Archive for May, 2009

It has been exactly 37 days since I started blogging again. I have got lots of work lined up for me the next 2 weeks, so I thought I could review my blogging effort so far today as I might not get the time later.

14 posts in the last 37 days, 31 comments not counting 8 spam comments and a total of 306 hits at the time of writing this post. Not bad I guess. I have written a lot on football but the season has come to an end now. I will have to think of something different to write. The T20 World Cup could come in handy. I also wanted to write about the elections and what the results mean to India as well as Manmohan Singh’s jumbo ministry but couldn’t do so for lack of time. I could probably ramble about those things too…

My post on the things I shouldn’t do when I am drunk has been the most popular so far. WordPress gives you really cool stats on visitors to your blog and how they reached there. For example, the visitors to my blog so far have used the following search strings: “things i did when i was drunk”, “when to apologize for behavior+drunk+work”, “i am drunk what should i do”, “make up things when you’re drunk”, “what do you do after a drunk night”, “i was drunk and made a complete fool of myself”, “don’t blame me i was drunk”, “i shouldn’t do this to my friend”, “apologize for throwing up drunk”, “5 things to not do while drunk”, “what to do when you drunk?”.

Well, I am simply amazed at the things people search on the net. I mean, why would anybody want to find what to do when drunk on the internet? This post also created quite a bit of controversy too. There was this bit where I had said that I shouldn’t try hitting on my friends sister or cousin when drunk. Well, this represents two incidents which happened 2.5 years apart. One friend found out about me hitting on his sister the same night and gave me a real dressing down. The other guy found out about his cousin from this blog!! My aunt also stumbled onto my blog from my Facebook profile and found this post to be really interesting. I have always tried to maintain the “samathu paiyan” squeaky-clean reputation at home and now atleast one person from my family knows more about me now thanks to this blog. Well they had to know someday!

Personally, I have liked only a couple of my posts. Got to improve a lot in the coming months. I also need to increase the range and depth of my writing. But for that, my personal life needs to get more interesting to get the creative juices flowing. I have been stuck in my monotonous work routine for too long. I should try to break out of it and indulge in more creative pursuits.

But things don’t look good on the work front. I either need a long break or should try doing something different. I feel that I am stagnating in my current job. I am barely hanging in there. In fact, I have been summoning all my patience in the last couple of months at work just to survive. Things are sure to reach a tipping point when the pressure season starts with all the deadlines, un-cooperative clients who piss you off, stupid juniors, quality reviews and bosses who demand documentation from you for the work they had never bothered to see. I am sure to lose my famed temper some point of time.

Until such time, I hope I would be able to churn out some sporadic posts. One can only hope for the best!!

As the dust settles in Rome a day after the UCL finals, the Catalan country is still celebrating a remarkable treble-winning season while Manchester contemplates on just what went wrong. The world eagerly looked forward to the contest between two of Europe’s very best in the lead up to the finals. I was also keyed up to witness my two favorite team’s battle it out for the biggest prize in Europe. Although I wanted Man U to win, I had tipped Barca to win on the night. However, what was billed by the pundits to be a potential master class turned out to be terribly anti-climatic. Barca gave United a real football lesson as Messi & Co ran riot after starting tentatively.

United stared brightly as Ronaldo looked very sharp, testing a nervy Valdes a couple of times. However, against the run of play, Samuel Eto’ latched on to a through ball from Iniesta and scored the 1st goal completely out-foxing Vidic. This un-expected setback started the slide for Man U as they looked strangely disoriented making several mistakes and loosing the ball in the midfield at crucial times. The magnificent Barca duo of Xavi and Iniesta bossed the midfield area as Barca passed the ball to death around the Olympic stadium. Every time United lost the ball, it took ages for them to get it back again.

United’s midfield trio were woeful to say the least. Anderson was no where to be seen in the 1st half before being replaced. I don’t remember him getting more than 5 decent touches. Giggs in a make-shift central midfield role struggled to impose himself, though he did have his moments. Carrick was left alone to tackle the menace of Xavi and Iniesta by himself and he failed miserably. He was also profligate in attack miss-hitting several passes. Carrick always goes for the breath-taking through ball to the forward line which rarely comes off when retention of the ball through simple passes would have been enough. Consequently, United kept loosing the ball in crucial areas and there was no rhythm in the attack.

Barca’s tremendous passing game frustrated the united team which was desperate to get the ball back. Ferguson went for broke as he brought on both Tevez and Berbatov in the 2nd half in search of the elusive goal. This was always going to be a gamble as Man U left gaps at the back which could be exposed.

Right on cue, Messi beautifully headed in a Xavi cross in the 70th minute and it was all over. In the remainder of time, Barca came close to scoring 2 more goals while all Man U could manage were hopeful long balls which were easily handled by a 2nd string Barca defense ably marshaled by Gerad Pique an old united hand. Despite pre-match talk about a weakened Barca defense, the 2nd string easily snuffed out whatever little attack that United could muster on the night.

The final whistle was a relief for many Man U players who had suffered one of their worst hidings of their careers. There have been worse defeats in terms of the score line. But this was a match in which several superstars of Man U were made to feel inadequate by a classy Barca team led by their impressive manager Pep Guardiola. It was like slow death. The likes of Rooney and Ronaldo were helpless as the rest of their team was strangely flat in such a big game. Critics have questioned Alex Ferguson’s team selection and tactics. But, the same team and tactics had brought Man U till the final. It was just that the team was collectively poor on the night in Rome.

Alex Ferguson was magnanimous in defeat, admitting that his team was thoroughly out-classed on the night. He offered no excuses for the defeat and claimed that Barca were simply the better team by a mile. It is not often that Fergie’s team is humiliated like this and he must surely be smarting from this defeat. He later remarked that he missed Fletcher. He could have probably made the difference, breaking up the rhythm of the smooth Barca midfield. Probably a fully fit Owen Hargreaves could have also been the difference. But, there is no point in reflecting on those things. Alex Ferguson has a long summer ahead of him to ponder over this defeat. Right now, it is time to celebrate a magnificent Barcelona team which has conquered Spain and Europe playing a delightful, free-flowing brand of football which is truly a joy to watch. They have shown that despite playing in a simple uncomplicated style one can still reap rewards in football.

The newspapers have gone gaga over Messi showering him with all sorts of praises after the triumph. Many claim that he has now upstaged Ronaldo as the world’s best player. While the jury is still out on that claim, I personally feel that Andres Iniesta was the best player on display yesterday. Along with Xavi, he took United out of the game by winning the crucial midfield battle. True, Messi’s bewitching runs with the ball are a treat to watch. But, Iniesta is the engine of this Barca team. It’s heart and soul. He sets the tone for the rest of the team to follow.

After the match, Wayne Rooney hailed the Albacete-born midfielder, as the “best in the world.” Until, the arrival of Pep Guardiola, Iniesta has always burned brightly with unfulfilled promise, struggling on the fringes of one of the world’s greatest teams. The story goes that when Guardiola first saw Iniesta train for Barcelona’s youth team, he commented to Xavi, his own nominated heir: “You’re going to retire me, but this kid’s going to retire us all.” He presented Iniesta, wide-eyed and shy, with a signed picture dedicated “to the best player I ever saw.” No doubt Guardiola must have watched mortified as Frank Rijkaard continually overlooked the youngster’s claims, shunting him left and right, but rarely giving him the centre stage. When his idol took over his club immediately afterwards, Iniesta was finally presented with the responsibility and trust he needed. He is, surely, the first name on Guardiola’s team-sheet.

After last night, he would be the first name on almost any team-sheet, and is a shoo-in to appear on stage in Zurich when FIFA holds its world player of the year gala. Let’s hope he finally gets the plaudits that he deserves.

Little Superstar Simbu is apparently a huge Man U fan. He is even planning to fly to Rome for the Champions League finals against Barca!!

What Crap!! I am now considering ditching United for some other club!

It was quite an eventful weekend while I was out of town. The Congress has come back to power with a thumping mandate. The Iceman will come out with his wish list for the new government shortly. Also coming up will be the Iceman’s verdict on the hero’s and zero’s of the elections.

On the sports front, my beloved Manchester United sealed their 18th English football championship, the 11th under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson with a nervy, hard-fought draw against Arsenal. With this win, United have drawn level with arch-rivals Liverpool as the most successful English top-flight club. Similarly, Barcelona and Inter Milan were handed the Spanish and Italian leagues in a platter when their closest rivals lost in the weekend. The Iceman will post his views on United’s latest triumph as well as on Rafa Benitez’s views that Liverpool was the better team this season.

The IPL also saw quite a few edge-of-the-seat thrillers this weekend while big Mathew Hayden continued his merry ways with the bat in the IPL’s 2nd edition. Elsewhere, the Windies led by a disinterested Chris Gayle are the course of being thrashed a 2nd test match in a row against England. The Iceman will profile Hayden’s resurrection with the bat in the IPL sometime this week.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer finally beat Nadal on clay at the Madrid Open in the run-up to the French Open. Will somebody finally solve the Nadal puzzle at Rolland Garros??

Lots to write for the Iceman this week!!!

The Swing States

Posted: May 13, 2009 in Indian Politics
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As I write this the 5th and final phase of polling for the general elections 2009 is drawing to a close. Among the chief states going to the polls today is my state of Tamil Nadu which has been the key game changer in the general elections over the last decade. If one analyses the results of the last few elections, one unmistakable trend which can be noted is the representation of Tamil Nadu in the ruling party or coalition. The main reason for this phenomenon is the fact that the entire state invariably votes for one party or coalition, thus giving it a huge edge in the final tally. The Congress & AIADMK swept the polls in 1991. DMK and TMC swept the 1996 polls thus helping form the short-lived Deve Gowda and IK Gujral govts. The NDA govts of 1998 and 1999 had key representation from AIADMK and DMK respectively while the 2003 elections saw the DMK coalition sweep all 40 seats contrary to poll predictions, helping form the UPA govt.

Similarly, the states of Andhra Pradesh with 42 seats, Uttar Pradesh with 80 seats, Bihar with 40 seats, and Maharashtra with 48 seats have been the “swing” states in the past elections. The reason being their size as well as their tendency to elect the combination which finally forms the govt at the centre. These states generally capture the nation’s mood. But local factors too play a huge part in the ultimate outcome.

The 2009 elections too promises to be no different. Due to the ban on exit polls, the predictions of most news channels and pollsters are a bit out-dated considering the long drawn process of the 5 phase elections which spans a little over a month. The latest indications are that the UPA which was predicted to be the early front runners have lost a bit of ground with the NDA gaining at their expense. With the election commission’s lifting of the ban on exit polls at 5 pm this evening a clearer picture is likely to emerge. However, I personally feel that all the major pollsters are in for a major surprise this time too like the last elections when everyone expected NDA to sail through only to be trumped by the people of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh who went against the ruling combine en-mass.

The final results are likely to hinge on which way the swing states are going to go. Pollsters have predicted a 25 – 15 edge to the AIADMK front in Tamil Nadu and a dead heat in Andhra Pradesh between the TDP’s mega alliance and the Congress. The NDA lead by Nitish Kumar’ JD (U) is expected to sweep Bihar while the Congress – NCP combine is likely to edge the NDA in Maharashtra. The state of UP is a big enigma due to its unique size and demographic nature. Further, a 5 pronged battle makes predicting its results a real hazard. No wonder the pollsters got it all wrong in the last state assembly elections, when they failed to spot the emergence of BSP.

I expect these Swing states to stump the pundits and pollsters alike this time around too, throwing up a thoroughly unexpected result. However, the winners as well as their margin of victory in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh is going to play a huge part in the ultimate formation of the next government at the centre.

I will be glued to the TV watching it all unfold. The results and the subsequent game of musical chairs is going to be gripping stuff!!!

Humor in Politics

Posted: May 11, 2009 in Humor
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Politics is serious business, especially if you are in power. You get serious politicians all the time. What’s more, they often bore you to death with serious monologues which nobody understands and frankly nobody cares about. A classic case is our own PM Dr. Manmohan Singh. Not only is he an uninspiring leader, his gift of gab is zilch! He often breaks into long boring speeches especially when the BJP needle him by calling him weak.

Barack Obama on the other hand is a tremendous orator. He swept to office on a message of change, unity and hope which got popular support. He also took office at a time when the US was going through one of its worst depressions. Large corporations had been filing for bankruptcy each week and unemployment was at its all-time high. Obama had inherited a bad economy from George Bush along with two unfinished wars which was draining US resources. Obama realized the huge challenge ahead of him and has been hard at work to set things right since he took office. He has arguably the toughest job on the planet at the moment.

However, when Obama won the US presidency, there was complete panic in the comedy circles. Late night stand-up comedians had been spoilt by eight “glorious” years of George Bush which had produced tremendous comic material. Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, David Stern and many more, became hugely popular cracking Bush jokes. These jokes were a huge hit in the internet too. But Obama was no George Bush. He was a well-educated decent African-American who came to office with a message of hope and change. You can’t make fun of him. Where were these comedians going to go for their material now? In fact many of them still use their old Bush material on a consistent basis.

Well, Obama took the lead last week at the white house correspondents’ dinner, delivering a really funny speech which was much funnier than most stand-up gigs. In fact, I must admit, I have never seen such a speech from a politician before. There have been those who specialized in the occasional mild, self-depreciating one-liners. In India, we have the rustic humor of Laloo Yadav or Narendra Modi or the sarcastic humor of M Karunanidhi during election campaigning. You get the occasional good-natured banter on television debates. You also sometimes get the humor of the unintentional variety specialized by the likes of Venkaiah Naidu. But Obama surprised one and all with his tremendous wit.

Obama’s speech is nothing but gags, one after another, punctuated by a broad, mischievous grin. It’s a grin that radiates Obama’s certainty that he can say whatever he likes. There’s something dizzying about seeing presidential power used to such impertinent effect. Obama did not hold back and pulled all the punches. There were expected wisecracks about Dick Cheney, George Bush and his vice-president Joe Biden. But what took the cake was his quip about Hillary Clinton trying to infect him with swine flu.

Now that Obama himself has broken the ice by taking the lead, US stand-up comedians can breathe easy and make fun of their President like before. Indian politicians can also learn from Obama. The occasional humor is always welcome!!!

Ideas for John Buchanan

Posted: May 10, 2009 in Cricket
Tags: , , ,

Kolkata Knight-riders are the favorite whipping boys of IPL – 2. The team can be used as a classic case-study for how not to run a sports team. They have been constantly bungling on and off the field since the start of the season. It all started from the multiple-captain theory. The captaincy was finally given to 1st season hero Brendon McCullum. This led to a sulking Dada and wide spread protests in Kolkata. Then, came the controversy of the blog supposedly written by a member of the KKR playing squad which spilled the beans on the ugly behind the scenes events in the teams. This blog is currently a raging success in the blogosphere, with the “Fake IPL player” giving juicy tidbits almost every other day.

Actually, the bungling and controversies associated with the KKR team is too long to list down!

To make the matters worse, the KKR team’s performance on the field have been woeful. Just 3 points after 9 nine games courtesy of rain on both occasions and a bit of Chris Gayle, they are the Deccan Chargers of the 2nd season. Team owner SRK initially shot his mouth off before returning home in a huff not able to see his team getting beat comprehensively every match. The team looks thoroughly disjointed and most of the players can’t wait for the tournament to get over to escape the ordeal. Dada with his almighty ego has been sleep-walking through this tournament not having done anything of note till date. Well you probably can’t blame him. He is just enjoying a paid holiday at the expense of SRK.

New captain McCullum is one poor harassed soul. With an inept team at this disposal and his own horrendous form, every match is a 3rd degree torture for him. Well, you’ve got to feel for the poor guy. With no prior experience of captaincy at the international level, he has been asked to do the impossible. Facing the press after each defeat, McCullum has been magnanimous to own up for all his team’s failings. Still, he has been the butt of all jokes.

Amidst all these ruins, John Buchanan the head coach of KKR has maintained a stoic silence unaffected by the madness around him. He still does not pass an opportunity to talk to the press about the innovations he would like to bring to the game. Like a true leader, he sends McCullum to the press meets after each defeat to face the music while he cools his heels in the hotel room conjuring up his next innovation! With team-owner SRK’s un-flinching support, Buchanan has cast his net far and wide to find his next bright idea.

Looking at Buchanan’s noble vision of revolutionizing the simple game of bat and ball, the Iceman too decided to contribute his bit by offering a few ideas for him, free of cost. So, here goes…

1) Ban Icon players from the IPL, especially those that go by the initials of SCG.

2) Lobby Lalit Modi to allow each team to have as many foreign players as they want. Teams with Indian players, especially from Kolkata can be docked 20 runs for each player.

3) Teams with the maximum number of Australian players or the most stylish music video or team jersey can also be given a special award by the IPL.

4) All KKR players must complete a course on strategy and leadership before they can become eligible for selection. The course should have compulsory content from the acclaimed works of Sun Tzu and Edward de Bono.

5) Organize the KKR team into several departments – Batting, bowling – fast & spin, running, catching, throwing, sledging, and tossing. Have separate captains and coaches for each.

6) Hire his entire extended family to help the team. Just like his son Michael is the now the “Strength” coach, he can hire his mom as the food coach, his dad as relaxation coach, his brother as the running coach and his sister as the skipping coach.

7) KKR to get 2 additional overs to bat. A reward for being the most innovative team in the competition.

8. No coach of another team should have played international cricket.

9) Sunil Gavaskar should be banned from doing commentary and writing columns in newspapers about KKR.

10) KKR to be renamed as Queensland Knight-riders.

11) Hire the “Fake IPL Player” as a member of the KKR coaching staff. The guy seems to have some innovative ideas!!

12) Offer a movie contract to the best KKR player of the tournament as a performance incentive to play the villain in the next Rajnikanth movie. They after all, have very good experience in getting bashed up.

13) Hire crack spies to eves-drop on other team’s meetings. Not that this is going to help too much, but still no harm in trying.

14) Train his team in sign language so that they can communicate without the knowledge of the other team on the field. Organize dumb-charades and pictionary sessions among the players to hone these alternate communication skills.

15) Make all the bowlers bat up the order and the batsman to bowl all the overs. Could surprise the opposition. In any case, the team can’t do any worse than they are at the moment.

16) Change ICC rules and bring back aluminum bats. These can probably help McCullum finally put bat to ball. They can also use special adhesives on player’s hands to help in holding on to some catches.

17) Hire a body language coach so that the KKR players keep their chin up and smile even when they get walloped each match. An unhappy dejected team is not good for the team sponsors.

18) Give the KKR players ESOP’s in the team as an added inventive. They are going to be worthless anyway.

19) Hire superstars from other sports like Tiger woods, Lebron James, Rafael Nadal and Valentino Rossi to give a different dimension to the KKR team. Again, the team can’t do any worse. No harm in experimenting.

20) Hire Steve Waugh for the team as he is the only one who understands Buchanan’s mumbo-jumbo.

If all fails, Buchanan can still take his fat pay from SRK and write a tell-all book on his experiences in the IPL and with the KKR team and make a killing. He can even hire the fake IPL player on the project!!!