Monday, 29 August 2011

No, it was Boys vs Boys only!

My work timings usually show a canny pattern. Late Monday mornings, early Friday evenings and mid week absconding are clear indications. I have never hit the accelerator anytime before 9:30 AM when it comes to a Monday morning after 2 full days of lazing, typical TGIF, OGIM (Oh God, It's Monday) syndromes, so to speak. But today marked a rather deviating phenomenon. I opened the '',', '' and '' in that order, as early as 9:10 AM. Reason : I couldn't sleep. I missed the massive Man U - Arsenal clash yesterday owing to travel and though I knew the scoreline and other statistics since I was following it live from my Android application, I wanted to take a look at the highlights as soon as possible and my fingers were itching to hit footytube for a quick look at the highlights.

The last time Arsenal conceded 8 goals was back in 1896. We all know that the Arsenal team that played yesterday night was a very weakened one. But nobody is going to remember that night as a hiccup for a weakened Arsenal side. It would rather be remembered as "That great 8-2 mauling by United". And more importantly, it was not Men vs Boys but was an "average age 23" vs "an average age 23" affair.

What strikes me most is the fact that Arsenal are staring at this "not enough players who are fit" problem so early in the season. Usually, they do so towards the end and more often than not use it as an alibi for their shambolic displays from February to May.

I noticed some bizarre transfer market stats somewhere on the internet. It read as follows:

Net spending done by Arsenal over the last 10 years : -4224000 pounds (They've made money if you notice the minus sign)
Net spending done by United over the last 10 years :172651600 pounds
Net spending done by Chelsea over the last 10 years :540095600 pounds.

Competing for the title, winning trophies and other allied pleasures and accomplishments, that Wenger considers trival and pointless, are just not achievable with these kinds of numbers. I remember Arsenal fans calling names at players when they left for money. Ca$hley, Moneybayor and many more. Look at City. They spent, tried, spent more, tried more, spent even more and now have a formidable team, which on paper, looks like the best team in Europe. You can call Ashleys as Cashleys and all that sort of thing but to those players, it is after all work and what's the point when the team doesn't do well on the pitch? We quit our jobs and move on for better money and better prospects. Don't we? So many fans who are already in a state of disarray have started shouting at the top of their voice yet again. Spend some F**kin Cash. But this time, unlike earlier, Wenger cannot turn deaf ears to those cries. Looking at the league table now, with 1 point from 3 games, Arsenal are close to being in the relegation zone. It is now or never for Arsene, Arsenal and their bunch of self proclaimed "learned" fans. Money is money and Sport is sport and all that crap can gaily come to a close. To win, one needs money and success comes with intelligent investment (borrowing from management jargon). So, Hell yeah! Splash some cash or look down the drain.

On a different note, Manchester looks like the new football capital of England and with both the big guns throwing some weight this season, it sure looks as if the trophy shall stay at Manchester. But it'd be interesting to see if Chelsea (or Mata to be exact) can offer something of a fight to the title.

United fans, get the ball rolling and enjoy the moment, for this is one of the best times to be a United supporter.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

To her, the daughter of the mountains, with love!

The morning was fresh and beautiful with the sun peeping out of the clouds and the dew on top of the grass reflecting wonderful colors. He was walking along the footpath to get an auto and go to one of those beautiful catholic churches in God's own country. The autos were the old 80s style. They caught his attention. Much of the place had a serene rural outlook and it looked strikingly similar to those pictures he saw in the museums. The ones from the colonial era. He had always been a victim of those lovely magic potions that Kerala has to offer. The lovely weather, the beautiful backwaters and the stunning girls with their hair flowing free, fresh from the head bath.

Ernakulam is a small town, seen as a part of the larger Cochin, though like most twin cities, there isn't a border or line to separate their facades. It is all in a wonderful blend. The long corridor in the church had an air of peacefulness in it when he entered it for the first time. Many groups of people had gathered and they were chatting incessantly. He was a secret admirer of malayalam and those nasal sounds of chatter acted like magnet to him as he could understand some parts from those discussions. Towards the end of that long corridor stood a girl, who had come in with her parents and the three of them were eagerly looking at a lone lily that stood with all class and charm in the middle of a small artificial pond besides the passage. There was nothing more beautiful than the white lily and the school of fish that swam in the mini pond. But as he moved closer to that small congregation of three, it was not the lily that caught his eye, It was the girl who was admiring the lily. He stood like a statue for a passing moment, stunned by her appearance. The straight, dark hair flowing flamboyantly over her shoulders. Her charismatic eyes. Her mesmerizing lips were a thing of beauty. He felt an unprecedented joy when she suddenly gazed back at him, though only for a fleeting instant. At the moment, he was witnessing one of the most beautiful sights that have ever unfolded in front of him..all his life.

It was barely minutes before the congregation reduced in size from three to one and she was waving her hand at the departing couple. Her parents would come back to pick her up late in the afternoon. She stopped waving as they disappeared and noticed him as he briskly walked past her, back and forth. He never knew the art of breaking wonderful silences and even now it was the girl who just uttered something. He didn't believe what was happening around for an instant and blame the shock for his inability to comprehend those sweet set of syllables in malayalam. He paused to check if it was all real and to his joy, it really was. He said he couldn't speak malayalam and she quickly shifted to English. Conversation kicked in and they spoke animatedly for a few minutes. In the process, he lost himself completely amidst the sea of her charm.

The beautiful morning gave way to a humid afternoon as the function at the church went on without much attention to this romantic sonnet. The only activity he was engaged in was a series of stares at this new apple of his eye. A few of them noticed and many of them unnoticed. Einstein once said "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute." And the words were so true to their meaning and in no time he was staring at the prospect of leaving the church when the function was over. Her parents were there again to take her back to the small town that she hailed from, a few miles south of Alapuzha.

He couldn't gather anything besides her name in the few minutes of conversation he had with her in the morning and as he saw her getting ready to move, he experienced a gush of blood flowing into his heart. He felt a need for some chivalry and courage at that moment though those aforementioned traits were very uncharacteristic of him. He took a credit card bill from his wallet and tore a small part from one of the rectangular edges. He was groping for words to write on that piece of pulp when his fingers jumped the gun without his cognizance. He looked down to see that he had already written his number and name on one side. The Adam in him wasn't that big a poet like Keats or Wordsworth. But he managed to write half a sentence on the rear side of the paper- "If you think we should be in touch...."

He slipped it under her cute pink bag that lay on a nearby table and started walking back home in quick strides as the function was over and the gathering had already dispersed. He didn't have the courage to look back but his heart started beating faster and faster as he made his way out of the church. He was wondering if she would see the note and pick it up. But he was afraid if it was too small and would go unnoticed. He slandered in whispers for not doing the act a bit more vividly. But the moment had gone and he couldn't get back anyway. He reached home and sat back in the reclining piece of furniture gazing at the fancy chandelier that hung from the ceiling. Minutes felt like hours and the ashtray slowly filled to its brim. But the beep from his mobile that he was so dearly yearning for didn't seem to appear. He woke up from the idyll that was going through his mind as his phone beeped about an hour later and for an instant he had his heart in his mouth. Words fail me as I try to describe his emotions at that moment. But the words on his mobile screen read "Hi. I picked up the note. Didn't expect one there though. How's the day? - " His joy knew no bounds and his fingers floundered as he drafted his reply. He was trying to speak his heart by way of the text message and as he was groping for poetic phrases, he heard yet another beep. But it was not from his phone this time. It was the sound of his alarm clock. He opened his eyes and surprisingly, found his mom with a cup of coffee standing beside his bed indicating something with her finger pointed at the clock. The clock read 14 10 hours. But he was looking at it upside down. So it was 7 40 am and it was time for him to wake up.

P.S : Apologies for the abrupt ending and a badly crafted anticlimax. But sometimes truth is bitter as the old adage goes and it is better hidden than confessed at large.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Yours Fervently, An Ardent Cricket fan

The Saturday meant a start to an amusing long weekend of sorts after quite some time and the self had woken to a rare rooster that crows late generally. Resting on the armchair like an octogenarian, I had breathed a lot of fresh air and was running through my mind the sequence of events that would follow in the next 3 days. That contained the following : read something to lift the spirits, drink a lot of coffee, eat to the stomach full, get the 11 hour sleep that has been evading for a while now and repeat the same in the order stated. Such was the beauty of the thought flow when the mind was particularly disturbed by a wayward sound that arose from somewhere in the neighbourhood. After curious onlooking, I found to my surprise that it was the gigantic wall clock that had caused the upset of the mind as the gong was doing its hourly duty at 3 hours post noon. Half an hour before the proceedings of the 4th day of the third test between India and England at Edgbaston.

It has been quite a while since I got myself deeply interested in a cricket match by and large. The last time such an instance was recorded was way back in March 2003 when Sehwag and Sachin entered the field to chase a mammoth 360 and Glenn McGrath had the shining red piece of leather to start the proceedings. After a considerable hiatus, the same interest started growing in me just before the ongoing series against England. What good parenting and modern pedagogic techniques that exemplify moral high ground have taught the growing youngster is that thing called maturity. As the body expands vertically and horizontally when man wakes up each morning to drink his cup of horlicks or viva or whatever suits him, the mind ought to expand. That, my ancestors used to call "maturity".
It has been well documented by learned people in the scriptures and elsewhere that mental maturity is quintessential for the uplifting of an individual. Though much has been talked about in this regard, what was visibly missing in my self as I got the bunch of potato chips and the plate of ground nuts in a move to gear up for a day of pleasing test cricket was the same thing that I have repeatedly lacked - maturity. To cut a long story short, what my heart ached at that particular juncture was for some legendary batting display from the few legendary batting names we have got on the roster so as to save the match and save our number one status by some hook or crook. This particular thought is a good example of an immature one at that. I call the very idea of the whim to be singularly childish. One cannot expect such a huge turnaround after two devastating performances at Lord's and Trent Bridge. But the heart ached for it in the same way it used to do back in 2002 and 2003 when Indian cricket was one of my highest priorities in life. I used to be an ardent fan way back then. But things have changed ever since and I moved on to other more intellectual addictions namely football, spirit, love and the rest of the things that G.K Chesterton used to talk about at length. So, this cricket fever recurring after such a long while was more of an aberration.

The end result? A big disappointment. Nothing that can be classified under the banner called sport has disappointed me to such a great extent, though I remember one instance when Benfica or some equally infernal force from Portugal knocked Man United out of Champions league and if my memory doesn't fail me, it was in the year 2005.After that one, now this particular disappointment from edgbaston made an impact on me and it was a sore one to say the least. The three matches that have taken England to summit from where India just toppled, were just a vindication of the visible listlessness in the Indian camp. There are cries and shouts inside the minds of the players and fans to abandon these humiliations and get back home, in the same way the Flintoff-led English team did during the 2008 terrorist attacks in Bombay. But we Indians are made of sterner stuff and it is not in our blood to call something off cheaply like that. We can continue to be distrait for ages and eons together but we shall not abandon. That fact being a given in the current scheme of things, the only logical thing to do is to somehow get over the fourth one as quickly as possible and start getting geared up for the five match one day series that is to follow. We could have been a very disheartened lot in the last 3 weeks, but the fact remains that it is not the end of the world and the one day series can help to make up for the shame quite a bit. So, along with the Indian team, I am telling myself after yesterday's horror collapse that all is not lost and that English August could after all culminate in an Indian September.

In Cricket, class is permanent and form is temporary. Let us hope to roar back in the one day series and worry about the test shambles in an introspection later in the year when we go down under.