Friday, July 14, 2006

Why Zizou, Why?!

As I type out this post, FIFA has initiated discipinary proceedings against one of the greatest footballers of our generation, Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi, the Italian defender for their respective actions in bringing the beautiful game to disrepute. Zidane has apologised for his actions to his fans and has asked kids across the world not to follow his lead this time round.

Like millions of people across the world, I too stayed awake and watched history being made at the finals of WC 2006. Frankly, I was pretty much neutral. My favourites, Argentina, had been knocked out by their coach. So I wasn't supporting either France or Italy. I felt that while the first half was really gripping, the second half was yawn-worthy with Italy getting back to their old defensive ways.

And then in extra time, we saw two terrific headers from Zidane; one, which was brilliantly saved by Gianluigi Buffon, and the other, which has now becoming the most infamous headbutt of all time. As the events unfolded, and I watched the great man walk off the pitch, one thought raced through my mind, 'Why Zizou, Why?! Why a headbutt?'

Now, I can well understand an individual's blood boiling over in complete rage over hurtful comments, and losing one's mind can well lead to one losing complete control over one's actions. As a result of this a person is well liable to lash out at the offender. A punch in the jaw, a slap in the face, tearing out of hair, biting off a ear or a vicious kick would typically be the vehicle of such outpourings. But a headbutt to the chest? Fairly unheard of till now.

Most of the discussions that have surrounded this controversy have focussed on the motives and the 'What Ifs?' had the headbutt not happened. But I ponder deep on the reasons why Zizou chose a headbutt over other methods of expressing himself.

Maybe he is an Arian like me. Being a ram would then be an innate nature of his every actions. If such is the case, the next time somebody provokes me, they had better guard themselves against a lethal headbutt. Or maybe he's a Taurian Bull. If that's the case, then its a good thing Zidane didn't try this against the Spaniards who might have been more deft at tackling a charging bull. However, a quick bit of Googling dashes my hopes of an explanation on this front. informs me that his birthday is on June 23 and that makes him a Cancerian. Cancer - the crab. Maybe the pincers would have been more devastating on Materazzi.

Maybe Zizou was genuinely upset that his previous header had been deftly handled by Buffon. 'Ze ball was easy for you, eh Buffon? Here, try blocking your defender!' Come to think of it, I believe, Zizou's face did register surprise when he saw Materazzi slump to the floor instead of rocketing to the goal.

And why on the chest? Why not a WWF, or WWE as it is now called, style headbutt to the offending head? Maybe the offensive abuse by Materazzi was not sufficient enough to warrant a headbutt to head. A warning from Zizou to Materazzi, if you may - 'The next time, your head gets it!'

One explanation which I have received after much consultation with many of those equally anguished as me, is that this is a definite indication that in spite of being overwhelmed with rage, Zidane did manage to show some control. That is, he controlled his hands and legs, but, in a manner of speaking, he lost his head. I hope that the FIFA takes this into account while taking disciplinary action. Clearly, Zizou was the more disciplined between the two. After all, Materazzi showed absolutely no restraint in dishing out his abuse!

However, more than a 100 hours after watching the incident, I am nowhere closer to an answer and still ponder forth. 'Why Zizou? Why a headbutt to the chest?'

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Argentine lost! Damn those Germans. And while I'm damning them, let's be particular and damn Jens Lehman (is that one 'n' or two?) and Miroslav Klose in particular. As is true of all fans who end up on the losing end of a battle, it is my wont to portion out blame to all and sundry. But no, I'm going to reserve my ire for one Jose Pekerman whose inexplicable strategy was responsible for leaving Argentina majorly crippled for the last forty minutes of the game.

An exercise: Who is Argentina's key player? Now if you have even the remotest interest in the game, your answer would be Juan Roman Riquelme. No? Then maybe Lionel Messi (aka the 'Messi-ah' aka the next Maradona). No? Then definitely Chelsea's star striker Hernan Crespo. No? Then don't kid me - you don't have even the remotest interest in the game.

Right through the World Cup, Argentina has been seen and loved for its striking abilities. Six goals against any team on this stage, even a hapless Serbia & Montenegro, is no mean feat. And while their defence through the World Cup finals was good, Argentina is no Italy when it comes to holding off a rampaging attack. After an engaging first half in which Argentina seemed more likely than Germany to score, Ayala's strike in the 49th minute only seemed a fulfilment of what was imminent. And then, Pekerman decided to try and convert Argentina into an Italy.

Germany had scored 10 goals in the Finals leading into the match - same as that of Argentina. Klose was the top contender for the Golden Boot. With Podolski and Ballack as well, their attacking abilities had been much written about. To try and hold off Germany, which was bound to go all out and attack, for 40 minutes was virtually an impossibility. The only alternative was to continue pressing forward and get another goal to seal victory. Apparently, the Argentine coach didn't agree.

Abbondanzieri's injury was a blow to Argentina but I don't think it would have changed the match result. By substituting the play maker Riquelme and their leading goal scorer Crespo, and leaving no room for Messi to come on, the Argentine attack was toothless. Only Tevez looked remotely dangerous. In such a situation, if Germany were to score in regulation time and the match were to go into extra time, Argentina would have no hope of scoring the winning goal in that time without a one of these three key players on the pitch. If the match were to go into penalty shoot out, it would be Jens Lehman vs Franco. Lehman would win such a contest 100 times before losing one. And that is exactly what happened.

Pekerman has tendered his resignation now but I just wish he'd done so before the match.

* Image from AFP

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A New Place, A New Book

First things first, check out the place where I am as per my profile! Yessirreebob, I have moved out of the town called Surat and am now located in the city called Hyderabad. I have announced my arrival to my new office in grand fashion as well. I've blown 4 fuses (not mine but my office's) and replaced an equal number of connectors to the comp provided to me! Talk about an arrival with a big bang...

I've gotten over the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. I don't think I managed to imbibe much of what Robin Sharma said. Now I've moved my life on to John Banville's novel titled 'The Sea'. This is not to be confused with Yashwant Kanetkar's epic series on the programming language C - all accompanied with wonderful cover pictures like those of a yacht navigating a, you guessed it, a sea. While studying the language, I couldn't quite help admire the cover and the amazing little pun the author thought of. Wonderful! Simply marvellous! So so clever.

But I digress. 'The Sea' is actually quite a beautifully written book and the author won the Man Booker Prize 2005 for the same novel. Normally, I quite despise authors who try to pass off verbose descriptions of everything and anything as wonderful literature. But John Banville manages to create extremely vivid descriptions of everything around him. The style of writing brings to life the thoughts of a person who is trying to cope with the loss of a dear one and is reliving a particular part of his life long lost.

Try thinking of a vacation which your family had taken when you were around 11 years old. Or try to think of some people you remember meeting as a kid, but just that one time. You possibly never met them again. The memories that would come to you would hardly be continuous. Little incidents here and there would come back to you and not necessarily in any particular order. And as you recall each of these incidents, there might be things which seem slightly out of place. Then you might wonder as to what exactly happened there. Then further bits of the same forgotten tale would come back to you till it finally forms a coherent picture. The narrative jumps along in pretty much the same fashion.

In conclusion, I've not yet concluded reading the book myself. The reason is that the book, though superbly authored, is fairly depressing because of its subject and I'd rather not read it for long stretches.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

General round up

Just watched the highlights of last night's match between India and West Indies - Match 2 of the ODI series. What a match! Makes me regret feeling terribly drowsy and falling off to sleep last night. WI started off quite terribly and for them to make such a comeback was quite amazing. The agony on Yuvraj Singh's face and the joy on the West Indies team's at the end is simply what sport is all about!

I have been reading Robin Sharma's 'The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari'. Nope, I've not decided to become a sage and head to the Himalayas. Its just that I didn't have any other book to read. So far its pretty much what you would expect such a book to be like namely stuff like 'Life can be stressful - kindly de-stress. Preferrably use the following techniques which have been certified by the Sages of Sivana.'

In other pleasant news, I'll be getting out of Surat in another 20 days or so. Its time for me to move on to Hyderabad. So chicken biriyani - here i come!

The net's behaving very cranky so I'll seal this post here itself!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Another review!

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted anything on my blog and it's looking in dire danger of gathering cobwebs. And hence I'm making this post at the danger of making this blog seem more like a place where I review trashy movies.

I went and watched 'Humko Deewana Kar Gaye' last night. It's heartening to see Bollywood move to greater complexities in their storylines. The quadrangle in this tale as opposed to the typical Bollywood triangles is definitely a step in this direction. So we have a story of Akky Kumar being engaged to Bips and Katrina Kaif being engaged to Anil Kapoor. Akky and Katrina ain't too enthused with their respective to-be-loves-of-their-lives. Through a series of stereotypical highly predictable 'coincidences' they keep bumping into each other which only leaves the viewer wondering as to exactly how small is that city where they live. This much is covered in the first 40 mins of the movie. The remaining 2 hours is virtually irrelevant to the storyline.

Now, if any one of you has any doubt as to the final outcome of the movie, I'd say that the movie has been tailor made for you and you absolutely positively definitely must watch it. Also, if you're stuck in a city which does not believe in English movies and has little else sources of entertainment, (such as I am) then also you may opt to go and watch it. For all else, your time is too valuable for this.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Republic Day Special

Here's a Republic Day special. One to warm the cockles of your heart - wherever the cockles maybe in the heart. Bharat mata ki Jai! And jai to all her sons and daughters wherever they may be.

As my profile currently indicates, I'm based out of Surat, Gujarat. Yesterday, I had to go to the Holiday Inn here (yeah, Surat is actually big enough to have a Holiday Inn!). The company had organised a session for target setting and similar things for the group I am working for. And so, early in the morning, at 8:45, I set off from my home. The only way that I could get to Holiday Inn was by good ol' autorickshaw. Now, as is true with a lot of cities in India, the meters that have been installed in rickshaws are pure showpieces. More put there just to give you the faint gasp of hope that maybe, just maybe, things will be fair. But no. And so it's down to good old fashioned haggling to determine how much I would pay for my ride.

Actually, I didn't have to haggle too much. The rickshaw chappie asked for 30 bucks. I'd figured that the ride would cost roundabout 40 bucks. Hey, I wasn't complaining!

The ride was uneventful and shortly I reached Holiday Inn. I got off and as normally happens, I discovered I didn't have change. So I flicked out a 100 note and again, as normally happens, the rickshaw chappie didn't have change either. After much digging into all his pockets and into the furthest recesses of his wallet, he managed to dig out all of 60 bucks. Figuring that this was God's way of telling me to pay for what I thought was the fair amount, I accepted the amount and decided to ditch any further arguments. The rickshaw chappie gave a consoling 'I'll give it the next time.' Yeah right! It's not like Surat's your average village where everyone knows everyone and things accounts are kept with strangers like that. So I gave a knowing smirk which said exactly all that and strode off to Holiday Inn where the meeting passed off as eventfully as I'd figured it would.

I returned to office at around 2:45. Didn't feel like doing much work. Checked mails. Replied to mails which I would normally not. Sent Citibank customer service a highly frustrated mail for not sending me my e-statement. Chatted about with colleagues. Waited for 5:30. Then tried tracking the India-Pakistan match for sometime. Decided that waiting for 5:30 without doing anything would be more interesting than the match.

5:30 finally arrived! And I scooted from there as fast as I could. Returned home and watched TV. Listened to music on my iPod and read a novel. Missed a call from my boss. Oops. Called back boss. Big mistake! Got summoned to work at 7:00 in the evening. Damn. There goes a quiet evening.

Quickly changed and got ready. Went down and asked a rickshaw whether he would take me to workplace. 'Theek hain' was the response. I hopped into the auto while the chappie started it up.

A hand reached across from the driver's seat in the rickshaw next to mine. It had ten bucks which was given to my rickshaw driver. 'Aaj subah ke liye' ('For today morning') was the explanation.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Kalyug - Avoid!

I went and watched the Hindi movie 'Kalyug' last night. Right upfront, I would like to say that it was not at all my idea and I squarely blame my friend who booked the tickets for the movie. That now keeps me in a comfortable position to completely shred the movie to pieces.

Frankly, it's not a movie really worth shredding apart. Its a story about some a poor unsuspecting soul getting caught in a deep plot revolving around the pornography industry. The poor soul goes on the rampage and eliminates all responsible for attempting to wreck havoc in his life. The storyline was feeble, direction practically non-existent, script unintentionally hilarious and performances earnest but desperate. The human trade and porn industry aspect is hardly dealt with which rendered the 'unique' industry which the movie supposedly dealt with, irrelevant.

The one facet of the movie that absolutely did rock was the music. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's music and his piece 'Jiya Dhadak' makes you hum as you gladly exit the cinema hall. The only other bit which got you even slightly interested in what was happening was, quite surprisingly, the performance and role of Emran Hashmi. I never thought a day would come when the only saving face of the movie would be Emran Hasmi's performance. What was even more surprising, as another of my friends put it, was that there was not a single smooching scene that he had in this movie! Et the end of Emran Hashmi's career, this movie might well go down as one of the rare ones in which he actually didn't have one such scene.

In conclusion, the only reason why you might want to watch this movie is if you like watching movies that are sure to go down in history (in light of Emran Hashmi's surprising role).