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Our Jallikattu. Your PETA. Our Culture. Your Nonsense.


Who is PETA? Like, who the hell are they? Who let them all in? Don’t blame Manmohan Singh just because he opened up the gates for foreign parties through the economic reforms of 1991.

The past few days have turned even the otherwise uninterested North Indian media restless. The reason I accuse them of being uninterested is the obvious truth that they don’t give a damn about the events happening in the south of Vindyas. While some struggle to pronounce Jallikattu correctly, the other half, I am sure would have merely passed off the topic thinking Jallikattu were some South Indian dish made of coconut.

Is Jallikattu really cruel on the bulls, as it is made of in the media? There have been incidents of brutal violence like biting the tails and feeding alcohol but that is not true for all places. I genuinely believe that there has to be a regulatory body, that ensures the fair treatment of bulls. But an outright ban? No. These are part of a rich tradition and the various inscriptions and cave paintings suggest that it was perceived as an act of bravery. Spain still has its love affair with bull fighting and haven’t let PETA or any of the jokers to have a say in that.

It’s not about Supreme court because there are eminent lawyers and the matter will be dealt with legally. The discussions and suggestions will go through a legal channel. But my problem is with organizations like PETA, their supporters and motives. People cheering for a ban on Jallikattu are the same ones who are going to have a chicken lollypop and beef fry the next minute. Yes, Kamal Hasan hit the nails hard when he asked for a ban on Biryani too, if you are banning Jallikattu. The animal welfare army do not have any problem with non-vegetarianism. Not that I am for vegetarianism, but going by their logic, they should have gone to the supreme court for a ban on non-vegetarianism too. They use products made from the skins of animals. This ‘selective’ campaigning is abhorrent. Pamela Anderson once voiced for curbing the practice of parading the elephants during the temple festivals in Kerala. Luckily the matter was trashed by the Govt. of Kerala. And she was trashed in facebook by the “Pongala” warriors. I wonder what the elected Govt. of Tamilnadu was doing since 2013 when Jallikattu was banned. Why didn’t it find suitable lawyers to defend the cause? The matter gained mileage only when Kamal Hasan said those strong words.

Meanwhile, it’s heartening to see all the peaceful protests that are going on in Tamilnadu. They have done their bit in letting everyone know about the power of masses, in the most civilized manner that this country has seen in sometime. It’s up to the nominated lawyers to present the case responsibly. Justice for Jallikattu. 

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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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Europe’s own Rosetta!


The scientists at the European Space Agency have landed a spacecraft ‘Rosetta’ on a comet. I don’t know the universe-turning advantages of it. Nor am I interested in googling comets. The least I know of comets is one by the name Halley’s which kind of pops up once in 76 years and that of the saying “Comet-h the hour, comet-h the man”. So, I’ll leave it to the ISRO folks.

I am more bothered about the name ‘Rosetta’.

‘Ros-etta’.

‘Roshan-etta’ shortened to ‘Ros-etta’.

Inevitable Malayalee connection?

Talk about universal truths. Sun rises in the east? ‘Yes’. Malayalee in every nook and corner of the world? ‘Yes’. The only person who didn’t believe in the Malayalee fact was Misbah Ul Haq and after his nightmarish scoop in 2007, he too has surrendered.

Now, why did the European Scientists name it ‘Rosetta’?

Rosetta is the Quintessential Mallu. Born and brought up in a farmer household in the rice bowl of Kerala, ‘Kuttanad’. With Marxism in his blood, he finishes Das Kapital in as much time as it takes for an 18-year old in Mumbai and Bangalore to read out a Chetan Bhagat book. He is an abundance of knowledge, ranging from the history of Poland and Vietnam to the political situation in North Korea. He might not be well versed in English. Don’t have high expectations just because he happens to be from the same state of Shashi Tharoor. Remember, even AK Antony is from here. Soccer is his passion. Yes, more than cricket. He is laborious and is fitter than any of the gym dudes in Cochin and Calicut. His weaknesses are the fish fries and beef fries. And his strength is as long his state isn’t declared a ‘Dry’ state. This is our Rosettan.

Now, what did Rosettan do to be in the good books of Europeans? I know, the Europeans prefer Rosettan’s native place for holiday. I know of Rosetta’s brother Pauletta who happened to represent Portugal in one of the FIFA World cups. But I couldn’t find other substantive evidences. So, how would I find out the role Rosetta had to play in the European Spacy Agency’s dream project?

I could either approach the Malayala Manorama, who are the pioneers in educating the world about the possible Malayalee connection of every Tom, Dick and Larry. I could also reach out to the genius Malayalam film director who would find out the truth and tell us the story, without moving his ass out of Kerala.

……

……

It’s 10:30 AM and I need to move MY ass out quickly and head to office. Why the fuck should I care about Rosetta and the European Space Agency? Our women in ISRO, in their Kancheepuram Silk Sarees were instrumental in accomplishing the world’s cheapest Mars Mission. In fact, cheaper than the amount it took for the folks to make the Hollywood movie ‘Gravity’. So, why should I go gaga over a spacecraft being sent to comets by Europeans. Our scientists at the ISRO, Bangalore will come up with the much improved and cost effective project soon.

Poda Dei. India da.

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Soccer Fever in the Samba Land


As all the roads lead to the Samba land for the ultimate Football festival, this post is just a humble attempt in letting the world know that I too will be following the beautiful game. Yes, my country languishes at 154 in the FIFA rankings. Yes, in my country, its only about Cricket, which is preceeded by Cricket and more Cricket follows. It doesn’t matter. We’ll become overnight football fanatics during the world cup. When the ball starts rolling, Kolkata, Kerala and Goa will just resemble one of the streets of Sao Paulo itself. Giant screens are set up in the leading pubs and sports bars of Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. Kolkata will carry over the passion it exhibits in an East Bengal- Mohan Bagan clash, to cheering the Messis, Neymars and Ronaldos. Northern Kerala is already resembling a battle field with the Brazilian and Argentinian fans locking horns. And Goa has gone a step further by sending its ministers to Brazil, apparently to ‘study’ the game.

Kerala- during the World Cup

Kerala- during the World Cup ( from Twitter )

 

So, what are my memories of the world cup. I do remember, in bits and pieces and crumbs, the Ronaldo phenomenon in France in 1998. About how the bald headed youngster took Brazil into the finals. But the images are so little and is limited to what my soccer crazy Dad used to tell me.

I do remember the 2002 edition at Korea and Japan clearly. The South Koreans kept churning out surprises after surprises in the knock out stages and ended up in the last four.  The ‘Good Bye France’ write-up by one of the fans, was an instant hit. Turkish forward Hakan Sukur’s fastest goal in the history, bagged me vital points in the Sports Quiz competition held at school, a little later. But overall, this world cup saw the sheer Brazilian dominance. We had our first sighting of Ronaldinho, who had a meteoric rise to fame. Then there was Roberto Carlos with his twirling free kicks, the ever graceful Cafu, the veteran stalwart Rivaldo and of course, our very own bald headed sensation Ronaldo.

2006 was very different in its own ways. By now, I had become a loyal German fan. I giggled every time they did well and was dejected when they lost in the Semis. Zidane’s headbutt, Brazil’s below par outing, Christiano Ronaldo- Rooney ugly face off were the highlights, in what is according to me, a very dull world cup. By the way, I didn’t like Italy being crowned the world champions!

Now coming on to my favorite of all the world cups! South Africa, 2o10. Social Media was just about beginning to change our lives. And so the Pre- and Post-match analysis were through facebook posts and tweets. But what made the world cup so interesting was the way the Rainbow nation had organized the event. The African flavour was there to see everywhere. Waka Waka, Vuvu Zela and Jabulani had become household words. The on-field events were equally glamorous. Germany, with its youngsters, displayed a brand of football which was breathtakingly fast and so wonderful to watch. It only failed against the boring yet effective Tok Tok tactics of Spain. Ghana won our hearts and that douche bag Luiz Suarez, perennial brickbats. Messi of Argentina was miles behind in class and form of Messi of Barcelona. And there were stars, in Wesley Sneijder, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller, Iniesta, Xavi and a list of Spanish stars from Barcelona. In the end, as our Ravi Shastri says, Football was the winner.

This world cup offers so much excitement, for it is held in Brazil, the land of Edison Arantes Do Nascimento ( Pele ). It’ll be interesting to see the likes of Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo, along with the German teenagers of 2010 and the defending champions. In the battle between the magic of South American Soccer and the Dour machine like professionalism of Europeans, I hope football fans are entertained to the core. Go Germany, I am cheering for you guys, as usual.

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Foodies on Shivarathri


It was quite ironic that most of the people in my Twitter timeline were talking about food, on the day of Shivarathri, when almost everyone took to fasting. Couple of food junkies added me in Instagram. A friend suddenly tweets, asking me to suggest her the must try-out eateries in Bangalore. And there were special items on the cafeteria menu. How ironic! To add to all of these, Prinku sends me the pics of the dishes that we had ordered the previous day. And yes, we did have a wonderful day with the different taste buds.

Au Bon Pain:

Au Bon Pain

French Breakfast @ Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain has been my most preferred place for breakfast after the Dosa outlets and the Kerala restaurants in Bangalore. I stumbled upon this French cafe bakery one fine day, when I was going through Shivya’s blog (www.the-shooting-star.com ) and what immediately struck me was their in-cafe nutritional kiosks. Pesto and Sandwiches are my favorite and depending upon the mood, I make a choice between the cappuccinos and mango smoothies. The calorie counts on every menu item is displayed and the choice is all yours to go for low-calorie, low-fat or a vegan dietary. I love the ambiance here and they play some soothing numbers in the mornings.

Tacobell:

Mexican Lunch @ Tacobell

Mexican Lunch @ Tacobell

French breakfast was done with and now, it was time to turn Mexican for lunch. And so after giving it too much of a thought, we headed to Tacobell. One will instantly fall in love with Tacobell. The floral designs are all over and the food wrappings will make any creative designer blush. I always go for the Kathitos; for there is something in these Chat-pata rolls taste-alike, that I keep going back to again and again. Nachos, Burritos, Tacos and Cinnabon delights too are worth having a try. Top them all with the unlimited soft drinks that’s available. Yes, you can drink Pepsi as much as you want. The icing on the cake is probably the free WiFi. You can click pictures of your dishes and instantly upload them in the social media.

Mango shots from the CCD have always tempted me. And because you have CCDs lurking around almost every corner in Bangalore, it wouldn’t take much of a time. I always love the CCD, despite the hopeless Coffee that they serve. The sizzlers are out of the world here, along with the Mango shots of course. But I get fascinated by the Cafe Digest newspaper that they have, the contents of which deserve being featured in page 2 of the TOI. Needless to say, I cherish all the coffee table conversations here.

shots @ CCD

shots @ CCD

Well, it was all foodies on Shivarathri…

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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.