Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brave New India?

Ajinkya Rahane (24, Mumbai; RHB, RM)
Young, hungry, agile, enthusiastic, tons of first-class runs, comfortable in a variety of batting slots, in different formats, playing different types of innings – quite possibly India’s next big batting superstar. Even by the perverse yardsticks that are commonly applied to select Test cricketers for India, no reason justifies why Rahane is not playing Test cricket right now.

Abhinav Mukund (22, Tamil Nadu; LHB, LS)
Another one who got screwed over on limited opportunities in tough conditions during the 0-4 reverse in England. His 49 at Lord’s last year was an innings of genuine long-term encouragement on a tour where such moments were rare and a few decent, new ball blunting starts in the West Indies tour preceding England offered more avenues to believe that persevering with him might have been fruitful. However, was dropped in favour of the return to action of the Gambhir/Sehwag axis, which has, in infinitely helpful conditions, delivered bugger-all since then. Still only 22 and with recent runs in New Zealand for India A and the visiting Englishmen in the now-infamous ‘no spinners’ practice game, he definitely merits another look-in at Test level. 

Wriddhiman Saha (28, Bengal; RHB, WK)
Dhoni’s backup has consistently delivered on his rather limited billing ever since he started in first-class cricket and there isn’t an obvious flaw in either his keeping or batting to suggest that delivering at Test level is beyond him. Stuck it to an excellent Aussie attack for nearly two-and-a-half hours in an Adelaide Test whose headlines were usurped by the tamasha around Virat Kohli’s first Test hundred, which should’ve been his bar mitzvah into Test cricket but hasn’t been given a chance since. Has an assurance and certainty to his overall cricket that would make it a tragedy if his Test career were to be remembered by the catastrophic selection mistake that resulted in him making his Test debut as a No. 7 batsman in an innings defeat by the South Africans in Nagpur in early 2010.

Praveen Kumar (26, Uttar Pradesh; RHB, RMF)
Hard to figure out who he has ticked off to be so suddenly and resolutely ignored by the selectors. Following six wickets on Test debut at Sabina Park, PK was India’s best bowler by a country mile in the 0-4 in England last summer and has the ideal bowling style to deliver long spells in trying conditions, home and abroad. His effort and performances post-national selection purgatory have been above reproach, even as bigger stars have been dropped and re-picked without putting in a fraction of his effort. Also, given the increasing emphasis in big-time cricket on batting deep, has demonstrated his hitting ability consistently enough to suggest that he could slot in as a very handy No. 8 or No. 9. Probably the closest to being an automatic pick in this lineup.

Manoj Tiwary (27, Bengal; RHB, LS)
Famously dropped after scoring a one-day century against the West Indies, has simply not been given enough opportunities to let him build on his top-notch domestic record and frankly frightening hitting ability. Has been shunted around the Indian set-up extremely unfairly. With the Yuvrajs and Rainas hopefully confined to an extended spell outside Test cricket, maybe it’s time to finally give him a run.

R Vinay Kumar (28, Karnataka; RHB, RMF)
RVK was thrown in at the deep end in Perth and was thus, by association, part of the collective 0-4 failure in Australia. There’s a lot more to his bowling than that, of course, but it hasn’t made an impression on a selectoral roster that continues to be inexplicably obsessed with proven failures like Ishant Sharma. Did well in New Zealand for India A and has started this domestic campaign brightly at the helm of an excellent Karnataka side. His experience and, recently acquired leadership skills could be an extremely valuable asset to the Indian set-up but is another who, at 28, is fast running out of time. 

Pankaj Singh (27, Rajasthan; RHB, RFM)
Is fast approaching Goel/Shivalkar levels in terms of being ignored by national selectors. On statistics alone, has a compelling case for being India’s most effective fast bowler – 16 five-fors in 66 first class games contributing to a staggering 247 wickets at 26.02, at the time of writing. Has been arguably the primary reason Rajasthan are now relevant to Ranji Trophy cricket, proving to be extremely dangerous with new ball and old. The reasons he has been sidelined so far can’t be isolated well but certainly point to playing for a traditionally unfancied state, being a bit of a late developer (now 27) or maybe, cruelly, simply not ‘looking like a star’. Ideally suited to the longer version and absolutely worth a longish run in the Test team.

Abhishek Nayar (29, Mumbai; LHB, RM)
Needs his chance to come now and needs to take it. Equally comfortable attacking or defending, has played the lone hand as frequently as he has grabbed the initiative in seven excellent seasons for Mumbai so far. Started out – and still remains useful – as a medium-pacer and is one of the few all-round domestic cricketers who you suspect would look in place at the highest level.

Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (22, Uttar Pradesh; RHB, RMF)
A certain “B Kumar” has been popping up increasingly frequently in those two-line Ranji Trophy match summaries in newspapers the last couple seasons. While still very much a work-in-progress, has been delivering with the new ball on flat decks in a way that suggests that he is very much a natural at what he does. The natural bit applies to his batting too, though the bowling load has meant he has thrown away a lot of promising batting starts due to a lack of concentration or tiredness or both. Also has a bit of flair about his cricket and comes across as a very humble guy – two qualities that certainly merit a longish rope, whenever it is given. Well worth a punt at some point in the near future.  

Amit Mishra (30, Haryana; RHB, LS)
Over 30 years of age, was bludgeoned for 0/170 in his last Test at The Oval, no value-add to the team if his bowling flops. However, still carrying a Haryana attack punching above its weight, still turning in the kind of effort that supposedly ‘more gifted’ spinners don’t dare contemplate, still extremely valuable in the IPL where playing a leggie is often seen as giving the opposition 24 free-hits, still has the most unreadable googly on the domestic circuit. Can certainly do a job for India – just don’t play him in a Test in England ever again.

Akshat Reddy (21, Hyderabad; RHB, LS)
Captain of Hyderabad at 21, was one of the few occasional bright spots in a dismal final IPL campaign for the Deccan Chargers. Only a few matches into his first-class career, has already demonstrated the ability to stay big against fast bowlers, hit big runs, plan an innings well and force the pace when necessary. Wouldn’t necessarily walk into the Test team straight away but could well become a class opener across formats. 

Mandeep Singh (21, Punjab; RHB, RM)
Mandy is fast becoming an irreplaceable part of Punjab’s highly-rated batting unit and his IPL displays over the last couple seasons have shown that he certainly has the skill set to make the top level. Hit a breathtaking double hundred away at Mumbai earlier this month against a bowling attack of Agarkar, Kulkarni, Powar and Chavan. Has the potential to become an excellent middle-order option.

Sandeep Sharma (19, Punjab; RHB, RM)
Punjab cricket’s bright young thing has had among the more remarkable introductions to first-class cricket in the past few years. On the back of an extremely impressive showing at the U-19 World Cup in Australia, has already grabbed 37 wickets in this season’s Ranji Trophy – including a devastating 10-for against Vidarbha – and we’re only in mid-December. Could be totally the wrong time to capitalize on his promise or, with the soon-to-visit Aussies demonstrating continued susceptibility to the moving ball, could be India’s hidden secret.

CM Gautam (26, Karnataka; RHB, WK)
One of the more left-field picks of the lot but one based on an eyebrow-raising start to this first-class season, which has featured an unbeaten hundred away to Tamil Nadu, an aggressive second-innings 70-odd against a promising Delhi attack which set up a convincing win and a demoralizing nine-and-a-half-hour, 257-run pulverization of Vidarbha. Now firmly established as first-choice as Karnataka launch a genuine tilt at this season’s Ranji Trophy. 
Possible Survivors:
Virat Kohli (24, Delhi)
Enough and more has been said about his attitude and the time he is taking to adapt to Test cricket, but is ambitious, aggressive and unstoppable when on form. Will – and should, on merit – feature in India’s best XI going forward.

Cheteshwar Pujara (24, Saurashtra)
Deserves an extended run based on his recent Test performances at home. Doubts persist about his ability to play quality fast bowling – he was turned over with embarrassing ease when he toured South Africa with the Test team in 2010. His next trip to South Africa with the Test team will make or break him and he should stay in and around the team until then.

Umesh Yadav (25, Vidarbha)
India’s best fast bowler right now, bar none. Wants to remain a fast bowler, come what may. That second sentence may well turn out to be more important than the first.

Pragyan Ojha (26, Hyderabad)
Is the best of a bad lot on current form. Needs helpful conditions to be effective but will do a job even in unhelpful ones. His Test career needs to take him outside the sub-continent for him to be a part of India’s best team long-term.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ready to Rumble

WWE's Tribute To The Troops is in the rear-view mirror, CM Punk's emergency knee surgery has been successful and there will be no WWE Championship defence at TLC.
January 27; Phoenix, Arizona. Cannot wait.


Monday, December 03, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Last of His Kind

Ricky Ponting announced his retirement from international cricket today.

In all Test cricket played since he made his debut on December 8, 1995, no one has scored more Test runs than him. He is also the winningest Test captain and player in history and, though there is no official yardstick for this, is probably the most decorated one-day international cricketer in history as well.

Ricky Ponting isn't defined by records or distinctions. He hasn't revolutionised the game he played, nor did he do anything to become particularly unforgettable. Yet, he has meant so much for so many years that it will be difficult to watch his team play without him.
There was always something in him that told you that he was his harshest critic and that any decision he took about when to quit (and, let's be honest, we knew it was coming) was likely going to be internally over-analysed to vanishing point. So when he said this morning that he'd thought long and hard about this, it was instructive that he stretched the words "long" and "hard" more than usual. But perhaps not more than necessary.
It is this willingness to apply this usually outward standard inwards in the press release that elevated him to the absolute top bracket of sportspersons in my estimation today. I don't think I've ever heard the words "consistent failure" and "not good enough" said so forcefully and so honestly at a cricket retirement before. Boxing, maybe - but not cricket.
Ultimately, that's what has me saddened about today - that Ponting has been brutally honest when, for most of his career, the rest of the world has consistently called him a cheat; that he has graciously stepped aside with utmost humility when he has, on so many occasions, been called egotistical and that he has recognised his limitations when there are others who are too defiantly proud to do what's right. I will miss Ponting the cricketer but I will miss Ponting the competitor far more than words can describe.   

Lastly, because I haven't done this kind of thing in a while and because I can't think of another batsman I've seen deserve it more, here's my list of Ponting's top 15 (I wanted to do 10 but got carried away) Test batting performances:
15. 96 & 51 v. Sri Lanka at Kandy, 1999
Walked in at 4/16 in the first innings and was last man out at 188; a defiant lone hand against Murali and Vaas at their devastating best. 
14. 106 & 86* v. New Zealand at Auckland, 2005
A total massacre of a very fine New Zealand attack.
13. 221 v. India at Adelaide, 2012
The 'I can still hack it at this level' innings. Probably his last great Test outing for the Aussies.
12. 100* v. South Africa at Cape Town, 2002
He and Hayden hammered South Africa at over 4 an over to enable Australia to chase down 334 in the fourth innings in a little over six hours. 
11. 77 & 72 v. India at Bangalore, 2010
He kicked, scratched and clawed his way to two fifties in conditions he never mastered but refused to give up in. His last Test in India.
10. 62 v. South Africa at Jo'burg, 2011
The definition of a career-saving innings - came out all guns blazing against the best bowling attack in the world despite no fifty in his previous thirteen innings. Gave the impetus for an amazing 310 chase in the fourth innings. Would almost certainly have been his last Test if he hadn't delivered. 
9. 101 & 99 v. South Africa at the MCG, 2008
Australia's third innings collapse was only a little less heart-breaking than watching him get dismissed for the only 99 of his Test career.
8. 257 v. India at the MCG, 2003
His highest Test score and longest Test innings was a slow, torturous pulverisation of the Adelaide-high Indians who had threatened to run away with the game after Sehwag's excellent innings on the first day.
7. 149 & 104* v. West Indies at The 'Gabba, 2005
A double-whammy that deflated a very promising Windies attack including Edwards, Collymore, Powell and Lawson and set up another comfortable home series whitewash.
6. 141 v. Pakistan at Colombo (PSS), 2003
A game remembered for Warne finally coming good at a largely-empty stadium in the sub-continent but a win set up by an imperious 163-ball effort that took apart an attack of Waqar, Shoaib, Razzaq, Sami and Saqlain.
5. 196 & 60* v. England at The 'Gabba, 2006
Completely demoralised the best English bowling attack of this generation with a chanceless Day 1 hundred in the first Ashes Test. England never really recovered and surrendered to a 5-0 demolition. 
4. 103 & 116 v. South Africa at Durban, 2006
A breathtaking batting display on the fastest wicket in the world which sealed a sweet, sweet series win in South Africa.
3. 144 & 72 v. England at Leeds, 2005
It turned out to be Mark Butcher's finest hour for England but it was preceded by one of Ponting's finest solo performances, featuring his first hundred at No. 3 - a barely believable 154-ball 144 in the first innings - and a run-a-ball 72 in the second on a typical Headingly greentop. Even more astonishing when you consider the immense pressure Ponting was under having not crossed fifty in a Test innings in eleven innings prior.
2. 120 & 143* v. South Africa at the SCG, 2006
Two knock-out hundreds - the first dragging a first-innings performance out of a batting unit that was staring down the barrel at 3/54 in response to 450-odd and the second being very possibly the finest I've ever seen him bat as he and Hayden hit boundaries at will to turn a 100+ run first-innings deficit into a swaggering 8-wicket win with time to spare.
1. 156 v. England at Manchester, 2005
This generation's standard-bearer for a match-saving fourth-innings hundred - an absolute masterpiece that didn't, for a minute, compromise his attacking instincts and helped the Aussies to a famous draw. 
I really can't imagine an Aussie batting line-up without him. A precocious kid with a ferocious pull shot is now an unforgettable man with probably the greatest winning legacy in the history of the sport. Thank you for all that you have given and, if there's any justice in this world, this journey will end at the WACA with a new world No. 1 Test team. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fresh Starts

As galling as it is to see Sebastien Vettel complete his three-peat at the age of 25, I have much respect for Adrian Newey for arresting Red Bull's early-season underperformance and turning around another World Championship-winning car. Newey's been screwing Ferrari and the best F1 driver in the world for fifteen years now - long may it continue. :-)

And while a lot of us on the silver side of things thought that Lewis Hamilton would twist the knife even further by pole-to-flagging his last race in the McLaren overalls, for once, it was his under-stated, infinitely more likeable teammate who held up his end of the bargain and ended the season exactly the way he started - with a race win. With that wonderful bit of symmetry pulling the curtain down on another ultimately fruitless season, at least the reassurance of having a clear-cut No. 1 in the team should launch us towards happier times. Even if it doesn't, here's another addition to the vast collection of podium photos for the record-books of a once-magnificent team.    
The pattern of Formula 1 for the foreseeable future is set. Let us carry on.
Australia drew the second Test with South Africa today, ultimately unable to pick up six wickets in the course of a whole day's play on a fifth day Adelaide wicket. Australia have had the better of both draws so far and it sets up a fascinating denouement in Perth next week. Adelaide was interesting without being outstanding - Warner, Clarke, Hussey, Smith and Du Plessis all scored hundreds in this match but I know that the one thing I will take away from this Test forever is:
NM Lyon 50-31-49-3.
Incredible. And sad. But more incredible than sad.   

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Leeds United 1-6 Watford

I told you this day wouldn't be far away. There's a reason they say that it is in the eyes of a man that his true self is reflected. Neil Warnock's eyes tell me that he has utterly, hopelessly and inconsolably cut Leeds United adrift from footballing relevance.

Get well soon, Rudy. You will be much missed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Like To Move It, Move It

Big Daddy Cool.
That will be all.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Lou Gehrig Speech, Interrupted

I wanted to give the Lou Gehrig speech today but those plans have suddenly evaporated. I wish today was special and that it would give me some other signpost to recall it by but unfortunately, we are equally removed from Global Handwashing Day (October 15) as we are from International Stuttering Awareness Day (October 22).
There's a lot to look forward to over the next few days, of course, and there's always the chance that today won't make it to my days-to-remember-from-2012. I'd still desperately like, though, for today to have significance of some other kind. The only thing I can think of, however, is that today is the day that Harshvardhan Nawathe's Rs. 1 crore winning episode on Kaun Banega Crorepati was telecast on Star Plus all those years ago. It was so long ago, however, that I can't even find a YouTube video of it which, come to think of it, perfectly caricatures the worthlessness of today.
Who'd ever have thought that someone who seemingly meant so little to your life actually meant so much? You would think it should put into sharper focus my own seemingly human motivations but, astonishingly, it hasn't. I'm now convinced that I must dig in and carry on and this realisation has made my own alternative plans suddenly evaporate.
One good turn deserves another, I guess. Let us continue.  

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Baby Steps

My first published attempt at non-academic legal writing for public consumption can be found here. Please feel free to read, share and disagree.

Monday, October 08, 2012


I haven't been writing much recently. I want to write. I want to write something properly. Something with soul and depth and meaning. I want to write something that doesn't involve wrestling or sport or law or music or books. I want to write something that's not "gay, even by [my] formidable standards".
I am feeding a few words into this page and, every few minutes, I am feeding a few words into three other windows that are minimised as I write this.
Foremost among my thoughts right now - how fidgety my legs are feeling, how the air-conditioning at home is going to feel tonight, what Seinfeld episode will air on Comedy Central at 9 p.m. (in a willing suspension of disbelief, I have chosen not to open that door in my mind that remembers every Season 6 episode in seriatim or, easier, I have decided not to look it up online), whether keeping the rice on for thirteen minutes today will finally, finally rid me of the grainy-hardboiled-or-soggy-mess dichotomy, what they really teach at the M.Phil in Law and Governance at JNU, if there's a problem with the way I speak English on certain days (I've had to repeat myself on three separate occasions and there are days when I speak a lot more when I don't have to do that at all. Do I speak too quickly? Do I not wait long enough for the other person to reply? Do I roll my eyes too much? I know that's a rhetorical question - I do) and lastly - and this has been annoying me all day - how the people at the Airtel store come in in regular clothes but, within five minutes, are all decked out in red Airtel t-shirts. I want to see that changing room they all go into - are the shirts hung on hooks asymmetrically or are they lined up in a clothes hanger a la Dexter in Dexter's Rival? Do they even have hooks? They have to have hooks, it must be like a changing room in a clothes store - how can they not have hooks in a room so small? Where else would they put all those shirts? Or do they all just wear their Airtel shirts underneath their regular clothes and go inside only to remove the top layer? If yes, why can't they do it in the main store area? Sharam aati hai unhe? Airtel ke liye kaam karte hain, isse zyaada sharamnaak aur kya baat ho sakti hai? 
I remember I used the expression "tough cookie" during my English book review presentation in Class IX. I am still astonished that no one knew what it meant and I remember I was asked by the teacher to explain it and I said it meant "the same thing as 'a tough nut to crack'". Why didn't I think of a cookie/nut etymology comparison then? I hate cookies with nuts. I love chocolate cookies. Lots of chocolate on those cookies. Chocolate chips, melty chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, all kinds of sweet chocolate. I also like cinnamon cookies. That's the real debate, cinnamon vs chocolate - not freaking nuts vs cookies. Nuts are irrelevant. They're usually tasteless and make you fat. The salted varieties have more salt, less nuts. Might as well eat salt only. Much cheaper, too. The only place nuts are borderline acceptable are in Fruit and Nut chocolate. Actually, I don't even like nuts in Fruit and Nut. They should just make them with fruit. Fruit bhi kya, dried raisins are the only "fruits" they use in that chocolate. Useless. Calling it "Fruit and Nut" is such misrepresentation. Overpriced chocolate with the odd raisin and almond, more like. Saala, uska bhi alag se chocolate banate hain. And they sell it as "Silk" or somesuch. Raisin and almond hai toh say "raisin and almond" on the label, na? Nahi. Hum toh nahi likhenge. Mental only. I would really like to live in a world where they sell dried raisin chocolate and have the guts to call it that. I would buy it. But I won't buy it today. Because Crackle is way cooler and better and it has those crackles which are extraordinarily good, even shorn of their chocolatey context. And I'm totally going to force my way inside that little changing room at the Airtel store next time. 
And leave a Fruit and Nut chocolate wrapper in there.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

'Some day, the true story may be told.'

"One likes to think that there is some fantastic limbo for the children of imagination, some strange, impossible place where the beaux of Fielding may still make love to the belles of Richardson, where Scott's heroes still may strut, Dickens' delightful Cockneys still raise a laugh, and Thackeray's worldlings continue to carry on their reprehensible careers. Perhaps in some humble corner of such a Valhalla, Sherlock and his Watson may for time find a place, while some more astute sleuth with some even less astute comrade may fill the stage which they have vacated."
Genuinely, genuinely moved by my second go-around with Nick Drake's music. His story is a tragic one but "Pink Moon" and "Things Behind The Sun" are timeless classics.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Onwards and Upwards

Supporting Leeds United is about real highs and lows with very, very little in between. Having embraced that in all ways possible over the last thirteen years, why is it that otherwise unanimously welcomed news makes my guts churn?

It is because I'm waiting for the swift, unerring, inevitable kick in the teeth. Come on, Bates - try me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Four Word Proposal

I've always believed that, as obvious as it may seem, the way people write mirrors how they feel. I'm delighted to say I've rediscovered about five years' worth of writing through an old friend this morning. In tribute and celebration to our many disagreements about poetry and love, here's to you:

Four Word Proposal

August 14, 2012

(Prologue: I was, in true heavy metal style, going to "call this one 'Wasted'" and "dedic it to my ex-girlfriend, may she burn in hellbut I realised (1) that my ex-girlfriends are adorable people and have been unreasonably nice to me even though they've had no reason to be and (2) this isn't about my ex-girlfriend(s) anyway - it is entirely fictional.

Second prologue: I wrote this in sharp, inspired two-line bursts. The rhymes came out of nowhere - it has literally taken me twenty minutes to put it all down. Must be something in this mid-August air.) 


Economy of words has always eluded me
Eschewing 'no wasted motion', I'd rather be free
It should come, therefore, as no surprise
That it is my editor's blue pencil that I most despise.

Back and forth into his little lair I'd go
Having my words brutalised in the rain and snow
In whatever little I'd salvage of my all-consuming day
I'd find time for lunch and I'd find time to pray.

Each day, my little prayer would be exactly the same
That somehow He could deliver she who has no name
For I'd exhausted all possible avenues and every resource
In fruitless courtship, leaving only remorse.

Charm her, please her, they would say
Chip away at it every single day
It doesn't matter if progress is slow
You've got time, go with the flow.

And so I pursued but she would not budge
But I stuck to her like sweet chocolate fudge
Tirelessly, relentlessly, till I was obsessed
Stopping only when I was under blue-pencil arrest.

Slowly but surely she began to crack
Starting to like me though I was a hack
As more time passed, it just became vanilla
I know that makes no sense, this line is just filler.

It turns out they were right about persistence and its reward    
But it had taken too long, it was time I couldn't afford
So I decided for certain that this would be my time
Just so I could put an end to this rhyme.

I spoke without fear, without the apprehension of failing
At least when she said no, there'd be no wailing
But as I began my choreographed soliloquy
I started to tremble and so did she.

So I asked her what she was so fearful of hearing
And shushed at the window where my friends were leering
I got her to talk like she'd never talked before
And with every word she said, I realised more and more.

That come what may, I would always be around
Be that friend if she ever fell down
And slowly but surely, as you can probably tell
I sank quickly and without a trace into the friend zone well.

Suddenly women started coming out of the woodwork
'My boyfriend's a sexist, a druggie, such a jerk'
So I became a yes-man to the prettiest women - it was a cruel tale
Turning into an agony aunt a hot-blooded twenty-four-year-old male.

Long nights of 'Uh-huh' and 'I understand'
Dissolving mental images that had once been grand
But somehow I'd think back to that night when it came undone
And what a miserable story I had spun.


The news, when it came, hit me like a two-ton weight
She was leaving for good and I knew it would be too late. 

So finally in the fifth minute of injury time
Armed with a row of shots and loads of lime
I finally put the record straight with Miss Best Friend
And told her in no uncertain terms that this must end.

I waited anxiously for the tears I so richly deserved
But was astonished to see her so taciturn and reserved
What must I do to get a reaction, I thought
Many years of trying are all coming to naught.

So I did what all opportunistic buggers do
I waited for a time to come that we all knew
A couple of hours, maybe more
Till she finally staggered through that door.

I wasn't playing hard to get, I lied
I'd actually been playing conquer and divide
We sat down to talk like the old days, when it all made sense
And I realised there were no more moves, no more defence.

In this soliloquy, though, I felt something strange occur
I felt a real connection when everything else was a blur
And it dawned on me that this is what she had felt all along
And if I let her walk out that door, I'd be doing something very wrong.

So I engaged her, indulged her, told her she was right
And we talked forever and late into the night
But when the moment came to say our goodbyes
I saw friendship and trust but nothing else in her eyes.

And even though years have passed since I dusted that book off my shelf  
On lonely nights when I cannot sleep I still ask myself 
Was she blind, could she not see
That my four word proposal had become three?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

"Hope @realkevinnash doesn't tear his quad tweeting!"

WWE Monday Night Raw; San Diego, CA; 8/15/2011

Okay, you expect me to believe that load of crap? You expect me to believe that you and Triple H are not on the same page? You're best friends! And Triple H keeps saying he does what's good for business, he re-signed me because it's good for business. And you're just gonna do whatever your best friend asks you to do? Don't answer this, it's a rhetorical question - if Triple H asked you to jump off a bridge, would you? Because I think that would be good for business. I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Triple H doesn't know what's good for business and I'd always heard that Kevin Nash doesn't know what's good for business but now I've seen it first hand - you don't know what's good business.

"This is the first time you and I have spoke, and let me tell you something: You need to watch your mouth."
I need to watch my mouth? You need to watch the show! I do and say whatever I want, to whomever I please.

"Obviously your world just changed."
The story that you just told clearly points out that Triple H is a liar. You know, but maybe, just maybe, Triple H is telling the truth. Maybe you're the liar, Kevin Nash.

 "Would you like to see the text message on my telephone?"
Would you like to see the text message my little sister Sheline left on my phone last night? 'OMG Kevin Nash WTF thought he was dead, LOL'. The funny thing is, Sheline isn't normally wrong - but here you are in living colour, just your career is dead. I've got a lot of people I'm pointing fingers at, a lot of people I'm mad at and, surprisingly enough, Alberto Del Rio is not one of them. What he did I've done before - eight men have cashed in, eight men have become champion - but this is Triple H running amok and he's bringing his cronies back.
"All Triple H has done is shook things up around here."
No, no, I'm the guy who shook things up around here.
"You're just some indy-riffic guy you've been here five years; been in two main events? Held the world title three times in twenty days?"
That hurts so much coming from a guy who knows so much about being a main eventer. The guy who said the legendary Eddie Guerrero was a vanilla midget. What do you know about talent? It's 2011, it's not 1994.

"Well you oughta go to 1996 when I changed the business with Scott Hall and made sure that everybody, including guys like you got guaranteed money. Yeah, 'thank you', that's what you should be saying - shut your mouth and say 'thank you'! If that's where this business is going - with some guy who looks like a short order cook from a Pikeville Waffle House as the champion - take a shower, hit the weights, get a clue."
I like Waffle House - I don't know what you have against Waffle House. But last night, you did something you shouldn't have done, that wasn't good for business - you put your hands on me. Now, I may look like a short order cook, I'd rather walk in as CM Punk and leave as CM Punk than walk in as Oz or Vinnie Vegas or Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Enough with the talking, enough with the snarky comments, last night showed me you want to fight - let's fight, right here in San Diego.


Kevin Nash, if getting burnt on the mic by CM Punk the night after Summerslam last year was indeed the reason you disrespected two of the finest champions in history, I have little to say but much to think about. I'd say I'm ashamed of you but that would assume I held you in some esteem to begin with. I read yesterday but it has taken me over 24 hours to fully digest the gravity and furore created by Nash's comments. It's one of those days when you question whether there's too much bitterness in the wrestling business for it to prosper again. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


There is no Timmy anymore. From now on, he shall be called...

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Another Day, Another Grid Failure

I have to thank the largest power blackout in history for jogging memories of early 1999 (the last time I can remember such power cuts at this time of year) and, more specifically, Some stuff never gets old. Fantastic.

Feeling a lot better, everyone - your concern is much appreciated.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stranger In My Own Home

As I dropped the top of that all-too-familiar black iron gate back into place this evening, I realised how fragile my sense of inner alrightness is. Within a span of a few hours this evening, I went from being at peace, to being in place, to being concerned, to being confused, to being grateful, to feeling a sense of loss, to feeling alone, to feeling like I've got to keep going before ultimately getting dragged down into the miserable dark abyss of the inconsolable. As ever, my shaking hands reached for my phone and reached out to my safe haven. Fifteen minutes later, despite much prodding and reassurance, I couldn't, for a moment, feel that silence within.

I was told everyone has days like these - days where nothing makes sense; days where you have to simply fold your hands and pray to God to bring calm again. Yet, like the wailing cat on the roof and the uncontrollable wheelspin on the car with the crocked clutch and the insidious white thread that furtively and unfailingly dragged across the foot and the income tax road that led from Ghaziabad to the middle of nowhere, there was a sense of inevitability about this - a forced sleight of the supernatural that caused my "ship of hope to capsize and be tossed upon the stormy seas". 
And as I trudged up the numerous flights of stairs back home for the fifth time today, I asked myself one biting question - How long will you keep singing this jagged, faithless song to yourself?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Look in my eyes, what do you see?

Ask and you shall receive, "Dwayne". Phil Brooks is fast becoming the best WWE champion of our lifetime.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Much Respect and a Little Despair

Very very impressed with South Africa's decision to call time on their first innings at The Oval on 2/637 with Jacques Kallis eighteen short of a double hundred. Brings home once again how the attempt to win a cricket match should always be far more important than an individual milestone. I'm sure an Indian captain denying Sachin Tendulkar a double hundred would've been vilified by the "fans"; hell, I'm sure there are still those who haven't forgiven Rahul Dravid for declaring in Pakistan when Tendulkar was six short of a double hundred. End of daily quota of Sachin hating.

Is someone as monotonously average as Hashim Amla really possibly the best Test batsman in the world? Has the balance between batting and bowling in cricket really swung so far in favour of batting that one of the best bowling attacks in the world has been neutered to such a pitiable extent in supposedly helpful English conditions? 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Tradition

GB, VM - Fantastic news, boys - I'm absolutely thrilled! I don't know what specific place became "your place" during the B.C.L. rollercoaster (mine was L-19/L-20 of the Graduate Reading Room in the Law Bod basement) but think back to all the hours spent there over the course of the past year and you'll start to realise exactly what this means. It's an achievement that is as intensely personal as anything you will ever experience and all I can say is that it couldn't have happened to people who deserved it more. :-) 

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Greatest Man That Ever Lived

CM Punk may fancy himself as the "Best in the World" but there is only one man who is fully deserving of the title of "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived".

Austin Aries, you have astonished me once again. TNA Heavyweight Champion of the World. Go on, son - Ric Flair mantle as the greatest of all time is there for the taking.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Empty House - II

Icky feet, aloo paranthas before 10pm, women's golf and men's tennis, Bhutanese curiosities, why international calls don't get charged per second, the gap between not caring and pliability, girls who like boys who like girls and why, the impending denouement of the Buffy era, weight-loss competitions at work, the dog leash, a friend of a friend of a job interviewee, being in the same places and what it means, a night in and out of consciousness lost in the darkness and the sound of the Oxford drizzle to go with the sight of morning light through a door left ajar in the middle distance.  

But somehow, all we could think of was what AJ will do when she's special guest referee at Money in the Bank

Yes! Yes! Yes! :-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Absolute Truths - III

Priyanka, you are the burly, black t-shirted arm at the entrance of the nightclub that is my life.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Mere Yaarzz Ki Shaadi

Chaitanya, Krishna - I'm absolutely delighted for both the two of you and even though your time in India is about to over, your married life is starting, so I think better you prepare for the same.

But seriously, it was great to be there and there was a sense of occasion about Saturday night that I wouldn't have traded for anything in the world. Over the weekend, I also thought back to how and when I got to know you guys and...I don't remember at all. And all said and done, that's what I've always really admired about you - how distances have faded into insignificance, how seemingly naturally everything has come together and how the genuine happiness on your faces on your wedding day somehow didn't seem that far removed from those endless evenings in law school where Chaitanya would call me and say "chal, Harry ke saath hangout karte hain!"

So here's to a wonderful new beginning and much happiness for two of my favourite people in the world. :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fear - I

I tend to be scared of places rather than things. Unpalatable things tend to evoke aversion but unpalatable places tend to evoke fear. 

* * *

There's an unfinished painting that I first saw in a dream many years ago that comes back to me now and then. It's a perfect rectangle, equal parts beige and maroon. There is a stick at either end and there is a crudely, almost carelessly drawn body of a tribesman on the left side. The body occupies most of the space on the left side and there is some kind of ornament around the neck of the tribesman. His head is oblong, it is inclined at an angle with the upper boundary of the rectangle and juts out of it most asymmetrically. The right side of the picture isn't complete. It also features a tribesman but this one's body is a little more irregular, almost fragmented. Most oddly, I can't seem to form a clear picture of the second tribesman's head. I'm sure he has to have one but I can't see it. His arm is twisted, almost broken; his legs look far weaker than those of his counterpart on the left side; they look almost cartoonish. He appears to be stretching his arm out and holding on to the stick to his left. Yet, because his body is so fragmented, I can't seem to tell which hand he is holding on to the stick with. It just seems to be there. For the life of me, I cannot picture his head.

* * *

I'm scared of the place upstairs. It evokes fear in a way I don't associate with any other place in the world. I've been downstairs, of course. I've been downstairs several times. Downstairs has literally been my second home. I know the upstairs looks exactly like the downstairs - the house was designed that way. They were  mirror images of each other. Up until about twenty years ago, they used to be. But then the kitchen downstairs was broken down and expanded. The far bedroom downstairs was rebuilt from scratch. The bedroom across from the far bedroom was also refurbished and is now occupied by other people. Both bathrooms downstairs have been rebuilt on multiple occasions and bear scant resemblance to the ones upstairs. The near bedroom downstairs has also seen much upheaval over the years. In all that time, the rooms upstairs have also had literally hundreds of little changes and modifications - some approved and some not. The rooms upstairs have also been occupied by several tenants - some have stayed for years, some have stayed for no more than a few weeks. They have all stapled their own imprints on the rooms upstairs - their electrical gadgets have tripped up the power lines once in a while, their posters have peeled off a fair bit of plaster from the walls and their peculiar habits have caused a fair bit of moaning and, on occasion, cursing. But there's one thing that hasn't changed a bit since the first time I remember going there - upstairs. Upstairs is still exactly the same as it was all those years ago. 

* * *

I went upstairs in late 1998. We had just moved into (my present) house and there was much celebration in the family for several other reasons besides. My first memory of upstairs was in the morning - the dust, the smell of termite-infested wood, the cool November breeze and the charcoal-black hoop-shaped grills on the windows. There was a wedding. There was a lot of chatter and a lot of dancing downstairs. I was upstairs with a few other people who were frantically trying to ensure that upstairs was set up for the people who were to arrive soon. I was running around, upstairs and downstairs, ferrying as much as my eleven-and-a-half-year-old hands could carry at one go. Apart from the fact that it was a very happy occasion, nothing of consequence happened that night in late 1998. We retired to bed around 12. I was the last one to leave and, as such, I was told to latch the door. The latch was a little stubborn but after struggling for a few seconds, I managed to secure it, aided in part by the dark yellow light thrown by an old bulb that was a few feet to my left. I took a quick look around, first right, then left and finally hurried back to sleep. Downstairs. 

(to be continued)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Seven Questions about Section 15

Today, I'm going to rant about why nobody has deemed it necessary to supply some context - explanations, illustrations, examples, something - to the words "other matter of a non-distinctive character which does not substantially affect the identity of the trademark" in Section 15(3)(c) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. 

I. Given that Section 15(2) requires every variation/representation of a series trademark to independently satisfy objective trademark criteria and given that Section 15(3) says "may be registered as a series", does the law even contemplate a situation where a series application is necessary and not merely more desirable/appropriate than a set of individual applications covering every different variation/representation?

II. Isn't a literal reading of Section 15(3)(a) rendered redundant purely by the facility (and I use that word carefully) of a multi-class application for the same trademark?

III. Is the reference to "other matter" in Section 15(3)(c) to be ejusdem generis'd with (a) and (b) (which cover the statement of goods/services and statement of number, price, quality or names of places respectively)? 

IV. If so, given that (a) and (b) are independent criteria, how exactly is ejusdem generis to be applied in this case? 

V. Assuming broad brush-strokes on the ejusdem generis, how does fixing different numbers on the same base trademark or prefixing/suffixing names of places on the same base trademark colour the "does not substantially affect the identity of the trademark" bit in Section 15(3)(c), in light of Carlsberg v. Radico Khaitan and Section 9(1)(b) respectively?

VI. Speaking of colour, does the inclusion of "colour" as an independent, later criteria under Section 15(3)(d) mean that it is not within the contours of "other matter of a non-distinctive character" in Section 15(3)(c)? 

If so, (1) on logic alone, why? (2) how is it to be reconciled with Section 10?

VII. Assuming even half-decent answers to all of the above questions, where does that leave the basic "resembling each other in the material particulars thereof" standard for a series trademark? 

Isn't it astonishing how a seemingly straightforward, rarely used 112-word sub-section can serve as the point of departure for endless discussion? It hasn't escaped my attention that the way I've framed these seven questions would fit snugly into an exam paper/hypothetical (complete with the entirely unnecessary Roman numerals). You have been warned. :-p

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chicks, Academics

It's the best thing that you ever had, the best thing that you ever, ever had.
It's the best thing that you ever had, the best thing you had has gone away.

I never thought I'd be in this place at this time. I'm able to look back happily at what was, let those words soak in and feel genuinely thankful that it all played out the way it did. No regrets, no second thoughts, just a willingness take my life forward and be the best me I can be.

Another one of these watersheds will arrive in a day short of one month from today and that hurt a lot more than this ever, ever could. But I survived that too and I look back upon that day as the dark before a pretty incredible dawn. It still bites at me on occasion, it's meant to. But it pushed me into a corner, it made me ask myself some difficult questions and, ultimately, it made me put my heart and soul into one of the toughest challenges of my life.

That I got through that, of course, was due in large part to the best thing that I ever, ever had. And so the whole thing comes a full circle.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Empty House

About as oddly peaceful as an evening could possibly be, despite the unanswered questions, the speculation and the vague tension.

I have come to accept that this is my reality now and that it's a pretty good place to be in. It is a point that was made as forcefully as it was silently; as much with talk of fear as with talk of courage.

After months and months of over-thinking and giving in to the silliest of whims, I must confess it really does feel, even though that nagging sense of uncertainty over the coming months is inevitable, like I'm slowly and patiently turning the corner.

Crowned by a magnificent backs-to-the-wall performance by Chelsea against Barcelona (and no yelling at the TV!), I have a feeling I'm going to point to last night as the night I finally started to sort out things I haven't had the courage to for far too long.

Thank you for a magnificent evening, KB. 'Start as you mean to go on', indeed. :-)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Forget about The Undertaker's 20-0, forget about The Rock going over John Cena, forget about Brock Lesnar's return to WWE - there will be plenty of time to discuss all of that.

Watch, share, be astounded.

And don't you dare tell me Daniel Bryan is not over.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

And so we wait.

Wrestlemania XXVIII is a matter of hours away and the trembling hands, the dullness in the spine and the peeled, reddened eyes all confirm the feverish anticipation invested into what should be one hell of a show.

But for all the festivity, grandeur and excitement, I have one simple wish - that Mark Calaway walks away from Hell in a Cell without some kind of incapacitating physical damage.

The damage his extraordinary body has endured over the years is now irreversible - that is a fact and something I have trouble with whenever I watch him. However, I am also aware that the line between irreversibility and incapacitation is one that he does not particularly respect and while that has been the cornerstone of my respect of him as a performer, just for tonight, I'm holding out the hope that he does, in fact, live to fight another day. It is increasingly apparent that it is impossible for his match in a few hours' time to be better than his previous nineteen performances on this grand stage and I'm just praying that his pride as a performer doesn't come in the way of him being physically able to lace up those boots one more time after tonight.

As much as it likely will, it doesn't deserve to end this way.   

Monday, March 12, 2012


I don't know if I can ever put into words exactly how amazing my Dad is. I called him this morning to wish him a happy birthday and, at the end of that short phone call, he was wishing me a great day at work.

Sometimes, it isn't about what you achieve in life, it's about who you are despite what you achieve. The phone call this morning made me realise that I still look at him through the eyes of the little boy I once was, truly astonished at how nothing seems impossible for him and how he's so genuinely down-to-earth in the face of everything I've seen him go through over the years.

I assure you that it's pure chance, but I couldn't have picked a more fitting subject for my 200th blog post.

Happy birthday, Papa! I'm in awe of you and I always will be.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Real McCoy (McCoy!)

The company may be sinking but the talent they still have at their disposal is frighteningly potent. Best wrestling/music collaboration since Snow Patrol's "Somewhere A Clock is Ticking" on the DVD release of Undertaker/Michaels I at Wrestlemania XXV.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Good Feeling

Today was a day of many ends but all I can think of is how magnificent and memorable the last two weeks have been. It's been a frantic, exciting, tiring, happy ride and I can look back on it with a kind of fulfillment and closure that I've never really experienced before. Some of the best times I've ever had in this city. Seriously. :-) 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mistakes upon mistakes upon mistakes

I feel like the little Dutch boy trying to plug the holes in the dyke with his fingers.

It would've helped me immensely if I'd learnt my lessons by now but it seemed difficult to do, impossible to do when there were no obvious consequences to what I do.

Now there are, and it's harder to adjust to that reality than I ever thought possible.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Not Neil Warnock. Anyone but Neil Warnock.

I can't help feeling that this willingness to look for short-term solutions will eventually result in the same kind of tanking in performances, results, finances and expectations that put Leeds United on the 'where are they now' list to begin with.

Prove me wrong, Mr. Warnock - I don't think you can. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Let's Go Cena, Cena Does NOT Suck

I have just seen one of the greatest wrestling promos of all time. Take it from someone who's seen a promo or two over the years - people will be talking about this 'inside look at John Cena' promo for a long, long time to come.

This one simple promo has single-handedly shifted the balance of power in favour of John Cena in my mind as far as his Wrestlemania 28 match with The Rock is concerned. It paints Cena as straddling the dichotomy between the immature 'believers' and the righteous smarks who view him with condescension but it does more than that. It shows him not as being disaffected or arrogant but as truly assimilating it as part of his character and still going that extra mile to handle a workload not seen in his profession since Hogan in the late '80s. There's a depth to this promo I can feel, sense, touch. There's something about it that convinces me that John Cena the character is John Cena the man.

He doesn't need to turn heel and he doesn't need to do heelish things. Because, with every step he takes, with every cap he throws out in slow motion to an empty arena, with every radio show spot he does and with every Make-A-Wish kid whose dream he makes come true, he is 'getting over' as this compromised character, each and every day of his life. 

John Cena the man is going to take to that ring in Miami on April 1. John Cena the man is going to get booed out of that building by all but a select (possibly planted) few. But it is John Cena the man who needs to go over The Rock at Wrestlemania 28. I am now convinced without question that this is absolutely how he must be booked. John Cena must win. There is simply no other way.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


I watched the sun rise this morning. Not after a sleepless night either - the proper way. And as that reluctant giant ball of orange inched its way up the cold, hazy Noida skyline, two thoughts came to mind - one, there is absolutely nothing to compete with this feeling of solitude and two, it's a feeling that wouldn't go amiss if it occurred a little more frequently (as unlikely as that is) over the days and months to come.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Best in the World

Plural, not singular.

Could this really be happening? And dare I dream of a title unification at Wrestlemania?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Introducing the Hoigh King of Oirland

Anddd Sheamus wins the Royal Rumble 2012, probably the least-hyped, lowest-content, lowest-intensity Rumble in years.

Does he really have it to make it to the next level? He's been strapped, unstrapped, re-strapped, made King of the Ring, turned heel, turned face and yet, there seems to be something about him that's missing the mark. I fear for his legitimacy going forward and for a roster so thin on talent and a Creative so bereft of ideas that, really, the only ready reason I can offer for him winning the Rumble is that he had nothing else going on storyline-wise.

By God, John Cena v. The Rock better put bums in seats, otherwise this is going to be the worst Wrestlemania in a long, long time. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Much like any other "greatest of all time" debate, the question of the greatest wrestling stable of all time also attracts much disagreement. But, mostly - and I think the same applies to other such debates as well - it offers connoisseurs the opportunity to reminisce. 

I'm not old enough to have seen the original Four Horsemen, I always thought that, apart from its original run, the nWo was bloated and overemphasised, I cannot find myself in agreement with those who claim that DX were less shock-value and more substance and I strongly felt that the Hart Foundation were forced heels.

Talk of wrestling stables always leads me back to one name and one name alone.


Never before has a group been launched so simply yet so effectively with just one promo. Never before have four such distinct individuals come together with such synergy and success (six world titles, two world tag team titles, two intercontinental titles, one Rumble winner in exactly twenty months). Never before have stable members so furtively retained unmistakable individual identities (The Game, The Legend Killer, The Animal, The Nature Boy) and yet come together with such a vengeance. Never before has each member of an alliance retained something distinct from the entity and contributed something unique. 

Most of all, though, the very existence of the group made sure that the result was greater than the sum of its parts - Triple H finally ascended into the pantheon of all-time greats, Ric Flair finally played mentor in a way no one since Handsome Harley had, Batista finally got the push of a lifetime, all the way to a word title win at Wrestlemania 21 and Randy Orton finally got the chance to serve notice of the greatest God-given pro-wrestling talent perhaps since Curt Hennig and Bret Hart first broke through.

That all this happened without ever having to resort to a face turn, without clogging up the main event (Evolution members were involved in only eighteen out of thirty-seven pay-per-view main events during the existence of the group) and despite some potentially momentum-stopping injuries is simply extraordinary. It seems fitting, then, that Evolution dissolved bit by bit - the heel turn on Orton, Batista's "thumbs up, thumbs down" face turn and, eventually, Hunter's heel turn on Flair, all of which pushed to the limit the possibilities and psychology, inside the ring and out, of a wrestling stable.

However, what I've put down are just words, descriptions. They do not convey what it meant to follow Evolution for those twenty glorious months, what it meant to believe in the philosophy of the group, how much I looked forward to watching Raw every week to see what poor soul would get destroyed next. It all seemed so sure, so well-crafted, so perfect. And yet, their epochal theme song spoke of lines in the sand, of seeing your reflection change, of changes that no one sees, of finding out who you are. It's easy to see why that appealed to directly and passionately to the fifteen-year-old me, but it's equally easy to see why it, that, then and, most of all, they continue to embody words I live by.   

We all know what it means
Nothing's ever what it seems
Unforgiven, unforeseen.

(c) PWI, 2012.

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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