Friday, January 30, 2009

"Mud on your face..'

I am a certified double-left-feet (Nopes. Ain't can't dance), yet anytime I listen to this, I can't help tapping my feet. This is the King of Clapping-Thumping songs. Such an awesome, in-Ur-face song with a superb Universal appeal.

"You got a Mud on your face...You BIG Disgrace...Kickin your CAN all over the place..."
Singin..We will we will Rock U...

lol. freaking hilarious this.... For what anyone cares, for me this is a Classic.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NFL Evite

So we got this cool evite for the Superbowl party this Sunday. I thought it was funny.

Totally looking forward to it. These parties kick ass. Booze, Wings, Wisecracks. No way I am missing it. Rooting for Steelers this time!!! (Pittsburgh was my first city in USA)

**Have blanked out our Hosts name and address.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cricket Australia : End of an Era

I wrote this in my old blog in August of 2005, when England beat Australia in an Ashes game(something that happens only once in a blue moon)

As the gutsy Australian opener Justin Langer wrote in his column in

[..] in the bigger scheme of things it is one of the best things that has happened in international cricket for a long time[..]

No kidding. It takes a lot of self-confidence to say so, Justin !
As a cricket lover i have seen the Australians rise from the 'ashes'. I guess it was Bob Simpson and Alan border who built that formidable Australian side of 1987 which went on to win the Reliance World Cup in India. Thereafter there was no looking back. There was of course a minor dip in Australia's fortunes when Australia failed to reach even the last four of 1992 world , which incidentally was played in Australia. Barring that brief period Australia never looked easily beatable. I guess except for South Africa under Hansie Cronje, none of the teams really stood up to Australia's professionalism on the field. Their mental toughness has been un-matched ever since.

It takes a lot of foresight and planning to build such a temperament and attitude. Bob Simpson almost redefined the way one-day cricket was played. He threw his weight behind untapped areas of fielding, physical fitness, running between the wickets and discipline.No wonder teams like Windies,Pak and India who depended largely on just the batting/bowling skills of their players started looking increasingly inadequate against the Aussies.

The Australians ooze a silent confidence with their body language. Aggression is their second name. They play hard. But all this was not procured overnight. They actually build this step by step.Remember the tied match at Chennai when Ravi Shastri almost gave us victory. That word "ALMOST" has been our bane. The same word was applicable when we "ALMOST" beat Australia in 1992 world cup; when Steve Waugh even after dropping a catch of last ball had the cools to make an accurate throw at the keeper and run the lazy Sreenath out.

But to be fair to India, we have given Australia a run for their money from time to time. Whether the famous VVS Laxman series where he turned around a lost cause into a sweet win or when Tendulkar bull dozed Waugh's team out of Sharjah's dessert storm.

The Aussies have seldom failed to live up to their reputation. They have the last two world cups in their pockets and are likely to be the favorites for 2007 with their current form.

But as like in every sport and every team the downfall of Australia will come. The West Indies seemed indomitable and unbeatable not so long ago. They were the kings and rest all the other teams competed amongst themselves to come distant second. Their domination over the game was absolute. It was complete. I always argue that Clive Lloyd's team of late 1970s and early 1980s was the best cricketing side ever.

But as with Lloyds team when the key players started retiring one by one leaving a vaccum, the same fate is likely to hit Australia. Warne and McGrath are likely to retire sooner than later and Australia might need to build a second-rung of players who will fit in their shoes. Thats easier said than done. Off course Ricky Ponting is still young and very able skipper.

I would like to see England,South Africa and West Indies build up a formidable challenge to the Asians to see a balance in cricketing world. Cricket was much better when these teams were playing well. Today somehow it has become more asian and lost some of its lustre.


How things change in less than four years. Cricket India is truly in the saddle. SA just beat the bejesus out of Australia. Ricky Pointing has a slipping grip over his captain ship and Australia has no formidable player to replace him. Hayden just retired so did Gilchrist, Warne,McGrath in last few years.

For someone who saw the Rise and Rise of Australian cricket, this is a bitter-sweet moment. I was a great fan of their professionalism. They probably gave the world some of the best cricketing moments we ever saw. Australians brought the glamor, the life, the pace to modern day cricket (Kerry Packer and Co, a salute to you). They truly were the pioneers of the game in a lot many sense.

But as with life, it is true for cricket. No great force can sustain for ever. It happened to the mighty Windies, it has happened to Australia. For me the writing on the wall is clear - "It's official. The Australian party is over".

But for all the great entertainment provided by the Aussies (and I am sure they will continue to do so in future as they re-invent themselves) this a royal salute to a great cricketing nation. You guys, gave us Cricket like we always wanted. Fun, Fast and Hard Core.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rahul Baba, Sanju Baba, Oh Baba....

Sanjay Dutt : "I want to model my career on Obama"

Times Of India : Is Rahul Gandhi, India's Obama ?

Oh boy! I don't know where to begin. I'd rather not. Comedy has another name in India. It's called 'media'

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tale of Two Ricks

I usually do not engage in a conversation with the Rickshaw walas. I have this thing that they may take me for a royal ride if I try to be too friendly with them. Although I actually pay them for doing exactly the same.

This time around though, while using the rick in Mumbai, just for the kicks I engaged in a conversation with the drivers.

The first time it was when I was going to Santacruz from Borivali. It was early morning traffic. As we started moving further south on link road the vehicles kept adding. I almost felt like that old Digjam ad of Shekhar Kapur who keeps collecting people on the way as he takes a walk to no-where (People who have not seen Doordarshan and are not familiar with those ads or were born post 1982, please don't bother).

The driver was in his mid 40s and was clearly upset with a whole lot of things around him. This was just a week into post Mumbai attack. His language started going down hill with each passing light (signal), as he used the choicest curse words for present day politicians. He reserved the greatest abuse for central government and specially for Gandhi family. He also threw up an interesting trivia during the course of the conversation (or more like a monologue). 'Tya Sonia bai ani tichya mulanwar apli Sarkar dar warshi ekshe wees koti karch kartey ...ani akhya janatey war keval deedshe koti"... - (The Indian Government spends about 120 crores for security upkeep of Gandhi family and about 150 crores for the rest of Indian population.)

I was amazed by his knowledge. I actually looked it up in Times of India. He was right on the money. The annual budget for Gandhi family's security is about 118 crores, just 32 crores less than the annual NSG budget for remaining 1 billion population.

Old Post on Bombay

The knowledge available at certain places in India always amazes me. Whether it's the pan tapri, the typical Ram Bharose restaurants or people like this rikshawala. They pack some punch in there.

As the conversation went in different directions covering a few more topics out there, it came to the touchy Raj Thackrey-Bihari subject. I asked him upfront what was his take on the recent violence in Mumbai and attacks on Bihar-UPites. He told me - (Roughly translated) "Saheb, u'll be amazed, but Raj Thackey was just one name. He was actually getting tactical support from lot of parties, including the ruling Congress party. The thing is Sir, we are all fed up with these bhayyas. They are breaking the back bone of the city by their constant lawlessness. They come here and do not assimilate into the society like rest of us. Instead, engage into Mafia-ism and Goonda-ism and have taken over acres of lands around the city forcefully. Most of slum lords are now bhayyas and we have to pay them to just to survive in our slums. Even the police is encouraging Raj T to clean up this mess. Our auto rickshaw union is particularly affected by their increasing domination'

Although I din't agree to his assessment, the point was, he was the true voice of Mumbai in some sense. A slum dweller and a daily wage earner. Whether he was right or wrong, elites like me, sitting at 13000 miles from Mumbai can debate endlessly. He wouldn't care less. That auto driver was not the only one who had held this opinion. I met some well read, educated folks in Mumbai who for some reason did not find Raj T to be on the wrong end.Aso

I did not push him too much on the topic but just tried to digest what he had in mind and let it go. It was interesting to get a ground view of the ground reality though. The guy was facing life every day and seeing from close quarters what was happening to him and his city. To know his mind and through his eyes was quite revealing.

********* end of Part 1 ****

By strange coincidence I had a Bihari Auto driver when I took a rik from Santacruz Airport to Borivali during my last week in India. I only came to know of his Bihari origin much later during our conversation.
The way we started conversation was quite interesting. After coming out of the airport I started looking for the airport designated auto rick stand. I went quite a distance but was still not able to locate the starting point. In between, as I kept walking, I found a few random folks who offered me a taxi/rick and wanted me to bypass the official line. To my disappointment lot of people did bypass the designated rickshaw line. The poor rickshawalas who were waiting in official line were clearly furious as some of these "shaanes" got to bypass them. I kept going till I finally found it. I asked the policeman managing the official line, why he was allowing those ricks to take people out of turn when the airport designated line starts here. He gave me a look that can at best be described as a 'what-an-idiot-i-am-for-asking-this-silly-question'. Soon my look turned into - 'what-were-u-thinkin'. The driver of my rick said to me - 'Chodo sahab, yaha aisa hi hai. Hum doh ghante say khade hai imandari say. Woh log, bade sahab log ko hafta deta hai isliye bina permission kay ghus jata hai'. (Leave it Sir, no point talking to the havaldar. I am waiting for 2 hrs in this official line..Those tramps.. they bribe the higher up folks and squeeze in out of turn)

As we talked more about this issue, he told he was from Bihar and his family still lives there. If given a chance he will rush back. He said, he tried to follow the line and law of the city as much as possible, but some day he may break loose. He too has to learn the tricks of the trade.

For me, what was important was my stereotyping of "a lawless Bihari" broke in one single stroke after conversation with him.

He was a hard working Indian, trying to make mends in an alien city. He was an economic refugee in the city. If he had a choice, he would not have left Bihar. But alas, his people, his own people screwed up big time. And he had to look for other options. Other states for survival. He wasn't mad at Raj Thackray as much as he was mad at his own politicians in Bihar who did not give him or his state a chance. Once one of the most prosperous states in the country was in shambles and was regrouping after about 30 years of spectacular mismanagement and corruption of the highest order. One of the iconic figure of corruption, currently being hailed in Corporate India as a management guru was his Chief Minister for 15 years. A period enough to bring it to the brink.

After speaking with both the drivers I figured that the poor is really the worst hit whether its Lalu or Raj Thackrey and their politics. Those two guys are pitted against each other while both Raj T and Lalu live in palatial terms. Lalu, who squeezed out so much from Bihar in 15 years of this awesome (mis) rule, has no calms about poor folks from his state having to work as poor laborers in distant Maharashtra,Gujarat,Punjab. He takes a stand completely opposed to the interest of his "own men" and Raj T, for all his fake machismo, acts only against poor and weak and unarmed bhayyas. If he was man enough, as he claims to be, he should have the guts to take on the war lords, the slum lords amongst the bhayyas. Beating up a handful of weak, unarmed men, hardly qualifies for bravado.

In a strange way, both the rickshaw guys represented real India, which was being led by a fake India. I couldn't get my hand around this. My only hope was to see Lalu and Raj T, being subjected to worst kind of poverty and torture some day.

Freeze it!

Picture courtesy :

Such moments don't come everyday or even every century. Freeze it! Freeze it because this picture symbolizes humanity's progress itself. This picture embodies empowerment, smooth transfer of power and Power itself.
Salut to Choice. Salut to Judgement.Salut to Democracy.Salut to you - U S A

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Modi Phobia

A communist Member of Parliament A.P Abdulkutty recently praised Mr. Narendra Modi, the much reviled Chief Minister of Gujarat for the tremendous development work he has undertaken in his state.

The communists who consider themselves as the placard holders of Indian 'secularism' (whatever it is) just could not take it. Poor guy was rewarded with a suspension order from the party for crossing the line. After all how can you praise Narendra Modi !!! That's beyond sacrilege in India.

This incredible hatred for Modi, much of which is meticulously manufactured over the years, thanks to the 24X7 English speaking elite media houses single point agenda, has made it impossible to look at the positives of Modi for well meaning reasonable people. People who criticize him when required but also look at other side.

In a way most "blind haters" have pushed themselves in the corner and are either in denial or want to blind fold themselves and don't want to "see it".

It always surprises me that Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi who sat over India's biggest genocides (Assam and Delhi) got away so easily! Anyways, looks like most of India is ready to move on, including large number of Gujarati Muslims who voted for Modi, but messrs NDTV,IBN and their ilk are not. They are like Ostriches putting their sorry heads deep inside sand and always looking for that odd Arundati Roy and Pankaj Mishra and Somini Sengupta to bail them out with some nauseating article every few days to keep that hate agenda from going in back burner.

Sad guys all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mr. President

To Dear Mr. Obama.


As you inherit a much maligned and tarnished legacy on 20th Jan 2009, I understand you have a daunting task ahead. The biggest challenge for you is restoring confidence of this nation and that of the 'average Joe' - the guy who's name was liberally used and milked during the campaign preceding your historic election to the highest office.

As a non-citizen and super-average Joe though, I have some simple suggestions to make. I am sorry, but I am taking this liberty to give you suggestions. You, who has been elevated to a Demi-God status and almost have become a messiah of sorts (at least in some circles). Although I find this idol-worshiping of yours a little too much to digest, I understand that there's an extraordinary thirst for change in your country. And you Sir, somehow offer that mirage of hope to a lot of folks. They believe (and unfortunately for you) that you have some magic wand to undo all mess.

As you try not to get too overwhelmed with this huge hollywood type hype and expectations and try to be grounded and deal with 'real' things, here are a few simple things you might want to consider. Again you are a super-hero, so you may as well ignore them. But anyways..

1. Please make your term a term of Common Sense Presidency. Keep it simple. In fact on day one, declare loudly and clearly - I am a Common Sense President. What this will do is release some of the air from the over hyped balloon. When you talk 'common sense' and remove hyper oratory and big talk, people 'get it'. They understand it's not easy. Please help lower some of the expectations. It will help you the most. Now since you have won the elections, the long, rousing, oratory speeches that you and me are habituated to can be freezed into your Oval office lockers for next four years. You'll need that spin again. But not now. I know you know what I mean.

2. Declare your presidency - a Common Sense Presidency - and actually use common sense. Something the last guy did not.
I am not an Economist or an Ivy League r by any stretch of imagination but yet as a simple working professional of this great nation I can "see" things around me. I can understand the basics and think we have some common sense solutions.
For example, the 'mass transit' system in your country is a mess. What if you used a fraction of that huge bail out for Wall Street to kick start a huge infrastructure initiative in partnership with private companies. Something that FDR did. Imagine a 'Bullet Train' between Chicago and DC or a Bullet Train between NYC and DC or SFO and San Diego. Think of the kind of Economic stimulus this would mean. All ancillary industries, such as steel, cement and technology would go bonkers. Not to mention great employment generation apart from the fact that this would be cleaner for environment. I know special interest groups and Detroit won't like it. But that's precisely the point. You have to act on your words, no?
You know the Airline Industry messed up because there was no competition from any other sector to it. They became greedy at some point, over-extended themselves and whoosh... lost it. If people of this country had an alternative choice in form of great railways, a robust choice which was cheaper than driving own car and better than using Greyhound, the Airline industry would have also been on their toes managing themselves well. Remember the middle class is the driving engine of the economy. You are missing the game if one the the latent needs of middle class in this country, an efficient alternative mass transit, is not available.

3. The second thing you can use common sense is on Immigration laws. Imagine what kind of revenue would have been generated if all the 12 million+ illegal Mexicans were appropriately taxed. Now those poor guys are hiding and earning with fear and not paying taxes yet using all resources. Instead they can live without fear, pay taxes and live a better life. You can start a program for those people to come forward, register their names and make sure they are assimilated in the society with respect. But they should also be made aware that there are no free lunches here. They have an obligation too. I am sure at least 90% will come forward and help the economy. You can also simplify laws for legal migrants and actually convert this into a revenue generating law. There are still millions and millions of people around the world who line up to your consulates. You can milk this cow like anything. Imagine a revenue generating fast track. I am sure you got the drift.

4. Sir, you have an overwhelming good will not only across the nation but around the world. You have a golden chance to leverage this good will into far more greater achievements. You should ideally declare the most harsh steps in your first year of office or as they call the 'honeymoon' period of your tenure. This is the time when hard pills can be swallowed as your support base is still dizzy with your win. Once things settle and they start analyzing you and your presidency, that's where water starts getting muddy. You have a clean slate. Make tough choices right away. You will get away now. Else never.

Thats it from me, the super-average-Joe of a developing nation, working here in your country.

Just one more thing. In school we used to be given tests to write essay on a topic called - "If I was the President of the Country" and all of us would write a wish list making pompous claims. You don't have that liberty of wish list or to be pompous. But Sir, you can write a great essay for this nation.

All the best!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good jobs, Bad times

What kinda jobs don't get directly affected by recession? As in what profession would you be in to be most immune to any economic downturn.

Right of the top of my head I can think of 3 such professions.

1. Lawyers - Some may say, they actually make a merry during recession. Depression is time of increase in crime, both corporate and otherwise. Men generally tend to go negative during hardship. And crime to Lawyers is what ill-health is to Doctors.

2. Doctors - This one is easier. Again you will always require Doctors. Good times and Bad times. Actually more during bad times. Stress is a genesis for a whole lot of medical problems. Enter recession, enter stress. Enter stress, enter your friendly neighborhood pill-man, your Doctor.

3. Professors - One of the most under rated professions according to me. Completely immune to any economic downturn, IMO. The 'khadoos', arrogant tribe is actually one of the least affected men and women in times of hard recession. From what I hear, people go back to school during tough times.

P.S : I read somewhere that Casinos actually do better business during hard economic times. Not sure why!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jai Ho!

Whoa! Now that's cool. So Slumdog Millionaire got four awards at Golden Globe last night, including Best Motion Picture in Drama. That is just beyond awesome.

Din't see the GG awards. I do have it on my DVR though, so will catch it sometime this week. At least the Slumdog.. awards segment. (Can't go through the entire awards no more..)

Haven't seen this movie yet, but cannot wait. I was particularly impressed by Frieda Pinto's cool demeanor at the Tonight Show. Not a single note of nervousness or any kind of inhibition. (She's got the 'it' attitude of next generation Indians. Way to go Pinto!!)

And what can you say about A.R Rahman. The man epitomizes humility and talent. This guy is India's coolest export.

Although it is not an "Indian" movie per se, there's India written all over it. Specially Mumbai. Nice li'l New Year's gift for Mumbaites. Hope this movie cracks the Oscar pot too. I am thinking it will since it has now got the necessary momentum.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Good Read this

Dick Cavett, in a oped, takes an interesting note on what he calls the 'often unappreciated art form, the INSULT'

Insult mixed with wit/humor/sarcasm can inspire much diminished counter attack if it hits right. Not sure if they make'em any more.

I liked this Churchill anecdote from the article. Churchill once was having a nasty argument with a fellow (lady) Member of Parliament...

Mr. Churchill, you are drunk.
Madame, you are ugly.
Mr. Churchill, you are extremely drunk!
And you, Madame, are extremely ugly. But tomorrow, I shall be sober.

Indeed .. "Great humorists are great insulters."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Suggestions 2009

Here's some unsolicited advice from an Average Joe to all the News makers of 2008

Manmohan Singh : (The alleged PM of India) : Dude, do us a favor will you? Please don't speak. Ya, don't speak, like at all.
No more Manmohan speeches please.

Advani ji : If even after such a disastrous run of this current Government, you cannot connect to the nation, you got issues. Please make way for younger folks and take some rest. Your not being at the helm of the party affairs may be a blessing in disguise. Retire, please.

Sachin Tendulkar : OK, we know you love cricket. And we love you. And your century against England was creditable effort at age 36, but I think, you need to go now. You have entertained us long enough. 19 years is a long time. Please retire before your son makes an entry. I want to keep respecting you so don't make it too hard for me.

SRK and Amir : 6,7,8 pack doesn't matter. If you try these stunts, one too many, you make have to "pack" off completely.

Messers Lalu P Yadav, Mayawati, Mulayam, Paswan, Antulay : You guys. Just drop dead, will ya? Thanks

Arjun Singh : Thanks for single handed ly degrading the Indian education system to such an extent in such a short span of time. I am sure China the direct **beneficiary of your policies is smiling ear to ear. Looking at your awesome talent, we Indians would like to sponsor you a free one way ticket to your favorite country , Pakistan. They will love you there and we will love you even more!

Barkha Dutt, Sardesai and Company: Now that you folks have set the "gold" standard for Indian News Channels with your loud, shrill and opinionated television journalism, you as leaders of the pack, need to undertake higher responsibilities. The world needs shrill and loud people like you all the time. So move out of India and go to Middle East or Russia. Take your time there. And if possible don't return at all..

BJP : Guys seriously. Learn at least one thing from your nemesis - The Congress Party. Pray, take some good spokesmen. If possible recruit some professionals, some MBAs and outsource your spokespersons. You guys suck at media management, thanks to lame guys like Jawdekar and Naqvi.

**China's intake of Indian students has quadrupled in less than 2 years thanks to reservations. Soon, more Indian doctors will come out - 'Made in China' than from India.