Monday, April 26, 2010

Sporting Miracles

My First Sports related blog.

I was watching the IPL game last night and witnessed RC take out DC and I caught myself talking out loud (in response to another DC wicket)...."Shit, these guys are useless!!"

The look on the batsmans face as he walked off the field triggered a memory flash...a younger me walking off the cricket field on the Sishya field, having got out first ball in an intra school tournament. A whole bunch of students watching (worried more about the girls though!;)) ...some sniggering...I remember the thought that ran through my head, "Machan, you dont even know how to hold a bat..."

In the same match, standing behind the wickets as the Wicketkeeper/Captain I remember my team-mate Mayank, a wonderful pace bowler (though with an erratic run-up that confused most batsman) bowling with full gusto at the opponent. Wonderful line, a gentle swing, perfectly pitched and rising to perfection, beating the batsman and into my gloves, standing 15 feet behind the stumps. I also remember the pain!

He was not bowling any more than 75 or 80 kmph (we were only in the 10th grade and small built)...but even at that distance behind the stumps my hands were killing me (though I had inner gloves and a brand new set of keeping gloves, grudgingly handed over by the PE teacher)....even though I had collected the ball cleanly, the stinging sensation running up through my hands made me see stars!

In world cricket we see speeds in excess of 120kmph...from a medium pacer! Even Kumble, a spinner (off break) generates speeds in excess of 100kmph. The wicketkeeper actually stands right there, up next to the wickets...imagine his reaction time when he makes a stumping or run out…mindblowing! To understand the magnitude of their achievements we mere mortals have to slow the video down to fractions of seconds and even then we need modern technology, with all its computing power and simulations and 100billion operations a second, to tell us something the umpire already knew 10 seconds ago, with his finger up in the air! An interesting example of the sheer pace of events on the field was put in perspective when, between overs, the TV producer replayed the images of a fielder at short midwicket hold a catch from a sizzling shot by one of the batsman. They replayed the shot and resulting catch in slow motion again and again, while measuring the time from when the ball hit the bat to when the fielder caught the ball. This entire sequence of events took 0.6 seconds! For humans to experience fluid vision we need to see 24 images (frames) a second. This shot and the catch was captured in just 14 !

If mankind is looking for inspiration we need to look no further than these tiny miracles that happen everyday in every sport at every level. Performance and human capability taken to the limits. At the end of the day, as mere mortals, who are we to Judge?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Want to watch a chip?

'Films' were called films as the medium on which they were captured was a physical strip of photosensitive material. So you could watch a 'film' at the local theatre.

With the advent of digital technology and movies being recorded on re-writable electronic memory, the 'film' is almost obsolete.

Does this mean the local theatre now features the latest 'chip'? The 'chip' that I saw yesterday was very good. The 'chip' critic gave a thumbs down to the latest 'chip'. I went to the theatre to watch a 'chip' and ate chips and coke for a snack...and the list goes on.

Time to rethink?

Go figure.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chapter 11- Laptop Blues

My laptop seems to be on its last lap. Its memory is failing and it keeps losing its keys, on the keyboard that is. Viral infections have taken a toll on its system and it suffers from a bad case of the COLD (Completely Outdated Laptop Device). The software is hard to use and the hardware is overused. To get it fixed I have called in the handy-dandy service professional but from day one it seemed like I was talking to an Alien from outer space.

He tried to switch on my computer and could not get it to turn on. That’s when he mentioned that I had a boot-sector virus. I was a little embarrassed. I am not sure how he figured it out but I did have a little fungal infection between my toes. He must have smelled my shoes while entering the door. Embarrassed, I told him I would get it checked by my podiatrist soon. He also requested that I backup my hard drive frequently. So I have taken to driving my car in reverse in front of my house everyday. I dont understand how this helps my computer but who can keep up with technology these days?

The other day he came to fix some problem with the computer and nearly gave me a heart attack! He mentioned that I had low Level-2 Cache. How did he know that my bank account was short of funds? In fact I was so strapped for cash that I was not sure I could pay him for his services! Somewhere along the way he also mentioned that my chipset was old and needed to be replaced. The guy had some gall! Not only had he raided the snacks in my kitchen without my knowledge but he was complaining about the expiry date on the packet of chips. He finished his work and mentioned he would be back the next week. I quickly hid my boots as he left, for fear of another nasty comment from him.

He returned the next week and he mentioned that he had a new Motherboard with him. I could make neither head nor tail of this. Was his mother living with him now? Or was it someone elses mother? Maybe a stepmother? Why did he mention it now? Maybe he knew I could not pay and was looking to have his mother stay with me for a while! As he messed around in the computer he made another funny statement. He mentioned that he was going to rearrange the BUS to increase speed. Was he using public transport to move around? I could see his car standing outside so that did not make sense. Maybe there was a lot of traffic on the road and he thought public transport would be faster. Who knew? I let it go but I thought to myself that these geeks were a weird bunch!

Just as he left he mentioned that he was going to replace Windows the next time he came. That’s it! I finally figured it out. This guy was some sort of crook who under the pretext of being a technician scoped out houses, ate their chips without permission, used public transport to avoid detection and involved his mother to blackmail financially-stressed people like me. And now he was telling me he was going to replace the windows in my house, which he would then break into at some later date! Nice try pal! I am not falling for that one.

I let go of his services and junked my laptop. I had the last laugh too. I used the money to put up a new security system on all my windows. After all, he’s not the only one who can install a Windows Security update!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


The greatest risk is to risk nothing at all

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vande Mataram

One of my articles published in the Indian Express a few years ago.


It was a typical muggy evening in a sunny southern state of America. My sweat stained kurta sticking to my back, I stood in line waiting to buy a ticket for the Festival of India. This was an eagerly anticipated annual event and drew large crowds of the sub-continental people from all around. It also drew indigenous crowds of ‘educated’ people wanting to ride elephants, see snake charmers and shake hands with a Maharaja. They were sorely disappointed. The snake had escaped and bitten the Maharaja, who was then taken on the elephant to the emergency room.

As I waited, I glanced at the poster for the event. It promised a wondrous evening showcasing the diverse people, food, cultures and titillating splendors of an exotic country, if you could get into the auditorium. There were long queues for tickets comprising homesick Indians looking to talk to another human being without having to roll their r’s. What surprised me most was that not one of them was jostling for space to get ahead in the line, there was no fat uncle rubbing his smelly armpits in my face and definitely no one spitting paan on my shoes. Talk about culture shock! The odds of seeing such an orderly queue in India is rare. Some would say as rare as India winning the Cricket World Cup. Either of these events is cause enough for the general masses to rise up in union and exclaim jubilantly in chorus, “The gods are on our side! Our sins have been forgiven!” Of course, this would promptly be followed by political parties calling for a curfew to ascertain which gods were being propitiated and to include a quota for proper representation of the minority communities in these prayers!

But I digress.

An excited throng of sari, dhoti, kurta, salwaar and turban wearing multitude milled around the auditorium. The incessant babble of people around me was intermittently drowned out by music blaring from the speakers. Small shops had been setup selling everything from cheap imitation Indian jewelry at exorbitant prices to pirated Hindi movies, still running in theatres back home. Dance programs on stage highlighted the latest fads from bollywood songs, with enough pelvic gyration to give the local belly dancer a hernia! Even the large overflowing trash cans in every corner seemed to lend an aura of authenticity.

My attention was drawn to a table across from me. The sign above it instantly piqued my interest. I licked my dry lips with my tongue. A slight tremble in my hands gave away my anticipation. I moved closer to the table. I reached out slowly. My hand closed in around the plate of free, hot samosas. It was not a figment of my imagination. Neither was the small cup of sweet chutney on the side. I dipped the samosa in it and took a bite. An overwhelming surge of curry spice and sweet chutney enveloped me in a sense of well-being. I licked my fingers and wiped the delicious crumbs from my lips. I beamed from ear to ear. And that’s when it hit me.

It is well known that, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. The belief that love is governed by a base need like hunger leads me to re-state, “To know if man has a heart, fill his stomach”. I walked away with a renewed faith in my fellow beings, my country and in the unstoppable positivity of a satiated stomach. With a look of utter satisfaction on my face and lightness in my step, I thought to myself, “Fill the plates of the hungry and the poor in India and you will soon rejoice in its new found patriotism.” After all, one billion stomachs’ is a ‘whole lotta love!’

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chapter 10 - Vanakkam, my name is Mani.

Was walking by a nice, clean building, single storeyed, blue and white exteriors. Looked like a bank. It was. The brightly lit sign outside said in bold white letters against a blue background, “GE Money”. Right underneath in tamil text, the same. With my limited knowledge of Tamil, it took me a while to “kooti padikku-fy”. And that’s when it hit me. GE Money, when read by a person in Tamil, especially if that person was from the boondocks and did not know about the existence of the mutli-billion dollar conglomerate, would make absolutely no sense. I stopped walking for a few seconds and a broad smile wrapped itself around my face as this imaginary conversation between two village bumpkins ran through my head:
First bumpkin: “Dei, yaarida intha G.E. Mani? Ooruku puthusa? Enna Vikuran?”
Second bumpkin: "Theriyada? Ooruku puthusa vanthurkire collector!"

("Dei, who is this G.E. Mani? Is he new in the town? What does he sell?")
("Dont you know, he is the new collector in town!")

I continued walking and i started to wonder if there was any other business names that rural folk would have a problem coming to grips with! Any ideas?

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.