Monday, December 25, 2006

Xmas gifts

My landlord and landlady surprised me this morning with these gifts. Very thoughtful. Am going to dig into them right now.


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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Memories

I was just perusing through the memories of 3 years that I spent in a boarding school in Chennai. What an awesome time I had. I remember my mom and bro dropping me off at the hostel for the very first time. I was to stay in a dormitory along with 20 other students. The boarding school had three big dorms each housing roughly 20 students and the students were grouped on an age basis. I was roughly 12 at that time and the oldest in our dorm was around 14. So, there wasn't that much of an age difference and the students came from different backgrounds. We had a couple of Biharis, 1 Nepali, 2 Mallus, couple of Telegus and the rest, Tamils like me.

It was a fun mix and it just took me a couple of days to feel right at home. We had bunk beds and I opted for the upper bunk for the simple reason that, the lower bunk was easily accessible and I didn't like my bunk to be disturbed once neatly made in the morning. We were also provided with open shelves built into the walls. There was no concept of privacy and it was a free for all situation. One thing that I realised pretty early was that there is no age restriction when it comes to ragging. A 12 year old bullies a 10 year old who in turn bullies an 8 year old and so it continues. During the 3 years that I was there, I was at the receiving end quite a few times and also had the chance to give it back in equal measure.

We had a rigid schedule. We were made to get up at 6 in the morning and had an exercise session for 30 minutes. For those who failed to get up when the first bell rang, they were made to run around the school ground before joining the rest of the group. After the workout session, we were left to ourselves to get ready for the school that started at 8.30. We had our breakfast around 8 AM. The hostel had a nice cafeteria and served only vegetarian food. The hostel was right next to the school building and hence there not much of a commute. Everything was available within the school campus which left us with few excuses to give to venture out. There were a couple of shops nearby and our favourite was 'Iyengar bakery'. We used to stay right next to the gate and yell out to the shopkeeper who would come around and take our orders. They made delicious puffs and cakes which we used to devour like crazy.

The school had a decent sized ground and we used to play cricket almost all day during the weekend. Football was pretty popular too and so was kabaddi and kho kho. We had a dhobi who used to visit us once a week and collect our clothes for washing and ironing. We had all our clothes marked with a special pen to make it easy to identify our clothes in the huge pile. We used to freely use others clothes without any hesitation. Even if you weren't inclined in sharing, you did share for the fear of being branded unsociable if such a word does exist.

Life was hard at times and the bullying could get really bad but when you do manage to see that all through, you emerge as a stronger individual. Very soon, I realised that running to the warden to complain about every minor thing isn't going to help in the longer run. Nor would it help me in integrating myself with the rest of the group. The more you complain, less likely you are to stop being the target. There was a always a bully and a group around him cheering him on until he is displaced by another.

We had a TV in each dorm but were allowed to switch it on only during Fridays and weekends. Our favourite program used to be chitrahaar and superhit muqabla. Both the programmes aired cinema songs and was a bit hit. We occasionally got to watch cricket matches as well.

Those 3 years did teach me a lot and made me as independent as I can get for a 15 year old. It also prepared me for some tough times ahead. I do regret the fact that I don't have a single photograph from my hostel life. Its all locked up in my memory. I hope it stays as fresh for ever in my memory as it is right now.

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Perfect stance

This is how a perfect front foot defence in cricket needs to be executed.


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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Amazing Gilchrist

There are few players in world cricket who have captivated me more than Gilchrist. Basically, I am not a fan of Australian cricketers. I hate their arrogance and they rarely play the game with a smile. They are the bad boys of cricket and they do go scot free which irks me even more. Gilchrist, though, plays the game the way it should be played. He may keep chirping behind the stumps but hardly does he get into an argument. There is no overt sledging from his end. His expression remains the same whether he has hit a six or gets out. He always keeps smiling irrespective of the fate of the game. One of the few players who walks even before the umpire raises his finger. There is no hanging around hoping the umpire will miss it. He is true sportsman and the record that he carved out today couldn't have happened to a more nicer individual. He creamed a century of 57 balls that was as breathtaking as any attacking innings that we might have seen earlier. Gilchrist is naturally attacking player and to surpass his own standards is a massive feat. He handles pressure very well and keeps things very simple. One of the few incidents that I keep getting reminded of is the semifinal between Sri Lanka and Australia in the last world cup. He nicked the ball which wasn't noticeable at all. The umpire turned the appeal down. For any batsman, the temptation is always to cheat the umpire and keep batting on. Gilchrist too momentarily succumbed to that feeling but soon starts walking signalling to the umpire that he indeed nicked it. There was similar incident in the latest ashes series when he started walking on a duck. We need more players like him who play the game in a sporting manner and remind others that at the end of the day, its just a game. Bravo!!!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

True Companions

Every day, as I am either walking to work or back home, I notice a number of home less people just sitting by the sidewalk. Some of them solicit passers by for spare change. The rest indulge in some kind of art form and as way of appreciation, people do drop a few nickels. Sometimes, you get to see some really good paintings on the sidewalk and its sad that very few take notice. The one common thing amongst all the homeless people (or at least a majority of them) is that they do have a well groomed and looked after dog. Unlike people, dogs don't differentiate between a rich and poor person, clean and dirty ones and don't care whether they are provided with fancy kennels or a wet blanket in a sidewalk. Its heartening to note that of whatever money the homeless people make, they do spend a considerable amount looking after the dog. The dog always stays by its masters side be it sun or rain and provide the often missed personal touch that sometimes humans fail to share with each other. Wish more people could open up (including me in that list) and reach out and help these people in need and enrich their lives just as the loyal dog does.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One day at a time

The day started pretty well. I reached work on time and had a meeting to attend to immediately. Thankfully, I had done my homework and had something substantial to report. While this was happening, my work colleague and I were making plans to go to Barcelona for 4 days spread over this weekend. One dominating motivating factor was the fact that we still had our visas valid from our previous trip to Europe and hence one less hassle to deal with when finalising travel related plans. We checked the fares and they were quite reasonable and so were the hotel expenses. All looked bright and rosy until we had a discussion with a couple of other people at work who had travelled to Spain. Their opinion was that it would be far more fun visiting Europe in summer rather than in winter. As we weren't too fond of the snow and the cold, that struck a chord immediately and dampened our enthusiasm a little. Another alternative was to go to Morocco. The only problem is that I would need a visa which takes 10 days to process. So, we have put things on hold as of now. Well, we still have a day to decide and we could still land up in Barcelona on Thursday. Fingers crossed.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Rain, movies and cricket

Its been a happening week. Cardiff has been witness to heavy rains, strong winds and some glorious sunshine. You are never sure when to carry your umbrella. Common sense would suggest that you carry it all the time as everyone knows how unpredictable the weather can be in the UK. The temptation though is to ditch your umbrella at home as you see a sunny day beckoning you as you step out of the house. By the time, you are quite some distance from home, the sun disappears as if by magic and rain comes pouring down leaving you cursing and cussing at your yourself and at things not in your control.

I have also been busy catching up on some old movies such as Godfather, Before sunrise and few new ones including world trade centre and march of the penguins. I am always fascinated at how exceptionally good the movie godfather is. I recently read the book and as I was reading it, I found how faithful the movie is to the book which is one of the reasons why the movie is so good. Even dialogues used in the book are faithfully used re-used in the movie. Marlon Brando was already a legend when this movie was being made but his presence just elevates the movie to unprecedented levels. Truly a masterpiece.

Last week was also when an impossible thing happened. No one who followed the second test at Adelaide would have thought that England would be the team to lose. One hour of madness on fifth day morning was all it took for England to wind up as losers. Shane warne spun his magic and Ricky ponting continued his dream run with the bat. I just felt that England shouldn't have declared their 1st innings when they did. Instead of declaring at 550 runs on 2nd day afternoon, they should have gone on to bat until 3rd day afternoon and having at least put 750 runs on the scoreboard. Its important to keep kicking the Australians while they are down. Otherwise, if you even give them a sniff at a chance, they will grab it. Warne and Mcgrath were looking ragged after staying out in the middle for nearly 2 days and definitely, another half a day out in the sun would have completely ground them . If England had indeed batted until 3rd day, there was no way they would have gone on to lose as the Australians wouldn't have had enough time to force a result in their favour which would have put additional pressure on the Australians knowing fully well that the only team that could lose would be themselves. This incident just takes me back to the Sydney test between India and Australia in 2004. Opting to bat first, India scored 720 runs in their first innings and batted for nearly 2.5 days. This ensured that however fast the Australians scored, there was no way that India could lose from there.

Well, its been a happening week indeed!!!

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