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.

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
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
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
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
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!


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