Eat Your Words, Mr Chappell!

“West Indies have forgotten how to win!” Greg Chappell made a statement to this effect to the media just before the Indian squad left for its tour to the Windies. Five one-day matches later, Brian Lara and co have ensured that the Aussie had to swallow his words. The final score line that reads 4-1 is a far cry from what Mr Chappell would have imagined. The Indian team, having convincingly defeated Sri Lanka and England at home, was at its peak of confidence as they left for their venture in the Caribbean. But after two weeks of cricket in the islands, a huge question mark hangs over the team’s ability to perform abroad.

Now that the series is over, post mortems have already begun in the media. A team that was languishing at the eight spot in the ICC’s ODI rankings humbled the third placed team, considered about three weeks ago to be favourites for the 2007 world cup. Chappell’s policies and experimentations were praised and even this blogger, in an earlier post (Indian Cricket… On its Way!!!) had ‘expressed’ his happiness on the progress of the Indian team. But I had also mentioned- It is very important that India does not get too carried away for most of these wins happened in the sub-continent. The real test will come when India visits the Caribbean next month as the World Cup will take place there in 2007. They have to maintain the standards they have set and prove, more to themselves, that they are ready to rule the world.

What I feared came true! Indian team did get carried away. The standards they had set for themselves weren’t maintained, especially while batting! More than the Indian team, it seemed it was their coach who got a little too carried away. Making a statement like that was really uncalled for, no matter how weak your opponents are! Brian Lara, in fact, made it clear that it was Chappell’s statement that made them push that much harder to almost blank out the Indian team. Something that Chappell’s predecessor, John Wright was respected for was his ability to respect his opponents and open his mouth only when it was needed. Chappell’s true Australian attitude came to the fore when made that statement. The West Indians made sure that he not only had to eat his words, but also was made to pay for it! Arrogance is good, but only when on the field. Off the field, one might do well to mind one’s own business and I am afraid the Aussie failed in it. Every sport is won or lost out on the playing area.

Blaming Chappell alone won’t be fair, for the young players performed way below par. But what were selectors thinking when they knew Sachin won’t be available for the ODIs? It was obvious Robin Uthappa won’t be a part of the squad until about the last match. He was the only other opening batsman along with Sehwag, as the selectors conveniently ignored a few experienced hands. Yes, I am talking about Sourav Ganguly. Expecting Dravid to do well every time he came out to open was asking a bit too much from the Indian skipper. VVS Laxman, the other player to have done well in the last tour to West Indies, also missed the ODI bus. It’s alright to pick youngsters, but when on a tour, it is safer that you carry a couple of experienced heads too! Indian selectors would do well to remember that next time they pick a squad. Also, surprising is the omission of Ajit Agarkar for test matches, the best Indian bowler during the ODIs. One really can’t comprehend the logic behind Mr More and Co’s decision.

But, I hope Greg Chappell, More and more importantly the Indian team proves me wrong and retains its pride my winning the test series in the West Indies. They have the ability. All they have to do is to put it to good use. Easier said than done, I suppose!

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A really funny and strange incident happened on the cricket field today. It’s my first and possibly the first ever time in the world of cricket! Second ODI between India and West Indies… The Caribbean side has lost two wickets with the board reading just 16 runs. Ajit Agarkar just completed the eight over of the West Indian innings. Irfan Pathan starts a fresh over. Batsman on strike—Ramnaresh Sarwan and at the non-striker’s end is the great Brian Lara! Pathan bowls and the bowl hits Sarwan’s left pad and rolls about three metres away from the crease. The batsmen quickly call for a single and goes for it. Suresh Raina, who had just dropped Lara’s catch in the previous over, reaches the ball in a flash and with a little underarm throw, disturbs the stumps. The Indians start to appeal. Raina looks around appealing. Sehwag, standing at square leg turns around to appeal to the square leg umpire. He throws up his arm, but soon realises there is someone missing there. The square leg umpire! Where is he??? The Indians are scanning the infield to find the whereabouts of a gentleman in blue formal shirts. The cameras manage to catch him walking in with both his hands half raised from behind the wicket-keeper. Mr. Billy Doctrow was apparently adjusting something next to the sight screen and not a soul noticed this man walking off! The Indians are stunned, the West Indians are stunned, the crowd is stunned, the commentators on air are stunned and more importantly (or is it funnily?), the two umpires themselves are stunned! After a long discussion, the umpires decide to call it a ‘dead ball’. Dravid clearly wasn’t amused at the incident but Harbhajan saw the funny side to it (and so did this blogger)! Although Lara was safely home, it would have been interesting how the Indians would have reacted had he not made his ground!

Funny or not, it sure makes up for an interesting tale to share to our grandchildren (considering they are cricket buffs as well). One can always say or at least I will, “I was there! Well, at least watching it live!”

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A good majority of Christians all over India are protesting against the release of the movie, the Da Vinci Code! So, what is my opinion regarding the protests? A staunch Christian that I am, one might expect me to support those protesting against the release. ‘RUBBISH’ is what I’ll say. In fact, you might just find me protesting (if there was any) against the protestors of the release.
A few dignified Catholics formed a part of the censor committee to review the film and amongst them, were the Director of my institute (or should I say former?) XIC, Fr Myron Pereira and former Police Commissioner of Mumbai, Julio Rebeiro. The committee cleared the film minus any cuts only asking the producers to put up a disclaimer saying the film is purely fiction. Still, doubts lingered over the release as protests intensified. My questions to the protestors are these—
When Christian countries the world over including Italy and US didn’t have any objection, why India why? Why can’t we treat this as just a fictional story?
In fact, protestors have made sure that the film has got undue popularity although the reviews from Cannes Film Festival suggest that the film was disappointing. A lot more people who perhaps didn’t even know what the Da Vinci Code was all about would now want to watch the movie! Protests against Dan Brown’s book by the same name no doubt, increased its popularity. The fact that other Brown’s books weren’t as popular as the Code drives home this point. I recently finished reading the book and I must say that I wasn’t too impressed with it. The story sure was interesting and intriguing but I’m not sure if I admired the style of writing (and the ending I thought was slack). But there is another point to be noted here! Some people who read the book didn’t completely take it as fiction, which is why I agree with the censor board to add in a disclaimer. One of my brother’s friends, after reading the book commented in front of my bro, perhaps unaware that the latter was preacher’s son, “This is the end of Christianity man! Christianity ka toh waat lag gaya!” (or something along those lines) Because Mr. Brown mixed a lot of fiction with little facts, some were of the impression that what he wrote were only facts! Few people bother to turn the book and notice a portion of the bind which reads ‘Fiction’.

The foundation of Christianity wasn’t laid by a few mortal men who wrote the gospels and the rest of the Bible. It was laid by Someone who walked on this earth, performed miracles and died a criminal’s death only to be resurrected on the third day. How then can one think that this foundation will be shaken by a badly-made movie or a fictional book? Over the years, many such books have come out, some even claiming to be non-fiction, but not one was able to do any harm to the faith!
All I’ll say to those who object to the movie is, ‘If you don’t like the movie, then don’t watch it!’ It is as simple as that! Believe in the four gospels. Don’t make Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, the fifth gospel! It (both the book and the movie) is after all just a fiction!

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An Encounter!

We were done for the day (night would be more appropriate). A nice, yet stinky Marine Drive breeze hitting our faces as we were lazily trying to move on. Rishi’s treat at Pizza Hut was yet to get digested. At least that was so in my case! We had refreshed ourselves by little cuttings and a strong coffee. Pooja and I were supposed to head towards VT (now CST) and the rest towards Churchgate.
Suddenly, a family of three approaches us. A 30-something man, a lady and a child. The lady is holding a little bag and the child’s hand is firmly gripped on his dad’s. The man closes in on Rishi and all of us are almost certain he is here asking for directions. But to our surprise, he asks the birthday boy, who turned 22, for some money. Apparently, the family hadn’t eaten anything! Rishi just nods his head giving a reply in the negative, the reason for which is in his blog. The man looked disappointed. Home-bound people, meanwhile, are trying to cross the road. I can’t help but feel extremely bad for the family. ‘They look hungry and lost,’ I think aloud besides adding aloud to my friends, “I feel bad yaar.” I understand why Rishi denied giving them a helping hand. These days, whom do you actually trust and believe? Rishi’s earlier experience had taught him a few lessons. He wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. But, as all of us somehow crossed the road, my mind is deeply troubled. From across the road, I see the family approaching a couple facing the sea. The couple also seemed reluctant to help. They get up and walk away. The family sits down facing the road watching the speeding vehicles in front of them. My eyes go back time and again to the three especially to the little thing sitting between his parents. “I am feeling really bad yaar. I feel like I should give them something!” Mayura and Pooja tell me to “go ahead.” But at the back of my mind, I am also wary of the fact that you can’t trust every person and especially here in this great city. I finally heed to my friends and instincts and cross back walking towards the sea-phase. The man sees me approaching. He’s sharing a packet of mixture with his family. I suddenly feel a ray of hope in that man’s eyes as he sees me get closer to him. I had already removed a ten-rupee bill from my wallet and kept it in my hand. I am about a hand’s distance away from the man as I hold out the bill to him. He takes it willingly, folds it in half and keeps it in his shirt pocket. I ask him his whereabouts and how he landed up in Mumbai. I learn that he is from this place called Yavatmaal and had come to Mumbai to meet his brother. But his brother, in the meantime, had gone to Manmad and he had no clue where he lived. ‘How can someone come to this huge city without even knowing where he lived?’ I ponder. But at the very next moment I realize that this is after all Mumbai. He continues that he needs about 150 bucks per person to reach his place. And they were chucked off from the train by a TC as the trio was traveling ticketless. “Now we don’t have money to eat. Only if we could get money to buy one ticket, we could have adjusted.” I sense that he expects more than the tenor I gave him. A thought crosses my mind whether I should part with another tenor. But I decide it is best for that tenor to remain untouched for the time being in my wallet. I just vaguely say something and heads back towards my friends standing on the other side. I say to Vanessa, “I might as well be fooled rather than feel bad for not having done anything.” After hearing their story, I am a little put off, although deep within I don’t know whether to accept what that guy said whole-heartedly.
I am still not sure whether what I did was the right thing. All I knew is, I had parted with ten bucks and that, considering the situation, didn’t mean big to me. I had much more in my wallet. I don’t even know if what I did was charity. But I definitely know that it made me feel slightly better. As I walked back with my friends, I kept thinking ‘we had filled our stomachs with food that cost us more than half a grand.’ It made me think about all the other families. Then, realization dawned. I shouldn’t really be going too far thinking about other such families struggling for money. An example of that, was in my very home. My dad in his youth! It made my eyes dense. But I concealed it pretty well and made sure the liquid doesn’t roll over to my cheek, as the birthday boy walking alongside me was on the phone answering yet another birthday wish!

(My dad’s story is stuff for a later blog)

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So, another Mothers’ Day just passed by without this blogger wishing his dear mom! I got this email recently, the writer of which is anonymous. But, it can really make one think! When we go across looking around at people’s profession, ‘mother’ as such never figures as an occupation. I dedicate this post to all the mothers around the world. (Not that any mother reads my blog. But here’s wishing all those moms whose children take pain (almost literally) to visit my blog—a belated Happy Mothers’ Day!!! I wont do much talking here… the piece that I got through email should speak a lot about what a ‘mother’ is all about and proves that a ‘mother’ is not actually just a ‘mother’!!!

A woman named Emily renewing her driver’s license at the County Clerk’s office was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.
“What I mean is,” explained the recorder, “do you have a job, or are you just a…”
“Of course I have a job,” snapped Emily. “I’m a mother.”
“We don’t list ‘mother’ as an occupation… ‘Housewife’ covers it,” said the recorder emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, “Official Interrogator” or “Town Registrar.”
“What is your occupation?” she probed.
What made me say it, I do not know… The words simply popped out. “I’m a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations.”
The clerk paused, ballpoint pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.
“Might I ask,” said the clerk with new interest, “just what you do in your field?”
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, “I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn’t), in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I’m working for my Masters, (God as well as my whole family), and already have four credits, (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.”

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk’s voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.
As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants – ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby), in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt triumphant! I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than “just another mother.”
Motherhood–What a glorious career!
Does this make grandmothers “Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations” and great grandmothers “Executive Senior Research Associates”? I think so!
This Sunday, don’t forget the Research Associates. God sure cherishes every one of them!

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