India’s best supported English football club

I had been thinking of doing this poll for quite some time. Here’s my motivation behind it. India, with its massive population power (~1.2 billion) is a largely untapped market when it comes to European football. Only perhaps German side Bayern Munich have played a few games in India, and they have always been watched by audiences in excess of a 100,000 at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata. Sadly, one of the biggest reason of this absence is the lack of quality in the Indian local sides, and hence the inability to provide reasonable pre-season fixtures. This though, doesn’t in any way imply a lack of fan-following for the major European sides. On the contrary, there are huge fan groups for almost all top English clubs.

The percentages might comparatively come out smaller when compared to the support for say, the national cricket side or any of the IPL sides, but it should be noticed here that even small percentage numbers mean huge real population numbers with a market of the size of India. So is it your club that stands to gain the largest from this untapped market? Lets find out who you support –

Multiple votes don’t work 🙂

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The Enlightenment

Have you ever had this moment, this moment where you’re left dumbstruck, with retrospection, forced to look into yourself, everything you’ve been through, and where you’ve reached? And yet, at that moment you’re a lot more wiser, maybe not so much in actions, but in understanding the reasons, and you know a lot more, so much more.

Two weeks back, I had come home during the weekend, and I was waiting for the elevator, beneath my building. As I stood there, in the monotony of my pathetic little life, three kids came jumping around, discussing something. On listening in, I found out they were discussing their Beyblades ( or Tazzos ) or something. And they were really animated about it, passionate as they could be. Soon after, came in another couple of kids, and this one kid from the latter group started jeering about some particular beyblade he had acquired. All the kids were seemingly awestruck by this new acquisition, when the bully from the original group started shouting, that his beyblade was much cooler than this new one, trying to bring the attention back to himself. A fight ensued with heated shouting, lots of snatching and shoving, and one kid almost coming down to tears. And all this while, I just stood there, shocked, as the elevator door opened and closed on me.

I  stood there because I was dumbstruck, lost for words seeing how passionate these kids were for these little things, while I had become so estranged with the simplicity of life. I was shocked to see how much they could fight over a beyblade, while I had to cope with thousands of frustrations at work, with relationships, betrayals, infatuations, insecurities, expectations, addictions, and the myriad mixtures of the anxieties, moments, the depressions, moments, and the solace-seeking indulgences I had learned to live within. I could see myself, right there, in those kids, in my school days, fighting over Pokemon Tazzos, or Wrestling Cards, or just the simplest things of life. To quote Johnny Cash, “What have I become, my sweetest friend?” Why was life such a struggle now, when it was so simple and happy once? At that precise moment, I could see everything flash right in front of my eyes, and I so desperately wished that those boys never reach here. Their happiness was so real, so pure, unlike my much maligned, broken and superficial laughter.

Haven’t things just become so complicated, that its almost incomprehensible to imagine such naivety ? And, if at that moment, I could just get one wish granted, the wish of my life probably, it would’ve been – take this away god, Give me that back !

And there lied my Nirvana, and that was my Enlightenment.

Home [again]..not really

Blogging has generally been on now/off then for some while, my apologies.

Life, the daily course of events, the people we meet,  the places we go, the good times, the not so great ones, the laughs, the fights, the comforts, the fears, their reasons, basically everything; keeps doing circles, seems to move on, but ever so slowly. There are times, times of your life, but on other times, they just don’t seem right.

I don’t exactly read too much into fate/destiny et al, but sometimes, just the course of events makes you ponder about why certain things are the way they are, how could they have been better, or did you turn them to the worse, because you were selfish.

Sometimes, I don’t easily get what people try to do with themselves. What makes them happy? Maybe its just the self-centric thing, but some decisions become almost too incomprehensible, too difficult to accept easily. And then, once again the usual cycle of explaining, understanding, the non-understanding, again explaining, and making a very confused, not-exactly-a-yes nod follows. I try non-interference, it becomes ignorance,  i try self-confinement, that becomes attitude, i say fuck it, becomes fuck off.

Makes me realize comic relief is probably the best thing that ever came out. The lighter moments, however insignificant, almost always make life easier, alleviate the pains, and bring back the happiness, however short-lived. Some of the best (recent) comic relief I’ve come across (again this is no order of nothing):

1. The Mock Swine Flu story, my sis told me

2. The Chronicles of Hostel-3 stud(appa)

3. The Ali G show, Borat, Bruno

4. Sarcasm (always works)

5. The Hostel-3 lobby Bak*****

6. The use of Dark Seer by Leon

7. Mumbai touch-ups

8. The time around college et al

9. Lots’ve things actually, invisible, easily lost with time, yet significant, as soon as something sprouts them up, again.

Keep Healthy. Take Care. There’s a lots’ve life out there. Most of it not easy. Live. Relieve.

The Big Indian Blog Democracy

Internet seems to have finally caught up with the old-school Indian political parties. And so, even though all major competing groups still presented 70-somethings as their Prime Ministerial candidates, the presentation just that bit more savvy, in an attempt to entice the tech (or tech-pretend), blog reading, wikipedia searching Indian www-er.

So what’s in store???

I notice WordPress and Google tied up with the NDA’s candidate – The controversial, yet charismatic, former Deputy PM, L.K.Advani. Mr. Advani’s portal at http://www.lkadvani.in is almost as good the one used by the democrats for Sen.Barack Obama in the US elections last year. The attempt to tie up with wordpress is also commendable, simply because of the large number of Indian WordPress readers and Google users. The portal boasts of many pro-change one-liners (cudn’t find a better word), most presented in saffron bolds. Another interesting feature is the volunteer scheme, which also smells much like the American system. Also on offfer, is the party’s manifesto and its various sections in elaborate details, apart from discussion forums, polls, links, campaign updates, and Mr. Advani’s own thoughts, which I must admit, rounds up a pretty neat show of aggresive online campaigning, not to mention the Advani for PM (very American) carry tag.

On the other hand, there’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s own page at http://www.manmohansingh.org. The UPA candidate has long been known for his simple style, which is very much evident in the simple structure of Dr.Sinngh’s page (although this could also be down to the inefficient maintainance). The page carries quite a few links like PM’s Biography, Able PM, Policies, Achievements, Writings, Opposition, etc. apart from from national news updates. One interesting glowing link is to UPA chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s page at http://www.soniagandhi.org . This page is also very similar to Dr.Singh’s portal and does intelligent small talk about origins, motives, agendas, and India. The Congress has shown greater reliance on its party blog, which again is a very tech savvy page and inculcates everything concerning the party, the upcoming elections, and a formidable dose of volunteer schemes, forums, public polls, updates, etc.

If you’re more of a party-centric voter, then there are blogs like http://www.bjp.org, http://www.congress.org.in, http://www.cpim.org et al for you to check out. Then there’s also the PMO at pmindia.nic.in to grab more daily bites about everyday chores in the country’s most important office.

Whether the people make up their minds based upon online campaigning, is very hard to predict, but it sure is sweet, and a largely welcome change to the Indian political scene.  The one thing you do have now is choice, and a chance to better understand the choices. Please do vote.

PS: I won’t, coz I could not register in the Mumbai list. The EC guys came home, Iwas college.

Contemplating the Post…

Apologies once again for passing up on the blog for more than 3 months. Thanks to this absence, I’ve now officially become a dormant blogger according to some of the worlds most read blogs. Please read them blooooogs, they’re scribbled upon often enough with the regular supposedly inspirational/self-conscious updates, love their numbers, need your support.

Anyways, its not that i haven’t wanted to write all this time, there has been a lot to write on, things the world has seen, movies that i’ve seen, places I’ve been to, faces I’ve met, and all along I’ve wanted to share the thoughts. Again, I don’t even have excuses to fall back on, its not that I’ve been especially busy, nor have I been isolated from the www.

I can remember many instances when i reached the wordpress homepage, logged in, even worked on the plentiful spam, kept opening all the blogs i read for strictly inspirational purposes, n then eventually closed the browser, promising myself of the effort another time.

Contemplation could be something I could go on ranting about here, but naah, that’d make it boring though. I’m usually casual about things, and dont often give a fuck to most things that happen around me, so hell I if didn’t get the steroids for blog writing, does it really matter.

The fact is blogging has become too much’ve a formality to go back to, and I’m really too lazy to be dressed in my best brain Armanis every now n then to raise the post toast.

Anyhows, this is whats bin happening off late:

1. Lots’ve trance, used to mock Shanky for his trance habits once, now i can’t get the dope out’ve my system.

2.Irritating people’s still on, though the bar’s been raised, I’m now the proud winner of the Best Brag title.

3.Did not, could not go back home this Holi, too bad.

4.Please find me the anti-dope for DOTA, do I really want it?

5.Plan to get up late tomorrow, or rather don’t plan to get up early tomorrow.

PS: 5 ways to screw up a perfect day:

->Attend double RC Jha lectures.

->Fight everyone, esp. those u’re not talking to in person (i.e on calls, the net , etc.)

->Applicable to Tuesdays n Thursdays: Have breakfast in the hostel.

->See your unlucky charm sometime during the day ( though some of my friends have contagious effects, with their grims giving hell to everyone around them as well).

->There’s a fifth way, I never have a perfect day.

( Do I have to fill in the excerpt given below as well? )

Of Wall-E, Snatch and the awaiting Slumdog

Another month went between my previous post and the one that progresses… a few things of importance before the reviews begin:

Barack Obama got chosen as the 44th President of the US of A.

Mumbai had more to worry than the menacing ‘Raj’. Terrorists attacked the city on 26th of Nov. (the same day as my   parents married). The attack claimed nearly 200 lives and injured many more. It seems this time the world is determined to come together and crackdown Pakistan originating terror organizations.

Chelsea haven’t been having the best of times. Defeats at Roma, and to Arsenal and Burnley at home, mean that the blues find themselves 2nd in the premiership, knocked out of the Carling Cup, and needing to desperately win against CFR Cluj in a few hours from now, in order to ensure a place in the Champions League knockout stages.

Wall-E

walle

IMDB rank 34 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

That Pixar  is the best when it comes to modern-day animation technology, is not questioned by many , but in Andrew Stanton’s Wall-E, Pixar have probably found their masterpiece ( Yes, after considering Ratatouille and Finding Nemo ).

The story is set in a distant, but not so unrealistic future, where mankind has abandoned earth because it has become covered with trash, WALL-E, a garbage collecting robot has been left to clean up the mess, alone, except for a sprightly pet cockroach. One day, Eve, a sleek (and dangerous) robot, is sent to earth to find proof that life is once again sustainable. WALL-E falls in love with Eve and the rest of the story revolves around sci-fi spaceships, robot chase sequences and umpteen hilarious situations.

What clicks the most for WALL-E is its complete story package, exploring robot emotions, human ignorance and the ultimate fate that technology may bring upon us. Pixar’s superior animation techniques leave you amazed after every scene, and Stanton’s ever-fresh ideas add to the brilliance of the show.

Wall-E is a must watch for all the animation buffs out there ( though I ain’t  1 really), and is currently the highest rated animation movie on the IMDB at 34.

10/10 for animation, direction, voice-overs, storyline and Pixar.

Snatch

snatch

IMDB rank 159 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

Snatch is a movie, I can never get enough of. I love British movies, I love dark comedy, and I love the English accent. Snatch is all of that added to a brilliant cast, excellent direction, and a story that leaves you awe-struck. Its also the only real thing Guy Ritchie ever made. Here’s a nice plot summary I borrowed from IMDB:

Turkish ( Jason Statham ) and his close friend/accomplice Tommy ( Stephen Graham ) get pulled into the world of match fixing in illegal boxing by the notorious Brick Top ( Alan Ford ). Things get complicated when the boxer they had lined up gets the shit kicked out of him by a Mickey( Brad Pitt ), a ‘pikey’ ( slang for an Irish Gypsy)- who comes into the equation after Turkish, an unlicensed boxing promoter wants to buy a caravan off the Irish Gypsies. They then try to convince Mickey not only to fight for them, but to lose for them too. Whilst all this is going on, a huge diamond heist takes place, and a fistful of motley characters enter the story, including ‘Cousin Avi’, ‘Boris The Blade’, ‘Franky Four Fingers'( Benecio del Toro ) and ‘Bullet Tooth Tony'( Vinnie Jones ). Things go from bad to worse as it all becomes about the money, the guns, and a damned dog!

Add to the above, some of that eccentric British accent, a buch of witless characters sporting guns, and ovcousre -> ze blood. Please watch Snatch and if it clicks with you, you’ll watch it again n again, just for the sake of it. The background score ain’t bad either.

9/10 for acting, cast, setting, and editing.

10/10 for the storyline.

Watch out for Jason Statham ( in his career best-performance) and Brad Pitt’s a ‘pikey’.

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

IMDB rank 222 ( as on 9 Dec,2008 )

I haven’t seen the Slumdog Millionaire, but from what i hear this promises to be one hell of an India based movie. This genre has been attracting notable interest in the recent past with decent movies like The Darjeeling Ltd. becoming audience favorites. The thing with Darjeeling Ltd. was that none of it was real, neither was the story believable, nor was the India in it. But the west loves its ‘Indian’ image and loved the movie, which frankly, becomes a bit tiresome for an Indian to go through. But Slumdog is different; its set in the real India, with a realistic situation, and is already making heavy Oscar vibes, with lead actor Dev Patel becoming a fan-favorite. Watch out for this movie in the coming days, that is, if you haven’t marveled it already. I sure am looking forward to it.

(*Images courtesy IMDB)

Rajdeep Sardesai’s letter to Raj Thackerey

This comes after I recently got involved in the  “Migrants in  Mumbai” debate at kv’s blog.

My Dear Raj,

My apologies for having to communicate through the editorial pages of a newspaper, but frankly am left with little choice since you seem to have decided to stay away from the so-called ‘national’ non-Marathi media. Let me at the very outset say that I am impressed with the manner you have carved a niche on the political landscape of Maharashtra. I distinctly remember meeting you in February last year soon after the Mumbai municipal corporation elections. It wasn’t the best of times: your party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had been marginalized while your cousin Udhav Thackeray and the Shiv Sena had captured power in the city. With many of your supporters deserting you, you appeared down, if not quite out. Twenty months later, I see you’ve bounced back: every local and national daily has you on the front page, you are the subject of television debates and your politics has even united Bihar’s warring netas.

And yet, my friend, there is a thin line between fame and notoriety, more so in the fickle world of politics. Bashing north Indian students may grab the headlines, getting arrested may even get you sympathy and strident rhetoric will always have a constituency, but will it be enough to secure your ultimate dream of succeeding your uncle Bal Thackeray as the flagbearer of Marathi asmita (pride)?

If Balasaheb in the 1960s rose to prominence by targeting the south Indian “lungiwala”, you have made the north Indian “bhaiyaa” the new ‘enemy’. In the 1960s, the Maharashtrian middle class in Mumbai was feeling the pressure of job competition for white collar clerical jobs. Today, it seems that there is a similar sense of frustration at losing out economically and culturally to other social groups in Mumbai’s endless battle for scarce resources. With the Congress and the NCP having become the real estate agents of the state’s rural-urban bourgeoise and the Shiv Sena a pale shadow of its original avatar, the space has been created for a charismatic leader to emerge as a rabble-rouser espousing the sons of the soil platform.

But Raj, I must remind you that electoral politics is very different from street agitations. Sure, round the clock coverage of taxis being stoned and buses being burnt will get you instant recognition. Yes, your name may inspire fear like your uncle’s once did. And perhaps there will always be a core group of lumpen youth who will be ready to do your bidding. But how much of this will translate into votes? Identity politics based on hatred and violence is subject to the law of diminishing returns, especially in a city like Mumbai, the ultimate melting pot of commerce. Your cousin Udhav tried a “Mee Mumbaikar” campaign a few years ago that was far more inclusive, but yet was interpreted as being anti-migrant. The result was that the Shiv Sena lost the 2004 elections – Lok Sabha and assembly – in its original citadel of Mumbai. Some statistics suggest that nearly one in every four Mumbaikars is now a migrant from UP or Bihar. Can any political party afford to alienate such a large constituency in highly competitive elections?

Maybe, your not even looking at winning seats at the moment, but simply staking claim to the Sena legacy in a post Bal Thackeray scenario. Perhaps, thats exactly what the ruling Congress-NCP combine in Maharashtra wants: like a market leader who gets competing brands to crush each other, the Congress-NCP leadership seems to be practicing divide and rule politics once again. They did it with Balasaheb and the communists in the 1960s, with Bhindranwale and the Akalis in the 1980s, even with the Kashmir valley politicians in the 1990s. A larger-than-life Raj Thackeray suits the ruling arrangement in Maharashtra because it could erode its principal rival, the Shiv Sena’s voter support. It’s a dangerous game, but often when politicians run out of ideas, they prefer to play with fire. It’s a fire that could leave Mumbai’s cosmopolitanism scarred for life.

Now, before you see my writings as the outpourings of an anglicized non-resident Maharashtrian, let me just say that, like you, I too am proud of my roots. I too, would like to see the cultural identity of Maharashtrians preserved and the economic well-being of our community assured. Where we differ is that I am a citizen of the Republic of India first, a proud Goan Maharashtrian only later. Fourteen years ago, I left Mumbai for Delhi to seek professional growth and was distinctly fortunate to be readily embraced by the national capital. Like millions of Indians, I too am a migrant and a beneficiary of a nation whose borders don’t stop at state checkpoints.

Moreover, I cannot accept that ‘goondaism’ is the way forward to forging a robust Maharashtrian identity. By vandalizing a shop or stoning a taxi, what kind of mindless regional chauvinism are we promoting? Taking away the livelihood of a poor taxi driver or beating up some defenceless students from Bihar reflects a fake machismo that is no answer to what ails Maharashtrian society today. The Maharashtra I once knew was inspired by the progressive ideals of the bhakti movement, by a Shahu-Phule-Ambedkar legacy of social reform. Are we going to dismantle that legacy under the weight of hate politics?

When you started your party a few years ago, it had been pitched as a party committed to a “modern” Maharashtra. If that vision still stands, why don’t you take it forward in real terms? Why don’t you, for example, set up vocational courses and technical institutes for young Maharashtrians to make them competitive in the job market? Why not, for that matter, start English-speaking classes for Maharashtrian students to equip them for the demands of the new economy? If cultural identity is such a concern, why not launch a statewide campaign to promote Marathi art, theatre and cinema by financially supporting such ventures? If Mumbai’s collapsing infrastructure worries you, then target the politician-builder nexus first. And isn’t it also time we realized that Mumbai is not Maharashtra, that the long suffering Vidarbha and Marathwada farmer needs urgent attention? Why not use your political and financial muscle to start projects in rural Maharashtra instead of focusing your energies on Mumbai’s bright lights alone? An employment generation scheme in a Jalna or a Gadchiroli may not make the front pages, but it will have far greater value for securing Maharashtra’s future.

Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra!

Chelsea- The 86 streak tribute

Back in 2002, on a random day in school, at a GK period, a friend of mine, who was conducting a small mock quiz for the class, asked my team a question I don’t remember. We didn’t have the answer, and he prompted me by saying, “C’mon Kartik, it’s your favorite team, the one you told me about”. To be frank, I didn’t have a single clue to what he was referring, but I replied, “Is it Chelsea?” As it turned out it was Chelsea, and it’s been Chelsea ever since then. Maybe the word Chelsea had come up in one of our random sports talk ( and there were too many ), but I don’t think I can guess what logistics made him call that team my favorite.

Something happened today!

Sometimes when something ends all of a sudden, its strange how you wish it would never have been in the first place. But the worst strikes, when you have to deal with that for the first time.

Chelsea lost for the first time at the Stamford Bridge in a Premier League game for 4 years and 8 months. I felt like it’d be better if I could cry, and not many things make me feel that way. They’ll all come to me, they’ll repeat it to me- it’d be better if I could cry.

Shortly after that first stint with Chelsea, the cable operator at our place didn’t air ESPN-Star for a long time. But by that time, I’d become Chelsea enough to stop at that. Sure, Zola, Zenden, Hasselbaink, Le Saux et al didn’t claim to be invincible, but flames of my Chelsea romance had already been lit.

We shifted to Mumbai around summer 2004, which hadn’t been the best of my times. On the first day to new school, I met this friend, one who still is probably the best of them I’ve got. He asked me if I followed football, that did I watch the EPL, if I supported a club? Maybe, not entirely truthfully, I said I watched football games all the time. I said I was a Chelsea fan ( for the first time ). And it was never about the money as they keep telling me. 

I had seen the game when they last lost a home premier league game, but at that time it didn’t matter. It was OK. Chelsea was also-rans, and they lost to a season-unbeaten Arsenal side. That was February 2004.I was 15 then.

Ever since then, I’d never seen them fail, not at the fortress called Stamford Bridge, that is until today, October 26, 2008, a day after my 20th birthday.

The legend of the phoenix is that it rises back from its own ashes, every time it dies, and though today wasn’t the death of the Chelsea legend, it’s time we rebuild it again. It took them all 86 games ( a total of 26 different teams ) to finally bring the streak to an end. I hope its 860 now. I hope I live to see them keep winning at home forever…..

True Blue Forever…..

Jaane Tu….again!

Ok! i kno every1s ready to bash me up for dis…. after the review i gave it, i’m gonna watch Jaane Tu again, this sunday.N dere’s reasons y i hv to contradict myself (talk of a ‘a 1 time dvd watch’, ‘don’t waste 160 bucks lyk i did’)

1. Fame Adlabs ( Raghuleela ) this morning declared an inaugural offer advertising recliner seats for 100 bucks.

2. My mom n sis had more or less made up their minds on watching this muvi despite the warnings.

3. Sunday is a holiday.

4. Dad asked me if i’d come along, n i ws: “sure! if we’re going 4 recliners”

5. I wasn’t there wen he got the tickets, recliners wr all booked upto Tuesday, we wr goin 4 normal billets.

6. I think all de songs r good.

7. I’m not wasting 160 dis tym, jst 60.

N nw u cn LOLLZZZZ me.

The Lonavala Chronicles…

Due to their strong insistance, the identities ov da celebs involved in dis trip haven’t bin revealed, n infact hv bin replaced by even dumber alphabets.

So we finally managed to have the Alibaug-became Karnala( or ws it Karjat )-became Lonavala trip, huh, n no i don’t regret it…infact, it turned out to be a surprisingly refreshing experience.

After much negotiations by D, apart frm me, A,B,L,R, n D ( say ) made it to Lonavala n bk…

The day din’t start britly at all, n despite my D’s strict instructions, i did get up a bit late, n got even later coz my preparations clashed wid ma sis’ goin 2 skul tym( yea dere wr fites invlvd 2). I reached Seawoods’ stn. ( while also seeing a Pnvl bound local leavin) at abt 8, n contemplated getting on it, but no i’m a nice guy ain’t I,YES!, so i got a ticket n w8ed for da next train. Neways, i reached Panvel( n dis tym every1 incldn my frnd A hd bags, coz bags r kewler), n v w8ed 4 our Lonavala bound train. In the train i kept on bein NICE ( k, no, bt i ws atleast betr den xpected i guess ) …so v carried on wid the usual rituals ov DUMB( ? ) Charades ( yep i ws at my skillful best again ), n LONAVALA came, along wid sum SUPER weather, by 11.

No1 v knew in Lonavala, cmd 2 be interested in helping us out wid directions ( 1 ov ’em hd infact gone on to change his cell no., bt dats a wildd guess)…so v trotted on wid the our leader in B, who vowed us to help us reach the promised waters of Bhushi Dam….

More’s to come ( guess m too sleepy rite nw ), inclding y Rajat Kapoor decided to come o’er n say hi….