Saturday, December 19, 2009

Signs from God

Yesterday marked the end of my sixth unsuccessful pursuit of serious employment. What I initially put down to random bad luck has now become, in my opinion, a remarkable statistic and very possibly my only claim to law school fame.

I woke up with a start at 10.30 a.m. today and, after doing the usual morning things, made my way to class, having all but forgotten about yesterday (I would've said "yesterday's disappointment", but decided not to kid myself). The International Taxation Law seminar class was just wrapping up as I entered and I was walking over to my customary place at the front of class when I saw it.

The less remarkable (though, to my mind, equally significant) part of this story is that it was suspended precisely between the very two flap tables on which I usually rest my notebooks, in order to indicate that both seats are occupied, because I usually like the place next to me being vacant.

The more remarkable part of this story is that 'it' was a white polythene with six bright yellow bananas. I stared at the tables for a while as my mind thought up this blog post and then shook my head in disbelief. As I left the classroom, I looked back at the bananas and said to myself, "yaar, tera toh kela ho gaya." :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

And Then There Were None

Dean Ashton announced his retirement from professional football today at the age of 26. This had been on the cards for almost five months now and honestly, the only surprise about this announcement is that it has come as such a surprise to so many people.

My first memories of Dean Ashton go back to the 2003-04 season when he was still at Crewe and, though highly rated by everyone, was thought of as no more than another stellar product of Dario Gradi's dynastic production line of cultured footballers who had a shot at a decent professional career once he became too big for Crewe to hold on to.

Right on cue, while I was in mourning over the dramas unfolding at Elland Road, Ashton moved on, fairly unnoticed, to Norwich City and it is here that his flames of his promise (an unfortunate one-word tag that would haunt him as he moved up the footballing ladder over the next three-and-a-half seasons) were actively fanned. This was helped in no small part by the sad fact that the Darren Huckerby's of this world were never going to be long-term goalscoring solutions for the Canaries, as they revved up for an assault on the top-end of the Championship. The fact that Ashton's core strengths were so far removed from the archetypal 'hard-running, working the channels, hustling the back four, more useful playing alone up front away rather than leading the line at home' strikers that populated Norwich's benches and reserves only made his potential path to superstardom more straightforward.

However, in another bit of punditspeak that would chequer his short career, a lot of people didn't understand why Ashton's goalscoring record wasn't that great--indeed, he averaged rather less than a goal every two-and-a-half games throughout his senior career--and said that he needed to score more goals in order to really hit the spotlight as a header-winning, link-up playing front man. There was a blatant double standard in that particular criticism--the same people were fawning over Peter Crouch and, more inexplicably, Emile Heskey, neither of whom fulfilled this strike rate requirement. Cast your mind back to Heskey's famous season at Liverpool where he scored twice in thirty-four appearances and led the line for England no less than six times the same season. Even leaving that aside, Ashton's game was never about being that big frontman whose mere presence on the field would instantly convert the back six into a giant slingshot to lump the ball forwards aerially. I always felt he was one of those excellent footballers who would fit any system and the quality of his overall play was good enough to play him practically anywhere (an opinion a lot of people held of Alan Shearer, another player Ashton was often unfavourably compared with).

Towards the back end of his spell at Norwich, when it was almost certain that West Ham were coming in for him, I remember a weekend of football where he'd created an opportunity out of nothing and scored a ridiculous twenty-five yard goal against Middlesborough at the Riverside and how there was unanimous raving, with everyone who watched that game, curiously, highlighting different strengths about Ashton's game. It was a bit of a shock to me because I hadn't heard such consistently varied opinions about a striker's strengths since the time Sir Alex Ferguson had plucked Dion Dublin out of obscurity. Dublin's Old Trafford career had been finished by a horrific leg fracture against Crystal Palace on the second day of September that season (something that eventually prompted Ferguson to unsuccessfully try for David Hirst, Mick Harford and, famously, for Eric Cantona, who, people forget, he secured for exactly the same money that he paid for Dublin) and from that day on, I constantly feared for something similar happening to Ashton.

Sure enough, his 2006-07 season was finished by the same ankle that has now caused his retirement and, by the time 2007-08 (Ashton's only relatively injury-free season after leaving Gradi and Crewe) was coming around, you had to feel for Alan Curbishley who, with anywhere between nine and thirteen first-teamers perpetually injured, was really running out of options, though the same lack of options would prompt the signing of Newcastle captain Scott Parker and, gee, hasn't that turned out well!

Ashton began the process of repaying seven-and-a-quarter million pounds very faithfully in the league in 2007-08, the inevitable England debut (tragically, also to be his last appearance for England) followed and the feeling that he would make up for lost time was irresistible to most observers, who finally realised that season that Ashton was every bit as good as the hype.

Sadly, that ankle of his was literally being held together by a thread and when Shaun Wright-Phillips mistimed a tackle in England training, Ashton fell in a heap and never, in reality, got back up again. And the tragedy of Dean Ashton is not that a promising career has been cut short or that he will not enter the pantheon of legendary English centre-forwards by becoming the next Alan Shearer or even that he has nothing to do in the immediate future apart from trying to find a bit-part job within or outside football. The tragedy is that he is fine. It's just that if he wants to continue doing what he loves, he's going to risk not being able to walk unassisted when he eventually retires. The same could have happened to Shearer, if that tackle from behind in the preseason game at Goodison Park in July 1997 had been even a second later. But it didn't. And Wright-Phillips' tackle on Ashton did. On such ironies do footballers' careers depend.

Here's wishing Dean Ashton all the best. I can't think of any English footballer in recent times who deserves it more.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Of Optimism

Late post. I wrote this a week ago today.

I've woken up with a real sense of optimism today. Not even a cancelled first hour has managed to tarnish that. I've also realised that The Raconteurs make excellent morning music.

These times also mark the most bullish I've felt about Leeds United since Robbie Fowler chipped that orange ball over David James' head for the third in a 3-0 demolition of West Ham at a snowy Elland Road on New Year's Day 2002. It's been way too long. But with a six-point cushion over Charlton and a further three points back to fourth place with a game in hand, I have the irrepresible feeling that this is the season that the swagger comes back to Leeds United. If Grayson holds on to the squad in January, nothing short of administration (and it's happened before, so always beware) will stop an ascent into the Championship. The players are committed, the crowds are hot, the substitutions are sharp, the football is pretty and one Jermaine Beckford is on fire.

I know it's only sixteen games into the season, but there's a feeling, more than a feeling, that redemption for the dark days of 2005 is just around the corner. And that will be sweet.

Down The Corridors, Round The Corners

I'm writing this in the library. And it's because I've spent fifteen minutes here about an hour back that makes me feel like I've had the wind knocked out of me. That's a shame because what I saw and read in those fifteen minutes was actually very beautiful.

It's just that it also reminded me that there is no substitute for time, that five years don't really melt away. That my attempts at "creating our own history" will fall obviously and painfully short. That, for all the compliments and the rose-tinted glasses, this is still the most uneasy compromise I've ever been a part of. That I'm being unfair in expecting, forgiving, forgetting and then expecting all over again.

If I'd written this an hour ago, I might've told myself, "you saw it coming, this was always going to be the knife in your back, whenever it came" but the fact that I'm not really thinking such things itself tells me that there is, in fact, no substitute for time. Which is also perhaps why I don't understand why I haven't spoken to my best friend in over a month.

God forgive me if I end up sacrificing a Fairy Tale or two before I sleep tonight. But there's very little else that can make up for the fact that, despite everything I've (and, indeed, we've) tried, when it comes to those perfect little visions of happiness I make myself believe in, I'm as as far away from those ideals as I've ever been.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Closing Doors

Yesterday was loaded with significance in many, many ways. Everything from literally locking the door shut on my last ever Legala to enjoying three hours of brilliant music outdoors at my last ever Strawberry Fields was marked with the conscious feeling that what was happening was very, very special.

I was reminded this evening of things I said last night about 'happiest times in law school' and 'how each year in college has been typified by how I felt on Strawberry Fields Finals night that year' and I realised that I wasn't off at all--I actually meant all of those things.

I've also found a unique way to let the dust settle on this truly fantastic weekend--a probable wisdom tooth extraction and an Undertaker interview prior to King of the Ring 1997. Since words aren't enough to describe the first, I'll reproduce the second:

"Well, I'd like to take this time to talk about Faarooq. Last week, Faarooq decided to play the race card. Well Faarooq, you need to understand that the Undertaker, he's not the white saviour, because I don't recognise colour. I'm not white, I'm not black. What I am is the reaper of wayward souls. And when it's all said and done, and when the King of the Ring is all over, and you're sitting in that dressing room and you're wondering why you're not the World Wrestling Federation champion, well, you can rest assured it's not because you're black, it's because you couldn't beat the Undertaker."

Man, I love YouTube. :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Your Jesus Really Died For Me

For the first time in a really long time, Robbie Williams has made me smile. His first album in three years--"Reality Killed the Video Star" (originally titled "El Protagonista" but later shafted because, you guessed it, it sounded too pretentious)--comes out November 9. It would be fair to say that, the odd song (such as "Advertising Space") apart, there hasn't been something like a good Robbie Williams song since the "Escapology" album six years previously. Given that RW formed almost a fifth of my musical taste at one point ("Sing When You're Winning" in 2000 was the first "Western music" album I ever purchased), this has been an incredibly long wait.

Once bitten, twice shy, unfortunately. My hopes were as high when 2006's "Intensive Care" came out, but that turned out to be a gigantic disappointment. The feeling that I got cheated out of my money only intensified with RW's next album "Rudebox", which he put out inside twelve months. Despite initial promotional hysteria, it has to certainly rank as his worst album ever and perhaps one of the worst to come out that year.

So I approach RKTVS with a significantly greater degree of caution. However, even if this album turns out to be crap, the first single off it--"Bodies"-- is fast assuming all-time RW favourite status. I have often been told how certain songs are Eashan Ghosh-type songs and though that's usually meant as a mildly deriding categorization, I'll happily go on record to say that "Bodies" is most certainly an Eashan Ghosh-type song!

It has all the elements of a classic Eashan Ghosh-type song: it begins with an (evidently post-"Rudebox") electronica/banjo hangover, builds a "deep" verse and culminates in an epic, expansive, slightly mournful chorus full of emotion (or, as DPS students would say, "meaning"). There's an extra-long bridge which makes no sense but, by then, it doesn't matter because you're usually sold. Full opera-style final chorus and the punch line/tune repeated ad infinitum till the finish.

Whatever you may think of this kind of song, you have to doff your hat to someone who comes up with "God save me rejection, from my reflection, I want perfection" to round out a chorus. The video is a classic piece of work as well, especially the last forty-five seconds or so--RW walks with a swagger, positions himself on an airplane wing, sits on his haunches and stares at the camera, air-violins, does a jig, sticks his arms out Jesus-the-saviour-style and generally looks like he owns the world.

You'd begun to wonder where the arrogance had gone. "As good as 'Angels', if not better", said one review. Let's see. He may be England's best-ever solo artist yet.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Of Old-Fashioned Comebacks And Then Some

Lovely weekend of English football. A win for Megson over a decidedly un-top-four(six?)-looking Everton, another goldust-like point for Wolves, West Ham from two goals down to draw at home, Fulham, more appealingly so, by the same margin, at Eastlands. Result of the weekend: a smash-and-grab operation by Stoke at White Hart Lane. That bloke Whelan will become a legend at this rate, if he's not careful.

And from that pulsating game that undid Spurs comes my quote of the weekend: "Delap...with his feet, this time..."

How I love being home. :)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Shibboleth, Part Two

First they were "stunning", now they are "awesome." Anything and everything is now "awesome." Stuff that is decidedly not awesome is now "awesome." Because it just is. Because when they dig deep into the endless reservoir of their collective vocabulary, "awesome" is what they pull out. A one-word demolition derby that now terrorises The Establishment.

I'd like to believe that we had a role in putting "stunning" out of commission, at least in circles that we inhabit. But never in our wildest dreams did we expect this. And I realise that I possibly don't have enough time to wage what will have to be a single-handed war. It frightens me.

Brilliant. Terrific. Outstanding. Great. Quality. Righteous.

Something, anything. Anything but "awesome."

To quote from the creator of one of the most overplayed songs (boy, wait till I write about that phenomenon!) in law school history, "Mikey. Mikey. Mikey. Turn that effin' light off. There you go. See? It's not that effin' hard."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Keep The Dream Alive

Precisely as I'd predicted, it's becoming difficult not to cry. And I've come to realise that, for the foreseeable future at least, "Keep The Dream Alive" will carry an altogether new meaning in my life.

And The Undertaker beat CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship at Hell In A Cell last night. Now if Big Brother puts Little-Trans-Tasmanian-Upstart-Of-A-Brother in his (its? their?) place tonight, I will actually cry.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Space And Time

Having barely been in a half-awake state for most of the day, my media player's shuffle conspired to strike a sharp stab of insecurity into my heart by playing "Love Remains The Same" by Gavin Rossdale a few minutes ago. After a fairly eventful but ultimately fruitless three days at home last weekend, that song has now been and, I suspect, shall forever be linked in my mind with the "elite" John Marshall conference room.

Given my current run of luck, there's a very good chance that, this time tomorrow, I'll be humming Oasis' "Keep The Dream Alive." In fact, I'd be surprised if I'm not. Really. It'd be difficult not to cry.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Top Ten Pay-Per-View Singles Matches of Shawn Michaels' Career

Shawn Michaels def. Sycho Sid (c)
for the WWF Championship
The Alamodome; San Antonio, Texas
The Royal Rumble; January 19, 1997.

You'd be right to be surprised at seeing this match make the top ten. I'll admit it wasn't a classic title match and a little on the short side as well. But what makes it stand out in my mind is that Shawn had to build it from the ground up. Normally, you'd think that if you're going to drop the strap to Shawn Michaels in San Antonio, you'd have your flying shoes on and attempt to make him look as good as possible in front of his hometown crowd. I don't think that that basic respect ever entered Sycho Sid's conscious thought process. As a result, you have a Dusty finish with Shawn having to use tweener tactics to gain the crucial advantage in the home stretch. That he carried Sid on his shoulders throughout the match is kind of obvious. The kind of sustained reaction he got on winning the title in front of his parents, family and friends most certainly was not. To put it in a "sporting" context, it was like Pat Cash at Wimbledon 1987. Only the crowd at the Alamodome was much larger and much louder. And for that one night, they were OWNED by Shawn Michaels.

Shawn Michaels def. Ric Flair
in a Career Threatening Match
The Citrus Bowl; Orlando, Florida
Wrestlemania XXIV; March 30, 2008.

The funny part about this match is that Shawn actually never wanted to be the guy to retire Flair--he thought Hunter or Orton should do it--and fair enough. There isn't really a "passing of the torch" when twilight defeats well-past-midnight. Nevertheless, the run-in was good, the camera angles were spot on (a tough thing to do at an open-air event), the crowd was hot and the execution itself showed some really believable animosity between the two. Shawn was as up for it as I've seen him in many years, he sold Flair's figure-four (which, by then, must've felt like a mildly uncomfortable yoga position) to perfection, slapped Flair so hard in the face that he drew blood, gave Flair space to launch his short but frequent comebacks and, most importantly, got the hell out of dodge once he'd pinned him. It was easily's Flair's best match in many a year and a large part of that is due to the man who landed three thunderous kicks to his chin inside fifteen minutes. If only Vince had put this match on last. Because of that one simple booking mistake, not only is no one going to remember an excellent Undertaker/Edge match for the World Heavyweight Championship the same night, but everyone's going to look back and think that Flair's retirement match was terrific, but not perfect. And that's a shame.

Kurt Angle def. Shawn Michaels
The Staples Center; Los Angeles, California
Wrestlemania XXI; April 3, 2005.

You could not mess this one up if you tried. You expected a half an hour wrestling clinic when these two faced each other and that's exactly what you got. Classic momentum shifts, top-class catch-wrestling and more suplexes than I'd care to count. The reason this match isn't higher up is that it had a storyline that many people didn't like and the match itself required Shawn to use some unnecessary deflecting tactics, which was sort of pointless if he was going to tap out anyway (which he did). However, unlike other "I needed to know and I found out" matches (the terrible Michaels/Hogan fiasco comes to mind), at least this one had enough to keep the purists entertained.

Shawn Michaels def. Chris Jericho
Safeco Field; Seattle, Washington
Wrestlemania XIX; March 30, 2003.

The famous "mirror" match from Safeco Field comes in at #7. Ten on ten for storyline--follower meets idol, wannabe meets showstopper and all that. Jericho's mike skills sold the match before it happened and his wrestling skills kept the record crowd of over 54,000 wired throughout. Beautifully scripted, wonderfully executed--the one Wrestlemania match that I'd instantly call poetry in motion. It had all the classic Shawn moments (and a lot of them twice, because Jericho did them too) and all the Jericho moments and all the edge-of-the-seat transitions that make a wrestling fan's live worth living. The main events (The Rock v. Austin and Angle v. Lesnar) are best forgotten and eventually, when the dust settles, while Shawn will acknowledge that this was another of his classics, Jericho might just think that he was at his absolute best here.

Shawn Michaels def. Triple H
in an Unsanctioned Street Fight
The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum; Uniondale, New York
Summerslam; August 25, 2002.

I was expecting a gorefest when this "best friends gone wrong" angle came to a head on my fifteenth birthday. They didn't disappoint--Triple H was at his absolute best here and Shawn was only a tiny step behind. That would be good enough to make this list but the fact this was Shawn's first match since dropping the belt to Austin at Wrestlemania XIV (the famous Tyson match) makes this performance absolutely mindboggling. How does a guy who's done nothing for five years suddenly come back, not miss a beat and go full tilt with Hunter at his prime for over twenty-seven minutes? I don't think anybody, Hunter included, has managed to answer this question. And despite being a brawl, it was a typical Shawn match, full of high-flying spots perfectly executed at a breakneck pace. That moonsault, that reverse bridge, that splash from the top rope outside the ring onto Hunter on a table. Breathtaking. It set the bar for the Hunter/Shawn feud, which, hand on heart, has been one of the best this decade. And though they legitimately delivered in numerous pay-per-views after this, I doubt they were ever this good again.

Shawn Michaels def. Mr. McMahon
in a No Holds Barred Match
The Allstate Arena; Rosemont, Illinois
Wrestlemania XXII; April 2, 2006.

At Wrestlemania XXII, Shawn Michaels, no stranger to "punishment posting" matches, was instructed to not ruin his reputation for having legendary Wrestlemania matches while wrestling a sixty-two year old man with all the athletic ability of, as Chris Jericho so colourfully put it, "a giant slug." Therefore, the fact that this match wasn't a stinker should, in itself, merit a place in this top ten. However, the reason it is this far up is because not only did the storyline build-up to it demand that Shawn act like a legitimately mean, distinctly Austin-esque SOB, but also that he do all the flying. Indeed, in addition to the gaping chasm in athletic ability of the two competitors, I hope nobody forgets that, at six-foot-one and a gassed-up two hundred and forty pounds, Vince was actually the bigger man in the match. He was also willing to try anything. And "anything", they did. Apart from the relentless kicking of Vince's posterior, this match was one of those truly memorable, pure entertainment-value matches, with some wicked interference by Shane (an excellent talent in his own right) thrown in. Shawn excelled in selling Vince as a serious threat for most of the match while making each offensive move of his own look as devastating as possible, all while looking to ensure that his boss could still hope to walk out of the arena unassisted. Top-class give-and-take, top-class innovation, top-class brawling and even J.R. was on top of his game. And the image of that D-X crotch chop by Shawn, standing atop that gigantic ladder, flashbulbs bathing him in light, waiting to descend upon a hapless McMahon entombed in that trash can lying prone on top that table, will live on forever.

The Undertaker def. Shawn Michaels
The Reliant Stadium; Houston, Texas
Wrestlemania XXV; April 5, 2009.

It's not often that two forty-plus wrestlers can go half an hour at Wrestlemania without making a mistake. But that's precisely what happened at the Reliant Stadium. Honestly, the only reason this match isn't higher up is because the storyline didn't catch on, Shawn's heelish approach seemed forced and all the artificial attempts to create heat came to naught because Shawn and the Undertaker are Texans, so nobody was really going to jeer either wrestler. Another match which many people thought should've ended the show (much like Shawn/Jericho. Or Shawn/Flair. Sigh. Does anyone else see a trend here?) and with good reason. A complete lesson in ring psychology and a beautifully put together match, in terms of preserving the integrity of both wrestlers' characters and their offensive arsenals. We had a teaser of what might happen when these two squared off during an excellent last few minutes of the 2007 Royal Rumble and, by golly, the full show did not disappoint. It convinces me that both men could go on another three years if they want. Because the thunking sound of that second superkick and the accompanying collective gasp of over 72,000 people will remain my defining memory of Wrestlemania XXV.

Shawn Michaels def. Bret Hart (c)
in an Iron Man Match for the WWF Championship
The Arrowhead Pond; Anaheim, California
Wrestlemania XII, March 31, 1996.

This had to find its way into the top few, didn't it? Perfection in terms of build-up, perfection in terms of approach, perfection in terms of both wrestlers' respect for each other, though the last of those proved to be short-lived. I don't think I've ever seen Shawn in a better "wrestling" match. And it makes you realise that he had the wrestling tools to legitimately take the title off Bret, because the only thing he concentrated on in the weeks leading up to the showdown was endurance. And, to my mind, any time a guy is that confident that he won't be exposed in terms of his technical wrestling ability when he's prepping to go one hour with Bret Hart, that says something. The pace wasn't electric, there was only one flying elbow and "business" didn't exactly "pick up" constantly. While that is something that lowers quality of this match in my estimation a tiny bit, any time a wrestler is able to do a good job of keeping in sniffing distance of Bret Hart at Bret Hart's methodical pace, you've got to hand it to them. The problems with this match were largely conceptual--the stalemate at the end of the hour was less than optimum (imagine the kind of fightback sequences there could've been had there been multiple pinfalls/submissions), the match ended too early into overtime and the post-match melee left a bad taste in the mouth. But let that not take away from the quality and intensity of what these guys did for one solid hour. Cemented forever in our minds by Vince's emotional "boyhood dream" speech, this one is still the standard that top guys in the business look to emulate.

Shawn Michaels def. The Undertaker
in a Hell In A Cell Match
The Kiel Center; St. Louis, Missouri
Badd Blood: In Your House; October 5, 1997.

Dave Meltzer didn't give this five stars for nothing. Talk about stepping into the unknown. Steel cage surrounds ring. Nowhere to run. Positively frightening six-foot-ten, three hundred and twenty pound "best big man in the business" seeks revenge for the time he was hit over the head as hard as humanly possible with a steel folding chair. If the Iron Man Match was a wrestling match, this was a brawl. Shawn had to have realised pretty quick that he had to start fighting otherwise he was going to get killed inside (and, later, outside) the Cell. It brought out a kamikaze, survival instinct, win-at-all-costs side of Shawn's wrestling game that I don't think we've fully appreciated even to this day. Piledrivers, chair shots, elbows off the top, big rights thrown harder than I've ever seen. Add to that the vintage Shawn high spots, which were taken to another level due to the necessary brutality of the cage. For all those who think Mankind was the first one to fall from the Cell in that infamous 1998 King of the Ring match, you're wrong. Shawn here took an eight foot bump through the Spanish announcers' table (poor guys) falling off the side of the cage that was just as sickening. That he got up and took more punishment speaks of a quality of resilience and conditioning I'd like to see from a John Cena sometime. And you didn't hear this from me, but extreme tolerances didn't just dominate the action inside the ring in this one. Behind the scenes, the Undertaker was livid with Shawn for his (perceived?) role in the Montreal Screwjob and had been waiting to get his hands on him inside precisely the sort of prison that the Cell was. Watch that match and there'll be little doubt in anyone's mind that Shawn's personal safety wasn't the Undertaker's top priority. It was rough, it was dangerous, there was legitimate animosity and professional wrestling rarely gets better than that. Throw in an excellent booking decision--the debut of Kane--and you have one of the most memorable wrestling moments of the 1990s.

Razor Ramon (c) def. Shawn Michaels
in a Ladder Match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
Madison Square Garden; New York City, New York
Wrestlemania X; March 20, 1994.

Let's get a couple of things straight. This wasn't the "first ever" Ladder Match and the concept wasn't Shawn's idea. And I don't think either of those things matter. This was a match between two good friends, a match which wasn't wild in terms of pre-match hype and a match which, unlike most on this list, Shawn didn't win. But if you think back to these details now, even they don't matter. That should indicate why this match was so special. I don't think I have ever seen such a sudden and fundamental modification in a wrestler's style as I saw in Shawn's performance in this match. He pulled out all the Midnight Rockers' moves that he used to do with Marty Jannetty and made them carry twice the impact. Match of the Year, said the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Five-star match, said Dave Meltzer. Rich accolades indeed. Richer still when you consider that he carried Razor like a suitcase practically the entire time. I don't think Tully Blanchard was kidding when he, in his inimitable style, said, "this here is a situation where Shawn basically went out there and had a match with a ladder. There just happened to be another person in the ring with him." An absolute workshop, it was--pace, agility, timing, ring psychology, moves that are still being stolen today. I seriously doubt I've ever seen better.

I know you'll frown at me for putting this at #1. What about the Iron Man Match, you'll say, what about the Flair match, what about Hell In A Cell? Let me tell you something. The line between a good wrestling match and a great one is that the great match is able to significantly raise the stock of both participants, it "makes" both performers. And if you look back, Flair would've had a good retirement match anyway. The Undertaker, inside a Cell, would've dragged a good match out of anyone anyway. Even Shawn, without this match, would've gone on to become a successful wrestler. But the reason why this match is that special is because without Shawn in this match, Razor would've been nothing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Louise Merrett Article

I've never been a library person but is it just me or does the National Law School library not have a subscription to the International and Comparative Law Quarterly?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Friendly Weekend Sports Update

It's all gone a bit "sideways" over the last few days.

"We win together and we lose together," said Martin Whitmarsh. So did Lewis Hamilton. And it is this singular inability to be able to face the truth in front of the public that has always stood between McLaren F1 and absolute domination. You can understand why Whitmarsh would want to protect the beloved "organization" (it's always "organization" at McLaren, never "team") but I had no idea that it's been so deeply ingrained in the setup that the Number One refuses to lay so much as a shred of blame on Mr. Right Front Tyre, who, everyone knows, cost Lewis six seconds at the second pitstop. Six seconds that separate Lewis from Rubens Barrichello. And people will go on and on about how popular this win is in the F1 paddock, but all I can think of is how afraid McLaren have really become of admitting even the slightest weakness within their "organization." It was all Ron Dennis' virus, this "protect the organization" crap, and Whitmarsh is evidently cut from the same cloth. He could destroy the pace-setters with strategy and he could dish out the most legendary private bollockings that F1 has ever seen, could Dennis. It's a shame that the man now in charge of what is clearly the best car on the grid can't do either. It's a bigger shame that the same fear of adversity ("whether real or perceived", as ITV's James Allen would say) that ruined Dennis has caught up with Whitmarsh as well.

Also delighting me this weekend was Ricky Ponting's Australia surrendering the Ashes to England. Always behind the eight-ball after the first innings capitulation, they were never going to be able to bat out two-and-a-bit days. It's just not in their makeup. Therefore, the only, improbable hope was that 546 was possible. And I didn't believe it when I first heard it (and, come to think of it, I still can't quite wrap my head around it) but when Watson and Katich (there's a story about "The Katich" that must surely grace this blog sometime in the future!) were batting together late on Day Three, the odds on Australia winning were four to one! Needing thirty more runs than have ever been scored in a successful fourth innings chase in the history of all first-class cricket. Four to one. Unbelievable. And I get Michael Atherton's point about wickets such as the one we saw at The Oval being infinitely preferable to wickets designed for flat-track bullies (there's a lovely Graeme Hick/Michael Atherton story that comes to mind) but, in my mind, if Australia had won the toss, they would've won that cricket match. Simple as that. That's not an excuse for the inexplicable decision to not play Nathan Hauritz, nor is it a justification for the captain and vice-captain being run-out in the chase for 546 and it certainly isn't a reason to hide behind for the six Australian batsmen who really have issues judging the line of a cricket ball relative to their off-stump. But it does highlight the kinds of fickle things that cricket can turn on. And the feeling that Australia were hard done by is simply impossible to shake off.

The only bright spot, if one could call it that, was that when Ricky Ponting came out to bat in the fourth innnings, amidst all the vitriol (a lot of it admittedly a consequence of Ponting's own confrontational interview tactics) and all the propaganda that has been flying throughout the English summer, despite the state of the game when he walked in to bat, despite everything "wrong" that Ricky Ponting has done in cricket, I did not hear one person in that capacity crowd jeer the man. I doubt that would have (or, indeed, will) happen if the match had been played in India. This willingness to crucify Ponting has been a funnily Indian phenomenon, driven by his cocksure attitude (which has been uniformly directed at all teams), driven by his handling of the famous Symonds/Harbhajan situation (where he was as justified in standing by Symonds as the Indian captain was in standing by Harbhajan), even driven by Indian "fans'" very real fear that he'll score more Test runs than Sachin Tendulkar (where, in my book, he'd just be better than Tendulkar in that respect, fullstop). Despite my vehement disagreement with a lot of what Ponting has done in his career, I've found the Indian attitude to him really strange or really sickening, I'm not sure which. And I'm glad that, at least on this occasion, which, I'm sure, would have hurt Ponting more than any match he's ever lost to India, there was genuine appreciation for an excellent batsman almost certainly playing his last match in England. And I think that speaks volumes. Even the English, the ones you'd think have the most reason to hate his guts, even the English, despite the prospect of Andrew Strauss' men on the threshold of an historic Ashes win on a perfect afternoon, even the English, despite their heads been woollied by a steady consumption of beer. Even the English cheered Ponting.

And just like so many other little gestures that I've watched occur on a cricket field over so many years, I know I'll remember this one forever.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Life Advice

"The best chance you have if you ever want to rise to the top is to give yourself up to loneliness, fear nothing and work hard. One thing you’ll discover is that life is based less than you think on what you’ve learned and much more than you think on what you have inside you right from the beginning."

-- Bret Hart, WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, 2006.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"You'd Be Saving...Mine"

I'm often asked what my all-time favourite professional wrestling interview segment is. Actually, maybe I'm not asked this all that often. Nevertheless, I'd like to answer that question anyway. I know I've said in this space before that "Cane Dewey" was my all-time favourite but I'd have to agree with many old-timers who think that the interview I'm laying down below is "right up there with 'Cane Dewey.'"

Take a deep breath and read on.

September 1995--ECW Television Show Interview

"You know, I'd like to apologize for my behaviour. I'm embarrassed, certainly I feel a little stupid about the way I acted on this show a few weeks ago. It's just that I get a little emotional when I talk about wrestling, because wrestling's been my livelihood for the past ten years. It's enabled me to live out a childhood dream. So for me to come out on a show such as the ECW television programme and badmouth the wrestlers there--well, I'm sorry. But I think that, in order to understand what's going on in my head, you have to understand where I come from and what my goals were when I got into wrestling.

See, back in 1985, there was a programme called '20/20' that challenged the wrestling industry--which kind of portrayed it in a negative light. Tommy, if you're listening, try to understand that I was about the biggest wrestling fan in the world. And for me to stand in front of that television set and see people running down a business that I loved and held dear--even though I knew very little about see my friends laughing at me saying, 'That's what you want to get involved in?' That night, I went to bed not with visions of sugarplums dancing through my head but of broken bones, battered bodies and bloody corpses, saying to myself, 'If it's the last thing I do, if I have to hold myself up for a human sacrifice--the world will respect professional wrestling.' Oh and that dream came true--yes, I've sacrificed myself for the past ten years, leaving the better parts of my past lying on concrete floors from Africa, to Asia, to South America, to right in the middle of the ECW arena. And what's it really done? Where have we really come to?

Lying in a hospital bed in Munich, Germany--seeing my ear being thrown into a garbage can--not being able to take it on the trip back because I didn't know the German word for 'formaldehyde.' And having a nurse walk into my room, looking at that piece of my body that's lying at the bottom of the garbage and saying, 'Es ist alles schauspiel', which means 'It's all a big joke!' Excuse me! I didn't know you opened up the diseased lung of a smoker and said, 'Oh, by golly, I thought smoking was supposed to be good for you!' Do you open up Terry Funk's non-functioning liver ans say, 'Hey, I didn't know that four decades of heavy drinking took this kind of toll!' So, if they show that much respect for other patients, what made me any different? Because I was a wrestler. And professional wrestling will never be respected, no matter how many teeth I lose, no matter how many ears I lose, no matter how many brain cells have to die. And so it comes down to the point where it's just not worth it. It's not worth it and, Tommy Dreamer, you've got to start looking at this realistically.

Wrestling is a way to make a living--nothing more and nothing less--and as long as it's strictly business, well, you may as well be cuddled in the welcoming arms of World Championship Wrestling. Because ECW fans will be the death of you. You see, they realised, and they were smarter than any of us, that they rule ECW--not us. What happened, Tommy? You came back from All-Japan Wrestling with your trunks and boots and said, 'By golly, I'm really going to wrestle.' Did Giant Baba hand you a dozen eggs and say, 'Here, crack these on Jumbo Tsuruta's head'? You're a disgrace to the profession, Tommy; you're becoming a damn fool. And I can't sit back and take it because I've got a moral obligation. Tommy, try to understand that I am but a failed experiment in human sociology and I can accept that. But never in my sickest dreams did I imagine that there would be other wrestlers taking dives onto concrete floors, committing human suicide on my behalf--like I'm the patron saint of all the sick sons of bitches. Is that all I stand for, Tommy? Is that all I stand for, to stand in an arena where J.T. Smith lands head first on the concrete floor and hears the fans yell, 'You fucked up, you fucked up'? Well, fuck you. Who the hell do you think you are? We're not a wrestling organization anymore, we're the world's damn biggest puppet show. I'll be damned if I'm going to walk into an arena and let any of you call my match. One, two, three--jump. One, two, three--jump. Well, not me, because I'm nobody's stooge and Tommy Dreamer, if you had a little bit of pride, or a little bit of common sense, you'd understand that those people don't love you--they laugh at you! You took some of the worst beatings the sport's ever seen and they still laughed in your face. And to think that I stood there with my arm around you and endorsed you, saying, 'He's hardcore, he's hardcore, he's hardcore.' And for that, I deserve to die a terrible, painful death, Tommy, because I feel responsible. And I go to bed at night and I'm not sure where I'm going to spend my eternity. And you, Tommy, are my salvation.

Because, by delivering you to a better organization, where you can be appreciated, loved and held with just the littlest amount of respect in the Turner family, then maybe there's a chance for me, too. Please, Tommy, for my sake, think it over, because a 'yes' to Cactus Jack would mean a great deal to me--and a 'no'--well, I'd have to take that as putting a big A-OK stamp of approval on my eternal damnation! I'm counting on you, you selfish little prick. Don't make me hurt you, because I can. Don't make me do it, because if I do, with God as my witness, it won't be in front of those little scumbags at the ECW arena--it'll be just me and you, Tommy and you won't know when it's coming and you won't know where. So unless you want to damn me to the depths of hell, answer my call and say, 'Okay, Cactus, you win. I'll put on the suspenders, I'll groom that moustache and I'll call Uncle Eric and say, 'Count me in.'

Because not only would you be doing yourself a big favour--not only would you be helping your life, you'd be saving mine. You'd be saving...mine."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Loophole In The Law

Vinayak Varma has recently become the first guy to hold two jobs AFTER the institution of the one-job rule.

It's funny how people will search for ways upon ways to use artificial means to "enforce" "equality" (one of those rare cases where two successive words in a sentence merit those annoying finger-quotes) and others will just step up and kick ass.

"We don't really care about the rules you make," I'd said at a class meeting in May 2007, "we'll play you by your rules and still be on our own trip." I had no idea then that my best friend in college would be one to benefit most directly from that even-if dare. I can honestly say that no one's deserved it more.

The lights of London may well be a little too far to see, but what this magnificent piece of news has done is reinforce my belief in the idea that the cream always rises to the top.

As for the rest of us, for all the meetings, rules, paranoia, Googlegroup spam and (recent addition to vocabulary) "ratting", we're still making loud noises just because we can.

We're like empty vessels.

Hit us and we rattle.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Frank Lampard Scores In Injury Time

It's been a while coming.

Congratulations, Frankie. :)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

"I Bleed Black And White"

If there was ever a definition of the consummate "football man", Sir Bobby Robson would be it. Diplomat, negotiator, master motivator, quote machine, journeyman - Sir Bobby pretty much did it all.

Really, really tangentially during a football match between Newcastle United and Everton, I remember Brian Marwood talking about how if they could ever clone people, then you'd need one of each profession to set an example for the generations to follow (sort of like a transcendental, modern-day Noah's Ark). I've loved the idea ever since then. But as I watched Sir Bobby's astute tactical substitutions turn a 0-1 deficit into a 2-1 win in front of one installment of "sixty-nine thousand screamin' Geordies every Saturday afternoon", it slowly dawned on me that if you ever had to pick a football manager to put into that genetic Noah's Ark, you'd pick a man very much like Sir Bobby Robson.

Rest in peace, Sir Bobby Robson. A fighter till the very end.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hope, Faith and Pride

This is to mark today, Friday, July 24, 2009 as one of those defining moments in the GSG story.

I'm beyond proud of you. I'm done being amazed. I'm just in awe. :)

Now *deep breath* for November 2010.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Going Purple

"You're visibly happier when you're with her, Eashan. You're so much nicer around her. The joy in your voice when you talk about her or the way you behave when you've just spoken to should just see it back yourself, in order to realise how happy she makes you. And I'm not saying this out of any negative feelings towards you or her or anything like that. I just think that you may think you want whatever you say you do, but it'll never truly be right for you unless you convince her that she needs to be that person in your life. And that doesn't mean that you're not really close to her now, it just means that, at some point, the two of you will have to make that decision. And that, Eashan, will be the single defining relationship of your life."

Completely off the record, "Savin' Me" by Nickelback (despite my general indifference towards modern rock) is a classic.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Take My Photo Off The Wall...

There are times when little plans, small wishes and tiny, seemingly insignificant details go off the rails with immeasurable consequences. When that sharp stab of exclusion strikes, it tends to remind you, as Neil McCormick would say, "that you're in the world of celebrity as a guest and not a member" and, for the slightest time, leaves you utterly, utterly inconsolable.

When even (subconsciously/listlessly) playing "A New Decade" on repeat for half an hour doesn't cheer me up, there's something wrong with the universe.

Also, please, please don't watch "The Proposal." It sucks.

See? There's isn't even the Italic to make things right. Now THAT says something.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Notes From Late Night TV

No less than sixteen primetime Indian news channels telecast the Michael Jackson memorial service at the Staples Center a couple of nights ago. Sixteen is an enormous number and it is only upon flipping through every one of the sixteen channels that I realised how deep an image Michael Jackson had cast on the global retina.

I know everyone loves a good story and that there's a good chance that five or six of these news channels show the same thing at any given point on any given day. But that is precisely why I said sixteen. To me, that crosses the line between opportunistic scoop and oh-I've-got-to-see-this.

The memorial service was also everything that a memorial service should have been. I know a lot of the performances were incredibly average, but I think this was a case of not singing the right songs but one of what singing those songs meant. In a musical performance, you'd usually attempt to hear the person singing. On MJ memorial night, I looked only at the singers' eyes.

On a side note, I really, really like the new The Tonight Show advertisement - the one with Conan O'Brien running up a beach in slow motion. Unfortunately, the show itself sucks and even some usually 'safe' guests have just not turned out to be fun.

Oh yes, with this post, I also celebrate the return of the italic function on this blog. Until I get back to law school and my trusty old laptop, that is. Then again, maybe I'll make a trip to an internet place just to use the italic function.

In case that doesn't happen, <italic>. For good measure.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Step One

By the simple act of downloading two PDF files containing ten pages in all about ten minutes ago, I just realised that I've taken the first step in what is doubtless going to be a set of long, harrowing pursuits.

I can confess right here that it's going to break me mentally, physically, even financially. I can only hope that it makes me something in the bargain as well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Have you come to make a martyr out of me?"

I just finished watching Ron Howard's "Angels & Demons." My mum instantly categorised it as a 3.5 on 5 and one would be forgiven for thinking that that assessment isn't far wrong.

Top of the line schmozz sequences, in my opinion. I do, however, feel that there was too much rushing and too much critical detail left unaddressed altogether. The former is perhaps forgivable since the attempt of turning a six hundred-plus page book into two and a bit hours necessitates some collateral damage. However, it was more than a little disappointing to see (or not see, as it turned out) the depiction of THE storyline of the book interpreted in the movie.

However, that 3.5 would've been a 2 or lower in my estimation but for a phenomenal performance by Ewan McGregor. Despite the ridiculous "Patrick McKenna" gimmick (another unforgivable deviation), he carried the movie at more than a few critical places.

I actually haven't seen a single film of his since "Moulin Rouge" and I'm now certain that I've missed out on quite a lot.

If only they'd rewinded that videotape back fourteen days instead of fourteen hours.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


For the first time that I can recall, I crossed a street in order to avoid a lawschoolite. I didn't realise the magnitude of what I'd done until a few seconds later and made me reflect a bit on how much I've changed and what sort of person I've become.

No worries, though. I didn't reflect for very long.

On another note, Fifth Year, baby! :)

Sunday, June 07, 2009


At approximately 8.50 p.m. today, June 7, 2009, I sent a five word email that is already set to rank as one of my most sentimental ever.

I love it when friendships and prophecies come together. Four and a half years is a very, very long time. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today I learned...

That being a stud international debater, a corporate law TA, a "Constitution reviewer" and Convenor of a Committee is no guarantee that you can be expected to behave reasonably in public, have some sense of integrity, value important friendships, be trusted to be unbiased about decisions that affect others' future opportunities, be careful in handling responsibilities that could put people other than yourself into unpleasant situations and NOT drag other, completely unrelated people into personal conflicts.

I'm not happy but I'm proud that I held my ground on issues that I don't think can and should be compromised on. I'm also glad that I didn't apply, lest my application be "unfavourably" considered, since it would've been apparent that I had 50 quizzing and lit points but *gasp* only 30 debating points.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Norwegian Progressive Metal?

Nothing can quite prepare you for it.

It begins quietly. Self-reflectingly, almost. Littered with an indiscriminate yet distinctly BHN beeping dot-and-dash Morse Code (does anyone else remember the "bugger all" morse code from "D'You Know What I Mean"?) There's a sweet sounding doubling-up of the guitar. And then it goes.

"An extraordinary guy can never have an ordinary day. He might live a long goodbye, but that is not for me to say.

They are sleeping while they dream, but then they want to be adored. Those who don't say what they mean, will live and die by their own sword.

There are but a thousand days but heading for a thousand years. Many minds to educate, the people who have disappeared."

I mean, he's got no right to write like that.

As Rio Ferdinand said after returning from his drugs ban a few years ago, "It's like beer for most people. What happens when you've been taken off beer for eight months? When you finally get a hold of it, that beer is going to taste good."

It isn't often that the crackling sound of an arrogant, vindicated anthem moves me to write anything at all, let alone something here. It's 3 a.m., the morning of project submission. And though it may not be apparent, there's a lot that's right with the world at this time.

The swagger is back. Insurance can go do itself.

Magic Pie, indeed.

You. You know who you are. I owe you one. Big time.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Lights Are Brighter On The Second Of May

"Yeah, but it's 8:42 right now, I'm not twelve yet."

Today's been a day where little things have meant a lot and their occurrence throughout the course of the day has led me to happily forget the million little details that normally annoy me no end during an average day.

I'm sure there are several details amiss in the masterplan but the lights have always been brighter on the second of May. My only regret (and one that has been mounting with every year that has gone by here) is that I'm not home today. I have a feeling that the atmosphere at home this evening is going to be just that little bit lighter, the smiles will be just that little bit broader and the love will be just that little bit more heartfelt. I'm sure the talk (when it eventually happens) will at least partly be about how bad everyone at home feels that I haven't been home at this time for four years in a row now and I'm not saying that that's not genuine. It's just that even if I could peep through the window of my own home and look inside right now, it would mean the world to me.

Och, well. Whatever will be, will be.

Happy Birthday, Tom! May your smile light up a million lives. :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Motion Falls

I know I said I wouldn't ever again, but I did go ahead and speak for NLS at an Indian debate. A mere (though it didn't seem so during the auto rides there and back) fifteen kilometres from campus, no less.

I went with a team I didn't know too well, completely out of practice, with a team equally out of practice, encountered the very same sickening things that put me off debating a few months back, did things I wouldn't have otherwise thought necessary and did it with the assumption that it was only a matter of time before the bubble burst.

When the motion fell, however, I was far from unhappy. Yes, we could've made our point better; yes, we would've been infinitely better if I'd known I was going first a little earlier than five minutes before the debate began and yes to a million other things that I can now happily dismiss as mere details.

And though debating takes a lot out of me (quite literally at times), the last three days have led me to believe that, for a person of my (lack of) skill and poise, perhaps the default approach to debating should be one of zero expectation.

I'm certainly not changing my mind drastically about the February 7 incident--after all, the only team we knew were better than us we lost to. But I'm certain that, of the four debates we did, we would've lost three if they had happened in that cursed Delhi winter.

And it gives me belief that, with a good fourteen months still left here, there might, just might, be enough time for one last shot at it in the big time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


While going through some old email today, I found this one. At 11.32 p.m. on Friday, September 19, 2008, I sent this to a really close friend of mine. Nearly seven months on, I can scarcely believe that things were ever the way they were between us. Upon roughly three seconds of reflection, reading this made me realise that Fourth Year has been about extreme happiness and extreme sadness, with very little in between.

Here goes.


"I write this to you on an impulse, completely unprepared about what I want to say, how I want to say it or, indeed, why I'm saying it at all.

There's a song called "Nightblindness" by David Gray, which I'm sending you. It's a song about a lot of things and is, in fact, so beautiful in its simplicity that it could really mean anything at all. It has also, in
the four years that I've listened to it, never failed to pull me through the hardest of times.

David Gray is a singer/songwriter who was practically lost to the music world for most of the 1990s because record company after record company would seem to take cruel pleasure in opening doors for him, only to slam them in his face when he got too close. His cause was ultimately championed by a few underground music journos in England and, in what can only be described as the greatest word-of-mouth success in the history of
the music business, David Gray's album "White Ladder" (which "Nightblindness" is from, actually) went on to sell five million albums worldwide. It's about as romantic a story about the will of one man against the big, bad monster of the music business as you could hope to find and ever since I've known of David Gray, I've never failed to be in
awe of the man, his life and what incredible stories he will get to tell his grandchildren one day.

Which makes it all the more remarkable how this song describes thoughts, feelings and emotions that I've felt in the aforementioned "hardest of times" and I've always been amazed at how someone could express through music exactly what is going through my head.

"Nightblindness" by David Gray

A million to one
Can't see

Your bright eyes are what
The time is
Twenty-five past eternity

Hear you listening
To the silence
Coming closer
Now further away

What we gonna do
When the money runs out
I wish that there was something left to say
Where we going to find the eyes to see
The bright of day

I'm sick of all the same romances
Lost chances
Cold storms

Propping mountains up
On matchsticks
Dragging baskets
Full of bones

Honey please don't stop
Your talking
'Cause there's a feeling
Won't leave me alone

What we gonna do
When the money runs out
I wish that there was something I could say
How we going to find the eyes to see
The bright of day?

What we gonna do
When the money runs out
I wish that there was something left to say
How we going to find the eyes to see
The bright of day?

I don't particularly want you to fall in love with the song, be amazed by the sentiment it expresses or anything of the sort. I simply sent this to you because I haven't been having the happiest of times recently and I
think that you can tell. I've tried listening to the song over, but I fear that this emotional slump might be a little harder to get past than I previously thought.

I just figured that maybe if I were to tell you the story that I just have, it might be a good thing because that way, at least one person in the world will know what I'm thinking and it's been a while since I felt
that way.

Doesn't hurt to share, does it?



Your bright eyes are what the time is, twenty-five past eternity. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's In A Name?


This has got to stop.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Copy/pasted from Facebook. Inexcusibly so. Anyway.

1. I love the nickname 'Ego.' I think it's cool, zippy and incredibly appropriate for me. I thank the person who came up with it.
2. The person I probably love most in the world is my little brother. He was born when my parents were forty and consequently, they were just too old to keep up with him when he was really little. That onus fell on me and I honestly do believe he's as much my baby as he is theirs.
3. I pride myself on recalling minutiae of dates, events, places and people. I'm also a bit of a nerd for records and associated trivia.
4. I've been a huge fan of American professional wrestling since I was five years old and I've wanted to write a book on the sport/art form from a TV viewer's perspective for a really long time.
5. I used to be incredibly violent, angry and agnostic in my early teens but I pride myself on the fact that I haven't smashed anything, hit anyone and that I have believed in God for at least the last six years.
6. I believe very firmly in the great equalising principle in this universe.
7. I fell down a flight of stairs at a camp when I was twelve years old and suffered one-and-a-half chipped teeth which required three root canals, nine injections and a plethora of dental wires. I recall that this was absolute torture and, aside from a fifteen minute "necessary procedure" to fill out and cement those same teeth, I haven't been to a dentist since December 9, 1999. And I don't plan to.
8. I have never been to a funeral or a graveyard.
9. I need to get married before the age of twenty-seven, as this is the age that I have estimated that I will finally and irreversibly go bald. And I've never heard of a normal bald man getting married.
10. I think that 'Seinfeld' is the greatest TV programme in the world and that everything in life can truly be related to a 'Seinfeld' episode.
11. I think that Narendra Modi is an awesome politician and people should learn to appreciate the great things he has done for Gujarat. And he'd make a way cooler Prime Minister than either Manmohan Singh (again), Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi or Mayawati.
12. One of my greatest desires in life is to watch a live Oasis concert.
13. Ever since I was really young, I've been told by everyone around me of the merits of academic self-sufficiency. This, combined with the fact that I cannot, for the life of me, read other peoples' handwriting, is pretty much the only reason why I take notes in class.
14. I'm really not much of a late night person and though I really hate the process of having to wake up at a designated time, I don't really mind mornings all that much.
15. I think that if, sadly, baseliners are, in fact, to inherit the game of tennis, then they should all aspire to the Federer ideal and not the Nadal one.
16. I've been a fan of the Australian cricket team for fourteen years, of the McLaren Formula 1 team for twelve and of Leeds United Football Club for ten.
17. I don't read books or poetry.
18. Mohammad Azharuddin is the greatest batsman I have ever seen.
19. I really don't enjoy speaking in public. I got involved in parliamentary debating in college quite by accident, considering I didn't debate at all in high school and I think that it's only those people who know me well who understand exactly how bad I am at it.
20. I really, really wish the Kashmir valley becomes safe for people like us to live there permanently at some point in our lifetime. It's one thing I really want to do.
21. I love Chinese food and can't understand people who don't. If you're one of them and I know you, chances are that we've had quite a tumultuous association.
22. I want to make a career out of non-legal writing, preferably sports or music journalism.
23. My ideal breakfast would include a glass of fresh orange, pineapple or grape juice.
24. I really appreciate people with musical talent, especially since I have zero such talent myself. However, please stay away from me if your expertise is in classical music because I just can't stand that stuff.
25. There's this story involving a letter my cousin brother wrote to a university which I think of every now and then which never fails to remind me where I come from and how thankful I am to my family for giving me everything I've ever wanted.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

February 7, 2009. 9.27-9.50 pm.

The first stop on the Indraprastha/Dwarka Sector-9 line of the Delhi Metro on the wrong side of Rajiv Chowk is the Ramakrishna Ashram Marg station and I think that the absent-minded twenty-three minutes I spent there last night have heavily influenced my decision not to represent National Law School as a debater at another parliamentary debate held in this country ever again.

It's no snap decision, I assure. Quite on the contrary, I think that the argument on the inevitability of variable person-to-person healthcare costs is about as close as one can get to "sexy matter."

Och, well. At least I tried :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Over The Hill, Hopefully.

Eleven down, four to go.

Today, when I entered the exam hall to write my Evidence exam, it was the seventy-fourth time I was walking into that den in a little under three-and-a-half years. If God and seminar options are kind, I shall only be required to go through this ordeal six more times (I'm not counting trial because frankly, I don't even know just how many trial exams there are) in the next eighteen months.

And then, never, ever again.

I realised today that the exam hall has become this unexplored repository of memories for me. Unexplored because I insist on keeping it that way and unexplored because I fear that if I try and understand what happens inside my "middle-aged and crazy mind" (thank you, Don) whenever I do step inside, something will go horribly, horribly wrong.

However, I've already broken that silent code of conduct and perhaps this is no more than an attempt to get a little arrogant (not that I don't anyway. Sigh. See?) and say, "Och, well, the worst is over." I certainly hope so. I feel proud that I can say, hand on heart, that I've given every one of those seventy-four papers an honest effort--I've never left before bell-time, I've never voluntarily left a question unanswered, I've never even, not once in three-and-a-half years, left my seat during an exam, except to pick up fallen stationery/reading material or to pass the attendance sheet onto the person seated in front of me.

Aside from the overwhelming feeling of self-congratulation for having made it this far, by writing this (and, along with it, breaking a near-seven month blogging hiatus), I am, perversely, paying a tribute to the examination system in law school--not to our teachers who make papers that are impossible to finish, not to over-zealous exam-paper-snatching, pretty-girl-extra-time-giving, agency-lacking, Exam Department delegates drawn from the lowest rung of bureaucratic ineptitude, not even to my long-suffering classmates who have gone through just as much as I have.

Instead, here's a toast to those wobbly tables, those breaking chairs, that water-filter right at the entrance, that washroom door that never stops creaking, that black clock at the front of the hall which is (in my admittedly biased opinion) always a minimum of two minutes too fast but on which my life depends every single time (for I have, over the course of all these seventy-four papers, steadfastly/stupidly decided never to carry a watch), those nonsensical correction announcements when the first instruction on the paper says, "Students are expected to respond to the questions as it is. No clarifications are to be sought", that unpliable piece of thread that takes ages to fit through the sheets and that bastard watchman who rings that bell and makes me jump, every time.

For I doubt I will ever forget the sense of helplessness I felt at the end of Economics-II, the nervousness I felt as I was handed my Constitutional Law-I end-term paper, the sense of respect I had for a wonderful man and a brilliant, brilliant Political Science-II mid-term, the sense of not knowing what hit me in Land Law, the feeling of how I really, really did not care for a poorly executed course and a completely pointless Corporate Law-I end-term, the utter bewilderment at the end of Evidence (the first one), the very real fear I felt as the doors opened at 9.50 a.m. for DPC that fateful day in June and the more recent, frequent feeling of "I studied so much for that?!" which have all been little mental signposts, to remind me of the price I pay to lead the kind of life that I like to lead here in Bangalore (it's a cogged line, yes, but I really think so).

I know what you're thinking. Loser. Geek. You're done with exams, go home and relax, already.

I don't think you understand. Yes, I'm writing about exams. Yes, I've written about exams before (in this space, no less). The thing is, I doubt I ever will again. For I truly, truly hope that I am over that particular hill.

And that, I think, is reason enough.

I'm not sure if there's a point to this story but I'm going to tell it again.

My photo
I've been wilfully caught up in the self-defeating quest to get to know myself for years. I've never expected anything beneficial to result from such a quest. I tend to evoke extremely polarised reactions from people I get to know in passing. Consequently, only those people who know me inside-out would honestly claim that I'm a person who's just "alright." It's not a coincidence that the description I've laid out above has no fewer than, title included, eleven references to me (make that twelve). I'm affectionately referred to as "Ego." I think that last statement might have given away a tad too much. Welcome Aboard.

IHTRTRS ke pichle episode mein aapne dekha...


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