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Saturday, July 26, 2008
When the South African cricket team was banned from playing cricket in the late 1960s, it had exposed the worst effect of racism to be practised in sport. The beauty of sport is that it cuts across all barriers--linguistic, regional, colour, caste. But in this case, even sport could not play the leveller in front of heavy racism in the form of Apartheid. Ever since the South African cricket team were granted the right to play international cricket in 1992, Protean racism had long become defunct as far as cricket was concerned and we now see a Dale Steyn rubbing shoulders with a Makhaya Ntini.

Cricket has had its fair share of racism with players resorting to racist abuses with one another on the field creating an ugly picture of the gentleman's game. But the administrators of the game have been wary enough not to let such incidents go overboard to the extent of damaging the spirit of the game.

The recent form of racism is being practised by an Indian. Now do not conjure up mental pictures of a Punjabi bowler abusing a Queensland allrounder by referring to the latter's most primitive ancestors for that issue has been resolved long back. This time it is Lalit Modi, the vice-president of the BCCI and the commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the helm. The issue here is IPL's Indian rival, the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).

The BCCI-ICL tussle began ever since Subash Chandra approached the latter for recognition of his league. He was given the cold shoulder but Subash went on to create the league and brought in players like Lara, Cairns, Harvey, Astle etc in its ranks. The BCCI tried every attempt possible to thwart it including bringing lesser known grounds and stadia under its control. But the ICL managed to get hold of the Panchkula stadium in Chandigarh. At this moment, the BCCI realised it had had enough and decided to take on the ICL by forming the IPL. At the end of a hugely successful IPL, most ICL players are left ruing over taking the hasty decision of not waiting a bit longer.

The BCCI recently issued a notice to Piyush Chawla and VVS Laxman to not play for their English counties as they had ICL players in their ranks. This move is described as nothing less than apartheid by Harsha Bhogle in his latest Indian Express column. It would not be a surprise if the BCCI declared, one day, that Kapil Dev never played for India, given the absurdity of such a move. If the BCCI is seriously thinking of grooming youngsters like Chawla, there cannot be a better method than allow them to take part in county competitions and thereby get a feel of the conditions in other countries.

In the past, the Indian cricket's administrators have issued warnings to selectors and players to refrain from commenting on the board's matters. The BCCI would do well to realise that by indulging in such prohibitory acts, it is the game which stands to lose out in the long run.

This has nothing to do with cricket leagues. Delhi cricketer Akash Chopra is authoring a book on the life of a typical Indian cricketer in which he attempts to portray the hurdles an Indian cricketer faces at the domestic level before he enters the international arena. He also attempts to dispel the popular public opinion of cricketers as pin-up boys. The book will be launched in October.

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Property of Sheks @ 12:40 am   4 comments
Wodehouse and Me
Monday, July 21, 2008
Half a decade ago, when someone mentioned the term 'P G Wodehouse' to me, the then ignorant me conjured up visions of a paying-guest accommodation in the woods. A couple of years later, I came across PGW's books in the library but did not bother to flip through the first few pages to get a feel of the type of book it is. It was judging by the cover then. The graphic on the cover resembled a painting and I thought it was a book meant for kids and shunned that library shelf which contained the PGW books.

However after another couple of years, most of the people I met happened to be intellectual, knowledgable people. When intellectual, knowledgable people happen to be bibliophiles discussing the greatest books of the century there is 95% probability that PGW's books make their way into the discussions. However it was a college friend who told me how humorous the books were. Driven by curiosity and an urge for humour, given the fact that people like me have a poor sense of humour, or so, it seemed, I went to the library and picked a copy of "Right Ho, Jeeves". The moment I finished the book, I began to love it. The next time I borrowed three books in the Blandings Castle series. I had become a fan of Wodehouse.

The next time, I purchased "Big Money", a book that fits neither in the Jeeves series nor the Blandings Castle series but into that of other books. Goach, a PGW fan, had mentioned in one of his posts that all stories of PGW rock and so I had no hesitation in buying "Big Money". The worst part was that i could not complete it and I am still only halfway through it even after about one year of reading it.

In the meantime, during my frequent haunts at Odyssey and Landmark, I came across a few low-price editions of PGW, published by Jaico. The Gold Bat, The Pothunters, The Head of Kay's.. all unfamiliar titles that I remembered not seeing them in the list of titles in the first few pages of the PGW books published by Penguin. The back cover revealed that they were the school stories that PGW wrote early in his career. 65 rupees per book, 195 for three. That's less than the cost of one PGW book published by Penguin. Not to lose out on such a profitable bargain, I bought all the three.

Boys in boarding schools form the main characters in the school stories. The aforementioned three books have exactly the same plot-- the protagonist loses one or more of his very valuable properties and goes out in search for it. The part after he sets out in search of his property resembles a thriller novel with a suspense element interspersed with dark nights (what's suspense without dark). It is an all-boys story devoid of pretty girls and boy-meets-girl-and-romance-follows sequences. Cricket finds an important place in these stories revealing that PGW was interested in cricket in those days when cricket was in infancy. The list of books reveals that PGW has written a lot of similar school stories. In the meantime I found that my cousin has omnibuses of KPN and Rathi Meena....err...Jeeves and Blandings. Can't wait to lay my hands on them.

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Property of Sheks @ 11:00 am   1 comments
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Remember the 1996 Wills World Cup when Coca Cola was the official drinks sponsor ? At the same time, Pepsi declared it had nothing official about it and had cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Ajay Jadeja and Vinod Kambli endorsing it. I don't know if it was the beginning but we consumers have seen and still see a lot of such ad-wars between the two most famous beverage companies in the world.

While such ads are still in vogue, a new kind of 'war' has erupted between two FM radio channels, Radio Mirchi and Radio One. But in this case it is Radio One trying to establish itself over Mirchi. This is reflected in some of the programmes and ads of the former in Pune. One ad features a guy buying a vada pav for his girl and asking her for specifications. The girl starts by saying "Most important, mirchi nahin chahiye" !

Radio Mirchi has a programme dedicated for PJ's (English for mokkai) in which the presenter starts with "Come on baby, chill !" and goes on to tell his PJ in a slow flow of words. I don't know if this programme is a hit with the listeners but it had definitely caught on with Radio One which came out with a similar programme. Its presenter mimes his Mirchi counterpart, starting with "Come on baby, kill !" and proceeding to recite the joke in the same slow flow of words only to be interrupted by another presenter who supposedly slaps him and tells him to finish his joke quickly.

With competition in FM radio getting hotter, I expect to see, or rather, hear, more variety in programmes and more such gimmicks in the future.

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Property of Sheks @ 11:56 am   1 comments
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
CNN-IBN discovers that a cup of coffee is more expensive than crude oil in this WTF article in its website. The opening lines of the article read:

[[ There's nothing like coffee to kick start one's day, but a cup of coffee is more expensive than crude oil. That's because a cup of Barista Coffee costs Rs 57 so a barrel of it works out to Rs 22,230. That's almost four times the price of one barrel of crude oil . ]]

Which sane soul would kick start his day going to Barista, buy a coffee for as high as Rs. 57 and start his day on a high? The worst thing is that this article has been classified as a 'Must-Read'.

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Property of Sheks @ 1:10 pm   1 comments

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Home: Madras, TamilNadu, India
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