Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kudos to Teamwork ... !!

What a ruthless performance ... !!

I have read and heard about that phrase before. But it was always used for the Aussies. Somehow, the best tests experienced by the Aussies in the last decade have been at the hands of the Indians. Every series is like a slug fest. I still wonder why the Border Gavaskar trophy isn't a 5 test series. Make way Ashes or India-Pakistan. India-Australia is THE series to look forward to.

It was such a wonderful experience by a team that has withstood the fire from a cricket frenzy nation to win the inaugural T-20 world Cup, the under-19 World Cup, drew 1-1 in Australia (the result of Sydney should not be counted), won the last tri-series on Australian soil by humiliating the Wallabies, drew 1-1 against South Africa and now overwhelmed the Aussies at Mohali. Whether this performance will be mimicked is a question worthy of a debate but lets just rejoice for the time being.

Teamwork was one of the forces of this win. Just try and glance at the numbers ...

Gambhir - 67 and 104
Sehwag - 35, 90 and 1 catch
Dravid - 39 and 1 catch
Sachin - 88 , 10* and one of the best catches that I have seen by a 35+ cricketer
Ganguly - 102 and 27
Dhoni - 92 and 68* (5 sixes) and 2 catches plus astute captaincy
Harbhajan - 5 wickets
Zaheer - 4 wickets - 3 of them bowled
Mishra - 7 wickets on debut - 6 of them were bowler's wickets in the sense that the mode of dismissal was lbw, bowled or assisted by the keeper...
Ishant - 4 wickets - all 4 bowler's wickets - including Ponting in both innings plus Hussey and Watson (all top order batsmen)

The worst performer was Laxman with 12 runs ... but even thats not too bad ... there are days when 12 is the 4th or 5th best score if not the best ;) ... yeah I am over exaggerating ... but when am I not ... ;)

The figures do not reveal the complete story.

It will take a lot of history searching to find another instance when Indian fast bowlers have flattened the stumps of the opposition (and a quality opposition like the Kangaroos). The dismissals of Ponting in both innings, Hayden (1st innings), Watson(2nd innings), Haddin(2nd innings) and Lee(2nd innings) will surely make every Indian sit up and take notice. Off the 20 wickets that fell, 17 were bowler's wickets. Phew ... !! The catch by Sachin to dismiss Katich was an absolute blinder. No wonder that the Indians were pumped after that and took 3 more top order wickets immediately.

Finally, for many a aficionado, India defeated Australia at the verbals. I have not seen an Aussie team tormented by the on field duels. Harbhajan, Zaheer, Ishant, Gambhir, Sehwag and Dhoni bombarded the Aussies with sledging. It was such a joy to see an Aussie team face the heat. Laying our hands on the Border-Gavaskar trophy would be the best start to the winter with the Poms coming up next in order to gain some momentum before THE ASHES. Looks like a mouth watering cricketing prospect in the next 6 months.

Cheers to India ... !!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stumbled upon ... !!

I needed to put oil into my bike and I needed to find the huge screw driver to unscrew certain screws of my bike. This huge screw driver is kept in a small cupboard at my place. This cupboard contains lots of utility stuff like nailcutters, pliers, screw drivers (courtesy, my father). It also contains a huge plastic bag. I had never cared to explore this bag in the 5 years that we have been at this place. But I saw a audio cassette almost falling out of the bag. When I peeked in, I couldn't believe what I found.

This bag contained all the audio cassettes in which someone or the other from my family had recorded their favorite songs. It had at least 3 cassettes of Rafi and Lata (not those branded pre compiled sets from HMV) which my mother had fondly recorded. It also had a cassette of one Mr. Kutti who happens to be an erstwhile astrologer. My parents had gone to meet him many moons ago (I think it was 1993 or 94) to ask him about the future of themselves as well as their 2 kids. My father had taken a recorder with him to record all what Mr. Kutti had said. Its a major thrill listening to this piece of audio.

In school (and early college), I had a habit of recording best songs of a particular year. So I was Maha-thrilled to find all those cassettes. I have all those cassettes now from 1994 to 2000. Those were the days. I also found a cassette that I had gifted to my father on his 54th birthday. My father is a big, huge, major RK fan. I had compiled a list of RK songs in a cassette and gifted it to him. What a collection it is ... !!

But the cassette that took my breath away was a compilation of hit English songs. I was never great at English (and I am still miles away) and English songs and movies were like a different world to me. Still, from whatever I had heard or seen, I liked some English songs (just the feel, not the meaning coz I seldom understood what was being said). It was just amazing listening to these:

Its my Life
Coco Jumbo
Mambo No. 5
Baby I love you way
Mysterious Girl
La Nina
Walk like an Egyptian
Lick it
And I miss you
Nothing's gonna change my love for you
Where do you go
My heart will go on
Its all coming back to me
Cotton Eyed Joe
Itsy Bitsy Teeny weeny

and many more ...

The reason this cassette was the most enjoyable is due to the fact that it was played at our school Christmas party in 8th grade (should be 1996) and we had a blast.

There is another cassette in which I had recorded a medley of DDLJ songs by carefully seleting the right music and lyrics to follow every part of the medley ... I remember I had to write down lyrics of all the songs of DDLJ before doing this.

It is another one of those moments in life where you ponder and bicker about the current state of life and wish you had the freedom to venture out and do things that you really want to do. For the time being, I am planning to buy a nice cassette holder/case to preserve these cassettes.

Cheers ... !!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Eventful end to an amazing weekend ... !!

I don't think I will be writing a travelogue about Goa coz I am sure I will miss out on something and repent it later and I am in no mood of disrespecting this beauty of a city. To summarize, it was one of my most amazing experiences in life. The place, the atmosphere, the planning and the company. All top notch.

We had a great time but what made it more memorable (may not be in a good way) was the way it ended. We had planned to leave Goa at a time which allows us to reach NH-4 before sunset since all the approach roads to NH-4 are isolated and amidst jungles. After much pondering, we debated between 2 times. One was 1 pm (and lunch on the way at some dhaba) and the other was 3 pm after having lunch in Goa. Since all of us had fallen in love with the food quality in Goa, we went for the 2nd option.

This is just a run through of the order of proceedings on the last day.

We got up at around 7 am. Since we had to check out before 12, we had decided to visit Fort Aguada early in the morning coz it was very close to our place. We went there at 9:30 am. It is a great spot at a height from where you can see the sea in all its splendor. You cant help but sit there gazing at the sea and say nothing to each other (this is the famous DCH spot). We came back to our place by 10:30 and went to a Ayurvedic clinic nearby. These people specialize in providing Ayurvedic body massages. It costs a bomb (850 for the full body + head + face) and we promptly opted for the head massage only (150 per head). It was not bad. In fact, it was quite good. May not be worth 150 but it wasn't bad at all. We came back to our place and got ourselves ready to bid farewell to Villa Ludovici.

We headed to Calangute to buy the hukkah aparatus. After hunting down the hukkah shop and buying the hukkah, we headed towards Anjuna beach. Though its not a beach in its entirety, the fact that it is a rocky piece of sand was quite a delight. We enjoyed standing on the farthest rock in the sea. It was thrilling. I couldn't help but think about Bandstand and Vengurla.

We then moved back to Baga beach to Nine Hills coz we had had some great food 2 days back over there. Again, the food did not disappoint and we wanted to booze this one last time. But by the time we left, it was 3:45 pm. We reached NH-17 by 4 pm and we were already lagging behind.

This is when the fun started. We crossed the first Goa police check post. Nothing happened here. On the second (and last) Goa police check post, we were asked to stop by the police. The policeman asked me to come out of the car with my car papers and license. I was carrying everything that was needed. He was fairly convinced that I had everything that was needed. He then asked me one question "Daaru ghetli aahe kaa?". Now there were 2 meanings to this. One, was I drunk and Two, Am I carrying some drinks. I went by One. He was talking about Two. Even though the answer to One was Yes (I had a pint of Kingfisher at Baga), I said NO. My NO was interpreted by him as the answer to Two. He said that he can check the car if he wanted. We didn't respond (We were carrying Fenny with us). But he didn't check anything. He calmly asked me to give him Rs. 200 and leave. When I asked him the reason, he informed me that I was not wearing a seat belt. I couldn't believe I forgot. In Goa, its compulsory to wear a seat belt. I gave him Rs. 100 and moved on.

After some time, we saw a huge signboard saying "Welcome to Maharashtra" and we were relieved. But 10 kms down the line, there was another check post. This time it was Maharashtra police and a much sterner policeman with a huge paunch and I-can-kill-you moustache. I showed all the papers to him. We were carrying expired car insurance papers. Dammit. He also asked us more specifically than the previous policeman if were carrying liquor. I admit that I was dead scared of his looks. I had also asked many people who had been to Goa about getting liquor from Goa. All of them had said that there is a 1 litre limit per person. We were carrying just 1.5 litres for 4 people combined. When I told all this to him, he smiled and then grimaced. He told me its illegal to carry liquor from Goa to any other state and that there is no such thing as limit. He asked me to pay a fine of Rs. 700. After much convincing, he agreed to Rs. 200. We left in a huff.

It was already 5:30 pm and sunset was on the anvil. Gladly, we didn't face any other check posts. We passed Kankavli at around 6:30 pm and it was already dark and we still hadn't crossed Fonda. After a arduous drive, we were driving along the jungles of Radhanagri when another check post beckoned. But nothing happened here. The police saw the papers (they didn't see the insurance papers) and the license and let us go. The road was pathetic after Fonda ghat and my car took a battering. We reached Kolhapur at 9 pm, 5 hours after we left Panaji. Since we had to pass from within the city to reach NH-4, Biwi decided that we will go to her grandparents's home for dinner. We went there and were treated to a sumptuous Dosa dinner. Man we were hungry. After meeting everyone and convincing them that we cant stay overnight, we started for Pune at 10:30 pm.

As soon as we left Kolhapur's "kamaan", we heard a deafening sound of a burst tyre. Fortunately, we we just a kilometre or two outside Kolhapur. There were 5 petrol pumps around the place. Sadly, none of the people around helped us out and we 4 were desperate for options since we also had office the next day. We called up Biwi's Mama and other folks. To make matters worse, we were not carrying the car Jack as well as pliers. By this time, Dinesh and I were scurrying up the road to find some person with a Maruti car so that we can borrow the Jack and pliers. We saw a bar and lots of cars parked outside it. We found a person with Swift (it was a transport vehicle taking some people to Pune). He understood our situation and promised to help us. But his customers were less than impressed and smelt something fishy. Anyway, he gave me the plier but couldn't find the Jack. Now what?

We found another person with a Indica and he have us his Jack. Now we had both the things we needed. We already had a spare tyre. So all of us got down to business. It was 5 guys working at it now. Prakash, Dinesh, the Swift guy, the Indica guy and I. Irritatingly, the Jack was slipping every time since it was broken at a point. The last remaining option was to pick up the car from the front so that someone can remove the punctured tyre and replace it with the spare tyre. 4 of us put our might into it but still couldn't lift the car enough. Finally, the Indica guy (he was drunk) put all his strength into it and picked it up. We were amazed at the impact he had on the car. Anyway, we waited till the tyre was replaced and heaved a huge sigh of relief. We thanked everyone involved and started towards Pune.

Alas, we still had some problems on hand. The air pressure in the tyre was too less. The closest petrol pump ahead was 6 kms down the line. We had to take a U-turn and come back to Kolhapur (since you cant drive from the wrong side on any highway) at a speed of around 20. After doing the needful, we were not confident about the entire situation. But nothing happened from hereon in. We reached Pune at 4 am and sunk into the bed.

But what a finale to an enterprising weekend. Checkposts, pitch dark jungle drive, a flat tyre and 12 hours to reach Pune from Goa. I guess it made our trip more memorable since we stuck it out and came home safe.

Cheers ... !!