Thursday, January 31, 2008

Definitely Wrong

One thing I've always noticed about astrologers and other people who claim to predict the future (including stock market analysts) is that they never stick their necks out and say anything concrete which can be of any use.

So when Orkut tells me that "You are next in line for promotion in your firm", I feel happy that finally somebody/some software has made unambiguous prediction for my future. Which brings me to the point of why you don't find so many straightforward predictions : the chances of it going wrong are greater, like the prediction above which is a candidate for the joke of the day in my office.

The Dust Has Not Settled

Just when everybody had started thinking that India’s tour of Australia was limping towards normalcy, the powers that be in world cricket have worked extra time to ensure that the excitement doesn’t die out.

The BCCI, having realized that Bollywood might be its greatest source of cash in the future after the sale of the IPL teams, has gone to great lengths to show them that they too can script filmy climaxes. BCCI top bosses certainly feel that they belong to the same league as the Khans and the Zintas.

They have also shown us that they simply cannot rise above being petty-minded politicians. Expecting these people to understand concepts like ‘justice’ and ‘interest of game’ is like expecting the buffalo to understand the Vedas. In playing the game of brinksmanship by keeping the team on standby to fly back if Justice Hansen’s decision did not go in favour of India, the BCCI has torn to pieces all claims of moral high ground that India had.

The sad fact is that BCCI’s actions will find huge support in India. Many would be saying, ‘Serves them right.’ For many, it would be a way of getting back at the Australians for what happened at Sydney. What many would be forgetting is that the umpiring and lack of sportsmanship of the Aussies in the Sydney test and the Symonds-Harbhajan issue are two separate things altogether. In the first one, the facts of the matter are clear as daylight and India has every reason to feel wronged. In the second one, however, what transpired is not very clear. The only thing that is clear is that there isn’t sufficient evidence to ban Harbhajan Singh for 3 test matches.

The BCCI, obviously, felt that their cause was just and they went about using every means they had at their disposal to ensure that the decision went in India’s favour. My feeling is that BCCI’s actions would have had little or no bearing on Justice Hansen’s judgment – the case against Harbhajan was flimsy, to put it mildly. But in doing what it did, not only has the BCCI damaged beyond repair all its claims of ‘respect for the law and its processes’ but also committed the same mistakes that we have been accusing the Australians of making – any means as long you end up on the winning side.

You cannot walk out during the middle of the game saying that you don’t agree to the rules of the game. This is exactly what the BCCI would have been doing had Team India flown back from Australia. If anything, an unfavourable verdict would have reflected poorly on BCCI who was party to the framing of the rules and procedures concerning this entire saga. The honourable thing to do would have been to go to the ICC and demand a change in the rule books so that such incidents wouldn’t occur in the future.

The Australians are no saints in this matter and a criticism of their actions throughout this incident would run to a couple of hundred words more than this one. Their posturing and gamesmanship off the field have been nothing short of disgusting. Their endorsement of the ugly practice of sledging threatens to make bad behaviour on the field legitimate and somehow ‘part of the game’. However, this does not give Harbhajan Singh any right to indulge in any kind of abuse. If it is proved that he did call Symonds a monkey, then I believe that it was racist and he should be punished for it. And the BCCI should have the balls to accept it and not indulge in brinksmanship of the lowest kind.

It is truly unfortunate that the enthusiasm of the BCCI to go to the extremes in cases where there are political points to be scored is not to be seen in areas which truly require their enthusiasm. Their interpretation of the idea of supporting and standing up for the players is flawed, at best. Domestic cricket is in a pathetic state and the facilities that the young players have to put up with are pathetic. Of course, nobody is going to give Sharad Pawar votes for improving the quality of the pitch for the Tripura-Goa Ranji Trophy match. But the gains that he stands to make by ‘protecting the honour of Indians’ are immense.

Update 1: The BCCI has denied charges of hiring a chartered flight to take the players to India and has also asked its players to behave themselves.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


(i) No google, no wiki. These are extremely simple questions and they were not designed to be google-wiki proof.

(ii) Send in your answeres to

Some of these questions (the better ones) are courtesy Mathew and Arjun.

1. NYKline, Hanjin, P&O Nedlloyd, Hyundai, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd are all companies engaged in which business?

2. This element’s soft, blue luminescence earned it a name derived from the Latin word for a ray of light. It was used to paint glow-in-the-dark instrument panels and clock faces until the painters noticed it seemed to kill them - despite prior warnings from the element's discoverer about not putting radioactive things in their mouth, they shaped the paintbrushes with their lips.

3. Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal in FIFA World Cup ’86 is (in)famous. Against which team did Maradona score this fatal goal?

4. According to legend, this city was created by mythological king Putraka by magic for his queen Patali, which literally means Trumpet flower. The history of this city starts around 490 BC when Ajatashatru, the king of Magadha shifted his capital to a more strategically advantageous location to fight his main enemies, the Lichavis. The city got its present name during the rule of Shershah Suri in the 16th century. Give both the ancient and present names.

5. * Tuvalu is a tiny Pacific island, (the fourth smallest in the world and the smallest member of the UN in terms of population). However, with the internet boom, this country started reporting a surge in cash inflow amounting to USD 4 million a year. What ‘national asset’ was the reason for this?

6. This list has a name. It is very specific and exhaustive. Give me the exact name.

Shadja 1

Rishabha 9/8

Gandhara 5/4

Madhyama 972/729

Panchama 3/2

Dhaivata 5/3

Nishada 15/8

7. * The first cloned sheep was called Dolly. When scientists at the Seoul National University (SNU) created the world’s first cloned dog, what did they name the newborn puppy?

8. Which is the largest Indian company in terms of revenues?

9. According to Greek mythology, what happened when the Goddess of marriage (Hera, sister of Zeus) spilt some milk while suckling her child Heralces?

For such a small event, the consequences were astronomical!

10. Which organization’s motto is ‘Touching the Sky with Glory’?

Monday, January 28, 2008

The (Second) Comeback

After much indecision and deliberation I have finally decided to resume blogging. I have promised myself that I will make a conscious effort to update my blog regularly. People who have had the misfortune of reading my posts before will remember that I had made such promises before. But this time I promise that I will stick to the promise - at least until I decide to break the promise.

The problem with a promise to keep posting is that you are never sure when you have broken the promise. As mechanical engineers would never tire of telling, ‘what cannot be measured cannot be controlled’. So in order to have some control over my promise, I am setting a target for posts – I promise to make at least 2 posts a week (I had originally intended to put that number as 3 per week. I hope it doesn’t go down further). However, I make no guarantees about the size or quality of the posts. So I would consider myself to have stuck to my side of the bargain if I make three posts in a week containing one word each. Meanwhile, you can continue encouraging me through your comments. An occasional ‘you are the best’ or ‘I love you’ (strictly from girls only) thrown in may just have the effect of helping me exceed my target as well.

As readers of my previous posts would have noticed, I have deleted all my previous posts. I have two reasons for that:

1. I wanted to make a fresh start

2. I was extremely embarrassed by the content and quality of writing in the previous posts

The second reason, I am assured by some well meaning friends and a certain Mr. Orhan Pamuk, is very natural for people engaging in ‘creative’ pursuits. Pamuk writes in My Name is Red about a master painter in medieval Turkey who, in a state of detachment from his works of art brought about by senility, goes about finding and destroying his masterpieces. He finds all his acclaimed masterpieces revolting and embarrassing.

I am no writer and my ‘works’ are read by probably ten people in the whole world. But, from not having read my blog for many months, I had the privilege of feeling the detachment that the master painter experienced. Then I saw what people reading my blog were actually reading. 10 minutes later, my fingers were aching from hitting the delete button.

Now we come to the content of my blog. One thing I was pained to notice when I went through the old posts was that there was too much self-obsessed writing in it. I don’t think I can totally avoid doing it – after all, blogging is but another name for blowing your own trumpet – but I’ll definitely keep it to a minimum.

Now that I have completed the easier task of making unreasonable assurances, I am moving on to the difficult task of delivering something regularly. Hmm.. reminds me I have to call up and remind the Airtel broadband guy to come.