Friday, July 27, 2007

A Few Magical Moments

Now, the following isn’t a verbatim account. Yet, an attempt has been made to capture the magic that a cricket lover feels when watching a ‘true’ cricket broadcast.

Magic Moment No. 1

(The opening moments of the live coverage of the first day of the India vs. England Test match at Lord’s. Camera pans out from the pitch at the Lord’s cricket ground to show Harsha Bhogle standing at the boundary ropes.)

Harsha: “In 1932, it was this very turf on which C. K. Nayudu led out the first Indian cricket team to play a test match on English soil. Seven decades down the line, Rahul Dravid will lead out his team to play yet another fascinating Test match series against the English hosts. ~pause~ Welcome to the nPower India vs. England Test series, the first match of which will be played here at Lord’s."

Magic Moment No. 2

(India’s opening bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth, have been bowling either too wide or too short at the England opening pair of Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook. Even as the commentators are discussing this, the camera catches Richie Benaud and his wife sitting in the member's stand. Richie Benaud is animatedly speaking to his wife with his hands moving in what could only be a bowling action.)

Alan Wilkins: "Oh look, there's Mr. and Mrs. Richie Benaud. ~pause~ (impersonating Benaud) You see Daphne, they're bowling too short..."

Magic Moment No. 3

(Lunch session on first day and the commentary team in the media box are speculating exactly how much the slope of the turf at Lord's can help or unsettle a fast bowler. Ravi Shastri, Nasser Hussain and Harsha Bhogle are in the media centre while Ian Chappell is standing at the boundary line.

The commentators in the box have just educated the TV audience that the ground slopes downwards from the Pavilion End to the Nursery End. Therefore, a fast bowler bowling from the Pavilion End would send the ball down with greater force.)

Ravi Shastri: "Now Ian, you were the captain when Australia toured here in 1971, and you had Dennis Lillee bowling for you. Which end did he bowl from, the Nursery End or the Pavilion End?"

Ian Chappell: "Actually Ravi, it was 1972. And to take Dennis Lillee AWAY from the Pavilion End would be like taking away a bone from a bulldog..."

~Ravi Shastri and Harsha Bhogle can be heard chuckling~

Magic Moment No. 4

Harsha Bhogle (reading out a piece of cricketing trivia which has just popped up on screen): "Andrew Strauss was close to scoring a century in both innings of his first Test match. He scored a 100 in the first innings and was run out on 83 in the second innings by Nasser Hussain. ~turns towards Nasser Husssain, who is also commentating at the time, with a wide grin~ Why did you do that Nasser?

Nasser: "'Coz he threatened my position. So I said, 'Off you go, lad', and back he went to the pavilion after getting run out. And by then, I too realised that my end was near so I retired that very match and walked back into the pavilion and retired into the sunset."

Magic Moment No. 5

(Quite suddenly, Lord's is enveloped in one of those silences which recur with regularity at English cricket grounds.)

Harsha: It's all gone quiet out there....even behind the stumps.

~camera pans in to show Matt Prior~

Ravi Shastri: "Not for long, Harsha, not for long. Wicket-keepers around the world are notorious for being vociferous. Sangakarra in particular... he can get very noisy. How about you Graham?"

Graham Gooch: "I don't know about noisy.. but when I used to be batting in the Caribbean, I used to look back and there I would have Jeff Dujon just look at me and smile. I mean, he would just look at me and smile. ~pause~ And why not, he could afford to. When you have the top four most fearsome bowlers on the planet playing on your side, all you need to do is smile at the opposite team's batsman."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rants of an Indian cricket fan

India hangs on to a string of hope at Lord’s. As I write this, India is 282/9 chasing a target of 380. Thankfully, bad light has stopped play as of now but there’s no telling when the weather conditions will improve.

However, I’m pretty happy with this Test match. India’s precarious condition aside, this Test match was a joy to watch because of one very simple reason: the England series is being covered on the newly launched Star Cricket.

For someone like me who enjoys his bit of classic cricketing action, you have no idea how B-I-G a relief it is to see a proper cricketing show; a show which is hosted by Harsha Bhogle (someone who knows more than a thing or two about cricket) and an expert panel which boasts of names such as Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, David Lloyd, Nasser Hussain, Graham Gooch and (best of all) Ian Chappell. With a line-up like that, one doesn’t mind the odd snippet presented by Gautam Bhimani during lunch breaks.

This, as anyone who has torn his hair watching the cricket coverage on Set Max, is a great saviour. Let me enumerate the reasons why I disliked ‘Extraaaaa Innings’ (I hope I got the correct number of a’s in the Extra.)

  • One no longer has to put up with Miss Always-Controversially-Draped Mandira Bedi. Apart from the fact that she is an eyesore during a program which is primarily supposed to discuss cricket, the lady, I am sorry to say, hasn’t significantly improved on her chest (pun intended) of cricketing knowledge since the time of the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

  • There’s no more Charu Sharma around who concentrates more on constantly blabbering instead of asking cricket-related queries to people like Ian Chappell and Arjuna Ranatunga. Like my good friend Chatur pointed out the other day over a chat on the telephone, Charu Sharma would often cut short Chappell and others who were talking good cricketing sense. And oh, I almost forgot, there’ll be no more of his stupid grin when he stares/ogles at whatever cleavage Miss Bedi has on offer for the world.

  • The painful experience of having to listen to Ma Prem Ritambhara and others of her ilk is now, hopefully, a thing of the past. There’ll be less of fat women in clothes with outrageous colour combinations holding a conversation on how the ‘omens seem to be against the Indian cricket team but if a 100 million Indians pray for our boys, the good vibes might influence the performance of 11 individuals in the Caribbean’.

  • The cricket lover will be spared the expert comments of people like Atul Wassan, Ranjit Fernando and Ian Bishop. Oh trust me there are a lot more where these came from. It’s just that I’ve somehow miraculously (and thankfully) erased my traumatic memories of the mostly disastrous commentary team on Set Max. Personally, there used to be moments when I would mute the television while watching cricket when the aforementioned esteemed gentlemen aired their comments about what was wrong with the cricketing world.

  • A BIG relief is the manner in which commercials are shown between the overs. Set Max was not only notorious, but they were shameful in the manner in which they showed these commercials. Hardly would the last ball of an over have been played by the batsman than when the commercial would start playing. There were even some ridiculous and extremely frustrating moments when the commentator hadn’t even mentioned the score of the batting team at the end of the over and the picture would fade away into a commercial break.

All I can do now is look heavenwards and pray for two things. One, please let Star Cricket get the rights to the major cricketing action for the next few years at least. And two, of course, please either let there be more ‘bad light’ or rain at Lord’s so that India may be able to save the Test match.

P.S. I was originally also intending to speak about certain moments during the current coverage on Star Cricket. These were what I would call moments of ‘glorious cricket coverage’, for instance, the occasion when the camera caught Mr. and Mrs. Richie Benaud watching the first day of the Test Match. More of such beautiful moments in my next post.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why I love my current job

There’s a scene in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ where Sam suddenly stops in the middle of a field and exclaims, “This is it.” When Frodo asks him what it is that has made Sam pause in his tracks, he says, “One step more and I’ll never have been further away from home.” Frodo kindly smiles at his trusted friend, and eggs him on with words of encouragement.

The best part about having the work profile that I have currently is that I am in Sam’s shoes almost every second day. I remember thinking this way when I took the flight to Delhi and now, when I’m in Calcutta and have to explore the fringe parts of this city, I look back at each day as a day when I’ve explored some new land, met some new people, interacted with people with experiences different from my own, and have shared cultures slightly different from the ones which I’ve observed since my childhood. It is as if I visit a new world every third day.

Marketing rocks! No offence to people who slog away in cubicles, but I would much rather have it this way than any other way.

Friday, July 06, 2007

You ask me why I tap my trouser pockets??


As of the last 24 hours, every few minutes, I nervously keep tapping my trouser pockets. To the uninformed spectator, it might seem to be an odd habit bordering on the vulgar, but there’s a much, much deeper reason than you might want to conjecture (No vulgar puns intended).

You see, yesterday morning, I took the Metro train from Netaji Bhawan to Shobha Bazar. Once at Shobha Bazaar, I needed to take an auto-rickshaw to reach my office building. A few minutes after I got down at Ultadanga (the place where my office is situated), I realised that one of the cell-phones that I was carrying was missing. As luck would have it, not only was the missing instrument the more expensive one of the two, but also the one in which all the details of my friends’ contact numbers were saved. Had I been part of a Ramanand Sagar production, there surely would have been lightning striking over my head accompanied with the sound of distant thunder.

Fortunately, when I called up the missing cell-phone, the honest auto-rickshaw driver told me to reach the place where I had initially boarded the auto, i.e. at the Shobha Bazar Metro station. Turned out that he was a part of some local auto-rickshaw drivers’ association, which believed in handing back lost items. *phew* Thank God!!

After a long, long wait (an hour, to be precise), I was told to prove that the cell-phone indeed belonged to me. Once that was done, the auto-rickshaw drivers almost ganged up and asked me for whatever sum that I felt I should “reward” the driver with. I ended up giving them Rs. 100 instead of the Rs. 200 that they were ‘politely asking’ for. No issues, considering that the phone costs approximately a third of my current monthly salary!!!

So, the next time you spot a stranger tapping his trouser pocket nervously, don't give him an ugly glare... just give him a sympathetic smile if you must.


One female I’m really impressed with is Ms. Ana Ivanovic. For those who just went “Err…”, she is the female who has exited from the Wimbledon barely an hour ago. She lost to Venus Williams at the quarter-finals, but tell you what, I’m impressed with what I see.

(And by the way, what I see is this...)

(Photo courtesy of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour)

Now, now…don’t raise those eyebrows, hear me out.

Day before yesterday, I saw Ms. Vaidisova overcome Amelie Mauresmo, and I was genuinely impressed with the manner in which she didn’t get overwhelmed by the fact that she was facing the defending champion. However, she was not at all her composed self yesterday when she played against Ana Ivanovic.

Then again, she had played well and was on the verge of winning the match at one point of time. In fact, she had 2 match points in her kitty. But Ivanovic comprehensively outplayed her and denied her a place in the quarter finals. I was impressed with the body language and the confidence with which Ana clawed her way back into the match. Certainly, a player with a lot and lot of promise. She wasn’t seeded 6th for nothing.


And finally, all those of you who only think of a major cellular phone service provider from India when you hear/see the letters RIM, spare a thought for this:

(Spotted in a display window in a neighbourhood shop in Salt Lake, Calcutta: RIM Playing Cards)

Like I said, time to get something else in your 'mutthi'.

[P.S. Hey, I didn't top my B-school paper on Rural Marketing for nothing. After all, 'spurious brands' was very much a part of that paper :D ]

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Calcutta - Mumbai - Delhi - Calcutta

Sitting in a waterlogged Calcutta, I ruminate at how my world has almost come full circle in the last one month. Almost a month ago, I left Calcutta wondering when I would be visiting this place again. I thought it would only be in November when I would come back for a friend’s wedding…but then, life has funny ways of it own.

My company’s induction programme was held in Mumbai and we were treated like royalty throughout our week’s stay. This treatment would only continue once we reached Delhi, the city where I was sent as a part of an 11-member team for ‘circle familiarization’.

The Delhi experience was both, fun and educational. We went through the various business units and the various processes that are in place. Evenings would either be spent reading a book or watching a movie on a friend’s laptop or just chilling out at the malls at sector 18 in Noida.

Perhaps the best part about being at Noida was the fact that we were hanging around in a group. Although it had barely been a week since all 11 of us had met each other, the fact that we all came from similar educational backgrounds and with the same set of fears, jitters and expectations at the beginning of a career helped us to bond.

Coming back to Calcutta was unexpected and fun. I must admit that I was slightly disappointed that I would be back in my ‘comfort zone’ and hence, would be receiving my doses of “worldly learning” in limited amounts. However, home is still…well, home. No matter how much you crib or complain, there’s always a little child who smiles at memories of a city he’s grown up in.

And the recent downpour just gives you a ‘picture-perfect’ opportunity to realize why you like this city.

Waterlogged AJC Bose Road. This is right under the flyover that connects the Race Course to Park Circus. By the way, at the time of taking this pic, I'm standing ON the green railing that you see. The water to the right is knee-deep.

"Rain rain, come again..." A man enjoys an impromptu swim on his way home.

"Row, row your!!"
The car actually floated idly with every wave of water that was displaced by the buses passing by.

I thought I was the only one mad enough to take my cell phone out and take pictures of the city as it was on Tuesday morning. Turns out I was wrong. The gentleman seated in the rickshaw was doing the same, unknown to the poor rickshaw-walla who was carrying the heavy load.