Monthly Archives: January 2018

India South africa test

An Angry Rant about the First Test vs South Africa

Before I begin,

If you do not follow cricket, this post might not be for you. I am sorry; I had resolved to write lesser about cricket, but who can explain to bawra mann? 

Also, if you’re the kind whose general reaction to everything in life is ‘Tu karke dikha’ – kindly stop reading. The only way to go from there is to bang one’s head against the wall.

I cannot play for India. I do not wish to play for India, and even if I did, the closest I could get to the pitch is the cheap tickets in Barabati Stadium. But that does not mean I cannot have an opinion on matters. We are human beings after all, and prone to anger and rants.

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If you looked at the scorecard decades from now, the picture you will get of the Test match is of India folding up in two and a half days to a ferocious South African line-up. However, unlike T20 cricket, Test cricket thrives in between the lines of the scorecard. The intervals between overs, an inspired bowling change that runs through line-ups.

What the scorecard will not show decades later, is that India actually had a chance to win the match. There were a few sessions where you’d assume India was going to win it. When I closed my eyes, I could see Kohli taking off his shirt and dancing to ‘Tenu suit suit karda’, as Shikhar Dhawan does the bhangra next to him (where, unlike while batting, his footwork is impeccable).

While we are on the topic, let us begin at the top of the order.

1. Shikhar Dhawan 

It’s baffling what he’s doing at the crease. He seems woefully out of touch, and to his credit, stuck to his natural game. However, a lot has been said about this ‘playing your natural game’ bullshit; what they don’t tell you is that greatness is about adapting. If playing one’s natural game was such a great trait, Venkatesh Prasad should be among the greatest batsman. The man played his natural game for 15 years – to hold the bat and swing it like a drunk Amazonian Shamans driving away spirits. He was picked over KL Rahul, a player with a decent overseas record, and the next few weeks seem difficult for Gabbar Singh.

 

2. Murali Vijay 

I actually quite like Vijay, simply for the reason that he has the ability to leave balls consistently. Anybody can hit the ball, but to watch the ball leave the bowler’s hand, follow the trajectory, track the lateral movement, judge the bounce, and then let it go – is an intricate skill that requires the practice of a shaolin master and the temperament of a monk.

In this Test however, Murali turned up as Vijay in Puli, slashing at everything outside Off Stump. Even though he will definitely be picked for the Second Test, Murali needs to stop being Vijay and start being Arjun Rampal – wooden.

 

3. Cheteshwar Pujara

Pujara is the last of a generation.

A breed of batsmen who play to save matches. Who will take everything you throw at him, and softly knock them down. Amidst gladiators and butchers, he’s a calligraphy artist sitting under the shade of a mosque. Pujara doesn’t rake in the moolah in T20 leagues, he isn’t seen in ads and interviews. He simply takes guard and leaves balls.

Pujara couldn’t build on solid starts in the first Test. And even when he does, he takes as much time as Shah Jahan took to build the Taj. Pujara needs to step up, as he’ll be our mainstay Test batsman in the grueling tours to England and Australia.

 

4. Virat Kohli 

Since becoming the Captain, Virat Kohli has been going through a beautiful, psychedelic purple patch. Centuries, double-centuries, interviews with Gaurav Kapur that show his softer side – it was all going smooth for Cheeku.

But being the captain of the Indian team is the most stressful job in the country. Virat Kohli has to juggle his impeccable form, a team that often turns up like it’s hungover from a Bacherlors’ Party the previous night, and alien conditions.

Kohli looked solid in both the innings. Unlike his other brethren, Kohli didn’t mistake batting for fishing. He was middling the ball well and even counter-attacked the ball in patches.

I know it is easy to comment in hindsight, but Kohli’s choices with the bowling department actually gave us whatever chances we had of winning the match. However, his choices in the batting department seemed like a friendly school captain picking his favorites.

 

5. Rohit Sharma

Mr. Talent.

Mr. Super Talent.

Mr. Super Duper Earth-shattering Orgasm-inducing Talent.

Never wins us matches in difficult conditions.

In spite of all his one-day heroics, I not a huge fan of the Hitman, because pressure gets the better off him. He’s great when the pitch is flat as a highway and India is batting first against West Indies in Haridwar.

But you cannot select a player to an away Test series, based on his One-Day form in Vadodara. It defies all sorts of logic, even that of ‘current form’ that Kohli spoke about after the match. A lot has been said about Sharma’s ‘natural game’, but I think it is more about ‘natural conditions’.

Rahane might not hit the double-hundreds and blow kisses to his wife. He might not be the captain of the richest IPL side. He might not be the sort who appears in ads for children in supermarkets.

But he’s a better Test batsman.

 

6. Hardik Pandya

A dream Test debut, except for the fact that India lost the match in two and a half days.

It is difficult to expect Pandya to apply himself and play the waiting game. Some things just don’t work like that. Can you imagine asking Sehwag to sit with you through a game of Brainvita? He would break the plastic board and shove the marbles up your alimentary canal.

It is the same with Pandya. His contribution with the bat at the lower order is extremely important, and could change matches. In fact, the only time South Africa looked vulnerable in the match was when he was on song.

Sure call-in for the next Test.

 

7. Wriddhiman Saha 

Adbhut, adamya. Saahas ki pari-bhaasa hai
Ye mitati maanavta ki aasha hai
Foreign pitches pe, yeh magician hai
Ye insaan nahi nahi hai ye avtar hai
Wriddhiman…Wriddhiman…WRIDDHIMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN

(Wriddhi Wriddhi Wriddhimaan…Wriddhi Wriddhi Wriddhimaan).

Wriddhiman is a strange creature. The face of a horse, the temperament of an elephant, the batting skills of an orangutan. Wriddhiman Saha displayed all the composure of a newly-married man in his in-laws house for the first time.

He flashed at balls that he thought he could smash. He blocked balls that turned their face away like a miffed girlfriend. He poked at balls that turned and zipped. He did whatever the fuck he wanted.

He is a good keeper, but his batting is the stuff of art. I wish he remains in the team just so I can see him bat. It’s cathartic and self-harming at the same time. Like Main Hoon Indra the Tiger on Zee Cinema at 11:30 in the night.

 

8. R. Ashwin 

Another bowler who is Aamir Khan on home pitches, but quickly transforms to Kamaal Khan on away pitches. R. Ashwin however, brings in a lot more than his bowling – his calm, zen-like batting. His technique seemed stronger than anybody else’s in the team. And it isn’t even his main skill.

In fact, I wonder what could be the main skill of a spinner on fast, bouncy South African pitches? Ashwin will continue to remain in the team, and should look to quickly go through the overs and remember that life is an interval between pain and pleasure. That he needs to grin and bear it and see out 2018, and Srini Mama will organise four tournaments with Zimbabwe and Gwalior.

 

9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 

The only potential match-winner in the team, it is hard to dislike Bhuvi.

He bats like his life depends on it. He swings the ball both ways. And is probably the first Indian pacer to add a few yards of pace to his bowling without losing his ability to swing the ball.

Unlike the batsmen of the team who are all bravado and Chak De and moustache-twirling, thigh-slapping mushtande, I like how the bowlers in the Indian team carry themselves. They are quiet, unassuming, and go about their job without any hungama. In their company, even Pandya looks like he’s read a few Paulo Coelho books to keep up.

 

10. Mohammed Shami

I doubt there are any Shami fans in the country. The guy looks like a carpenter you’d call on Urban Clap, has no histrionics to offer, and runs in and bowls fast like a disciplined, hardworking IITian.

In fact, the only times Shami is in the news is when moronic Muslims troll him on Twitter. I wonder if it gets to him. A lackluster test for the man, but still a better bet than Ishant Sharma. Shami has never played for long stretches of time due to injuries, and once shudders at the thought of him being dropped for Ishant Sharma.

Ishant Sharma is only in the team because he doesn’t get injured. And Shami is absent from the team only when injured.

 

11. Jasprit Bumrah 

A surprise package that could be dropped for Umesh Yadav in the second Test, this is Bumrah’s first grueling tour. In the next few months, Jasprit will realise what it means to be an Indian fast bowler.

What it means to be clobbered around by opposition batsmen in spite of the conditions offering pace and bounce. What it means to look around the ground and find none of the other pacers want to have a go.

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While the bowling unit over-performed throughout the Test, India’s batsmen look like they came on a family tour to South Africa that was sponsored by the State Bank of India. Half the batsmen through their wickets away. KL Rahul and Rahane were left out for two swashbuckling batsmen who didn’t really swash their buckles.

The second Test will be the real Test. Questions will be raised. Fingers will be pointed. Blood will be bayed for.

And oh, somebody pointed out that Kohli’s average after marriage is 16.5 !!

queen lisa haydon kangana ranaut

Rani Should Have Ended Up with Vijayalakshmi (And other stray thoughts on the movie ‘Queen)


On January 1st, I vowed not to be a slacker, and to go about doing my work in a timely, hardworking manner.

On January 2nd, I was lying like an endangered polar bear on the couch, watching Queen on television.

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Most films that I enjoy in theatres do not stand up to the challenge of a second viewing, but I found Queen to be utterly watchable. In fact, I enjoyed the film even more on second viewing. Since I knew the general direction of the plot, I started noticing smaller things in the film. Like the bit where Rani removes her sweater and appears to throw it into the crowd, only to stuff it back into her bag. And how, a few seconds later, she takes the waitresses’ fire-helmet, and then promptly puts it back on her head!

Queen was easily the movie of the year. The makers of the film had to tread a very fine line, as there were a number of traps that the films could have fallen into.

Firstly, it ran the risk of resemblance with English Vinglish, which was also about a conservative Indian woman moving to the West for a few days and discovering herself. English Vinglish also had the female lead developing feelings for a white man. Also, both the films featured music by Amit Trivedi too.

Queen also ran the risk of becoming a fluffy, female-transformation films. The ones where two girls – – one modern, the other conservative – meet and become friends. The modern one takes the conservative one shopping, to a parlour. And the conservative girl walks out leaving behind her complexion, upbringing, culture, personality, and older clothes.

The film could have also gone the ‘road movie where character does drugs and discovers her inner self’ sort of a movie. But it steers clear of all those plotholes, charting a course of its own.

The dialogues of the film are spot-on too, thanks largely to some fantastic acting by the others – Rajkumar Rao – who’s a goddamn chameleon – and the rest. Also, Queen will forever be Kangana Ranaut’s finest film. It’s like one of those Sachin innings from the late 90s. Right from the first ball, you know the guy’s in fine form today! Right from the first shot, Kangana knocks it out of the park. It’s the kind of role that, if essayed by a male star, would have been called ‘revolutionary’, and ‘genre-bending’.

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Keeping pseudo-academic analyses aside, there was one lingering thought lurked in my head while I was watching the film.

Rani should have ended up with Vijayalakshmi.

I know it sounds like the rabid fantasy of a college-student, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find that there’s solid reasoning behind my argument.

The two share an oozing chemistry from the moment they set eyes on each other. In spite of being utter contrasts. Their clothes, the lives they lead, their moral compasses, even their acting skills – one actress is playing the role of her lifetime, the other is barely managing to walk across an ice-lake.

In fact, there’s even a moment where the filmmakers (probably) doff their hat to Before Sunrise. After the two get drunk, Rani is babbling about hiccups, when Vijayalakshmi stretches her hand out and touches her cheek.

I don’t mean an overt Haye rabba, Rani! Tune ladki se pyar kar liya sort of a moment. But even a subtle nod would have done. Like the glorious bit in Dedh Ishqiya where the two women express their love for each other using Vishal Bharadwaj’s beautiful brain.

But the modern world wouldn’t allow it. The idea would be bashed for fetishizing gender descriptions in popular culture, and a few debates would rage on the Internet for a few days, before we move on to Taimur Khan breaking the Internet in Papua New Guinea.

Rani and Vijayalakshmi should have ended up together, waving a gigantic Indo-French middle finger at the guy. The two of them would have been happy. Chintu would have been happy. The Universe would have been happy.

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Youtube ads

How I inadvertently solved YouTube’s Advertisements Problem

There’s an episode in the British futuristic, dystopian TV series Black Mirror, where people have to exercise to generate electricity and then get to enjoy the ‘merits’ they earn by consuming media.

I feel like that when I’m on YouTube, thanks to YouTube’s advertising policies, easily the worst aspect of Google’s earth-encompassing services. You can’t really get rid of YouTube Ads. Yes, I’ve heard the suggestions – AdBlocker, using a proxy/VPN/Aadhar Card – but there’s really no way out of them.

I had tried all the ghar ke nuskey – only to finally chuck them altogether. There was really no point, and I’d accepted that there will always be annoying ads before I watch a video of my choice.

Till last week.

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I got myself a new laptop – HP Omen i7 because people invariably ask me what model it is – and was installing all the prerequisite apps on it.

I have shifted from Google Chrome to Opera Browser and when I was setting up the browser on my new system, it asked me to choose my Language Settings. I chose English – UK as my default language. The only problem? I was too stoned to realise that I’d chosen ‘Uk’ – ‘Ukraine’. The fine ladies and gentlemen working in Opera and Google took my word for it and since then, I’ve been flooded with ads from Ukraine!

At first, the ads were simply bizzarre. I thought it was a bug in the system, and that it was a one-time occurence. But the ads kept coming, and it took me a few days to realise what had happened.

I began to weave fantastical accounts of life in Ukraine. There were ads for children’s toys that showed a couple humping each other. The ad for an apple juice brand consisted of a zoom-in shot of a sweaty cleavage for ten seconds.

After the first few days, I began to enjoy the ads. They were a welcome change from the clingy Indian ads that beg you not to ‘Skip Ad’. Now, I look forward to seeing ads from Ukraine before my video plays on. It’s like a free upgrade on a service I didn’t even order in the first place.

My curiosity led me to look up the country, and I found a number of mildly interesting facts. Like Ukraine has one of the oldest constitutions in the world. I also learnt that the nation is obsessed with booze and IT – a trait I could connect to as a foster Hyderabadi. I also learnt that Ukrainian women are considered the prettiest in the world, and *surprise surprise* there’s a place called Odessa that houses the prettiest people in the whole world.

I was clearly born in the wrong Odessa, for Odisha has no such history. We are a state that loves to cook food and eat food and sleep in the afternoon for a couple of hours. That’s literally every Odiya person, ever.

 

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I might not have really ‘solved’ the YouTube problem – that might be stretching it. What I managed to do, however, was inadvertently shake off YouTube’s powerful analytics and personalisation tools.

Now, before looking for a YouTube video, I look at the ads that are being shown to me. I haven’t skipped an ad in weeks now, and gleefully watch every single ad that I’m shown. As we speak, I’m being shown an ad for a watch where a young couple (dressed in swimsuits, of course!) meet inside a swimming pool and say something to each other, softly.

I think when India becomes intolerable – as I’m sure it will; considering Aamir Khan has said it would. Aamir Khan can predict the future. During the promotions of Lagaan, he’d said ‘Yeh picture chalegi’, and the film did work. So there!).

So once India becomes too intolerable to live, I will move to Odessa in Ukraine.

And take a walk through their supermarkets too see where the steroids are stocked.

 

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Humans-of-Hindutva-Facebook-Image-for-InUth-2

Thank you and Goodbye, Humans of Hindutva

While you were browsing through adorable pictures of Taimur breaking the Internet, one bit of news slipped past the bullshit that we call news in our country.

‘Humans of Hindutva’- a spectacularly funny parody page – has been shut down after the owner received death threats from saffron dicks. It was a sad day for Indian Internet, as Humans of Hindutva was among the few genuinely funny pages on the web.

India achieved tremendous Internet penetration in the last two years, but good humour is hard to find. The most popular humour pages in India copy stuff from other pages (some, without even giving credit). In fact, one of the greatest bonuses of quitting Facebook is not having to deal with those fuck-all pages. All those pages that borrow each other’s content at low interest rates.

In India, nobody wishes to attempt political humour. It is either considered not mainstream enough, or runs the risk of inviting vitriol and anger from trolls on Twitter. AIB is probably the only organisation that indulges in political humour and satire, but it’s only a segment of what they do online.

Which is why it was a relief to find Humans of Hindutva.

As you might have guessed, it was a parody of the mind-bogglingly popular Humans of New York. HONY was a good page when I began following it, but I’ve found that all the goodness on the page makes me throw up a little. Just picture after picture of earnest, wise, honest people made me feel a little claustrophobic.

Like the Scary Movie series, I actually enjoyed the parodies of HONY more than the actual page. There’s Goats of Bangladesh – an absolute favourite – and Cows of Benares. And then, there was Humans of Hindutva.

Idiotic MPs, MLAs, and ministers, statements by journos and Twitter trolls, Narendra Modi to Rahul Gandhi – nobody was spared from the incendiary radar of the page.

humans of hindutva

Humans-of-Hindutva-Facebook-Image-for-InUth-2

The page addressed our new-found lunacy as a nation – where the life of a cow is more precious than a human being’s. The page took on right-wing morons with access to Internet, and showed a beautiful mirror to India, our quirks and many convoluted compulsions. And yet, there wasn’t anything visceral about his posts (I only assume it was a guy who ran the page, but I could be completely wrong, of course!).

The posts were smartly worded and humourous; not the work of a troll. The page wasn’t run to spread hatred, but to mirror the frustration of the daily life of an Indian, sane, youngster. It wasn’t hate that the page propagated, but a wry, dry variant of sarcasm.

Humans of Hindutva shut down its operations after receiving death threats from right-wing extremists. This was the message that he left, while announcing that he was shutting down the page:

I’m quitting out of my own accord. I’ve not been banned or mass reported. I have recently received some threats to my life which I can’t take lightly. I am outnumbered, live in a BJP state and come from a middle-class family with no political or police connections. I have no desire to end up like Gauri Lankesh or Afrazul Khan. Actually, more than myself, I worry for the safety of my family. I hope those who threatened me consider this as a victory and leave us alone. I have deleted the HOH page and will delete this website soon. Congratulations to Hindutva on winning this David vs Goliath fight. As for those who were kind enough to lend me their ears for the last eight months, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Cheers and alvida. Thanks for giving me some of your time.

 

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This is deeply saddening on two levels.

One, my age-old grudge against a government that associates itself with a religion. It has never worked – in the USA, or Mid-west, or in Pakistan. Religion and governance are two ideas that cannot work together, no matter how special you think your nation is.

Secondly, it dispels the myth of Hindus being tolerant. In the last few years, we have become a clone of the very Islamists that the Hindutva brigade hates. To take down a parody page reflects the weak insecurities in the minds of the people.

As a nation, we do not understand the concepts of humour and sarcasm. For us, humour is the same as mazaak udaana – to humiliate, to insult, to show someone their place. This is probably why there’s no word for sarcasm in Indian languages. May be it is a Western import too, like the Beretta M 1934 Semi-automatic that killed Gandhi.

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Dear admin of Humans of Hindutva, I hope you’re reading this.

It’s easy to preach about integrity and standing up for one’s beliefs. But who would want to go through the kind of fate that Gauri Lankesh went through? But there is a silver lining.

The Internet is a vast, open minefield. And I’m sure you’ll find other spaces to shine, and take on the powers that be.

Thank you for what you had chosen to do. It was a lot of fun following your page!

*****

Breakfast-in-Bed

Start Up Ideas that You Can Use (BUT PLEASE LAUNCH IN HYDERABAD)

Cigarette Delivery App – Paanwala

Cigarettes.

You can’t live with them. You can’t live without them.

The government has been doing its best to get smokers to quit. There are the annoying ads before movies, Rahul Dravid speaking Hindi and sounding like the evil rulers of Lagaan, there are warnings telling people that smoking could lead to cancer, impotency and death. And yet, a smoker will smoke.

However, buying cigarettes is a pain.

In India, we don’t have the culture of buying the entire pack of cigarettes, hence they’re sold loose. Most people who look to quit smoking refrain from buying an entire packet too.

From the seller’s point of view, there’s really no profit in cigarettes. It’s staggering how they even run their business, knowing that a single cigarette offers a margin of a rupee. Which means you have to sell a pack of 10 to make a profit of ten rupees.

How the App works:

There are millions of paan dabbas around the country, in every lane, every street, every locality. You connect the nearest paan dabba to the customer. There’s a minimum order of 100 rupees and every cigarette is sold at a margin of 5 rupees.

It doesn’t require a kitchen, or preparation – or even an outlet. It could be a service than runs 24×7, and the seller could make a profit of 50 rupees per pack – 5 times what he’d make from his shop.

Also, if the shop offers other goods (like cool drinks, glasses, paan, etc.), customers can order those too.

Cigarettes are a necessity in every party, and they always run out – I haven’t attended a single party in my life where there were too many cigarettes. This app will connect smokers to cigarettes and ensure a long and happy smoking relationship between the two.

PS: If you’re making an app for this, please give me credit. Also, please start operations in Hyderabad, in the Madhapur – Gachibowli – Kondapur area.

Thank you.

Jai Hind.

                                     HumsurferA Co-Travelling App

Travel.

Hyped by the rich, fantasised by the middle-class. Unheard of by the poor (except when they migrate for work – which is a beautiful common ground between Tourism and Labour Migration).

With rising disposable incomes, and a population that is mostly young – India will see a huge surge in local tourists travelling around the country (and abroad). While apps like Oyo and MakeMyTrip handle different specific aspects of travel such as hotels and travel – there is one unanswered question in travelling.

We in India do not have a culture of traveling. It is not till recently, when hashtags such as #WanderLust and #TravelIsLife became popular.

However, the biggest pain with traveling is making a plan.

Most often, your partner is busy. Or friends have plans. Or some of you did not get a leave from work. Which results in a million plans going to dust every year.

What the App does:

The app is targeted at people looking for other travellers.

When you register on the app, you get to choose your own requirements:

  1.   Number of people in the group (from 2 to 5)
  2.   Gender of the people (either same gender or the other gender – though I doubt Indian women are dying to invite stranger Indian men to travel with them. But you never know – this app could be revolutionary!)
  3.   Age group of the people you want to travel with
  4.   Destination and dates that you are comfortable traveling between.

The app verifies your profile using a number of profiles – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – and you get to choose the people you travel with. You can choose solo travellers, or groups – depending on how comfortable you are with strangers.

What’s in it for app users:

  1.   No jhijhak about traveling. Make a plan – find people travelling to the same place – pack your bags and leave.
  2.   Cost savings. Travelling in a group brings down your costs by half (or more!). This is ideal for youngsters/hitchhikers/budget travellers.
  3.   You get to meet new people along a journey and make friends.

I still don’t know how this can be monetised, as every aspect of the travel can be planned and customised according to the needs of the people traveling. But also, does every app need to be monetised? I mean, is earning money the sole purpose of every single endeavour in our lives?

I still haven’t been able to figure out the answer to this question!

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So there you have it, reader. Go ahead, make in India. Bake in India. Rake in India.

I am quit shit at running my own life, leave alone a start up. The only time I had tried one, we wound up in a month because we were both stoners who decided to get stoned with our customers and suppliers. Sometimes, at the same time.

But life is a constant stream of learnings, and through the experience I learnt that one must never get stoned with one’s customers and suppliers. However, the incident has kept me away from the Start Up Revolution, and hence I have decided to pass on the baton to the next generation.

Jai Hind. Jai Yugoslovakia. Jai Shree Allah.

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Suggested Reading: Why I Had to Shut Down my Start Up – By Hriday Ranjan. Start-Up Enthusiast. Venture Socialist. Devil Investor.