Thursday, January 10, 2008


They met over coffee that night - early, just-on-time, and apologetic.

Pleasantries were exchanged and formalities done with : health and wealth talked about, and matters of work and family dispensed with.
Few laughs were exchanged thereafter - some on each other, the rest on someone else.

Then came the rumours - some direct jibes, the rest, about someone else.

The sound of the trumpets followed, announcing them chest thumpers. One did it straight-out, while the other went round-about; one happened to be coy, while the other smiled in one-upmanship.

Books, Movies and Marriage, as topics of conversation; one liked it not, but then, even he had an opinion - at times politically correct, at times a frank critique; some times taking advice, at times giving one.

One remained silent, the second contributed sparely, the third talked the most, and the fourth continued to change topics.

A break to place the order, and another for a sip; a break for water, and another for a piss; a break for a call, and another for a message; and some breaks, that lingered on.

A fifth called and announced a delay - the thought of a possible drop-out spread around the table. Just then, a sixth called to say that he was on his way.
A broken thread of conversation is picked up by someone.

Attack - Defence, emotional - rationale, distracted - I-don't-give-a-shit, My point of view-Your point of view, Hitler-Hummer, Godse - Gandhi, Work-life balance - Money as a motivator, some show-off - some self-praise, some testosterone - some lack of it, ageing - the flight of time, some nostalgia - then for old time's sake, masks worn in self-amazement - masks shred to much fanfare, remarks that reinforce opinions - remarks that make interesting thought, cornered - leading the charge, Attack - Defence ; a little bit of change, but mostly the script remains the same.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Kariyila kattupole (Dir. Padmarajan ; Cast. Mohanlal, Mammootty)
Some things facinated me in this really good murder-mystery by Padmarajan. One, the audience is told the progression and ending of the story right at the start, but is still kept guessing till the end. Two, everyone speaks the truth in the movie; and that makes the story look as if it is waiting to be unraveled. Three, some nice characters and dialogues (Mammootty as the brash, and allegedly womanising film director, for example).
An ex-detective and his wife decide to figure out the mystery behind their missing ex-client. That what makes the movie outstanding is the excellent casting of the lead couple and the brilliant banter between the husband and wife. And to think the movie was shot in just 12 days!!
Nora Charles: Take care of yourself
Nick Charles: Why, sure I will.
Nora Charles: Don't say it like that! Say it as if you meant it!
Nick Charles: Well, I do believe the little woman cares.
Nora Charles: I don't care! It's just that I'm used to you, that's all.
Nora Charles: All right! Go ahead! Go on! See if I care! But I thinks it's a dirty trick to bring me all the way to New York just to make a widow of me.
Nick Charles: You wouldn't be a widow long.
Nora Charles: You bet I wouldn't!
Nick Charles: Not with all your money...
Nick Charles: Now my friends, if I may propose a little toast. Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
Nora Charles: You give such charming parties, Mr. Charles.
Nick Charles: Thank you, Mrs. Charles
Nora Charles: Pretty girl.
Nick Charles: Yes. She's a very nice type.
Nora Charles: You got types?
Nick Charles: Only you, darling. Lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Baggy Green !

There is something exciting about waking up at 5:00 in the morning (“rather crazy”, some of you may mumble); cautiously opening the creaky bedroom door (trying to anticipate, unsuccessfully, the next creak); tip-toeing down the stairs in dead darkness (a slip, a stumble and a few missed stairs to show as price paid for not waking up the other less excitable inmates of the house); and on reaching the living room - groping, locating, and cringing as the remote crashes on the floor; before finally switching on the telly and frantically pressing ‘Mute’ in quick succession, so that a scream may not escape the speakers into the pre-dawn darkness.

Such were the start of the days of my childhood, and to a certain extent even now, whenever the Indian cricket team toured down under, to Australia.

The dark screen of the telly would slowly light-up - wiping the darkness from my face and chasing the darkness from the room.

As my eyes adjust to the light, and I find myself a chair (a stubbed-toe and a sore knee to show for the attempt), I would be greeted with live feed from Australia – Boxing Day Test Match!

Shaking off drowsiness from my head, I would find myself being hypnotized by the likes of a Richie Benaud or a Mark Taylor, or that affable Carribean, Micheal Holding – refreshing!

As far as cricketing venues go, there is no better place than Australia to play the game. Unlike the dustbowls of India and Pakistan, the grey-chilly-damp-stiff-upper-lip English weather, or the faded and worn-out greens of muggy South Africa and West Indies, Australia provides a feast for the eye – a huge circle of green, with stripes of light and dark running across, restricted in the middle of those sprawling, handsome stadiums. The pitch, the colour of golden wheat, one that is assured to offer both bounce and pace; and the weather warm, sunny and crisp (Yes, that is the word that comes to my mind when I think of cricket in Australia – Crisp!); ideal for Test cricket. The cricketers wearing their fresh starched whites (the Aussies have always had a slight distinct yellow tinge to their clothes, as if unwashed, but likeable, nevertheless).

With some of the longest boundaries in the world, where batsmen run Fours (I have seen them run 5 once for an over-throw – good for the athletic Aussies; not so good for the Indians who relish hitting the boundaries than running the quick singles), the Aussie tour is a real endurance test; from the quality of stroke-play, to the aggressive opposition, cricket down-under is enough to make or break careers (So, would concur a V.V.S. Laxman, but not so, would say an Aakash Chopra).

The fascination does not end there. Even the telecast would be different each time, with ever changing fonts, new camera angles like stump vision, new forms of dynamic game analysis like ultra-slow motion, and even presentation styles – with players introducing themselves (on T.V.) as they stepped onto the field to bat.

As it is with other tours, one could also get to see veteran players who have now either turned commentators or coaches or have just dropped in for the match – the David Boons, Allan Borders and Mark Taylors of Australia.

And then the ‘quicks’ would start steaming in from the bottom of the TV screens towards the trepid batsman at the top, batsmen with tenuous grips on their bats trying to stop the cherry from crashing into their stumps. Sound of the ball nicking the outside edge, fielders grassing a catching, the ball scampering towards the fence fearing the sweet thump of the willow, Chin music – noise for the batsmen and a good beat for the spectators, the Hook, the Pull, the-one-that-bounced-a-bit, one on the chest another on the helmet, the chest-thumping on knocking down ‘Timber’, and huge Australian men and women waving Fours with a beer in one hand!

MCG, Sydney, Perth (!!), Adelaide, Gabba .. Bring it on!


I woke-up late for the Boxing-day test of the 2007 series. But what greeted me were 3 of the most beautiful dismissals I had seen in recent times.

Phil Jacques, fooled by a Kumble Googly was dragged out of the crease, and Dhoni did the rest behind stumps (there are very few instances in cricket that can match the embarrassment of a spinner completely fooling the batsman, I feel).

Zaheer followed up with a beauty to dismiss Ponting - the left-armer bowling from around the stumps with a bowl that angles in and moves away just that little bit from the right handed batsman, clipped the bails on its way back. With Ponting, the ball disappeared from the screen as the batsman played on the front-foot, and the next frame was that of the batsman outside the crease, covering the stumps completely, with the bails flying off on either side.

Hussey, the person to have the biggest test average after Sir Don, was next. Cool, efficient, professional, and determined (he made it to the side when 30+), he was fooled by a Kumble Googly (again!) that caught him on his back-foot plumb in-front.

As I publish this post, India has lost the MCG test by over 300 runs, and are struggling in the New Year’s test at SCG. The injuries are hurting India - with Zaheer returning to India. With the bouncy track of Perth to come next, the Indians have some hard work up ahead.


to his Uncle, by Ruskin Bond.

Dedicated to the memory of my uncle,
James Bond,
Who was a dentist by profession and not,
As some believe, a secret agent....
His epitaph reads:
Stranger! Approach this spot with gravity,
James Bond is filling his last cavity.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

" The private life of a child starts with his first tooth-brush."

- Spectator, Higuita & Other Stories by N.S. Madhavan