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!