Sunday, September 30, 2007

Perseverance pays off!

It can be very difficult to keep up with a non-performing gadget. I've had problems galore with my HTS3090 ever since I purchased it. Following up Philips to either fix or replace it has been an absolute nightmare. I've thought many times that perhaps I'd purchased an "aggravation" system instead of an entertainment system.
Yesterday, I was finally able to exchange the old set for a new Philips HTS3152 which has reasonably good features for a system of its class. First the ability to play almost all formats and all kinds of scratched discs is something that though trivial is worth mentioning.

Add to it an MP3 Line-in port, Karaoke support, HDMI capability, DivX Ultra support and support for XVid, WMA, Ogg Vorbis and you have a real power-packed combo.

Its a nice happy time for my wife and touchwood, this one isn't giving me too much trouble.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chak-de India!

"India have won the TT world cup", said Ravi Shastri. He'll be thinking "What was that all about?". TT World cup? If there was anything that went wrong with this game of cricket, that was it. The Paki's have nothing to be ashamed of. Misbah-ul-Haq, if he does that after a day of fasting, I wonder what he'd do when he's well fed?

I was sceptical about Dhoni's appointment as captain, but this guy is the real thing. The way he thinks and puts his thoughts into action, he's not just a fan's captain, but also a players captain. But its such a thankless game ,isnt it. A few bad games and he'd be cursed!

But lets not spoil the moment. India have won, not the "TT" but the Twenty20 World Cup. Its a moment that'll be remembered. There's something I remember other than this. The first time it took me 20 minutes to get out of the Infy MLPL. The first time I saw a thousand people walking out of the gate at 1645 and the first time, I saw hundreds of Infoscions waiting to get picked up by a bus, hitching hikes and standing helplessly to get home to watch India win! And did they win! India was destiny's team and as I was thinking on my way back, there were just too many prayers going their way, for this young, fearless, "all go no quit" team to lose.

As I watch replays of Bhajji and Irfan doing their crazy "happy dance", I've just got two and a half words for ya, "Chak-de India!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

The love of underdogs!

The whole world loves an underdog! I just finished a re-read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I just cant stop dwelling on the character of the protagonist.

Why couldnt Rowling choose Potter to be like his mother Lily? To be a master of the sciences he undertook. Why couldnt he choose Harry to be as skilled as Snape or for that matter Voldemort or Dumbeldore? Its a question that begs asking cuz had Harry not been "mediocre" as Snape often describes him; had he not been amateurish with spells, potions, transfiguration, apparition he also wouldnt have been loveable!

Its a very unique feeling of warmth that you can feel within yourself as you identify yourself with Potter through each of the installments of the series. In hindsight, I say its our fascination for underdogs. Its the reason we all loved Rocky; the reason why we hate to see the Aussies win all the time. The very same reason makes us love Harry as he rides his luck to backfire the Dark Lord's Avda Kedavra.

I cant speak for others but for me its a feeling that makes me happy enough to chant Expecto Patronum!

A travesty of justice

I was watching Saregamapa Challenge 2007 over the weekend and I somehow feel that its turning out to be a travesty of justice. The judges invariably end up giving 30/30 to all participants, which in a way is OK since all of the participants are really good. But a judge should be able to selectively grade participants even if they are "The top 5".

If I look at Saturday's performance, Raja Hassan's performance was woefully average while Sumedha and Aneek were brilliant. Surprisingly all of them scored 30/30. While Raja's performance may have arguably deserved the 30, it was injustice to both Sumedha and Aneek to have scored equally. A judge needs to be responsible enough to know where he can justifiably swing the audience's support. Its a pity that they choose to keep playing to the galleries instead.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Labours of Leadership

Rahul Dravid resigns as India captain. What makes leadership so difficult? What's it about India captaincy that it keeps claiming its victims and never ceases to be a game of musical chairs?

Its quite easy to look back in hindsight and criticise a lot of captaincy decisions, but to be very fair to the guy in the middle, he makes decisions at the spur of the moment for many of which he is merely an executioner and not the inventor. I guess as a mature audience, we need to slowly start being more forgiving of the India captain. For one, the team that he captains isnt always the best. Yes, we have Tendulkar and we have Ganguly but then this is a 11 man game isnt it? How many genuine match-winners do we have in our ranks? Of these potential match-winners, how many have won us matches with regularity? Why then, the fury against the captain?

We're a country of contradictions. We talk of a team game and yet our focus is so much on individuals. We'd settle for a Sachin century as against an Indian victory. We blame the captain for what essentially is a team game. Its a shame to see some of the greatest Indian players like Dravid, Tendulkar and Sourav being goaded towards retirement just because they're 30 plus, when the rest of the world is banking on their 30 plus warriors to deliver the goods. Take a look at a few.

Matthew Hayden - 35
Adam Gilchrist - 35
Andrew Symonds -32
Ricky Ponting -32
Sanath Jayasuriya - 38
Shaun Pollock - 34
Jacques Kallis - 31
Stephen Fleming - 34

If Jayasuriya can belt 88 of 44 balls at the age of 38, I dont see why a Sachin or a Sourav or Dravid need to retire just as yet. Why do we need to believe that they've played their last World Cup? I still believe that we're yet to see the best of this big three. I still believe that to replace these stalwarts there needs to be someone who can fill their shoes (as batsmen and not just as fielders). A Ganguly who cant field too well is certainly better than a Sehwag who doesnt know where his off stump is. A Tendulkar who gets frequently laid down with cramps, is a safer bet
than a Kaif who struggles to get the ball off the square. A Dravid at 34, can cream attacks with greater ease than a Suresh Raina who squares up with every quick delivery that's thrown at him. When will those crying themselves hoarse about the joy of youth realise that we simply dont have the bench strength to talk about replacing these guys!

Indian cricket is at a crucial juncture as I see it today. We need a coach that can groom young players by easing them into the rigmarole of international cricket. We badly need a few express bowlers that can run through a side. We need a couple of all rounders. We need a few good middle order batsmen that can face all kinds of bowling and cart them around when required. And we immediately need a captain.

While reports say its Tendulkar who's tipped to be the next man in the hot seat, we should not forget the Prince of Kolkata who arguably was the face of effective leadership for the better part of his tenure as captain. If we see a team that's willing to take the fight to the opposition when required; if we see a team that doesnt back down even if its chasing a 300 plus score; if we see a Rahul Dravid (earlier renowned as a grafter) in a run-pincher's role; if we see fast bowlers steaming in to bowl; its a passion that Sourav instilled in this team. The nucleus for the future -- Harbhajan, Zaheer, Yuvraj was laid by the Prince. If Sourav lost his captaincy to Dravid, its only fit that when Dravid relinquishes it, Sourav be the man considered fit for the job. We should also not forget that Sourav took up the reins of the team when it was down in the dumps. Sachin had relinquished the captaincy then and the ugly face of match-fixing had cast its shadow on Indian cricket, taking away from it a few specialists - Nikhil Chopra, Azhar, Jadeja and Mongia. To have brought India back from that situation and to have created a team that others take seriously is a matter of great credit and I'd always be a Ganguly fan for that.

While a lot of fans would be screaming "Chak De! Sachin", and I wouldnt want to argue with that, I've got a few words of my own, "Dada, phatiye daao!"

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The future of Studio Journalism

I witnessed the future of studio journalism today. Zakka Jacob, today took the pants off Dr Praveen Togadia in an interview that's almost an embarrassment for the VHP.

This kid's fanstastic. He can aggravate people and has no fear. For me, he's the future of the Indian newsreader as we see him today.
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