anything about. The ball either stays too low, or bounces too high, or hits a crack and turns where it shouldn't. Only one such dismissal I remember is Kaif's LBW in the first inning, when Gillespie's ball turned as much as an off spinner's.

I am gonna go through all the second innings dismissals of recognised batsmen that I can remember. And I will make a judgement about whether the pitch caused it, or it would have been the same on any other track. Tell me if you agree.

Gambhir - Neither forward nor back, undone by the typical McGrath line, edged one too slips. Was out on any pitch.
Sehwag - Set up beautifully by McGrath, by bowling some aay going deliveries. Padded up, misreading an inswinger. Plumb in front. Again, out on any other pitch, if Sehwag had not played this uncharacteristic shot.
Tendulkar - Slog-sweeping a ball from way outside off stump. Not the perfect shot selection. Pitch might have held up the ball a bit, but not an unavoidable dismissal.
Laxman - Undone by flight, not to the pitch of the ball. Again, not an unavoidable dismissal.
Dravid - Playing forward, ball jumps up, takes his glove. May be classified as semi-unavoidable, because the bounce was too much
Karthik - Poking at a ball, caught brilliantly by Ponting. Again, unavoidable.
Kaif - Padding up to a delivery pitched in line. Never a good idea
Langer - Have seen Langer falling to this line before. Very McGrath-ish line from Zaheer. Poking at it away from his body, edges it to keeper. Could have been avoided.
Ponting - Unsure footwork to spinners. Edged the ball. Dismissal similar to the 2001 dismissals. Still hasn't sorted out issues about facing spinners on the subcontinent...a fact cemented by his failure in Sri Lanka.
Martyn - His dismissal was predicted by Slater on air. Taking an off stump guard, and covering stumps while playing back, was always going to be a risky game. Could not read a Karthik arm-ball. Again, out on any pitch.
Katich - Poking at a ball turning away. Uncertain shot, edged to the slips. Semi-avoidable.
Hayden - His sweep shot had been bottled up because of some canny field placing. The pressure got to him, and got into a very awkward position to sweep. Planted his front foot a little too much forward, lost balance, and played it on. His horrible balance can be judged by the way he fell over. Again, out on any track.
Clarke - Playing back, wanting to cut, did not spot the arm ball, bowled. Out on any track.
Gilchrist - Saw the fielder in the deep, yet slogged, backing himself to clear the field. Didn't happen. This was a shockingly irresponsible dismissal. He could have stayed there and got to the target with just 1's and 2's. Could have made the Indian earn his wicket, like the tail=enders did. Instead threw it away.

Now most of those dismissals would have happened on any other track, if the batsmen had let the demons in the pitch get to their heads. I'm not saying it was a wonderful pitch for batting.... far from it. But it sure was not a 600-run pitch. It was more of a 1000 run pitch, if the batsmen batted with application.

Sachin and Laxman's partnership showed that this was a playable pitch.

This is a victory we as Indians need to be proud of, more so because of the narrow margin. It is an evidence of how well we held our nerve, never letting the aggression flag. At the end of the day, at least in this match, we just handled pressure better than Australia. For this match, let us give full credit to the team.

Oh yes... as Rajk said to me yesterday, all the doubting Toms who say Sachin doesn't play match-winning innings, this was one. The Mumbai test was won by the bowlers, but the opportunity created by Tendulkar.

My judgement on the whole series is that it was a lot more even than the score-line suggests. The luck was with the Aussies, what with the rain at Chennai, and the wicket at Nagpur. But then champion teams make their own luck.

The Aussies bowled very differently this time round, as opposed to 2001 or even earlier this year. Earlier they would only concentrate on the just-outside-off line. In 1999, this line got them a lot of batsmen caught behind the wicket. But by 2001 India had wisened up. So this time, the attack plan was to stick to that line, and every once in a while attack the stumps. And that did us in. Notice how many guys were bowled or LBW.

In this series, out of the 49 (7 X 7) possible recognised-batsmen (including keeper) dismissals for India, 21 were LBW or Bowled. That is about 43%.
In the series in Australia early on, out of the 46 possible recognised-batsmen dismissals, only 9 were LBW or bowled. Just about 20%. Hardly any were dimsissed early on like in this series.
In the 1999-2000 white-washed tour in Australia, out of the 42 possible recognised-batsmen dismissals for India, only 11 were LBW or bowled (out of these, 4 were of the wicketkeeper). That is barely 25%. Most were caught behind, or caught in the slips.
In 2000-2001 in India, out of the possible 42 recognised-batsmen dismissals for India, only 6 were LBW or bowled. That is about 14%.

These stats you a story don't they?

One thing I missed about not watching this match on ESPN-Star was that there was no hawk-eye. With the hawk-eye analysis, you realise which line the bowler bowled to. In the drawn series in Australia ealier, it was interesting how miniscule was the proportion of balls targetted at the stumps.... especially from Bret Lee.

So anyway, I think this new tactic of attacking the stumps paid off. It also helped that most Indian batsmen were out of form. And when you are out of form, you often play down the wrong line in the beginning of your innings. We simpy could not outbat them as a result.

Anyway, let us target South Africa now. Oh yes, before that we have this farce of an Indo-Pak one-dayer on diwali.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Get the world map, Condi!!

Well well well! George Bush has been re-elected and insanity has been retained in the proceedings. For India it is good news, as the chumminess will further develop. Powell, who went hoarse taking credit for the India-Pak rapproachment, is likely to be replaced.

Well it might be good news for India. But it is not good news for many other countries.

If I were George Bush and I were re-elected, I would call for the world map first and the champagne second. Bet the dude is working on a list of countries to pre-emptively attack.

And with no election remaining, there is nothing at stake.

Methinks the America of 2005-2008 is going to make the Germany of 1937-1945 look like a soft state.

Damn that keeper!!

Michael Clarke came down the pitch, and attempted a shot. Missed it. Nonchalantly ambled back towards the crease. To his utter surprise, the Indians were celebrating, the stumps were broken, the umpire had raised his fingers, and....and....wait a minute...why was his friend Parthiv jumping around!!!??

Wait another minute!! This bloke isn't Parthiv!!! Who is this guy? Where is Parthiv? Why was Pup stumped out? Why didn't they tell him there was a new guy behind the stumps??

What has this world come to if you step out against the Indian spinners, miss it, and are stumped out, Clarke thought.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Pup vs Pace?

Last year, I was one of the first members of the Michael Clarke Fan Club. His approach to batting, his lusty hitting, and his wily bowling, all made for a brilliant young prospect.

However I have been made to re-think my estimation of 'Pup' after I saw the way he played out a couple of really good spells against Zaheer Khan. He survived them, but the manner in which he did, does not inspire as much confidence. He was undone by the awkward length, by the odd bounce, and the movement.

We have all seen that Clarke is a wonderful player of quality spin bowling. But can he also survive....nay, dominate quality fast bowling in test cricket?

Maybe he can, maybe he can not. I guess the Ashes will be an occasion to find out, because I dare say, England has one of the better pace attacks in the game today.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Talk about hypocrites!!!

A few days back, our esteemed left-of-centre friend from IIMK, Sathish left a comment on my blog which said -

Its Gaurav's mistake if he chose to work for IBM after getting a subsidized education. His managerial skills would have more valuable to India if he had gotten into Social Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure Management or managing rural youth to produce umbrellas and sell it, for instance.

Now note, that I have no pretences of any socialist leanings. Firstly, I think the idea is unviable economically, politically, morally, as well as patriotically. Secondly I dislike those socialists who will attend a seminar on rural upliftment, only if it is held in a five star hotel.

Then there are genuine socialists whom one disagrees with, but respects. At least they stand by what they believe in. No hypocrisy there. And the good socialists don't go about evangelising and calling everyone names. They just do their work and get on with life.

Which category does our friend Sathish, who just got his entire fees paid by taxpayers, belong to?

You be the judge. One month back, Sathish wrote on his blog -

CSC kicks-off the lateral placements this year, on Oct 18th. And I've applied for it.

Cool. So working for IBM is a mistake after getting a subsidized education, but working for CSC after getting a free education is OK!

Sathish, I have a better career suggestion for you - an ivory tower CPM ideologue to succeed Sitaram Yechury.