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Looking back at 2014


The Sun is about to set on 2014. It is time to look back at the year which promised a lot and which began with a bachelor’s party in Bangalore. As 2013 had presented me with more happening 365 days than any of the years before, I was really looking forward to 2014, but it just fizzled out like Rohit Sharma. Not that the year was bad but 2014 was less interesting.

There were good times. In fact, plenty of them. With friends around, I did have one heck of a year. Be it, the night at Kingfisher Dude Vijay Mallya’s palace UB City or be it dragging Ashwin, Murali and Vysakh for a French breakfast on an early Sunday morning. Be it cheering for Yuvraj Singh during an IPL match at the Chinnaswamy stadium or be it showing the iconic spots in Bangalore to Vishal. Or even the bowling session at Amoeba with Priyanka, Aradh and Chinchu. Even the California Dude George who had busted his ankle was here to meet us all.

What is life without friends!!

What is life without friends!!

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Appa Amma's 25th wedding anniversary!! Shiva Temple, Murudeshwar

Just like in 2013, Internet and Social Media dominated my life in 2014 too. Though I had contemplated deactivation of my Facebook account, I wasn’t just courageous enough to do it. Twitter, on the other hand, continued to be my most preferred Social Network. The findings of one of the apps in Google Play, left me startled. It showed that I access Twitter about 75-85 times a day. What the fuck was I doing with my life? Am I not having a life or what? 75-85 times a day meant that I was hardly missing any of the tweets of 400 people I follow. Seriously, refreshing Twitter button is not going to lead me anywhere, unless of course I am a Ramesh Srivats or a Sidin Vadukut.

I got myself a Moto-G which was my first real Android experience. I started using Instagram, Zomato and Foursquare voraciously. Instagram turns almost everyone into a professional photographer or at least makes us feel like one. And despite lashing out at Zomato for their ‘Delhi better than Bangalore’ blog last year, I found their mobile app to be an interesting concept. Foursquare reaffirmed that I was now a 24*7 smartphone chap.

One of the sensible decisions of 2014 was buying a bicycle. I started cycling the streets of Bangalore which gave me a lot of joy. Getting to see a lot of characters in the chill mornings lifted my spirits and there was no stopping since then.

All we see are the sights of the beautiful sea around

Traveling to the Ghost town of Dhanushkodi was one of my most memorable 2014 event

My biggest regret of 2014 is my failure to travel more. I did manage to squeeze in a few trips to Chennai, Dhanushkodi and religious towns of Karnataka. Apart from that, it was basically getting tied up at my cubicle in Bangalore or at the comfort of working from home. I missed out on a dream trip to Goa with my friends despite Air Asia offering me tickets as cheap as 999 bucks from Bangalore to Goa. None of the foreign trips too kicked off. It was a pain in the ass to see all these buggers in facebook either snorkeling in the waters of Maldives or setting off to Malaysia and Thailand for a holiday.

Even my blogging took a hit. Blog Archives indicate that I had not even penned 20 blog posts. Partly it is attributed to the knowledge reception mode that I turned on. I had read more books in 2014 than ever. I’ll blame the Flipkart folks for spamming me with book recommendations.

But on the whole, I would give around 5.5/10 for 2014. Taking the unconventional route has always thrilled me and also inspired me. May be in 2014, I had wanted to be a good boy and fell prey doing conventional things. I must confess that in my professional work, I played the waiting game and didn’t do much to make things happen. Hopefully 2015 will have interesting answers professionally. And I wish my personal life continues to thrill in the coming year as well.

Dear 2015. Be kind on me. Be adventurous. Be thrilling. I’m stuck. Help me out in completing my book. Aid me in expanding my horizons. Give me a kick on my bum if I stay conventional. And importantly, let India win the World Cup in Australia.

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RIP Phil Hughes


Sport is meant to bring a lot of joy, not grief. It is meant to unite regions and provide a ray of hope. It never is a battle between life and death. It never is about mere survival. I was a toddler when Ayrton Senna was killed during the San Marino F1 Grand Prix. I was all of 8, when Raman Lamba succumbed after being hit on the forehead while fielding at silly mid on. Barring these tragic incidents, sport was an abundance of joy and thrill. And now, Phil Hughes has left us.

It wasn’t a snorter. It wasn’t as venomous as he’d have faced in his career. It wasn’t as brutal like those barrage of bouncers he was up to in the bouncy Durban wicket during his 2nd Test, where he hit those twin centuries. It wasn’t as lethal as he’d have seen from Mitchell Johnson in the nets. It was a 130 kph Sean Abott bouncer which took off from a rather batsman friendly SCG track. It was all over. He had been fighting for a place in the Australian side before that. Who’d have thought that a moment later, he would fight for his life. Life is cruel, at times. No it is, most of the times. A 25-year young man dies while playing the sport he loved and a 22 year young fast bowler, having to live with the burden for the rest of his life. How cruel can it get?

I’ve always felt that a child’s demise before his parents is against the laws of nature. Phil Hughes is left by his farmer father, in whose farm he had mastered the art of square cuts. He is left by his loving mother, in whose arms he had learnt the life lessons- humility and simplicity, the characters which would eventually define his character. He was a simple man, who loved being in the farm along with his family. He was humble by the way, he got along with his teammates. He was equally loved by all.

Phil Hughes leaves us with rich memories, of the spell bounding square cuts and cover drives. The Durban show, the historic last wicket partnership with Ashton Agar at Trent Bridge, debut century in ODIs and a lot more. He had his flaws and limitations but he also had age on his side. He was after all just 25. And how abruptly, it all ends. We’ll miss you Phil Hughes. We’ll pray that you’ll be born as a cricketer in your next birth too. Until then, be safe in the company of Don Bradman in the heavens. RIP.

 

Phil Hughes: 63 Not Out

Phil Hughes: 63 Not Out

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Indian Cricket – stooping to an all time low!


Everyday starts with me, lying in the bed, under the quilt and holding my smartphone; conveniently tapping my ways through the timelines of Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and my new found love, Instagram. It’s a daily routine that roughly extends to half an hour in the morning.Timeline in all these social networking sites didn’t look that impressive this morning. None of the hot chicks in my friends list had changed their profile pictures. Everyone in Twitter were still jobless busy in discussing the screwing of Rahul Gandhi by Arnab Goswami. Mails regarding my freelance work too were not be seen. That was when I arrived at youtube. The best thing about it is that it exactly knows what you like and itself recommends a list of videos. As I strolled through the options, the one which caught my eye was the ongoing India’s seemingly disastrous tour of New Zealand.
Let us face it. Indian cricket is facing a crisis. The masters of the flat tracks bat like school boys when the ball zips, swings, seams and bounces in alien conditions. Be it Australia. England. South Africa. or New Zealand. The same set of boys who make a mockery of targets in excess of 350 in ODIs in India, have now been found wanting. It will be grossly unfair if I do not exclude Virat Kohli from all the bashing. The brashly Delhi batsman has already become an ODI legend. Hang on. He has already done enough, for me to compose a separate blog post on him. So, that’s about Virat for now.
Why do we call the current situation, a crisis? We’ve always been poor travelers and were bound to struggle overseas. Our stats men will agree to that. Wouldn’t they? But my generation will not. For us, Indian team always meant ‘Business’ overseas. The team we saw while growing up, consisted of a bunch of honorable cricketers. They were the fighters, which none dared to take for granted. They had this mix of experience and youth, which gelled beautifully to give us the results. They had the leader who could put his hand around his bowler’s shoulder and telling him that he is going to win us the Test match.
I am trying hard to not make the IPL as the punching bag. We resemble the team of the early 90s. Kohli scores, we win and if he doesn’t, rarely barely do we win. Though MSD’s batting in ODIs has been as consistent as anyone’s, his Midas touches as captain seem to have vanished. His team selections make the Indian Hockey selection committee look angelic. The bowlers try hard to get into the all time list of worst bowlers. Suddenly Indian fans have awakened to the reality that Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra were the McGraths and Akrams during their times.
It’s easier to make scapegoats, but tougher to provide solutions. First things first, England have sacked their coach. So why not send this Duncan Fletcher back to where he belongs and bring in one of our own retired guys to coach. Second, pick players in the squad purely for cricketing reasons. There must be something beyond the cricketing reasons that Cheteshwar Pujara doesn’t figure in the ODI squad. Thirdly, my 11 year old cousin knows how Suresh Raina gets out in International cricket but it looks like our selectors and captain doesn’t.  And fourthly, dear BCCI, asking for a large chunk of ICC’s share is fine, but how are you going to use it to produce a Dale Steyn?
An Indian Cricket Fan, moves on!!
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Our Sree kuttan!!


27 Test caps. 53 ODI appearances. 162 International wickets. Two world cup wins. And yet, an Indian Cricket fan deems Shantakumaran Sreesanth as a dancer, a fashion freak, the Aussie attitude guy, a bad boy and sometimes, as the one having an interest for pretty girls. Rarely do they think that he is a Cricketer. Why? The curse of being a Malayalee? The curse of having come from the city which hasn’t yet figured on the Indian Cricketing map? Because he sledges? Why?

Sreesanth is a real talent. Make no mistake at it. To be able to make the South African batsman dance to his tunes in those South African wickets, you must be skillful in that. Swing was his weapon, wasn’t it? And the way the seam landed, the length and the line made him so lethal. The way he cleaned up Gilchrist and Hayden in that epic T20 World cup Semifinal is still fresh in our minds. We gazed in admiration whenever he swung the ball like that. Then one fine day in West Indies, he traps Brian Lara. Another day at Trentbridge, in an unbelievable spell of swing bowling, he nails the English top order. And on another day in Brisbane,he pairs with Ishant Sharma to bowl the Aussies out for under 150. And similarly in South Africa, he sends Jacques Kallis back to the pavilion with a peach of a delivery. So, aren’t these top notch performances? Indian public seldom remembers this.

Sreesanth
Photo Courtesy: Google Images


Yes, Sreesanth matches his on-field performances with his off-the field ones.

He dances. So?  Cricketers aren’t supposed to dance or what? Even Sunil Gavaskar has acted in movies, right.

He parties. So? Who doesn’t party? Good boys like Dravid, Laxman, Sachin and Sehwag are exceptions. But again, they are married.

He socializes with Bollywood actress? Oh, common. Cricket and Bollywood is a glamourous partnership. Ask Tiger Pataudi & Sharmila Tagore. Ask Zaheer Khan & Isha Sharvani or Harbhajan Singh & Geeta Basra. Wait Wait. You forgot Yuvraj Singh-Deepika Padukone-MS Dhoni ?

He takes part in fashion events. So? That’s his personal matter. You don’t judge cricketers by their ramp walks, do you?

He sledges, gets into a banter with the opposition. So? Haven’t you seen the way the Aussies played under Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting?

Wait. Haven’t we all stood by Harbhajan Singh during the unsporting Monkey Gate episode? And frankly speaking, Sreesanth’s theatrics were nothing compared to the Harbhajan’s Mon-key, Maa-ki episode. But why didn’t the Indian fans never support Sree? Because of a simple fact that he is a Malayalee or as some idiotic Hindi speaking devils say, he is a Madrasi. Kochi and Kerala will easily top the charts of the preferred tourist destinations but in the Indian Cricket Map, it hasn’t it. And Sreesanth personally has admitted that his talent was recognized only when he moved to Bangalore. If he was in Kerala, he’d have probably ended up his career having played only Plate-Division Ranji Trophy games. They talk of all these Unity in Diversity here but fail to sense the reality that people from smaller states are often neglected and are seldom given much importance.

Sreesanth was a motivation for the entire state of Kerala to take up Cricket. If one of our guys can do it, why can’t we? Through ups and downs, we looked up to Sreesanth. We laughed when he danced, We smiled when he ran through the best batting line ups, we giggled when he sledged, until the last Thursday morning. We woke up to a punch-on-the-face, our inspiration, our own Sree was alleged to be involved in Spot Fixing. Nothing has been proved, though the Police claim that they have evidence. Until the charges are proved, Sree will continue to be our hero, he will be our pride that he has always been. He has played a lot under Rahul Dravid. So he should’ve picked up a few things on how to play the gentleman’s game. He has always been a loner in the Indian Team, with no friends and no one to put an arm on his shoulder and motivate him. He has foes in the Indian Team to often discriminate him on the basis of region and language. There wasn’t anyone with him when he needed the most. Sourav Ganguly reacted to the shocking news that Sree was a stupid and a temperamental character and that he is a sheer waste of talent. Mr. Dada, what were you doing while playing? You could’ve been that man to go up to him and given a pat on his back . You could’ve backed him the way you backed Sehwag, Harbhajan and Zaheer.  You could’ve been that man to go and tell him what’s wrong and what’s right like how you told the perennial bad boy of Indian Cricket- Harbhajan Singh. You didn’t do it. In fact no body did it. In ups and downs this Indian, sorry this South Indian, sorry this Malayalee had only himself to motivate and back.

These are days when even Justice comes in certain dollars and a lot of background engineering goes on! So, we are keeping our fingers crossed. We hope that our Sree comes out clean. If he does, the entire state of Kerala will breathe a sigh of relief. If he doesn’t, we will all feel cheated, we will have the Indian Cricket to blame partly.

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Hi ‘Dirk’


18th May, 2013:

The day when we donned the hat of a ‘beggar’. That should sound bizarre when someone from the leading global business company says it. But often cricket fans in India are made to feel like that. It was match day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. A big ticket game that, with the heavyweights clashing. Also, having reached the business end of the competition, the game between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Chennai Super Kings was a highly anticipated contest .
We had tried our best, before that day, to get the tickets. We checked the online sites, contacted the agencies, friends, friend’s friends and friend’s friend’s friends for the passes. We tried our asses out , but in vain. So, we decided to go directly to the stadium premises on the match day to check the possibility of at least the ‘Black’ tickets. But in vain, again.
So, we gave up and decided to hit the Brigade Road for lunch at the McDonalds. This Brigade Road is one awesome place. It is probably the most happening place in Bangalore, fair to say, in the whole of South India. All the major International brands have their outlet here. No foreigner leaves Bangalore, without having paid a visit to this place. Pubs, Restaurants, Bars, Retail Outlets, Tattoo and Piercing, its all here. The place also resembles a margin-free shop of Hot chicks. As style and fashion rule the roost here, its not surprising that you get to see so many good looking, stylishly dressed girls flaunting their style here.

Brigade Road, Bangalore
Brigade Road, Bangalore

So, here we were at the Brigade road, on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon, checking out on the Adidas and Nike showrooms for offers. And then came THE moment outside the Adidas showroom. I along with my college buddy were passing comments on the numerous girls whom we saw there. Suddenly, we saw two familiar faces. They were the two heavily built Australians, one with his sunglasses on and other resembled the guy in the ‘Kolaveri’ song, not having shaved for two months. Both were in their black Puma Tees and Caribbean trousers. Perhaps, they had just finished their shopping session. Nevertheless, I was quick to recognize them. Dirk Nannes and Andrew McDonald. As they neared us, I went up to Dirk and said, “Hi, Dirk”, my first face-to-face interaction with an International Cricketer. And my happiness knew no bounds when I got an instant reply from him,”Yeah, Hi man!!”. Everything happened in the flash of a second. I was dumb, to not ask for an autograph, nor a photograph(which I would have happily put in Facebook), but nevertheless I was elated. That’s some compensation for not having got the tickets.

12

I am the satirist


Being satirical is a challenge, let me tell you. Not everyone can craft it as perfectly as a Russel Peters Or an Andy Zaltzman or for that matter any standard stand-up comedian. The timing has to be meticulous. Well, look who is talking. I, of all, in the world shouldn’t be talking on this. I get my timings horrendously wrong while trying to be satirical. But still, Twitter lets me unleash my joke-cracking skills. Some PJs (Poor Jokes) and some, really really PJs (Proper Jokes). So, this is what I did in Twitter when boredom drove me nuts. Sit back and enjoy. I am an optimist. So, I hope you’ll enjoy.

POLITICS:


  • This Goa CM says he is like a Sachin Tendulkar. Poor chap isn’t in Twitter, I guess! Else, he’d have said Sir Ravindra Jadeja 🙂

  • Prank of the day:Inspired from Gen.Mushraff, Michael Clarke says he’s proud of his team’s performance against India #RahulDay #AprilFoolsDay

  • Prank of the day: Manmohan Singh just defeated Navjot Singh Sidhu in an extempore today! Everyone faint. #RahulDay #AprilFoolsDay

  • Digvijaya Singh : Yes, Prez Mushraff was behind the Kargil war. He had to do it for self defense. #YouRememberHisCommentOnSanjayDutt

  • *ROBBER* Vadra.

  • After listening to what Sanjay Dutt said, Suresh Kalmadi will ask the SC to release him for the next CWG in 2014 and then he’ll surrender!

  • This guy Nitish Kumar reminds me of that nerd classmate in the High school who always stayed opposed to the extra Games hour! #GetLostPls


CRICKET:


  • Just a thought. What would’ve happened if SREESANTH chose to provoke Navjot Singh Sidhu instead of provoking the other Sardar #GettingCheeky.

  • Historic moment in Twitter. Sir Ravindra Jadeja tweets. The stocks are expected to soar! 🙂 @imjadeja is his handle!

  • I have no idea why IPL organizers have planned it as a 50+ days event. You know very well that SIR’s team will win anyway. @SirJadeja

  • Was @BrianLara really playing pranks today with @ImRaina when he tweeted that Raina has it in him to become a great Test batsman! 🙂

  • One day a small kid was smashing 4s & 6s. Sir Ravindra Jadeja chided him to play defensive strokes. Today, we know him as Rahul Dravid #JadejaFacts

  • When Sir Ravindra Jadeja was a 5-year old kid, he started using Water-colours! From that day, we celebrate the day as ‘Holi’ #JadejaFacts

  • “Our blunder is not worse than other calendar blunders”- Mayans #DoomsdayExcusesLikeDhoni

  • Gautam Gambhir is a wicket-to-wicket thrill seeker!!! #RunoutMaster


GENERAL :


  • #IAmSoMiddleClass that I pile up these Sauce packets from KFC and McDonalds at home instead of buying the Kissan Tomato Ketch ups.

  • So eventually with the money they charge for Air-ticket cancellations, #MakeMyTrip have grown to sponsor an #IPL team #SunrisersHyderabad

  • What came first? The Chicken or the egg? Hypothetical question? Wait, try ordering them separately in eBay. 🙂 #SelfThoo

  • Don’t be surprised if some dolt moves Avai Shanmughi to HC for portraying a Muslim Cook as a cheater! #Vishwaroopam

  • They’ll take some China clay with them too 🙂 RT @TheHindu Chinese astronauts plan to grow vegetables on Moon.

  • It took US 10 years to complete the hide & seek game #OsamaBinLaden. India finishes the Hangman game in just 4 years #Kasab 🙂 #smallJoys

  • Kejri*bomb* explodes in Delhi. My Manager’s pre-Diwali*bomb* explodes in the office for not meeting the project deadline. One India.One Diwali.

  • #MadeInIndia  1. Cattle class.. Sorry, the Tharoor class.. 2. NOHIT Sharma. 3.KEJRI-bomb.

1

first DATE with EDEN


Date: 8th of December, 2012




It was a cool, foggy and a misty winter morning in Kolkata. The jerkins were out. The skull caps were out. The city was slowly waking up, as usual, lazily. I made up my mind to not be the epitome-of-laziness that I always is. Because, the place which is a 15-minute drive from my house, was presenting me with an opportunity to meet a bunch of people whom I adore the most.


So, we got up, breezed past the Park Street, the Maidan to make our way into the Eden Gardens where the Indians and the English were involved in a gripping contest of bat and ball. As we neared the stadium, I could spot queues which were more than double of what I generally see in front of liquor shops in Kerala during Christmas and New Year. The sheer presence of thousands, made me believe that ‘Cricket will NEVER die in India, or rather, we will NEVER allow it to’.


Eden Gardens has its own charm. The Ganges flows behind it. There is a circular railway beside it. And it is located in one of the most serene spots in the otherwise not-so-serene-city. Romantics have always rated it along with the Lord’s and MCG as the best place to enjoy Test cricket. There is history attached to it. Two honourable cricketers once transformed the idiom ‘Bat the entire day’ into reality after which a Sardar, the tweaker just ran through the all-time-best batting line-up to give India a famous win here. Since then, people believe that if the miracles were to happen in Cricket, it will, only at the Eden Gardens. With its spectator capacity of 70000 ( once it was around a lakh ) , there is no bigger intimidation than this for the visiting teams.


There was a huge roar as the Indian duo of Sehwag and Gambhir strolled into the wicket. There were whistles all over. The stadium was just about to come to life. Attendance was easily around 60000. Kids, teenagers, budding cricketers, office-goers, home makers, retired gentlemen, they were all there. The office goers didn’t need to fake food poisoning to throng into the stadium as it was a Saturday. I was slowly realizing that I have not just come here to cheer for my heroes, but to learn what Test Cricket is and how everything boils down to 22-cricketers and not 22-yards.


Sehwag-Gambhir, easily India’s best opening pair in its history, were playing out some attacking and eye-catching shots. They were making the English bowlers look so meek, much to the excitement of the crowd. Sehwag, one of the most loved cricketers was cheered for every ball he faced. Being a die-hard Sehwag fan and for whom all other activities come to a standstill whenever he bats, this was just a different world. I clapped. I whistled. I ‘eyyy’ed. I waved. I knew, I was enjoying it, until he got out. The next batsman too exited soon.


Suddenly, the crowd erupts. Standing ovation followed. I was hearing the chants. This was some sight really. The master, Bradman’s favourite, the God of cricket was on his way to the center. I haven’t seen anything of this sort before. Almost the whole of 60000 Calcutta crowd stood up. So, did the otherwise intimidating and disrespectful Barmy-Army section of the crowd. And so did, the seventy year old gentleman sitting in front of me. Wow! What a sight that. I understood that no one really envied Sachin, in fact it is far from possible. The man whose experience is more than my age has been a constant indulgence.


When things were slowly sliding down the barrel, the crowd again erupted. I learnt quickly that it had to do something with the giant-screen. Yes, it showed the DADA commentating, somehow re-affirming that, in Kolkata, he is the man. He is the boss. He, is, the, Prince-of-Kolkata. I could even hear the “Dada, please come back” comments seeing the torrid state of the India’s batting.


Wickets kept tumbling. And, India was falling apart. English bowlers breezed through the brittle middle order. The seventy year old gentleman was furious. He went on with his “Dravid, Laxman, please come back” remarks. Yes, India was missing these two men who scripted a miracle here once. The Dravid-mania went on, on and on. I could even hear it in the Metro station after the match.


It wasn’t a good day as an Indian fan but was a better day as a cricket lover. I wish my next date with Eden (on Jan 3rd when India play Pakistan), turns out to be equally good for Indian fans as well as Cricket Lovers. After all there is no better place to watch Cricket. You’ll begin to understand why “Cricket is not just a sport in India”