Sunday, January 18, 2015

Googlies: Conflict of Interest, Selection Puzzles & the Lack of Dashers and Bashers

"Dhoni Stifled By the Lack of Later Dasher in the Team", says Monga, in his latest article on Cricinfo. India lost its match against Australia, and it was too obvious that a lack of big-hitter at number six hurt India's chances. Sadly it seems that this could remain the script for Indian losses in this world cup. I believe the selection of the final fifteen was not made on merit. It did not account for either the recent form or level of experience at this level or even fitness of the players. The backroom politics, big money, IPL scum and scams, petty regional and filial feelings, and the obscure love for bureaucratic mediocrity, all are to blame.

Maybe someone needs to go to the courts, even if it is to the virtual ones, and ask the following questions from Dhoni, selectors, BCCI board, the Sports Ministry and the machinery that punishes tax evaders, rule breakers, etc:

(a) Dhoni and BCCI selectors: why not pick the in-form batman, all rounder, one of the best finisher in the game, Man of the Series in the last world cup? 
For everyone who follows Indian cricket, domestic and international, the very idea that somehow Yuvraj does not make the cut, is quite inexplicable. Maybe as inexplicable as the conflict of interest with a selector father and selected (poor on pitch / poor on paper or POP, POP) son... Yes, we all know. These days, Yuvraj is no selector's Binny, while Stuart Singhs, POP POP is King!

(b) Bring all your calculators, selection metrics, performance cards from all formats of the game, and justify the inclusion of Stuart Binny over a long list of more consistent performers, both with bat and ball. I can easily list Murali Vijay, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Rishi Dhawan, Ashok Dinda, Manoj Tewari, etc ). Yes yes, I know, we have a bowling all rounder and POP POP can swing!

(c) Can somebody explain to me how Srinivasan and Dhoni navigate through conflict of interest issues? Who is not bothered by the fact that BCCI officials are IPL team owners, and run for profit companies that own IPL teams, and the same IPL teams have players who are their employees on roll on their other companies. Can anyone take charge and act soon to punish the teams, the players and the officials involved in the IPL scam? Prime Minister Sir, here is a perfect example to set for fair play and AAP party, here is a perfect example of a labyrinth in the search of a broom.

(d) What is the criteria for picking selectors and what is the criteria for selection if all the consistent performances in a domestic competition usually go unnoticed and will not get you a call to the national team? How many players in the current team have played their fair share of Ranji trophy and domestic cricket? How many have first class records unmatched by the domestic performers who are consistently overlooked?

Like most of the fans of Indian cricket, I also keep hoping against hope that in spite of all this, the Indian team will prevail. I also hope it will continue to find a string of stellar performances from Sachins, Rahuls, Anils, Sauravs, Jagwals, who thrive in spite of the system. Even for the World Cup in 2015, I have hopes for one or more exceptional performances from that fiery Kohli, focused Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, persevering yet underrated Rahane, workhorse Ashwin, amazing in ODIs, dud in tests Rohit Sharma, and the Indian Cements employees/ Chennai Superkings mascots (Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja). Sometimes all it takes is two great performances in a match, one from a batsman, one from a bowler, to earn the win.

But fairness, transparency, respect for both talent and for trust placed by a billion people, are all a different matter. When will be find a voice as a nation to condemn this endless chain of corruption, so widespread that even catches are dropped or picked, balls left or nicked, based on how much someone somewhere has bet on it! The maze of corruption seems draw everyone in. I wonder how will we ever succeed as a nation without getting out of this  labyrinth?

We will watch it all as it unfolds. Yes, the World Cup 2015, too, we shall watch it as it unfolds. With its dashers and bashers. Mavericks and meritorious. Sons and duds.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Neend ke Shahar / नींद के शहर

नींद के कई शहर घूम आया हूँ ।
जस्बा, जज़्बात, कस्बा, कौम,
सब धुत सोये पड़े हैं । सरेआम
चोर लूट कंधे पर टाँगे गलियों
गलियों से गुजर रहे हैं । कुत्ते,
पुलसिये भी जागे पर अलसाये
तमाशा देख-से रहे हैं, अधखुली
पलकों से देख-से रहें हैं । तालीम
कह कर, बच्चों तक को
छोटी उम्र से सुस्त-दिमागी,
आलसी-सोच पिलाई जाती है ।

इक्का-दुक्का बल्ब-सा रोशन
हेडलाइट बुद्धिजीवी सरपट
दौड़ रहा है, मानो कोई बेताल
पीठ पर चढ़ा उसे सता
रहा हो, घर-घर का हाल,
अलार्म घड़ियों का अकाल,
मुर्गों की कमीं और बदहाल,
धुत, गहरी नींद में बने बुत,
लाशों-से निश्चिंत जनमानस
दिखा कर कह रहा हो, जगा!
हिम्मत है तो जगा के देख !

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Books read in 2015

Read in 2015 (99 = 39 + 60; NF 8
FICTION IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION --  (17): Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago [translated from Portuguese], Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Rhadopis of Nubia by Naguib Mahfouz [translated from Arabic], A Russian Beauty and Other Stories, Tyrants Destroyed and Other Stories, Details of a Sunset and Other Stories and Nabokov's dozen by Vladimir Nabokov, Harlot High and Low by Honore de Balzac, The Sleepwalkers: A Trilogy by Hermann Broch Artifices, The Aleph, The Maker, In Praise of Darkness, Brodie's Report, The Book of Sand, and Shakespeare's Memory from Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges [translated by Andrew Hurley], For a Night of Love by Emile Zola [translated by Andrew Brown],

NOVEL / FICTION IN ENGLISH (8): The Tomb of the Twelfth Imam by Richard Bulleit, Grimus by Salman Rushdie, The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov, A Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, (Drown by Junot Diaz), Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, (House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III), Collected Short Stories, Volume 3 by W. Somerset Maugham,

POETRY IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION (10):  Metamorphosis by OVID [translated by Ralf Humphries], Human Landscapes by Nazim Hikmet [translated from Turkish by Randy Blasing and Multu Konuk], Poems of... by Nazim Hikmet [translated from Turkish by Randy Blasing and Multu Konuk], The Complete Poems by Catullus [translated by Guy Lee], Why did you leave the Horse Alone? by Mahmoud Darwish [translated from Arabic by Mohammad Shaheen]

English translations of Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Eswaran, S. Radhakrishnan, P. Lal, Aurobindo Ghosh, Stephen Mitchell, 

POETRY IN ENGLISH (52): The First Part of King Henry the Sixth, The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth, The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth, King Richard The Third, Titus Adronicus, The Comedy of Errors, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's Labour's Lost, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, King John, The Taming of the Shrew, King Richard the Second, The Merchant of Venice, The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth, King Henry the Fifth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Ceaser, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, Troilus and Cressida, All's Well that Ends Well, Measure for Measure, Othello: The Moor of Venice, Macbeth, King Lear, Anthony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, King Henry the Eighth, Venus and Adonis, Lucrece, Sonnets, A Lover's Complaint, A Passionate Pilgrim, Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music and The Phoenix and the Turtle by William Shakespeare or The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (44), Teaching a Man to Unstick His Tail by Ralph Hamilton, Lighthead by Terrance Hayes, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe, The Endarkment by Jeffery McDaniel, Totem by Gregory Pardlo, Selected Poems by W. B. Yeats, Fractals by Sudeep Sen, Mystery, So Long by Steven Dobyns,

PHILOSOPHY / RELIGION / MYTHOLOGY  (1):  The Essential Kabbalah by Daniel Matt,.

POPULAR SCIENCE / ECONOMICS (2): The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell,

NON-FICTION - OTHER (5): (Primitive Song by C. M. Bowra),  The Artist as a Critic by Oscar Wilde, Dusk of Dawn: An Essay towards an Autobiography of the Race Concept by du Bois, From the Southland by Thomas Lux, W. B. Yeats: Last Poems - A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Jon Stallworthy,

MAHABHARATA (by Mahrishi Ved Vyas; translated from Samskrit into English by Kisari Mohun Ganguly) (0/18):

Hindi / Urdu / Punjabi (Fiction/Mythology: 1+ Poetry: 1+ Non-fiction: 0): Rachnavali by Raskhaan, Maansarovar 6 by Prem Chand. रसख़ान कृत रचनावली, कन्हैयालाल मिश्र प्रभाकर कृत माटी हो गयी सोना
Sanskrit (Fiction: 0+ Poetry: 1): Bhagavad Gita by Maharishi Ved Vyas,

(If I am through more  than 50% of the book, it goes into the list of the year past, otherwise it appears in the new list next year. See here for the books read in 2014, with a selection of my favorite reads from the year past.)

Favorite reads from 2015
1. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: I had not read most of the historical plays before, and was not acquainted as well with Sir John Falstaff as every human being ought to be 

2. The Sleepwalkers: A Trilogy by Hermann Broch: It is three novels, plus a collection of essays and a few poems, rolled into one incredible journey into the very soul of at least six exceptional characters from an exceptional time in German history (1888-1918).
3. Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges There is no match, and perhaps never will be, to the intellectual audacity and breadth of knowledge that came naturally to Borges. 

4. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe One of the greatest stories ever written.
5. Bhagavad Gita by Maharishi Ved Vyas and its various translations An ongoing obsession for me, to delve as deeply as possible into this celestial song, this philosophical treasure, this great book of couplets!

6. From the Southland by Thomas Lux Before I read Thomas Lux the poet, I met Thomas Lux, the person. Insanely curious,  exceptionally generous and well-read. This book of non-fiction is both a lens into the working of the mind and heart of this wonderful poet and person, and a timeless collection of sketches about an America we barely see though it surrounds us. The America of fire-breathers, cops, bug-watchers, bridgekeepers and more.

7. The Artist as a Critic by Oscar Wilde As witty and wild and joyous as any critical writing can be.

8. The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver: Offers insight into the art and science of prediction.

9. Human Landscapes by Nazim Hikmet World literature is enriched by all the works of Hikmet; he captures melancholy, struggles, joys of common Turkish folk.
10. Metamorphosis by OVID:  

11. Lighthead by Terrance Hayes  Powerful and poignant poems.

12. The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe

13. The Endarkment by Jeffery McDaniel The range of emotions his similes, metaphors and line of thought inspire is only matched by his mastery of the craft.

14. Harlot High and Low by Honore de Balzac One must always read Balzac as there is no better way of becoming acquainted with the joys and failings of human beings.

15. Selected Poems by W. B. Yeats Grandmaster poet