Random Thoughts 7

• Does Father Time suddenly look at the date and find it’s December 31 and say: Oh God! A year has ended; let me change the luck/fortune of this world/country/person/group?
That decade was so… 2009 was so… are such artificial constructs. Fortunes and eras don’t wait for a date, beginning and ending at any time they please. They could last for a second, 17 days, 8 months, 13.5 years or 7.34567 decades.

• The world did not end at the turn of the millennium. The world will not end in December 2012. I think a lot of people keep hoping that the world will come to an end… it sure beats the concept of suicide!

• Does a New Year’s Day really change anything? Does every Birthday really change your perspective? Does an anniversary change fortunes? For me there are only two types of days: Holidays and Working Days. Any other classification is irrelevant.

• Why a New Year Resolution? Why not a New Month Resolution or a New Week Resolution or a New Day Resolution or a Mid-Day Resolution?

• Did You Know? Today is the 1000th anniversary of the Japanese Emperor Go-Suzaku turning 17 days old!

• If Saturday and Sunday is the Weekend, then Monday should be called the Weekendend.

© Sunil Rajguru

Contradictions of 2009

“It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us…”

The opening of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, 1859

Barack Obama
It was the best of choices,
it was the worst of choices…

(+) Seldom have we seen a US Presidential candidate look so fresh and talk such sense with tonnes of charisma to boot. Obama won not because he was an African-American candidate, but because he represented a fundamental Change.
(-) Seldom have we seen a Nobel Peace Prize candidate who had done so little. I mean sure, this category has been controversial. But people have worked decades (or at least years) before they got it. Obama was a fortnight into the job when he was nominated.

Swine Flu
It was the greatest of threats,
it was the littlest of threats…

(-) When the scare came, all the media was full of dire warnings. Face masks were seen all across airports. Then those umpteen ads, banners, articles, statistics… One thought that millions would get affected and die of it.
(+) But what actually finally happened? It claimed about 10,000 deaths. While every single human life is precious, where does Swine Flu compare to Tuberculosis, AIDS, malnutrition…
Did you know? Every year, hundreds of thousands of people die of the normal flu.

Iceland
It was the best of economies,
it was the worst of economies…

(+) Pre-Recession. Its growth from 2003-07 saw it become a financial power and in 2008 it ranked Number 1 in the world in the UN Human Development Index, a sign of how developed a country really is.
(-) Post-Recession. At the beginning of 2009, the government fell over the way they handled the financial crisis. All three of the country’s major banks collapsed, making it relatively the largest sufferer of the recession. There was talk of Iceland going bankrupt as the national debt inched to the levels of Iceland’s GDP.

Pakistan and America
They were the best of friends,
they were the worst of friends…

(+) America and Pakistan are the best of friends. America consistently snubs India for Pakistan. America gives Pakistan billions of dollars, arms, concessions… Pakistan on its part fights terrorists and helps America as much as it can.
(-) The truth is that this is only what the two governments see and no-one else. Pakistan still harbours terrorists, and listens to America unwillingly. The Pakistan people hate America and the American people are suspicious of Pakistan. The alliance is getting more and more uneasy by the day.
Note: Not just a 2009 phenomenon, but goes way back.

The Government of India
It was the strongest of governments,
it was the weakest of governments…

(+) 2009 saw the Year of the Congress party when it reclaimed power at the centre stronger and wiser with the support of lesser allies. There was talk of coming to power alone in 2014. The BJP was vanquished at the centre and falling at the states. You can’t get stronger than that in today’s day and age.
(-) Yet the Congress found itself weaker than previous governments on the issues of the US, China, Pakistan and Climate Change. Their decision on Telangana is another sign of weakness and may have well opened another Pandorra’s Box on the further disintegration of states.

The Indian Cricket Team
It was the worst of teams,
it was the best of teams…

(-) In the 2009 T20 World Cup, the defending champions could not even make it to the Final 8! Could things get any worse than that! T20: Rock Bottom.
(+) 2009 was also the year when India attained the Number 1 ranking in both Tests and ODIs. Something unthinkable a few years back. ODI & Tests: Top of the Pops!

Sri Lanka’s Cricket Tour of Pakistan
It was the best of choices,
it was the worst of choices…

(+) When the perennial bad guys for Pakistan, arch-enemy India, pulled out of a tour, there were brickbats all over. Then Sri Lanka stepped in and took all the bouquets. They understood what it was to be a victim of terrorism and India was like a big bad brother for them too. Imran Khan said for the millionth time: A cricket team will never be attacked in Pakistan. There was great Lanka-Pakistan bonhomie.
(-) The brazen attack on the Sri Lankan team left the whole world shell-shocked. International cricket plunged to new depths. On hindsight: What was the Sri Lankan board thinking? They looked like they were trying to spite the Indian board. And was the attack meant for the Indian team in the first place? But the worst image was that of the PCB chairman fuming at a press conference as if they were the aggrieved party.

BJP Leader LK Advani
He was the strongest of leaders,
he was the weakest of leaders…

(+) For years, Advani strode like a colossus. The man who led the BJP from a mere 2 seats in 1984 to a sizeable number in the nineties… The man of the Rath Yatra… The New Iron Man of India… The man with no alternative after Vajpayee…
(-) That’s how he began the year. But he ended it at the nadir, becoming the so-called best Prime Minister which India never had. The BJP hurtled from one disaster to another and at the end of it was left with no issues, no strong leaders, no goodwill and no ideas. This was not supposed to be the Advani legacy …

© Sunil Rajguru

5 great Indian cricketers of the past decade…

1. Anil Kumble
Why: Because you cannot take winning at home for granted.
Kumble’s greatest curse was that we took him for granted. Always. India wins at home. We have spinning tracks. We will win no matter who comes and who plays. It’s not as easy as that. We still have to go and take 20 wickets every match. If you sit and count the number of Test matches each player has won for his country, then Kumble would have a lion’s share. A victory is a victory no matter where it comes from. And for the record, before he retired, he improved his performance on foreign soil too. Then there’s also his record 10-wicket haul in an innings.

2. Rahul Dravid
Why:
Because he was always there in India’s most critical moments.
Kolkata 2001. Leeds 2002. Adelaide 2003. Rawalpindi 2004. Kingston 2006. Perth 2008.
Some of India’s finest victories and Dravid made his contribution in all of them. Ask anyone to make a list of their greatest victories and chances are Dravid will feature heavily in most of them. To keep veering your team to historic wins is a sign of true greatness.

3. Sourav Ganguly
Why:
Because he changed the way India played.
Aggression. Professionalism. Self-belief. Faith. These are not just words. They have the power to turn ordinary teams into great ones. And this came just on the heels of the match-fixing scandal and the mediocrity that the Indian team was wallowing in. Had Ganguly not let his guard down and relaxed during the latter part of his tenure, he would have played many more matches and plotted many more victories.

4. Virendra Sehwag
Why:
Because he changed the way the game is played.
How many Test cricket openers play as if they are in an ODI match? Sehwag has a phenomenal strike rate of 80%. To put that in perspective, big hitter Test openers Chris Gayle and Mathew Hayden both stand at around 60%. (Kapil Dev and Adam Gilchrist usually used to come down the order.)  I remember in school it used to be a rare sight when India’s Test run rate would cross 3 runs per over. Recently, we almost touched 6 on the opening day. Sehwag has single-handedly changed the way India plays Test matches. He can still be the first man to hit 3 Test Triples. And for the record, he rocks in ODIs and T20s too.

5. Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Why:
Victory. Victory. Victory.
A T20 World Cup. More than half a dozen bilateral ODI series victories. A world record of being undefeated in his first 10 Tests. World No. 1 in Tests. World No. 1 in ODIs. Dhoni has already boldy gone where no India captain has gone before and he’s just started. For detractors who say a captain is only as good as his team, the nucleus of the team was playing cricket for 5-10 years even before Dhoni made his debut. What changed now? The answer is Dhoni. Victories beat records any day and Dhoni so far has proved to be a Victory Magnet. A point also missed is that he has also been the No. 1 ODI batsman for a record number of weeks now.

© Sunil Rajguru

The way we see Sachin…

Sachin enters the pitch.
Commentator: And this is the 50,000th time Sachin is entering a cricket pitch!

Sachin waits at the non-strikers end looking at Sehwag.
Commentator: And this is the 250th time Sachin is at the non-striker’s end!

Sehwag hits the ball and Sachin runs.
Commentator: And this is the 15,000th time Sachin is running a run for his partner.

Sachin plays a dot ball.
Commentator: And this is the 20,000th dot ball Sachin has played in his life!

Sachin hits a 4.
Commentator: And this is his 2000th ODI 4 and 3000th overall!

Sachin takes a single.
Commentator: And this is his 5000th single, what a record! What a player!

Sachin sips water from a bottle.
Commentator: And my statistician has just informed me that Sachin has just completed 20 years, 20 weeks, 20 days, 20 hours and 20 minutes of his international career! Wow! Gush!

Sehwag hits a 6.
Second Commentator: And what a glorious shot! Whenever…
Our original commentator cutting him short: …Sachin plays alongside him, Sehwag plays his best! What an inspirational player Sachin is!

Sachin…
Commentator

Moral of the story: Most surveys will show Sachin Tendulkar to be the greatest cricketer of all time. But there are other not so invisible players who do great deeds and a team’s victories are greater than the sum of all records.

© Sunil Rajguru

6 noisy and Indian things I simply don’t understand…

• Putting up a pandal with a million-watt speaker all day and night at any time of the year for any religious festival and for any kind of celebration bang in the middle of a dense residential area.

• Millions of cars honking billions of times a day for no rhyme or reason on congested dusty roads.

• People disturbing everyone around them by shouting on the mobile or landline as if the person they are talking to is a million miles way.

• Putting a car stereo on full blast… if I can hear it so clearly, then is the person inside deaf by now?

• Shouting, screaming and laughing loudly at fine dining restaurants and creating an even bigger nuisance if drunk.

• Whither silencers? All Indian vehicles should be called noisemakers, especially autos, trucks and bikes.

I guess for a country which doesn’t bother much about water and air pollution, expecting any kind of sensitivity on the issue of Noise Pollution is impossible…

© Sunil Rajguru

2009. Unconventional action: Instant Reaction.

• Admit to an affair and destroy a Respected Sports Icon.

• Log on to Twitter and launch a revolution.

• Sneeze and scare your entire neighbourhood.

• Smash a few atoms and scare the entire world.

• Give a fancy speech and get a Nobel Prize.

• Threaten nuclear anarchy and get a few billion dollars.

• Go on a fast and single-handedly create a State.

• Show a sleazy tape and a sack a Governor.

• Throw a shoe and retire a Minister.

© Sunil Rajguru

Random Thoughts 6

• I wish Santa Claus would distribute Joy, Hope and Happiness in little packages for a change… the world has no shortage of material gifts.

• The more Connected you are Online, the more Disconnected you are Offline. They talk of a Work-Life Balance. But what is required is an Online-Offline balance.

• The Office Laptop should come with a Statutory Warning: Usage of this device is dangerous for both health and family.

• Recession and Inflation are antonyms. And both are equally bad. No wonder the Common Man gets rammed no matter what state the economy is in.

• Off late, Reality Shows are looking more like Fiction Shows.

© Sunil Rajguru

The A to Z of Copenhagen

A cynic’s ringside view of the recently concluded Copenhagen climate summit…

One Problem: The world is getting hotter.
One Solution: Cut down on greenhouse gases.
One Roadblock: No-one really wants to do so, but all the countries are ready to spend billions of dollars and burn umpteen tonnes of greenhouse gases to hold dozens of conferences to allegedly inch forward in the form of treaties and resolutions.

A for Acting and Actors: Is anyone really interested in a deal? Everyone was merely enacting out a drama and hoping to get home soon.

B for BASIC: Brazil, America, South Africa, India, China. A so-called Copenhagen power group. But when there are more acronyms than agreements, you know you are in real trouble.

C for Chindia: China+India and their coming together briefly. But whether you like it or not, unless the world has these two countries on their side, more than 2 billion of the world’s population is out of it. Though they were arm-twisted by the US, we are still not sure what will happen in these regions.

D for Danish Text: A document that talked of “keeping average global temperature rises to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” but ended up being another battleground between the two Ds: Developed and Developing countries.

E for Everyone:
The head of the Chinese delegation said: Everyone is happy. Wow! Overstatement of the year?

F for Fredrik Reinfeldt: Who’s he? That’s what even the US thinks too, for a news report said he got an SMS saying that the deal was wrapped up even though he was still negotiating. For the record, the Swedish Prime Minister is the EU president.

G for Global Warming, for Greenhouse Effect, for Greenhouse Gas: Is Global Warming happening in the first place? If it is, will countries cut down on emissions? And if they will, will it really make a difference? We live in a very iffy world.

H for Hundred Billion Dollars:
Wow! That’s a huge sum of money! The amount rich nations are willing to pledge annually for Climate Change Aid. Wonder why no-one is impressed!

I for IPCC: The grand Nobel winner Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the United Nations. But more in the news for a report which said that the head stood to make money if there was a breakthrough in Carbon economy talks.

J for Joseph Fourier: Heard of him? Yeah, the famous mathematician. He’s the dude who started this whole thing. In 1824 he postulated something that would later be called the greenhouse effect. Do you think we can reach a deal on the 200th anniversary of this great event in 2024?

K for Kyoto Protocol: Adopted in 1997, it came into force in 2005. It will expire in 2012. What is it? Does anyone remember? I don’t.

L for (not) Legally Binding: Ha! After all the furor and subsequent agreements, we were told that whatever was decided upon was not legally binding. How convenient!

M for Mexico: If Copenhagen was COP15, then Mexico 2010 will be COP16. Wait for the drama to continue there.

N for Negotiations: Negotiate, negotiate and negotiate… compromise, compromise and compromise… dilute, dilute and dilute… then tell the world that it’s all a resounding success.

O for Obama: The difference in this summit and a big Change from Bush. He pushed and at the end of it all he told us it was a success. And we are supposed to believe him.

P for Percentages: 10%. 20%. 30%. What does it all mean? How will countries bring about those emission reductions? Who’ll check?

Q for Questions: Which were more in number than answers.

R for Rubber Stamp: We are all rubber stamps of the US. Bush rubbishes climate talks. Obama pushes climate talks. It’s all down to the whims and fancies of the US President, the rest of the world be damned.

S for South Africa: In 2011 it will be COP17. Then 18, 19, 20, 21, 22… keep counting.

T for Tuvalu: A small island which could sink in case of global warming and rising of oceans. At its highest it is 4.5 metres above sea level. A gem from its spokesman on the final Copenhagen draft: It looks like we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people and our future.

U for Urban: Urbanization. Modernization. Development. With the population increasing like crazy and more and more people living in the cities, I seriously wonder how they are going to pull the whole thing off at ground level.

V for Venezuela: One of the countries that called Copenhagen a Capitalist Conspiracy. Other countries which joined in with the name calling were: Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

W for Water: The crux of the problem after global warming reaches a critical point. Islands will start sinking, beaches will start disappearing… We will wake up The Day After.

X for Xerox: COP1 happened. Then they photocopied that and COP2 happened, Then they Xeroxed that and COP3 happened… OK I am being pessimistic. But you go through all the documents of the last couple of decades and tell me what really has changed at the ground level, apart from all the treaties and conferences that is.

Y for Yankee Imperialists: Another term the US and its lackeys got called by Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Z for Zero: One way to sum up what really happened at Copenhagen.

© Sunil Rajguru

7 reasons why Social Networking is the “Thing of the Year”

1. Facebook crosses 350 million.
That’s more accounts than email market leader Yahoo. If Facebook was a separate country, then we’d all live in virtual utopia full of lovey dovey friends and groups, no enemies, virtual gifts, quizzes that predict the future, virtual farms, water worlds, nice Tarot sessions and fortune cookies… And yeah, in numbers, that’s next only to the population of China and India.

2. US actor Ashton Kutcher gets 4 million “Followers” on Twitter.
How many did Jesus Christ have in his lifetime? What was the population of the kingdom at that time anyway? Will Kutcher state in a Lennonisque fashion: “I am more popular than…”?

3. The Most Powerful Man in the World is on LinkedIn.
And Twitter (Trailing Kutcher with close to 3 million Followers). And Facebook. (A cool 7 million supporters).
Is that why he beat Senator McCain? Great power in the online world as a launching pad? (Even if Obama doesn’t actually post the updates himself, it’s still a Huge Leap Forward for Cybermankind)

4. The high and mighty are all getting Socially Networked.
Raymond T. Odierno, the Commanding General, Multi-National Force—Iraq is on Facebook! And he’s joined by Pakistan’s former General Pervez Musharraf! Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is on Twitter? Need I say more? I could go on and on… but you get the general picture!

5. Controversies! Controversies! Controversies!
When anything enters into multiple controversies, then you know it’s time has come.
Republican Joe Wilson raised his finger to Obama and said, “You lie!” and before he knew it, a storm was unleashed on Twitter. The Internet assures an immediate and widespread backlash nowadays. (Incidentally, Wilson is also on Twitter!)
Religious leaders slammed Facebook and there was a surfeit of crimes related to these networking sites
In humble India too, where the Internet penetration is so low, there was the Shashi Tharoor Twittergate controversy, where the minister almost lost his job and the hilarious trending topic #chetanblocks related to writer Chetan Bhagat blocking a Follower.

6. Reel life and fiction.
A Twitter mention in the climax of the latest Robert Langdon adventure? Facebook in a Bollywood movie? Social Networking gained a lot of traction in 2009 and it is inspiring a lot of fiction for 2010 and beyond. Look out for Kevin Spacey produced The Social Network about the founding of Facebook. (Directed by none other than David Fincher)

7. The Uber Cyber Ego.
The new age Ego Search was the Google Search. But now here’s something even better…
How are you feeling? What are you eating? Do you have a headache? Are you stuck in a traffic jam?
Is anyone interested? Well even if they are not, then you can make sure a few thousand people at least know about it. If you’re a celebrity, make that millions—all without a newspaper, TV channel or a personal website. A handful of social networking accounts will do the trick.

© Sunil Rajguru

Random Thoughts 5

· Man was not made in the image of God, but in the image of the Quantum Particle: Unpredictable, schizophrenic and linked together with his fellow men in ways that one cannot even begin to comprehend.

· In a Limited Overs Cricket team, there should be 10 batsmen/fielders and one mathematician. Put a bowling machine with umpteen permutations at the centre and let the mathematician be the bowler. Then with 10 batsmen, we can have regular scores of 500 and everyone can be happy. As it is, all the rules are killing bowlers.

· Life is simple as a child. Then you complicate things by ending up in a college and course that is prestigious rather than one that your heart wants. Your subsequent job choice based on that is a further complication. Then you get married and that’s really complicated. So is parenting. Finally you keep changing jobs and running after material things that make you the Master of Complications. Thereafter Life is a Struggle. But Life is also Quicksand. The more you struggle, the more you sink…

© Sunil Rajguru

New Revised Golf Glossary…

Birdie: Synonym for “Girlfriend”. In this usage it means: Having one girlfriend over par.
Eagle: Having two girlfriends over par.
Albatross: Having three girlfriends over par.
(This may also end up hanging around your neck.)
Condor: Having four girlfriends over par.
Tiger: Having an unlimited number of girlfriends over par.

Ace: A golfer who is also a hit with the girls.
Aggregate: The total number of hits a golfer has made with girls.
Aim: The direction in which your (female) target lies.
Alignment: Adjusting your secret personal life with your golfing life.
Back Nine: Remembering the last nine girlfriends in your life.
Bare Lie: A golfer telling everyone that he is a happily married man.
BIGGA: British and International Golfers & their Girlfriends Association.
Bye: A short game played because one has to leave early to go for a secret date.
Closed Stance: Hiding one’s personal details from the world at large.
Fore! The exclamation you yell before a golfer crashes into a fire hydrant.
Funnies: Used to describe various achievements in a golfers life, both positive and negative.
Handicap: Being unable to being a hit with the girls.
Pro: Synonym for ace

This Version By Sunil Rajguru

It’s all about temperature…

In India, Global Warming has suddenly become very hot…
but Indo-Pak relations have gone cold

We are warming up nicely towards America…
and have developed cold feet towards China

Leaders like Pranab are blowing their cool…
while others like Laloo are cooling their heels

People are becoming hot and bothered over Telangana…
but nothing will happen; it will cool off in a matter of time

And of course, this is India…
We reserve the right to blow hot or cold over any of these issues at any given time

© Sunil Rajguru