From smack-bang in the middle of the bell curve

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sweet spot

In sports on November 21, 2007 at 4:17 pm

There is a point in time when you and you only know – the rest know it a second later – and it’s the best feeling as a batsman.” – Adam Gilchrist (on hitting a six)

I can’t recall any other comment, spoken or written, that captures, so beautifully, the essence of batting. Commentators talk about the sweet sound that a well-timed shot makes, but that is only a fraction of the story. Get it wrong and the ball dribbles half-heartedly to the inner circle, the impact sending a shudder up the spine of the bat that travels through your arms. What its all about is the way it feels to make contact with the bat flowing through its arc, the combination of the point of contact on the bat, the bat-speed at that point in the arc, the flexion of the wrists that adds thunderous power to send the ball rocketing, either in a lazy arc or burning a trail along the grass to the long off fence…Perfection

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Terima Kasih

In blah, life, vacation on November 17, 2007 at 3:59 pm

In the days of yore (never knew when or what yore was), hunters and trackers could tell their exact location based on the lay of the land, colour of the soil and vegetation. I figured I’d perfected my own method (besides of course knowing where the hell I was going in the first place).

The theory (Before): Its based on my first interaction with a local official. A combination of the accent and politeness quotient. The former would indicate which side of the equator and continent you’re on, the latter, how developed the country you’re in. Given my only excursions before last week were to the US and Australia (for current purposes, stopovers in Zurich, Frankfurt and London should count). Its only logical that the difference across nations in per capita income and the associated disparity, population density, financial stability will manifest itself noticably.

That had to explain the condescendingly bored tone of the official at the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai) that made clear his absolute control over every individual leaving the country’s shores or the salivating expressions on the faces of those stationed at baggage carousels to ‘help’ passengers, who sidle up going “psst…need help with getting through customs?” Also the contrasting smiley “Good Morning Sir” at the local SSN office in small-city, USA.

That theory however died quietly in a nation not unlike ours in two key aspects; population density and disparity in economic development. Every interaction -polite and respectful. The traffic, as dense as Mumbai in peak hour, and yet, orderly and minus the honking. The excellent infrastructure makes you wonder why Mumbai’s arterial roads are still 2-laned dribbles clogged worse than Elvis’s must’ve been when he croaked. That said, judging by NCR, four lanes are not an automatic cure for boorishness.

The theory (After): It has now been whittled to saying that if the official is polite and shows a smidgeon of pride in his work, you can’t tell where you are, but one place you’re definitely not is India.

p.s: Completely unrelated note, the food in that part of the world is amazingly diverse. My list of meals experiences include padang (indonesian), sushi & teppanyakki (japanese), kimchi (korean), mexican, indo-indonesian-chinese (at a restaurant called Queens!) interspersed with Krispy Kremes and Starbucks. My abs hurt from the crunches. Guilt can be an amazing motivator.

Oh, and the title means Thank You in bahasa indonesia, not the swear word you were thinking

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Necessity: the motherhood of apple pie!

In blah, rant, vacation on November 7, 2007 at 7:12 am

Its that time again. to put together all that you will need for a defined period of time into a rigid plastic receptacle. For someone who relies on striding out of the shower rifling through my wardrobe to follow a regimented process:
step 1: pick up item
step 2: sniff for pervasive body odours. if none proceed to next step, else glumly put item in laundry basket and go to step 1
step 3: examine for all-too-evident creasing. if not visible from more than 5 feet, proceed, else go to step 1

its anathema to think of the things I’ll need for a week in advance! Packing! The prime example of the failure of the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention”. Else, how does one explain the non-existence of the following:

  1. Wrinkle-free & perspiration-repellant clothing: The former does supposedly exist and the marketing claims are true too, as long as once you put them on, you believe that your back is made of brittle graphite and you do not test the flexion of your joints (namely; knees and elbows). The latter, well, would reduce the need for all those changes of clothes, so you could saunter into an airport with maybe a gym-bag worth of underwear changes (if you’re particularly fussy).
  2. Multi-purpose shoes: Blame it on the capitalist mindset to have everyone own multiple pairs of shoes; by that I don’t even mean the two cabinets worth (and then some) that S owns but the need for formal – black/brown, sneakers, sandals etc. Why not one pair that can change colour between black and brown and is supple and provides enough support to take a pounding on a treadmill? But no, if Reebok’s schizophrenia-inducing ads are to be believed, there’s two people in everyone. fair enough i say, but why cant both wear the same pair!
  3. Dress codes not bordering on sadomasochism: It was one thing when the stuffy old coots in good ol’ england dressed in their frock coats, stiff collars, suspenders and went “Jolly good I say!” They had there bonded labour aka butler in the form of Jeeves or Threepwood or what you have you to track down and launder every item of clothing. Why didn’t one of these stiffs realise that as you moved closer to the equator, you needed fewer layers and less of your body covered? More importantly, why haven’t we figured this one out on our own? Imagine going to work in thin spun-cotton tees and shorts/cargos with open-sandals.

I suppose the promise of exotic south-east asian massages does alleviate the suffering to an extent though. Here’s to Indonesia; Happy Diwali and all that jazz…


In blah on November 3, 2007 at 1:25 pm

It was a snowbound friday evening in january when we decided that picking a dvd from the vending machine in the lobby and retiring to our temperature-controlled apartment was more desirable than losing an assortment of toes and fingers to frostbite in the 3 block walk that would bring us to our pub. Turned out people other than us had also been thinking along the same sensible lines and the traditional wham-bang-whimper movies were sold out. When someone suggested watching a Friends dvd, I punched some random buttons on the machine out of desperation and out popped this dvd that had 2 asian guys on the cover with a mini-burger in the foreground. The title ‘Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle’. The unanimous verdict: Kal Penn’s the hollywood counterpart of Sunita Williams (so what if they’re both as Indian as German shepherds), and the rest, as they say, is history. Watched it thrice over a 6 month period.

So, imagine when, years later, during the promos, “We shall settle this like our forefathers used to…” says the stylishly coiffed, square-jawed blond …the confused response from his asian adversary “you will exploit me economically?…” in that unmistakable accent that resembles Abu from Springfield than any visa-toting brown-skin to clear immigration. ‘Van Wilder 2 – The rise of Taj’. S and I looked at each other and next weekend was wordlessly pencilled in to watch what, had to be, the best movie in a long time.

There are disappointments and then there are disappointments. Everything from the cast of one-dimensional characters to the so-called story about a bunch of misfits who go from outsiders to champions of the ‘house cup’ at Camford university. The name given to the university seems far less ridiculous when the dude, Kal Penn, introduces himself as “Taj Mahal Badalandabad”. When the horny father encourages his son in “the pursoot of the pink taco”, you realise then that the target audience was never beyond expat Indian high-school-goers.

Now I know how those of faith must’ve felt when it was shattered, how investors of Enron, Worldcom etc must’ve felt when their ‘gilt-edged’ investments changed overnight. This was one bad movie choice I couldn’t blame on S.

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