Friday, June 20, 2008


One afternoon…

Chocolate dark brown, peach on the darker side and white. The 2 walls and ceiling of my room converge at the less holy confluence and my eyes inadvertently stray to that spot. The bean bag I’ve stretched myself out on becomes more comfortable by the minute. A good meal has been had and all is right with the world. The lights are off, but some friendly rays are allowed to filter through the curtains, allowing the room to be shrouded in a dark cloak. But there is just enough light for each object to proclaim its existence though not its identity- a comfortable state of hazy darkness that I feel most at home in. The fan whirs above me- silent but effective. It is always dynamic yet everlastingly static, something that never tires me of my fascination of watching it for hours on end. Siesta time means there’s peace and quiet around, though the faint drumming of men at work can be discerned in the distance. Dozens of thoughts flit harmlessly through my mind, to be replaced by dozens more. All non-sequitur. My eyes wander, lazily going over the knickknacks here and there. A sudden guffaw breaks the calm of silence- my sister is watching Friends close by, using earphones at my insistence. A thorough knowledge of the sitcom coupled with what is audible through the phones allows me to acknowledge the source of laughter and I smile within, allowing my mouth to twitch a bit in the bargain. The hands of the clock tick by, but somehow, my sanctum sanctorum is unaffected by the merciless tide of time. Within these four walls, stillness reigns supreme. Some minutes pass by and I adjust my posture a bit to make myself, if possible, still more comfortable. The whole cycle is repeated. Again. And again.


Opinions and Speculations

The top story in sporting cliques these days is all the guesswork and speculation regarding Christiano Ronaldo. Will he move to Madrid? Won’t he? Why should he? Why should he not? What he gains and what he loses? They just keep on coming. Why then, I thought, should I not join the bandwagon. Keep reading to glimpse my take- thoroughly amateur and what could easily be optimistic gibberish.

The way I look at it, Ronaldo is definitely going to Madrid. As a cousin of mine who’s also a Real supporter told me a couple of months ago- “I hope United win the Champion’s League. Then there would be no further initiative for Ronny to stay on and he’ll come to Madrid.” It makes a lot of sense. Ronaldo has had a dream run this season. His purple patch can’t turn a more perfect shade of purple. And it’s always best to go out on top. He might have the fear of being booted out (literally in Beckham’s case and figuratively in Keane’s) by the sacred SAF, thought the Gaffer has always been firmly behind him. Ronny’s recent interviews also indicate that much. And for all the talk of his manager advising him to stay on and his mommy insisting he’s not going anywhere, balderdash is what I say. When you’re at that level, you don’t listen to your manager or your mom.

Secondly, as long as he stays at United, Ronaldo will know that the club is always greater than the player. It’s that way for us Red Devils. Even the great David Beckham couldn’t take supporters with him to Madrid. Here at United, you’re a great glittering jewel, but you’re part of the crown. Take yours truly for example. I’m a Man U fan first, a Scholes fan second, a Giggs fan third and so on. Its not that way for Madrid. They play with their Galacticos. It’s always been like that- right from the days of De Stefano and Puskas to those of Figo and Zidane. The motives for buying the big names may be different. As I read in a book on Beckham’s transfer once- Figo was bought to annoy Barca, Zidane for purely footballing reasons, Ronaldo to cement the Galacticos brand and now Beckham to sell shirts in Asia and to add that extra glitter. In the Royals’ crown, the jewels are often so big and bright that you forget there was a crown in the first place.

Moreover, getting wooed by Real is a huge status symbol for any footballer. It’s like dating the hottest cheerleader in school. You announce to the world that you’re the star quarterback. The Galactico of the day- that’s got to mean something. And Ronny being from Portugal might even consider it on grounds of moving to a country that is most similar to his. Iberian sisters I ask you- what more similarity could he want? He’s had a great stint at United, he’ll be missed, but it’s a great challenge for him. One wants to play along the most glamorous footballers of the day, and he’ll be doing just that.

For United also, I would say the move makes a lot of sense. You’ve got to realize that if not today then tomorrow you’ll be searching for a new no. 7. So better do it now when Real are really hungry for him. And they are. The Galacticos they generally buy are either pushing 30 or on the wrong side of it. Our Ronny is not even 25. If they’re willing to pay 75 million dollars, take it I say. Take it with both hands. It’ll be a pity if Ronaldo doesn’t play this well next season and we have to sell him for lesser. And now that there’s a real prospect of his leaving United, I can shed the rose-tinted glasses I used to watch him with and admit a few home-truths. While I admire him tremendously as a player, one has to admit that he’s selfish. Despite the Champion’s League final goal, he tends to buckle under pressure and you get the feeling that he leaves a lot to be desired in the big games. And Ronny is a diver. He has less integrity that most other footballers even though he’s cut down a lot. One can’t forget that it was Ronaldo who pleaded with the Ref to give Rooney, his club partner, a yellow card in the bad-tempered Euro 2004 quarter against England and was then caught winking towards the camera. But of course, when he scores 42 (see. Again) goals for you in one season, all this goes to the wall.

So now we come to the question of who will take his place. Nani is not half as good now. He might improve but not being too fond of him, I have my reservations. He’s pretty good, and will definitely get better, but I don’t see him as a successor to the jersey that has been adorned by Cantonna, Becks and Ronny. The guy I have my eye on however, is I think. I’ve had an eye on him since Euro 2004 but since we never needed him then, I never envisaged him donning the great red jersey. However having just seen the amazing spectacle that was the Euro 2008 quarter between Germany and Portugal, the idea has been pushed in my face. And he’s come off the superior midfielder in this match. Yes, my dear readers. The man I’m thinking of is none other than Bastian Scweinsteiger.

It’s probably too puerile to even be called optimistic but I’ll still go on to explain why he’s such a great choice. He’s incredibly young- ’84 August born. He’s as creative as Ronaldo. I concede he hasn’t got so many tricks up his sleeve or is as good dribbling. But he’s on the same wavelength as far as free-kicks go, possibly better. And he definitely scores as far as shooting outside the 30 yard area goes. Leave today’s performance. His performance in the third place play-off against Portugal in WC-06 is ample testimony to that particular facet of his footballing skills. Anyway, why compare the two? Fact of the matter is, he’s a brilliant young player. And most importantly, the qualities one would use to describe Scweinsteiger are almost the same that United epitomize. He’s got flair. He’s like Rooney in the sense that he’s a no-nonsense stick-with-the-ball juggernaut. And he’s got a similar temper. Then he’s got that wonderful never-say-die attitude. I can actually see him in the glorious red jersey now.

But harsh realities have this really annoying habit of coming in the way of our most wonderful dreams. While Scweinsteiger’s contract with Bayern does end in June 2009, it’s bound to be renewed. He’s been with them as a youth player since 1994 and might well retire in Bayern’s colours. He’s happy there and it’s going to take a lot to get him to come. Plus, as Old Man Poochie told me, Juve have been after him for 2 years now. But then, if we can get $75 million for Ronny, who knows? It’s a lot of money. Old Man’s take is CR7 = Robinho + Sergio Ramos + Cash. Take Scweinsteiger with the cash, he says. Or even Podolski will be good enough. Lefty’s dime a dozen opinion: CR7 = BS + Cash. Do whatever you like with the cash; just bring Bastian Scweinsteiger to the Theatre of Dreams. Is Sir Alex listening?

Saturday, June 14, 2008



Right then. It's my second bloggiversary. Thought I'd mention it.
I'm in a really happy mood these days. Couple of reasons why:
1. Euro 2008 so far has been... wait for it... Legendary. Netherlands and Spain have both been doing great. Here's to it getting even better.
2. The 'work' part of my internship is over. So now even my boss says I just have to go relax and bide my time for another couple of days.
3. My cousins are coming over in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to that.

So as I exult in this once-again found joie-de-vivre, here's wishing all of mankind, specially the very very small section that reads this blog, a very happy time too.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Almost Famous? Definitely Infamous

After three very eventful years at R, which I’ve done my best to record faithfully on this URL, when I used to look back, I had only one constant regret. As far as the Dep was concerned, Lefty was an absolutely unknown entity. As far as the learned Keepers of the Dep’s Keys were concerned, I was a complete nobody. Neither a boost to the attendance register nor a blemish on its hallowed pages. Average Joe would have been in the limelight when placed next to me. While all this went well with my philosophy of peaceful co-existence, and served as a huge blessing as far as proxies were concerned, there were moments when I would long for recognition, for my name to have some memories attached to it, for even a nod in my direction recognizing my presence. Sadly, as far as the one-floor MMED went, to use the popular internet joke, in the list of Who’s Who I was the unflattering What’s That? All this might have changed however, yet I don’t think I should be celebrating.

Like any other academic omphalos, the Dep places some importance on that absolutely otiose ritual that in colloquial parlance is called the Viva. Apart from its name, the only other thing it has in common with Channel V’s first popstar band is that no one wants to hear it. When yours truly has to face the music, I am usually in excellent company. There’s the inimitable Sajji, the unflappable Shailesh and last and also the least- me. Apart from being legendary at C++, the three of us are also any examiner’s dream come true. When our turn comes, we spend the maximum amount of time in pleasantries. We wish the prof a very good morning/afternoon. He in turn wishes us an even better morning/afternoon. We take our seats. He is already seated. He shoots off the first question. One of us gives some semblance to the correct answer. He shoots of the second. We say we don’t know. He shoots the third. We say we don’t know again. The ground-rules are very firmly established. No beating about the bush. There is absolutely no attempt by either party to waste the other’s time by pretending to know more than one actually does. We believe the prof knows what he’s talking about and expect him to accept that we know very little of it. It is only a matter of time that the prof bids us a fond farewell. We bid him a fonder one and lo, another quintessential happy ending. Throughout this supposed ordeal, we are the epitome of the calm and composed. James Bond couldn’t be in better fettle when seated in his favourite Aston Martin. The results speak volumes about our competence in the aforementioned ritual. While the rest of the batch sweats and swots for the top and treads on the unfortunate bodies of those who constitute the bottom, the Three Mouse-keteers are place in that comfortable bracket- Average.

The last viva, however, saw a break from this tradition. Like the lion who demanded one animal a day in the stories of yore, the Smiling Surd and the Beer-Belly Bird decided to interrogate individually each lamb to the slaughter. Robbed of my faithful band of brothers, I could be forgiven for being a shade nervous. However, I did feign enough confidence into what I hoped would be the longest sentence I uttered when I exchanged the perfunctory pleasantries. I had no idea on what I was getting myself into.

For the benefit of the readers, all thoughts of any person have been italicized.

Smiling Surd: Well young man, what have you learned in these practicals?
Lefty: Thank God. A repeated question (Answers eloquently).
SS: Easy now. No need to be nervous. So you’ve learned this, that and the other. Sheesh. Another nervous type
Lefty: Damn. Seems I was less eloquent than I thought. Yes sir.
SS: What is the difference between “this” and “the other”?
Beer-belly Bird: I’ve been waiting a long time for my Ph.D. Let the idiot answer correctly so he makes me, i.e. his prof, look good
Research Scholar: (Snore)
Lefty: er… ummm… “This” is … and “The other” is …
BBB: noooooooooooo
SS: He makes rookie mistakes. Think carefully and answer. What is “this” and what is “the other”?
Lefty: (comprehension dawns). Oh This and The Other. They’re the same. I thought you meant That and The Other. Let him fall for it. Please.
SS: Hmmm. I think I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt this time. But better make sure he doesn’t repeat this trick, though. Yes. Yes. See you can think carefully and answer. No need to be nervous. I won’t make you answer anything. You can even write down your answer.
Lefty: Very good sir.

Now the next question ought to be understood by one and all. It was an exceedingly obvious one. Like what is five times one, where the answer is always the number itself. Or what is five times zero, where the answer is always zero. I think I’ll go with five times zero for this tale. I might or might not be the One but back then, I was closer to being Zero.

SS: Let me ask him a simple question before I move on to Big Things. What is five times zero?
Lefty: (mind racing frenetically) five times zero? Five times zero? Er. Is it two?
BBB: nooooooooo. (Kurt Cobain's "I'm not the only one" starts playing in his mind)
SS: (admirable impression of Janice) Oh. My. God. Two?
Lefty: Er. Two. No wait. It’s 2.34345.
SS: My. He’s certainly innovative. 2.34345? I’ve never heard of that. I thought the answer could only be a natural number.
Lefty: Two then. Yes. Two.
SS: Are you sure? See I won’t make you say anything. I’m not hurrying you. Take your time. Here, write down whatever you feel is correct. Five times zero is ___
Lefty: (takes the proffered pen and pad. Hands tremble. Writes down five times zero is two)
RS: (Shaken out of his somnolent reverie) Wow. He is stupid. He should become an RS.
BBB: I’ve taught this for four months without killing either him or myself?
SS: What a story to tell my wife when I get home. Now, let’s see what other students of your class think. (Consults attendance register) Call Chiraunji.
(Enter Chiraunji)
Chiraunji: What has the idiot gotten into now?
SS: Ah. Chiraunji. Tell us. What is five times zero?
Chiraunji: This has to be a trick. He couldn’t have messed this up. Zero sir.
Lefty: (comprehension dawns again) Yes sir. Zero. Anything multiplied by zero is zero. (goes on to explain, very incoherently, why anything multiplied by zero is zero)
SS: (Smiles even more widely) See I told you to take your time and answer. I didn’t press you. You wrote down what you felt was correct yourself.
Lefty: (Continues explaining, even more incoherently, why five times zero is zero)
BBB: (Furious. Livid. Apoplectic.) Mr {first name} {last name}. You know absolutely nothing about the subject. I suggest you study {some subject taught last year} thoroughly first, before you even start bothering with this one.
RS: (Snore)
SS: (Still smiling)
Lefty: Does this mean the viva is over? Guess it does. Yes sir. Sorry sir. Thank you sir.

After my dismissal, the Surd and the Bird asked Sajji to wait a bit so that they could discuss my plight in further detail. Later, the HOD came over and was shown the legendary piece of paper adorned with my erroneous handwriting. “Look what this third year student has written”. I guess the Bird resented that more than I would have. The story will probably circulate around the dep for many years to come and posterity will remember the deeds of the four-eyed Lefty who made five times zero two.

I hate viva. Vodka shots, anyone?

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