Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Cream of Cricket

I was reading the very funny Andy Zaltzman's blog the other day and it reminded me of my early years in Bangalore when me and my friends/roommates would sit and discuss something as ridiculous as 'how would the world's worst cricket team look like'.
That's the advantage of having like-minded, similar-wavelengthed friends as roommates. It is quite rare and should be cherished while it lasts. We would spend insane amounts of time discussing whether a player is 'worthy' enough to be picked in the world's worst cricket team. These discussions would last hours on end. On many occassions we would walk to Home Meals in Jayanagar 4th block, have dinner and come back home without even remembering what we ate or how long the walk was.

Anyway, I seem to have misplaced my copy of one such squad. Over the last few days I have tried my best to recollect it using my superhero-esque memory powers.
(For all you purists & uptights, I have this to say: As an accomplished allrounder in gully cricket, I have every right and capability to judge other petty international cricketers)

So without further ado, presenting, on the auspicious occassion of ICC's centenary year, (fittingly) the Cream of Cricket.

Team: KMH  (Kivi Mele Hoovu)
Vikram Rathour (IND) (wk) - Yes. He is the wicket keeper too. He can also bowl if you want. Superb player under pressure.
Wajahatullah Wasti (PAK) - A solid reliable quick scoring opener who almost single handedly won the 99 world cup.
Jacob Martin (IND) - A cool head. So cool, sometimes it forgets to score.
Dale Benkenstein (SA) - Another solid middle order batsman who's currently taking the ICL by storm.
Sylvester Joseph (WI) - Raw talent that those stupid WI selectors failed to encourage.
Chandika Hathurasingha (SL) - A living example of how one's weight cannot affect one's abilities.
Adam Huckle (ZIM) (c ) - He was Zimbabwe's captain. 'nuff said.
Abey Kuruvilla (IND) - Only bowler to beat Venkatesh Prasad in terms of Build : Pace ratio. Also takes home the best bowling action prize.
Chris Drum (NZ) - Exciting, incisive fast bowler. Wow.
Nehemiah Perry (WI) - Square turner of the ball. Again, those WI selectors.
Henry Williams (SA) - Damn the match fixing controversy for cutting short a promising career.

Mark Ramprakash (ENG) - You cannot tell me you didn't get goosebumps out of excitement when he came out to bat.
Nadeem Khan (PAK) - Aah. Perfect loop, guile and turn. Too bad Pakistan only loves its pacers.
Pommie Mbangwa (ZIM) - What a joy it was to see his hair bounce around in front of his eyes just before he delivered the ball. And he got buckets of wickets in spite of that.
Adam Dale (AUS) - Killer swing bowler.
Russell Arnold (SL) - Has the most beautiful sweep shot. Perfectly suited for middle overs. He can pinch a single in the 3rd man area even with 3 fielders in. Backup Captain.
Ruchira Perera (SL) - The original slinger. Sachin feared him.  Malinga would do better if he learnt some tricks from him.

Team: HMT (Heglu Mele Towel)
Debang Gandhi (IND) - I will never forgive McGrath for ending such a promising, exciting opener's career.
Matthew Horne (NZ) - A classy opening batsman. Hardly ever edged to slip.
Darren Ganga (WI) (c ) - He became captain of WI. 'nuff said again.
Mohammad Hussain (PAK) - The best looking of the lot. Amazingly consistent with both bat and ball.
Sanjeeva Ranatunga (SL) - A real hidden talent. SL has a lot of those.
Courtney Browne (WI) (wk) - A calming, inspiring presence on the field. Very consistent.
Prashant Vaidya (IND) - What pace! What swing! What happened?
Eric Upashanta (SL) - Superb straight arm action, which caused the ball to move so much that it ended up being wide many times. That was his only problem.
Mahendra Nagamootoo (WI) - Another terrific WI spinner who was sidelined by WI in favor of another promising fast bowler Marlon Black.
Mick Lewis (AUS) - An honest fast bowler who dismissed his world record performance of 10-0-113-0 by saying "It was just a game".
Heath Davis (NZ) - Generated too much movement off the seam. Kept the slips interested. Just not the batsman.

Khaled Mahmud (BAN) - Genuine allrounder. Matchwinner.
Ian Salisbury (ENG) - England's best spinner. Without a doubt. Had a great rivalry with Shane warne during the 90's.
Peter Martin (ENG) - Tall, fast and lethal. Having a splendind action helped him take bagful of wickets in his short career.
Winston Benjamin (WI) - A True caribbean speedster. His venomous bouncers were rendered useless on lifeless pitches of Jamaica & Trinidad.
Pubudu Dassanayake (SL) - A world class keeper and an immaculate batsman.
Dulip Liyanage (SL) - Fastest Srilankan bowler of the last decade. Only Nuwan Zoysa has come close since.

Honarable Mentions (i.e. AJMs)
Sujith Somasunder (IND): A dashing, dynamic opener who stood tall to McGrath, even when his stumps did not.
Noel David (IND): A Mystery Spinner.
Blair Hartland (NZ): A Calm and composed player who can stabilize any innings.
Amay Khurasiya (IND): Classy left hander capable of some lusty blows.
Niroshan Bandaratilleke (SL): Left Arm Orthodox spinner who can control the run flow in any situation.
Ashish Kapoor (IND): Still waiting for his recall into the squad.

Are you still reading? OK...
Now that you are well familiar with the teams, can you predict the winner if these two powerhouse teams meet head to head?
For added effect, imagine this match being umpired by Ameish Saheba and Steve Bucknor, match refereed by Mike Denness and commentated by Ranjith (Wickath Crickath) Fernando,  Arun (Insightful) Lal and Sidhu.
(Extraaa Innings hosted by Charu Sharma with guests Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath & Aamir Sohail all speaking English)

(Suggestions to the team composition are most welcome. Only rule is that they should be from my generation i.e. late 80s - present day.)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Six Six Six

No No, I have not lost my marbles (contrary to many an opinion) and started writing Iron Maiden lyrics out of the blue.
Actually, I have been tagged, by DewDropDream.
The deal is: I must pick up the sixth photo in the sixth folder of my photos folder and post it here with a brief descritption-cum-explanation.

Hmmm.. Simple enough.
Problem is the sixth pics folder on my computer has no pictures in it. Only more folders. So I've done the logical thing and selected the sixth folder inside the sixth folder and the sixth picture inside that very sixth folder inside the original sixth folder. (and hence, the number of the beast).

This is my pic:

Actually, this picture was taken by my wife, from inside the car. It was taken on the 25th of February 2008 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Even though it looks like an evening shot, it was about 10 in the morning. Yeah, blizzards tend to do that to Michigan. A Lot.
We were carrying our camera with us in case some freaky snow situation happened (which was quite likely considering the fact that it was a horrendous blizzard and I had to drive 45 miles and back with only one movable arm). Yes, Camera trumped snickers bars, apples, tropicana and other lesser significant things. Fortunately (or otherwise, depending on how you look at it), the trip was largely uneventful.
We were driving out of our neighborhood. The streets were deserted, as usual. It was then that we suddenly saw a moving object. It was a lady, moving slowly on a non-existant sidewalk, without an umbrella and just her hoodie for protection. She was either very brave or very desperate, we thought. We took her picture.
On second thought, I think it was more of an excitement of just seeing a human being on the road that prompted us to click that picture.

Good Times.

(I would like to tag Anoop, Mr. Shenoy, Perplexed, Bindya and Paarijatha. Come on, get off your lazy cushions and get to work, I say!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Attack of the Amway Desis

They have a gift. 
They can smell you, perhaps even sense your presence in their vicinity. They are predators alright, but skilled ones at that. Their regular hunting grounds are the milk and the canned tomato aisles at Walmart. The moment they spot you in the cereal aisle looking confusedly at Kellogs' Chocolatey Delight and Vanilla Almond, they lock you in their sights. They don't follow you, but somehow 'accidentally' bump into you in the next aisle. And then they go about the kill, slowly and softly.

Yes, I am talking about the 'Amway' Desis.

My friends had adequately warned me about these creatures, more so now that I'd moved to Texas. And after two encounters in 3 days, I am now seriously contemplating doing my groceries at 1 AM on a wednesday. 
Why, you ask? Allow me to cut to the flashbacks.

Thursday evening:
On the way home from work, I remembered that I was running out of cereal (now that I'm guzzling 4 boxes a week!). So I decided to stop by the friendly neighborhood Walmart. Navigating my way through the friendly stray shopping carts, I parked at the closest available parking spot which was only half a mile away from the entrance. Actually, in one of the great ironies of life, I feel jealous of the handicapped every time I go to Walmart.
Anyway, I was at the milk section when I noticed a decently dressed 'Desi' being awfully polite to all and sundry. Hmmm.. something fishy, I thought. Well, actually I was walking by the seafood section when I thought that. But anyway..

So I was in the chips aisle doing inky-pinky-ponky between regular and jalapeno cheetos when I heard a voice.
"So, looking for Indian Chips aa?"
It was the aforementioned Decent Desi. I don't know where he came from because the aisle was empty when I entered it.
"Missing Indian Chips aa?" he asked again.
I was startled, only for a second. Then I was actually disappointed.
Missing Indian Chips? Really?? You're looking to get unknown people into your business network and that is the best pick up line you can come up with?

"Hehe" I let out an awkward smile, avoiding making eye contact for more than 2 seconds.
"You are Indian, right?" he asks. I was impressed.
"Hi, I'm LKB" (original name withheld), he offers a handshake. I return the favor.
"Where are you from?" enquiry begins.
"Oh.. my sister lives in Bangalore". 
Sister? Riiight. Hundred bucks says your dad got a 'Nasbandhi' after you were born, I thought. Couldn't say it to his face though. I blame it on my upbringing.

"I know Brigade Road. Nice place" he continues, beaming with confidence on his knowledge of Bangalore.
That's nothing. Visit Okalipuram once. Another awkward smile.
"Where in Bangalore are you from?"
"Jayanagar" I answer.
"Jayanagar.. Hmmm.. I don't know that place. I only know Brigade Road".
Really? You don't say! I'm just glad you asked that question anyway.
"So, what do you do?"
Oh, you mean besides engaging in such stimulating conversations? "I'm an IT Consultant for XYZ company"
"Ohhhh! That's cool"
That was followed by 2 more minutes of enquiry about the domain, technology and cubicle I work in.
"So, how long are you gonna be in Texas?" Finally, he's coming to the point.
"Hmm.. I'm not sure at this point of time" I'm proud of myself.
"Hehe.. IT consultant right, situation is bad here for you folks"
Aah, he's also a scholar and an economist. Maybe I should just give him my phone number.
"Hey, why don't you give me your phone number?" Here it comes. "I'll give you a missed call and you can store my number". Bullseye!
Okay, you know what's a perfect example of an amateur mistake? Carrying your cellphone in your hand while walking around in Walmart.
I was cornered. I had to give him my number and pretend I was saving his name while I went through AT&T's free spam in my inbox.
"What time do you come home in the evening?"
Huh? Are you planning a surprise birthday party or something, coz my birthday's not due for months.
"I dunno, its pretty hectic at work these days". Indeed it is.
"No worry, I'll give you a call soon. And we can meet sometime in the evening. I live close by"
Can't wait.
"Okay, bye" I rushed out of the aisle even before completing that sentence.

Five minutes later, I was walking towards checkout and bam! I saw him again, walking towards the same set of checkout counters as me. With a combination of great speed and supreme cart dodging skills, I turned the other way and ran towards the ladies lingerie section where I took a very forced refuge for 5 full minutes.

I lived to fight another day.

Sunday afternoon:
That another day came sooner than I had hoped for. My mistake this time: I waited till the very last moment to do last minute chips & dips shopping before the superbowl game and hence let my guard down at the battleground.
This time it was a couple, in their mid 30s. They sneaked up on me while I was unsuspectingly looking at some cheddar dips. I shall refer to them as 'Dumma' and 'Kulli'.

"Hey, you look familiar. Are you from Chennai?" Dumma asked. I instantly recognized the genuinity in his voice.
"No", I responded, without a smile.
"But you are from South India right?", he expanded his horizons quickly.
"Yes, Bangalore"
"Ohhh Bangalore!", Kulli exclaimed, again, genuinely. "We lived in Bangalore some time back. In BTM Layout"
"Oh. Goood".
They then followed the standard questionnaire template (job, domain, technology, how long in the US, what time you come home from work) before Dumma finally came to the point
"Hey, why don't you give me your cell number? We can meet sometime."
This time, I was ready. My cell was safe in my trouser pocket, and the crease it created was barely visible.
"Actually, I don't have a phone yet. I've been here only for a week"
Nobody call me now. Nobody call me now. Please.
"Ohh. Okay, take my number at least"
I shrugged my hands indicating I don't have a pen or a paper. And I obviously don't have a cellphone.
"Hey look, I have pen and paper", Kulli smirked as she plucked the pen and paper out of her purse.
So close.
I took the piece of paper and was about to take my leave when Dumma decided to make a last ditch attempt.
"Hey, at least give me your hotel phone number man"
Wow. I didn't see that coming. 
"I don't remember it off hand. Sorry". 
I'll kill you and your wife if I miss the kickoff. 
"Hmm.. No problem, I'll look it up online. Just tell me the room number".
My god. He must be getting a really fat commission on this. There's no other explanation.
"Its 108", I said.
"Okay then, we'll see you soon".
I sincerely, desperately, faithfully, 'on-my-knees-god-please-have-mercy-on-me'fully hope not.
As I was leaving the place, a wierd thought entered my head. What it was, you shall soon find out.

Fast forward 4 hours:
Its the fourth quarter, Arizona's just scored a freakin' unbelievable touchdown. The two minute warning has just been sounded. Big Ben is driving the Steelers down the field. Can this get any better?

Yes it can. (Its the catchphrase of the season!)

My phone rang. Unknown number. I contemplated for 10 seconds and then picked it up.
"Hi! This is LKB. How are you?"
Incomplete pass. 2nd down at the Steelers 45.
"Hey, this is LKB. Remember, we'd met at Walmart a few days ago".

What. The. Fuck.
(Lesson Learnt: When an Amway douchebag gives you his phone number, Save it. At least you'll know when not to pick up the phone)

"Oh Right. Whatsup?"
"Hey, I was wondering if you wanna come down to my house tomorrow"
"What? Hey, are you not watching the game?"
"Which game?"
Roethlisberger sacked. Do or die 3rd down now. Why in the bloody world am I still talking to this guy.
"The Superbowl"
"Oh. I don't really follow all these sports"
"But I do. So, bye."

And I cut the call. That's the first time I ever hung up on someone I knew. It felt sooo good.
It was then I started giving my aforementioned wierd thought a little more er.. thought.
I was so proud of the way I wriggled myself out of the hands of these creeps twice in a row, I felt I should take this up as a night job, you know like a super hero.

'Harassed by pain in the arse business networkers? Do not fear. Blade Bhadra is here.'
My super power would be distracting these crooks from victims by using their own 'blading' methods, and then slipping out of the situation with blade like smoothness.
I am not kidding. In fact, at this very moment, I am stiching my superhero outfit. This is what I'm gunning for.
Well, if it doesn't work out, I always have my wednesday 1 AM plan.

And by the way, Room 108 is the room next to mine, currently being inhabited by a big black guy who's making an unusual amount of noise.

(That was the sound of a blade. A smooth blade. Its gonna be my alter ego's signoff.)