June 2010 - Posts
Obituary writing is serious business but sometimes it can turn unintentionally funny. Especially if the Obit is premature and/or erroneous. 'Dead man walking' gets an entirely different meaning when used in this context.
A couple of stories of such premature obituaries come to mind.Ghaziabad:
A man died of cardiac arrest after he got a “certificate”
from a local crematorium saying he had been cremated there a few days
60-year old Than Singh, who ran a diary here, got a note in the name of
Hindon cremation ground through post on Tuesday last saying he died on
June 17 2010 and was cremated the next day.
The document further mentioned that Singh had been cremated at platform
His son Mr Ajai Kumar said Singh was so disturbed by the incident that
he died of cardiac arrest on Wednesday and finally had to be cremated at
the same plateform no. 5 which was mentioned in the certificate.
However, an official of the Hindon cremation ground Prince Sharma said
the certificate was a prank played by some one and that there is no
entry related to Singh’s death in its records as on June 18.
SSP, Mr Raghubir Lal, said that matter will be inquired into and efforts
will be taken to nab the person who played the prank if the family
members file a written.
In 1816 the writer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge heard his death mentioned in a hotel by a man
reading out a newspaper report of a coroner's inquest. He asked to see
the paper, and was told that "it was very extraordinary that Coleridge
the poet should have hanged himself just after the success of his play [Remorse];
but he was always a strange mad fellow". Coleridge replied: "Indeed,
sir, it is a most extraordinary thing that he should have hanged
himself, be the subject of an inquest, and yet that he should at this
moment be speaking to you."
Then there is the famous Mark Twain quote, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated", which incidentally was after reading his own Obit.
Sportspersons also have their Obits written every few years. Many of the Obits are valid in the sense that the sportsperson mentioned never regains the past glory of his/her glittering career. But there have been numerous instances of come backs presumably from the dead.
Sachin Tendulkar knows a thing or two about being written off with the iconic headlines 'Endulkar' forever etched on one's mind (It was the TOI wasn't it?). The world saw Tendulkar shine brightly in his second coming with the minimum of fuss.
Roger Federer himself has been a proud recipient of being pronounced as 'finished' after his heart breaking losses to Rafa Nadal at the French Open and Wimbledon. He bounced back smartly and elegantly as only a Federer could.
After today's loss to Berdych at Wimbledon, one has read many obits of his already. Though one is not as sure about it being an end of an era. The funniest comments though came from Vijay Amritraj on the VJ and Wilko comedy show aka the post match analysis. It seems Federer's back hand returns are too passive and if an opponent starts attacking by coming across and taking that return on his forehand, the Fed gets into trouble. This was indeed wonderful analysis but did it take almost 7-8 years for opponents to pick up this apparent weakness?
What one saw today was a substantially below par performance from Roger Federer. And the worrying part is that he seems to be getting into a habit. Everyone seems to be forgetting that he has already won the Australian Open this year. So it hasn't been an entirely barren year.This man, who raised the bar for everyone else with his consistency at grand slams, is expected to continue his domination in the same way for ever. One point to be noted is that his last 2 grand slam losses have come in the quarter finals. Not exactly the first rounds. Can the fans expect the same domination in the future? Maybe not. But
that doesn't really convince one that he is finished as a player.
A lack of motivation may be the reason for this dip in form/ concentration having broken the record of the highest # of grand slam victories. He is 29 and from a physical fitness perspective, he surely has a few years left in him. All Federer needs to do is to rekindle that desperate urge to win. It is never easy to get that hunger back. And that's why there are so few Tennis champions who have stayed at the top for long. But nothing is impossible for Roger Federer. He has already achieved many impossible feats. This will be one more job to be finished.
‘Rooney can't take the pressure of living up to a country's lofty expectations for a week. Sachin's taken such pressure for two full decades!'
This Tweet was retweeted by hundreds of (presumably) Indians either to reinforce their negative opinion about Rooney or to show how Sachin was so far ahead of all these other jokers who claim to be super sportsmen or both (mostly both). The writer was Mr. Bhogle, presumably related to Harsha Bhogle as his comments are retweeted quite often by Harsha himself.
This raised a couple of questions in one's mind that have been festering for some time now. Do we as Indians now go beyond cricketing comparisons to show that Sachin Tendulkar is a global icon? The formula is simple. Take some negative aspect of another sport hero, compare it with SRT and there you go. Show the world how much better Sachin is.
Take Tiger Woods' marital woes, compare it to Sachin's near perfect marriage and say - "Look Sachin is such a great family man."
Why do we involve Sachin even when we are writing off another person? Wayne Rooney is a great talent and yes!, one is saying this despite being an ardent Man United hater and owner of a football T-shirt that says, ‘I support France and anyone playing England'.
Also remember, Wayne Rooney is as different character a character from SRT as chalk from cheese. He plays a different sport, comes from a completely different family background and is far younger as well. He plays a physical contact sport which doesn't have niceties like what cricket is supposed to have. He has been known to combust on occasions, on many occasions, in fact. The Red card against Portugal in the last World Cup is a shining example. So his reaction to his fickle supporters should be viewed with this background in mind.
The expectations running in England before the start of the World Cup were to be seen to be believed. And Rooney was the focal point in most of them. So Rooney, in that sense was under the same pressure as a SRT. Rooney suddenly seems to have lost his touch in the two matches played (He was injured playing for Man United just a couple of months ago). Whether it's the manager's strategy to play Heskey with him or whether it's a niggle or pure pressure getting to him is anybody's guess.
Another interesting statement that is oft repeated in Sachin's praise is ‘he carries the hopes of a billion people on his shoulders every time he walks out to bat.' There are hints of that statement in the above Tweet as well, though not obvious. At least the tone suggests such thought.
One can imagine Sachin wincing every time they play the India Population calendar on DD. An addition to the ever increasing burden that is carried by his shoulders should be painful. Does the absolute number of our population matter? Or is it because the number sounds gargantuan and adds weight (literally) to his claim to greatness?
The pressure of performing to expectations is what the player takes on himself. A boy/ girl playing a Tennis match in front of his/her parents may feel more pressure than a Virender Sehwag playing the World Cup finals. Does anybody write such shouldering of ‘pressure of expectations' about Sehwag? Why not?
Also this ‘billion people' one feels is a bit of a misnomer. Most people are talking of the ever expanding Indian Middle Class which has the time and money to watch/ eat/ drink/ sleep cricket. The Indian Middle Class includes the total population figure when trying to impress the potential investor with total market size and conveniently forgets about it when talking of the country's achievements in terms of social stats like basic education, health and nutrition. Then the software story, real estate prices, urban growth, increasing spending power of the Indian tourist abroad trigger in.
It is no one's case that SRT hasn't withstood a tremendous pressure of expectations of his nation with great serenity and composure. The problem is about the way in which it's portrayed. Romanticised, glamorous and poetic, it surely is.
To the average middle class Indian, Sachin Tendulkar is a success story he craved for (the amc Indian, one means). And he can go to any lengths to reinforce that belief. Any attack on SRT is indeed taken personally.
This is an extremely haphazard theory not based on any data or sociological proofs. This is more like ACP Pradyuman talking about the likely murderer in CID. Also this may be a culmination of many things read and heard. So it may not be a very original one at that. Readers are free to pour scorn, .
What we are trying to make Sachin is the modern day equivalent of ‘Shree Ram'. He is a great cricketer, a role model, a great human being. But can't we just let it stay there. That too in an era where a portraying a hero with grey shades or a villain with a humane touch is the ‘in' thing.
In these days of ‘Raavan' releases and Shree Ram Sene, being a good human being is the best one can hope for; from self or from others, be it Rooney or Tendulkar.
P.S. - The reference to 'Raavan' is also related to this issue. The pre-release hype generated by the movie and the subsequent flop show (from what one has understood as of now) is pretty similar. Sometimes too much hype and expectations lead to massive underperformance.
- Team full of stars with bloated egos and over rated abilities
- Players put club ahead of country
- Underperform under pressure
- Under rate low ranked opponents
- Ages since the team has won the World Cup
- Supporters expected them to win every World Cup they played in
- Sometimes have failed to reach even the second stage of the World Cups
- Foreign Coaches tried but to no avail
Before anyone starts saying something about one not being qualified to throw criticism at the English Football team, especially as India doesn't even come close to qualifying, let one put the matters straight.
One is talking about the Indian Cricket team and what the Indian fans say about the team when faced with harsh realities. The more daring can try their hand at burning effigies or throwing stones at the players' mansions.
Just offering tips for my English friends. As if they need any.
Over the history of the post industrialisation world, Sports has thrown up some fascinating results that go beyond an outcome of two teams/players battling for supremacy of a mere sporting contest. Sometimes the sporting contest transcends the Olympic spirit of 'Citius Altius Fortius' and enters the realm of symbolism; political, ideological or maybe a plain clash of individual egos.
A few such contests that immediately come to mind are the Bobby Fischer- Boris Spassky World Chess championship, Lutz Long facing off against Jesse Owens, Mary Stanley Decker running against Zola Budd and South Africa playing their first International cricket series in India in the post apartheid era. All these contest were not necessarily marred by 'winning at all costs' attitude, especially since winning was the only option in all of them. Some highlighted the endearing sporting spirit of extraordinary human talent while some reduced themselves into mean spirited fights for supremacy.
The USA's play off against Iran at the 1998 Football World Cup is another such instance that comes to mind. Two nations, who had no diplomatic relations for a few decades, coming face to face. But most these contests were battles for supremacy between two evenly balanced sides/players. At stake was nothing less than honour and glory to be known as the best.
Then there are contests which have a huge symbolic importance but need not be played on equal terms. The Brazil-North Korea (or should one call it DPR of Korea?) match was one such.
North Korea hadn't played on the World stage for some 44 years. The few facts known about this hermit kingdom were about it's erratic irresponsible behaviour in world politics, the crippling impact of the various embargos on its economy and being a 'problem country' for the entire globe. Brazil and North Korea had no prickly relationship on a one on one basis so there was no needle in the contest.
But it was tagged as a no contest even before being played. The outstanding World Cup record and the pedigree of the Brazilian team would butcher the lowest FIFA ranked country. The verdict was out before the court had even sat down on judgement. And yet the favourites were held for almost 55 minutes by an impregnable fortress. The Brazilian faces had a worried look and they were frantic in their attacks. The stalemate only drove them into furious action. The final result was a testament to not only North Korea's fighting spirit but was also a statement on Brazil's ability to excel under pressure.
Then there are some uneven contests without any symbolism attached. They are umm.. just plain mismatches. Going into the Spain-Switzerland match everyone thought only one result possible. A Spain victory! History favoured Spain; they had never lost to the Swiss in 18 games. Current form favoured Spain; they were firm favourites to win the title. Injuries to key Swiss players too favoured the Spanish matadors.
The Spanish came out without some of their key players hoping to keep them fresh for future battles; started calmly and professionally. The Swiss played smartly with some strong physical challenges on the Spanish mid fielders. Even with a goal less first half, Spain looked in complete command. What happened later in the last 45 minutes of the match will be part of the Swiss folklore.
The complacency and over confidence was shattered by a moment of madness. Spain never managed to come back from there. It was the matador who suffered in this fight.
Spain may still find themselves a place in the round of 16 and may have to face Brazil. But more importantly they will be worried about their attitude more than the result of the match. Talent and quality of the squad have never been enough to win the World Cup. Spain has found out this bitter truth forever in their World Cup campaigns.
Will Spain come back from this timely jolt they have received on their back side? One hopes so.
People are comparing this loss to the disastrous start of Argentina's campaign against Cameroon in Italia 90. If one remembers correctly Argentina still managed to reach the finals then.
Hopefully Spain will go one better. Miracles do happen. One happened tonight as well. There is hope.
Kuala Lumpur: The sale of condoms in South Korea has risen five-fold after fans celebrated their football team winning in the opening World Cup game against Greece.
The game on June 12 saw about a million red-shirted fans nationwide, including 200,000 in Seoul, crowd boulevards, stadiums and parks to cheer the side's 2-0 win over Euro 2004 champions Greece, reports the New Strait Times.
According to the JoongAng Daily, convenience stores and fried chicken outlets were doing brisk business, and the Bokwang Family Mart chain stores saw a near doubling of sales as fans took to the streets.
Stores in residential areas also did well, as those tuning in at home bought three times the beer and more than twice the number of snacks. It also said after the game, fans in celebratory mood bought five times more condoms than during the team's lacklustre 2006 World Cup performance.
Umm one was thinking of the title for this piece.. A few came to mind.
Who needs Viagra when Koreans have their football heroes?
The rise of the Korean brigade
Koreans bang on target
Koreans score big time
All they could come up was this – Condom sale in South Korea goes up after World Cup win
Disappointing to say the least :)
England will be 8/11
Spain will be 6/9
Brazil will be7/10
Italy will be 10/13
Germany will be 7/10
Argentina will be 12/16
Thats my view on the World Cup
PS: - The quotes shown above are a reflection of my expectations from teams and are in no way connected to the real world betting scene
For an entire generation Indians have been talking about sportspeople turning into administrators. How it can change the blasted system and get rid of all those old fossils running sports in the country.
Get a cricketer to run the Badminton shop in India.
We have finally found one such dynamic fellow and people still seem to be cribbing about it.
Azza, one of the classiest batters ever in world cricket, also known for his extra curricular activities (unproven yet), has applied to be the Secretary of the BAI (Badminton Association of India).
There are so many positives that one can think of, it makes one wonder how anyone can ever oppose his candidacy. Critics mention his supposedly unholy nexus with bookies.
But with Badminton being one of the least followed spectator sport in the country, any attention, deserved or undeserved is welcome.
Look at the possibilities. Will the next serve be a back hand flat one or a back hand toss? Will Saina win the next point or not? How many smashes will Chetan Anand’s opponent hit in the next rally? When will the shuttle be changed in the game? A range of possibilities spread themselves in front of the perennial bettor.
And you know what? Indians won’t bet on a sport that is not popular. Do they bet on Tennis? No.
Azza will see to it that Badminton becomes a popular betting sport. It’s a chicken and egg story and Azza is no chicken to let it go to waste.
Let the power be with actual sportsmen. To top that he represents the Congress. Religion, region and profession. He fits into everything.
Get rid of all those oldies. Go Azza.