Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
By Anand Ramachandran. Some of you will recognize the inspiration for the title, some of you won't. That's fine, right?
The Suresh Kalmadi - Mike Hooper spat has degenerated into 'beyond ridiculous'. Kalmadi has always been a great source of entertainment over the years (anyone remember the Afro-Asian games, and the speech he gave there?), but this time, he's got some competition from one of his colleagues, A.K.Kesri. Here's a scan of a letter Mr.Kesri wrote to the chairman of the OCCWG, from today's INdian Express. (Thanks to @abithaanandh for the keen spot. She has an eye for this kind of thing, she's the one who discovered Hungama for us.) Do click on the image for a full-size version. Trust me, it's worth it.
Among my favourite parts are "fortunately I escaped from damage to my spectacles" and "always whistling during his movements in the office building", but you will surely find many others to your tastes. Stunning stuff.
Actually, the whole affair seems to be an adult version of a 'Miss! He's taking my pencil box, miss!' type of incident so commonly experienced during the primary school years. To be fair to Hooper, however, I must admit that it is Senor Kalmadi, Herr Bhanot and others who are leading the childishness sweepstakes at the moment.
The reasons given by Mr.Kalmadi calling for Hooper's ouster have been, in a nutshell, that Hooper has been of no use, he has been rude to OC personnel, demoralizing them with negative feedback and that he has been an impediment to work on the games.
This can be roughly reworded as follows :
"Miss! He's useless boy miss!"
"Miss! He's talking bad of me and using bad words, miss."
"Miss! he's not letting me do my work, miss."
But since the gentlemen, and I use the term very loosely, who are involved in this unsightly brouhaha are only corresponding through letters and press-releases, I think it would perhaps be more appropriate to look at the issue from that POV.
My dear Mr.Hooper,,
You are useless. You are spoiling my birthday party. So please leave our school. Go back to your old school.
I'm not useless. You're only useless. You always make things very late. Your party will be late and boring.
Shut up. You always tell bad things to my friends and use bad language. You're a bad boy. I tell to principal.
You shut up. Principal is my uncle, so you can't do anything. I'll tell him you're stupid and you're always late for everything everytime.
Hooper, mein su-su karoonga thumhare sar ke ooper.
And so on. I think all of them should be sent to detention, and the party cancelled.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
by Anand Ramachandran
I've watched a lot of cricket over the past few years, sometimes alone, sometimes with knowledgeable cricket-analyzing friends who will spend the time between overs discussing the biomechanics of the square cut or the quality of top-soil required for a track that will spin on day four. I love it.
But nothing even comes close to my childhood cricket-watching experiences, when watching a game meant watching it with my dad and a group of uncles whose love for the game was matched only by the depth of their collective bias.
This was during the mid-eighties, when India, buoyed by a world cup victory followed by a few successive tournament wins, suddenly gave their fans cause for optimism. Hey – finally, despite the presence of Madan Lal and Ashok Malhotra in the team, we believed we could win cricket matches against the very best teams, except the West Indies. My uncles were probably a part of the first generation of the 'we must win every game, take a wicket every over, hit every ball for four – otherwise we suck' category of Indian cricket fan that is so commonly found today.
They were an imposing bunch – bank managers, insurance company head honchos, and NRIs of uncertain occupation (oh, he is with some big company in Muscat). You couldn't disagree with them, unless you were one of them. Their wives would grumpily serve coffee, mutter under their breaths and retreat to the safety of the kitchen. The kids would never dare to admit they liked Craig McDermott or Carl Hooper or Richard Hadlee if that specific player was out of favour with the 'grand council'. Deep down, you suspected that they didn't know all that much about cricket and were sure that they had no actual say in team selection or match scheduling. But I don't think they had any such doubts – they gathered, snacked, and let fly with some of the most colourful, memorable, and sometimes downright bizarre cricket-based utterances of all time.
Most of them seemed to pull off the rather impressive feat of believing that India was simultaneously the best and the worst team in the world. “Useless fellows!”, someone would thunder after a heartbreaking loss. “They should stop playing cricket altogether for a few years” - as though depriving the team of international competition would somehow ensure that they would suddenly discover a winning formula. Yet, despite this evident negativity, they expected India to win every single game, in the manner of devoted parents sincerely believing that their dullish son would one day achieve exam scores that were disproportionate to his skill levels, and prove that he was better than Sanjay Dugar, or whoever was the designated 'first-rank' boy in class. This expectation of non-stop success from team India is about as fair as expecting Harbhajan Singh to rack up a test match batting average in the low fifties, yet, thanks to the efforts of the early fans, the thought process continues unabated to this day.
One of the uncles, a particularly opinionated gent, (he was senior management at TVS or some other South Indian business giant, and was probably used to every single one of his opinions being enthusiastically agreed with by an army of safari-suit clad subordinates) was known for his impulsive and emotional responses to events on the pitch. A misfield would result in “Amarnath should be sacked immediately”, causing my young mind to conjure up pictures of BCCI officials hurriedly running on to the field to convey the bad news to Jimmy, who would then sadly trot off, and play no further part in the match. A good catch would result in “He is the only fellow who is playing for the team. Sack everyone else and make him the captain.”, a suggestion that essentially meant that the athletic fielder would be skipper of a team that had no other players. I can only hope that my uncle's management style at work did not reflect his cricket team selection views – it would have resulted in a number of junior managers at TVS losing their jobs because they had forgotten to bring their pens, or neglected to berate the peon over his shoddy footwear.
Their favourite players were also expected to be granted immunity from being dismissed leg-before. If my father's opinion of every single lbw decision given against Sachin Tendulkar is to be taken seriously, then his (Sachin's, not my father's) test average would be 66.87. Include close run-out calls, dodgy caught-behinds, and catches close to the ground, and it inches closer to 75. If my dad could figure out a way to somehow introduce an element of doubt to the times Tendulkar has been out clean bowled, his average would probably be around 3269.53. Well above that pesky Bradman, who only played against mediocre attacks, anyway.
But despite believing that K.Srikkanth was better than Sunil Gavaskar, despite insisting that umpires from Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies and England (other than Dickie Bird) were cheats, despite claiming that Hindi commentary has dismissed more Indian batsmen than Wasim Akram has, these were men who loved their cricket, and made sure that a bunch of us youngsters inherited that love. Thank you gentlemen – watching the games with you was a blast.
Right, time to go now. Need to find a way to blame Atul Wassan for India's early exit from the Champion's Trophy.