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!

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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
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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!!!

After the 1st leg, both of the CL semis were finely in the balance, with Man U & Chelsea holding slight a slight edge as the action moved to London this week. But what followed in both the matches was totally contrasting. Man U demolished the Gunners at the Emirates stadium, while Barca struck a last-gasp equalizer at Stamford Bridge to edge a tie mired by controversy over the abject refereeing of Tom Henning Ovrebo from Norway who refused as many as 4 clear-cut penalty appeals from furious Chelsea players. The end result after all the madness was a CL final line-up which is a football aficionado’s dream.

Going into its tie with Arsenal, Alex Ferguson must have been quietly confident that his side could get a positive result from its visit to Emirates on Tuesday. But, history was against Fergie’s team. Arsenal had not lost at Emirates in CL before, and Man U had not managed to win at the emirates in 4 previous visits, managing 1 draw and 3 losses. However with probably his best team at this disposal and injuries to the gunners back four, this presented Man U’s best chance to correct history, and boy did they do in emphatic style!!

Two goals within the 1st 15 minutes knocked out Arsenal cold and silenced a boisterous crowd. It was a bit like Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Ricky Hatton on Sunday at the MGM Grand. Bang – Bang and it was all over too quickly!!

Ronaldo’s brilliant 3rd from a counter attack was an icing on the cake. It took just 13 seconds from the time Vidic won a header inside his penalty area to score a brilliant goal. Ronaldo did a nice back heel to start the attack and was at the right place to put the ball from Rooney into the back of the net. The United team looked really sharp and Ronaldo put in one of his performances of the season. It is all gradually falling into place for United after a huge wobble in late March and April. The old swagger in attack is back and the defense is looking really solid with Rio and Vida back together.

United’s only sour note of the match was the needless dismissal of Fletcher which could mean that he misses the final at Rome.

Enough has already been said about the referee’s harsh decision and I feel that it would be a gross injustice if the young man is robbed of his dream appearance in a CL final. He may probably never get another chance in his career, in which case it will be plainly cruel! UEFA’s ridiculous response about not opening a Pandora’s Box by reviewing Fletcher’s case is just rubbish. Well, you cannot expect any sanity from an organization headed by the bumbling Platini, can you?

Moving on to next Semi, Chelsea got a lead through a stunning volley from Michael Essien. This guy just exemplifies the heart and soul of Chelsea football club, more than anyone else.

But, Chelsea sat back and parked a bus in its penalty area, preferring to hit Barca on the counter attack. Even though Barca launched waves of attack, it was always vulnerable at the back. However, Dorgba missed several gilt edged to put Barca away through his poor finishing. In the end his lack of composure in front of the goal came back to haunt him in big way.

The Norwegian referee too seemed intent on making the tie interesting by waving aside several Chelsea claims for clear-cut penalties. To be fair to the bloke, he just had an awful match. Chelsea’s claims of partiality and conspiracy deserve nothing but the sternest condemnation. They just didn’t get the rub of the green on the night. Barca too had several decisions going against them. Abidal should have been sent off earlier, but ended up being sent off for a non-existent foul in the 2nd half. In fact, I feel that Chelsea’s incessant moaning as well as Drogba’s frequent diving was chief reason for Mr. Ovrebo to distrust Chelsea’s claims.

Drogba, a self-professed diver tried putting on an Oscar winning performance, going to the ground as if lighting had struck him whenever a Barca player breathes near him! With every rejected claim, Chelsea players got more and more agitated, putting further pressure on the referee. In the end, as luck would have it, Inniesta scored a brilliant goal deep into injury-time leaving Stamford Bridge stunned.

Astonishingly, there was enough time for one more rejected penalty claim before the final whistle before the gripping tie came to an end.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not even for a second trying to justify the referee’s actions. Chelsea should have been the deserved winners. But, what I am trying to say is that Chelsea players have only themselves to blame for their defeat. They paid the price for not killing off Barca earlier. One can’t expect to defend a 1 – 0 lead against the team of the quality of Barca for so long in a match.

However, the behavior of a few Chelsea players after the final whistle should not be tolerated and must be sternly dealt with. Drogba should be banned from all European Competition for a long, long time after his petulant display last night at the end of the game. I think a minimum of 10 games will set the tone and show everyone that this kind of behavior from high profile players is not allowed or accepted. It was nothing short of embarrassing and I feel sorry for the image that this now gives to the world about Chelsea and the way their players behave. It is unacceptable and shocking behavior, and does not show youngsters wanting to break into the game how to behave.

The referee made a few high profile mistakes and should be punished according by UEFA, not manhandled by immature, overpaid prima-donna’s. The latest talk going rounds is that this is all an UEFA conspiracy against another all English final. What a load of crap!! I think it is time that that UEFA makes an example out of Drogba, Ballack, Terry and the rest of their tribe. Drogba should be made to think twice before he jumps even in a swimming pool in the future. Ballack should be made to realize that come what may, laying his hands on a referee again is a big mistake!!

Come on UEFA and FIFA, are you listening for a change. Please take stern action in this matter and show everyone that it is not a conspiracy!!!

Have you ever woken up really fresh one day, but had a really hard time remembering the previous night?? I had that feeling Sunday morning. I had got totally wasted on Saturday night. Apparently, Whiskey and Chinese food are a really bad combination. I threw up thrice, or I remember thrice, my friends insist that they counted many more. What’s more, I did some crazy stuff while I was drunk. I should definitely stay away from my phone when I am drunk!! Again, my friends tell me that I had several phone conversations and I don’t remember any of them, even a bit!!! I had to call a lot of people to apologize for my behavior.

Nothing new for me I guess. I never stop when I am on a roll, swigging drink after drink at breakneck speed. The alcohol slowly gets to my brain and I end up doing lots of crazy stuff. Things I would not even think about doing when I am sober.

Well, that’s the beauty of getting wasted. You have so much fun while at it. Your friends love it and encourage the madness. Plus it is super fun. It’s a stark contrast from the monotonous routine of normal life. For a few hours you are living a very different life. Everybody should get wasted at least once in their lives. I would definitely recommend it!!

But, everything has its downside. I often wake up the next day, usually with a bad hangover, regretting a few things I did while I was drunk the previous night. It has happened way too often for me. I just don’t seem to learn too. I keep repeating the same stupid things over and over. I often wish if I could go back and change whatever I did the previous night. But the thing is you just can’t do anything about it. I guess that’s the whole beauty of the situation.

A few things I had done when drunk have caused irreparable damage. I have offended some real close friends. I haven’t spoken to my ex since one drunken phone conversation a few months after I had broken up with her. I can’t blame her too. I have embarrassed myself and my friends on several occasions. I have probably been banned from a few places after my antics. I have often felt really ashamed of my behavior.

So what’s the solution for this problem? I certainly cannot give up drinking. I can’t pin my hopes on drinking responsibly too. What’s the fun in that? I can’t trust my friends to help me out. So, I have decided to list down a list of things which I should not do when I am drunk. This list might probably help me in the future if I am in a similar situation.

1) Never use your phone: You’ll wake up in the morning reading the bizarre texts you sent out and wish you could erase. And then there’s the phone conversations you remember enjoying but barely remember having.

2) Never start a conversation about your ex. Better still, never talk about anybody’s ex. I don’t need to elaborate more on this!! You know better.

3) Never come back home and attempt cooking!! The mess is too hard to clean up the next day.

4) Never try to write an important e-mail: It’s really important you don’t try to make any real communication with people while you’re drunk.

5) Don’t Sing!! You don’t have a really good voice. Why do you keep forgetting that when you are drunk??

6) Never pick up a fight. Things might get really ugly!!

7) Don’t eat too much. Throwing up in a public place or at somebody else’s house or party is not cool. Don’t throw up in the urinal. Don’t throw up in somebody else’s car. He is sure to kill you!! And never ever throw up at the hotel lobby right at the feet of the guard opening the door for you!!!

8) Never have long-island ice tea after a 3 hour drinking binge!! It’s like slowly bringing you to the edge of a cliff and pushing you over.

9) Never dance on tables. Actually never dance!!

10) Never watch a movie in a theatre after getting drunk. Especially when the movie is bad!! People don’t appreciate it when you voice your opinion aloud.

11) Never mix philosophy and alcohol. It’ll make your headache worse and make you depressed at the same time.

12) Never call your friend who you happen to have a secret crush on. You’re just making a big fool of yourself.

13) Never try hitting on your best friend’s sister or cousin at his own party. He will not like it one bit.

Wow, that’s quite a big list!! Now, all I need is to follow these simple rules and stay out of trouble. At least, I won’t repeat the same old mistakes. The only real problem is how am I going to remember these rules when I am piss drunk in the first place??

That’s where you guys come in. If any of you guys reading this blog come with me the next time I am wasted, please help me out!!!