I learnt a lot in 2013. Yet, if I had sharply heard what some of our popular brands were crying out loud, I probably would have starved my family doctor. So in 2014, here’s what you need to do to lead a healthy life. Apart from what they claim to do, there are some hidden meanings we can explore:

Brush twice a day with Colgate/Pepsodent.
In case your food lacks that saltiness or tanginess, they have added Salt and Lemon. Just insert some paste into that cavity and use, when needed.

Drink milk with Horlicks/Complan/Boost.
So you can be the next guy who will read out an emotional Thank You Speech at Wankhede. But you’d definitely be taller.

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It is indeed slowly sinking in… even for a normal Indian cricket fan, if I may call myself one! I expected the hype and hoopla to carry forward occupying TV space through the week, and the media, so far, has not disappointed. And to be honest, I don’t mind. We’ve had enough of 2Gs, Rajas, Radias, Kalmadis Wikileaks, etc. For a country that was craving for some bit of positive news after all of the above, a bunch of 15 men and their support staff couldn’t have timed it better!

The day after India won the first ever World T20 in South Africa defeating Pakistan, I was so excited that I bought almost all English Newspapers home. Read it here.
And I wasn’t going to miss doing that after India went one ahead and brought home (or kept home) the ‘original World Cup’ after 28 years. After all, the next generation has already missed history and I can proudly tell them – “I was there!”
Here are the headlines and my thoughts (purely from a reader’s and a fake-journo’s perspective) of leading Mumbai dailies that came out the following morning:

– The Sunday Times of India
Although I am not a big fan of the ToI’s reporting, their headlines have often impressed me. And this one’s no different. Compared to some of the others, this one’s more creative.
– The Hindustan Times
The HT overlaid this headline on a half-page photograph of the jubilant Indian team after receiving the trophy. Although the headline in itself isn’t creative, the layout (I believe this is HT’s forte) makes it exciting and thus, to the point! HT, however, has done a brilliant job in getting columns out of Ian Chappell and Pradeep Magazine – something that they can claim exclusivity for!
World Champions, 2011
– The Indian Express
IE has carried a full page photograph with no report. However, this daily is the only newspaper to carry two mast heads and two front pages, with the second ‘front page’ carrying the headline – ‘The World in a Cup’. According to me, both headlines lack imagination, yet the full page photograph captures the moment well!
Three-fourth of the page is occupied by a photograph of Sachin being carried on Yusuf Pathan’s shoulder. Somehow, both the heading and the photograph didn’t quite create the same kind of impact in me.
– The Free Press Journal
Layout was never FPJ’s strength and that remains a constant. Although the headline is in a font that’s hard to read, it still is ‘out-of-the-box’!
Sare Jahan Se Acha
– The Asian Age
The headline and layout lacks the kind of punch that would be desired of the morning after a World Cup win. The Asian Age carries the same photograph of Sachin on his team-mate’s shoulder.
– The Mumbai Mirror
Although Mumbai Mirror wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) fall under the category of a morning newspaper, the broadloid needs a mention for what it brought out post the victory. Kunal Pradhan’s article is brilliant. And the headline ‘Thank you!’ with the victorious Indian team’s photograph, according to me, was the best coverage of the lot!
Having said all that, my thoughts with the journalists who actually sat down post the victory after watching the game – some of them in the stadium, some of them at their office desks- having to type away when the world outside was making merry in the streets. For them, it was a race to finish an error-free copy before the dreaded deadline. Their celebrations had to wait. Readers, like me, were waiting for them. 

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Since everyone’s in the spirit for writing ‘open letters’, I thought I should not be left too far behind. After all, I too have an audience… of five!

So, here is an open letter to not one, but everyone who made news in the few weeks or so. While every second person is busy washing someone else’s dirty linen in public, I sure as well hope that this letter would stir up a real storm in the parliament… well, there’s already some kinda 2G storm happening there… so I will skip that!

But I do hope it gives enough fodder for the Indian media, thus opening a floodgate to many more revelations… but they already have a ‘Barkhagate’ that they’re trying to secretly shut down!

Jeez, what the heck. I will still write… (so what if no one’s listening!) Please note that the content of this letter is purely fictitious. Any resemblance to any person or animal living or dead is coincidentally intentional.


Dear Mr A. King,

With reference to your six-paragraph letter dated 31st October 2010 on ‘Give and take of 2G’, can you please clarify the first three paragraphs? And it would also help if you can explain the last three too? I do know to read Malayalam, but Tamil becomes a little ‘out of my territory’!

I agree with you on most points after your signature line, which mentions your office address. But I am being told that Mr. C-bal is now occupying your premises. Let me know how I can help.

Dear Mr. A-Shock Chai Van,

Sir, with reference to the missing documents, you can take my word – they aren’t with me! I thought I’d thrown them to my TV screen while watching a ‘loud’ news channel anchor. But I love my TV way too much. These papers could be found lying in the bathroom of the numerologist who suggested to you to make your name a little longer, eventually resulting in your reign getting shorter.

Dear Mr. Yedu-Rapper,

I wish I was a minister in your cabinet. By hook or by crook, I would have managed to complete five years in that chair, with a few add-ons in the form of land. It is good to know that you are a loving and caring father, who would put his job on the line to give his kids the best ‘deal’ possible!

Dear Mr. Moon PL,

I believe you already got a reply from my boss on your letter. And that should do. But you know, you might just have stirred a hornet’s nest and hit yourself on the foot with a few old heavy and explosive GSM phones!

Dear Mu-Cash Antila,

Can I use your bathroom anytime I walk along that lane? I promise, I won’t switch off the light after I use it. And since you’ve so much of vulgar money, if you’re going on a holiday for a month, it will be great if you can pass on the money that you’d kept for paying the electricity bill. It can buy me a big enough house for myself.

Dear readers,

I’m extremely grateful to the five of you who continue to read this blog despite being a disgrace to blogging.

Mallu Mumbaikar

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A couple of days ago, I was quoted in the Indian Express’ supplement – Mumbai Newsline’s article ‘The Blame-game’ by my friend, Pooja Pillai. I must admit I wasn’t too surprised to find that I was the only one who went against the flow of the entire article.

Indeed, I too, like others, felt that at times, the media was insensitive when it came to the coverage of the attacks. And I don’t even need to mention the names of the ‘culprit’ channels that have ‘sensationalism’ tagged to their hearts. In fact, in the coming weeks, am planning to include ‘media reviews’ as part of my blog’s genre!

Coming back to the point I made in ‘Blame-game’, I honestly feel that quite often media’s (read TV channels’) sensationalism is generalised and thus, they all fall prey to the bashing-game. I was hooked on to CNN-IBN and at times, I was frustrated when the reporters kept saying, “We are unable to divulge too many details as of now as we have been advised against it.” Images and bytes that were taken about half-an-hour before being actually telecast could have made me switch to another channel. But then, these were understandable. The DG of NSG apparently later came out and thanked all the channels for not airing visuals of the operations live “except for one channel”!

Yes, shoving their microphones in the faces of the rescued hostages just as they were coming out insensitive to say the least. It was a race for that exclusive first byte! Ridiculous, I say!

Those who gave genuine coverage to the attacks would have found themselves in the wrong end of the stick and unfortunately for them, both there was only one end to that stick! Had they not covered the attacks in the manner they did, surely flak would have come with idlers like me sitting at home. And now that they did cover the way they wanted it, they gotta be ready to have some mud slung at their face. Well, they would have got it anyways!  

Times Now, on the other hand, was very vocal (and you expect that with Arnab Goswami at the helm). Someone ought to remind him that the guests on air need time to answer his essay-length questions! But I thought some of Times Now’s questions were thought-provoking (they always claim to be), while some were plain stupid!

Post-terror attacks, coverage moved around debates on the action or the lack of it from the politicians, funeral of the heroes, visits by the politicians to their homes and their barking comments, which was idiotic to the core. Blame Kerala CM E. S. Achuthaananthan’s doggie remark for that! Exactly the stuff that the folks with microphones were looking for! Having heard E. S’ bytes in the past, I know for sure that his mouth is larger than his brain!

I wasn’t complaining about the coverage till I read Pooja’s article and today’s HT Café’s last page piece on the media coverage. I, do however, stand by what I said. Seems I missed out a lot by avoiding the ‘spicier’ channels! Thank God I did!

God bless you. God bless Mumbai!

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Moment of Truth!

Being a holiday, I had nothing better to do than to surf through the many channels- an activity I was alien to for quite a while! And now that the internet at home was down, this seemed like the next best thing to do (come to think of it, there were much better things that I could have done)!!! I am not a regular to any Star World shows, but I had heard about “Moment of Truth” from a colleague and wanted to check it out!

The Moment of Truth is an American show that first aired in Colombia as Nada más que la verdad (“Nothing But the Truth”). Contestants answer a series of 21 increasingly personal and embarrassing questions to receive cash prizes.

Prior to the show, a contestant is hooked up to a polygraph and asked more than 50 questions; there is no polygraph testing conducted during the actual show. Without knowing the results of the polygraph, he or she is asked 21 of those same questions again on the program, each becoming progressively more personal in nature. If the contestant answers honestly, according to the polygraph results, he or she moves on to the next question; however, should a contestant lie in his or her answer (as determined by the polygraph) or simply refuse to answer a question after it has been asked, the game ends. [Source: Wikipedia]

Lauren Cleri, with her husband Frank, brother, sister, mother and father, in front of her, was the contestant on the episode that I happened to watch! “Mera dimaag ko shot lagaa”, I told my colleagues the next day after I saw the episode! I thought the affirmative answer to the question, “Did you ever get fired from a job for stealing?” was embarrassing enough! But what was to follow was even worse!

“Did you have the feeling you were in love with one of your ex-boyfriends on your wedding day?” asked Mark Walberg, the host. “Yes,” Lauren replied!

As if that was bad enough, the host then says, “Next question will not be asked by me, but by a special guest.” The camera’s focus shifts towards an electronic sliding door. Surprisingly, there’s no music. Not even a drum-beat! Or maybe I just didn’t hear! Out walks a guy in a blue shirt with a cue-card in his hand! Lauren’s face turns red as she sees her ex standing in front of her!

The question: “If I ask you out now, would you leave your husband?” Frank’s bows his head down! Lauren looks away! “Do you want to hit the buzzer?” asks Mark looking at Frank. “No, I want to hear her answer,” Frank says looking at Lauren. Lauren’s sister gets up and hits the buzzer which means the question will now be changed! She thought she did some ‘damage control’! Little did she know that the next question was also going to be asked by Lauren’s ex!

“Do you believe I am the guy that you should be spending the rest of your life with?”

Lauren’s eyes told a lot. She answers, “Yes!” Frank slips deeper in his chair!

Jumping on to the next question: “Did you have sexual relationship with anyone other than your husband after your marriage?”

I want to switch channels; I myself do not want to hear the answer and the resultant look on her husband’s face!

“I’d have to be honest and say, Yes!” says Lauren with her husband now looking absolutely distraught!

Did Lauren push the truth too far as the host, Mark Walberg, himself later said to the TV audience, “I strongly believe some things best remain unsaid”? Or was it all done to earn fame and fortune as Lauren told the New York Post later.

I am not too sure if I agree with the concept of the show! It definitely kept me glued, but later had me all disturbed thinking that this might just have broken a family! Or at least have come close to it!

Some might argue that at least now, nothing is hidden! I’d say, why hid it in the first place if you were planning to have a family together. And in any case, the NY Post report says, Frank apparently already knew these things!

Psalm 127:1 – “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it, labour in vain.

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The ball stayed in the air for only about 2 seconds! But that was enough to send a billion minds into an imaginative world where they could see men-in-green celebrating with pumped fists and villainous smiles! For those two brief seconds, the hearts of the same billion, watching ESPN, didn’t just skip a beat, it almost stopped functioning. Then good old Ravi Shastri shouted “Sreesaaaaanth… takes it. India win!!!” No one cared what Shastri said next as the nation erupted even as Misbah sank to his knees ruing the only blunder he committed in the match! I need not describe what happened next for by now the scenes of wild celebrations would be etched forever in mind of a nation that was formerly dwelling on the glory that was 24 years old!
Those who never understood and never even cared to bother about the simple basic rules of cricket became ‘experts’ overnight. Almost everyone did a pre and post match analysis! Few would argue that in India, these ‘experts’ were available aplenty. But so far-reaching was the impact of ICC World T20, that some of the fairer gender that had hated the game from the bottom of their hearts (still don’t know what that phrase means) left from work early just to see the finals, in which their heroes eventually did not disappoint! Those who never knew how Yuvraj Singh looked like, now knew who Misbah-ul-Haq and Stuart Broad were!

It will take some doing for me to forget a few defining moments for India in the T20 World Cup! This is purely my opinion!

1. Misbah’s mistake, Sreesanth’s catch: The simple, yet pressure-filled catch by Sreesanth after a scoop/paddle-that-went-wrong by Misbah-ul-Haq will now be played over and over again by the television channels, every time India prepares for a World Cup campaign. Not easy to forget this as the dugout ran out to join the Indian team celebrating for the first time as T20 World Champions.

2. Yuvraj’s Onslaught: Flintoff’s mistake. Broad pays the price. Provoked by Flintoff and with revenge on his mind, there was no stopping Yuvi as he murdered Stuart Board for six consecutive maximums in an over! Not to forget, Yuvi was hammered for five sixes in his over by Masscarenhas only about a week and half back. First over deep midwicket and out of the stadium, second a flick over square leg, third over long off, fourth an upper cut (his favourite of the lot) over deep point, fifth and sixth over deep midwicket!

3. The Bowl Out: The first ever time that I saw a bowl out and what a game to witness it! India-Pakistan. Misbah runs himself out in the last ball and we have a tie. So, what next? A bowl-out to decide the winner. Five bowlers each from the opposition will bowl one delivery each on the stumps at the batsman’s end minus a batsman! Indian’s practice and Pakistan’s ignorance about the rule was on display as Sehwag, Harbhajan and Uthappa hit the stumps and four of Pakistan’s prominent bowlers missed! India continued their 100% win record against their arch-rivals in World Cups!

4. Sreesanth’s War-dance: India’s victory against the Aussies in the semis may not have been possible had Hayden and Symonds continued to stay till the end! Sreesanth, wild as always, sent Hayden’s timber cart-wheeling! But the sight to behold was Sreesanth’s war-dance-like celebration running right close to Hayden and slapping the pitch with both his hands before giving Hayden a farewell in the way that only he can do!

5. Out-fielding South Africa: I never thought I’ll see a day when the Indians will outfield the South Africans! The South Africans dropped a couple of sitters! And the Indians meanwhile fielded as if their lives depended on it! Karthik took a blinder, Rohit Sharma hit the stumps when it mattered and clearly, brilliant fielding and clever bowling meant that the Indians not only defeated the hosts, but also knocked them out of the tournament! What’s new with South Africa anyways?

So excited was I after the Indian victory, that I went out and bought all the English papers next morning! So, here are the headlines from a few prominent dailies:

The Times of India
Intro line/Subhead: Pakistunned. India Win See-Saw Battle In Last Over

Hindustan Times
H/L: Top of the World (with one whole page pic of the team huddle)

The Indian Express
H/L: Young blood in a billion hearts

The Asian Age

I/L: Through guts and grit, Dhoni’s Demons bring home the first T20 World Cup

The Free Press Journal
I/L: Men in Blue demonstrate great self-belief, confidence, passion and a never-say-die attitude

Mid Day
H/L: Abhi khushi Tabhi glum (with two contrasting images of the current victorious Indian team and the team that sat sulking in West Indies after being knocked out of the World Cup)

Mumbai Mirror
No front page matter about the WC, but the headline with a whole page pic on page 23 read ‘WINDIA’.

And what is my opinion on the young guns, who have stood up and are begging the selectors to take notice? A few should be picked immediately! But those calling for the Big Three’s heads should think more than twice! This was Twenty20! In ODIs and Test Matches, not all these youngsters will fit the bill without proper guidance from The Three! They are experienced enough to know when their time has finally arrived for them to either join their family or join the commentary team!

As of now, it’s time to just sit back and cherish the feeling! A feeling that does not often visit the Indian sporting arena! A feeling that we would never want to part with! A feeling that left me speechless and yet let me shout “Yes! Yes!” A feeling that made me proud to be an Indian!

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