January 31, 2006


With the second annual Mumbai Festival just ending (January 14-26th), we still have a number of events to look forward to on the Mumbai arts, film, & literature calendar..

Mumbai International Film Festival: February 3rd-9th 2006

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival – Feb 4th-12th

Check out the NCPA's site for their wide-ranging events scheduled this month..

For more info on Mumbai, read the urban travel blog Gridskipper's section on Mumbai and also the Metroblogging Mumbai page.

January 29, 2006

Tennis - Australian Open

The Pakistan-India cricket test had consumed my attention the last few days..did not even realize the Australian Open has started...

Well.. here is what the people that follow tennis more regularly than I do think..
Six young players to watch for & Seed Reports: Men / Women

Roger Federer,
arguably establishing himself as one of the great players of tennis (though his coach thinks he needs to win the French before he gets counted amongst the best!), recently equalled Pete Sampras’ mark of 102 weeks as world number 1 in the ATP rankings. (He still has some way to go though before reaching Jimmy Connors, who had 160 weeks at the top, and Ivan Lendl with 157). Like in many recent Grand Slams, he starts as the favorite again on the mens side. Andy Roddick, seeded second and winner of the Kooyong exhibition tournament last Saturday, is probably the next best shot...as he has been for the past few Grand Slams and I suspect Leyton Hewitt might have some chance, given that he has a home-court advantage, if there is some such thing in tennis...

On the women's side, it is a tossup between a number of players .... could be Davenport, who has always been in contention but not won recently....could be the 8th seeded Justin Henin, who won the Sydney International on Friday, albeit in a toughly-fought marathon match where she beat Francesca Schiavone 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, or could be Kim Clijsters...or Maria Sharpova or.....any one of the top-10 seeds..!!

First Round:

Oh..just catching up on scores so far and I notice that Venus Williams has
lost in the first round, losing 2-6, 6-0, 9-7 to a 18-year-old Bulgarian, Tszvetana Pironkova, while her sister, Serena, the defending champion struggled to beat China's Li-Na - getting steamrolled in a shaky second-set breaker before triumphing 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-2.

And a
star from the past is back after a 3-year hiatus with this tournament - Martina Hingis, now ranked 349, needed slightly more than an hour to defeat 30th-seeded Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-2 in a first-round match. 'It was beautiful to walk in there,' she said about her return. Zvonareva, on the other hand, was 'red-eyed and frequently slamed her racquet to the court and engaged herself in negative dialogue. '

On the men's side, Lleyton Hewitt
almost blew his opening match in Melbourne Tuesday, before rallying to beat the Czech Republic's Robin Vik 6-4, 2-6, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in 3 hours, 45 minutes. England's Grand Slam woes continued as Tim Henman lost his first-round match in four sets to Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and rookie 18-year-old Andy Murray of Scotland, touted as the future of British tennis, took a quick exit after three sets, losing Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina. The English papers were brutal on Henman after this disappointment, with the Telegraph saying, 'Tiger Tim is now an elderly tabby ready for a trip to the vet'. Henman himself is disappointed and has said he will quit by the end of the year if he cannot regain his form! (In 43 Grand Slams tournaments since 1994, Henman has never made it past the fourth round in Melbourne. He has one semifinal appearance at the French and U.S. Open. With five semifinal appearances at Wimbledon, he remains Britain's main hope to win the first men's singles crown since Fred Perry in 1936.)

And ofcourse, I cannot end this without mentioning the Indian sensation..hype...call her what you will... Sania Mirza, who as a wild-card entry at the Australian Open last year, became the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam and lost to eventual winner Serena Williams, although it was the beginning of what she's described as a phenomenal year. The former Wimbledon junior doubles champion reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open, and more recently won a tournament in her hometown of Hyderabad. She's started this year well, beating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-6 (8), 6-2. And if an Indian is doing well, can the Chinese be far behind... China has one of the fastest rising stars in tennis (as in many other fields where they were not even playing some years back!) and according to some is
shaping up as WTA's next big thing! itself, losting to Bulgaria’s Tszvetana Pironkova 2-6, 6-0, 9-7, while her sister, the defending champion Serena, had to fight hard to beat 52nd-ranked Li Na of China. Serena was broken as she served for the match at 5-4 in the second set double-faulting twice at 15-30 and won only one point in the tiebreak before she pulled herself back together and finished off a 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-2 victory. Also, a
Second Round:
Hewitt, Pierce stunned on Thursday at Australian Open - Third seeded Hewitt, who had rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit to beat Czech Robin Vik in the first round on Tuesday, fell to the Argentine, Juan Ignacio Chela 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (8-10), 6-2. On the women's side, fifth seed Mary Pierce dropped the final four games in a stunning loss to Czech Iveta Benesova, 6-3, 7-5.
And India's big hope disappoints... as Sania Mirza (32) loses to Michaella Krajicek, 6-3, 7-5. She would have faced one of the tournament favorites, Amelie Mauresemo in the next round and most likely lost... but its still a disappointment to lose in the 2nd round itself!
Third Round:
Defending champion Serena Williams loses to Daniela Hanuchova, who has lost all 3 previous matches between the two without winning a set....Christopher Clarey writes in the IHT - "The fifth day of the Australian Open began with Maria Sharapova talking about the possibility of taking her revenge against Serena Williams, but by the time the day had given way to night Friday and the roof over Rod Laver Arena had gone from open to closed, Daniela Hantuchova had deprived Sharapova of that chance. There will be no replay of last year's sensational women's semifinal in which Williams saved three match points and went on to win the title. Hantuchova erased that possibility by defeating Williams, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), in the third round............ Seeded 13th here, her ranking is expected to plummet into the 40s after this defeat."
Hantuchova next plays Sharapova, who won easily today, beating Jelena Kostanic 6-0, 6-1. Andy Roddick also had a relatively easy game, with 17 aces in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over French qualifier Julien Benneteau. Lindsay Davenport had a tougher day, on a day when temperature exceeded 35 Celsius (96 Fahrenheit), holding off Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, despite 42 unforced errors. French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne had a 6-4, 6-1 win over Virginie Razzano.
Another funny snippet from the above IHT article: Marcos 'Baghdatis, a flashy 20-year-old who also reached the fourth round here last year, beat German qualifier Denis Gremelmayr 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. Baghdatis will face Roddick in what will not only be a battle of extroverts but a battle of exuberant cheering sections. Baghdatis, has had a solid block of support in every match in a city with a large Greek community. Roddick, who is popular in Australia, has been attracting a group of bare-chested men and bikini-topped women prone to writing his name on their skin. Asked to compare the support groups, Roddick raised an eyebrow and made it clear he preferred his own. 'I have half naked women, and he has a bunch of men,' Roddick said.'
For a second day in a row, the tournament invoked the extreme heat policy that calls for play to be suspended on outside courts after matches already under way were completed. Third-seeded Amelie Mauresmo was leading Michaella Krajicek 6-2, who had earlier beaten Sania Mirza, when the 17-year-old Dutch player withdrew because of heat stress. "I felt like I was going to throw up. ... I couldn't even see the ball because my eyes were burning," Krajicek said after having an ice bath to cool down.
Meanwhile, Hingis is having a dream return... with some onlookers whispering whether she has a chance to even reach the finals! For now, she joins top seeds like Mauresmo, Davenport, Sharpova, Clijsters, and Justin-Henin Hadenne and fellow-Swiss Patty Schnyder in the final 16!
Also, in the doubles, an interesting matchup for India - Bhupathi and Wesley Moodie of South Africa 'came back from the brink to prevail 4-6, 7-6 (10/8), 7-5 over Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra of France in a marathon second-round encounter that lasted a shade over three hours. The 11th seeded Indian-South African pair are drawn to play seventh seeds Leander Paes and the Czech Republic's Martin Damm in the third round.'

Paes-Damm defeat Bhupath-Moodie at Aus Open

Roger Federer advanced to the Australian Open final Friday by beating Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 while unseeded Marcos Baghdatis extended his remarkable run at the Australian Open, rallying to beat number 4 David Nalbandian 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Now, for a fairy-tale ending, the Cypriot must slay a giant.
In a great semi-finals matchup, Henin-Hardenne continued her magnificent recent record in Australia by winning her 22nd consecutive match to book her place in the final by beating Russian No.4 seed Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-1 6-4 in two hours and 26 minutes of high quality tennis.
In the other women's semi finals, "Mauresmo was leading 5-7, 6-2, 3-2 and 15-love when Clijsters hobbled to the net and withdrew. That ended the prospect of an all-Belgian final with Henin-Hardenne, who is seeking a fifth Grand Slam singles title. Henin-Hardenne beat Clijsters in the final here in 2004 but was sidelined by injuries last year. She won the Sydney International on Jan. 13, coming back after two months out with a hamstring injury, and is 10-0 this season. Mauresmo has not returned to a Grand Slam final since Martina Hingis beat her here in 1999."
And so, although Mauresmo is the No.3 seed, the No.8 seed Justine Henin-Hardenne probably starts as a favorite in many people's minds...
Men's No.1 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan will play the No.7 seeded pairing of Czech Martin Damm and Indian veteran Leander Paes, who beat unseeded Polish pair Mariusz Frystenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-2, 6-4, in the final of men's double after a 6-3 6-4 win over Australian Paul Hanley and Zimbabwean Kevin Ullyett.
In the mixed-doubles, Martina Hingis and India's Mahesh Bhupathi enter the finals with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the fifth seeds, Paul Hanley and Samantha Stosur of Australia. Hingis and Bhupathi, who are a wildcard entry and not seeded, will play sixth seeds Daniel Nestor of Canada and Russia's Elena Likhovtseva, who after a tough-fought match defeated Nathalie Dechy from France and Leander Paes from India 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-4).
Mauresmo wins a Grand Slam at last...but what an anti-climax as for the 3rd time this tournament, her opponent quit... this has happened now both in the semi-finals (Clijsters) as well as the finals (Justin Henin-Hardenne)! (In an earlier round, she had won a match after Michaella Krajicek defaulted after tiring in the extreme heat!). Her nay-sayers will say she won her Grand Slam finally..but only by default..but it should be said that she was well on her way to a well-deserved win against in the finals..
The Chinese announced their arrival on the tennis scene known at the Athens Olympics, when Tian Tian Sun and Ting Li stunned the world by winning the gold in the womens doubles finals. Today, Yan Zi (L) and Zheng Jie made history by winning the first ever Grand Slam event for the Chinese, by winning the Aussie Women's doubles title.

Bhupathi-Hingis won the mixed-doubles final - an amazing comeback tournament for Hingis, who Maria Sharapova thinks will soon be in the top 10. (Interview with Martina Hingis and Mahesh Bhupathi)
No.1 seeds Mike and Bob Bryan, finally claim the crown at the Australian open. They lost in the finals the last two years - beaten by Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Michael Llodra in 2004 and by Zimbabweans Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett in 2005. The third time was a charm however, as they beat the 7th seeded duo of India's Leander Paes and Czech Martin Damm 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the final. (Interview with the Bryan brothers)
Post-Open Updates:
Photo feature: Hail Baghdatis!
Giant leap for in ratings for Hingis
Clijsters jumps to no. 1 ahead of Lindsay Davenport, while Mauresmo is now seeded #2. (India's Sania Mirza slips from 32nd to 34th, which is great I suppose considering ast year’s champion Serena Williams dropped 24 places to 39th after losing in the third round in Melbourne. Former world number one Martina Hingis of Switzerland, making a comeback after 3 years, climbed 232 places to number 117 after reaching the quarter-finals in her first Grand Slam event since her retirement in 2002.

January 24, 2006

Another day..

Another perfectly good day gone....
..and all I have to show for it is a new background on my blog(s).

Life goes on... and maybe so it should be...

"Art, like life, should be free, since both are experimental." - George Santayana

January 23, 2006

Fever, Winter, and the Blues

Have bad flu-like symptoms (heavy head, cold, slight fever) ... feel like doing this...

And its snowing outside... (although this view from the bed doesn't look bad!)

And I have been listening to Jazz and Blues radio stations on Shoutcast.com since yesterday...

All in all...there has been no inclination to blog ..though it hasn't kept me away from surfing on the internet and such..

Will be back soon... but unfortunately, I had no updates over the weekend on the Pakistan-India cricket test nor the Australian Open tennis scores nor the Ranji Trophy semis nor anything else...

January 20, 2006

India-Pakistan Test 2 Preview

All eyes on the pitch as India, Pak ready for the 2nd test - After the Lahore test run-glut on a flat docile pitch, the Faisalabad pitch now apparently 'shares with Sehwag, Dravid, Inzamam and Shoaib, headline status.'

And this quip from an article by G. Rajaraman in the Outlook, says it all... 'Good from far....far from good'!
I saw wrist-spinner Anil Kumble returning from the nets, his pads still in place and told him "Door se dekha to thoda ghaas nazar aaya...(From the distance, it looked as if there was some grass on the wicket)." He stopped in his tracks, offered me a Mentos and even sang a part of the jingle that is part of the commercial. "So what did you say? Door se dekha to thoda ghaas nazar aaya? Paas jaakar dekho, kuch khaas nazar nahi aayega (Go closer and you will spot nothing)," he said, getting more lyrical.
On the eve of the 2nd test, Moin khan is overly pessimistic in this article - saying India gained a lot from the Lahore test, despite all the distractions with Ganguly, whereas Pakistan did not gain anything at all and in fact lost everything, including the momentum they had after the win against England! He also makes the controversial assertion about the Lahore pitch saying it was so dead because Pakistan wanted it to be so...and that
Pakistan declared their first innings at 679 and if my memory is correct, they scored something like 350 runs in under 60 overs on the second day. I think they thought that on this wicket, the ball would reverse and their pace trio would run through the Indian batting line-up that was a bit nervous due to several reasons. The home team was also banking on Danish Kaneria to pick up a few wickets on a pitch that would deteriorate because he is a big turner of the ball and has plenty of varieties that he uses intelligently. That game plan backfired simply because Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid played marvelous innings.
Given Shewag's record against Pakistan, Moin Khan expected thinks that Pakistan have an 'uphill task of preventing the flow of runs from Virender Sehwag's wood in the Faisalabad Test. The solution, apparently, is simple but the execution is difficult -- bowl as straight as possible to Sehwag and frustrate him by not allowing him to free his arms....he has also shown over the years that if he fails to penetrate into the opponent's bowling, he throws away his wicket with a silly stroke. So the best bet for Pakistan is to not allow him to score easy runs and wait for him to repeat that silly mistake.'

And yes..he also adds later in the article that Shoib should ball more yorkers, to be effective on placid pitch! Ok.. sounds simple. no? . Lets see how they execute it :)

Meanwhile, mere speculation aside that Ganguly will be dropped in place of a 5th bowler, all indications are that Ganguly will play again and it's been confirmed from the captain himself that India will persist with the 'makeshift' Shewag-Dravid opening pair atleast for now. I guess Ganguly supporters will argue that if they chose him for the first test, he has done nothing since (other than take a spectacular catch after misjudging it) to warrant dropping him!

But like Gulu Ezekiel writes:

The manner of permutations and combinations the Indian team think-tank is having to conjure up simply to open up a place for Sourav Ganguly is assuming ludicrous proportions.

His loyal Kolkata fans have sent across a signed bat to Dravid. This is apparently a peace gesture after their disgraceful behaviour towards the captain and the Indian team during the ODI against South Africa at the Eden Gardens late last year. One wonders if they will ask for it back if the team management finally takes the bit between their teeth and decides to drop him for the second Test at Faisalabad!

Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer must be wondering what they are doing on this tour if having been chosen as openers they will then be forced to cool their heels..

11 lost days

Amazing..never heard of this before..

there is a little-known ripple in American history as a result of the switch from the Julian to Gregorian calendars, part of an ongoing struggle to realign the days with Earth's orbit. This came up in the context of the Jan. 17 celebration of the enlightened and much celebrated American scientist & inventor, statesman, librarian (apparently, he started the very first public library with a lending program), printer, philosopher, musician and economist, Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday in the US this year.

But apparently,

There is just as much reason to party this Friday, Jan. 6, which was Franklin's birth date before time skipped ahead 11 days in 1752. Because it takes just more than 365 days for the Earth to rotate around the Sun, calendars eventually shift out of line with the seasons unless adjustments are made. The Julian system, introduced by the Romans in 46 B.C., was advanced for its day but still added 11 minutes every year.

According to historian Robert Poole, this shortcoming had pushed Easter's date so out of whack by the sixteenth-century that Pope Gregory XIII felt compelled to act.

"The Gregorian reform removed the unbidden ten days from October 1582 to bring the calendar back into the same relationship with the heavens which it had borne in 325, and introduced a modified pattern of leap years to keep it there," Poole writes in the journal Past & Present.

When Britain and its American colonies reluctantly adopted the new system in 1752, a jump of eleven days was necessary to correct the imbalance. By legal decree, at midnight on the night of Sept. 2, the clock ticked forward and it became Sept. 14.

Anyone living at the time of the skip had to adjust their thinking as well as their birth dates. To avoid confusion, dates were referred to as "Old Style" or "New Style," as Franklin does writing about an uncle in his autobiography of 1771:

"He died in 1702, Jan. 6, old style, just 4 years to a day before I was born."

Officials throughout the British Empire were also forced to quell taxpayers' fears that they would have to fork over money for days that never existed. A common story, which Poole denounces as mostly folklore, goes that some people believed their lives were actually being shortened and rioted to get their eleven days back.

January 18, 2006

Less is more

The Beauty of Simplicity - Simple is the new competitive advantage...
'By one estimate, the world produced five exabytes (one quintillion bytes) of content in 2002 - the same amount churned out between 25,000 b.c. and a.d. 2000.'

January 17, 2006

Peter Drucker dead

I am real late with this news but somehow I missed this...

Management guru and arguably the Man Who Invented Management, Peter Drucker, died on Nov 11, 2005 in Claremont, CA at age 95, eight days short of his 96th birthday. Drucker was a Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee in 2002 and taught at New York University as Professor of Management from 1950 to 1971 and rom 1971 till his death, he was the Clarke Professor of Social Science and Management at Claremont Graduate University.

(I didn't realize till I read in the wiki entry today that he was not American - he was of Austrian origin - moved to America in 1937 in the face of Naziism's threat and became a naturalized citizen in 1943.)

You learn something new every day... never heard of the "father of scientific management", Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) before I read about him in the wiki entry for Drucker! Stevens Institute of Technology, where he earned a night-study degree in 1883 houses archives of his papers in the Special Collections section of their library.) Modern management theorists, such as Edward Deming, often credit Taylor, however, with generating the principles upon which they act.

Eldritch Press has his classic work online..
The Principles of Scientific Management,
Copyright © 1911 by Frederick W. Taylor
Published in Norton Library 1967 by arrangement with Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated,
by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110,
ISBN 0-393-00398-1, $8.95 paperback

Here is also a short online biography, at:

One home page on Taylor as inventor is at:

Also can read the text of this seminal work here

Management consultant, Tom Peters writes about why Drucker was the Right Man for His/Our Times

Also see list below of related reading, cut-n-pasted from the aforementioned wiki entry

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by Peter Drucker

January 16, 2006

Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai..

No details or comments from me at this point in time (more because I lack the time and not because of any lack of opinions)...

Cut-n-paste from a post at Prufock's Page, On The Bannedwagon

James Laine's controversial The Epic of Shivaji, a translation of the Sivabharata (with the aid of S.S. Bahulkar) was actually published in 2001 -- two years before his Shivaji: Hindu King In Islamic India (which was banned by the state in 2004). In proscribing this earlier book now, the Maharashtra government said that it 'could threaten law and order and overall stability in the society'. (Considering that no tremors rocked the state in the four years that the book was available, one can only guess at their motives.)

In a recent conversation with Mid-day's Deepak Lokhande, Laine said:

'I am beginning to wonder whether your people want to participate in a scholarly debate. It happens in the rest of the world. My book was for scholars - I am not a popular author who writes for masses. I don't understand why so much attention is being given to some lines here and there....The Indian government and the Indian people have the right to decide what book they want to read...A few lines picked from the introduction have been used for banning the book. It's sad it is being stalled and it's a pity that Indian intellectuals are not raising their voice against it.'

In the Hindustan Times, Laine commented: 'Some time ago, the publishers said that there were people offended by the use of the word 'Oedipal.' I told them I had no objection to the use of another word. I have had no contact with the government.'

Well, what does it matter as long as we get a Shivaji memorial rising from the sea? Oh, hold on, there's someone else protesting.

(The Literary Saloon's earlier post here, and current one here.)


Doctor, heal thyself..!!!!

Salman Rushdie recently commented in the Paris Review on his growing ambition to tell a story simply and clearly: 'I've gotten more interested in clarity as a virtue, less interested in the virtues of difficulty - I don't like books that play to the gallery, but I've become more concerned with telling a story as clearly and engagingly as I can... A story doesn't have to be simple, it doesn't have to be one-dimensional but, especially if it's multidimensional, you need to find the clearest, most engaging way of telling it.'- via Prufock's page:
(The interview with Rushdie appeared in the Summer 2005 issue; some extracts are online here.)

Arundhati Roy

Haven't read much about Arundhati Roy for a while... suddenly she's in the news again... this time for her decision to turn down this year's Sahitya Akademi award and obviously she is not reconsidering the decision... Ms. Roy had declined the award, saying she could not accept the honour from an institution linked to a government whose policies she opposed, they told PTI.' 'The Algebra of Infinite Justice', a collection of essays by writer Arundhati Roy on the hubris of the rich and the powerful and the plight of the poor and the homeless, was selected for the 2005 Sahitya Akademi Award in English.

Interestingly, she also recently recieved the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize. You can read a transcript of her lecture, Peace and The New Corporate Liberation Theology, given on this occasion.

And here are a couple good recent interviews with her...
Arundhati Roy discusses her role as writer and activist, the importance of non-violent dissent, and the potential for finding justice in the world.

And a really deep interview with Amit Sengupta of Tehelka.com

Some other references from the past..

Link 1: "In May 1999, in the two Indian news magazines 'Outlook' and 'Frontline', Arundhati Roy published a lengthy political commentary on the Narmada dam project, its history and context, and its impact on the people it is displacing. An abridged version of the same article entitled ' Lies, Dam Lies, and Statistics', published in the Guardian newspaper in the UK two weeks later.

The text of the full article, entitled The Greater Common Good, is available from the Frontline website here. The article was also published as a book in India, and has since been repackaged with The End of Imagination essay as 'The Cost of Living'."

Link 2: War Talk - Arundhati Roy, the internationally acclaimed author of The God of Small Things, addresses issues of democracy and dissent, racism and empire, and war and peace in this collection of new essays.

Viva Women Leaders!

Twin triumphs for women in politics.... two women coming to power today in two different countries after getting elected to lead their countries..

Historic win for Michelle Bachelet, elected as Chile's first woman President.


Liberia, the first ever Woman president of Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, gets sworn in today, (with Condi & Laura Bush at the inauguration showing support for 'Girl Power' :))

Bachelet's win is historic given the context that "Chilean society is often portrayed as ultra-conservative, dominated by men and the Roman Catholic Church. Only 4% of senators are women and divorce was only introduced last year.'

...writes Red, ... 'In a deeply Catholic conservative nation where politics is dominated by machismo (rememeber Pinochet), Bachelet is a divorced single mother , who publicly declares herself to be an atheist and was previously tortured by the Pinochet regime. Bachelet returned after the fall of Pinochet and was made Ministers for Defence and Health, irnoically placing her in charge of the same army that once tortured her.'

After giving an update on the Bolivian elections, (where '
For the first time in Bolivia a candidate has won the absolute majority of the votes. Evo Morales, a Quechaha Indian and high-school dropout who herded llamas as a boy,leads the Movement to Socialism, counts Chavez and Castro as his buddies and calls himself Washington's worst nightmare. He is the first indigenous President in Bolivia.'), Red concludes, 'Latin Americans now live in interesting times'.

Indeed...12 of the region's countries prepare for presidential elections between November 2005 and the end of 2006. And with socialists and supporters of Chavez & Castro winning many of these elections, the next few years are going to be interesting, to say the least... d
ealing with Iran, Iraq, and Korea (the self-labelled 'axis of evil') is going to keep the US really entrenched.. but the Bush administration is definitely going to sigh that 'Democracy can be so inconvenient'. The question in my mind is whether history will repeat itself? Will we see a number of military coups that put in place puppet regimes? Hope not...

The world is flat

NPR had a great interview with pig farmers in the mid-west who have decided to start operations in Brazil. Now, these guys aren't big corporate farmers just a couple of family farmers trying to expand their business. The world is certainly flat! - via John Winsor's blog. John is the author of the recent book, SPARK & an earlier book, Beyond the Brand.

January 13, 2006

Mumbai-Maharashtra Ranji

Given the recent history, this Ranji trophy clash between Mumbai and Maharashtra has some special significance... and despite what they said going into the match, some of the players atleast are bound to be on edge and have some strong feelings going into this match.

Mumbai start as favorites, being the top dog in the Elite group - especially given Maharashtra's dismal performance so far, despite a new foreign coach (Darren Holder from Australia) and a new-look team with ex-Test team stars like Bahutale and Kanitkar and future-test hopefuls like Munaf Patel (Munaf & Bahutale played for the Bombay side till last year...see earlier post about this).

Well.. Day 1...and Maharashtra predictably flounder around to a less than respectable score of 213 allout ...pretty good considering they were 137/7 at one point but reached 213 thanks to a quickfire 39 off 40 balls from Munaf Patel and 29 of 35 balls by #10 player, SR Burkul. However, Maharashtra gave some indication of putting up a fight... dismissing both openers before the close of day, leaving Mumbai at 21/2.

But the greater surprise has come on day 2... Munaf Patel strikes terror as he dismisses the top order batsmen for single digit scores leaving them reeling at 47/6. Mumbai's top order doesn't have quite a good solid feel to it this year after all the pre-season changes - and without Wasim Jaffer, who is in Pakistan, it was even more severely crippled in this match. Munaf went on to take 5 wcikets and Mumbai was dismissed for 175, giving Maharashtra a morale-boosting first innings lead! And this thanks to a gritty performance from Ramesh Pawar, who put up a great fight, reaching an unbeaten 78* before running out of partners. Ramesh Pawar, who played a few ODIs when India last toured Pakistan, regularly chips in with good performances for the Mumbai side and is one of the few players in the country with great all-round ability... I hope he is groomed and developed more and given more chances to play for India, especially in ODIs.

Lets see if Mumbai bowlers fight back on day 3 and go on to win the match for Mumbai (not an unrealistic expectation)!

Day 3: Powar takes 5 wickets in just 13.5 overs and Maharashtra crumble to 187 allout... leaving Mumbai 226 to chase to win. However, Maharashtra fight back, taking 155/7. Powar is still there and so there is hope for Mumbai but 71 runs still in arrears... might be tough!

Day 4: Well..well..well.... Maharashtra beat Mumbai!!!! Munaf Patel ^& Bahutale have the last laugh ..
Mumbai, having resumed the day needing 71 runs, managed just five runs. Sairaj Bahutule got rid of Rajesh Verma while Munaf Patel removed Ramesh Powar and Nilesh Kulkarni, the overnight batsmen, to bring up the Maharashtra victory.

In another great match in this round, Bengal also stormed to the semis with a great win over Railways.. Bangar (remember him?) set Bengal a target of 303 in 54 overs with a sporting declaration (prompted probably because Railways didn't even have the luxury of a first-innings lead, the curse of domestic cricket petering to meaningless draws) and
Bengal grabbed the chance with a thrilling win with 1 ball to go. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala's magnificient 139 in 135 balls and and Subhomoy Das with 83 helped Bengal reach victory... concluding a good match, compared to the usual humdrum in domestic cricket!

January 12, 2006

Future of the earth

Don't need a 'think-tank' to tell us this...

A US think-tank has warned that the 'Earth lacks the water, energy and agricultural land to allow China and India to attain Western living standards. The Worldwatch Institute said the booming economies of China and India are "planetary powers that are shaping the global biosphere". Its State of the World 2006 report said the two countries' high economic growth hid a reality of severe pollution. It said the planet's resources could not keep pace with such growth.'

If all nations were to use the same services enjoyed in developed nations, even the full extraction of metals from the Earth's crust and extensive recycling may not be enough to meet metal demands in the future, according to a new study. - via LiveScience.com

I have more links on the topics of our oil dependence and alternative sources of energy & Global Warming and other adverse effects on the environment at my other blog, which is more a compilation of links on various subjects than a blog.

A kind of related blog post
discusses projections on where Russia and developing nations like Brazil, India, & China, collectively grouped as BRICs will be in 2050. The Goldman Sachs report (Global Economics Paper No. 99), projects:
  • In less than 40 years, the BRICs economies together could be larger than the G6 in US$ terms. By 2025 they could account for over half the size of the G6 - they are currently worth less than 15%. Of the current G6, only the US and Japan may be among the six largest economies in US$ terms in 2050.
  • The largest economies in the world (by GDP) may no longer be the richest (by income per capita), making strategic choices for firms more complex.
  • As today’s advanced economies become a shrinking part of the world economy, the accompanying shifts in spending could provide significant opportunities for global companies. Being invested in and involved in the right markets—particularly the right emerging markets—may become an increasingly important strategic choice.
In an article in The Business newspaper, Allister Heath draws attention to the newly-classified grouping of the Goldman Sachs paper. Allister Heath's main point is the way the European economies have tumbled down the league tables of competitiveness and attractiveness.
  • Between 2000 and 2005, the Brics contributed roughly 28% of global economic growth in dollar terms and 55% when adjusted for purchasing power parity. Their share of global trade has now hit 15%, double its level in 2001. Trade among the Brics has also accelerated and now accounts for 8% of their total trade compared with 5% in 2000.
  • The Brics now hold more than 30% of world foreign exchange reserves and account for 18% of oil demand. They take a 15% share of global foreign direct investment inflows, nearly three times higher than in 2000, and 3% of outflows, a sixfold increase since 2000.

On Language

The outsourcing of evil ...Salman Rushdie

Green glowing swines

Researchers in Taiwan have engineered pigs that glow green in fluorescent light, thanks to the addition of a jellyfish gene. In daylight, their eyes and skin are green-tinged. They are the only ones that are green from the inside out. Even their heart and internal organs are green!

Maybe one of these days, pigs will fly too..!

January 11, 2006

Of Penguins and Monks

If March of the Penguins was the documentary of 2005... is 2006 the time for monks.. an unlikely film, Into Great Silence, has been filling cinemas in Germany in recent weeks: a three-hour documentary set in a monastery and with hardly a single spoken word.

Indeed, Silence is Golden!

Ganguly in numbers

It is the time to be discussing Ganguly these days while we wait for the first test to begin...and so in that spirit.. here is an interesting analysis of Ganguly's impact as a captain and as a player. We keep talking about the Ganguly-Wright era, about how Ganguly brought a step-change in the Indian teams attitude towards winning, etc... but when we look at cold hard stats, how well did he really do?

Saurabh Wahi, who even by bloggers-standards seems to have a lot of 'free time' on his hands and conducts some real amazing analyses of cricketing stats at his blog, Vital Stats, writes:
Ganguly's "intangible contribution (to Indian cricket) is that he built a new sense of confidence and cockiness within Indian cricket, groomed youngsters and has a big part to play in getting Indian cricket to where it is now and no amount of graphical analysis can do justice to his legacy
But ..
"How many did he win, and lose? What was his record against the leading nations, and against the minnows? What was his batting record as captain and how did it compare with Tendulkar, Dravid (in ODI's & Tests), Sehwag (in ODI's) and Laxman (in Tests)? And lastly, how did he compare with his peers like Vaughan, Inzamam, Ponting, and Fleming."
Read the detailed analysis here.

Sidenote: Tells you why the Pakistanis are so worried about Dravid more than anyone else (though, I am sure, Shewag also probably gives Woolmer a few sleepless nights, given his record against Pakistan and when it comes to Indian batting, they can never really lose sight of SRT)...

However, as the hangover from the celebration of the Ganguly-Wright era recedes and the more permanent euphoria over SRT's undeniable record-breaking exploits simmers in the background...two quiet men whose contribution cannot be understated ought to be celebrated - Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.

More about Kumble later but here is a
n interesting observation about Dravid from a plot in the above post which shows us how well Dravid has done ...even moreso than SRT...in tests that India has won! Dravid stands out as the chief contributer (batting-wise) in Indian wins..even better than SRT..although it is true that this data captures only tests in which Ganguly was the captain and as Saurabh points out, it does not include a significant inning by SRT (the 194* in India's win Pakistan in 2004 under Dravid.) Would be nice if such a comparison could be done overall.. not just in tests where Ganguly has led.. and maybe Saurabh will do that soon! :)

But in any case, in tests where Ganguly led the Indian side to victory, there is a big difference in Dravid's average (102.8 overall, 111.3 excluding
Bangladesh and Zimbabve, the minnows) compared to anyone else in the Indian side. SRT's overall average in wins (69.9) falls significantly (to 53.3) if you exclude the wins against minnows, against whom his performance is significantly better (a Dravid-esque average of 103.4!).

January 2, 2006

Playboy in India

Playboy Makes Move in India, but Without the Centerfold - Playboy is seeking to do in India what it had never done before: publish a magazine with its usual fare, except for its name and its nudes.

Shouldn't matter...right? We read it for the articles, dont we? ;)

NYT Movie Reviews

I often find that New York Times movie reviews are really great literary pieces by themself.. here is a recent sampling

'Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont': An Aging Grande Dame and Her Youthful Caller Dame Joan Plowright endows Mrs. Palfrey with stoic charm and decency in this unabashedly sentimental film.

'The Libertine': A Noble With Big, and Fatal, Appetites Johnny Depp's beauty and talent salvage this rigorously stagy film on the life and bad-boy times of the second Earl of Rochester.

'The Boys of Baraka': Goodbye City Streets, Hello African Wilderness This rich documentary proves that inner city boys have a better chance of thriving if removed from their poor neighborhoods.

'Exist: Not a Protest Film': Two Young Radicals and Their Dovetailing Destinies By dramatizing the lives of two activists with candor, sympathy and a healthy strain of skepticism, "Exist" offers an antidote to the whimsy and solipsism endemic to much of what passes for independent filmmaking.

'First Descent': Extreme Snow and Its Enthusiasts If this chronicle of snowboarding has no more heft than a fresh coat of powder, it's awfully fun to roll around in.

'Little Man': A Story of Mothers' Love "Little Man" is an unusually honest film about the ambiguity of maternal love.

'Walk the Line': The Man in Black, on Stage and Off Johnny Cash gets the musical biopic treatment in this moderately entertaining, never quite convincing chronicle of his early years.

'The Kid and I': The Perils of Privilege A chore to watch, "The Kid and I" is self-congratulatory, excruciatingly sentimental and sloppily written and directed.

'I Love Your Work': It's Lonely, at the Top, and a Little Scary, Too Directed by the young actor Adam Goldberg, "I Love Your Work" is an attempt to say something interesting about modern celebrity.

'Be Here to Love Me': Portrait of a Problem Child With a Songwriter's Soul Margaret Brown has directed a tender, impressionistic film biography about the Texan singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt.

'Far Side of the Moon': A Pair of Brothers Learn How Strong Gravity Can Be It takes about 28 days for the moon to orbit the earth and approximately 60 minutes for "Far Side of the Moon" to reveal its full splendor. 12PM 2 Jan

'Transamerica': A Complex Metamorphosis of the Most Fundamental Sort 'Transamerica', starring Felicity Huffman as a pre-operative transsexual, is touching and sometimes funny, despite its overall air of indie earnestness.

'Aeon Flux': In 2415, There are Still Bad Hair Days A. O. Scott (Movies)"Aeon Flux" is best appreciated for the costumes, the sets and Charlize Theron's haughty athleticism.

'The World's Fastest Indian': An Old Man and His Bike, Chasing an Impossible Dream Stephen Holden (Movies)This based-on-fact story of a New Zealand coot who defies age by racing his motorcycle competitively is a big mushy piece of ice cream cake for Anthony Hopkins.

Not one more refugee death, by Emmy Pérez

And just like that, my #NPM2018 celebrations end with  a poem  today by Emmy Pérez. Not one more refugee death by Emmy Pérez A r...