Thursday, December 30, 2010

The highest of highs

I don't understand where all this negativity about the year gone by is coming from because, upon reflection, I can recall some phenomenal times. In ascending order, here are my top ten memories of 2010:


10. The IIT Delhi Debate, February 19 and 21, 2010

I remember clearly that my initial objections to debating at IIT-D this year were of doing yet another debate under the pressure, nay, expectation, of winning. I would’ve loved nothing more than to debate with my juniors and do for them what all my seniors (bar Verma and Uttara at Venky in my third year) had refused to do for me—teach me something by personal example. That it didn’t quite turn out that way is my fault entirely—I jumped at opportunities too quickly, ignoring the fact that all of the reasons why I failed to “crack” debating in India were still painfully persistent. Yet, for brief periods of time in classrooms in every possible corner of IIT-D, with six stitches in my mouth, with sugar haemorrhaging out of my body and my right knee swelling to the size of a little balloon every few hours, I rediscovered why I’d decided to do selections at all in fifth year. And while my speeches in Round 3 and the octo-finals weren't the best I've ever given, they were very, very close.

9. Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United; January 3, 2010

I’ve written about this sufficiently and thought about it even more, but nothing can quite capture the feeling of watching hours and hours of football with steadily growing but still restrained optimism and watching it finally explode into life over ninety perfect minutes.  My memories of that night are extremely disjointed yet extremely clear—putting on the yellow sweater, constantly reminding myself throughout the second half that the 4-2 at St Mary’s the last time out had been a better performance and that the halftime lead was totally justified, Snodgrass’ freekick rattling their crossbar in the eighty-first minute and the last six seconds which I couldn’t bear to see. People can go ahead and call Jermaine Beckford a Premier League flop all they want—the fact is, that night, he owned Manchester United.

8. The view from Table Mountain, Cape Town; June 25, 2010

A million miles removed from the footballing memories that epitomized our trip to South Africa for the World Cup, there was the unforgettable view from the top of Table Mountain. Two images—one of the view itself and one of the Twelve Apostles—come to mind instantly, but perhaps the most surreal was the five minute walk up the road from Table Mountain CafĂ©, which was impossible to the point where we were physically lifted off our feet by the wind. Fabulous.

7. Coming home; December 5, 2010
Coming back to middle-of-the-afternoon sleepy Delhi in winter is an experience like no other. If I’d been living a dream over in Oxford, it was perhaps equally important that I woke up from that dream in Delhi. In many, many ways, this has already been a memorable vacation.

6. Fifth Year Party; June 3(?), 2010       

Probably this year’s definition of ‘carefree’. And I’m all for exercising extreme discretion in using words such as ‘epic’ and ‘awesome’ in describing law school parties but, from my openly biased perspective, this one qualifies without argument. Shockingly, I remember a lot of conversations from that night (some better than others obviously, wink wink) and I think this was probably the onset of true law school senti and, at the very least, a forgive-and-forget about the really silly stuff we’d held against each other for unreasonable lengths of time. I remember the bun-butters at Chetta before getting on the bus, I remember walking back past Chetta towards hostel under an orange sky at 5.45 a.m. and, most of all, I remember the masala dosa and filter coffee in Nags about an hour and a half later. I promised myself I’d say ‘I love my batch’ at some point in this post, so this is it.

5. First day of class at The University, Oxford; October 11, 2010

I haven’t often been excited by academics, but this was an entirely different story. So much comes to mind—the taster lecture, the Civil Procedure confusion, the Punishment class with Dr Lacey and Dr Zedner and the thrill of watching trade theory unfold before my very eyes over the course of Week 1’s readings, a lot of which were read thrice. The challenge of once again having to keep my head above academic water and prove myself all over again has been pretty evident throughout Michaelmas 2010 but, effectively, the point was made on the first day itself.

4. The XVIIIth Annual Convocation, NLSIU, Bangalore; August 29, 2010

Soon after, I would write: “I've never before managed to make so many people with nothing in common very proud of me for the same reason and I've never before managed to feel properly deserving of it all. To say that the last week has been the greatest of my life would be an exaggeration, but not by much”. I can’t think of a single thing I’d change, even at a distance of over four months.

3. The reunion at Queen’s Lane Bus Stand, Oxford; November 11, 2010

There are literally thousands of things I can and will remember forever from the ten days that followed but when I think back to it all now, the thing that strikes me most is how full of possibility life seemed at that very moment. Nothing that I can recall off the top of my head approaches the endless feeling of clear blue skies and literally a ton of weight lifted off my shoulders (I should stress here that this was purely metaphorical—it was pitch dark and drizzling in the late afternoon and I ended up lugging around Sowjhanya’s backpack and sleeping bag for the better part of three kilometres) when I saw the girls standing at Queen’s Lane. The trip itself was remarkable for a thousand reasons besides, but my unfading memory is the one of where it all began.  

2. Marianne Biese’s email; March 18, 2010

Defined by the monster hugs with Shantanu and Mihir (the first people I told) on lib ramp, the call to an utterly jubilant, Canada-bound Sowjhanya at the airport, the do-you-realise-why-I’m-hugging-you hug to Yaman, the I-feel-like-a-proud-father email from Chaitanya, the come-off-to-Koshy’s from Varun and the constant outpouring of affection for about a week afterwards. Convinced me that, ultimately, NLS was worth it, that the people I met there, even more so. There would be disappointments down this very road, of course (the Inlaks final interview comes to mind) but, just for the chain of events that ‘[no subject]’ email set into motion, I shall always be thankful. It still feels like a dream, it really does.

1. Soccer City, Johannesburg; June 23, 2010

For sheer anticipation, noise, colour, organization, awe, emotion and gratitude, I don’t think anything will ever come close. That I got to share it with the three people I love most in the world seated next to me is more than I could ask for.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The lowest of lows

I really wish the Indian media would get off Ricky Ponting's back. Anyone who has seen his career from the start knows that he will give himself the greatest bollocking of all for his form and for that of his team. Decisions regarding his place in the team, his place as captain and his retirement from international cricket are all currently outside his control and lie with competent professionals. Let it be that way. I think he's been more than gracious in defeat and has not, for a minute, hesitated in applauding the efforts of the English cricket team which has thoroughly outplayed his team in two out of four Test matches.

I have said enough.Those who have to understand, have understood.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eeayiulh!

Congratulations, Varun Rajiv. I think there's a lot to be said for the "bide your time" approach to recruitment at National Law School. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fits like a glove

Learnings from the week past:

1. "Broken Dreams" by Shaman's Harvest is pretty close to the best wrestling theme song going around today.
2. Try not to get angry quite so much.
3. Don't let the ridiculous overpricing of Red Bull make you forget what a thing of beauty it is.
4. "Oh radio, tell me everything you know / I will believe your every word, just tell me so."
5. Don't ever lose faith in the Australian cricket team.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Three passages I never expected to see in the same article

I can't think of a more fitting way to mark this one hundredth post than by quoting liberally from Vaughan Lowe's excellent piece "The Politics of Law-Making: Are the Method and Character of Norm Creation Changing?" from  Michael Byers (ed.), The Role of Law in International Politics: Essays in International Relations and International Law (2000), which has to be the best thing I've read since, well, last week.


"If the tribunal chooses to adopt the concept, the very idea of sustainable development is enough to point the tribunal towards a coherent approach to a decision in cases where development and environment conflict. There is absolutely no need for the concept to have been embodied in State practice coupled with the associated opinio juris. Its employment does not depend upon it having normative force of the kind held by primary norms of international law. Tribunals employ interstitial norms not because those norms are obligatory as a matter of law, but because they are necessary in order that legal reasoning should proceed. All that is needed to enable the norms to perform this role is that they be clearly and coherently articulated. Once they have been articulated, they operate as modifying norms, bearing upon the primary norms that surround them. But they have a broader significance. If, for example, sustainable development is declared to be the reconciling principle that establishes the relationship between development and environment, it is highly unlikely that any other principle will be employed to effect that reconciliation, at least until sustainable development is displaced. The concept effectively 'occupies the field'...Further, any shifts in emphasis that may be necessitated by the accidents of case law will be tested for their coherence with sustainable development. In these senses, the principle exercises an immense gravitational pull."  (p. 217)


"Similarly, those negotiating treaties, or development loans, or environmental controls, at the national or the international level, are likely to approach that task within the context of the concept of sustainable development. The concept colours the whole approach to this area of international law. The metaphor of colour is, indeed, a powerful one. The effect of interstitial norms is to set the tone of the approach of international law to contemporary problems, bringing subtlety and depth to the relatively crude, black-and-white quality of primary norms. I have used one example; but I expect there to be many others in the coming decades, during a phase in the development of international law analogous to the development of equity in English law. For example, it is likely that international law will begin to develop its own concepts of unjust enrichment and other restitutionary remedies, across a whole range of contexts from the determination of compensation in cases of expropriation and injury to alien property to remedies for breaches of treaty obligations. The concept otabus de droit, already established in the approach of civil lawyers to international law, is likely to achieve much greater prominence as a check upon exercises of legal power by States. Through the influence of these principles, the whole character of international law and its relation to the most pressing problems of fairness and justice can be materially altered. And, to make the point once more, this is done by principles that owe none of their normative force to the traditional 'State practice plus opinio juris' or to treaty law processes for the creation of binding legal norms. I expect the method and character of the creation of the most important and influential norms of international law in the next generation to be markedly different from that which has obtained in the past." (p. 217-218)


"Legal concepts and norms are important. But the matrix in which they are set is not a normative system of pure juridical reason. No one—statesman, judge, or whatever—can switch his or her brain into a purely legal or purely non-legal mode. Brains are brains. The same brain functions as the judge judges, reads newspapers and novels, watches films and television, and does everything else. It is inevitable that reasoning, in whatever context, proceeds against an inarticulate and perhaps irrational backcloth of concepts, linkages, suppositions, and prejudices built up from the general experience of life. And it is because interstitial norms operate in precisely those areas where primary legal norms do not dictate clear legal solutions that they are the most likely to be heavily (I would say overwhelmingly) influenced by non-legal factors. Interstitial norms are the points where general culture obtrudes most clearly into the processes of legal reasoning." (p. 220).


It's true - academia is a kind of disorder. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Knock-Kneed Love Dance

After hearing so much about it, I finally ended up watching This Is Spinal Tap last night. Apart from the obvious reasons to be really impressed by it, upon reflection, I find that it's equally massive for making some legitimately heavy subjects sort of just bounce by without making you realise the kind of stinging commentary it is on rock-'n-roll. I once termed this, none too creatively, as the 'giant beachball effect' and I'm glad I found another piece of work to conveniently categorise as such.

The Stone Roses' "Waterfall" has been playing in my head all day. It suits the weather these days. These days have made the distinction between day and night feel a little meaningless. I can completely understand why people living on the wrong side of the sixty-six and a half degree latitude live in such depression and misery. I cannot wait to get home. And beyond. :)

Also, Leeds have drawn an away tie at Arsenal in the third round of this year's FA Cup. Shouldn't there be a rule formalising a past giant-killers' exemption in the Cup? Or is it even possible to imagine that a day as perfect as January 3, 2010 will occur again?

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Last Breath (Four Non-Blondes?)

Deceived by my eyes and all I was told I should see
Opinions not mine, the person they taught me to be
One night in the dark, a vision of someone I knew
And in the darkness I saw, a voice say, I'm you.
Inside me a light was turned on
Then I was alive

If you close your eyes your life, a naked truth revealed
Dreams you never lived, and scars never healed
In the darkness, light will take you to the other side
And find me waiting there you'll see, if you just close your eyes

Hearts uninspired, trapped inside somebody's dream
Too close to the fire, yet cold and numb with the pain
But the fever has broken, and the river has run to the sea
Washed to the ocean, and saved by a voice inside me.
Inside me a light was turned on
Then I was alive

Never thought I would be here, so high in the air
This was my unanswered prayer
Defined by another, so much wasted time
Out of the darkness, each breath that I take will be mine.

It's amazing how, sometimes, songs can describe not just sentiments or even a range of emotions, but entire careers and lives.

I was made to believe in the inherent good in all things wrestling when Kane held the World Heavyweight Title aloft back in July at Money in the Bank. Please, please let there be one more monster push before it's too late. I cannot think of a single person who has deserved, nay needed, one more over the last decade and a half than the man they once called The Instant Classic.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CBSE > ICSE

I've had a grand total of eight hours of sleep in the last three and a half days, but right now, it certainly feels like that the lack of sleep has been crucial to making this weekend's Oxford-London/London-Cambridge/Cambridge-London/London-Oxford so memorable.

Big thank you's to Sarkar, Chaitanya and Bando for making me feel more at home than I've felt at any point in the last three months.

The challenge of everyday existence beckons for the next two weeks, followed by the prospect of the sweet feeling of home in the holidays.

I'm planning to start compiling a list of unchallengeable truths very soon. It promises to be a very fulfilling project. 

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Diwali






Sometimes, home isn't a place. It's a state of mind.

Monday, November 01, 2010

On the first day of November

It's taken me thirty-six days, but I've finally cracked.

Hopefully, ten more days isn't too far away.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"They're exactly as you described them."

Today is Mumma and Papa's twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They celebrated it today in typical style - by being in different cities. This is now the sixth year in a row that I've missed their special day and with that comes a promise to be there every year into the foreseeable future.

Without intending either favour or influence (though both could justifiably have been exerted in copious amounts), they still remain, in purely objective terms, my template for the perfect marriage. In many ways, I'm glad I haven't inherited their idea of romance, rich and resplendent as it may well be. Equally, though, apart from the numerous lessons I've been taught by them individually (and mostly by personal example), I've learnt that it is possible to make very real diversity work in a very real way. It's a message that is as calming as it is inspirational and promises to be the bedrock of an increasingly important subtext to my life in the weeks, months and years to come. If I can manage to achieve a fraction of what they have, I'd be delighted with myself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Thousand Million Miles from Home

As I turned down the right-hand corner past Magdalen College this morning, cursing the imposing embankments and high walls for not permitting enough sunshine onto Longwall Street, my iPod started playing the title track from Delhi 6. The four minutes that followed were quite surreal, as all the memories I have associated with that song came flooding back to mind. In that moment, it felt very, very strange to be walking down that street and thinking of how far away I am from everything that is familiar. In many ways, I still can't quite believe it.

It's just a matter of time, though. It won't be long now.

(First multiple same day posts since May 9, 2010.)

The Little Things in Life

Opposites don't usually attract unless there's something to bind them together. It could be shared interests or friends and I think that it'd be fair to say that it was a bit of both in our case. It could also be a quiet, unstated respect and I think it'd be fairest to say that it has been a combination of all three that has taken this fairly anonymous association (I really can't remember how or when or why we got to know each other) all the way to a memorable friendship.

I've always valued genuineness far above any other quality in making friends. What has often stopped me from making better friends has been a sort of familiarity with the kind of genuineness that I'm comfortable with, painting that particular quality with my colours, if you like. That has changed a lot in the last few years and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that she has been my one-stop introduction to the idea that genuineness of the exuberant type can be just as basic to sincerity, appreciation and pretty much every other desirable trait you can hope to find in another person. On top of that, she'll be considerate, she'll give you time and she'll listen. It's as overwhelming as a sense of genuineness can ever be.

Almost furtively, we've also managed to construct this place - halfway between a bubble and a sacred space - where our conversations are parked in their appropriate places. We tend to talk about things that are bothersome, intense or emotional, if not some combination of the three and I've found this place - which is like nothing else I've ever been a part of - to be a beautiful way of splitting what is important from what is noise. We've built this space over time (and that, I just realised, sounds very cool) based on the idea that the solutions to our problems lie in the infinite wisdom of each other and that when she's listening to me or I'm listening to her, that is what receives one hundred percent attention and nothing else is relevant. We've blown off many, many seemingly important appointments and people just to get the chance to talk. She's proved to be well worth the investment.

It has also helped that because of the interests and friends that we've shared, there haven't been too many secrets. That wouldn't have counted for too much, though, had she not known when to ask you something, when to let you know that you're not being honest with her and, perhaps most importantly, when to leave you alone. I haven't held back on too much because I've always suspected that she'd probably know anyway. This has opened doors to talk about family, it has given license to get justifiably upset, it has created a canvas for us to share dreams and it has given a reason to trust. A few short years ago, I would've defined all of those things out of the scope of a 'friendship'. I think it's a mark of how far we've come that today, I can't imagine giving up any of those things with her.

All this has been tied to some pretty unforgettable places and experiences. Due to the nature of the last five years of my life, I can name a host of people with whom I've repeated the endless routine of work/group-activity/eat-out/party. But there aren't too many people with whom I've watched three movies and countless IPL matches in a calendar month, taken a cycle-rickshaw ride through Noida at 11.30 p.m. and walked around everywhere from acad block and the Supreme Court to IIT-Delhi and the streets of Dhaka.

Most remarkably, however, we've kept up an incredibly varied (and often intense) ongoing dialogue from practically the day we met, which has since grown to encompass everything from the rat-race and the future to the state of men's tennis and pop music. The fact that we've never agreed on a lot of this has never been an impediment - I can't recall a single instance of hurt feelings or intentional slighting in any of these conversations - because there's always been a guarantee that we'll honestly hear each other out one hundred percent with the greatest of respect. I haven't managed to achieve that with people I've known my whole life, so I find it quite extraordinary to have found it with her - someone I've known, at best, for a bit under three-and-a-half years.

And over these nearly three-and-a-half years, people have cast a lot of doubts over what this has been about. It's been every kind of doubt imaginable, asking questions of our integrity, genuineness, priorities, even morality. These doubts have been cast by all sorts of people, too - people who are jealous, people who should know better, people who don't bother reading what has been a fairly open book throughout and, perhaps most hurtfully, by people who are closer to us individually than either she or I are to each other.

For the longest time, this really, really upset me. I don't know why this was - I knew that my behaviour had been above reproach and she's been fiercely committed enough to dispel any questions of her genuineness. But as she intersperses crazy amounts of organisational work with an inquisitive line or two every couple of minutes on Skype over in the other window, I realise that none of those doubts matter. Because some friendships are impossible to be explain. I also realise now that when I created this label of 'Special People' on my blog all those years ago, I had in mind someone very much like her.    

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where Real Life and Dreams Collide

I just completed the arduous task of narrowing down and uploading my collection of phone photos from my last term at law school into a reasonably viewer-friendly package of forty-nine photos. It made me realise that despite not going out of town, not talking to too many people and not doing too many things, there is so much I will always treasure about that last term.

For those three months, there was no pressure, no expectation and, usually, no work. I remember a senior of mine telling me sometime in the last three months of first year to live it up because there would never again come such a time for being carefree. If I was in that senior's place now, I'd say the same thing about 5,15.

I have, like most people, been silently drawing up a list of things I would love to do in life, for pretty much as far back as I can remember. One of those came true this June in South Africa. The list runs beyond that, though. Watching Wrestlemania live is definitely on that list. As is making it to May 31, 2013. :)

But I'm starting to realise that equally precious is the list of things I wish I could do again. And right on top of that list right now would be rewinding to March 18, 2010 and pressing 'play'.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Driven to Extremes

Raz, J, The Morality of Freedom (1986), ch 15, p. 404:

"Toleration can also be valuable when it curbs inclinations which, while valuable in themselves, are intolerant of other people's morally acceptable pursuits."

And this, a few lines later, on the same spellbinding page:

"I am not simply wrong in inclining to be intolerant of another person's meanness or vulgarity. These rightly trigger intolerant responses. A person who does not react to them in this way is lacking in moral sensibility." 

Have truer words ever been spoken?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

"That'll be two-twenty one, Sir."

This is as quiet as a weekend can possibly get.

Welcome everyone, to the Age of Inhaltsverzeichnis!

Friday, October 01, 2010

International Students Day

Sitting around the table at the Oxford University Students Union's International Graduate Students Welcome Dinner, I realised that VN and SSN might've already co-opted a third to make up for MCN being 4,500 miles away. It's a dynamic I've never really understood, but observing it first-hand is proving to be a really fascinating pastime. Wrong snake, indeed! :)

Learning for the day: A round trip on Buenos Aires' local metro service costs 1.10 Pesos which, if the exchange rates of the major currencies in the world are what they were when I crammed them sometime in middle school, makes it cheaper than every conceivable form of motorised transportation anywhere in India.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Resurrection?

Maybe wishing too hard can sometimes upset the balance in the universe. So I apologise for what I wrote previously. Please, please let this go off without a hitch. I feel like I'm a side character in a John Le Carre novel.

Also, congratulations, Messrs. Randy Orton and Bryan Danielson. May the newest Age of Orton stretch into the foreseeable future and may a succession of self-styled egotistical heels be LeBelle-d into screaming and tapping out like little girls.

Monday, September 20, 2010

PUSH

I've never been an F1 driver, but right now, my life feels like I've crossed the start/finish line with 40 laps to go with a car crawling all over my rear view mirrors and I've looked up at my pit-board to see that the difference to the car behind me has shrunk and there's one big, forlorn word, all in capitals, conveying a simple, frightening message: PUSH.

Having spent three months struggling to put together three things to do for one day, I suddenly find myself with one day left and three places I really want to be, at the same time.

However, the truth is that it's stupid to get upset about stuff like this. Life is all about moving on and looking ahead, apparently. The visa is here, everything else is set and this is going to be the best year of my life, apparently.

There's actually very little to stop me from leaving. And I wish there was. I so, so wish there was.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hmm, Possible

What if this visa doesn't come through?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Hate, Love, Everything.

This 'International Burn A Koran Day' has really got me going.

Friday, September 03, 2010

In September

The countdown has well and truly begun.

Today is also very special for other reasons. I continue to be amazed, dear W.

I'm in love with Caroline Wozniacki.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Flood

The outpouring of attention since my last post has been pretty overwhelming. I've never before had a surprise birthday party, I've never before managed to make so many people with nothing in common very proud of me for the same reason and I've never before managed to feel properly deserving of it all. To say that the last week has been the greatest of my life would be an exaggeration, but not by much.

However, it is September 1 today. There are exactly three weeks until I leave and with that comes the distinct feeling that I have it all to do all over again. Oscar Wilde once said, "all of us are in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars." As if he knew anything about the real world.

**Deep breath** Let us continue.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Twenty-Three

I've come to realise that sometimes, nineteen things mean more than twenty-two. It's been a surreally peaceful day so far. I really couldn't have wanted more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Foot Fault

I didn't see the controversial end to the India/Sri Lanka match at Dambulla on Monday night. Since then, however, I wouldn't have been able to get away if I wanted to. So great is the outrage among followers of Indian cricket that I'm absolutely sick of the sight of Virender Sehwag hitting a Suraj Randiv front-foot no-ball for six to finish the 170-run chase in a controversy that has now enveloped Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan as well.

For what it's worth, I don't think anything wrong with the rules of cricket regarding the end of a match. In a completed incident, the current process of run accreditation correctly recognises the primacy of a default such as a wide or a no-ball because such a default goes to the root of the incident, rendering it invalid ab initio. Today's Times quotes the MCC's Neil Priscott, who says:

"...with one run required to win, if Sehwag had been stumped off a wide ball, he would have been given not out since the match is over with the wide being called. The imposition of a penalty run in this case is instant. It doesn't matter what happens next." (italics mine)

However, contrary to what Mr. Priscott says, it is perhaps what happened next that caused the controversy. One, umpire Asad Rauf signalled a six knowing fully well (I hope) that, with one run required, the match was over at the very instant that the no-ball occurred. Two, the stump microphone at Sehwag's end caught Sangakkara saying in Sinhalese, "he's one short of a hundred": a clever statement which has the advantage of being suggestive without being damning. Three, and perhaps most damningly, the side-on cameras caught Randiv overstepping by a huge way: a not-so-clever act which convinced even those willing to believe that Sangakkara's statement was no more than back-chat that the no-ball was intentional.

There is no question that the rules (I've always found calling them 'laws' rather fanciful) do not and cannot judge intention in this situation. Whether they should is a question that must, if answered in the affirmative, satisfy at least two questions. One, what is the basis for reversing the penalty runs rationale for the exclusive purpose of game-winning runs by crediting the batsman with runs that, if they occur at any other point in the game, are meant to be not so much a benefit for the batsman as a docking for the bowler? Two, what would you do if the penalty is intentional [inasmuch as it coincides with and supplies the last run(s) required to finish the match] but is done subtly enough for no one to suspect any intention?

The answer to the first question is always going to be a frowning reconciliation largely because the original rationale is, in essence, a compromise as well. If there was some way of penalising bowlers for erratic line and length that did not involve advantaging the batsmen, then I have a feeling that the MCC would have thought of it by now. However, the choice that has been made ensures that the penalty on the bowler and the largesse to the batting side are reflexive perhaps because of the insufficiency of any other form of punishment [other punishments, of course, do exist - suspending the bowler from bowling for the duration of the innings, for example - but these are rightly reserved for greater offences such as running on the pitch in the follow-through, bowling beamers (interestingly, whether intentional or not) and so on].

However, it is the second question that is infinitely more troublesome, not just because it enables a fairly harsh assessment to be made on the basis of what a young bowler may well have thought, in the moment, to be the cricketing equivalent of a harmless white lie. Indeed, the trouble lies in evaluating the proposed solution of assuming intention (thus reversing the burden of proof) and the license it would give for viewers to call an honest bowler a cheat just because he bowled a wide or a no-ball with the match nearing its end (or, as Indian fans are now calling it, a batsman deserving a hundred). The other possibility - Randiv denying Sehwag a hundred by concealing the no-ball to make it seem unintentional (or, better, a fast bowler going millimetres rather than inches over the bowling crease) is something that would either not be detected or would qualify itself for the "believable accident" category.

And, at the end of the day, that's what's bothering us about this. That the intention was clear but the execution was so hopelessly conspicuous that no condonation was ever possible. In most such cases, if the intention is there, then the bowler, however new to international cricket, is easily capable of making it appear accidental. But, much like Michael Schumacher's ill-judged lunge down Jacques Villeneuve's Williams past Dry Sack corner at Jerez in the 1997 F1 World Championship decider, the panic of a rushed execution (and, very possibly, a rushed debate with his own conscience while he was ambling in to bowl that last ball) produced an error big enough for the world to see, see again and again, judge and call a foul.

Such execution is not always rushed. Indeed, there is a growing mountain of evidence to suggest that Sri Lanka have done this to Indian batsmen at least twice before: Sourav Ganguly being left 98* with India chasing in the fourth innings of a Test at Kandy in 2001 and, more recently, to Sachin Tendulkar in a one-day match (described in hilarious detail by my good friend Varun Rajiv here). However, it is impossible to talk of punishment for something like this because, like I've already said, Randiv might not have executed it well, but others (like Lasith Malinga in the Tendulkar case) may well do. Essentially, this is one of those heat of the moment situations and, go ask Sangakkara or Randiv or Dilshan (if he is, indeed, the one who pushed Randiv to do it) behind the scenes with no cameras and they'll tell you that if there was a chance of getting away with it without getting caught then, in the heat of the moment, they'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Further, if we pursue the punishment-for-arranging-results argument to its logical conclusion, (I know this isn't the most obvious instance but) shouldn't Javagal Srinath have been similarly censured for bowling ball after ball far outside off stump at Waqar Younis so as to enable Anil Kumble to get Wasim Akram out at the other end and so complete his extraordinary 10 for 74 at the Feroz Shah Kotla in 1999? If 'not trying' is an allegation worthy of punishment, then call off the majority of 50 over matches halfway and suspend the team that's losing (or call off any 50 over match involving Bangladesh or any non-Test playing nation!) for 'not trying'. Because, though they'll bound by contract not to admit it, losing hope in cricket is not hard to do.

The pettiness that has emerged as being ingrained in the Sri Lankan team in seeking to deny a batsman a hundred is a judgement that everyone will make, whether they want to or not. And that, I think, is punishment enough.    

Monday, August 09, 2010

Jump

O: You know, you're just so insensitive sometimes. And I know you and it's not because you don't care.
E: You know, that made no sense at all.
O: No, my point is that one moment, you give me the impression that everything's perfect and the next, it's all like you don't even know me.
E: That's not true. It's just that what I'm willing to sacrifice for people depends on who they are and what they're asking for.
O: Does that mean that even if I ask you for something, you'd say no?
E: Well, that depends on what you're asking for.
O (sadly): Haww! So if I said 'jump', you wouldn't say 'how high'?
E: No, if you said 'jump', I'd say 'Van Halen'.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Dedic - Making Amends for 5/26/09

There’s nothing two people can do that will ensure that they will stay close forever but hesitating in doing something that they know is necessary can make failure certain. Last night, I had the toughest of conversations about precisely such a friendship, the future of which has been weighing heavily on my thoughts over the last few days.

Over the last couple of years, I have been extremely, and often unjustly, critical of people around me who become close due to circumstances alone but, looking back at it, it is impossible for me to now see this as a denial of the fact that we too, were brought together by circumstances and it is incredibly unlikely that our story would have played out the way it has if those circumstances had not been present. This (or at least as I saw it) almost involuntary participation in getting to know practically everything worth knowing about her also doubled up as a devious bit of camouflage because it made me blind to the fact that I was much closer to her than I initially realized. I think every bit of friction we have since encountered can be traced back to my refusal to recognize that, even if I did not want it, I meant the world to her.

Since then, however, silent admiration has been pretty much a one way street. Her feelings were made very clear to me in a letter handed to me under high drama outside the exam hall and ended with me walking out clutching the letter and wondering how exactly I had managed to do this to myself. The truth, however, is that I had brought all of it upon myself and my incredulity deserved no more than the sympathy that someone playing with fire deserves when he gets burnt.

There were things about her that infuriated me but, crucially, not too many of them concerned her behaviour towards me. But I really cannot remember ever telling her that. I cannot remember one instance when I provided a “eventually, you decide” caveat to my outbursts against her. And she would listen to me patiently, give my rambling criticisms more thought and attention that I had ever given them and never walked away from what was, I realize now, an utter mess of a situation.

I do not, for a minute, think that she has ever believed in moderation. Unfortunately, moderation is a belief so central to my existence that it interferes with my ability to evaluate what people do. My father has always told me that you should always think in terms of people doing good and bad things and not in terms of good and bad things that people do making them good or bad people. But I have never done that consistently. Tellingly, with her, I have never done that, full stop.

What people often mistake to be her ruthlessness and single mindedness towards personal goals, I have come to understand, is actually just the working world manifestation of fairly wonderful and infectious zest for life and a desire to make the most out of every situation. For someone like me, whose general compatibility with other people is based on painfully narrow and obtuse criteria, her miracle of an attitude presented a huge problem. I wanted her to fit in, of that there could be no doubt now. There had been so many times that she had chosen to stay with me rather than attend to infinitely more important things that even the doubter in me could not question her commitment. Perhaps even more than that, she had demonstrated time and again that it was possible to take her exuberance (our latest description of her attitude) and dedicate it to other people and extract out of them some pretty impossible results.

She was always willing to listen, always willing to learn, always willing to use her superior knowledge of Google to download songs I could not access. I would say and think negative things about her but she would rationalize such things for what they were – useless and ultimately damaging lies about a world I could not bear to see changing. I had no idea of knowing then that she would settle down so quickly into the kind of life she has and I had no idea that she was as fiercely proud of and loyal to her close friends as she has proved to be. Indeed, about a year and a half ago, I was still searching for that damaging bit of knowledge about her life that I needed to prove that she was ordinary.

This search made me lose sight of what our friendship had been about all along and if I had only recognized then that my attraction for her was based on the fact that I was seeking solace with her because she represented this readymade refuge, I would have shown her a lot more honesty and fairness than I have. Far from it, I panicked at the thought of having such influence over someone I thought was no less than an absolute gem of a human being. I could have done any number of things that would have, on any day, been better than my eventual decision of more unwarranted and personal criticism but, most of all, I really wish I had just told her that this kind of responsibility frightened me. I am convinced that she would have known how to react to that situation and that, eventually, she would have seen my feeble attempts at questioning her integrity as the rare but legitimate manifestations of insecurity that they were. But I did not tell her. And that has brought us to today.

We had agreed that, when I wrote this, I would write no more than a thousand words and, seeing as I am fast approaching that mark now, though I could go on and on, I think this is where I will stop. So this is it.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Tales from South Africa - Constitutional Hill

Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg is far more significant than it looks at first glance. The main complex houses the active South African Constitutional Court which is located in an inner chamber, to access which one needs to go through a central hallway decorated with South African art and several paintings synonymous with the birth of the European modern art movement in the late 19th century which have been acquired by the South African government at great cost over the last half a century or so. The central hallway also features a hall-of-fame gallery of all the judges who have served at the Constitutional Court and the unbelievably long display aisle down the left side of the central hallway features original documents, statutes, briefs and judgements which the Constitutional Court has passed in the last decade and a half.

The rest of Constitutional Hill consists of the Johannesburg Central Jail used during the Apartheid era. Walking through the Central Jail, my feeling of amazement at the kind of suffering African and Asian prisoners had to suffer gradually turned to disgust and, as I unlocked every passing door to reveal room after room with no ventilation, light or sanitation, eventually to suffocation. As I walked deeper and deeper into these long, dark abysses, I was overcome by the intractable feeling of utter loneliness. The lone windows in the hostage spaces in Cell Block Four (whose inmates included Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi) are located in the southern corner, about eight feet above ground level and are no wider than a wooden two-by-four. Yet the inside, outside and perimeter of each window frame in each cubicle in Cell Block Four is dotted with fingernail marks of the countless thousands who dreamt of escaping, as improbable as the thought was. Or perhaps struggling to hang by the window frames just to see what the world outside looked like.

Discrimination pervades every imaginable aspect of the Central Jail – jail cells, food, showers, work, art, interaction, movement, social cohesion, scheduling of activities, festivals, violence and torture were all marked by differential treatment for native African prisoners and others. The current Central Jail tour dedicates one stop each to every one of these types of discrimination and far from forcing the fact of discrimination down one’s throat, I found these divisive and often devilish practices of the Apartheid regime to be an absolute revelation. The recorded tapes carrying the voices of prisoners who survived to see a new South Africa recounting their experiences at Johannesburg Central add a surreal, echoing presence to every jail courtyard and solitary confinement cell. The words of the prisoners rebound off the walls and are literally everywhere but I was struck by how unnecessary it was for them to recount anything at all. The singular design behind the prison practices was sickeningly obvious already – to extract every bit of hope and belief from the prisoners that there was any point in living. Even those prisoners who weren’t tortured were given compelling reasons to believe in their hearts that their lives had no purpose, that they would never see their families again, that they would be locked in dark rooms with nothing for company except their own thoughts and would be left as such until such time as their thoughts started corroding their own beings and turned cancerous. Indeed, even though the quality of the prison infrastructure was extremely good, the rates of suicide within the four walls of Johannesburg Central were among the highest of any prison in the world at the peak of Apartheid oppression.

It is this imposition of a life without meaning that has had a visible impact on South African rights jurisprudence. Their forms of torture may not have been as infamous, their targets of imprisonment may not have been as politically motivated and their colonial governments may not have been as oppressive but their denial of rights and liberty was demoralizing and soul-shattering in an absolute sense, compared with any colonial regime anywhere in the world. And this realization reflects itself in the understanding the South African Constitutional Court has displayed of the right to life and basic liberties. Stellar judgements in State v. Makwanyane (1995, abolition of death penalty), Hoffman v. South African Airways (2000, HIV/AIDS as an invalid ground of discrimination for employment), Government of the Republic of South Africa v. Grootboom (2000, shelter facilities for slum dwellers– I’ve been fascinated by the subject-matter of the case ever since reading an excellent appraisal of this judgement for Law, Poverty & Development class in third year) and Minister of Health v. Treatment Action Campaign (2002, access to life-saving drugs) reflect a point of view that may be pioneering as far as rights jurisprudence around the world is concerned but, within the South African legal fraternity, is seen a basic minimum duty that every judge at the Constitutional Court swears to uphold when he or she takes the high chair every morning. Analytically, South African rights jurisprudence has been praised by persons much more knowledgeable and articulate than myself for its zero tolerance towards discrimination in any form and the hard line it has taken on ensuring that social and economic rights are strongly allied to civil and political rights however heavy the social and financial burden of guaranteeing such an amalgam to every wronged citizen maybe. Nevertheless, I feel that several nations that look upon South Africa as the beacon for the realization of social, economic and other community rights in the third world, don’t fully appreciate how central a motivation to precisely such a realization historical experiences such as those expressed by Constitutional Hill really are. The highest of highs often spring from the lowest of lows but even countries like India which have experienced lows which easily rival, if not surpass, the South African experience, cannot, hand on heart, claim that the ideal of the independent citizen has been so central to their conception of a free nation. The difference, sadly, lies in the fact that our freedom movement, which is so often seen as an example of the triumphant victory of means over ends, never committed itself to the realization of such a collective ideal – something so widely cherished, nurtured and, indeed, developed over decades of struggle – and tempered by the humble understanding that independence was not a destination but an ever-evolving challenge.

I am more convinced now than ever before that it is only in viewing freedom for all citizens as precisely such a challenge that this nonsense about first- and second-generation rights and their prioritization can be brought to an end. In terms of social and economic rights, the South African story hasn’t, as most people believe, been a success because of some divine conception of rights but more a result of the zeal (or desperation, whichever way you look at it) to ensure that the basis for rights and entitlements is dictator-proof. Predictably, this has proved to be easy to grant but hard to guarantee. Frances, our cab driver during our tour to Constitutional Hill, is one of several million people in South Africa who applied from government accommodation in 1995 but still earns a living for his wife and four kids under the constant threat of being evicted by his white landlord and anyone who has seen urban Soweto first-hand can attest to the fact that the lives of nearly a quarter of South Africa’s 40-50 million population is a daily battle against poverty, disease, drug addiction and prostitution. Yet, the Constitutional Court continues to fight the good fight, even if it is one litigant at a time. It’s one of those rare instances when “nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be so hard” actually rings true.

And so, South Africa continues to straddle the line between global leader as a welfare government and independent nation still haunted by a traumatic past riddled with discrimination. The delusional schemes of long-dead South African freedom fighters – sampled by everything from tanks made out of blankets to patriotic poetry scribbled on the walls of the jail courtyards at Johannesburg Central– live side-by-side with the judicial heroes over at the Constitutional Court, no more than a few metres away. It’s difficult to imagine the Indian Supreme Court being located right next to Kala Pani but, adjusting for magnitude and location, that is precisely the contradiction that South Africa stands for today.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Parting Shot



We watched FIFA World Cup matches on successive nights in two of the biggest stadiums in the world, we went on a day-long adventure trip which took us ninety kilometres away and sixty metres underground and nearly got lost for good on the way back, we saw some of the most beautiful views that we agree we've ever seen but this is probably going to be my defining memory of South Africa 2010.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

As I'm Leaving

For the record, I hate the David Gray song. But as I'm leaving, I think of the unity and the bickering, the frenzy and the calm, the big hits and the near misses, the wonderful people and the more wonderful people.

Indeed, one big thing I've learnt from college is that people respond to be trusted, that an arm over the shoulder to literally anyone, putting them at the centre of the conversation, leads to some excellent results and, perhaps more importantly, some unforgettable friendships.

The other big thing (and this, I suspect, is going to be what I miss the most about law school) is that it never ceases to amaze me how each and every person has a remarkable story to tell. Over five years, I've been absolutely amazed by the kinds of people who I've met here, what motivates them, things they've done and, in some cases, things they plan to do in the future.

My own future is as full of dark alleys and nameless streets as it was when I first came here but there's enough I've picked up over five years that makes me confident that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if there isn't, I'm sure I won't run short on the perseverance to keep trying.

Lastly, to my dear Wujh, I don't know with what intention we were made to get to know each other, but I'm thankful beyond belief that we were. Twenty-six months finally came to the perfect conclusion last night and much like that day, when you got me not to care that there was a Ferrari one-two, last night you got me not to care that Lukas Podolski missed that penalty. There will always be places, times and feelings I'll inextricably associate with you and that, quite simply, is what memories are all about. And memories make the world go round.   

Saturday, June 05, 2010

5YP + 14

I wonder why the students of the fifth year don't win Univ Weeks more often. Time, enthusiasm, know-how and a lack of trepidation all weigh most heavily in favour of the senior-most class.

I'd forgotten what it felt like to be in acad post-12 a.m. I shifted my study base to hostel before this 3 a.m. exam perm business started and honestly, my only memories of post-12 a.m. acad have been in Univ Weeks past and during that infamous dekhte-hain-VC-kya-karega sit-in during second year.

There are few sights in law school (or anywhere, for that matter) more beautiful than watching the sun rise in the morning. As acute as the feeling of having slept in way too often for five years is, even more pronounced is the feeling that these days I'm living right now will never, ever come back.

As much as it has done its best to ruin Univ Week, I'm going to miss the rain in Bangalore and how natural a corrective reaction it seems to be to the slightest warm spell.

A really close friend of mine recently told me how proud she was of me for having survived my rather rough initiation to law school and it got me thinking about how, despite that, of all the things I'd wanted at the end of five years here, unless fate or Exam Department intervenes, I'm ending up with none. But truth be told, if I had a sixth year in law school, I wouldn't mind at all, actually. And that's something I never thought I'd say. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Of Hot Pants, Ke$ha and Breaking Hiatuses

"Univ Week is the only time in the year when law school behaves like a normal college."

And it makes you fall in love with it. Every single time. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hooik-Wheeew!

2010's been about a lot of peaks and a lot of troughs with very little else in between. But have you heard? It's in the stars. Next July we collide with Mars.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Slime Time

It's law school election season again. And the ridiculousness of this charade is more apparent this year than perhaps any year previously. Personally, I'm just glad that, compared with whatever attenuated capacity I have been involved in the past, there is absolutely no compulsion on or interference with my normal life this time around. I suspect that's why it strikes me as being more of a charade this year. There's an ugly sense of self-importance that accompanies every election and, last year in particular, the disguising of personal ambition behind perhaps the most superficially socialist election agendas was, from my openly biased perspective, really pathetic.

My reasons for voting for who I did in the last four years (and only once, in first year, did I get both right and only one other time, last year, did I get even one right) were simple: the President and Vice-President of the National Law School's student body can't really do anything. Indeed, to my mind, if the office holders can do so much as to make sure all Committees work well and achieve success, that'll honestly be their best achievement. (Every year, I've been told that I'm wrong and that there is scope for doing a lot more in office, so if you disagree, I've heard it before and I'm not saying you're wrong.) However, in the exceedingly exceptional circumstance that the office bearers have the opportunity to do something that affects my life directly or if I need to employ their services/goodwill in case of an entanglement with the powers that be, I'd like them to be friends of mine or, in cases where this is impossible, reasonably intelligent people I feel comfortable speaking to freely.

As narrow-minded as I've been (and demonstrated above) about elections, I can't help thinking that half the fun with elections is in recognising or legitimising real characters in law school. Unfortunately, if my sources of goss are correct (and they usually are), I don't see too many characters standing for elections. And that's a shame. 

 

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Comeback of the Year, 2010

Him: I can see [X's new] pictures and you can't, nyah-nyah-nuh-nyah-nyah! :P
Her: I'm not in love with her, you are. So, it doesn't matter :P
Him: I'm not curious, you are. So it does matter.
Her: I can live with curiosity. You can't live with unrequitted love.
Him: Unrequited. Single 't'. :P
Her: In your case it soooooooooo unrequited that it's unrequitted. :P

(c) Sowjhanya Shankaran

One Step Closer

Leeds United came from a goal down to beat Bristol City 2-1 this evening, playing with 10 men for more than an hour, in front of 38,234 people at Elland Road. And the cow has finally, finally jumped over the moon.

"It's been a season of real ups and downs," is what manager Simon Grayson was trying to say before being doused with champagne by Bradley Johnson at the post-match interview and I couldn't agree more. The contrast between the pre- and post-New Year period could not have been greater. Runaway league leaders at the turn of the year having lost just three games in all competitions all season (including a 0-1 at home to Liverpool in the League Cup), that figure turned to thirteen one week ago when Richard Naylor thumped an unstoppable 87th minute header...past Shane Higgs into his own goal.

The disparity between the team and the rest of the league in the back half of 2009 meant, however, that a win on the final day would still be enough to land second, twelve points behind Norwich, who had wrapped up the title three weeks previously. "If you can't win a game at Elland Road, you don't deserve to be promoted" is what I'd been telling myself for the week leading up to tonight. That it happened at all was a small miracle because when Darryl Duffy put Bristol ahead after Max Gradel had been sent off in the first half, my palm instinctively slapped my forehead and I thought, "oh God! It's happening again." I walked off immediately, too nervous to watch the rest of the game. Fifteen minutes later, I received a text message which was like a shot of adrenalin: Leeds were winning 2-1, thanks to (what turned out to be an excellent 20-yard goal from) Jonny Howson, five minutes after coming off the bench and captain-for-the-day J-Beck's 31st of the season. Highlights betray that the half an hour or so that followed wasn't all hands to the pump: Collins hit a post, Becchio missed an easier chance and, generally, it ought to have been more than 2-1, if anything.

And so, the three years in League One have a happy enough ending: something I didn't foresee when Leeds started the 2007-08 season on -15. A lot will change at the club over the summer: Jermaine Beckford will leave, there will be a fair bit of transfer wheeling and dealing and maybe Ken Bates will finally have the courtesy to let us know exactly who it is that owns the club. I'm also really optimistic about the Championship next season, partly because it's been pretty much the same sixteen or seventeen teams that've just stayed there for the longest time and therefore a fresh team putting together a run could easily jump into contention for the Premier League playoff positions and stay there all season. And partly because this team beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and drew with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Line this season without really playing above its ability. There was the unmistakable feeling of "we're too good to be celebrating this" at all the post-match conferences and that speaks of a quiet confidence that's taken a huge beating since that epochal win at Old Trafford on the first Sunday of 2010 but is still sufficient to make me believe that it is the top half of the league table that I will continue to check for the fourth season in a row.

Now, as a friend suggested, if the Red Bulls were to suddenly lose pace tomorrow evening, it would turn out to be a great weekend indeed!  

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Thoo.

I really should've written this even before the "awesome" post. Simply put, I've come to the inescapable conclusion that the language rut that chronically plagues The Establishment isn't just restricted to an overuse of tired adjectives where an adjective is necessary, it even extends to placeholders in certain set language typologies used in a way so as to render the placeholder entirely (no pun intended; used in the proper sense) irrelevant.

The ways in which this devalues our language are numerous but I'll restrict myself to the most common types. Exhibit P1, ladies and gentlemen, is "whole". Exhibit P2, if you can detect the aroma of my culinary efforts, is "entire". The typology I'm referring to, of course, is the general assertion: "the idea", "the thing" and, perhaps most irritatingly, "the point". (It always annoys me when people say "the point is that". As if you know what "the" point is. In fact, I'm pretty sure you don't know what "the" point is and I refuse to submit to any form of thought that tends to imply that you know what the point is. I'm old and bitter. Say it.)

Marry the two sets and you arrive upon such eloquent speech patterns as "the whole idea", "the entire idea", "the whole thing", "the whole point", "the entire point" and so on and so forth until you puke (I resist cracking an ad nauseam joke). And it's everywhere. Students do it, teachers do it, people trying to sound intelligent do it, legitimately intelligent people do it, absolutely everyone.

P.S. "Sir, can't you just admit that the whole purpose of China's economy is to exploit its labour?"
"Whole purpose, huh?"
"Yeah, well, part of the purpose, at least?"
"That's more like it. But no. I disagree."  

Friday, May 07, 2010

On the 2010 Draft and the Creative Black Hole that is now WWE

I'm incredibly surprised that the second generation of viewers of professional wrestling on cable TV still divide their impressions of wrestling into a tired, two-step formulation: either side of the Attitude era. To my mind, just as important to the evolution of the product was Vince McMahon's famous "shake things up" speech on MNR with the roster surrounding the ring. Taking this speech to be as relevant as I insist it is would split the last fifteen years into not two but four distinct phases: the pre-Attitude era, the Attitude era, the post-Invasion era and the post-annual Draft era.

The need for VKM's shake up were obvious: the brand split put immense amounts of pressure on the shrinking upper card that had notably lost Austin (to injury) and The Rock (to Hollywood) and there were fears that the mid-card wasn't going to generate enough interesting feuds or prepare enough talent for the upper card if everyone had to swim for survival and consequently suffocated in the four hours of TV time.

But what have we come to in a few short years? The only big movers in the 2010 Draft were Edge, Jericho and Morrison, who now join Orton, Batista, Sheamus, Hunter and, of course, Cena on an increasingly overpopulated upper card on MNR. It means, in all probability, whichever way you look at it, that a mid-card exile is in store for the majority of these eight because it hardly seems credible or likely that more than three of them will populate the title picture at any given time, especially now, since Swagger cashed in his title shot and is now conveniently on SD!

That leaves me to contemplate the immediate future of SD! which will now most likely feature the two highest (the quality of talent going the other way forces the use of a comparative) profile Draft picks: Kingston and Christian. That appears horribly desperate, unless they have some mega plan in mind, such as (and I know I'm dreaming here) one final, well-overdue world title assault by either Kane or Big Show. I doubt they do. In which case, I'd like someone to show me how the business end of this now evidently little league show, for the foreseeable future at least, is going to amount to anything more than "here you go, Jack! Beat this guy!"

The one game-changer I've left out of this depressingly bleak forecast is The Undertaker and my reason for doing so is simple: he's not going to move from Friday nights anytime soon, he's not going to be at too many Friday nights either and when he next picks a fight with someone (presumably for Summerslam), I doubt it's going to be with Swagger/whoever else is holding the gold because I have enough faith that he's going to use the rest of his time at the top to build rather than destroy. And hey, I've marked out for him my whole life but his (count them) four runs with the Big Gold Belt since his return at Wrestlemania XX have made even me a little apologetic. And to think that this brand split only happened because they couldn't find a guy to do both shows every week as champion following Big Evil's phenomenal heel run back in '01. Ironic, that.

So, we're back where we started, staring at the unbelievable but very real prospect of Orton and Edge fighting over...nothing. Don't shout it out just yet, but it may well be time for some title unifications.

(c) Eashan Ghosh, 2010.            

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thread, Dragged, Lives, Red, Our, Across

I've been weighing up social choices for a while now and I think I've managed to articulate the conclusion that has been nagging me all this time. I know it sounds incredibly aspirational, but I simply cannot stand being around people who have no obvious talents or knowledge.

Which is why a lot of what has happened over the last month or so suddenly starts to make sense. A complete social recasting is now due. And it starts in late June. After what promises to be eight weeks of absolute madness: the end of five years at law school, followed by South Africa.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Silence


Eddie, Chris, my friends, I will be with you soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Vindication via text message, no greater than fourteen characters

To the best of my recollection, I've only written about expectation from personal relationships twice before. Once, really directly, in July last year and once more, really tangentially, in December last year. The second experience was, like I said then, more a matter of awe than of broken expectation but the first one, the July one, took much longer to get over. And this evening, it confronted me again.

I know it is horribly self-congratulatory, but I really do believe I've grown up a lot since last July. Realising that no solution was ever going to really suffice, I decided that I would just do my best to make the most of any such situation and look on the bright side once the moment had passed. It wasn't, I admit, particularly original or brilliant, but I figured that, given my obvious weakness with regard to this sort of thing, we'd both be best served if I just chose to give myself up to loneliness and work hard.

But a close relationship, whatever it means to you, isn't ever that simple. And, slowly but surely, my "give yourself up to loneliness and work hard" mantra evolved into "give yourself up to loneliness and work hard, but when you can, give it some effort, give it some time, be a little selfless and don't get upset quite so much".

However, the last six months or so have made me realise that perhaps a lot more that is between us is compromisable. A lot more than I initially thought, anyway. And because it has happened slowly (and every step along the way has been explained to me with a patience that I find truly admirable), it hasn't triggered my irrational sense of self-worth so much. In fact, far from it, I've been able to accept all this and apply the modified mantra afresh every time it hasn't quite worked out.

This evening again, that expectation came knocking. And as I soaked in the joy of the McLaren one-two at Shanghai, took in Arsenal's implosion after being two-up at Wigan and watched helplessly as Delhi batted themselves right out of the IPL, quietly, in the back of my mind and thirteen kilometres away, equally quietly, in the back of her mind, we saw the expectation slide away into obvilion.

But the way I just described it makes it sound a lot more depressing than it actually is. It isn't depressing at all, in fact. Because as we watched what was meant to be six hours shrink to what eventually became no more than five minutes (with a forty-five second interruption), we became increasingly certain that those five minutes would end in a smile.

And even though it brought home to me more sharply the fact that I'm leaving in exactly two months, if I was put in that moment again, I'd take the five minutes every day over any six-hour long grand plans that my old enemy--expectation--might tempt me with.   

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You're Gonna Need the Good Lord to Help You

About ten days ago, buried deep in the Music folder on my laptop that I rarely visit, I found The Raconteurs and decided to give them another try. I'd heard bits and pieces from their previous album and had downloaded "Old Enough" on an impulse about a year back, having heard it playing on Vh1 after coming home from my Luthra internship one rainy evening.

One thing that really hits you about Consolers of the Lonely is how obviously indie it is and tries to be. Not surprisingly, this is a good and a bad thing. That I've been moved to write this at all is proof that it is more good than bad, given the fact that I have the musical taste the width of a peanut.

There are five stellar songs on this album, more than any other album in recent times that I've had the patience to listen to. Leaving aside my classification of "Old Enough" as one of these five, based, as it is, purely on the repetitive good feeling that TV overkill manages to generate (a feature that many people cite as the only possible explanation for Rihanna's "Umbrella" being even remotely tolerated by humanity), I have, believe it or not, been genuinely moved by the other four songs.

Normally, to consider "Top Yourself" a good song after listening to "Old Enough" would be akin to liking Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" immediately after complementing "Clocks" for the masterpiece that it is, so similar are the two in most material particulars. What makes "Top Yourself" worthwhile, however, is the gnarling arrogance that makes it a tough sell to practically anyone apart from people like me.

I'm pretty sure, though, that "Consoler of the Lonely" and "You Don't Understand Me" are more amenable to popular acclaim, particularly the latter for its mesmerising piano and off-key harmony. The album also contains the best closing song I've heard in a while--"Carolina Drama"--which is like a cross between Eminem's "Stan" and Robbie Williams' "Me and My Monkey", while staying true to the rough-around-the-edges feel to the group that has only been enhanced by the comfortably decent "The Switch and the Spur", "Many Shades of Black" and "Rich Kid Blues". I can also imagine why "Five on the Five" and "These Stones Will Shout" have proven to be live hits among the unique sub-culture that is defined as fans of The Raconteurs, but I have a bit of trouble digesting what strikes me as being incredibly wasteful music--a judgement I can only pass generously on "Salute Your Solution", the first single off Consolers of the Lonely.

But there's something about this band. Something very greatest hits-ey. Like a breath of fresh air that accompanies long-awaited rain. Like it is right now, outside my room. :)        

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blasphemy

It's not the heathen in me, it's just that I've been bleeding lately. Internally.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Are you feeling what I'm feeling, King?"

I'm shivering with anticipation for Wrestlemania 26. Really, really shivering.

There's a great six match undercard (including a mouthwatering 10 man Money in the Bank featuring, inter alia, Shelton Benjamin, Kane, Kofi Kingston and my man Christian), a Divas match isn't one of them, there are no scheduled or advertised celebrity appearances for fake glamour. The storylines have been tight, the promos have been the best in years and everyone in the company seems to be hitting their performance peaks at just the right time. It should be just straight-up, good, old-fashioned rasslin'.

The consensus among the dirtsheets (no, not The Sun or even ProWrestling Illustrated) reckons that this could be as good as X-Seven. It's also the end of a personal journey. I've missed more pay-per-views in my time in law school than ever before, but I can think back to memories over the last five years that will forever be associated with some very special people and some utterly unforgettable wrestling matches.

There's a good chance that, if the University of Phoenix doesn't turn up something memorable this Sunday, I'll probably want to try and run down, if not forget, my last-ever law school Wrestlemania. But that's precisely why I'm writing this now. I want to be able to look back at this and remember how pumped I was.

Because it might not mean anything at all to the layman, but to me, for the next seventy-two hours (and very possibly for at least a couple of weeks after) not much else will matter.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alibi Afternoon

I got the security guard to break open my room lock with a metal rod and a brick at 1.30 a.m. last night. And here I thought life would get boring in my last term in college.

I also learnt the virtues of the Non-Veg Pranzo today, in addition to realising that Indian cinema needs more experiments like Love, Sex Aur Dhoka.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Do you realise why I'm hugging you?"

It's at times like these that Moby's immortal line "don't nobody know my troubles but God" comes to mind.

And to think that I almost messed it up.

There's a lot of relief, gratitude and trepidation in my heart right now, all in equal measure. But for now, I will close my eyes and expect, like I've always done, that tomorrow is going to be made up of twenty-four hours I haven't seen yet.

Maybe the Shirdi Sai Baba is never wrong after all. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

V, XV

I'm back in Bangalore for my last ever term in college. I checked my timetable today and even with a compulsory course eight hours a week, I have two days off, two days when I have two hours of class from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and three other days when the earliest I have to make it in to class is 11.20 a.m.

And yet, somehow, the promised land of fifth year, third trimester seems utterly pointless.

I received a message from a friend two nights ago that talked about a foreboding, an impending sense of doom. And though, as usual, I did the best I could to assuage fears, a very soft but decisive voice in my head told me I was making it all up.

I can hear construction motors smoothing over the new floor tiles in the hostel, I can feel the tubelight above my head flickering in disappointment and I look out my window into the other hostel and find two rooms with lights on and nobody home.

That last bit is exactly how I feel right now.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Issued in the interest of Rin users

If there's one aspect of my approach to legal learning I'll happily take criticism for (aside from my sub-zero levels of knowledge of Indian public law) it's that my interest in intellectual property rights is too academic and not practical enough. I happily/illegally download music off the net, I liberally use products with obviously fake trademarks and, in general, am no more discerning than the average Indian couch potato (a category, sadly, that I'm not yet qualified/fat enough for).

However, having endured Spain hammer India 5-2 last night, I sat down in front of the telly with my mum and grandmum (with my brother playing WWE Raw v. Smackdown! 2010 on his PSP by the plug point on the side) waiting for them to finish watching 12/24 Karol Bagh on Zee TV so that I could take over at 11 to watch Apolo Ohno on The Tonight Show with a returning Jay Leno (okay fine, I was also curious about what song Avril Lavigne would sing. There. I said it.)

As you can imagine, trying to understand the complications of the relationships on the Zee show proved to be far too difficult for a person with little understanding of real relationships and I was about to turn to the fridge to get some guava juice when I was stopped in my tracks by an advertisement.

Two mothers are waiting at a bus-stop for their kids to return from school. They're carrying a basket each. Both baskets are full of clothes and one mother's basket has a Rin packet on top of it while the other mother's basket has a Tide packet on top of it, crucially, all in clear view (what mothers are doing with laundry at a bus-stop waiting to pick up their kids is besides the point, of course). The Tide mom's kid emerges first from the bus wearing what can generously be described as an incredibly soiled version of what used to be a white shirt. The Rin mom's kid appears from behind him in a flash, with the traditional blazing white which all detergent manufacturers promise us but which we all know doesn't exist in reality. The Rin kid asks his mom why Tide aunty is so stunned and that's when the one-two punch hits you. One, the voice-over guy says something along the lines of "kyunki Rin Tide se behtar hai" followed by the kicker--the last screen in the ad features a black screen with a Rin packet with the words "issued in the interest of Rin users" in white lettering.

Put up your hand if you think this is a violation of the objective test for product disparagement arrived at by a joint reading of Section 29(8) and 30(1) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. That's right. Both my hands are up too. However, Indian Courts seem to have been reluctant to follow the line of cases that, in truth, begins from White v. Mellin in 1895 and seemed to have been put to bed beyond a shadow of a doubt in Erven Warnink (the Advocaat case) in the late 1970s.

Indeed, my pro-consumerism blood boiled long enough at the Rin fiasco for me to run to Manupatra and find 1999's Reckit & Colman v. VG Ramachandran (which I'd actually prepped to present during the IPR TAship) actually permits what Rin is doing. However, it also goes on to say that a trader, in trying to highlight that his goods are better than his competitor's, ever say that his competitor's goods are bad. Surely, Tide boy with the soiled brown shirt is a direct enough way of saying Tide sucks. Surely, it fits comfortably within any sane understanding of product disparagement with room to spare. Surely, Tide are going to take Rin to Court.

I laughed long and hard at the Rin ad and almost missed the irony of a Tide ad following immediately after and sticking to the good old-fashioned, straight-laced method of advertisement--showing that your product rules, in objective terms. My brother, who, for a twelve-year-old kid, has a remarkable eye for pop culture-related legal news, reliably informed me that a similar case of product mudslinging between Horlicks and Complan has, in fact, been taken to Court, based on disparaging cross-ads reminiscent of the Pepsi/Sprite and Hero Honda/Bajaj brand wars of the late 1990s.

To make things worse, I also saw an Asian Paints advert selling its 'Colour Stay' paint set to Ric Flair's decades-old theme song. There is no justice in this world!   

P.S. Karthik Calling Karthik isn't as bad as people say it is, though Farhan Akhtar (and I don't care what people say he is) is the biggest casting mistake in the movie. Imagine how good it could've been if a decent actor played that role.

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

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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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