Thursday, September 30, 2004

Champions' League round-up

It's a sleepy Thursday here at work. Had very little sleep last night watching the UEFA Champions' League matches. Arsenal and Barcelona, my two favorite clubs (not necessarily in that order always) were both in action. Although neither of the matches were prestigious in terms of the quality of the opposition or what lie at stake, the very fact that the Gunners and the Catalunyans were in live action was reason enough for me to brave the sleep, and risk falling asleep at work .

Barca, as they have been this season, were a well-oiled unit and went about their job of decimating the Ukrainian outfit Shaktar Donetsk without much fuss. Three goals, one each from Deco, Ronaldinho and Eto'o was enough to guarantee the 3 points that they were never in doubt of coming away with. Considering the fact that the last Ukrainian team that visited the Nou Camp had caused a major upset humbling the mighty Barca 0-3 in 1997, this match had a good build-up for the Trivia hunters. And incidentally, Barca triumphed with an identical scoreline.
Perfect Revenge, as the Spanish tabloids were screaming.
King Henrik was a second half substitute, and had a huge reception upon his arrival. He missed a couple of chances, but nevertheless had a good 15 minutes on the pitch. Barca, if they continue their early season performance, look like major contenders for the La Liga and the Champions League. Frank Rijkaard may afterall end the Silverware drought at Barca. The headhunters at the Bernabeue will certainly not like the prospect of a Catalan victory.

The Galacticos at Real are not really helping their cause in any way by their dismal showing. Camacho's resignation could be just the first of several heads that will roll if Madrid falter again. Especially if it coincides with the Catalan revival at the Nou Camp. Raul's brace against Roma is a step in the right direction. But it could be dismissed as a flash in the pan if they continue losing in the Liga to relegation contenders. One gentleman from Liverpool may not be too averse to that idea if it helps him get a few more games on the pitch. Michael Owen's dismal form for Liverpool last season should have been ample indication for Real to spend their millions elsewhere. But the Galactico policy of Perez, plus the cut price deal that they were getting Owen for, has ensured that David Beckham will not go down as the worst English signing for Real. Did I hear someone bet on England for WC 2006? With Becks as skipper and Owen as his deputy? This is one bet that you are sure to "Loos". Did I hear Becks wince?

Speaking of David Beckham, back home at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney's amazing hatrick on debut has made him the most talked about English player, ending Beckham's decade of dominance. The coup de grace was a Beckhamesque freekick that curled teasingly past Rustu Recber in the Fenerbahce goal to complete the Rooney trick. Bye bye Beckham.

Meanwhile, in Norway, the mighty Gunners were pegged back by a spirited Rosenborg. Arsenal, for all their domestic brilliance, have yet to find form in Europe this season. Rosenborg, on the other hand, continued their brilliant form from the Tippeligaen into the Champions' league, frustrating the Gunners with their very direct style of attacking football. Arsene Wenger must be a worried man with Arsenal still looking suspect in their away games. The Non-Flying Dutchman's absence was telling by an obvious lack of vision in the Arsenal attack. Considering this is Dennis Bergkamp's last season in top flight football, Wenger must be hoping that the likes of Reyes and Van Persie blossom really fast. Else the flair and finesse that has become the trademark of Arsenal may soon fade away. However, these are still early days, and Arsenal have a very astute manager in Wenger, and the Gunners can be excused for their last night's performance since it is only their second match in Europe this season, and they are still at the top of their group. Considering they had just one point after their first 3 games last season, this one's already better .

Roman's Chelsea have had no such starting troubles though. Mourinho's dour superstars have consistently managed to grind out results, despite not always looking like the 200 million that were spent on assembling them. Their demolition of the reigning European Champs Porto was very workmanlike. With 6 points from 2 games, who can find fault with Mourinho's style of "grinding out results" soccer! Porto without Mourinho, however, don't look like the team that they were last season, and are back to being the fringe team like most teams from the non-elite leagues in Europe. Martin O' Neil's arguments about Celtic's potential notwithstanding, considering they lost both their games.

Bayern Munich and AC Milan have so far looked like potential contenders for the later stages of CL. But aren't they always? Juventus and Inter are top of their groups as well. After last year's surprise finalists, it's back to the continental Super Powers this season, with most teams from England, Spain, Germany and Italy topping their respective groups.The next round of matches should give a fair idea about the teams that would go through to the next stage, since there are no major upsets that one can envisage from what has been seen so far. Ofcourse, Monaco beating Deportivo is not considered an upset anymore!

Monday, September 27, 2004

God: The Sacrosanct Superhuman

"In God We Trust"- Common phrase ofcourse.
But how can we trust someone we don't know?
This piece of pondering was inspired by some old memories (not that there are new memories). A maternal uncle's story as narrated by my mom, and some of her sisters. Till his late teens, my uncle was an extremely religious, highly devoted follower of the Hindu Gods. Legend has it that he spent a whole day at the local Vishnu temple attending puja during the Utsav a day before his matriculation exams. Interestingly, this same person is now a staunch disbeliever in the concept of the almighty. A rather contrasting change! From a sanctimonious devotee to a blasphemous atheist.

That brings me to the question I have been wanting to ask.
What is God?
Note that I have deliberately settled for "what" instead of "who" due to my need to accommodate a definition of God which goes beyond the deityfication of the almighty into a human-like entity which most religions, and their associated mythology, have propagated for centuries and beyond.

And the next question is:
Is there a God, the way we know "Him"?
Now, the answer could be quite simple for this one. We don't really know "Him". So the existence of God can not be validated at all.

Millions of people have, in billions of pages of religious literature, written about The Almighty, and his amazing strengths, and the miracles that only he is capable of, and how their lives have changed for the better due to their "coming together as one" with The God. I am, certainly, not in the same league to argue about what these great people have written. However, it does get me to think as to why people delve between the extremes when it comes to faith (or the lack of it). Case in point is my uncle that I mentioned about. How can a person change his religious orientation so drastically overnight? Is it an admittance of complete ignorance till the day he realized that his new faith (which is actually no faith) was the impeccable truth? Does he now believe that there is no supernatural, super human entity that was responsible for this world that we live in?

Two Answers.

One. If there was no supernatural being, then everything must be science. And since we cannot conclusively explain genesis even with our advanced knowledge of science, I'll have to live with the disheartening thought that our scientific achievements are nowhere as close to where our pragmatic thoughts would demand. Some divine intervention is definitely welcome. Ironic.

Second. There is a God. Simple. Uncomplicated. But is He a he? Or is He a she? Questions that cannot be answered. Apparently, on second thoughts, this interpretation is not as uncomplicated as I initially thought. But really, once we have accepted the existence of this supernatural entity that governs our lives and much beyond, it is really not that important what form we want this entity to be in. Being very basic, God could be just some speck in space which could be causing and controlling the world and everything that happens in it. And the deityfication of this space into human-like entities could just be a poetic interpretation of our ancestors. Over the eras, the metaphor may have been lost on the future generations, and therefore, people may have started to believe that God is, really, this human-like entity with superhuman strengths.

Interestingly, the superhuman strengths of God has helped the English Language coin the word "Juggernaut" to refer to an unstoppable force. Etymologically,the word is a distortion of the Hindu deity Jagannath. The chariot of Lord Jagannath, at Puri in Orissa is considered to have amassed such massive momentum that it crushed several people in its path due to its unstoppable force.This deityfication has surely not gone waste since there are thousands of people who earn their livings through the religious images and paintings that they have found a booming market for. A picture of a huge statue of Lord Ganesha being immersed in the ocean in yesterday's Times is my vindication.

Since the entire concept of The Almighty is , but, a speculation, each person would either invent or conform to an interpretation of the existence of God that would suit him best. Wonder what made my uncle change his interpretation of God from the Sacrosanct Superhuman to the Spatial Blackhole!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

My Best Friend's Wedding

Contrary to what the title to this article might lead you to guess, my best friend is still unmarried. Infact, he's not even hooked yet. If there's any eligible bachelorette reading this, you know whom to contact if you are interested in meeting the nicest guy on this planet.

Now, I am really not exaggerating when I call him the nicest guy around. What would you call a guy who is way above the average in terms of his professional achievements, who has, in my 11 years of knowing him, never been vexed at anyone or anything, who adores his family and does everything to make sure they are happy, who blushes red in the face when reciting even a vegetarian joke, etc etc. Nicest guy would be the closest I could get to being able to do justice to his extremely delectable demeanor.

Shankar and I first met in 1993 when we joined 11th std in NCJ. I cant say we hit it off immediately. Shankar was this noble samaritan who would religiously attend classes with rapt attention, and then disseminate his gyan to all the not so intellectually privileged fellow students after class. And I was this arrogant, disinterested, self-professed intellectually superior creature who wouldn't need to listen to what was being taught since he could score much better studying on his own. Or so i thought, and who's to argue since it was never disproved. But Shankar and I shared a common passion for Brahminical brethren to make intellectually stimulating conversation. And Raghu served as the common friend who served as a catalyst to help us know each other better and bond a friendship that should, I am sure, last a lifetime.

During the next 2 years, we formed an amazingly witty, and yet enviably intelligent group who knew exactly how to balance fun and studies. The group, which we fondly, and maybe immaturely, called SARKAR (to abbreviate Shankar, Ajeya, Raghavendra, Kiran, Ajith and Radhakrishna) was the toast of the town for its innate ability to keep itself and everyone around humored despite always being politically, ethically, and socially impeccable. Interestingly, there were a few fringe members who were almost part of this elite gang, but not quite. And then there was Radhakrishna who was never really a part of the gang, but got lucky since we needed an extra "R" to complete our sobriquet.

It was, therefore, not surprising when Radhakrishna drifted out of the group right after 12th. And nobody really cared too much since his contribution to the group was just his "R", and little else. And after 12th, we were not too keen on the sobriquet anymore. So the group now consisted of only the real members-Shankar, Ajeya, Ajith, Rags and me. As the years passed, and as our careers took us in different directions, most of these names became just that...names. Ajith is now a super achiever with the UN. Rags is a "wannabe" super achiever, who conveniently sheds the "wannabe" tag in proclaiming himself to be the super achiever that he stops short of being by quite some distance (Just kidding Rags). Ajeya, despite his "rolling stone" professional lifestyle, has carved quite a niche for himself and is now minting dollars in the US of A.

And that leaves just Shankar and me behind, in good ol' Des. And in times like this, when I am scaling major milestones in my personal life, the need for a true friend is much more pronounced. And Shankar fits the bill perfectly. It is to my credit that I have uncovered a few real gems in the form of friends.

Now , coming back to the title of this article, Shankar has now grown up to be one very charming young man, and unfortunately for him, charm like his has very few peers in the fairer sex. And since we (his parents, my parents and me) cannot accept anything less than a perfect bride for our man, the search for his bride is turning out to be a rather elaborate affair. And since Shankar is the kind who cannot disappoint anyone, it's that much more tough to find a bride whose beauty will appeal to Shankar and his mom likewise, whose height and qualification will match up to the expectations of Shankar and his Dad, and whose charm will match up to the charisma of Shankar. And above all, whose horoscope matches Shankar's to a T.

Now, if anyone can help find a girl who matches this tall order, I can soon start planning for "My best friend's wedding".
Until such time, the search goes on..

Confusion:Spoilt for Choice

In a world of myriad choices, confusion is the order of the day. When there are many options, each equally good or equally bad, what would a person choose? When every route is just as alien, which route will you opt for? When every answer in an objective type question seems just as right, which one would you mark against? Do these questions confuse you? Do they get you to scratch your head in bewilderment? If yes, then you are on to me.

Confusion is the state of mind when one is not able to conclusively decide which, out of the many options, should one opt for. It is a great leveler because it affects the ignorant just as much as it does the knowledgeable. Confusion, from an optimists view point, is an indication that you have several options to choose from. From a pessimistic view point, it can be interpreted as a case of losing out on all the options that you didn't choose, Or maybe choosing the wrong option. Its an interesting argument whether confusion is a good state of mind for one to be in.

As a general notion, a confused person is considered mentally weak, or intellectually challenged. A confused person is generally subjected to ridicule and is portrayed as a cartoon with an itchy head. Confusion is, more often than not, synonymous with ignorance. It is an indication of an obvious lack of strong decision making capability. A confused person is considered to have no conviction, and is dismissed as someone who can be easily manipulated. In short, confusion has been portrayed as a highly negative state by conventional thinkers.

However, maybe one should spare a thought to look at the positives of this negative state of mind. Would you rather if you were confused whether to die or live, than be convinced that you should die? Confusion could have saved your life in this case. How about the local superstore that you go shopping at? Would you rather have just one brand of detergent available which you invariably have to buy even if you don't get that "jhaagwala safedi" (shiny white color) that you crave for? Or would you live with the confusion that comes with having many different brands of detergent at your store, and having to make that tough choice about which detergent to buy to make your insipid life shinier? How about marriage? Are you the kinds that would marry the first girl(guy) shown to you? Or would you want to go through the troubles of being confused in having to choose the right partner from several people that you meet?

Now that you have read both sides of the story, which one would you side with? Is confusion so bad after all? Is it really a negative state of mind? Do you still deride your confused colleague? Do you snigger at your timid classmate for not being assertive in his decisions? Well? My guess is you cant make up your mind. Hey, wait a are confused, aren't you? Now, that isn't such a bad thing to be. It just means you have the power to pick the best out the available options.
And who wouldn't want to be "Spoilt for Choice"?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Another one bites the dust

As I sit here cursing my situation for having to come back to work after a 4 day vacation, I cant help but stare at this diamond studded ring sitting pretty on my finger. For the weak witted, that means I am engaged. In a small ceremony on the 19th Sep, I exchanged rings and a promise to share the rest of our lives with Dr.R. Conventional humor would demand a cliched punchline "Another one bites the dust". But deep down, I am thinking, if dust was this sweet, who wouldnt wanna bite it. Come children's day on Nov 14th, we should be pronounced man and wife. Sounds exciting!

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Sometimes, even when most things in life turn a blind eye to you, failure acknowledges you. And like death, failure is an inevitable truth about everything in life. In every success story, there is a lurking failure somewhere. In every happy moment, there is always the fear of failure. Failure, therefore, is one of the few constants in life. Success may cheat you, but failure wont. Just like life may pass you by, but death wont.

The mood of this article is, but obviously, black. However, the content is totally pragmatic. A result of years of introspection, a constant quest of happiness, and the reason why its neverlasting. As every successful person would vouch, failures spur them to greater success. Why then, are people afraid of failure? Why do people crave for unmitigated success but shy away from failure? Why do people fail to acknowledge the role that failure plays in shaping their lives? Why are people measured on their success alone, and their failures are never given their due?

A few weeks ago, I was sharing an absolutely blissful day with someone very close. Everything seemed so perfect that, for a while, I was inclined to believe in the concept of a perfect world. And then, I noticed a streak of sadness in the eyes of this person. When quizzed, she revealed that she has this fear that when she is very happy, there is always something that will go wrong. The same feeling has engulfed me several times over the past few weeks, that there is failure lurking somewhere around when everything is too perfect.

Failure, and more than failure itself, the fear of failure, has deprived the world of so many moments of happiness. We all need to shake the shrink inside our head to fight against this fear. We need to learn to accept failure as an absolute inevitability, and therefore, plan our lives despite it, and not without it. And when we successfully (irony intended) learn to negotiate failure, we'll all be able to enjoy the small joys of life a whole lot more.

I hope I was successful in conveying my thoughts about failure, and if I wasn't, well, failure is the stepping stone of success. So either which way, I cant fail . Not when I am successful, not when I am not successful. That's the beauty of failure. If you try to run away from it, it will chase you all your life. If you learn to accept it with open arms, it wont trouble you anymore.

So next time someone calls you a failure, just smile and enjoy your success.

Filmy chakkar: Ban - galore

Its a boring Thursday morning here at work, and sipping coffee and thinking about a plan for the weekend. I dont usually have to plan for weekends, cos I am either hanging out with friends, or chilling at Javacity, or getting cosy at home with my PS2. But as good fortune would have it, I met this amazing woman who , in a fit of absent mindedness, agreed to tolerate me for a whole lifetime (and another 6 lifetimes as well, if the elders are to be believed), and so I cant afford to not romance her during the weekends.

Now, as any Bangalore dude with a life would tell you, movies are really where it's at if you are looking for some clean romance, which brings me to the real point of writing this blog.
What is it with Kannada film makers and good movies? Why do they always run parallel without ever meeting? Why is it that every other language can churn out atleast some decent stuff once in a bluemoon, but Kannada films never manage to get out of the rut?

Well, I dont intend to evoke any fanatical sentiments because I myself am a Kannadiga, and have enjoyed several good Kannada movies in the days of yore when movies were made with a brain, heart and soul.While I would like to remind everyone that there have been some very good Kannada movies in the recent past, they form a very miniscule minority of the total lot.

In general, Kannada movies suffer from poor production values, bad direction sense, unattractive packaging (read as "heroes that would put villains to shame in terms of their appearance"), bad publicity, negative image, and bad music. As an upmarket viewer of movies, I also despise the mass adulation that is reserved for some totally uncharismatic non-actors who make larger than life movies that demand audiences to leave their brains home while all the time advertising "For intelligent people only". For this, I blame the audience for not knowing what good cinema is about.

In short, Kannada movies are in total chaos. But sadly, the Kannada movie audience deserve the kind of movies they are given. That brings me to another point I am trying to highlight.

The Kannada movie audience is mostly the lower middle class suburbans, or the highly conservative, and non-cosmopolitan upper class.These are the people who , more often than not, do not speak or comprehend any other language and therefore, are resigned to watch Kannada movies alone, and as the saying goes " Beggars cant be chosers". And so you have the coin throwing, catcalling, whistle blowing Kannada audiences enjoying the disgustingly insipid and absolutely senseless movies that are doled out to them.
Point to be driven home: Kannada movies have their audience, and the audience have their Kannada movies.

Now, if the producers of these movies cannot reach out to a larger audience by making better movies, they cannot and should not hope to cut into the audiences for movies made in other languages. And they certainly have no right to demand that theatres dont screen any non-Kannada movie till they are atleast 7 weeks old ( and viewed on TV, thanks to the booming piracy business). If you cant win a race, you shouldnt try to get everyone else to lose. It just means you wont have any winner at all. And thats exactly the case here. People who watch Kannada movies continue to watch them. People who watch non-Kannada movies will just not watch any movie at all.
Will someone tell me how it helps improve the Kannada film industry in any way?

Last heard, all the theatres have stopped screening Kannada movies as well.

Conclusion: My weekend movie date just went outta the window. Any multiplex screening secret cinema? Puhleeeze....

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Welcome to wherever you are!

I am new at writing blogs, but I have been sufficiently inspired by some very close people, who have convinced me that this is the best way to put my weird thoughts to good use. When I say weird, what I really mean is thoughts that one would not really want think too much about, but ones that everyone would come across some time or the other. This is just an attempt to record everything that would, at the time of its conception, not seem proper to be discussed with people, but would serve to humour me, and anyone who cares to read my blog, at a later time. There are times when I read an article from a newspaper, and disagree with most things written, and would want to lash out with my opinions but cant, only due to the absence of a medium to lash out on. Which is why I think this is a great idea to help people with strong opinions such as yours truly to hold on to their sanity by venting their frustrations, or just their calm and composed thoughts , on to a medium which can be accessible by everyone that they want to share their thoughts with. While I dont claim to be very knowledgeable in terms of factual content that I will be able to disseminate through my stray thoughts, this would be more like a play ground for unvalidated opinions. If nothing else, it will atleast serve as a diary of my thoughts, which I can read a few years from now, and probably manage a smile thinking of how my thoughts would have evolved over those few years. It will be just a place for uninhibited entertainment where I'll shred movies to pieces, rip ads apart, scream loud expletives about the state of governance, preach opinionistic gyan about Hindutva and how it continues to be misinterpreted, scream foul everytime India loses a cricket match or Pakistan win short, paisa vasool entertainment where you dont really need any paisa to vasool. Oh, and my passion and passtime is football. Not the kind where they play ball with their hands and then call it football (the American style), but the conventional European style soccer. So I am sure ,sooner than later, once my limited knowledge on most other things fade away, all my writings would be based on football and its exponents. So for all my fellow Arsenal and Barca fans, I'd like to reach out to the fraternity and request people to respond with their expert opinions.