Thursday, November 01, 2007

Protests outside local court

A group of people staged a protest outside a local court in Delhi after the court passed judgement in a divorce case. In its judgement, the judge observed that "marriage was anathema without sex" and ruled that a person can seek divorce is the spouse is infected with HIV.

"This judgement is a disgrace and claiming that sex is part of marriage is totally against our culture," claimed a representative for the protest group. "We are a group of people who have no regular jobs and so we have decided to devote our lives to cleaning up the filth in our society. We will continue to oppose everything that is alien to our culture." Questions about what our culture is went unanswered.

Of course, our moral protectors are always correct. So there you have it, we do not have sex after marriage. All sex is before marriage. None after. Which, come to think of it, is probably true anyway.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A botched plan

If you have never been in the news and if you do not have a fan following, you don't really know what it means to fall flat on your face. It was just mostly bad luck, but I guess part of the blame can be attributed to bad planning.

I suppose I have been a bit too quiet of late and my followers were getting a bit nervous. I mean, I cannot blame them. As any actor or singer will testify, too much time out of the news is not good for publicity. So publicity is what I needed. It didn't matter if it was good or bad publicity. After all, how hard is it to spin bad publicity to paint me as a victim? The crowds never fail to buy it and they revere me even more for that.

So anyhow, I met with my chief adviser (who, apart from advising me on many matters and taking care of day to day activities, also advises me about which boys have been behaving well this week and who deserves a treat and so on... oh that reminds me, I need to refill my stock of oil) and we decided that something outlandish was needed this time. We went through various plans but none of these looked like a good idea. Heal the sick? Nah, too easy (easy to fake sickness that is... what, have you never skipped office to watch India play cricket?) and besides, its been done too many times to have any novelty. Healing the sick is a bit like the "Hello, world" program that you write. An exciting first step, but eventually you move on to more complicated tricks. Manifest objects? That is lame too. Besides, this has the potential to backfire. All too often, the audience gets excited and demands something to be manifested! People demand small objects like coins, notes and lemons. Fairly easy to handle them. But occasionally, it gets tricker and someone demands a watermelon. I mean, ever tried sticking one up your ass? Besides you need to differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd, you know. How about transporting a monument, ventured a smart alec. This sounded exciting, until we realized it was also fraught with risk. People might demand go inside the monument, and the whole charade is pretty much revealed.

And then someone had an idea that could only be termed as brilliant. A couple of aides were eagerly discussing the news regarding the space race in Asia. What with Japan sending a satellite into moon orbit and China also sure to beat India on technology, a few people were getting worried about India's progress and whether or not they would at all be able to send a mission to the moon.

And this aide goes, "Baba, why don't you show the rest of world that Indians are the best at this stuff, and present yourself on the moon?" Now this was genius. It managed to solve two problems that had us worried with a single solution. Also, I wouldn't have to shove stuff where I dont want to. Picky people would, of course, claim that this is cheating and that India never developed any technology to get to the moon and besides, miracles do not count. But then again, the same picky people do not believe me when I say I am God, and so I have just learnt to ignore them. Life in denial is much easier, especially in this line of business. Then there was the little matter of how I could actually be present on the moon. (Note: Now I hear some of you waiting eagerly to see how I will transport myself to the moon! Why dont you become my devotee and come to my ashram? We do have a Friday night special going on for new devotees!)

So we spent the rest of the week setting up the hologram projector. Part of the problem is that field testing is not possible. Imagine, you announce with all fanfare that you will appear on the moon, and someone happens to show up just while you are testing. Even the biggest idiot would require some convincing after that. In any case I am sick and tired of having to deal with skeptics who have an alarming habit of pouncing on every mistake I make. But no matter, I have emerged stronger and wiser for it. I do not repeat my mistakes. We decided to test the idea by projecting an image of my face on the ceiling and it worked fine as a charm. Everything was set now and all the announcements were made as well. I was having a really good feeling about this. I even tried to come up with a punchline for this - chal meri lunar - but I wanted to be seen as moving with the times, so I decided agains that.

We had decided to get the public together at the airport. More people, more publicity, more money, more followers, more fun on fridays! We left well before the event started, so that we take care of unforseen delays. People say that wisdom of the crowds is a myth, and the myth was totally shattered that day. More people than we ever imagined turned up for the event! This was turning out to be better than expected!

I, of course, couldnt be seen in public because I was supposed to be on the moon! A few of my aides were nearby, in a concealed location, setting up the system. A few others were in the crowd, disguised as normal people! You might wonder as to the reason for their presence in the crowd. It really is deception 101. You always need a back up for every plan. If things go wrong with plan A, we try to pretend that it worked anyway. Just like management. Someone (one of my inside men) in the crowd yells, "There he is on the moon!" and another (again, one of my inside men) yells, "Gosh, you are right, it is him!" By this time the whole crowd gets excited, and some totally random guy (one of my inside men) starts proclaiming about what a miracle it is. Now, here is the really smart thing. Another of my inside men starts questioning my presence on the moon. Sort of like the emperor's new clothes. But in reality, actually questioning the lack of clothes is similar to somebody else's problem field and people in general never see it that way. But it is a good idea to pretend that someone does. So a few more inside men end up yelling that they see me. And pretty soon, everyone claims to see me.

The best laid plans fail. My chief adviser was roaring at the phone.

"What do you mean, you cant get the image on the moon? ... The projector what? ... You mean you did not change the image scaling after testing it on the ceiling? ... IT SKIPPED YOUR MIND? ... You imbecile, you #%@&, you ..."

I asked him to take it easy. More pertinently, to lower his volume. People might hear.

"Okay, so how long will it take to fix it? ... A COUPLE OF HOURS? ... What? ... No, I cannot entertain the crowd for a while ... What do you think this is, stand up comedy? ... NEVER MIND ABOUT THE PROJECTOR, I WILL WORRY ABOUT HANDLING THE CROWDS!!!"

He looked at me like a kid does when he has to get his father's signature on an unflattering report card. He looked at me like a kid who would forge his marks! I nodded my approval. He gave a discreet signal to one of the inside men! The inside man gave a discreet nod and vanished into the crowd. Moments later, we heard an ecstatic yell from the crowd. Simultaneously, Murphy played his card.

People looked towards the moon expectantly. I was feeling strangely disillusioned. There was no real excitement in the crowd. In fact, they looked confused. Someone else yelled that the first yeller was lying. I frowned. Much too early for that. That is not one of our men, muttered my chief adviser. I looked out of the window and towards the moon. All I saw was cloud cover. No moon. In the small time period between plan A failing and plan B being kicked into operation, a cloud cover had obstructed the moon. I groaned. This was getting worse.

A scuffle broke out in the crowd. The first yeller, one of my inside men, was being pummelled by the crowd. Such a tragedy. A man of sophisticated tongue!! We decided to get our of the place quickly. When Murphy makes his appearance, he really kicks you in the nuts! Some sharp-eyed guy in the crowd spotted me. And pretty soon everyone was around my car, making wierd noises. Remember, as kids, we used to describe certain situations as "Aage geela, peeche peela" (wet in front, yellow in the back)? Well...

Anyway, luck finally turned our way when some policemen spotted our predicament. They quickly created a path for us to escape. I dont know how we did it, but finally we were back at the ashram. I hear rumours of elections in some places...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to stop Global Warming

Stop exercising. Drive, rather than walk, everywhere you go. And if you are vegetarian, it is time to purchase a two wheeler.

Friday, October 12, 2007

IPL Contracts

New Zealand Cricket Players' Association boss Heath Mills has a concern. He feels that the contracts that players sign with the IPL (or MOUs) are too long at 112 pages and that the contracts might put NZ players who sign them in breach of the contracts they have with NZC. Fair enough. Then he says this.

Mills said Vettori was uncomfortable with a particular clause in the contract that stipulates that "the player is not allowed to play for any other team that may at any point of time qualify for the Champions League".
Mills said NZC is overlooking the fact that if Vettori signs his current IPL contract then he would not be able to play for Northern Districts if they qualified for the Champions League.

This concern is somewhat ridiculous. Obviously, no team will want to sign a player if he is going to run away when the Champions League comes around. Since the closest analogy is European football, let's look at that.

If a player signs for a club (say, Ronaldo for Manchester United), he is obligated to play for Manchester United till either his contract runs out, or he is sold to a different club, whichever is earlier. Selling here implies that all three parties (Manchester United, Ronaldo and the other club) agree on the sale (and all its specifics). If Manchester United qualify for the European Champions League, Ronaldo MUST play for Manchester United, even if Sporting Lisbon from Portugal (Ronaldo's childhood club) qualify for the event. Once he has signed for Manchester United, he has no connection with Sporting Lisbon and the question of playing for them does not arise.

Further, if Ronaldo moves to a different club in the middle of the season, he is also cup-tied. Which means that if he has played for Manchester United in any cup competition (Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup), he cannot play in that competition for his new club that season. He can play in those cups starting from the next season. In fact, being listed in Manchester United's roster for the Champions Leauge is enough to make him cup-tied for the Champions League. (League games are not classified as cup competitions, and the player can play in league games for the new team.)

While the merits and demerits of making a player cup-tied can be argued over, the important point here is that Ronaldo cannot play for any club other than Manchester United as long as his contract with them is valid. So, why should it be any different in cricket? Granted that the European/US styled league model exists only in India at present. But since teams from many local leagues do feed into the Champions League, it stands to reason that a player should be eligible to play only for one team at a time.

I do grant Mills one point though. If the IPL team Vettori signs for agrees to release him for Northern Districts, there should not be a problem with Vettori representing them in the Champions League. Which is prevented by the MOU. But then again, the IPL teams are only franchises (US style), and not clubs in their own right (European style), which means the IPL can introduce such restrictions and get away with it legally!

Monday, September 17, 2007


A measure of the popularity of a blog is finding a reference where one doesn't expect it. The original. No matter how illusory, it feels good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Final eleven for India

My final eleven:

Virender Sehwag
Robin Uthappa
Rohit Sharma
Yuvraj Singh
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Dinesh Kartik
Joginder Sharma
Yousuf Pathan
Irfan Pathan
RP Singh

Though I suspect Gambhir will make the squad ahead of either Rohit Sharma (a pity, since he is the only Indian with a century in this form of the game) or Joginder Sharma (he is an all-rounder after all, atleast on paper).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Traffic Congestion Charge in Mumbai?

There are plans to implement a traffic congestion charge in Mumbai, similar to the one used in London. I have a few questions.

1) Why is a GPS system needed for toll collection? I would assume a simple card reader such as EZ Pass or Toll Tag will be sufficient for such purposes.

2) After the fiasco with CAS, how will the government ensure that a similar shortage of the electronic devices will not occur?

3) How will authorities ensure that the readers are protected from vandals?

4) Given the inefficient system in place for collections in India, with legal recourse not a practical option, how will the authorities ensure that fines are collected in a timely manner? Or, for that matter, that fines are collected at all? Without resorting to hired goondas.

5) What is the financial cost for installing such a system? Does the government believe that there are enough people who will pay the fine to keep the system running on its own? Or does it believe that reduced congestion itself is enough to underwrite the system?

6) If the system is installed as a way of collecting toll for travelling on the most congested roads, what is the guarantee it is not merely shifting the congestion to other roads? After all, the existing public transport in Mumbai is not good enough for everyone to stop using their cars.

7) On a related note, does this mean that the government will collect toll on every major road in Mumbai?

8) Have the authorities analyzed the expected impact of different systems before deciding on the congestion charge? For example, a charge based on the colour of the vehicle and day of the week might be as effective in reducing congestion as the congestion charge, with the added benefit of low investment costs. (I really don't know if the colour charge can be as effective, but the question needs to be answered.)

A lot of this might sound like nit-picking, and maybe it is too. But there are always concerns about directly using ideas that work in the western nations without considering their effectiveness in Indian conditions. And governments in India could never be accused of thinking through the issues. Now that I have done my job in raising some questions, someone go through the job of finding out the answers, assuming they exist.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Conversations with Kane, part one

Kane: "Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems -- but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems incredible." Wtf is wrong with him man? (him here is Varadan)

Me: The idea is that an incident in the past, which has an impact on you, feels good. But as time moves on, it is something like an avalanche, and the incident becomes more and more glorified till it acquires the status of a legend. It could be glorified in your mind, or it can be glorified in public consciousness. It would be something like hyping up the past incident.

Kane: Very true.

Me: Well, now I am sure that is not what beerbelly intends to say.

Kane: Hahaha!

Me: His is more a case of something like this:
Consider an analogy. You feel you can do something, such as perform on stage. But as the time approaches for you to do it, you get more and more nervous and your confidence is shattered for no reason other than stage fright.
Now step back and think of an incident that occurred. In hindsight, it seems okay, but in the moment it does seem incredible, maybe for the novelty factor, and maybe in the heat of the incident, you cannot imagine it happening.

Kane: Dude u seem in a philosophical mood today.

Me: I am bored, thats all. Don't even think what I am saying actually makes sense.

Kane: For mere mortals like us it doesn't.

Me: See, it is easy to speak rubbish and claim it is a great philosophical truth. Or, to simply muddle the heck out of people's brains.

Kane: lol

Me: And it would be funny if people started taking it seriously.

Kane: Quite!

Me: Funnier yet if another person does the same with the same effect.

Kane: Quite!

Me: And funniest if the two sets of people start fighting with each other as to which one spoke the greater truth.

Kane: Hahaha indeed!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Parallel cricket league

The latest news regarding Indian cricket is that Zee Tv's chairman, Subash Chandra, has announced the formation of a parallel cricket league for Indian domestic cricket. Well, not exactly, but he atleast has plans for creating a parallel league, and as such, has applied for permission to the BCCI. On first impressions, this seems like a good idea, both for Zee TV, and for Indian cricket. But following India's early exit from the world cup, emotions are running high, and it is easy to view any radical idea as a step in the right direction.

In the short run, the parallel league will be nothing but a money making enterprise for Zee TV and the BCCI, which has been woefully inadequate in tapping the market for domestic cricket. The most likely structure of this league will be something along the lines of the PHL, with the tournament lasting a month or less. If Subash Chandra does manage to attract the best players from India and abroad, there is no doubt the players in the league will be exposed to high quality cricket for a short time. But this will not help Indian cricket improve any more than a few international matches every two years helps the associate nations improve their cricket.

Even with the parallel league, many of the existing problems lacing Indian cricket will remain. The dead nature of Indian pitches used in domestic cricket, the lack of fitness among the players, lack of killer instinct, et. al. are problems that will remain. This is not to say that these problems cannot be solved. In fact, in the longer run, it will make sense for Subash Chandra to make sure that these problems are addressed in the proper manner. If he plays his cards correctly, he will have a winner on his hands, and if his intentions are genuine, so will the BCCI.

This announcement would have pushed them out of their comfort zone. Already, the media and the people are waiting to scrutinize every move that the BCCI makes. If the BCCI does accept Zee TV's offer, it is going down a one-way lane. I cannot imagine the BCCI pulling out in a couple of years time when (if?) the league becomes widely popular and financially beneficial. Furthermore, for domestic cricket to improve, it makes logical sense for the parallel league to expand in duration and number of teams, and to eventually replace the existing domestic league, or at best, merge with it. And therein lies the problem for BCCI. For it must somehow ensure that its authority as the guardian of Indian cricket does not get diluted by its partnership with Zee TV. Zee TV, while promoting a package that will appeal to the fans, will try to ensure the best quality possible, and the BCCI will be loath to listen to a third party on how run the cricket in this country.

The bottomline is that Subash Chandra's proposal is a much needed booster for Indian cricket, which has hardly been able to get itself out of the rut it has gotten itself into. If successful, the league will make the players more professional in their approach to cricket, and India will have the strong domestic league that the fans have been demanding. There are many pitfalls along the way, not least, the question of authority, but none insurmountable. The only real issue is whether or not the BCCI will allow it's ego to get in the way.