Jun 21, 2010

F*ck Vuvuzela

Ok. We're already 11 days into FIFA WC 2010. & the pain, let me tell you, has been unbearable from the 1st day. I was stuck in office when SA commenced with the first match, watching it online. I was pissed by the noise channel brought alongwith the commentary, or so i thought. Changed to 2nd channel, then to third - all the same. Television back home - same. Couple of days later, it was all over net & news.

Some adjectives bestowed, courtesy of the BBC: It is like "a herd of stampeding elephants", "the drone of a thousand bees, or the sound of a goat being dragged to slaughter". Or "like a cow being given a surprise enema" as the TimesColonist puts it.

To me: it's just an unbearable pain in the ars !!

They can produce a record level of noise, 130 dB. FYI - 120 dB is considered threshold of pain. British BBC, ESPN & several broadcasters world over received several complaints from viewers. FIFA thought, only for a moment, to ban it. Online Ban petitions & all that usual crap.

In Cape Town, stores sell special earplugs called Vuvu-Stop, to mitigate the noise level of 31 dB. Each package is accompanied by the inscription on the reverse side: "The highly effective tool for noise reduction. Used on football and rugby or fencing with the sound of your wife." [Source]

As noted by Wikipedia, the ear shattering device, In the wake of the 2010 World Cup, has been banned from a number of stadiums and events, including tennis matches at Wimbledon, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and baseball games at Yankee Stadium.

Other Vuvu reads
Vuvuzela: Love it or ban it
How to Silence Vuvuzela Horns in World Cup Broadcasts

& I couldn't agree more with the pic below.

Jun 12, 2010

The Gift !

He never fashioned pocket money. His parents held the point that he could have whatever he wanted, whenever he asked for it. It was a genuine trade-off, he thought, but deprived him of something alluring for a kid his age.

Back in those summers, they were both at their Uncles', the only house that belonged to the family as one, he, & his cousin, 2 years elder & thrice as chirpy as his dummy self. Their uncle, well paid off as he was, was fat & rusty, like one of those typical Indian middle-class moustached family heads. He was well known to have maintained a hefty bundle of big papers of money in his trouser's pocket, even back then.

They thought it wouldn't be too bad if they took just of those big notes. Just one. None would happen to notice. No fuss. & they'd lavishly enjoy their lull vacations. Video games struck them most. Contra (2 Players). Street fighter. & then there was always that Nepal visit looming they were all gonna go. Yeah, they decided. It's not a bad idea to salvage our grandeur with something entirely unnoticeable.

He, & his accomplice, chalked it out. The elder would keep a watch, raise a flag when the time is ripe, & he had the big responsibility to get up on the bed, reach the pocket, dig out whatever laid within, pull out one (just one), & replace the rest back in just as it was, & then vanish somewhere to calm down their jolting hearts. It went precisely as planned.

Problems followed, as with all crimes. They landed up on a Rs. 500/- note. Damn! What would they do with such a big thing. They were as if stuck with the impossible task of using a Gold brick which was hard to ingest for tiny folks like themselves. They couldn't use it on a shop that knew them even remotely, couldn't buy candies (how many 25 paise candies would you buy with a fucking 500 !). A headache. By the way, the elder reported hearing minor discussions on the missing note. But no fuss followed. The elder reprimanded him for picking up this cursed big note. He was too dumb to make a balanced choice of stealing & not stealing big at the same time. He was always dumb. Still is, at many fronts.

Finally, as professional thieves, the loot was halved somehow. 250 ! which was still too high an amount for a ten-some child. He has been keenly impressed by those Gillette shaving stuff adverts that came afresh those days. He declared right away he'd gonna spend the money on a Gillette shaving kit, which would a present for his dad's b'day next month. The elder went tongs & hammer on him, trying to explain to him how miserable he would be to account for the funds when it'll be asked; & beyond doubt, there will be the moment of accounting, that's for sure in families like ours. He went furious, & declared he's gonna do it, no matter what. Later though, he realized big bro ain't wrong after all & he'd be digging his own grave if he pursued.

The cursed big money lingered on, difficult to hide, too dear to loose. By the way, he even thought to replace it back. But yes it would be suicidal to place back something that's missing. He also wished he hadn't done it after all, cause it gave no pleasure. Money can't buy everything - as they say.

Finally they visited Nepal, the tiny town of Mahendranagar, on the foots of blissful River Sharda. It was pretty much a town of toys & aplenty goodies. Shops, shops & shops. What a splendid place to spend !! To get rid of the steal. Wow !! Sneaking past the careful watch of all others, they both went to a pretty looking shop. What to pick ! Quick ! He noticed a very tiny deck of cards, with nude girls on them. Well, he was lured but intelligent enough to keep away from stuff like that. Somehow, he laid his eyes on a shiny Golden-Black Musical Lighter. He didn't smoke then. Neither did he plan smoking on his calender for near or infinite future. Still, he liked the look & feel of it. Color, Music, the unabated electric flame was all too mesmerizing. What he was gonna do with it - he didn't care. He had to get rid of that damned money, & lighter looked good too. Elder gave a cautious glare, which he ignored in entirety with a "fuck you !" tone. Job well done !

Not sure how much did he spend on that lighter he gifted himself. Not sure what he did with the rest of the money, if at all any was spared. For years, that lighter lay hidden in that little drawer of his collectibles.

One fine noon as he returned from school, his mother asked him about the lighter. He was scared to death. Mother's in this part of the world are omniscient. Yes they are !!

Where did you get it from ?
I bought it from Nepal then/there [ sob sob (eyes+nose) ]...
What for ? [eyes almost popping out from fury ]
I wanted to buy it...
& do what with it ?
Gift it to grandpa [ That's the best lie he ever told !! Grandpa smoked - for good ]

No further questions. About money or anything. Child bought something, a souvenir to gift his grandfather. Oh my sweet child. Best kid in the whole goddamn world.
For once, he was happy he was smart enough to save his own ars.

Now that we are going to visit Grandpa, do give him your gift. You should have given it much earlier.
Yes ma...

He watched him light his cigarette with that magnificent flame, & adorable music lingered in the air for a while. For a few years to follow, he watched it lie in a drawer, old, shattered, battered, finished.

He shouldn't have it, he ponders. Childhood is meant to be that way, he reassured himself.

PS: This dates back to somewhere around 1993-95. Summers. The child, is me.

May 30, 2010

Book Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I've been lucky enough to live in a marvelously literary world, with beautiful books still being penned. I love fiction because it's more inclined towards unparalleled realism (yeah i know that's a paradox). Fiction, in it's literal context, would mean a tale crafted upon imagination. A tale unthinkable, completely dissimilar to real life motivations, is the extremest defining criteria of the Fiction section. After Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, this piece of writing makes me realize yet again how capable a book is, to lift & take one's thoughts into another world, a fictitious world, which the writer intends to craft out.

In a post-apocalyptic world, a nameless father walks with his son, in quest of finding the last good that might have been spared of humanity. He holds a gun to salvage themselves from the big dark ash laden world. His son is all that he has left for bleak motivation. & the child, ignorant of how the world has been as we know; yet he does know how to love his father, he's ingenuinely compassionate to a false world, he knows fear pretty well. They walk, & they walk; things unfold & complicate as their journey proceeds. The best father words can portray; the best son a pen can describe. The worst of situations one can think of in his wildest dreams.

I'm not inadvertent to being teary eyed. & that is precisely what i was while reading the closing pages of the book. A remarkable story with startling simple truths of life we all behold. Our basic fears. & an unimagined end to the entire journey.

The novel was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction in 2006. Last fall, a movie was crafted on it as well.

A short read. Recommended to one & all.

Mar 15, 2010

Jadu ki Chadi

It came & it went off, with a disheartenment matching the excitement of arrival. Sehwag promised to be there. A father portrayed imparting into his son the tricks of the "Jadu ki Chadi". "Phir Dil do Hockey ko !!"

Okay. For once, every Indian must have been fond of our media seemingly so rightly appreciating our downtrodden magic lunge. & by lord, every heart on this land must have cradled optimism of how we will lift that trophy again after long bereavement, & bring back the so-called glory back.

We are unsure of our squad, barring a few boys. We are doubtful of the duration a hockey match lasts. We might have never seen a hockey being used actually apart from boyish tussles of furor.

Now, What we do know is that we have a spanish coach. What we do know is that our team crushed our only beloved opponent in a way our chests throbbed with pride. What we do know is that this win followed a 2lakh prize money for each player on squad in addition to immeasurable praise. What we do know is that there's an Australian monopoly here as well, which crushed our frontline striker into a ban of 2 matches for apparently no fault of his. & What we hoped for that point onwards was an unstoppable journey towards the title. We never flinched. We were sure. Not mere optimistic. Precise Surety for once.

[[ Quote: A hindi national daily posted a comic strip after Indo-Pak match which read "Ye match to jeet liya. Ab world-cup mile na mile koi pharak nahin padta." ]]

& then, out of nowhere, embarked the startling reality. Yes, it was hard, & Yes, it was shattering. Game Over !!
A war lost. Players lashed; foreign coach blamed. aplenty coverage & editorials - quite befitting in a country as expectant as ours.

To be true to my soul, for the 2nd time in my life, i felt pity for my neighbors. Finishing 12th in a tournament of 12 teams, i can empathize why an entire 18 men flanked pool of talent would voyage to retirement just because their's is the only nation "Hungrier" that ours when it comes to performing with under-prepared, & over-pressured guts. You might shrug me as a pessimist, but it gave a feeling of a mass suicide.

Anyways, it was a loss. What was pleasingly satisfying was that around me, i could see a massive twirl of interest & anticipation towards the game of Hockey. What "changed" this leap was the way & depth the entire television media covered the World Cup. What was inspiring was that we were saddened with losses that came our way, rather that being indifferent as always.

I ain't a hockey fan. Never was. Nor am i noticeable. But i'm a hard-bound nationalist. & i was happy the way it went. If you were nevertheless irrevocably uninterested in the game despite all efforts made, i deeply wish & pray that there aren't many like yourself.

Mar 14, 2010

Recent Past

There were days when i was gloomy in my head, drooling in overworked psyche, & too tired to focus on vehicles passing by, as i drove late at night. And time flew by in superlatives.

Trotted past one single novel in 6-7 months; friend bought a hefty tagged D-SLR, another friend blinked on the shores of a possible love marriage; Cell phone bills; credit card payments; some minutes of television before much needed sleep; Some cricket India played, not sure against whom; some nice EPL goals; Rahul Mahajan in a swayamvar, & bits i called glue together in passage of time. Leave the above mentioned apart, & I've been 100% detached with life off work.

Workaholic - may be. Tired - for sure.
Background Image of blog template got ripped off net. & i came to know only after a friend advised me to delete the penis-enlargement ad posted in my blog comments. & then came an emphatic gasp "Wow ! I've been really busy."

Work is mystifying. & Praise inspiring. Challenges, some of them, call for anything & everything that is worth trading for some piece of good work. But what's prized the most is the companionship. In times of crazy workload, in those minutes of frustrated hustle, in anxiety of those itsy-bitsy achievements or murderous mistakes. Beyond ranks, beyond knowledge gaps, beyond years of experience, stands to exist a patronage of leaders of men; fearlessly, seamlessly, nonchalantly performing the task they are best at.

Treacherous busy roads calls for a lull, as in a long sleep after an insomniac week. Splendid home-cooked meals, some "champi" in that head by the lady you were born of, television, company of people you love, & sleep, lots & lots of it. & then you are back, rejuvenated with rest, with thoughts, with plans, with dreams, with spirits, & with immense desire to be back at work - doing, what you supposedly do best !!