Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chota Bheem and the Curse of Damiyaan - Movie Review

And finally Anjali and I went to see one of her favourite cartoon characters 'Chota Bheem' in the animated movie 'Chota Bheema nd the curse of Damiyaan'. We headed off to Inox for the 11 a.m. show and armed ourselves with Coke and popcorn and seated ourselves. In a couple of minutes I realised that I had wasted an entire 150 bucks on Anjali's ticket  as she preferred to sit in my lap to watch the movie instead of sitting on her seat which she said was not comfortable. The hall was rather empty for the 11 a.m. show and we were surrounded by children accompanied by their parents - in most cases by both parents. Children's movies are watched by more parents than children it appears.

Anyway the Chota Bheem movie had all the familiar characters. Raja Indra Verma (his daughter Princess Indumati was missing though), Bheem, Jaggu, Chutki, Raju, Kalia, Dholu and Bholu and a new set of villains. This time a snaky magician from the underworld called Damiyaan is trapped in the underworld and needs Bheem to free him. So he sends his underworld type of guys to get Bheem and gang to the desert. The underworld snaky gang goes and lures the Raja with promises of gold and riches and so they all land up in the Sonepur village in the desert - and unwittingly free Damiyaan - which it turns out was as simple as digging up a bit in the desert and turning a key which anyone could ahve done. Now Damiyaan needs to be fought with magic (as he is a master magician) and Bheem and gang are taugth some magic by the good guru and finally Damiyaan and gang are vanquished. Bheem returns to Dholakpur a hero on his birthday!

I was not too happy with the movie and felt that the animation needs to be much better. Chota Bheem is a great character and the stories and characters deserve far better than what the makers put up. It's very two dimensional and a real apology when you compare it to some of the movies Hollywood makes (even the pathetic ones). Chota Bheem story is far better and has wide and loyal viewership and they could have made sequels if only this had been made better. Though the kids laughed and tittered at some places I am not sure it was any great experience for them. The story was a tad predictable and dragged along a bit. Rather unconvincing and I really do wish more effort had gone into making the movie. Chota Bheem did deserve much more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Paradoxes of Life - Success and Failure

Success is achieved when failure stops bothering you. It is that moment when you think that failure can be handled anyway and start looking beyond it.
Pic by Satish

When there is enough failure and you see it as a teacher, as a master, success arrives.We can fight failure and get frustrated. Or see failure as part of the route to success and welcome it and enjoy the ride.

Success is failure - looked at differently.

Thought for the Day - Your Life as an Advertisement

This should interest the wannabe film makers and ad merchants. It will challenge the creative juice of anyone in fact, but I do think it is a good way to visualise the good life for yourself.
Pic by Satish

Make a trailer or an advertisement (a mental one of course) of the ideal life as you see it for yourself. Say, a 10 second video. Start with the introduction or rather the titles - Presenting "The One Who Never Quit" (or some title that epitomises your story or wannabe story). And then - Starring "Yourself" (describe yourself as The Dashing Hero or Sizzling Heroine or whatever you want to describe yourself). And then flow into the body of the trailer. You in success. You in pain (current situation!). You in happiness walking through the forests, swimming the seas. You overcoming odds. You in riches. You enjoying life. You helping people. Then give your ad the end you want. You waving to the crowds and fading out. 'The Epic that Never Fades'.

The mental trailer or ad helps to see goals or outcomes of what one may want better than words which are evry limiting. It gives visuals, pictures, videos and add tremendous clarity to what one may want in life. Of course, the first cut won't be the best so you can make changes, add and delete and get to the one that makes you say, ha, that's what I want! Then boss, you have a story!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

HCA Announces Pension for First Class Cricketers

The Hyderabad Cricket Association has finally announced a pension plan for first class cricketers who have played less than twenty five matches for Hyderabad last week. The players who have played more than twenty five games have been enjoying pensions announced by the BCCI for a few years now while those who played less than the magic number of 25 were left at the mercy of their respective associations. Some associations dealt with this issue quickly and announced a decent pension while some dilly dallied. HCA announced it last week.

Two segments were made - one of less than 10 matches and another from 10-25. The word is that players who played 1-9 games will be eligible for R. 3500 and players who played 10-24 matches for Hyderabad will be eligible for Rs. 5000.

It is a fine gesture by the HCA because there are about 60 first class cricketers  from Hyderabad who fall in this bracket. I know at least two gentlemen who have played 24 games and served Hyderabad greatly - Nagesh Hammand and my friend Zakir Hussain. One felt for people like them who missed it by a whisker but even people like me who have played a few games for Hyderabad feel proud to be recognised and to be compensated for our services (even if they were small contributions).

Who says cricket does not pay? Well done HCA! And now to go and get that pension work going!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thought for the Day - You the Filter

I love this imagery. That I am the filter, a very subtle one. And that the input into the filter is life flowing through me. If I block the flow with negative emotions and thoughts, with garbage that my filter has collected over the years, then life will be a struggle. It will have a tough time expressing itself. I will struggle as I try to shape life as it flows through me, as I try to stop it, restrain it. There is immense pressure on me.

On the output side, there is a trickle.
Photo by Satish

Though it is all because of the garbage in the filter I tend to blame life itself and say that life is not giving me enough.

I need to trust life and allow it to flow easily. Then there is something in the output. There is a flow.

My constant job is to keep the filter as clean as possible. This I can do by keeping my thoughts in an anticipatory mood as life flows in. I say YES and trust the flow of life as it happens and let it flow through me instead of stopping it and trying to examine it before it passes. When i let it flow I express myself! Or rather I let life express itself through me fully. And that state, when life flows through me in full flow, is bliss.

To say YES to life as it comes then. To not question and ask too much. To let go and feel it flow through. To know it will all take care of itself. To know that life is on my side and not against me. To express myself fully then.

The Hyderabad Diaries May 28, 2012

It is hot in Hyderabad. If anyone has an option to stay elsewhere, go there.

The petrol prices are among the highest in the country. Second only to Bengaluru if I am not mistaken.

There is a bandh today because Jagan Mohan Reddy has been arrested. High drama for the next few days. But despite all this, the news is that Jagan will be our next CM. Such a young CM could well be the PM in a few years! All through his questioning the police cordoned off the entire Raj Bhavan road from Somajiguda to Khairtabad. Can you believe it? But then the Congress it seems is doing all it can to make him the next CM. I won't be surprised if they all gang up finally!

Wherever you hear there is word that Jagan is the next CM of Andhra Pradesh. I would be shocked earlier but now I am not. I know it's a reflection of the times we live in, of the kind of consciousness we all have. Jagan merely reflects us and our aspirations, our values and beliefs.

I love the way our politicians keep changing parties and loyalties. Not because of principles and beliefs - they do it because they feel they get more money or power. How shamelessly they can do it is what amazes one. Right now, despite the fact that the YSRCP head is in deep trouble with his arrest on charges of rampant corruption in his father's regime, Congress leaders are queuing up to join his party. So much for moral fibre. But who is talking of moral fibre anyway these days.

I am most intrigued and highly sympathetic by the deaths we have in support of a leader or a cause.  When Jagan Mohan Reddy was being questioned I saw reports of a few people dying at the hardships of their leader. Could they have a better way of expressing their support? One cannot help but feel that these deaths are a way of getting the leader to visit their home in the hope of some help and assistance to the family.

What happened to the Telangana issue? Perhaps it is too hot now to think about it. Once the winds blow cool the agitation will commence again - at the opportune time. Right now everyone is cool.

I pick the paper and find that almost everyone in the first page to the sports page is linked to some scandal or the other. From politicians in jail, to those facing arrest, to murders, match fixing, drug abuse, plain abuse - our role models are crumbling.

Bisla Does the Star Turn - KKR Wins

There's something about the unpredictable guys. All along, before KKR started its mammoth chase, Sunil Gavaskar kept saying that Manvinder Bisla could be a handful and that he has the strokes that can take the game away. And so the soft spoken and clear headed Bisla proved to be, striking brilliant cricketing shots, save for the one odd reverse sweep, knocking Ashwin out of the firing line, and having CSK gasping for breath every over. Kallis realised that all he needs to do is hang around and just kept giving the strike back to Bisla who was phenomenal. He should have got a hundred for the way he played after Gambhir got out. I liked what Bisla said after the game - "I was not thinking of anything" - which meant he was in the present moment.

CSK did everything right but the desire to win amongst the KKR team was much higher. Wasim Akram kept saying that this team sticks together throughout the tournament which is great for a team that wants to win and it showed. Of course Shahrukh cheered through the ups and downs and there was one heartbreaking moment when his daughter Suhana could not handle it anymore in the last few overs and clung to her father. In that one moment, I, who was pretty detached from the match till then, wished that the KKR team pulls through for the sake of keeping that little girl's dreams and illusions alive. And I am glad they did. Dhoni was unflappable as ever and surely CSK did everything they could - it was just a case of who wanted to win it more badly. Sometimes emotion and feelings can work over cold blooded precision!

Shahrukh's joy at the end (Shakib said, 'I think he has gone mad) was ample proof of how much they wanted to win and I would not be surprised if some tears were shed later at the accomplishment of this huge win. Well done KKR and everyone in their support staff who got a lot of flak over the years. I liked what Shahrukh said - that while trying to show how to win he learnt many things. It was nice and in keeping with his stature, intelligence and wisdom that he apologised to the kids and to everyone for his behaviour at the MCA in television. Greatness sometimes is in acknowledging your mistakes and you grower bigger for having the humility and grace to accept that and to seek forgiveness. I hope that the MCA also will find it in their heart to forgive and forget and get over it.

I do wish that the BCCI mandarins smile a bit more when they come on television. They all look like they are heavily burdened with some secrets and the smallest smiles will spill some of those secrets or jewels I know not which. All said and done it was a final that was worth waiting for, a new Champion, and new heroes. Great stuff. Well done IPL and now we, the fans, have to find new things to do in the evenings.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Paradoxes of Life - Less IS More Enjoyment

Less is more enjoyment. Less is more intensity. Less is more focus. Less is greater concentration.

As opposed to the capitalistic credo of more and more, and the dil maange more lines that make people swell up literally, it is the 'less' that provides more intensity, more enjoyment, more happiness. 

There was a time when I used to buy cassettes and listen to music. Listening to a particular singer or group was a ritual and needed effort. We'd listen to each and every song in the album, pick the best and listen to them again. The few songs we listened to were listened to frequently and many times and gave immense satisfaction. We knew most songs, albums, groups and so on. Now I have a couple of thousand songs on my ipod and do not know who it is by and what to listen to. I do not listen as much. I know its there when I need it so I just keep them and hope for that brilliant day when I will play them.

The same with movies. The few movies we watched in theatres were fun and then came the videos which were okay too but once the DVDs came, everything went haywire. I have so many DVDs and movies that I have not watched for years now. The collection is piling up and I wonder if I really want to watch some of those. The same with books.

We could do well with less. Take life in bite sized chunks and enjoy those chunks while at it - instead of merely accumulating them for later. Life is for now and the now is about how much we can handle at the moment. A little less, is not a bad thing at all as opposed to stuffing stuff down our throat and not enjoying the meal.

The Traffic Cops of Hyderabad and I

I was at the Secunderabad Club junction turning towards the Jubilee Bus Stand. The light was red. I looked for a sign that said 'No Right Turn'. None spotted. I could see a 'No Right Turn' facing the traffic to the right and assumed that since there was none facing me, there was no such rule (the traffic cops won't have different rules for two directions would they?). The light turned green. I saw that only the signal to go straight into the Club came on. The signal to turn right was silent. I figured that since there was no sign and perhaps the light is not working, I turned right.

A masked traffic cop came up and stopped me. He asked me to pull up by the side of the road. I asked him why? He said, there was no right turn. I told him that there was no board. If there is a board this side, there should be one there as well. I assumed the light was not working. He said I had to meet the CI. He said he would make my fine only Rs. 100. I asked him why I should pay anything at all since they did not put up a sign board and there were no clear instructions. He said that I better talk to the CI. As we walked closer to the CI the masked constable kept asking me if I wanted to pay the fine or do with something lesser. I told him that since he told me he'd fine me Rs. 100 I had no problem paying that. He insisted again - do you really want to pay the fine. Before we could speak further the CI appeared.

The CI asked me what was the matter. I told him. He looked at me angrily. 'Should we put sign boards everywhere for you?' he asked. I asked why he had signboards for the traffic on the right and why he did not have it for me. He was angrier at my questioning and said that there was no right turn. Everyone knew. License, he barked. I gave it to him. 'How much will you pay?' he asked. I said I had only two hundred bucks in my pocket. 'That could be a problem,' he said and looked angrily at me. I wondered why it would be a problem.

He peered into my wallet as I took out the 200 bucks and made out a challan. I took it. He suddenly changed his tone. 'Are you a member of the club?' he asked. I ignored his question. 'Are you going to the club?' he asked. I told him if I were going to the club I'd be going straight and not turning right. The other constable now appeared and he wanted to know where I stayed. Why?

When I turned the challan over I found that it had all the fines for various traffic violations printed nicely behind it. There were some interesting offences - not allowing to overtake a vehicle from right side, driving without light, dangerous parking, obstruction of driving (?). Stuff that happens all the time is this - misbehavior by taxi driver,  extra demand by auto, extra passengers in auto! For making wrong right turn (my crime) it was Rs. 50 subject to a maximum of Rs. 200. I had paid the maximum. But it is rather futile speaking sense or logic to the cops I realised. What can you say to someone who says if he should put up signboards all over for me when there is no signboard depicting no right turn.But then over the past two decades since I have been haunting these roads on my two wheelers and four wheelers I have had many similar run ins with the traffic cops - for not wearing a helmet, for triple riding, for not stopping at the signal. for not fastening the seat belt, for not following lane discipline, for not having the latest pollution certificate and so on and so forth.

It do wish that apart from doing their job so well, the traffic cops also paid some attention to their faults and mistakes and corrected them as well instead of placing all the blame on the traffic and fining whoever they can lay their hands upon. Sign boards, traffic lights that do not work properly, violators like over burdened autos, trucks, RTC buses that frequently break traffic lights, dividers, barricades placed thoughtlessly and many more such half hearted and rough shod jobs that endanger the traffic are to be first righted. If one is concerned about traffic violations such as drunken driving which endangers other traffic, not having proper guidance from the traffic police is also a thing that they must be primarily concerned about.

IPL 5 - CSK is my bet

At the outset, I must say I'd bet on CSK. They are a different breed in the big matches, have won before and will be hungry to seal it. For them its as if they are on the home stretch and they will stride in confidently. They are not complacent as they have had a rough season and if anything are on top of their game now. KKR will be on the back foot a bit, being in the finals for the first time, wanting to prove a point and under a bit of pressure already.

The sides are evenly matched though KKR will be without Balaji who is a huge asset in the bowling department. Still Gambhir has enough to trouble the CSK people and he will have to strategise well and execute well to keep CSK under control. CSK has its strong points and its weak links. So let me now go on about how one can go about CSK if one was Gambhir.

One big weakness is the opening pair. If KKR can get two CSK batsmen into the pavilion quickly and keep the pressure on, they can restrict CSK. Murali Vijay may not carry on the same form and it is important to deny him the shots he likes to play. he does not like being bogged down and he can succumb to pressure. That leaves Hussey who will look to play a long innings. Gambhir must attack Hussey and not let him stay along and graft. The first six overs will give him the opportunity. A slow start, and one with wickets lost, will put CSK on the back foot. The key is getting Dhoni early again so there is not too much damage. I'd use Sunil Narine against the other batsmen just because he has more chances to get them out than a Dhoni who adapts well and who watches the ball till it comes on his bat. Narine against Raina, Badrinath and Bravo and the top 2 could yield results. If he can get early wickets with Lee and Kallis, they have got under the skin of the CSK batting and could restrict them to 160-170 if CSK bats first. That would be a gettable total. Anything over 180 will be difficult for KKR to chase.

If KKR bats first they need 180 on the board to win. I'd say CSK will probably chase and chase hard and Dhoni will be hard to stop if he gets up in the order which he will do. All in all, will be a tight match I'd expect but it might tip in CSK's favour in the end.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The New Divide - Petrol guys vs Diesel guys

After being divided by states, regions, languages, communities, wealth, haves and have nots (and what not) we now have a new divide sponsored by the government itself!. The petrol guys versus the diesel guys. I have been already laughed at by the diesel guys for owning a petrol car which, they sniggered, has already lost out 20% of its resale value. 'You poor petrol guys,' they laughed and sniggered. I did not know what to say except that I sharply said I had no intention of selling my car at a 20% discount now.

The diesel guys looked smug, happy that they have cars that run on cheap fuel that the government will not touch even if they have luxury cars. We petrol guys for no fault of ours have been singled out by the government and I suspect we are probably footing the bill for the diesel guys. In fact since most petrol is actually adulterated with kerosene as far as my knowledge goes, we are actually paying more (getting less petrol in the first place, getting more kerosene in the second place, and footing the kerosene subsidy as well - all in one litre of petrol!!)

Anyway, one of the diesel guys said 'you bloody tax payers, you petrol guys, serves you right!'. That was when I researched a bit and found that the petrol and diesel guys have completely different psychological profiles. The petrol guys are the low risk, government job types who like the soft purring cars as opposed to diesel cars which are somehow seen as beasts that one cannot handle. This petrol bunch is also seen as the tax paying guys by my apparently non-tex paying friends, who will not fight or resist (naturally a good bunch to impose price hikes upon) and who will at best stop going out or stopping selling their cars. They will be like people stuck in unhappy marriages - won't get out, won't get in. They will be there.

On the other hand the diesel car types are the ones who are aware and alive to opportunity. They will try new stuff and are not scared of handling the beasts. They will be the ones to wear new clothes, try new brands and stuff like that. They are the entrepreneurs, the let's-see-what-happens-later, I can handle it types. They are enterprising, are capable of raising loans unlike the petrol guys who fear loans. They are also the type who will get themselves diesel cars at prices that will be the cost of the petrol guy's house.

Anyway, as of now the government decided that petrol guys must bear it. They have cornered the right segment - the stoic, we will bear it all without a murmur crowd will keep paying or suffering until they die. The cars will remain at their homes, well polished and clean and started only so the battery does not die, and will go small distances with their families, once a week. Their fuel costs have gone up, their savings will come down, their reputations are now in tatters, their outings have reduced - in one stroke the government has discriminated wildly against this hapless segment who will now resort to ordering stuff online and watching Travel programs on television. (I also hear that some sensitive types are considering drastic action - like buying Idea 3G which seems to be the answer to all things - shove that phone into your car and it might run all the way to heaven!)

I suggest a Save the Petrol Car User Association. We cannot handle this kind of trauma, such discrimination from our secular government. What is secular about such discrimination? Nothing. They are outright discriminatory. It's written all over that we are petrol guys. We will be targeted by everyone based on our psycho profile. From petrol thieves to traders, parking wallas to traffic police,e everyone will now treat the petrol guys differently. We must do something now before it is too late.

But despite all this there is one great comfort. The diesel guy will always be second best. They can get subsidised all they want but they will never enjoy the one ride we petrol guys take on a Sunday, or at midnight (when we consume less petrol) as much. Ah, we petrol guys will enjoy every single metre of the ride from now on.

IPL Playoffs - Delhi Daredevils beats Itself

In the end it was Delhi daredevils that beat itself as it fought with all the demons in its head. If one felt that this game was about strategy and tactics and doing everything right, Delhi went the other way. They did not even do its normal things right. Facing a resurgent CSK was one but beating the demons in their head was another and sadly, the best team in the IPL, went down without a whimper, without a fight, showed no heart and simply fell apart. CSK walked all over it.

It must have started with the panic at Irfan Pathan's injury or so they lead us to believe. But Irfan Pathan is not so huge an all rounder that his absence should make them go into a tizzy. Even Morne Morkel could have hit those few sixes that Pathan does - provided he was backed well by his skipper. But they panicked, brought in a new all rounder in Andre Russel who is a decent bat and bowler but nothing match winning as a bowler - which is the key really. To compensate for his inclusion they dropped the leading wicket taker in the competition Morne Morkel and then brought in a rookie spinner Sunny Gupta who is playing his first game this season and sat out Shahbaz Nadeem. So far, suicidal you'd say. Viru, Warner, Mahela, Taylor, Naman, Venu, Negi, Umesh, Aaron, Morkel and Nadeem could have been the team. You at least had a decent bowling attack and batting till Morkel (No 8).

If that set them hugely back, they won the toss and asked Chennai to bat first throwing all their strength of batting freely with big hitters like Sehwag, Warner, Naman, Mahela and Taylor into water. All possibilities of seizing early initiative vanished and of taking the Chennai attack to sword. Now they ensured they would bat under pressure, trying to score runs given away by a slightly blunted bowling attack, which held no fears really in terms of penetration - and certainly not on the Chennai wicket. Chennai would have thanked the gods for this opportunity and stepped in hoping for a 170 total and early Delhi wickets.

And then comes the beginning of what really ended it. Murali Vijay, elegant and destructive, has been out of rhythm all season and Chennai never really got off to a good start - something which Dhoni said was key to their success (a  good start!). Against all logic, Sehwag brings in a rookie off spinner Sunny Gupta, and Murali Vijay stepped down the track and lofted him straight down four and the another. That sealed it. Vijay started feeling good, Delhi knew it had made all the tactical errors it could have done. Now all it needed to do was get out of the hole it dug for itself. Even if they had opened their bowling with Umesh Yadav who is a tough customer on any day, he would have pushed Hussey and Vijay on the backfoot. But then after that Vijay just grew in strength. The bowling changes became even more thoughtless, fielding went to pieces and CSK, which never lets an opportunity go, nailed it.

It was unbelievable to see how Delhi fought those ghosts in its head. CSK finished off the game in style, winning by 86 runs, which is a huge margin. There is no room for the weak hearted, for the unprepared at this stage and Delhi rightfully had to go. It was a huge pity because they still had enough on that team to knock CSK out. If only they had a different captain, Mahela would have been my bet, or even Taylor, and used their strengths and resources better. But Delhi put all their strengths on the bench and 'hoped' that they would surprise everyone. Sadly they surprised themselves!

Onwards to the final then. CSK and KKR. I'd go with CSK for their no nonsense, less talk more action approach which puts less pressure on them. But for my own sake, I do hope KKR gives them a run for their money and who knows, even pushes them over. KKR has the strength and the mystery bowler who takes 4-15 in most games, Sunil Narine. The big weakness for me, Gambhir is prone to make certain temperamental decisions and is strategically weaker compared to Dhoni. Let us see what transpires.

Friday, May 25, 2012

CSK vs Delhi Daredevils - CSK is my bet

I have said it before and I say it again. There's some magic potion that MSD infects his team with and its called belief. Somehow they know when the time comes, they will pull it off. For just a while MSD looked jaded but he has got his familiar belief about him again and at just the right time. Will Delhi be able to pull it off against CSK? Tough I'd say.

Delhi will not go down without a fight. Sehwag will to his best to bat well and long and so will the rest of his awesome batting line up. But they will be up against a strategically superior and wily skipper and a bunch of confident, professionals who will keep surprising them every now and by the time they realise it, the match will be beyond their reach if they do not play this game strategically.  If Delhi goes in on past performances and hoping that things will work out and play without a plan, they are gone. But if they have a plan and preparation they have the firepower to surprise the CSK.

The only way they can get themselves into the game is to bat CSK out by getting a 200 plus. To do that Sehwag, Warner need to get off to dream starts, playing correct shots and avoiding traps set by Dhoni. Mahela needs to play till the end and the support cast needs to contribute. 200 would be a tough ask but then I would think that is the only way to pile up the pressure on the rather brittle CSK batting side. Sehwag needs to get his bowlers to bowl to a plan and to constantly be in touch with them to see they are on as per plan. Morkel, Umesh, Aaron need supportive captains as they are still not high on belief at this crunch level and Irfan Pathan needs to show the way with his bowling.

If Delhi Daredevils get their strategy right, it will be an interesting game. If they don't improve on strategy and tactics, they are as good as gone. Delhi to bat first and get 190-200 if it has to Delhi's way. If CSK bats first and gets 170, they should be through.

Thought for the Day - Do Everything Differently

What if we decided to do everything differently and not in the way we normally do. React differently I mean and do stuff. Like saying Yes to things we normally say No to and saying NO to things we normally say YES to. Small things of course and not stuff that kills you. Just enough to mess up the pattern in the mind.

Now what would you call that? I would call it loads of fun. Fun then, is probably not doing everything the same way and messing up the pattern once in a while - or rather - all the time.

It could also mess up several mental patterns in our head that give us certain outcomes in our lives. This could be one way of creating new outcomes, fun lives.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Old and Lost Pubs of Hyderabad

In the 1990s there was a sudden profusion of pubs in Hyderabad. I don't know why pubs made a sudden entry in Hyderabad then. Hyderabad was till then known for shady bars and restaurants of all sorts where guys generally went and guzzled till they passed out. The wine shops were all over the place and people normally were very serious about their drinking and did not want to mix their drinking with music and other distractions. The bars were made for conversation, for opening of hearts and for liquor to be consumed. No music, but the palli, chana kind of an atmosphere.

Bangalore had its pubs and when we went there we visited them with wonder. The music, the ambience, the girls...ahh it was heavenly. The beer was chilled and came in pitchers and we got high and drunk on the music and the environment. Soon the first pubs came to Hyderabad and we cautiously made it to those pubs while still in college. We enjoyed the music, the beer and the fact that we could go there with girls and have a good time.

Many of the pubs have since shut down and I don't think I can recall most of them anyway but I will try. I am hoping to keep this list a pre-prohibition list so many of them are not here any loner. One or two may be post-prohibition as well but I would not know.

1) Barrel House: This one was near Amrutha Mall Somajiguda. Decent music, nice ambience and one could spend long hours chatting in it. We guys generally caught up here because it was closest to our homes, drank ourselves silly and got back.

2) 10 Downing Street: Before it made its appearance in the Lifestyle building the 10 Downing Street was in the cellar of Sapnalok before it got bombed out by the naxals. It was still one of the hippest places even then and I enjoyed going there before they started getting uppity about couples only and sandals only after which I stopped going there. One great memory of 10 D was that of Madhav paying with his credit card and when the waiter pointed out that there was no signature there, signing it instantly with a flourish! See, the signature is there now!

3) One Flight Down: Is it still around? In the ground floor of the hotel at Nampally it was almost a strictly guys only affair. One of those places where the bouncers did not let anyone dance in the aisles which I found rather funny. And it was only veg. They had a rock music kind of a theme. Used to pop into this place on lazy summer afternoons from work at the bank.

4) Black Cadillac: Now this was a funny kind of a pub with a neither here nor there ambience and huge murals painted on the walls. It was opposite GPO in Secunderabad if I am not mistaken. Never enjoyed it so much. Did not have a definite feel and energy to it.

5) Bier Keller: This pub located in Minerva Complex next to Sapnalok had a theme of a bombed out pub in Germany that got partially destroyed in the World War II or something like that. It had an awesome ambience, lovely food, lovely beer and great music. One of my favourites those days. I distinctly remember a private party that Naresh and ANu threw for a bunch of friends there.

6) The Oaken Cask: The best music was played by this guy if I remember right. It stood near the Basheerbagh chowrasta and I remember visiting it at 11 a.m. on a rainy day with Shobhs and they played heavenly music. Nice ambience, great service and good experience overall.

7) Pub near Golden Dragon (Beat Route!! Got the name after brainstorming with Naresh this morning): This pub had very hip interiors, decent music and was located on a mezzanine kind of a location near Golden Dragon. Can't remember the name but it was very popular and I think it was
well known for its music as well. What was it called now? Memories include a celebratory morning drink with Srinivas of ITW after I bought my first camera - a Kodak Kroma!

8) The Outswinger: This pub was part of the Baseraa hotel but despite the cricket based theme and cricket based interiors and menus I never really enjoyed it. I remember one massive celebration though - when MCC beat Sacred Heart in a low scoring game that was fully charged up. Chandra sponsored the drinks and it was one of the most remembered and happy celebrations ever.

9) The Escape: The pub in the Green Park Hotel was called the Escape if I am not mistaken and it was an okay-okay joint. I don't remember any great experiences, great food, great music. It was just conveniently close by and dark. The one thing I remember was meeting my scooter mechanic there and realising that India was changing.

10) Cloud Nine: This one was near the Rasoolpura crossroads opposite Anand theatre. It had an ordinary presence, normal music, regular crowd but what I remember most about it was its flat beer. I used to go but never liked it too much. One party I remember was thrown by the cricketers those days somewhere in the cellar. Now it's gone!

The Paradoxes of Our Lives - When we give up, we get

When we give up, we get.

We can try hard and want and kick and shout. But it is only when we give it up that we get it. We can take it, possess it by force but it will not satisfy us until we start giving it up. Until we keep a distance from it. Until we find the balance between wanting it and respecting it.

To get it, do all that you have to. But give it up in the mind.

Thought for the Day - 100% is actually taking a step back

100% is not giving 'more' really. It is more like stepping back a bit - and being more deliberate and conscious and intense. When we step back and become more aware we give 100%.

Normally when we think 100% we think we need frenzied and uncontrolled action or thought. We try to do too much and nothing works. It all seems pointless and self-defeating. Don't do too much. Step back. And choose to be deliberate and intense in the now.

When our act and thought are deliberate and controlled and purposeful, we are there. 100% is all about deliberate action, about intensity and about living in the now. Try it.

CSK Wins - Dhoni Delivers As Usual

His middle name must be belief. Dhoni simply strode out to the wicket showing no signs of any concern over the slow run rate and loss of early wickets and went about playing as he he knew exactly what to do. In 20 balls he manufactured an unbeaten 51 and infected his partner Bravo enough to get him to score an unbeaten 33 with some unbelievable last over strokes. 187 was always going to be tough for the Mumbai Indians and in the end it was pretty easy for the CSK team. His handling of his bowling resources was exceptional again as he used Jakati brilliantly upfront and brought on Morkel at the right time.

My prediction is that the CSK should steamroll the Delhi Daredevils over because in the big games it will come down to the captains. Sehwag's team looks vulnerable in the big games and Sehwag also looks a bit clueless, and one slip up from him will prove costly against someone like Dhoni who will grab all the opportunities that come his way. Unless the Delhi team finds their belief and just back their capabilities and not get psyched by Dhoni and his men, I give no chance to Delhi.

Man to man, Delhi Daredevils appears stronger and unless they come up with knockout performances, which may be difficult in the Chennai home ground, Delhi is up against a mountain. And if by chance CSK does get through to the final - CSK will win the IPL 5 as well!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

IPL Playoff 2 - Mumbai Indians versus Chennai Super Kings

I'll go with the Chennai Super Kings because they have this amazing ability to sneak through. As long as they have Dhoni who protects their interests like some warrior god, CSK will always find unlikely wins, unlikely heroes and will make the opposition commit some amazingly stupid mistakes by merely being stoic and holding their belief. As a team they know what it is to win, they know how to hold their belief and they know that the 'power is with them' which in itself is huge. From Hussey to Vijay, Morkel to Dhoni, Raina to Bravo, this side has enough to take on the rather erratic and temperamental Mumbai side.

Mumbai will look to get some of their stars performing but my problem with Mumbai is that in the big games they look shaky - much like Delhi. Sachin goes cheap, Rohit finds new ways of getting out and they are constantly under pressure. Much of their success has been due to Malinga's heroics with the ball and this is one thing that the CSK team will look to counter. With CSK the match will never be over until it is truly over and this makes this contest interesting. I am not a great fan of Harbhajan's captaincy nor of the histrionics that Mumbai provides and to me CSK should win because they are a better side to play the next two games. CSK could well sneak past the other two teams as well.

I'd think this would be a 150-160 game and I'd put my bets on CSK to pull this off.

Donna Summers and Robin Gibb R.I.P.

Two artistes who gave me lots of peace and excitement in my adolescent years through their music were Donna Summers and Robin Gibbs. Donna Summers was irrepressible with her songs. Her 'Love to love you baby' was almost banned for its explicit sounds of orgasmic love making and was an instant hit naturally with all the adolescent kids. It was a good number and one of those tunes you'd never forget. But what I remember Donna Summers most for was for her album 'Bad Girls'. I had borrowed this album, a cassette, from my friend Mani and settled down with it playing on a small cassette player and Mario Puzo's Godfather in my hand on a weekend. As I flipped through the Godfather, reading the novel in amazement, Donna Summers kept crooning side after side after side. The Godfather was one of the few books that I read without a break in those days and almost entirely through the reading of that book Donna Summers kept me company and I remember all those tunes even now. I don't remember the names of those songs though - 'Hot Stuff' was one, 'She works hard for her money' was another that I remember. Donna Summers was a safe bet with racy numbers, catchy lyrics and nice youthful sounds.

Robin Gibb was part of the Beegees which was a group that seized our imagination along with ABBA and Boney M in the late seventies and early eighties. The movie 'Saturday Night Fever' with John Travolta was a rage and all the hit songs were sung by the Beegees. Posters were acquired from the magazines and put up faithfully and cassettes borrowed and songs listened to. 'Stayin Alive', 'How Deep is your love', 'Tragedy'. 'Night Fever' were some of the hit songs of the Beegees that come to mind. I could not understand where the female member was in the group - Barry Gibb's falsetto had me fooled for a long time! But I owned many cassettes - albums and greatest hits, one of Saturday Night Fever and had almost their entire collection with me. The song 'Words' haunted me for almost twenty years and I searched for all the female singers of that generation in the seconds market outside VT in Mumbai - until I found it in one of the Beegees collections!

But more than the Beegees songs I remember Robin Gibb (or was it Andy Gibb) for an album he released solo which I had borrowed from Mani again. there was one particular song that I really liked and I remember listening to that many many times as I slept. I forget the name of the song though the melody is right there - just outside. The group was known to be brilliant songwriters, composers and musicians. I was rather shocked to find that Robin's two brothers, his younger brother Andy Gibb and twin brother Maurice Gibb died in 1988 and 2003 respectively. Robin is survived by his mother and his older brother Barry. The BeeGees are ranked next only to Elvis Presley, Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney in terms of record sales which totalled over 220 million. They were inducted into the 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'.

For providing hours of escape into a life I could only imagine and taking us on trips of happiness and ecstasy that only music can take you on, Donna Summers and Robin Gibb, my two partners of another time, a huge thank you. I will now revisit all your music for the next few days!

Deepika Padukone and the boys

It was amazing to watch the effect a beautiful woman can have on men. Gaurav Kapoor, the anchor flirted with her like an adolescent teenager, Jadeja was tongue tied and once, even let his eyes wander fleetingly along Deepika's long, long legs (which she chose to display by wearing some really small shorts) and even the veteran Harsha Bhogle was lost for words and quick comebacks and suffered a loss of composure. Total discomfort among the men as the lady stretched her long legs and sat most comfortably in the cricket studio as if she was shooting her next scene for a movie.

To say that Deepika held her own in a room where she was out numbered, out dressed (in terms of number of clothes, as against the tie and suit clad gentleman) and while talking of a game of which she knew pretty little as compared to the others there, would be an understatement. She was magnificent as she stayed true to herself and the men were reduced to watching her admiringly.

After yesterday I am of the view that her presence (or was it her clothes) should be banned from these IPL commentaries if she is going to have this kind of an effect on our anchors and commentators. Imagine what she can do to the players if she were in the party or even in the stadium. Deepika spoke of her favourite sports, her films, her favourite directors, IPL, watching matches live and so on without trying to sound more knowledgeable than she was. But what she did in that room had me shaking my head! Women!!

IPL Playoffs - KKR beats Delhi Daredevils

The game swung here and there. KKR started brightly and then slowed down and it looked like they did not have enough and then they got plenty in the last couple of overs and ended up with 162. Virender Sehwag always looks like a captain with no plan and he goes as instinctively at his captaincy as he does with his batting. He makes some awful mistakes like giving Varun Aaron the last over and generally taking the foot off the accelerator in the last overs. Yusuf Pathan and Laxmi Ratan came good and before they realised what they were up to KKR had got themselves back into the game. Great case for not taking the foot off the pedal when you have an initial advantage.

When they batted they started out in a hurry and despite the bad decision against Warner, the Daredevils again messed up their batting order. Ross Taylor came too late, at least two overs too late and that could have made the difference in the end. Again Viru looked clueless as he hoped things would right themselves somehow. Delhi Daredevils now look down the barrel of the gun and they have much hard work to do.

But its time for preparation. Viru cannot leave everything to instinct. He must have a plan and then follow his instinct. Else you will be caught sending Negi and Rao ahead of Ross Taylor and bowling Varun Aaron in the last over. That pretty much sealed it for the Daredevils.

As for team composition it shows how differently everyone reads the wicket - Gambhir went with a spin heavy attack and Sehwag with a pace heavy attack. Everyone seems clueless really. But for his intensity and also for sticking to a plan for the given day, Gambhir pulled it off and comfortably. Viru made the cardinal mistake of sticking to favourites as he said in his interview - I could not drop Umesh or Aaron after they performed so well. But its about horses for courses and the combination for the day. If Viru learns quickly the Delhi team has a chance (which I consider unlikely) or they must rely on some outstanding performances by their players. Ideally it would be great if Delhi wins the eliminator and comes back to meet KKR in the final. But the Delhi team minus Peterson is a bit shaky in big matches as they proved time and again.

Today's game, I will go with CSK.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders - 1st Playoff

The first playoff should be underway and its time to pick the likely winner of the game. I'll go with Delhi Daredevils at 60: 40 in this match despite the fact that this side may be a bit under pressure if they bat second. Right now Delhi looks good all round with their bowling and batting in place and have enough firepower to put all other teams under pressure.

KKR will look for Gambhir, Kallis and mostly the Yusuf Pathan and McCullum's to come good with their cameos. Everyone needs to pitch in here and if they do not show enough desperation, KKR could end up without enough on the board. Throughout the tournament KKR looked a bit brittle on the batting front. They have not played as much as a unit as Delhi have and have relied mainly on Gambhir and Narine's heroics.

If Delhi can figure out Sunil Narine and not lose wickets in a heap trying to hit him out of the ground, they should go through to the final whether they bat first or second. And if KKR bats first they need to put enough runs on the board or make those 120 type scores which are difficult to pace your innings to to make Delhi think twice and mess them up mentally.

All in all it looks like a 160-170 game. My one big concern with Delhi is that they could be complacent after having a relatively easier entry into the final. KKR will be intense. But both captains miss a couple of tricks, so it's a matter of who does better on the field at marshaling his resources.

The Great Dictator - Movie Review

Watched 'The Great Dictator' on a whim the other day. I was not sure if I'd watched the video which had been lying with me for a long time and only after I was fifteen minutes into the movie did I remember that I had watched it before. But then, as with any great movie, I was so drawn into the movie that I was glued to the screen for the rest of the movie until the credits went up in the end. Now, more than ever I wonder at the genius of Charlie Chaplin whose first talking picture this movie was. And what a great talking picture debut where he imitates Hitler's speech in a hilarious German sounding language with some curious English words that leaves you in splits. And even more interesting is that this movie was made in 1940 before the Second World War began.

The story itself is brilliant. A Jewish barber who bears a strong resemblance to Hynkel the Great Dictator of Toamainia, volunteers in war and becomes an amnesiac after a flight in which he travels upside down for most part with his pilot. He is sent to hospital and released twenty years later in the regime of Hynkel who has designs of conquering the world - dancing with a globe at one time, pampering his ego most other times as he poses for statues and portraits in flashes. Hynkel has a great dislike to Jews and has them singled out by his stormtroopers by painting their establishments with the word JEW. When the barber returns he is helped by the pretty laundrette next door and the other oppressed Jews. He puts in a resistance of his own in his own funny ways helped by the spirited laundrette. The pilot he flew the plane with is now a General who is sent to the concentration camp for not aligning with Hynkel's pogrom. Enter Napolini of Bacteria, for a deal with Hynkel, which falls flat on waging war against Osterlich, a neighbouring country. After some hilarious scenes between the two egoistic leaders as they try to play psychological games with one another, the real Hynkel gets caught by his own soldiers and incarcerated as he is mistaken for the escaped barber and the barber is mistaken for Hynkel after capturing Osterlich. In his poignant victory speech the barber proclaims Osterlich free and asks the soldiers not to forget that they are human. Even the speech is wonderful to listen to as it is so full of genuine heartfelt feelings for humanity and not for cheap whistles.

It takes genius to make such political commentary on an issue that bothers one so much - that of anti semitism and the horrific pogrom against the Jews, much of the details which Chaplin said he was not aware of when he made the movie. And to make it in a way that we laugh and at the same time understand the futility and absurdity of it all was what makes this movie special. He is amazing in the speech scene where he imitates Hitler, and many other scenes, at conjuring up laughter in the most serious of turns such as the meeting of the two egoistic leaders. Chaplin apparently wrote, produced (Charlie Chaplin Studios), composed the music and acted in the movie and you wonder how talented this man was. I cannot imagine anyone making a movie like this about say George Bush and his invasion of Iraq today. Or the proposed threat to attack Iran. Or about the political state in India today (surely it would get banned, the maker would get targeted and there would be endless debate in the Parliament on how to ban the film). I would love to see one but is there any such quality left in the film making world? And do we have the stomach to face the truth in our increasingly intolerant  country? Wanted badly, a Charlie Chaplin in India.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind - Dr. Joseph Murphy

First published in 1963 'The Power of Your Subconscious Mind' (Bantam, Rs. 237.50) has sold over a million copies and certainly is one of the all time great self-help books. Written in a fashion that belongs to an entirely different era, with frequent quotes from the bible, the author however conveys emphatically even to readers of this century, the impact that our subconscious mind has over our quality of life. How our omniscient, healing and constantly working subconscious mind can be used for our benefit is explained in the book with several examples. It must have been tough for the author to convince people in the early sixties when perhaps rationalism and science were ruling and ideas such as faith and subconscious power might have been ridiculed and rejected even. But Dr. Murphy gives scientific examples to support his theory and well, the result is there for all to see.

These days we have many people giving us the same knowledge (using different words for the subconscious mind) and the world is far more receptive to the power of faith and belief than it ever was. 'The Secret', 'You Can Heal Your Life', and similar books and philosophies revolve around this empowering philosophy of impressing the subconscious to create what you want. In fact, in modern day medicine, sports and many other areas they appear to be using this subconscious mind to good effect. From hypnotherapy which is used to heal, to the sports arenas, there are several techniques of auto suggestion that enables our subconscious to believe a reality that we can create. Dr. Murphy says that whatever we call it, we finally appeal to the subconscious mind to help us as it is the master of all we create.

What the subconscious believes, it will create for you. It knows all the answers, it builds and heals and it can access the immense wisdom of all humanity. It is the one that wakes you up in danger, that gives you that timely jerk, that creates all the opportunities of grace. But it will, like the genie, believe what you tell it - if you constantly keep thinking and feeling in a particular way - the subconscious accepts it and creates that reality for you. The author emphasizes that even jokes if they use negative words, can create that reality  - the subconscious does not judge - it only accesses the words you say. (Much like a search engine actually - use the key words many times and it shows up at the top of the results! There is no distinction whether it is positive or negative.)

Thankfully the subconscious is not evil and it appears mainly to help you and protect you. So if we can help it do its job better by choosing the right kind of thoughts and making the right beliefs, we are in a good space! We are born to choose a life of abundance and richness and health normally and we can access it if we want to. To create good stuff (What? For me?) it is best to keep the conscious mind busy - expecting the best (and not the worst) - and the subconscious mind responds. To keep thinking of happy endings and the thrill of receiving the happy endings is most likely to keep you in such spaces.

The author makes the distinction between the conscious mind and the subconscious - the conscious being rational and bound by logic while the subconscious contains deep rooted beliefs that govern our life. Despite all that the conscious mind says (I want to be rich) if the subconscious mind has a conflicting belief (Honest people cannot be rich), you would finally create a reality that is guided by the subconscious despite all the hard work you do. So it makes immense sense to constantly be in touch with the subconscious mind and tell it or influence it (it does not have any time and space limitations) and create what we want much more easily.

What it means is that the treasure is within and we all can access this (yes, everyone has a subconscious mind that can be easily influenced). The key question is how does the subconscious get influenced? It gets influenced by what we 'think'. Our words and thoughts, our visuals and ideas, if trained to focus on what we want, would make the subconscious accept that reality. The good thing about the subconscious is that it does not question - it only wants you to believe - and show that belief rather firmly!

In many places this technique is called self-talk or affirmations or prayers and other names like that but it does seem to be the route, the secret to our good. To the subconscious then, we must suggest firmly, at a time when it is most receptive. The subconscious is most receptive when the conscious mind is out of the way - or rather - in a drowsy, sleep like state. The author suggests that the time before going to sleep and upon waking is the best time to plant the ideas and words - a time when the subconscious is awake and the conscious is asleep or not fully awake. It can also be done when you get yourself into a sleep induced state (as in hypnotherapy) for best results. One should feel thought and feeling to create subconscious belief.

The paradox is this - we put too much effort and get all worked up making it difficult to access the subconscious mind. It is best the author says, to be relaxed, and then it accepts the idea. There is no conflict between the gatekeeper or the conscious mind and the subconscious mind then. Ideally, a deliberate effort is best.

Once we start creating the thoughts we want, Dr. Murphy says we must banish all other thoughts, acts and suggestions that seem logically doomed (I'll never be rich!). One other thing not to do is to be stuck in negative thoughts and attitudes that can completely ruin all the good work. Keep out thoughts of fear, jealousy, guilt and such and replace them with 'creative' thoughts and words as they arise.

From money to marriages, health to old age, 'The Power of the Subconscious Mind' offers simple methods and examples to follow and create our own reality. What we are able to visualise and what we desire badly are the two keys to achieving what we want. The author talks of being in our mental studio and creating the mental movies we want. Desire is the key. To create wealth and heath the easy way, build ideas of health and wealth prior to sleep. Make those the dominant ideas. Don't deny what you affirm. Think of wealth as a tide - it rises and ebbs - but it will always come back. To use words of love and respect to wealth and to also respect and love those who have wealth is a way of appreciating it. (Watch those words!) Of course there needs to be some work going in the direction too!

I liked Dr. Murphy's take on success when he says that one should do what one loves to do to create successful living. What one can express oneself best with is what one needs to find first and then one can serve humanity. The greatest writers and thinkers and scientists have always accessed the power of the subconscious mind to create some of their best works. Since the subconscious mind never sleeps (like our BPOs) and is always working - you tell it and it does the job by morning. On happiness he says that as with anything else it is a habit and we can choose to cultivate that. It is important not to get stuck in good or bad and to live life simply and with the best and noble intentions. In countering fears the author says hat all solutions lie within the problem. Do what you're afraid to do. When fear thoughts come, use some counter thoughts that give opposite outcomes. He ends with talking of how to be young in spirit. That the years between 65 and 95 could be the most productive. That as you create so you are.

An expert told me recently that the subconscious mind is considered about 8000 times more powerful than the conscious mind. I don't know how they arrived at that figure but it does seem to be a good idea to side with the subconscious and treat it well. All it takes is 'thoughts', 'visuals', 'words' and 'feelings of having received the outcome'. Pretty simple huh. It might be a good idea to experiment with small things, as Dr. Murphy says, to find out for yourself whether the subconscious mind is working for you. if it shows good and positive results, you can ask for more. In fact they say, the subconscious can give you anything at anytime - it has no concept of space and time!

This book is a life skill book I'd say and one that would interest those who deal with the subconscious mind and would like to know a bit more. Somewhere I felt that I needed more sharper techniques to deal with the subconscious mind but perhaps I am complicating things. Maybe one should simply use the techniques of using key words (Dr. Murphy suggest using the key words 'wealth' and 'success' for about five minutes before you sleep and upon waking up in one exercise regarding wealth and success) and look out for the results. It is written in an old fashioned manner and it may take many days to complete it, but if one can read it for the content and gain from it, this is one for the collection because there is a lot of wisdom in it. Now to start working on the subconscious mind!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sangakarra gets it right finally - DC knocks out RCB!

The one thing that stood out for me in today's IPL game - where a resurgent Deccan Chargers beat a shaky and nervous Royal Challengers Bangalore was that Sangakarra got it right finally. He used his strengths up front, trusted the youngsters to deliver and created pressure at the right moments. Using Steyn upfront against Gayle and Dilshan (who was looking to hold the innings together) was the key and Steyn did the trick by getting rid of both. Amit Mishra created enough pressure on an already nervous RCB batting order that is so dependent on Gayle (who scored about 30% of their runs this year apparently by getting AB de Villers out on a nervous drive and a clueless Mayank Agarwal bowled.

And when things were all under control for RCB Kohli gifted the game away by not being able to hold his nerve and his end and going for a second six of the deceptive Ashish Reddy. It was all over right then for me. Why Zaheer promoted himself up in the order is anybody;s guess but that one over finished the game completely for RCB.

I am glad RCB is out of the playoffs (though I like watching the side) because they just cannot seem to handle the pressure. If you don't have the heart for the big games you are better off knocked out at this stage. The best team to grab the playoffs place is in for me - Chennai Super Kings - and they have enough confidence and mystery and firepower and mostly the heart to knock out all the other three in the semi final lineup. With Dhoni at the helm they are more dangerous than Delhi or Kolkata or Mumbai to me and I will support that team completely in the playoffs. They have the least to lose and they will be a handful for everyone.

As for DC they were inconsistent even in today's game and if not for Duminy getting away with some big hitting, they did not even look like they would get to a 100 at one stage. But even there - something about the way the RCB bowlers gifted away runs freely (Murali, Zaheer being among the culprits) when they should have closed the game was a sign. You should never let the enemy get a sniff when they are down because if they do, you're done for. To me that one over by Murali where he went for three sixes was a sign of things to come. RCB was 'hoping' it would win and was not closing out the game. And they hoped Gayle would do it and then they hoped Dilshan would do it and then AB and then Kohli and the Agarwal until it became like a comedy when you look back and find no one except a pretty flat batting tail.

I do think DC could have gone to the playoffs if they got it right from the beginning. The use of Steyn, White as captain, using the two youngsters who impressed so much Ashish Reddy, Veer Pratap Singh and even Akshath Reddy with more trust, could have got them so much more. If Rajasthan almost did it, DC should have and easily. Anyway they will probably go back and learn and come back a better side next year.

But today it was interesting to see the young franchise owner Gayatri Reddy being crowded in by Siddharth the actor and Chamundeswaranath, the ex Ranji cricketer in the box. She was doing a fine job alone I thought!

Thought for the Day - What Does the End Mean To You?

It is something we do often. We label an end and forget about it. What do you want? Money. Success. Happiness. Peace. Wealth. Harmony. Having used the word we settle back pleased that we have fixed our noble targets somewhere. This is what I want!

But the key really is to find out what those words mean to us. What does happiness mean or what does money mean or what does success mean to you?

Take money for instance. To some it could be a billion, to others a million, to some others thousands. But at what stage, at what number, does "money' really mean what it means to you. If we could say a steady supply of Rs. 1 lakh a month or a one time bounty of Rs. 10 lakh is what 'money' means to you, then we have some meaning to the words.

Or take success. It could be a job position, a car, a house, a way of dressing, a lifestyle with all the gadgets or anything else. But unless we can sit with ourselves and see what it means to us really, we are not saying anything. If success is having a Mercedes, a duplex apartment ins some swanky area, a club membership, foreign vacations etc then we have some meaning to that word.

Or happiness. From sitting under a tree, to retiring, to working with children, working on a dream project, to being with friends - it could be anything. We are mouthing words that don't mean anything. We need to find out what those words mean to us to actually get there. These meanings are our own!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The IPL Franchise Owners - Entertainment Value

It's fun to see the IPL franchise owners. They are an odd lot, accompanied by an odder lot of people around them. Some behave like hysterical fans, some behave like they are the ones who are actually playing, some are absent totally. But when I noticed the problems the KKR franchise owner has been having with the MCA officials and the way the RCB owner courted controversy over his player's molestation charges, I decided that its time to take a look at this lot - whose job is rather thankless, much like the umpires or the cheerleaders. I decided to give them the space they need and rank them on their entertainment value. Sometimes they provide more drama than the cricket as we can see!

1) Kings XI Punjab
The one that takes the cake for sheer entertainment value is  Priety Zinta because she is worse than the most hysterical fan any side can ever have. Flag waving, jaw dropping, screaming, jumping, nail biting and cheering her side along, the pretty owner of Punjab XI steps free of controversy mostly. She is great to watch except when for her exuberant hugs to the players and her take on the game occasionally which she does in an American accent. Why Priety, why? 'It's not just batting and bowling, but fielding is important,' she said in all seriousness the other day.

2) KKR
SRK closely follows her because he usually arrives with an interesting bunch of people. He is interesting himself as he takes victory laps around the field after his side wins (my man isn't that the player's job) and is constantly waving at the crowds despite looking totally tired. Funnily I felt SRK was looking happier when KKR was losing than when they are winning. (Has he not grown out of his Baazigar days - Haar Kar Jeetne Wale Ko Baazigar Kehte Hain?) But messing up with security walas is not befitting his status - he ought to have a team that sorts out the security people and stuff. Why is MCA banning him though? Jealous? Bd sports? I support SRK on the fracas - franchise owners cannot be banned because of security people's issues.

3) RCB

Siddharth Mallya should be on top actually because he is really the most unpredictable of the lot. From tweeting gross details of his dates at late night parties to kissing India's hottest babe Depika Padukone in full public view  the irrepressible Mallya is great fun. One does not know what he is up to and one also suspects the even he does not know what he is up to sometimes? But for fun quotient he is right up there.

4) Mumbai Indians
Neeta Ambani gets as animated as any school kid at her team's fortunes. Her reactions are so genuine that  at times you feel sorry for her for getting a team like that. The Mumbai Indians have no heart for their franchise owner however and they merrily keep winning and losing really close matches, giving gaalis and getting into fights with all and sundry. But she is there all the while with one of the most expensive teams, most expensive support teams, most number of people on the ground and still having to fight for every win. She is supported by some die hard fans like her sons, Anu Mallik, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and others.

5) DC
Gayatri Reddy, the young owner of the DC team is all poise and grace as she supports her team through thick and thin - actually change to - mainly thin. She is not easily excited and keeps her emotions in control which is a good thing when you have a team like DC because you cannot afford to burst out into tears often! At best she allows herself a big smile and a hearty clap for her team. A composed and supportive owner she is always there for the team - despite the team being almost never there for her. But still the smile on her face when DC won yesterday was worth watching - she truly supports DC - which is amazing after their performance this year.

6) Rajasthan Royals
In the absence of Shilpa Shetty we have to do with Mr. Kundra who gets the odd Bollywood face along with him for increasing the fun quotient - like Harman Baweja for instance. Remember him? Harman actually did a cricket movie the name of which I forgot. Kundra is articulate and gets the right bytes across but we'd rather watch the more emotional, constantly praying Shilpa Shetty any day. Next year perhaps!

7) Delhi Dare Devils
The GMR scion sits on the franchise owner's sofa (which is in a rather exposed and dangerous place in the ground if you ask me with balls flying around like missiles) with his young children. If I am not mistaken it is Kiran of the GMR group who manages the Hyderabad airport and the Delhi one too perhaps, who sits in the franchise sofa often. I have never seen him speak not have I seen him animated over the game. Delhi is winning all games comfortably so the GMR guys are pretty cool about it - as if they know the result already. 

8) Pune Warriors
The Sahara group scion is easily spotted in the Pune games. I have not seen him get too animated either. he sits with a bunch of his friends and associates quietly and watches the fortunes of his team as they dip and dip and dip this season. Nothing much on entertainment value as the Pune Warriors are a dignified and reserved lot - not prone to jumping, hugging, flag waving, kissing and molesting their players.

8) Chennai Super Kings
Who are the owners of this side? Where are they? How do they look? No one knows. The only thing we heard was that Srinivasan's son threw a tantrum in Mumbai and was taken to the police station or something like that. Now that was interesting because until then we never knew who the owner's of this team were. Anyway with him visiting the police station and the bars in town, there's no one around to take support this team. Poor Dhoni has to do it himself!

That then is my ranking on the IPL franchise owners and the entertainment value they provide. Thanks guys you're all doing a great job!

Aadhaar Cards Arriveth - A Traumatic Experience

The Aadhaar cards arrived in important looking envelopes last week. I was mighty pleased to receive my Aadhaar card because I had made much sacrifice to get it. But wait a minute - there are only two envelopes when we are three. The grumpy postman revealed the secret - he said he was making multiple trips to each household due to this rather haphazard manner of sending the cards by the Aadhaar people. Perhaps they have some complex method of segregating family members which we do not know yet. Anyway I was beaming all over with my envelope until I was asked by the Automatic Mood Corrector at home - Why are you so happy?

I don't know why I was so happy really. I was probably under the impression that the Aadhaar card would put an end to all my troubles and be the one card saviour that gives me endless access to all the good things in the world - a universal ATM card so to speak that I can insert wherever and get all that I want. To be honest this initial exhilaration was similar to the feeling I got when I got my many other cards - I have several from government agencies such as the IT people, the election card, the ration chaps, the RTO chaps - cards, passbooks, ids and such stuff which I have never used. Most of them lie in an old briefcase in the attic and I preserve them carefully in case some authorities decide to verify me.

When I opened my envelope my enthusiasm dulled considerably. Firstly the face on the Aadhaar card did not match my normally happy, vibrant, smiling, enthusiastic, handsome face. The face actually looked like the face of someone who was not in a good shape at all. I hid the card instantly from public areas. Upon discreet enquiries I found that most cards had photos like that where the people looked like they were freshly brought in from famine struck areas or some disaster or something like that. How could I ever use a card like this with a picture that no one would ever recognise? Least of all myself? In fact it is a good exercise to disown  oneself.

One would say - but that is how you look my friend! I contest that vehemently. I have many pictures where I look just fine and alive and happy and happy to be alive. I have proof. But when it comes to the government agencies I do not know what goes wrong - all the pictures look like they have their life sucked out of them. Does the government camera or mechanism have some process where they suck the life out of the faces even in photographs? It is amazing but every single picture taken by the government agencies has this quality. Is it about their lack of interest, about our faces after the experience there, about the mechanism - I don't know but that is the truth.

I hid the card away and it joined the other cards for life in that briefcase. I had also found out that the Aadhaar card with its impressive tag line "the common man's right" is merely helpful in availing government and non-government services in future. It is also only proof of identity and not an ATM type card and that's it. In fact they did complicate the identification issue as I expected - to establish identity one has to authenicate online, whatever that means. No one will ever be able to make out that the picture on the Aadhaar card is mine so I will have to authenticate online, offline and whatever lines they want me to stand in.

Anyway the Aadhaar card now joins the rest of my impressive looking identification cards which reveal one part of me only and take no responsibility for any other part of me. Most of them have not ever had the opportunity to see the world (and with good reason I should think) as they never have been used - they are practically useless. For now I am in therapy and have surrounded myself with some nice pictures of mine to get over the fright!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Most Dangerous IPL Batsmen to Bowl to

If I were a bowler I'd be really worried about bowling length balls or over pitched balls to these batsmen. Here the danger is all about physical danger - the ball can knock your head off in your follow through, fracture your leg or hand and cause serious damage to softer parts. Bowlers should seriously think of having protection in certain areas when bowling to these batsmen.

1) M.S. Dhoni: The batspeed and the power of his forearms makes the ball coming straight off the Dhoni blade the most dangerous. More so because he hits dead straight at your face.

2) Albie Morkel: Another guy who hits the ball so hard that its difficult to get out of the way the CSK all rounder hit Kohli for a 27 run ball over which gave CSK an unlikely win that game..

3) Ross Taylor: He winds up and smashes the ball as hard as anyone as Harshal Patel found out in the match yesterday. One of those whose timing and bat speed make all the difference.

4) Andre Russel: The man is built like a bull and hits is long and hard. What's dangerous is that he hits straight too.

5) Kieron Pollard: He hits the ball really hard and mostly finds some elevation on it which makes him safer for the bowlers. But if the balls headed for you, there's no time to pray.

6) Adam Gilchrist: The ball leaves his bat faster than most and if its headed in your direction its not a good thing to be happening. He is still a dynamite when he packs that punch.

7) David Warner:Though he prefers the offside a bit I'd still like to be clear of the ball when Warner hits it cleanly and as hard as anyone in the business.

8) Chris Gayle: He hits it hard but luckily he hits it into orbit and not flat at you so you are safe. The ball will keep disappearing into the stands though.

9) AB de Villiers:  One more from the hard hitting pack and his timing can make it difficult to judge his speed.

10) Brendon McCullum: Hard hitting batsman from KKR who dances down the pitch at every given opportunity. Hits the ball hard.

11) Virender Sehwag: Times the ball so well that it gets difficult to get out of the way. Still Sehwag's shots pierce the gaps in the field and are not murderous like Dhoni's who can pierce through the person.

12) Yusuf Pathan: Even on an off day the ball flies off the blade of the huge Pathan. But he has this gift of timing and if he finds it, his timing and power can make life miserable for any bowler pitching up to him.

Good luck bowlers and be safe.

Batsmen I Like Watching in IPL 5

My list of the top 10 batsmen I like to watch in the IPL5.

1) Ajinkya Rahane: The Rajasthan Royals batsman plays all the cricketing shots with great correctness and pedigree. He  never looks like he struggling for timing nor does he appear too technical to be stylish. He has an easy elegance to his batting, times the ball well, hits big shots with ease and has the temperament to play long innings. He can rotate the strike, innovate (that six over point against Bravo was awesome) and score the big shots and is difficult to dislodge. Without doubt my numero uno this IPL edition.

2) Mahela Jayawardene: In any form of the game Mahela is a pleasure to watch. Batting becomes effortless as he dances, glides, sidesteps and gets into positions so intuitively that everything seems perfect. The bat seems an extension of his body, the ball is caressed and never hit and everything is a act of love. There is an element of the divine here. I could watch Mahela any day.

3) Chris Gayle: For his awesome hitting power, his still head and ability to pick bowlers length and line so unerringly, Gayle is stunning to watch. But more than his power I am deeply impressed with his preparation this season -  the way he is pacing his innings, the way he played out Malinga and Steyn in much hyped contests where it would have been easy to lose his senses. He played them out quietly and went after the others. Gayle is a man on a mission and this wonderful addition to his batting makes him even more mysterious and ominous than ever.

4) AB de Villiers: That one knock of 47 against Deccan Chargers would rate as the best IPL knock I have seen. If ever a man was in the zone it was AB during that innings. The way he read everyone and everything was perfect. Nothing could go wrong and what was on display was such a delicious treat. AB would not have found a place here but for that knock but now I cannot wait to have more.

5) Mayank Agarwal: The chubby youngster from Bangalore gave enough indication of his talent with his timing and lofted shots earlier but he came into his own against the Mumbai Indians mauling everyone from Malinga to Munaf and Harbhajan. Blessed with sweet timing, the ability to hit hard and to find the gaps in the field with his inside out shots Mayank Agarwal is a batsman I love to watch and hope to see for a long long time.

6) Anustup Majumdar: The Pune Warriors lad has only played two or three games but I was impressed with his batting on his debut game. He has all the makings of someone who can get better if he is groomed properly and if he keeps his head about him. I will be looking out for him. Lovely footwork and timing.

7) Rahul Dravid: I always look for those who can reinvent and that is where Rahul Dravid is so good. Coming at the top and sacrificing his puritanical image for the demands of the game and his side, Rahul is doing a wonderful job for the Royals. Everytime he hoicks or gets into an aggressive mood, outscoring Rahane at times, it is always a pleasure to see how this man has reinvented himself and so well. When we see the others who are not able to, it makes his distinction even more apparent.

8) Kevin Pieterson: That hundred he got the Daredevils was all class and Kevin Peterson is someone you can always depend on to do something impossible each time he steps on. It is precisely for that factor that Peterson brings with him that makes him such a star in a tight game. Power, subtlety, temperament, technique, innovation, charisma - he has it all.  

9) Venugopala Rao: I like this lad for his simple and uncomplicated approach to his batting which makes him something like Mahela - except that he gets lower scores in the 30s and 40s. His big hitting is all about timing and if there is one feature I'd like to point out about him is his footwork against the spinners. An underrated cricketer who never got his due but a pleasure to watch.

10) Ross Taylor: Despite his lack of form Ross Taylor showed a glimpse of what he can do yesterday when he caught the RCB bowling by the scruff of its neck and sent them into a tizzy with some awesome hitting. Highly unpredictable, explosive and one of the cleanest hitters of the ball Taylor is a man with whom you can never write any game off.

11) Virender Sehwag: Sehwag is wonderful to watch in any form of the game as he approaches it with the same outlook. His timing, temperament and technique are awesome but where he fails to impress is the lack of innovation. (But then he need not do that as he is getting his runs anyway.) My problem with our other batsmen is that they are looking too jaded and predictable.

12) Ambati Rayudu: His footwork and range of strokes makes him one of the most dangerous batsmen in the IPL and with good reason. he can innovate, step out, hit sixes, rotate the strike and keep his head in pressure situations. As good in value as a foreign player, Rayudu, lacks the finesse, but is more than effective.

13) Rohit Sharma: He is another of those who is blessed with the talent but who seems to come good only once in a while. When on song he is a pleasure to watch but it jars to see that ways he gets out on other times - some thing that smacks of a lack of preparation or some quirk in the mind. But when he batting, he looks sublime.

Thought for the Day - It's important to commit fully to one thing to find your purpose

To find our life purpose (or that one thing we're here for) it is important to commit to one thing fully. I find that we do not commit to any one aspect of our life because there are many conflicting areas - things we love against things we must do for a livelihood for example. If you wish to find that purpose, it may make sense to commit to one thing.  I personally never committed myself fully to my job nor my cricket. The only thing I have committed to fully was writing which came rather late.
Sunrise at Horsely Hills

For example a hobby (running, playing, reading, writing, singing) if pursued with total commitment could build enough energy even if you were doing it besides your regular job or academics. I did that with my writing for many years. That energy it builds as you push harder and higher would at some point align all your strengths and energies together.

If there is no hobby you could do it with your job or your academics with total commitment. When  I could not find the conviction to make the leap to write - I decided for a year to give my best shot at my job in a particular assignment. That one year taught me so much about the process of doing anything well (which is a prerequisite to getting anywhere good in the first place). And soon I found that that stint gave me the confidence to quit the job and then choose to write.

Since i have chosen to write I had to do a good job of it anyway. And once I started doing it to the best of my capability it opened up enough energy to align all my other skills, talents, qualifications. Funnily all the seemingly pointless things that we do in our lives add up in the big picture finally when we decide to do a good job with one.

To get them all together, for your best benefit, I feel that one driving passion is required. One passion that you fully commit to - before the doors open. Isn't it the same with love?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Indirom - Great Opportunity for Aspiring Indian Writers

For new aspiring writers looking to get published, here is a wonderful opportunity. Indirom is a new publishing venture that offers opportunities for aspiring writers (and established writers) in the genre of South Asian romance. What makes Indirom so attractive for new South Asian writers is the fact that they seek to make the entire publishing business so much more accessible, transparent and easier to deal with than the conventional publishing industry. Publishing a book in India is like dealing with a faceless and difficult industry which has a set of rules that are difficult to understand and fathom. From writing the proposal to approaching publishers, rejections, publication, contracts, distribution issues, payment of royalties – it could well take out all the creative juice out of the writer, especially a new writer. Getting writer-friendly publishers is a major pain point in India.

This is exactly the pain point that publishers like Indirom seek to address. They are easily accessible - one can approach them on the email with a proposal or a query. But what was most impressive to me from a writer point of view is that even the writing part is easy because they want novellas which are about 15,000 – 20,000 words in length (as opposed to your full length novel is required to be in the 60,000 –70,000 word length). This is a fantastic size for the new novelist. What is more – Indirom has a blue print for the story that can be followed while writing and then they are willing to mentor you. The submission guidelines are simple with a synopsis and the first five pages of the novel.

If I was a new writer I’d be jumping at this opportunity. In fact I am jumping at this opportunity even now after two regular novels published because it gives me an opportunity to write romantic novels of a novella size which can then translate into bigger ideas for television of movies. This is a genre that will keep me at the job of writing popular fiction.

Promoted by two highly qualified and well experienced promoters Shanti Dominic and Naheed Hassan, Indirom goes with the apt byline “Romance for the South Asian soul”. Shanti is an Electronics Engineer who has worked with multi nationals across the globe and her areas of expertise have been wealth management and private banking. Naheed is a Management and Strategy consultant with global exposure, holds an MPA from Harvard, B.Sc. Economics from University of London and MBA from the Institute of Business Administration. She is also a freelance writer with a long standing commitment to writing. Together they hope to make Indirom a means of self-expression for the South Asian writer, and the e-books, something for the readers to identify their own environment with. I know Shanti from her days at the JNTU, Hyderabad, when she was studying with my brother and I do think this is a great new venture that should do well. In fact, since the stories are only 15,000 – 20,000 words, and since romance is an evergreen theme, their books could well be a pipeline of stories for movie makers.

Here are the details about Indirom for the benefit of any new writers wishing to write. For more details you could contact

Indirom writers:
Indirom is looking for male and female writers who can write romance novellas that have a South Asian appeal. Writers can be experienced or first timers –prior experience is not necessary. Should be able to express themselves correctly and creatively in the English language and be able to write a compelling story.

Submission Schedule
Indirom accepts only previously unpublished submissions which have not been sent to any other publishing outfit. Only electronic submissions in Word format. Submissions to be sent to
As a first step, writers to submit minimum of a one page synopsis of the proposed story and the first 5 pages/ first chapter of the novella to Indirom.
All submissions will be reviewed and the Indirom team will revert back within 2 weeks to the writer, with either an offer letter or regrets.
Once selected the writer will receive feedback on storyline and central theme within a week. Indirom and the writer will sign a legal contract with compensation details.