Archive for July, 2005

It's that time of the year: Mumbai has been flooded and nothing (and I mean nothing) is moving. Speaking to various people, here's the status:

  • Traffic jammed from Suman Nagar, Chembur to Vashi bridge (Yes, believe it). My uncle turned back from Suman Nagar after driving for 4 hours from Nerul till there.
  • Buses and trains out of service.
  • Mankhurd (near station) towards CHembur has water till the window of a bus.
  • Orange (Hutch cell phone) service is down (I believe in parts coz some friends could call their spouses, friends etc.)
  • I am in Nerul (Navi Mumbai) and cannot even reach the corner of my office street.

Suggestion: Stay where you are. Don't venture out. Irony seems the best thing to loo at at this moment. Read this.
Image not recent/today's. Courtesy: The Hindu Online.

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And where was I when this happened? Last I checked, I was discussing the Sri Lanka – West Indies Test with dad!
Jokes apart, I wish this were true. At least then, players (and not just stars) like Sania Mirza would get their due. In a post-match interview after she progressed to the quarterfinal of the Cincinnati Open, she is quoted to have said "The focus in India has turned from cricket to tennis, so that's exciting."
She's young and has moved from No. 400 in the world to 70-odd in a year (and probably better now after this tournament). Her fan following has grown humongously but let's face it… cricket still rules.
I am a huge fan of Sania's and would watch all her matches but cricket remains the religion it always was.
Maybe she can change it… ?

Pic: Tournament

Salman Khan is a heartthrob and an actor I could not care less about. But the fact is he keeps making news and is (infamously) on the front pages.
Take for instance the latest 'tapes' imbroglio or his acccident when he ran over people about three years ago, he continues to be dogged by controversy. The question I have is whether he is a victim of the media and politicos.
Before we go any further, let me clarify that I am NOT a fan and although I have enjoyed some of his movies, I wouldn't always pay good money to watch them.
Coming back to the issue, his accident happened apparently because of his driver's carelessness but because he was sitting in the car, and being as high profile as he is, he became an easy target. That's the theory anyways.
As for his tapes imbroglio, why have they come up after four years? Because the Hindustan Times needed something sensational to create a dhamaka with their first edition in Mumbai. Who better than one of the bad boys on Indian cinema? Why it wasn't Telgi (as Shiv Kumar asks here) is another issue. If the HT could get their hands on this, surely they can also get their hands on the Telgi tapes.
Another theory I just heard (on Go 92.5 to be precise) was that yes, the phone was tapped and it may well have been Salman making all those claims but the reason for tapping the phone was totally different. Apparently, the Police have been doing this for a while now and using such tapped conversations to extort money from the high profile 'tappees', if you will.
Which begs the question "Why doesn't he just name the cops (if any) who may have tried to extort money and put them on the spot?" Two reasons: a) It would mean that the voice is his and that he has indeed made all the claims he has and b) The politicos and top cops would further tighten the noose around him in the hit-and-run case.
A third theory is that this is all politically motivated according to brother Sohail Khan. Sohail had earlier blamed competitors saying this was all vendetta since Salman's new movie was due to release that Friday. Yeah, right!
Also, as some factions of the media and in fact, Police have said, "How much can you believe a drunk man boasting to his girlfriend trying to hold her back?" Good question. But then again, no one just uses such names even in a fight unless there's some substance to it. There's never any smoke without a fire, I say. Now if you are going to prosecute him for something he has done three years ago and only because a newspaper who wanted to make a dhamaka published the story, it's a little 'iffy'.
On the other hand, just because it's three years old does not mean the crime is pardonable today. But first, we need to see proof of the crime. Until then, let's stick to the hit-and-run case!
As for me, I think he's innocent (against my better judgement) and is just plain stupid.
To answer my question, I say probe this and if found guilty, hang him!

Ah! Cricket Season!

Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting

Yes the season has begun in full earnest with the Ashes and soon, the Indian team will also take the field. To celebrate this and add my two-bits to the sport, I have started posting about the season of Cricket 05-06. Would appreciate comments on this.
Cheers.

This is real scary. First the snow will melt and bring floods with it. Then, the water would mix with the sea making it useless for humans or agriculture. Then there will be famines. Is this the apocalypse? Outlook has a very scary story about the future… and they say it's just another 95 years away. So what if we won't be around… our kids (or grandkids) sure will.
What are we gonna do about it?

A three-way train crash in Pakistan last night killed over 300 people. TOI has a pic on the front page with a report on page 25 as does Mumbai Mirror but without any mention on P1. It first features on page 18.
I guess the country (Pakistan, that is) is not as glamorous as the UK and Pakistan could afford to lose 300+. But London's 37 are more important. London, btw, continues to be in newspapers all over.
Can't figure this one out. IE reported it on their site at about 00:56 am. So I guess there was time for others to include it better. At least on their sites, if not in print.

In case any of you did not know of this, here's some links:

Indian sites/papers
Triple train crash in Pak (Mumbai Mirror)
150 killed in Pakistan train collision (Hindustan Times.com)
Three Pak trains crash, 128 dead (The Indian Express)
Rediff.com, Indiatimes.com, msn.co.in do not feature this on the homepage. HT also had this about a screen-and-a-half down.

Internationally…
Scores killed in Pakistan train crash (Al-Jazeera)
Pakistan collision deadly (Globe and Mail)
Three-way train crash kills score in Pakistan (ABC News Online)
Misinterpreted signal causes crash (Guardian unlimited)

Slightly older
Pakistani train crash toll rises to 128 (NineMSN)
104 dead in Pakistan trains disaster (Sydney Morning Herald; smh.com.au)
Pakistan train crash kills more than 100 (WashingtonPost.com)
Pakistan train carnage kills 128 (China Daily)

Photos of the crash are on the BBC site.
Pic from BBC.com and AFP

Joseph Duncan is a kidnapper, paedophile and murderer. He is currently in jail. But, as has been the case with many other things, the Internet could well be the place where his crimes may be proven. With armchair Internet detectives getting into action and more and more pieces of his life after 18 years in jail being pieced together, who knows where that could lead.
For some background, Duncan was convicted at 16 for raping a 14-year-old at gunpoint. Since he got oout of jail, he had taken to computer programming and other activities but then, the beast in him returned, as it were.
Duncan, 42, was arrested early last Saturday after turning up in a 24-hour diner with 8-year-old Shasta Groene just a few miles from where the bodies of Shasta's mother, her mother's boyfriend and an older brother were found bound and bludgeoned at their home near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
But, that's not all. Duncan maintained a weblog of all his activities and this become a forum for abusing him and his activities since his arrest.
The chilling account is easily found at Blogging The Fifth Nail and this is another more detailed story.

Radio Ga-Ga

I have become a regular listener of the Radio since my car came along (and since my return to Mumbai where the choice is wider). But I feel unsatisfied. The listening experience much to be desired.
There are various aspects to this. Audio quality, which can be described as fuzzy at best, is one. And no, this is not a result of my music player. The quality varies as you change locations and depending on whether your antenna is out or not.
Next are the RJs (Radio Jockeys). There are a few good ones like Jaggu and Tarana (Good Morning Mumbai, Go 92.5FM), Roshan Abbas (Radio City 91.0FM) but not many other. Malini (Horn OK, Please; Go 92.5FM) is all right but makes far too many mistakes to take her seriously. Red FM 93.5 is also worth a listen if purely Hindi stuff (and mostly old) is what you prefer.
The problem with some (actually most, but I'll be polite!) of the other RJs is that they are too full of themselves. Most insist on laughing at their own jokes and have given themselves ridiculous nicknames like "Natkhat Neeta" or "Chulbuli Chhaya" (Chaya and Neeta are both from 93.9FM, Radio Mirchi, Pune). The trend is the same in Mumbai as well.
Another problem with Radio is the over abundance of countdown shows. I mean how many number one songs can a city have? Apparently, five!
Lack of research on what they talk about and sounding obnoxious are the least of all problems. I think the guy's name is Abbas (Go 92.5FM) and he is so irritating, that i HAVE to switch channels the moment he's on (even in ads).
Coming to ads, the less said the better. There have been some good 'uns but mostly, they're crap. My favourite, though, are the mutual fund and insurance ones where they say "Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation. Please read offer document carefully before investing" in about 0.6 seconds. It's incomprehensible yet funny! Another all-time worst ad is the "One hour champi"! Yes, champi! Parachute coconut hair oil is the culprit. Believe it, I took about 2 months to figure out that the voice said "…doosri ko runner-up bhi nahi diya". Anyways, that's what I think they are saying. Still not sure!
The good of Radio are the traffic updates. I have saved myself from traffic jams on at least two occasions till date when I heard an update and changed my route.
Radio is a vibrant medium and a lot of fun with the right RJs. But currently, we are stuck with the not-so-great ones and it's not such fun. What's worse is the repetition of songs.
Kajra Re (Bunty and Babli), I'm so lonely (Akon), Kaal Dhamaal (Kaal), B-n-B (Bunty and Babli) are just some of the songs I hear on my to office and on my way back home. They grow on you after a while, but soon thereafter, you grow out of them.
Why is this the case? Why are the playlists so limited? Are the songs so costly? But then again, isn't that what's gonna catch the listener? Hope someone responsible hears us!

G’bye Shep!

David Shepherd, one of my favourite characters from cricket will retire today after the third ODI between England and Australia. In an interview to Cricinfo, the portly, superstituous and highly respected upmire said "Players are the stars.
The game of cricket is for players not umpires." That's the man… The loser will be cricket.
Shepherd has been known for his antics (jumping when the score is on 111, 222 or so on) as much as his quality as an umpire. As a cricket fan, I always felt if he was umpiring an India match, the decisions would be fair.
We'll miss you Shep. Enjoy retired life.
Full Interview.

Home Sweet Home

Four months is what it took us to find the home we liked. Too long or not is debatable but we finally have it. It wasn't easy though!
During our four-month-long struggle, we traversed the suburbs of Mumbai from Santacruz to Bandra to Sion to Wadala (yes) to Dadar to Mahim to Chembur and even parts of New Mumbai including Vashi, Nerul, Juinigar, Belapur and Kharghar.
I don't even want to think how much money I blew up on travelling to these places not to mention lost weekends and efforts. It's intangeble and unfair.
Classified ads are an example in cryptic writing. "1BHK, East facing, 10/1L, 3RD FLR, NO/LT, Near Rly Stn, Juhu". For god's sake, which railway station is close to Juhu? And which idiot in Juhu is giving away a 1BHK for 10K? I had to find out! So I called. And it was an agent. And I saw the flat. And it was a 1 RK (that's room-kitchen) about 280 sq ft that was converted into a 1 BHK (you do the math about the sizes of the rooms!) and with a common loo. Gawd!
We lived through this for 4 months.
One thing I have relised during this ordeal is that luck, more than anything else, plays a very big part. We lost two houses only because of well, timing. I stopped short of saying bad timing, because it was not us who were the culprits. One in Santacruz was lost because the owner had just gone out of town for a month "that morning" while the other in Vashi (how we wanted that one) was lost due to lack of communication between the agent and the owner.
Estate Agents are a unique breed… they can get attached and well, de-attached (for want of a better word) from you just as quickly if they realise a bigger better deal (commission!) may be had from elsewhere.
However, I have to mention Mr Chawla (from Chembur) and his resilience in putting up with me (which can be an ordeal for him and for all you know, he may have put up a post somewhere in blogsphere!) and showing me no less than 25 flats!
Funnily, though, everytime we narrowed it down to two or three, one of them got taken, another owner went missing and the third suddenly didn't seem so nice… Is there something wrong with us? No. Because wanting to live in a good house is not a 'wrong' thought to have and being extremely discerning about the house you choose is a must. There's just too many strings attached to choosing a house… You must feel like coming back there… it must be bright, conveniently located… you know… all that jazz!
Bottomline here is, we have finally chosen one in Chembur (in an area just behind R K Studios; I hope to do some celebrity spotting!). It's in a brand new building called Blue Bells, on the seventh floor overlooking only greenery and no noise or pollution to be had. Our sole companions are the hills of BARC and the building has great videophone security and all!
We move in on August 1 and neither of us can wait. Hope to see you there for the housewarming! Yes, you are invited to our home.

What a pity

Quite a violent week, this. First Ayodhya and then London. But it seems London has gained prominence over the blasts in Ayodhya. And why not? Blasts and terror attacks are a way of life for us here in India. We have learned to live with them. Shame on us, but who cares?
London had just won the bid to host the Olympics in 2012 and within 24 hours, these blasts happen. Yes, the damage and the impact of the blasts has been greater there but how many of us have taken time to at least condemn the attacks in Ayodhya? Motives for both blasts might be different, but the end result is the same: Terror, damage and loss. One life or 1,000… the impact remains.
I am all for writing about the blasts in London and how it has affected our "pals" there but what about our brothers in Army fatigues in Ayodhya and Kashmir over the last 15 years or more? Ever stop to think about them?
Or is it just fashionable to write about the blasts in a foreign land? July 7, 2005 would probably be a date etched in memory much like 9/11 but how many of us remember 12/26 or 4/13?
Let's be a little more objective and fair, I say. Let's not make it a way of life for ourselves. Let's not be so hardened that nothing of any magnitude affects us anymore. Let's introspect first.
Thankfully the Ayodhya blasts didn't kill any civilians (not sure about the injured lady) but it could have been worse and the effects of a larger casualty rate could have been felt across the country… as they were in parts with the VHP bandh.
Let's not fall into the trap of being the 'Indians who only ape the west'. Annie, I think that answers why not many Indians have gone to jail in the recent past for just doing their job.
Hate me if you like after this… you could also block me out, but the fact is, C**S**F has been very unfair in its opinions about the two terror attacks this week.
Hope we can bear to read that.