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Nostalgia

December 20, 2013
I reached Vila Amour at 7:12 p.m. I was asked to be there at 7:15 p.m but considering the man’s temper, I (for a change) made sure that I was well in time. The consequence of being 3 minutes early was that I witnessed a scene that I once upon a time was a part of, but had well but forgotten.
As I opened the compound gate, I looked up towards the balcony. The balcony door was shut for a change. As I walked towards the stairs, I heard a thundering of footsteps above me and adoloscent voices suddenly disturbed the serene and calm evening atmosphere of Pudumjee Park.
“Dude, its Saturday evening, what’s the plan?”
“Hey Asshole, give my book back, got to finish of with today’s homework”
“Bastard, let us just chill out at someone’s place”
I quickly stepped aside and let the swarm of voices pass by me. Guys clad in wierd clothes, sporting even more wierd hairstyles stared at me in my modest sports jerkin, blue jeans and blue knapsack as if I was just back from a trip to Mars. I waited and watched them leave. 35 odd bikes were kick started in quick succession. The roar of the engines, the racing of the acceleration and then in a fog of dust all of them were gone. The evening was silent once again.
A tad rattled by the sudden sinusoidal fluctuations (Electronics Engineer hoon bhailog) in voice levels, I walked up the stairs to the first floor. The door was ajar, yet I knocked. I was no longer a student.
“Come in.” , said a sharp voice.
I looked at my watch in truimph. It was 7:15 p.m. I walked in and saw him sitting on the chair opposite the door. I was in Prof H.D Moogat’s house. Like many others, maybe one of my last visits here.
A student was discussing some admission related details with him. While Moogat was advising him, I sat on the sofa opposite him. Half listening my mind flashbacked 6 years back to when I had first come to meet this man. Nothing has changed since then.Not he, not his style of wearing a blazer for his classes, nor his Just-A-Minute temper. But then I feel that when one is so close to leading the perfect life, there isn’t much that one needs to change.
I was suddenly jerked out of my reverie. The student had gone.
“Have you brought everything?”, he asked.
He was referring to the letters I had brought for signing.
“Yes sir”, I replied.
“Ok, sit on the table. I’ll just come”
I entered the hall. It was empty now. All the chairs were folded and kept aside.
“Kling Klang Kling”
I remembered how we used to purposely fold the chairs with a lot of noise to irritate him. I wanted to fold chairs again. I walked towards the table and circled it twice just trying to remember my favourite position. It was 15 degrees to the right of his chair, behind him. I stood there for a minute or so and a crowd of memories clogged my mind………
M : Why are you late?”
Alok : Sir, I was sleeping
M: With whom……..
M: What is cosA into cosB?
Bawa: cosAB
M: Arre chutiya dikhra !!!
M: What is ASTC rule?
Students: All Sin Tan Cos
M: After Sex Throw the Condom….
M: And I know that Shanky teaches it as All Sugar Tea Coffee but this sounds much better ….
Students: Rao, Rao, Rao…
M: ENOUGH, once more and I ll throw all of you out, Bastards
Dinesh: Hey Santya Bochya…..
And this ones my favourite..
M: There is nothing known as revision. Revision is only on Wadia college bridge. You look and find a beautiful girl so you do a re-Vision and then Re Re Vision and then RE RE RE vision…
I took a chair and sat and waited for M to come.
“Dong”, the grandfather clock to my right struck 7:30 pm. Even that hadn’t changed….
As M brought his pen and started signing the forms, I mentioned, “Sir, its been a long time since I have sat in this hall”
“So it has, so it has”, he replied smiling.
We finished off within half an hour.
“Dong, dong, dong….”, the clock struck 8 p.m
Looking again at my list of univs, he said, “Well, I wish you all the best.”
“Thank you sir, for everything.”
As I made my way out of the house and down the stairs, I thought, “Admits or no admits, I ll always feel happy and proud of the fact that Prof H.D Moogat recommended me for my Masters….”
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Game Name

October 21, 2013

During our team-huddle just before the start of the game, our captain began by saying, “Let us welcome back so-and-so (who had missed a couple of games during his wedding) … Now  for the new-comers, let me define the rules of the game.”

Someone quipped, “Are you talking about rules for today’s game specifically or marriage in general ?”

Everyone laughed.

Captain, good-humored that he is, continued the joke, “Let me tell you this, there are no rules that we can define there. They are left to your interpretation only.”

In other cricketing news, Ishant seems to have become the fulcrum of all jokes now, taking away the attention from Jadeja. Given the way things are going in the current series, I would not be surprised to see MSD roll an arm over. #champion’s trophy

While this is all good entertainment for the viewers, with bated breath, all our eyes are on next month, when an era is going to end.

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The Road to Taste of India

April 10, 2013

I recently saw Road, Movie and it proved to be a quite an interesting watch. A movie about a mobile cinema being transported through a desolated desert, with just a handful of characters and no song-dance routines – a tough task for a director to keep an audience interested. But a compact and tight script with good actors and a brilliant background score had me engrossed.

There was an very interesting scene in the middle of the movie, where Satish Kaushik brings Abhay Deol and gang to a place in the middle of nowhere, expecting a mela of some sorts to be going on where they could show their movie. Disappointed, Abhay starts venting his frustration, but Satish confidently tells Abhay to setup his cinema. “Cinema hoga toh mela bhi hoga. Khana hoga, paani hoga, log bhi aayenge.” And guess what, thats what happened. The movie of course was a disaster at the box office. No song and dance. Come on. But then, that is not the point I am trying to make.

AID Penn State had its fifteenth annual food festival, The Taste of India on Saturday and as always the event turned out to be a sublime blend of various cultures coming together to make the evening very special. I have been a part of the volunteering team for this event for a few years now, and every time I try to imagine how someone could have conjured up this idea back then, to cook food for over 500 people. That too, Indian food; for the culinary complexities differ depending on which part of the country one comes from. To someone from Gujarat, Kadak would be an evening snack, while to someone like me, it would rather refer to a special kind of tea. I once remember being an audience to a conversation between two friends who were arguing as to how Idilees should be made – both guys were from different states. I ended up  having a sandwich for dinner that night. But I digress.

So to conceive this idea of cooking Indian food – that too vegetarian food in a predominantly meat-eating country – for such a huge gathering and then, expect people to show up for it is like expecting Sachin and Ponting to bat for the same team. Oh wait, isn’t that happening this year in the IPL.

So while this idea was bold and out of the box back in the day, it worked, because it was a good idea. Indian food is tasty, there are no two ways about it. And once a recipe is fixed upon, then the execution is straight forward. Heat oil, throw in cummin seeds, fry the onions, add turmeric powder … you get the gist. And then, when you have a strong student-community bonding to top it off, then to make an idea like this to work is like asking Shahrukh Khan to overact in a scene.

ToI has slowly evolved with time. As students come and go, new logistics are thrown in. Some stick, some are forgotten. But it really is endearing to see a lot of alumni make it a point to come for this event and make it an evening to remember.

Here’s to the hope that ToI gets tastier with every passing year.

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Cycle Baffle

May 25, 2012

Cycling as a sport never really took off in India. It probably never even landed. The last time someone from India participated in a Cycling event at the Olympics was in 1952. 40 years later, Aamir Khan played the estranged son who won the inter-college cycle race to prove that Jo Jeetha Wohi Sikander. That movie may have sparked some Josh (pun unintended) amongst the Indian public. I, for one used to bike to school pretending I was in a race. “Change the gear Sanju, Change the gear.” I did not have a geared bike then, but you get the point.

In any case, having returned to Pune after a brief hiatus, it saddened me to see that the n number of cycles that once used to infest the roads has now shrunk to a number that is very close to Kareena’s size zero. A lot of the cycle dealers themselves have given up the business and moved to other lucrative opportunities. This leaves the youth of today with very little opportunity to realize the benefits of this wonderful exercise. Being part of the Rapid Urban Boom By Incremental Steps of Harakiri that Pune has witnessed, I too ended up giving away my cycle a few years ago.

However, going by the current fuel hike, I foresee cycling becoming a national phenomenon. Hopefully, someone – in their zest to curb expenses – will discover their strong Armstrongish ability to pedal his or her way to glory. The Pune Pedal Power foundation is making a valiant effort to create awareness by organizing a cycle rally on the 3rd of June 2012. Instantly, I thought of participating. The only hurdle was to get hold of a cycle. How difficult would that be. I searched online to see if anyone rented out cycles. Not too many shops. And the ones that did, were already booked for the day of the Rally. Think Watson, think. Maybe Koregaon Park would be a place where cycles may be found on rent given the fact that the Osho Resort is located there. I took out my motorcycle. (I am sure if Shanky learnt of this, he would not be happy. “All the way you went on your motorcycle? Why? To find a cycle “) Though If SRK had been Shanky’s student, he would probably have replied, “Kuch jeetne ke liye kuch haarna bhi padta hai…”

Having reached KP, I scouted the area but did not find anything close to a cycle shop. Intuitively, I veered onto Lane No 7. Apart from a few newly constructed buildings, there did not seem much to discover there. So I turned around and suddenly noticed a small tea stall on the side of the road. Maybe this guy will know some cycle shop out here I thought. I went up to him and asked him if he knew anyone who rented out cycles. He asked me for how many days I needed one for. I told him that I needed it for only one day. He told me to go and meet Vinod who has a Paan shop with a GoldFlake banner on Lane 4.

I reached Lane 4 only to find a Paan shop sans GoldFlake banner. Maybe his cycle business is so lucrative that he plans to do away with his Paan shop, is what I thought as I got down from my bike. I walked up to the shop and asked for Vinod. There were two people sitting inside the shop. They looked at each other and shook their heads in negation. Maybe this Vinod was Agent Vinod who kept traveling from one Lane to another. Or maybe the Tea guy got confused between Lane 4 and Lane 3. I rode up to Lane 3 but failed to find any Paan shop. Maybe the Tea guy got confused between Lane 4 and Lane 5. I rode up to Lane 5 and there was the GoldFlake Paan shop I was looking for. I quickly went up to the shop and asked for Vinod. The guy sitting at the Paan shop asked which Vinod I was looking for – Vinod the Paanwala or Vinod the Cyclewala. I felt like replying Vinod Khanna but I refrained. I said I was looking to rent a cycle for the day and the Tea-guy on Lane 7 had sent me. I was then referred to Vinod the Cyclewala.

After a lengthy discussion with Agent Vinod, I found that since it was off-season there was not much demand for cycles. So he had packed up all his cycles and would only bring them back to KP during the winter. This was getting frustrating. “Ek cycle ki keemat tum kya jaano Ramesh” was a dialogue I made a mental note of while I rode back home. Maybe SRK could use it in a documentary called Cycle-a-Have Jayate or Chuck De Car. Who knows. After the IPL he might buy all the KKR players a cycle as a gift.

I hope the Cycle Rally turns out to be a huge success and it spurs more people to bike more regularly and increase the population of cycles in Pune. Even Kareena claims she is no longer size zero.

Original version published on Sportskeeda

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The ODK Story

April 18, 2012

After the debacle of the 2007 Cricket World Cup, I had all but given up cricket. But, later in the year, having arrived at Penn State, I started to miss the game so much that I looked for any and every opportunity to get bat on ball. There were times in class when I thought of asking the professor to bowl a few balls to me.

Having spoken to a few seniors, I learned that there was an eclectic mix of students and faculty members who played at the Orchard Park on weekends. It was great fun to field on the lush outfield and be able to whack the ball without having to worry about it crashing into someone’s window pane. Games were played at leisure, with wise-cracks and quips all part and parcel of the weekly outing in the park. And then the unexpected happened. India won the inaugural T20 World Cup. A sort of cricketing fervor gripped the Desis at Penn State. Every nook and corner had a Desi practicing a Yuvi-to-Broad six or a Shreesanth-to-Hayden ball with palms slapping the ground in jubilation after having the stumps uprooted.

In 2008, when the Penn State Cricket Club (PSCC) decided to organize a Fall tournament, we immediately registered our team. However, contrary to our own over-the-roof expectations, we failed to make it even to the quarter-finals. In 2009, The Orchard Dark Knights (ODK) name was coined but the result remained the same. We ended a miserly 9th rank out of 10 teams. In 2010, our team finally got a grip on the way things were supposed to be. We made it to the Semi-Finals for the first time and gave the eventual winners a tough fight in that game. By 2011, a lot of the original ODK members had retired (graduated) and there was very little chance that we would have enough players to form a team once again. But again, India winning the World Cup in April 2011, instilled a new vigor amongst all of us. So a new team with a new captain was formed; but we stuck to the original name – The Orchard Dark Knights. Starting off strongly in the tournament, our fitness began to tell by the time we reached the Semi-Finals. In a hard fought match, which went down to the last ball, we lost to the eventual champions – The White Tigers.

Come Spring 2012. The ODKs played their opening game against The Falcons. The team seemed determined to make a good start to the tournament and went on to win the game comfortably. The next game for the ODKs was against Bomb Squad. Having been set a stiff target of 95 runs to chase in 15 overs, the ODK were helped by their opponents being understaffed in the fielding department and ran away to a comfortable victory. With 2 wins out of 2, it was time for the ODKs to face their nemesis from the previous year – The White Tigers. Put into bat, the White Tigers started off slowly, but as their confidence grew, so did their run rate. In a high scoring, breath-taking encounter, the White Tigers held their nerves to beat the ODKs by 4 runs. In their final league match, the ODKs then took on the Jager Bombers on a pitch that seemed to have come straight from Bridgetown, Barbados. Uneven bounce and some good bowling kept the ODKs down to a respectable target on a smallish ground. However the ODKs held their catches and made some interesting bowling changes to win the game and ensure a position in the Semi-Finals.

The Semi-Finals was a repeat of the previous year – ODK vs White Tigers. The ODKs started off briskly scoring at more than 8 runs per over during the Power Play. But after having lost a couple of quick wickets, the runs suddenly dried up. Some lofty shots in the last few overs allowed the ODKs to set the White Tigers a target of 120 to get in 15 overs. But the White Tigers were not ones to give up without a fight. They kept chipping away at the target getting an occasional boundary or six on the way. The match again went down to the last over but this time around the ODKs bowled to a plan and denied the White Tigers a victory. The ODKs had finally made it to their first Final.

In the Final, their opponents were the Blue and White Warriors who had yet to lose a match in the tournament and yet to lose more than 2 wickets in an innings. Their openers got the team off to a blazing start hitting fours and sixes at will. The ODKs looked very flat in the field and the toll of having played 5 back-to-back games seemed to be telling on them. At the end of 10 overs, the Blue and White Warriors seemed well set to go past 180 of their 20 overs. But some spirited bowling towards the end overs pulled the run rate down and the ODKs were set a target of 163. The ODKs kept the asking rate within reach throughout their innings and went on to chase the target well within 20 overs.

It has been a fabulous weekend of entertaining cricket. Kudos to the Organizers for having a tab on all the match proceedings and keeping the captains updated about their respective schedules. Here is hoping for many more entertaining tournaments to come.

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A to Z of 2011

December 31, 2011

Last time I blogged we were World Champions and here we are onto the last day of the year. Hard to believe that an entire year has gone by so quickly. So, as an exercise, I decided to do a quick alphabetic recount of the year gone by. Here is what I came up with. I am sure a lot of you will have your own versions of it.

A for Anna
Anna Hazare led the anti-corruption movement through the year, drawing huge support all over, even on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

B for Blasts
Mumbai succumbed to yet another strike. Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar were the focal points of this attack.

C for Cricket
Pepsi’s mantra “Eat cricket, sleep cricket, drink cricket” became a reality for most people.

D for Dhoni
ODI Champions, No 1 Test team, IPL Winners – Dhoni did it all. His final six in that epic World Cup final will go down in the history of the game as one of the finest finishes.

E for England
England, later in the year, whitewashed India over the summer in the much anticipated Pataudi Test series, thus taking over the mantle of the No 1 Test team. The first test match at Lord’s was also the 100th Test match between India and England and the 2000th Test match overall.

F for Formula One
India finally had its first F-1 event at the Buddh International Circuit. One of the most eagerly awaited sporting events after the Cricket World Cup, huge crowds thronged to see this first of many racing sprees.

G for Goa
Goa celebrated its 50th year of liberation from the Portuguese establishment. A popular tourist spot, Goa has it all – beach, music, charm and susegad.

H for Heros
Steve Jobs, Dennis Ritchie, Tiger Pataudi, Mario Mirinda, M.F. Hussain, Dev Anand, Bhupen Hazarika and Shammi Kapoor, to name a few of the many great people that left us this year. RIP …

I for IIT
Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU) joins the elite IITs, as per the Institutes of Technology Amendment Bill

J for Japan Tohoku earthquake
The six minute long earthquake wrecked havoc in Japan, killing thousands of people and leaving many others homeless.

K for Kolaveri
“Why this Kolaveri Di” became viral in a few weeks. As of today, it has received over 30 million hits on YouTube. If you were to type ‘Why’ in the search space on YouTube, the first suggestion would be this very soup song.

L for Lokpal
After a debacle in the Rajya Sabha this week, hopefully this Bill will see the light of the day in the new year.

M for Manchester
During this season’s English Primiere League, Manchester City defeated Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford in what is believed to be Man U’s most humiliating defeat under Sir Alex Ferguson’s (celebrating his 70th birthday today) management.

N for Novak
In the world of Tennis, this year truly belonged to Novak, winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. What made him the Superman of Tennis this year? Was it his gluten-free diet or was it sheer hard-work? A beautifully written article by Rohit Brijnath on the space between.

O for Osama
After a decade since 9/11, OBL was killed.

P for Paterno
Joe Pa, as he is fondly called, was removed from his position as head coach of the Penn State Football team over the child abuse sex scandal.

Q for Que Sera, Sera
Whatever Will Be, Will Be

R for Rupee
The rupee hit an all-time low of 54.305 per dollar.

S for Sehwag/Sangakara
Sehwag hit the cricket ball all over the park against a beleaguered West-Indian team to score 219, which is the highest individual score in ODIs.
Sangakara on the other hand, showed that pen is mightier than sword by delivering a bold speech at Lord’s as part of the Colin Cowdrey Lecture.

T for Tahrir Square
Tahrir Square became the epicenter of the Egyptian Revolution.

U and V together make us.

W for World Cup Champions
India, against all odds, won the World Cup. Work came to a standstill, as Dhoni and his men strived to repeat the 1983 performance.

X for Xacuti
One of my favorite dishes that was cooked and eaten quite a few times this year.

Y for Yuvraj
Yuvraj Singh was the Man of the Tournament in the Cricket World Cup and was instrumental in India’s victory.

Z for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Easily the best movie of the year in my opinion, it had all the elements that go into making a good film. Good script, good actors, hilarious moments and lovely music.

With that, all is well that ends well. Here is wishing all of you a very Happy New Year. See you in 2012.

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You-Waah We-Waah

April 5, 2011

“Nehra?”

It was the year 2000. We were at Moogie’s place. Abhijeet Nehra had just made his presence felt by answering a tricky probability question and Moogie had looked up curiously to know who was this ‘phata-poster-nikla-hero’ who had answered. From that day onwards Nehra was called ‘King of Probability.’

I echoed Moogie’s question when Dhoni pulled a rabbit out of the hat by opting for Ashish Nehra over R. Ashwin in the India vs Pak semifinal World Cup clash on 30th Mar 2011.  For the lanky bowler picked up 2 wickets for a meager 33 runs in a high-pressure game and was instrumental in India’s victory. I don’t think anyone, not even the experts, were expecting this sort of a performance from him after the hiding he received at the hands, or should I say the bats of the South African tail. While the South African tail wagged against the Indian bowling, it drooped against a ‘nothing-to-loose-everything-to-gain-New Zealand’ team. In a very sadistic way, I was happy that South Africa continued their choking streak in this World Cup too. It meant that the law of averages would continue to favor India to maintain its winning streak against Pakistan in World Cups.  But lets leave the Maths for another blog. We beat Pakistan. Period.

Back to Nehra – the cricketer. He got injured during the semifinal and ended up sitting out on the sidelines for the final against Sri Lanka. Enter Sreesanth. Enough fun has been derived from Sreesanth and his antics. Right from The Fake IPL Player to Sidin everyone has enjoyed their share of mirth. So I shall not indulge. Or should I? All I can say is this,

Sreesanth does dance well,

Off and on the field as well,

Especially for Andre Nel.

Now does that ring a bell?

The final was truly worthy of being a WC final. It was a twister. The Indians bowled well to begin with. But the Lankans then came back to set us a stiff target. They then got rid of the fiery pair of Sachin-Sehwag. But the Lankan fairytale ended just there. The Indian middle order played to its potential and got to the their target in fine style. After the fun-tastic finish by Captain Cool, my FB status message read. “MS Dhoni is now a self-acclaimed Ph.D.” For I truly felt he was candid, comprehensive and he defended well. Wink, wink. Grad School joke.

On that note, wish you a Happy New Year. A new era of Indian cricket has begun. Savor the moment for as long as you can. And God or no God, Sachin, please continue to play.

Update: According to TOI Dhoni is actually being honored with a Ph.D. So will he be called Dr. M.S. Dhoni? Okay enough of Grad School jokes.

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