Monday, July 5, 2010

Birds of Karnataka

As a 12 year old, I was into hobbies. One of them was birdwatching! Well, in the literal sense. No pun intended. I had a pair of binoculars, a book of common birds of India by Dr.Salim Ali and of course, a field guide – to make notes and sketches of my observations on birds found in my locality. I also had subscriptions to Hornbill and the British Wildlife magazine . I could very well call myself an amateur ornithologist.

Today, after almost as many years as I was old then, I find myself a birdwatcher still, though of a different kind. Friends know, I got bored of this aspect of birdwatching too, months back. Recently however, I was inclined to start off with traditional birdwatching again. So, I’ve planned to visit the Banerghatta National Park and Nandi Hills among other places. My area, Whitefield also is home to some interesting species of birds I would love to know about. Here’s a compilation of some of the rare bird species of Karnataka of which I’ve seen only two(Blue-Winged Parakeet and . . )
Four out of the five descriptions presented below are courtesy Ornithological Archives of the Wildlife and Conservation Department of Karnataka/India. And the last one . . . is a work of fiction by Yours truly!

1. Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon

Family : Columbidae

Scientific Name : Columba elphinstonii

Description :
The Nilgiri Woodpigeon (Columba elphinstonii) is a bird endemic to moist deciduous forests and sholas of the Western Ghats in southwestern India. They are identified in the field by the checkerboard pattern on their napes. This pigeon species qualifies as vulnerable owing to its small, declining population, restricted range and widespread destruction of its forest habitat. A few relict populations survive on the high altitude hills of the peninsula outside the Western Ghats formation.

Habitat :
Biligirirangan Hills and Nandi Hills near Bangalore.

2. Blue-winged Parakeet

Family : Psittacidae - Parakeets & Hanging-Parrots

Scientific Name : Psittacula columboides

Description :
The Malabar Parakeet also known as the Blue-winged Parakeet, is endemic to the Western Ghats in Southern India. he Malabar Parakeet has beautifully colored plumage. The male's overall color is a bluish-gray with a sometimes reddish-pink tint. One of the things that make this bird so striking is the double ring around the neck of the male. The lower ring is a brilliant light blue, while the top ring is more of a greenish dark gray color. They have green feathers in front of their eyes, which extend towards their beaks. The plumage on their heads is bluer in color than the rest of their bodies, though it gets progressively lighter at the top of the head. Above the nares and on the cheeks the blue color is more distinct. They have a striking bright red beak with a bone colored tip. The female Malabar Parakeets lack the brilliant blue band around their necks. Males generally have a greener casting to the feathers on their foreheads, and female's heads are gray. The bill of the female is black, as opposed to the brilliantly color bill of the male.The average adult Malabar Parakeet measures 38 centimeters in length.

Habitat : Evergreen forest and humid montane forest between 450 m and 1,600 m; occasionally also in humid lowland forest.

3. White-bellied Treepie

Family :

Scientific Name : Dendrocitta leucogastra

Description :
The White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra) is a bird of the crow family found in the forests of the Western Ghats and associated hills. A record from Erimalai near Dharmapuri marks the eastern limit of the species.The species is often seen bowing and lowering its wings as it calls. Several birds may arrive at one tree and call repeatedly during the pre-monsoon breeding season (April-May). The nest is a platform of twigs on a medium sized tree.

Habitat : Western Ghats.

4. Grey-headed Bulbul

Family : Pycnonotidae – Bulbuls and Finchbills

Scientific Name : Pycnonotus priocephalus

Description :
The Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is endemic to the Western Ghats of south-west India, found from Goa south to Tamil Nadu, at altitudes up to 1200m. This bulbul is resident in moist broadleaved evergreen forest with bamboo and dense undergrowth. Its plumage is olive-green, with a medium-grey head, yellow-green forehead, black chin and grey tail. Its bill and irides are pale yellow. The upper rump and lower back has blackish bars. The tail is grey with black outer feathers broadly tipped grey. Both sexes are similar but juveniles have the head dark olive with the yellow on the forehead duller.

Habitat: Moist-deciduous forest, flanked by scrub and acacia monoculture, hills, valleys, ravines, floodplains.

5. Hot-headed Tweetie

Scientific Name: Tweetus Sweetosaurus Sonnacrazium

Brief Description: This bright-eyed, bipedal, chuckling vertebrate is as much an object of
desire, as it is, of research.

Habitat: Usually resides in RaRe Nagar but species originally hails from Dharwad/Bellary region of Karnataka.

Population: Unity.

Built: 'Healthy' & Diminutive.

  • White in regulated low temperatures
  • Red when provoked
  • Pink when invoked
  • Pale yellow when sick or disturbed

Best features:
  • Luscious beak
  • Silky mane
  • Soft feathers
  • 1 inch long eyelashes

Food habits:
  • Vegetarian.
  • Gorges on beetle leaf
  • Glucose based eatables
  • and yes, Apples!

Self Defense mechanism:
  • Has the knack to turn 'invisible',
  • 'block' incompatible species and
  • use high-pitch baritone to the effect of tearing apart eardrums.

Flight Capabilities: Knows how to fly in high altitudes but prefers staying 'down to earth'.

Other traits:
  • Has affinity for the colour pink
  • Repulsive to smoke/pollution
  • Cleanliness freak
  • Loyal to clan
  • Highly sociable with other species
  • Aggressive towards migratory bird species from Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly though, prefers their native lingo for recreation.
  • Probably the only bird species to migrate 36 kilometres up and down everyday for the sake of alternate livelihood.
  • Normally likes warmth but can be 'cold blooded' in rough weather.

  • For birdwatchers - Once sighted, induces permanent amnesia for other bird species.
  • For Pet Keepers - Highly domesticated but can turn wild at the slightest pretext.
  • For prospective Males - Has a heart composed of pure Gold, a brittle element. Meant to be handled with care.

-Loo©zar: 5th May, Monday, 5.30 pm.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Butterfly Effect

There was no power last night and my nerves were getting punctured by blood-thirsty mosquitoes from all sides. It was a drone attack of a miniature kind. The tortoise coil had given up and the tortoise in my arse revolted to uncoil. And so I went out, almost only in my 'bear' essentials. It was 3.30am and drizzling. The Imadihalli Main Road barely had a dog barking or a late-night cab dropping software coolies home. Silence was not golden but pitch-black. I had taken no watch, cell, money or even my house keys with me. They were all safely stacked at a place I could retrieve them from after coming back. After walking for a while, I reached the Kodi bus stop near Forum. Though without a watch, I realized it was 40 minutes since I'd started as it precisely takes that much time for me to reach there from home. The Kodi bus stop is near a circle that leads to two ways, one towards west and the other towards north. I'd always taken the western route as that's the apparent silk route to all amenities, luxuries or whatever you name them to be. Never before did it occur to me to take the visibly unattractive northern route. Except for today.

Due North, as I walked up the Varthur Main road, unraveling uncharted territories, I found there was life there too! By now, it was 4.30 and people had started commuting. People were as busy there as they would have been in any other part of Bangalore. Of course, what a ridiculous thought after all! Up ahead at a distance sometime later, I saw a silver stretch of water, reflecting the suburban lights, all calm and still. My feet were paining by now cause of lack of physical activity lately. So I thought to take a look of the lake up front and then go back home. The road kept taking blinding curves and it always appeared that the lake was very near. But it was only after an achingly long hour that I was able to see the lakeside that appeared so tantalizingly close all this time. Patience paid as the view was absolutely enthralling and somehow rejuvenating. So I meditated on the stillness of the water and felt that it was not still after all. There were faint ripples almost oblivious to the naked eye. And there was a stork, silently waiting by the edge of the lake to catch the odd fish that, with a poor sense of premonition, decided to take a breather. A bike passed by, the rider turning his head towards me. He was probably startled to see a lunatic sitting on a milestone in the middle of nowhere. As if I cared. Nonchalance, which had seeped into my sleeves along with rainwater, fuelled my faculties as I walked further up the acclivity, alone. It was when I'd reached the Varthur Police Station that I found something lying on the road. It was a red Jack out of a pack of cards that someone had probably dropped in a moment of celebration.. or accident. Who would celebrate in this dark and pre-historic part of Bangalore and why? As I contemplated that, sipping tea at a shack nearby, I observed the most obvious of things that had eluded my reasoning in the last few years of self proclaimed sane thoughtfulness.

I saw a vegetable wholesaler disembarking gunny-bags full of fresh vegetables from his truck. Street vendors had assembled in hordes to take away their share for the day that they would later sell to us so that we could get our daily meals. And then there was a frail old man riding a bicycle at breakneck speed, carrying four milk containers, two on each side. He stopped his bicycle with a jolt and very briskly delivered those cans to the local milk booths which still had their shutters half down. Just a couple of minutes had flied by as even the city bus drivers and conductors could be seen in greased khakis, mobilizing themselves for a busy day ahead. They started their daily chores dusting off the buses and garlanding idols usually placed above the gear panels. Soon after, they gathered inside an andhra mess to have breakfast. It was then that I wondered that the breakfast they would be having there must be the usual idli-sambhar or masala dosa which could not have been prepared had the wholesaler not delivered the vegetables to the vendors or the vendors didn't sell it to the mess workers. And if they didn't have their breakfast, the buses might start off late from their respective stops and the commuters - with a majority of them being students and IT professionals would suffer big time. What if I told you this could dent the future of India in a rather invisible way ? Woah, sounds far-far-fetched right ? Well , may be but given that such aberrations are fairly common in our daily lives, each one of them actually amounts to disrupting little cycles of productivity that involve a fair number of stakeholders. And coalesced together, such dropsize disruptions multiply ad infinitum to create socio-economic tsunamis that wreak havoc with our lives without us even getting to know about their existence. Sample this. For every ten minute delay in even an early morning bus ride, at least a dozen people reach their workplaces late. Say, one of them is a banker. It means another ten people at a counter having to wait ten minutes more. One of those at the queue could again be a cop missing out on a few files to be signed at his office and so on. The effect of falling dominoes that’s created out of this reaches far and wide and as a return of favour it comes back to you, in some form or the other. And you need not be a protective cop or a life saving doctor to have an effect on this ecosystem of productivity. You could be a school kid or a house wife or any insignificant nobody, or another brick in the wall. So no matter how much we try to isolate ourselves in cocoons of self-aggrandizement, we remain badly meshed up with one another in strings better left entangled. To come to the end of it, the low-on-glucose jogger in me finally gave up and caught one of those buses back home. Soon, I was under the cozy confines of my hand-woven jaipur quilt, hugging the oft-molested and sweat soaked pillows. The last thought that I had before sleeping was of the little girl on the bus solving a geometry problem with enviable concentration, unaware of the milling crowds and the honking vehicles and heedless of the dampness of the front seat on which she was sitting. I was once like that and more – a compulsive problem solver, bubbling with ideas and energy, passionate about every little thing in life and armored with a killer instinct that once rendered me lethal among friends and "enemies" alike. But today, I was just a disgruntled and disenchanted sloth who had chosen to sleep off the day at the break of the dawn when others were busy breaking even in their respective businesses. I could very well be accused of breaking the same cycle of productivity I had observed earlier and was a part of. And I, my friends am a software engineer – keeper of once, the most admired job in the whole world! Matter-of-factly, this makes for a poor recycled joke nowadays. Nevertheless, even today, the IT sector rakes in astronomical profits that supposedly drive the Indian economy. The aforementioned adjective of supposition is partly inherited because of people like me and possibly like you who choose to break one cycle after another, day after day, causing mass suffrage tantamount to a genocide in a condensed passage of time. At the other end however, it's the lesser mortals we pass by everyday who are creating fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, though not quite the CK Prahlad way. To cut a long story short, what I learned from this random outing of mine is: Life's all about creating values - however infinitesimal they be in scale, for yourself and for others. So wake up Sid, munch a handful of caffeine if that is what helps and sleep off, but never!
-Loo©zar 4pm 17/05/10.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I really needed to write today. It was in July 2008 that I last wrote. It was a blog on the epic Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal. Times have changed since then. Changed for worse. I recall telling a friend that I prefer writing only when I'm emotionally overwhelmed. That is usually when my adrenalin gets inebriated and flows, as does my pen. Since that day till today, there have been numerous such instances but I never wrote. I wonder why I'm writing today.

Time has unfolded in such a way that has left my emotional quotient fluctuating like a richter on Mars, so much so that it has almost defied its very reason for existence - for a quotient is a parameter with restrictions on how it behaves, or at least shows a trend. My EQ has had no pattern. It's been erratic, chaotic, restless, wayward and what not. Here, the year 2009 'trails by example'. It began with a good friend abruptly snapping all ties, then a car accident that almost killed me, and soon followed by mercy killing of a half-paralyzed relationship that lasted four and a half years, or so I felt..! It was then that I came to understand why euthanasia is banned in most countries. For though one half of you could be paralyzed or dead, the other half could be well alive and kicking, almost oblivious of the numbness prevailing close by. And in this regard, the aforesaid 'act of mercy' was an accident always waiting to happen. So 2009 could well be called the year of accidents. Leave apart the occasional acts of obsessive, compulsive self-harakiri like overboozing at pubs, moping and brooding in air-tight cubby holes, fagging for no reason at all and flirting around - with chicks, with life.

The art of flirting has always come naturally to me. I flirt to enjoy, sometimes to fight boredum or depression, and sometimes to avenge all womankind and vindicate my own stance on it. In due course, I've met several kinds of females: some of them phony, some narcissistic, some beautiful, some too beautiful, some intelligent and some too intelligent. There are countless other types. Variety, as I quip, is the spice of life. With some of them I also pretended to be in love, may be to help me out as a mock-drill for the day I'm actually in love or may be simply because I missed being in love. The best part is, I always knew I was pretending. Almost none of them though emanated the vibes of a prospective soul-mate. Not even close.

To sum it all, I actually didn’t flirt with girls. I flirted with my own life. There are other important things in life - career, health, family ties; I flirted with all of them. And that reminds me telling someone that if ever I happened to write a book the title would be: How to screw up anything - 1000 simple ways to screw up your own life..! Much like how people take smoking, I've always wanted to quit flirting ever since the time I began it. But it never felt brimming and spilling over my head. Today, for reasons more than one, it does. The Tipping Point has just come. And I can very well sense it. Somehow it has just died out by itself. It's ironic that when I used to flirt I never found a soul-mate, but today when I've almost quit, I have found someone worth being one. I'm very certain she doesn't feel the same but if she has read Paul Coelho, she would at least know that "Any woman with the least bit of sensitivity can understand the eyes of a man in love".

She's beautiful and quite logically, she's committed too; whatever in French it is supposed to mean. Men drool for her like workers around a queen bee. May be they get attracted by her visible charm but her ways are beautiful all the more. And so are her little imperfections like her sensitivity to heat, an odd acne on the cheek, parched chocolate-brown lips,geeky specs, short height and love handles near the waist. Somehow I can connect with all of them. Somehow I just wish they remain as they are or I would probably like her less..! As if to say I resemble a greek god myself. By far, I don't. But cathartic is the way she hums or sings, as it almost drains out all the pain from my body and the negativity from my soul. Mesmerizing is the way she looks into my eyes, as when she does I feel like believing. Believing that goodness still exists,and that her eyes understand me like no one else does. It's just the way she does the simplest of things that makes me take a bow. When she prays to God early in the morning, the agnostic in me prays for her. When she hits me naughtily, I want to be hit more. When she pulls my sleeves to cross the road, I wish the tautness remains forever. When she hurts her leg while walking, I feel like giving her a piggyback ride. When she holds my hand, I try clutching hers harder. And when she says nothing at all, I freeze like mercury at absolute zero. It's her. Understand she does. Desire she does not. I wish I could tell her how she has breathed life into a writer who was hibernating like a sloth bear for a year and half. I wish I could tell her what my eyes silently try to. It's hoping against hope for sure and I know it means nothing. But if I haven't got you, it means nothing either.

Looczar: 14 Mar, 2010, 5pm.

Monday, July 7, 2008


It started off with rain, as it often does. My first ordeal of the day was AIMCAT, a test for MBA aspirants. The last two tests had been a respite from the nerve crackers, not this one. I was reminded of the depth of the troubled waters I am in. Rain did help to further the cause and dampen my spirits. As you'll later see, there is something about rain that puts things in random motion- be it the vehicular traffic on roads or the thought traffic in minds of people. It does not matter to many though- especially the busy and the practical. I have always wondered the meaning of the latter however, what it really means to be practical in life. Well, let’s just be practical about it. I mean, practical people don't carry emotional garbage in their minds and don't let any traffic jams happen in there. Sorry for the diversion. So, after being mauled and trounced in the test, I headed to a restaurant with a friend, as if to celebrate my 50(that’s quite nearly the score I’d got off 300 balls so to speak, Balls to Me!) The food was oily and bitter, thanks to a garnish of chicken bile in Murgh Masallam,or I would never have tasted venom and survived.

Anyways, so far so bad. Once back home I thought to reboot my mood by watching sports. It was an important day for sport lovers for two reasons :1.the Asia Cup final between India n Sri Lanka and 2. the Wimbledon final between Roger n Rafael, both were lined up for primetime. The Asia Cup final started earlier. I dint care to watch the 1st innings as I find cricket rather boring these days. So I worked my time out with the remote to find Star Sports where Wimbledon was being telecast. Not many people are avid tennis fans in this part of the world. Cricket is their religion- as was mine before I quit murti-puja of the men in blue. So I'd to manually tune the channel until I could strike an optimum balance between the grains and the noise.

The Match

The Wimbledon final was supposed to have started by six thirty had it not been for rain-delay. By now, Sri Lanka had started slogging in the penultimate overs of the cricket match(as if I cared!). I was dying for the spectacle in the All England Club to commence. After a few hiccups, the match finally started near seven or seven thirty. I don’t remember exactly when as my eyes were continually glued to the telly and it was quite a task to lift them up just to watch the living room wall clock.
The atmosphere in the centre court was ecstatic, with grey clouds hovering around still, wind blowing like a serpent, changing its directions- all symbolic of bigger things to follow. The grass looked a bit slippery, ringing warning bells to the fast movers on the court. The setting for the finale was absolutely perfect- a 15000 strong star studded yet emotive audience who’d paid as much as 5000 pounds for a pair of tickets, the media people with hundreds of cameras and flashlights, neatly dressed ball-pickers, expressionless referees with walkie talkies, experienced commentators dissecting player profiles, the who's who of the tennis fraternity, other celebs, friends and families of the two champions- all surrounding a lush green Wimbledon centre court, which in tennis lingo, is said to be the best place to win and also the best place to lose for anybody. Not anybody reaches the ground zero of tennis though, where careers are made and destroyed. But I am not talking about just anybody here. I'm talking about the two finalists, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who the crowd welcomed with a reverberating roar of cheers and applauses. Commentators grew hysterical from that point on with Viay Amritraj of the "ABC of tennis" fame even going on to analyse Federer’s coming out to the court ahead of Nadal !!

Until recently, Switzerland was known for its chocolates n watches, Spain for bull fighting n football. But it was all set to change soon as after Sunday, the two countries would be known more for their tigers, the powers that govern not just tennis but millions of minds that watch the game with bated breath, every time the titans clash.

Federer-Nadal contests have always proved to be ferocity v/s gravitas, style v/s substance and magic v/s logic, all rolled into a single package. This was no different but for the fact that both the players displayed all the above qualities at different points in the match, overcoming their self-imposed limits and venturing into uncharted territories never seen before.

One must mention that there's quite an interesting comparison between the two players. They're similar, yet they are different. Both measure 6 ft 1 in height yet one is muscular and the other is frail. Both don’t emote while playing, yet after winning a match, one simply throws his wristband to the crowd as the other throws himself over. Both are the best in their own right, yet one's the no.1 and other no.2. Both have stronger forehands yet one's left handed and the other is right handed. Both are chasing Borg's record, but of different kinds. Both have their heads held high in the clouds, but feet firmly footed- on grass for one, on clay for the other!! Both tend to get better with every passing game, yet one likes to stay put and deliver the winners while the other likes to run all around the park, wallowing in dust n sweat. One is elegant while the other powerful. One tricks while the other toils. And varyingly, one proposes while the other disposes. Die hard fans of the Spaniard are free to think of it as an analogy between man and God!!

On to the match, the 1st set was a repeat of Rolland Garros with Nadal having Federer completely out of sorts. The second set was no different and it seemed a humiliating straight sets loss for Federer was imminent. Lost he did, the 1st two sets 6-4 6-4 as Nadal continued to dig deep into Federer's weakening backhand. Never before in his entire career had the Swiss got 12 break points and converted only one. Both had a phenomenal winning streak before coming to this match. Federer had a 5 and a half year streak of 65 matches on grass. Moreover he was yet to lose a set this year and had lost just 3 sets in the last 3 years in Wimbledon-all to Nadal(unconfirmed data). Nadal too had an overall winning streak of 23 matches, winning most of them on clay.

Drama finally unfolded like a George Lucas flick, interspersed by.. rains(I told you). For some reason, every time rain delayed the match I would switch the tv off and whenever I turned it back on, the audio video lag would scare me, sending my thought traffic berserk, making me wonder whether the roar was for a Federer point or a Nadal one. Part One of the blockbuster was when Vampire Nadal sucked the blood out of a beleaguered Federer's neck, leaving him tottering at two sets down. It was however, Part Two, after the rain-break, that stole the show, when the Emperor struck back with vengeance. This really was the high point of the match, and for strange reasons. Never before had anyone seen Federer getting stretched to such an extent on grass. He was huffing, puffing panting, running and sweating. Yet only the acutest of observers would have noticed it as the Swiss always carries a band of icy coolness on his forehead that disguises the human he actually is. This was also the part when eventually the Duracell powered Nadal who otherwise appears tireless, suffered severe fatigue, more mental than physical though. The good and the bad thing about Nadal is that whenever u see him play, by the middle of the 1st set, he looks so tired as if he's playing the fifth one. Yet when he’s actually playing the fifth one, he looks so fresh as if he's just started off with the 1st set. Nobody ever wants to get into a rally with Rafa. The more you make him play, the more lethal he becomes, which's probably why it required Federer to use his deadliest weapon, the ace, to elude Rafa's magnetic racquet from heaving n slashing the ball. Federer served 26 aces in the match, most of them to make phenomenal comebacks. He saved two championship points in the third set and pulled off the tie breaker- stand n deliver style, thanks to those aces again.
So Part Two had the world no.1 clinching the 3rd and the 4th sets, both in tie breakers, as neither of the players found it possible to break the other's serve. Federer had an impressive tiebreaker record anyway. He still lived dangerously though, hanging on, game after game, raising calls that went IN(or OUT of!) his favour by a margin of not more than a millimeter. Just when it seemed to be the case of a brain-dead patient being supported by apparatus, life suddenly breathed in to Federer and the game he played after that would probably have cleared all the doubts regarding who really was the greatest men’s singles player of all times-so much so, that the standards defined by the likes of Borg n Sampras looked mediocre in retrospect. It was particularly the fourth set tie breaker that saw the god in Federer emerge out of nowhere and send Nadal spinning on his wheels. Then there were the rallies, that had the ball darting from baseline to sideline to baseline and so on. Heads turned and hearts beat fast and one would have thought that tennis was not a game for those suffering from spondilitis and heart disease. Rain came again with the scores tied at two sets two games a piece and deuce! Time for Part Three of the super flick…

Back in Karachi, by now India had lost the Asia Cup thanks to a "return to form" of our fabulous batting line up. I was obviously not bothered about it. I'd made my choice- already having asked God that if there had to be a shortage of supply of goodies for me that very day, then please grant me a Federer win and adjust everything else against it. I didn’t care what %ile I got.. There were 16 mocks still to go. I didn’t even care if India won or lost as cricket has become a weekend passtime nowadays, thanks to the multiplex gloss of T20, we don’t prefer the art movies of the yesteryears anymore( read ODI's n tests). Cricket fanatics, kindly forgive me for that!

Now back to tennis- the greatest game ever played. Those who did watch the final know I've a reason to say this. So, finally it was 6-6 in the final set and as per the rules there was not going to be any tiebreaker, something Federer has always been so good at. What a climax! In the latter half of the match Federer had always looked to have a slight upper hand even though the balance remained tantalizingly poised well till the very end. Both the players were merciless on each other as they raised further calls, this time desperate ones.7-6 7-7,8-7.. The cat n mouse game continued and it looked as if it'd never end. It was already nine in the night and the neon signs in London had started to glow. It was 4 hrs 46 minutes into the match when Federer failed to improvise the drift of the wind and lost two consecutive points of his own serve. As fans cried Roger in unison and Fed's own wife closed her eyes in sheer helplessness, Nadal fired a cross-court bullet by a flick off his wrist and Roger Federer was held listless. Serving for the match Rafa lost the 1st point as the god in Federer played his last magical shot, seconds before the gods up in heaven played dice with him, as he lost the match and the championship in what was the longest men’s final ever played at the Wimbledon.
Today, as I think of those defining moments of the final, I find my eyes moistened and my skin goosebumped. Wow! Was it just a tennis match? No, it wasn't. It was something else. Something language can't really describe. You have to feel it for yourselves. Nadal, when asked how he felt as he lay on ground after winning the match, replied, "it's very difficult to describe. Thank you!".. Fed n Rafa might not be so articulate in English as some of their other compatriots, yet their vague wordings expressed it all. Both were all praise for the way the other played. They might be the best of buddies off the court but one felt as if Nadal was more happy for the match finally having come to an end rather than for him becoming the Wimbledon champion! Even the smile on his face was overshadowed by the exclamation on his forehead. Still, bite he did, not just the golden trophy in his trademark style, but also a slice of Federer's glory. It's feared, this may mark a u-turn in Federer's illustrious career. A very strong comeback also can't be ruled out, such is the stuff legends are made of.
Those of you who didn’t watch the heavens being brought down to earth yesterday, may you rot in hell. Yet for those who did, don't u agree that irrespective of the result, it was tennis that emerged victorious. The game was lifted to new heights with yesterday's match and even Fed and Nadal would find it difficult to surpass those standards in the times to come.
There were quite a few moral lessons to be learnt from the match though..
1. A god is a god as long as he's not confronted by another.
2. Nobody is god and the One Who is plays dice to make sure of it.
3. Never lose hope in life. You can always make a comeback even from two and a half sets down.
4. Mental strength and not stroke of genius separates the grain from the chaff, the special from the ordinary.
5. You need not BE the best to BEAT the best.
6. Persistence pays, haste may lead to waste.
7. However much you change your lines of fate, after all, we are destiny's children.
8. Whatever goes up, must come down.

The Men’s Singles Wimbledon Final, 2008 was such an enlightenment that suddenly all those oft-repeated platitudinal quotations have started making sense to me: what Longfellow said about the lives of all great men, what Robert Frost said of the miles to go, what Shakespeare said about the world being a stage and may be also what GB Shaw said about cricket! Never mind.

For centuries, man has been smothered with change all around him but somewhere down his psyche, he hates it. That’s probably why most of us cling to an old pair of jeans even as the new one lies neatly folded in the wardrobe. Same applies to our other choices too. The one who rules is prayed to rule further as, all these years we had attached our own aspirations and desires with the crowning glory of the victorious. Their successes gave our whims n fancies wings of desire. We started relating to our idols so much that they became inseparable parts of our existence. Even today, that’s how a fan is born. That’s how the masses follow sports. That’s how the Mortal Gods are created. And, when the mental image we have of them changes in the real world, either we try to ignore it and pray for them, or worse still, when a string of failures takes the sheen away from those fallen idols, we shun them and adopt new idols to give our vulnerable egos a sense of undiminished false pride..And you know what, that’s how bloody life goes on. Not a very sporting people. Are we?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Off the Mark

No April rain, no flowers' bloom,
No wedding Saturday within the month of June..
No summer's high, no warm July,
No harvest moon to light one tender August night..
No autumn breeze, no falling leaves,
Not even time for birds to fly to southern skies.
Stevie Wonder

The twelve months of the calendar, much like the twelve zodiac signs they roughly represent, are significantly different from each other. Not just in chronology but also in the way they affect our lives. June, for me is the month of contemplation. Pre-monsoon showers, retreating clouds, low pressure zones or westerly winds- who cares. It's about when most of Youngistan takes a break. Even some of our busier kins notches above in the hierarchy ladder climb down to join us on weekends and so it usually turns out to be the month of catching up, rejuvenating ties n taking a stroll down memory lane. This is one month, when I believe, a majority of us to the left of the generation wall would do well to remember, to reflect, on what their "click"-paced lives seldom allow them to- for unlike the laws of optics, real life witnesses a stark dilation between incidence and reflection. So, it's that time of the year when there are no festivals or any change of the calendar. Yet these are the moments when u must celebrate life and make resolutions u must keep, for when June arrives the next year, nostalgia will grip u firmly, with a nauseating sense of deja vu shuttling between the could be's and the would be's, the haves and the have-nots, of life. So folks, here I am getting off the mark, bitten by the blog bug and smitten by herd mentality- fishing and "reflecting" in shallow rain waters. I don't promise u continuance, the Osama way but I do promise u change, the Obama way.

This is the first one in the 'MORNING, NOON & NIGHT' Trilogy(though i'm not a Sheldon buff).


"Goood Moorning, Indiyahh!!"...Yes, It's early morning, at least from a lay-man's(sic) perspective and I am sitting in my room- near the window, slurping a cup of stimulating lemon tea and soaking my lungs with intoxicating whiffs of air, that are carrying with them the smell of the mud and of the half-ripe mangoes, with little seasonings of a sweet bovine odour and that of a damp haystack, not to speak of my own caustic farts, thanks to last night's bonus helpings of chicken butter masala at a nearby engagement function of a distant relative. A squeaky clean roll of newspapers is lying beside, in the balcony, waiting for my lazy bum to come and collect it. Newspapers, hmmm. They certainly bear a one-to-one correspondence with mornings, in general. What better a way to start your day than by reading a newspaper and inundating your mind with countless reports of single celebs, double murders, triple party coalitions and so on. Media after all has rightly earned the label of the fourth estate. Which other organ of the state would otherwise break your window pane or peek through it. I don't blame the news-hawker though. I believe he's a real godsend. Who else on earth would wake up before dawn, crawl his way through the streets, and deliver your favourite tabloid right at your doorstep(or window pane!!) while you're still dozing off under the comfy confines of your quilt. And the poor chap does not even demand a paltry labour charge for it (though he does make other "adjustments" to your monthly bills quite often).Additional to the pains taken by him, is the importance of what he delivers. The newspaper!!! Buoy, I swear it is one heck of a multi-purpose commodity. The list of its usefulness goes from seeking knowledge to having fun and what not! Let's just spare a moment before we get ahead with our morning chores and see what a newspaper means to everyone in the family.

-For details of summer camps and join the dots or find the difference sections.
-As a ready reckoner for all the soporific and weird programmes on Pogo clashing in timing with those of higher trp's on the other channels.
-To know about the latest offers on Milo, Lays' and the like.

-For pics of national toppers in entrance exams and for ads of the coaching institutes of the same.And more importantly..
-For a desirable pic at an undesirable place: that of the ravishing girl next door who recently secured the highest aggregate in class XIIth board exams.
-Sports page, for the latesht hairshtyle of Dhoni.

-For tv listings of all programmes on primetime starting with the letter K.
-For Page 3 gossip about celebrity break ups and extensive research on what caused them.
-As a material for foiling parathas in long journeys.
-As a temporary replacement for the beautiful patch-work table-cloth while it has gone for dry cleaning.

The middle order(read age) heavy-bats (Dads, elder brothers and other goons):
- As an accessory to be taken to the loo.
-As a stress buster to vent pent-up frustration of job by crushing and folding it to an extent of virtual molestation.
-As a place to look out prospective grooms for their daughters or sisters and prospective companies/institutes for their sons or brothers.
-Also as a place to look at the quarterly losses of their own companies and hence for seeking prospective employers for themselves too.
-As a veil to hide the covert side glances at bagalwali Mrs.Pathak with khule fatak.
-As a notepad to scribble that important phone number of the property dealer, only to have an altercation with wife, later in the day, for having used it to wrap aloo parathas for Chunnu.
-In short, as a kit for total redemption in all walks of life. As you see, these obviously are the people most fond of newspapers.

Generation X:
Ah, I bet you waited for this. But don’t we all know what we use it for. Still, here goes.
-For enlightening our political viewpoints in an effort to actually have one.
-Sports page, for Ana Ivanovic's thighs and Roger Federer's demise.
-Ads, for updating our awareness about the latest gadgets n gizmos and for growing personal discontent over our current models, both at the same time.
-To look for alternate ways of earning a livelihood and new ways of spending money.
-Page three, to boost the power of imagination by a certain spread and use mechanism that also improves our hand-eye coordination to a great degree.

The oldies(grannas n grannies, supergrannas n supergrannies):
Well, grannies are usually the only lot who probably have absolutely nothing to do with a newspaper. Zilch. Yet for all those sexagenarians, octagenarians and beyond..
-As snacks for real-politik discussions on the Chaiwalah's termite ridden wooden benches.
-To attest and redraw their political biases by extracting between the lines tidbits.
-To look for that rare little column on the cinematic legends of their times, not in page 3 but in the obituary section.
- To wonder about the pace with which the world is leaving them behind and worse still, to look for healthy ways of life to control it from happening the other way round.
-Lastly, as a pal to spend their time with, bothering about everyone when almost nobody bothers about them.

Phew!!! So, the list took you some time to read. No wonder, It's quite sunny now. The middle order is taking guard at the crease(going to office) while the oldies are still busy with their running commentaries at Shibbu Chaiwalah's...

Mr.Mehta-"..Are sharmaji have some pakoras too"

Mr.Sharma-"Ha Ha... inflation has tied our hands Mehta ji, Aap hi khao"

Mr.Mehta-"Are hamara kya kharcha hai, this is all we spend apart from medical expenses"

Mr.Sharma-"Haan par ye UPA sarkaar bhi votebank politics khel rahi hai. Gawarment should listen to the left."

Mr.Mehta-"Relax sharma ji. Relax. Worrying about things is not going to change them. I think the BJP should come to power. UPA is a bunch of crooked blood-suckers. My son- wahi jo MLA hai, says things are looking positive"

While the talk was still on, a small Maruti Zen zipped past the tea shop, stomping a pothole near it and splashing filth all over Mr.Mehta's dhoti. Call it Mudslinging!!

Trivia: Ironiocally, zen in English also means being relaxed and not worrying about things that you can not change. Mr.Mehta surely knows. Also, hailed as their prized possessions, Maruti cars are often considered second bread winners of aspiring Indian middle class families.
(The car later entered the Assembly Building of the sprawling Secretariat Campus. It belonged to MLA, Mr.Rajneesh Mehta).

Back at home, I've just gorged on the breakfast prepared by my mother, who, by now is giving a piece of her mind to.. Chanda ki Maa, the bai. Well, if you are taking a break from work or are staying at home most of the time for any which reason, let me tell u that maid servants are as integral a part of the morning chores, as are newspapers. Even they are the news bearers(local ones) and work at the grassroot level. They seem to pick news up out of thin air or vacuum and disseminate it with an efficiency that will make the legendary Reuters turn within his grave. Where they differ from newspapers though is in attendance. Heavens forbid but if civil society was ever to have a finishing school for house-maids like there are for air hostesses, all of them would flunk badly on account of poor showing up.

Meanwhile, as their ad-libbing continues incessantly in the background, I turn on the television to give my indolent feet some inspiration to go to bath and set the pace for a quieter afternoon...!!

NOON follows soon... till then, let's have a nap!!