Et Tu, Fellow Indians ??

I have been born in early 70’s, 20+ years after India was independent. So my knowledge of Indian history and our great freedom fighters had started with what I was taught through our history books in school. The names of Mahatma  Gandhi, Nehru, Netaji all came to an innocent child’s mind as it is expected from any school education. But nobody told me that time that our history which is taught to frame up young innocent minds is not that innocent – there are conceits, deception, back stabbing everywhere. Only when internet became affordable and access to an open world was at my doorsteps, I started to have these second opinions about what was taught was not correct – rather the messaging that got engraved in my mind during my school days perhaps did not reflect the grave reality. The so-called heroes of Indian freedom suddenly started to become blur at various points of time. The sharp sketches that were there in the history books for some of these heroes no longer looked sharp to me. 

Then as I got busy with my professional work and got to know many people from various parts of India and from the rest of the world, one thing started to slowly sink in very strongly. As a Bengali, we always tend to over-rely on our old time Bengali heroes more as my present generation probably do not have such heroes in abundance. I thought Netaji was one of those heroes who are loved by Bengali’s more than anybody else – while it is naturally true, I was amazed that people across India still reveres Netaji so much even today. Whether it is from Chennai or Mumbai or Delhi, the adoration towards that man is so huge that I never imagined. In many households, people still have picture of Netaji – and here I am not just referring to typical Bengali homes, but across India.

Along with that love, came radical thinking which thrived through heated debates within my friends circle – both personal and professionals. What I gathered through these discussions is that many of the Indians believe the contribution of Netaji to Indian freedom movement was much more than Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, etc. The principle of earning a freedom versus of getting a freedom through “begging” was something that is still debated amongst various groups. I am not an expert on this – so, while I have my personal view, I don’t claim that to be true. However, what I can claim as a proud Indian is that contribution of that person lovingly referred to as Netaji is immense, huge and highly respected by many. 

So, if the above is true, what stops the government of India to bring to conclusion the human-made mystery behind that person ? The explanations given by the government stating that the truth may impact foreign relations looks so lame to me. Here we are in 2015, with India as one of the top countries in the world and yet, we are worried about foreign relations with countries like the UK or Russia or any other nation ? That too when it is related to the life of one of our undisputed national hero like Netaji ?

Difficult to digest that. So the next thing that comes to mind behind the reluctance to disclose is the untold story of deceit, back stabbing and treachery, which in any case, has been doing the rounds in the Internet for long. Today some of those symptoms of deception are coming out in the open. Press reports are now coming up with very serious allegations of spying out of fear. Attaching one such report from a reputed media house in India – 

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/nehru-government-spied-on-netaji-subhas-chandra-boses-family-reveal-declassified-files-753933?site=full

So, now it seems that all the so called spicy rumours are actually coming out to be true. There have been many crusaders to demystify Netaji once and for all and amongst them is Mr. Anuj Dhar (Twitter handle of @anujdhar). While I don’t know him personally, but I believe he represents a mass majority of us who wants the truth to prevail …. Soon. Wishing Mr. Dhar s efforts all success because his success will be my success as well.

When treachery, deceit are now in open in declassified documents, that too fellow Indians, fellow people who believed in the common cause of Indian freedom, I am sure Netaji has been saying “Et Tu, Fellow Indians?” for long. While some of us have been hearing this for long as well, let us give the ultimate homage by revealing the truth.

And while the truth might expose and bring down the statues of some of the so called leaders of past India, let that be. Let the people of India know the real characters behind the famous names – because in any place anywhere in the world, everybody will vouch for truth and ultimate truth, irrespective of how much bitter it can be.

Till that time, let the momentum around  “Et Tu, Fellow Indians?” get stronger and stronger till the day when it becomes so strong that all walls of deceit comes down crashing.

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The same old story once again ?

The campaign and the hopes for millions are done for another four years. The journey has been completed with an exit from the World Cup after reaching the semi finals. The best balanced team has beaten us convincingly in the final knock out match of India. The response from millions of Indian fans has been written with lots of disappointment, which is quite natural given the passion for the game. However, some of the extreme reactions targeting and questioning the basic integrity of the players have forced me to think that is this the same old story of immaturity once again back ?

Let’s for a second pause and take a step back to visualise the situation before the start of the World Cup. The signals were very ominous for the Team Blue before the start of the campaign:

  • World Cup in Australia where the pitches tend to be too bouncy for Indian liking
  • Comprehensively beaten in last two overseas tours in England and Australia, tending towards complete “white wash”
  • Weaknesses of top Indian batsmen against fast bouncy pace bowling known by the world
  • Last 7 years haven’t produced a class fast bowler who can perform at overseas grounds. There have been patches of individuals who started with lots of hope and then fading away into oblivion with mediocre performances. 
  • Indian bowling attack, specially the pace attack, have been torn apart by the opposition repeatedly. 
  • Ishant Sharma was destined to lead the pace attack and yet sidelined due to injury
  • Morale have been at the lowest ebb ever, specially before the start of the biggest spectacle in international cricket
  • World Cup schedule demanded no “easy” matches for India in the start to gain some confidence
  • Dhoni’s leadership style questioned due to many controversies, on and off the field.

With the above scenario, the hopes of an average Indian fan was very pessimistic to start with. Jokes were around if at all India can win against some of the minnows, there will be hundred reasons to open the bubbly to celebrate.

After one month, India performed above expectations, having all win records in all matches, having bowled out all oppositions in all matches, pace bowlers excelled beyond expectations in all matches, batting up to the mark in all matches, Dhoni back to his cool skilful captaincy in all matches …. except for the disaster that happened in the semifinals against a much stronger team of Australia in their home conditions. That too when the crucial toss going against India.

And then hell broke lose …. Suddenly the same set of people who thought initially that India will be lucky to even reaching the knock out stage, went all arms and daggers out against the Indian team. With such low expectations from the team, when the same team just surpassed all the wildest dreams, suddenly the guns are out blazing to shoot them down ?

The dramatic Times Now channel went on the offensive with comments that Dhoni should have showed some more sad faces after the loss, players did not want to win and hence have been cheating the millions of fans, the captaincy was absolutely ridiculous, the bowling has been pathetic, etc etc. Yes, there have been a failure in that match, but to brand the entire team with those negative comments is totally unfair.

It looked like that after the match, if Dhoni, Virat and others had shed tears on the ground like that of de Villiers, we would have been convinced that they were actually trying to win the match !!! Whether the same set of players are devastated by the loss within themselves is not important, they should have expressed themselves with sorrow, tears, wrenched faces, then we would have  said “well played” !!!! Come on, give us a break !!!

I can only wish that more maturity comes to the responsible media channels, more compassion and understanding is shown by the average Indian cricket fans. Let’s not make yesterday, once more !!

10 defining moments of 2014

Another year has just passed by and as we welcome the new year of 2015, I took the first new year resolution that I will pen down 10 defining moments of 2014, which I feel had impacted the world. I am sure 2015 will be an exciting and good year for me – because, here I am taking time out on 1st Jan to honour my new year resolution. Believe me, this is a record for me and I pat my back myself :-) Coming away from the self-glory mode, let me focus on really writing on the 10 defining moments (in a chronological order based on the time of occurrence)

Welcome-2015-Bye-Bye-2014-5

1) Early 2014, most probably around Feb, we came to know the devastation being caused by the outbreak of Ebola. While the outbreak of Ebola is not new to mankind, what this made me feel that we are probably still hundreds of years behind unravelling the mysteries of nature. While technology has progressed by leaps and bounds in last few decades, still we are at a mercy to understand life and it’s manifestations through different forms – some makes us smile with hope, some makes us cry with despair. We can only hope for the best in the years to come ….

2) Political muscle power has been in display over hundreds, thousands of years. In olden days, kings used to force into others land in search of valuable resources. People have killed people easily in wars fighting over territories and show of strength. Ego’s have played big in many leaders of the world, past and present. Wars have been inflicted under the excuses of “imaginary” weapons; gaining “strategic” geographical positions to keep an eye on what others are doing; crippling economic growth or at least try to do so has been in play for years. So, when the Ukraine conflict started in Feb / March ’14, we are once again reminded of the erstwhile Cold War in action. While that struggle of power still continues, sometimes I laugh at the irony of human civilisations – on the one hand we give “peace awards” and talk of peace, harmony, development, growth; on the other side, the same hand does not hesitate to take action to break the same peace & harmony ! What a contradiction of human beings !

3) Disaster hit us when the ill-fated flight of MH370 just disappeared from everyone’s eyes. Yes – just “disappeared” ! In today’s world, when technology is in fingertips of people everywhere in the world, it is sad to convince ourselves that a big flight with so many people can just “disappear” from everything ! Or are we really convinced ? Till date, we have not got any conclusion of this disappearance – and till that happens, let us humans remain optimistic with the belief that the individuals in that flight are safe somewhere !

4) Came May’14 and came an event that has been rare in Indian politics for last few years. Came a political party with absolute majority by itself in forming the government of India after many, many years – thereby decimating the main opposition party by a huge margin. While I will not deliberate on whether this is good or bad for India, what we all have to admit is there is a big brand of NaMo on the rise – that one individual can take on everything and yet succeed in winning the elections is something I have not witnessed in my lifetime. Positive perception of India is on the rise since that day, stock markets have been consistently high – only thing to wait and watch for is whether the “acchhe din” (good days) have really come or not.

5) For every four years, sports lovers across the world always wait for the grand event of FIFA World Cup to happen – so, Jun’14 was the time of the year when people lifted themselves from their frustrations, problems of life and focused attention on the sand, beaches, beauties of Brazil. As always, this world cup also brought great tactical football – apart from that, two things really caught me unawares. Firstly, how frustration and disappointment on performance in one match can bring the demon out (again !) of a star and classy player of Luis Suarez! It was hard to believe even after seeing the replays that he actually bit a player (again!). The other thing was apparent from the first game – Brazil was riding on hope, emotions rather than quality play in the world cup. But that’s not what surprised me – the utter desolation, collapse of their play and riding on emotions was so spectacular that they conceded 7 goals in a world cup semifinals ! Germany scored 3 goals in 76 Seconds and 4 goals in 4 minutes (have a look at this article) – can you still believe that ? I have never witnessed such a collapse in football ever, that too in a semifinal of a world cup !

6) Oct’14 witnessed the recognition of human peace – the Nobel Peace Prize‘s were awarded to Malala (Pak) and Kailash Satyarthi (India). Contributions by these two individuals are undisputed – one a very “matured” girl, the other a great person. But what this made me to think that while so much animosity, fighting happening on a daily basis along the Indo-Pak border, here are two individuals from these two nations talking peace, walking hand in hand. Such contradictory visuals – but you still feel that one day, this “dispute” will come to an end and then common people from these countries can actually walk hand in hand.

7) Indian football arena was suddenly buzz with excitement with the launch of Indian Super League (ISL) in Nov’14. Optimism was running high and expectations were that Indian football will improve by leaps and bounds after this month-long tournament. Rationale was that if you practice, play and rub shoulders with players like Del Piero, Anelka, Pires, Materazzi, James, etc, definitely something will be transferred to the Indian players, apart from sweat and dust. Well, I had already shared my personal views on ISL in one of my earlier blog entitled “Indian Super League (ISL) – the saviour or the conqueror?” (https://ayanmajumdar.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/indian-super-league-isl-the-saviour-or-the-conqueror/). But definitely football had become more “family” game when you saw families going to the stadiums. Whether that enthusiasm still runs high when iLeague starts is something to watch for.

8) Internet freedom has been under threat for sometime now. Internet was defined as a place where expressions can be shared “freely”; technology is being advertised even today as “technology does not discriminate” – but in last 5 years, I have seen a throttling of such speech by ruling governments, whenever someone expresses opinions which does not suit or favour the parties in power. I personally feel that internet should be kept “free” and governments / corporations should not clamp down on the benefits for their gains. I also feel that control should be exercised by police if internet is used to violate laws (like fostering terrorism, human trafficking, etc). But broadly if technology can provide cheap facilities to common man for communication, expressions – then why will organisations intervene and try to control that for their benefits, monetary or otherwise. The small incident that happened in India in Dec’14 forced me to think on this topic – that is when Bharti Airtel planned to impose VoiP charges on consumers just because they are unable to compete with the likes of  WhatsApp, Skype, Hangouts, etc. While this was an incident of curtailing net-freedom because of profits, the issues of internet freedom will continue to haunt us in the years to come.

9) Throughout the year 2014, oil prices have been falling steadily. The oil price has fallen by more than 40% since June, when it was $115 a barrel. Currently is around $70 a barrel. At a meeting in Vienna on November, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which controls nearly 40% of the world market, failed to reach agreement on production curbs, sending the price tumbling. Also hard hit are oil-exporting countries such as Russia (where the rouble has hit record lows), Nigeria, Iran and Venezuela. While experts can analyse why this is happening, my guess as a layman is that again the reason of “conquest” amongst nations is probably the main reason. Of course, as a common Indian, I welcome this “fighting” amongst nations for a change – because at the end of the day, I can buy petrol at a cheaper price. Thanks for this “disagreement” and hope that this “disagreement” increases more and more in the years to come.

10) Finally, as I was almost certain the year will come to an end peacefully with no major incidents, came another out of the blue related to Indian cricket. The “sudden” retirement of MS Dhoni from test cricket at the end of the 3rd test at MCG between India and Australia has opened up all kinds of theories. We love controversies, we love “sudden” decisions, we love to be “experts” – we definitely had another opportunity to voice our opinions, have debates amongst friends and foes, listen to TV “experts” discussing on the issue, etc. Definitely the year ended with a huge energy level for sure :-)

So, with an opening balance of high “energy” levels, I am sure 2015 will be more energetic than ever. With this, I wish you and your families a very happy and prosperous new year 2015 !

Enlightenment after a big slap

The on going India vs Australia test series happening down under is quite gripping in all aspects. We are witness to great cricket from both sides with Smith and Virat Kohli starring from the respective sides. And then there is that ugly aspect of cricket championed by the Aussies which is in ample display on the field. The same menace that threatens the game to a potential physical brawl on the field – sledging!

Sledging is nothing new, thanks to the infamous contribution by the Aussies. But the so-called “sporting” Aussies, who always claim to appreciate ‘hard’ cricket, can’t digest if an opposition team gives back the same treatment. Then the “friendly banter” that the Aussies claim to be an integral part of the game, suddenly becomes an irritant to the game.

So when Virat Kohli led a vicious sledging attack to Johnson while batting as well as while fielding, then the supporter of sledging Ian Chappel comes up with a big concern that soon sledging might lead to physical confrontation.

To quote Ian Chappell – “The more players talk on the field, the more likelihood there is something personal will be said. If something personal is said at the wrong time there will eventually be an altercation on the field. When that happens it will be players who are punished and as is almost always the case, the administrators will escape scot-free, despite being guilty of allowing the problem to escalate to this point. Apart from the danger of an altercation on the field – and if you don’t think that could be ugly, just remember one player has a bat in his hand – there is the simple matter of the batsman being entitled to peace and quiet while he’s out in the middle.”

Well Mr. Chappell, did you and some of the Australians needed the big slap of counter sledging from Virat Kohli and the Indian team to realise that ? Now you realise that this may turn physical, specially when you saw Haddin, Johnson fell apart due to the sledging from the Indian team? Australian cricket always appreciated “mental disintegration” – what happened to that philosophy now, once you saw your own bowler disintegrating on your own home turf? One big slap on the ears have suddenly allowed the same ears to hear a different music.

Hypocrisy has been a forte for Aussies for a long time when opposition gave back same dosage of sledging – then they feel opposition has been doing “racial” comments and don’t have the guts to face sledging… they complain to papa ICC and cry like babies….

However, as long Aussies continue sledging, you will get a stronger dosage back – with lots of spice… Hope you can digest the Indian curry going on – if not, we can provide some complimentary antacids as well.

Digital funerals

In today’s world, it is very common that apart from the physical lives we live, most of us have a digital life through the internet. Whether through the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, whether through various posts we generate via comments or blogs, whether we simply “like” things expressing our feelings, we simply cannot deny the fact that we lead another life in a digital virtual format. Within this digital life, we undergo the same emotions, ups and downs of life which are vented through the very actions we perform through digital transactions. This might feel difficult to perceive, but I bet that if you are given access to all internet activities a person does in his / her lifetime, it will not be difficult to profile a person which will very well reflect the person. Even a layman can do the profiling, given the data and opportunity.

So, if we lead a “life” in another format, my question is what will happen when the person is no more in the real world and hence all transactions stop in the digital world? I am sure there has to be a conclusive end to the virtual life in the similar way we have a conclusive end to the physical life of that person. Otherwise the internet will be over populated with the footprint of millions of people, with the left overs of so many human beings and the cycle of “life” will come to a stop.

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I personally believe that digital funeral services, digital graveyard services will come up soon whereby a small place in the internet will be dedicated to the person and all other presence in the virtual world will either be inherited by that persons descendants or destroyed through some service, as unlike the real world, there is no natural wear and tear or dissolution of the footprints created in the virtual world.

I am not sure whether such services are already there, but will not be surprised if there are many service providers in the near future doing businesses by providing honourable funeral services, just like in real life the equivalent exists. So, who says that death is just the end – it may be the beginning of another set of activities and if that happens, then we will complete the circle of life in the virtual world as well!

Indian Super League (ISL) – the saviour or the conqueror ?

The Indian Super League (ISL) has just kicked off in India with a great optimism that it will transform Indian soccer and the “sleeping giants” will wake up and be a formidable soccer power in next 10-15 years. Yes, it has attracted lots of attention in the recent past – good money flowing in, a large number of “star” world cuppers will be in action, lot of media hype surrounding the event, Bollywood and Sports heroes in the fray, big advertisements – all the ingredients for a masala dish are out and are being mixed in true Indian fashion.

 

As I welcome a sudden energy surrounding Indian football, my question is whether ISL the saviour or the conqueror ? When I mention the word ‘conqueror’, it automatically implies that there will be a victor AND there will be ‘death’ of someone. Also, when I use the word ‘saviour’, it means saving or healing an existing disease AND that does not imply death of anyone. Of course, I will prefer ‘saviour’ any day! But based on the events that led to the build up of the event, I have a feeling that ISL is acting as the conqueror rather than a saviour!

We always talk of “inclusive” growth – but in this case, we do not see that happen. Irrespective of the quality of Indian football, over 100+ years, we had Indian football clubs like East Bengal, Mohan Bagan, Salgaoncar, Dempo, etc etc who have been serving Indian football. Yes, the quality was poor – but that was not just the problem of the clubs, but the problem of India as a nation. Hence, if we have to improve the quality and make the “sleeping giant” wake, it has to be started using the same clubs where the footballers play for the entire year. But what do we see here ?

We suddenly have a new tournament with a total NEW set of teams and management, ignoring the current structure and totally ignoring the current set of clubs. It’s like the equivalent of the cricket Packer Series – only difference is that this is allowed by the India football federation, AIFF! If the same model was implemented to improve the i-League using the existing clubs, definitely this would have improved Indian football by leaps and bounds. Nowhere in the world we have seen improvement of football by ignoring current set of clubs – even in Japan, the existing J-League was “enhanced” when Zico and other international players went there to play and boost Japanese football and not creating new football teams, new tournaments, etc. Can we imagine that to improve say cricket in Netherlands, all current teams/clubs are ignored and a new tournament comes in with new teams ? Or to improve Indian cricket standards in test matches, have totally new teams, new tournament and ignore the Ranji Trophy along with all the current state teams ?

The message of ISL has been “I am rich, I have money, ‘poor’ people will start licking my shoes; so I don’t care about others – but lets make a tournament for 3 months and lets have some fun” … will this really improve football ? If the answer is “yes”, then out of 12 months, we play a tournament for 3 months with a set of players, teams, coaches and then for the rest 9 months, the same players goes back to the poor old infrastructure, back to the ‘poor’ old clubs, back with the poor quality coaches ? And in spite of that, our football will improve ? Come on !

If the ultimate design is “kill the old clubs, kill all tournaments like i-league, Federation Cup, make this the only tournament”, then probably Indian football will improve, but by that process it will lose many supporters who are loyal to the existing clubs. The best way to test the popularity of ISL is to have an ISL match in parallel to an East Bengal – Mohan Bagan match and see which match attracts more spectators. I think I can predict the answer ….

Let us not make this ISL the whims and fancies of some rich people, time pass for some bollywood stars and cricketers, who still does not address how the long term old clubs will improve their infrastructure, bring in more experienced coaches, bring in modern sports medicinal research into play. Yes, Indian football needs complete overhauling, but not in this fashion. If same money, stardom, infrastructure was used to enhance the main football tournament in India, the i-league, then definitely our soccer standards would have improved in the long run, without “killing” someone by design!

Puja special – growing up as a typical Bong !!

With another Durga Puja coming in a few days, it is time to celebrate life as a Bengali, as nothing signifies more Bengali than gearing up for “Dugga” Puja. Thought to bring out some of the best moments that I used to enjoy a lot as part of growing up as a Bong !! The list can be endless, but to restrict that, I will just write on 12 such moments of a typical Bong – they may not be the best of the lot, but whatever comes in mind first is what is penned below:

  1. Let me start with Durga Puja itself. It was not the Puja itself that attracts a Bengali – it is the feeling of “Puja is coming” that perhaps excite more. As a person not too much interested in clothes, it was the “Puja-barshiki”s of Anandamela and Sandesh that attracted me most. The time when you get a thick “book” with new, fresh smell filled up with stories of Felu’da, Prof Sanku, Kakababu and Tintin. My brother and I used to fight for that special Anandamela edition – so much, that my father was forced to buy another one named “Sandesh” … and I got the taste of “divide and rule” first-hand
  2. I grew up in a disciplined atmosphere, when my father ensured that I need to study for some hours every day, even if the school is closed. While I appreciate the value of the same today, I used to hate that – any teenager thinks parents act as the worst enemies, isnt it ? :-) But Durga Puja was special – as those 5 days starting from Sasthi was exempted from that rule and hence those five days were simply glorious
  3. Bong’s have the reputation of spending more than half of their income on food. Anything that is exquisite is something a Bengali yearns for. And it all started with Sunday’s mangsho-bhaat (mutton curry with plain rice). A Sunday was not categorised as a “Sunday” unless you have mangsho-bhaat followed by a great siesta! And if the stomach grumbles, Bong’s love for Gelusil is exemplary
  4. Before 1905, in 1905 and after 1905, Bengal has remained united and will remain united. Almost. Ahem – Bong’s actually split into two when two clubs start a match – East Bengal and Mohan Bagan. That rivalry has been for ages and will remain for ages. Even during a local (para) football match, a dull game suddenly becomes live with viscous tackles when the locality decides to play a “East Bengal – Mohan Bagan” match by making the teams based on your support. I grew up in that atmosphere thanks to my uncles … and that has now in my DNA so much that in the time of Messi, Ronaldo and many greats, I will still watch a East Bengal – Mohan Bagan match rather than an Champions League final ! And East Bengal is the best – if you don’t believe, just check the records, you macha’s !
  5. If your food accidentally gets into the breathing channel and you start to choke and cough, common sense says you look at the ceiling so that gravity helps that part of the food slide down quickly. But Bong’s have made that famous by telling their children “opor’e dekh – laal tik-tiki” (look up, red lizard). Of course you don’t find any red lizard, but at least I had perhaps tried 100 times to look for a rarest red lizard in Kolkata :-)
  6. Bengali and sweets is known to everyone. My highly diabetic aunt used to have two rosogolla’s after a Sunday breakfast stating to her doctor son “You guys dont know anything. After luchi, you need to have sweet to digest”. I don’t know if ever any doctor, irrespective of how mad he is, will ever certify that statement
  7. The most irritating and yet innovative winter wear I have ever seen after visiting so many places in the world is Bong’s monkey cap. When the mild winter has not even started, all non Bong’s are keeping their fans on, here comes the proud Bengali with his “monkey cap” on. That part of the dressed worn from the head covers everything except for one slot – where your eyes to lips is exposed. The entire head, ears, chin and even neck are covered by that woolen cap. And that display is up at a temperature of 16-17 deg C – when the rest of the world feels relaxed and says “it’s a nice weather now”
  8. Whether you like it or not, a birthday cannot start without a “payesh” (imagine a sweet pudding with lots of rice in it). And worst part is your mother will cook payesh, your aunts will cook payesh and even the maid will cook payesh when you have your birthday as a child. I now know the reason behind my revulsion towards “payesh” – my birthdays!
  9. In Bengal, if you visit for the first time, you will probably find that the distance is measured in time and not in km or miles. Ask someone – how do I go to Gariahat ? Answer “take the auto – maximum 10 minutes”. How far is the airport from Jadavpur station ? “Well, by taxi, around 45 minutes, but for the traffic in Baguihati, it will be 75 minutes”
  10. I still cannot understand why our Prime Minister or United Nations head or even President of USA do not consult Bong’s for a solution of the most complex problem. Bong’s know everything, every Bong is an expert as well and every one of us believe the rest of the world are fools not to consider his opinion. Debates are the strong love of Bong’s and topics can be anything – financial market crash to Angelina Jolie to upcoming elections in UK to why potholes are increasing during monsoon season. We are the best – at least, we believe our opinion’s are the truth and only truth. Period.
  11. Irrespective of the results one achieves in school, parents will always say “abar faaki dichhish ?” (“again you are not willing to study”). You can top the class or the board exam or be a genius, you will hear this statement from all parents. And if you are a dull boy with negative IQ like me, then you will hear this 10 times every day
  12. Sleep is impossible with a pillow and the most comfortable bed ever – unless you have the “paash-baalish”, how on earth can you sleep ? For those who don’t know “paash-baalish” – it is a big pillow, cylindrical in shape, with length big enough so that you can embrace that with your legs. I wonder what happens to the habit after marriage (cannot go into more details please!), but till you are a teen, this sleep catalyst is a must, otherwise your entire childhood will be sleep-less and you will be a child-insomnia person

Each one of the above brought a smile in my face … hope it brings in yours as well ! Wish you all Happy Puja’s !

London

London.. The headquarters of the erstwhile superpower of the world, the center of power in a small island which almost controlled the entire world by its own,  the city with rich history brimming in the foundation of power, wealth and politics, the city which has transformed itself into a living delight into the modern world of the 21st century, the city which now boasts of a cosmopolitan population, mixture of races language and culture.  And this is the same city where I have now spent 3 years of my personal and professional life.

The river Thames running through the heart of the city, small in size but yet clean and beautiful. The walks along the southern bank makes you realise that you are encountering citizens of almost all countries – either coming here to pursue their dreams or a better living or just stopping by to absorb the pulse of life and attractions.

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The now lonely red telephone booths scattered by the path ways speaking of a glorious past and yet now neglected to the mercy of the occasional tourists stopping by just to take a snap. The dials are rarely dialed now, yet the wires dangle awaiting their destiny.

The reverberating music echoing in the tubes or under the bridges speaking of unfulfilled dreams of dreamers and performers. Yet quite lively on sunny days thronged by unknown passerby stopping occasionally for a couple of minutes and then walking away towards their destination.

The tube network cris-crossing underneath the city and carrying people, some tired,  some engrossed on music or fiddling with their smart phones. The same journey where you find to listen ten different languages in less than ten minutes. The travel when you are forced to rub shoulders against strangers, yet with a politeness that defies normal logic.

The long yet narrow escalators symbolising modern life when humans just keep running through the moving stairs with not a single minute available as a spare time to look around the boards showcasing the latest theatres. When standing on the left sometimes can be a big ordeal with you forced to chug along the uphill stairs till you reach the top.

The pubs at every nook and corner of the blocks filled with people enjoying their bubbly almost everyday. Where the less dressed girls do need to step out in the cold to draw on their cigarettes, hiding their shivering with occasional laughter.

Where the railway stations on late nights starting from Thursday are filled with dressed and beautifully painted women running barefoot to catch their last train home with the high heel shoes dangling in their hands. Where you will see some heroes walking like a knight in 10 degree centigrade with just a real short shorts.

Where you will find the elderly going religiously to the Lords cricket ground to enjoy the test matches and yet dozing off for quick naps just after lunch. Where you can still support England’s opponents with your top voice and enjoy the friendly banter with the fellow English supporters whenever your team is in trouble.

Where you will find the unique Kolkata egg chicken roll in the middle of the Zara’s, the Debenham’s of the world. Where Oxford Street stands for shopping and not related to education. Where you will see swelling crowds everywhere, irrespective of whether there is a ‘sale’ or not.

Where you will find immense greenery within the heart of the city, where ducks, squirrels, swans do not get afraid if humans go too near to them. Where you will find lazy guys sleeping with a cap on their eyes, where you will find roller skaters of varying degree of proficiency, where you will find people enjoying the sun on beach chairs without any beach nearby.

Where good weather means “no rain”, where sometimes summer starts by the arrival of the month in the calendar and not dictated by the ambient temperature, where you are forced to hear “mind the gap” on rainy days even when the gap is quite small for a toddler to jump across, where you are often reminded to take your own stuff when you leave the train.

And the list goes on and on….

This is a city which became part of my life and in spite of the rare sun you get to see,  this is a city which touched my heart and which continues to make me wonder how so many people from so many countries and so many cultures make this city ever vibrant that you tend to enjoy.

The eternal bias

The cricketing world has again gone wild when the news surfaced that India has formally complained that Jimmy Anderson of England had physically pushed Ravindra Jadeja when the players were walking off towards the pavilion during the lunch break. As this apparently happened in the pavilion tunnel and outside the purview of the television camera’s, there is a lot of conjecture and speculation happening on the facts and figures. ICC has been called in and a panel will be sitting to investigate the matter through an official enquiry. This is where the facts end, as of today.

Now comes the reaction from the media, ex-players from both the countries impacted here. I have studied the reactions and found out that the reporting in the Indian media has been limited to reporting the incident. That’s all – no hanging of any culprit has taken place, no allegations of sure foul play has been alleged, no abusive or aggressive stand taken by any ex-cricketer of India.

What’s has been the reaction of the British media? Well, at least the main newspapers have reported the incident, but some indications of “cry baby” India has been there in some of the newspapers. But the interesting thing is the view from the English ex-players. Many of them have already drawn the conclusion that lies have been told by the Indian team and all these are absolutely rubbish, etc etc.

I really wonder what drives this behaviour. Just because India is a country where unfortunately corruption is quite rampant allows people to believe that most of the Indian players will lie, make false allegations given a chance? Or is it that as has been true for last centuries earlier, English opinion is always correct and third world countries do not have the right to even voice their opinion?

I remember when England lost a test series vs India in England years back, one Chetan Sharma played havoc and was alone responsible to bring victories for India. Reactions from the English team? Chetan Sharma must have chucked the ball as otherwise how come India can win a test! When Flintoff took off his shirt in Wankhade stadium after defeating India, that was celebration of the aggressor; when Ganguly did the same on top of Lords balcony, that was a shame to cricket!

Come on! Grow up… The days of colonial rule are over and now the once-timid countries will stand up and give the same medicine, with more dosage than before. Whether some people like it or not, the world is changing; the equations are changing and soon it may happen that people will listen to some music that they never dreamt to be heard!

Till the matches end, let Indian team give fire back to fire; let them treat opponents in the same manner as they have been treated. Obviously we should play in the spirit of the game, but if the spirit vanishes from the opponents, we should be tough, aggressive yet showing a dignity that the opponents will find hard to digest!

Champions League 2014 Final

At the outset, I was totally pessimistic on today’s final between Atletico Madrid (AM) and Real Madrid (RM) – simply because Real Madrid was a much superior team in terms of individual players, experience and style of play. This effectively meant that Atletico Madrid as the “weaker” team will play to a strategy that will be hardly entertaining. As I believe a weaker team will have to play defensive and a “negative” brand of football, relying on either counter-attacks, slice of luck or eventually the “lottery” system of penalties. This is the way I have seen football evolved over years and I had written the same in an earlier post (click on the link https://ayanmajumdar.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/the-evolution-from-a-laymans-eyes/ to read the same). But this is not the topic that I want to write on today. What I want to share with you are my thoughts on some defining moments of today’s game.

Firstly the gamble of playing an injured Diego Costa backfired on AM. Not just of being deprived of a prolific striker, but also consuming one of the important substitutions which will be costly specially if the game went into extra-time. And as destiny would have it, the match did went into the extra 30 minutes, thanks to a last-minute injury-time equaliser. Whether a star player who is injured should be brought into the playing XI is always debatable, but I personally believe this is worth a gamble. Because one chance or one flick resulting in a goal can be priceless plus the morale of the others rise tremendously when you have the star striker playing, when many people think he won’t.

Then came an ultra-defensive display of AM for next 30 minutes. Hardly the RM creative players got space – be it Ronaldo or Gareth Bale or anybody else – only exception was Di Maria who was threatening to break free through some skilful wing play. In the history of the game, there have been many instances when defensive-playing teams have pulled the result in the end … and they have done defending doggedly in their own half. However, what I found a difference between AM and other defensive teams of the past, AM forced the opponents to keep the ball in the mid-field and not just in front of their penalty box. This is indeed a credible strategy – as the pressure of soaking of attacks just in front of the penalty box is too high. Very often, the team’s succumb and one moment of brilliance of the opponents or one mistake of the defense can lead to disaster.

But the “mistake” came from RM – an almost trophy-loss mistake from the experienced Casillas. I still wondered what he was thinking ! The AM player Godin was getting an innocent center, there were 2 stoppers behind Godin, the ball was even not within the small box and on top of it Godin had his back towards the goal – so the most he can do is to head backward, which can never be powerful. But to my dismay, Casillas went ahead, was caught in the no-man’s land and that tame back-head was a goal !! Just reminded me of 1990 world cup when Zenga, the Italian goalkeeper, made a similar mistake against Argentina and that had resulted in the elimination of Italy when the world was thinking that Italy should be the champion!

Then was a continuous spell of dogged defending – very often by 8-9 players. By that time the pressure increased from RM and in spite of the defense, Di Maria was breaking the defense – however Ronaldo and Bale were often spectators. So, my thought was that either there will be a mistake or a blunder for RM to come back to the game, or it would be a victory of AM. My thoughts were almost coming true … almost …

Then came the equaliser in the 93rd minute of the game – just 2 minutes away from the end of the match. And I felt that there was a big mistake by AM in their defense. Yes, it was a great corner and a great header by Sergio Ramos, but what was the defense doing ? I will not blame why Ramos got the space to head without being challenged greatly (as that kind of movement and head flick can happen without much challenge).

I will blame the strategy of defending against a corner – normally you keep two defenders keeping the ends of the two posts with the goalkeeper in the middle. And the reason you keep those two defenders is to thwart out a perfect head or a perfect shot – which will beat a goalkeeper when the ball enters through the corner. To me, irrespective of the quality of the goalkeeper, there is that space having the width of a ball which an out-stretched goalkeeper will never reach – if you can place there, whether in a dead-ball situation or a penalty or a shot, the chances of getting a goal is 90% … and that is why you keep those two defenders to protect that precise situation. But here, there was no defender at all manning the posts – and so a perfect header from Ramos was beyond the AM goalkeeper Courtois to protect. Look at goal below for you to judge:

So, just 2 minutes away from the match, a drastic mistake aided by a perfect header … the match was equalised and the die was cast.

It was now just a matter of time when RM will tear apart AM – as not only they got rejuvenated by that life given when they were about to die, but equally AM players will feel the despair of being so near and yet so far. And now you have a  rejuvenated RM coming at a despairing more-mentally-tired AM with full venom for 30 minutes. So it was just one goal and the flood-gates will open … and it so did … the strike from Gareth Bale after a mesmerizing run by Di Maria – the match was over. Two more came in as a bonus.

So, at the end of the day, I felt the right team won and the right spirit of the game was upheld – a spirit of positive, entertaining football (instead of a negative defensive brand of soccer).

PS : I don’t know who was the Man of the Match – but my choice would be Di Maria as he alone threatened AM continuously and was definitely the architect of the Gareth Bale goal

Champions of Europe

 

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