Sunday, February 27, 2011


In the weeks that have gone by and the weeks ahead, the sub-continent's craze for the game of cricket will reach its crescendo. The desire to replicate the least expected win at the Prudential Cup of 1983 with a much anticipated victory as a gift to the God of cricket Sachin Tendulkar has only made things as much difficult. The days when Ranji Trophy matches were treasured have been replaced with manouvres for tickets at the stadia across the countries which host these gladiators. The cricketers have been reduced to auctionable lots in the name of glory while ownership in the name of sponsorship has taken over the mantle.

The gentleman's game was put to shame by the display of greed by the organisers and the elite. The cornering of the chunk of the tickets which rightfully belonged to the true cricketing fans is regrettable and has shown the whole nation in bad light. The last thing India required was a scam of this magnitude following the CWG, the 2G and S Band among a host of others. The organisers would have done themselves proud by hosting the underprivileged rather than issue passes to the unworthy elite who would anyway be able to afford the tickets. The Government officials, bureaucrats, technocrats and others who have benefited by attending the game on special passes have not done themselves proud.

A word for Kumble and Srinath who have shown rare gestures even to wild animals as well as opponents on the field by emulating greats such as Vishy. Could you ensure that not a single pass is issued to any official of the Government machinery from the next game? This would be setting the bar high for all other hosts. A firm but polite no would ensure that you hold your heads high as in the days you played the game. In the event the stadium is not filled up due to want of persons to purchase tickets- rope in the children from orphanages who are denied these pleasures anyway. These may sound idealistic but the time has come for us to set a new agenda and the expectations on both of you is quite high.

Let us remember that the credentials of this nation rests on its unique emphasis for integrity. In the last few decades we have shamelessly displayed our lack of integrity. Let the gentlemen from Karnataka begin with the gentlemen's game to restore these very ideals.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Childhood memories came flooding back as the eyes caught the headline "Uncle Pai no more". This uncle was one of those whom we had never met in flesh and blood but had charmed his way into our hearts. He contributed immensely to various facets of our personalities which are now appreciated as positive. Through the immortal Amar Chitra Katha series he lured every kid worth its salt into the habit of reading. The pictures of the characters in these comic books inspired us to attempt the art of drawing, painting and sketching. The stories were told in inimitable style maintaining simple sentences with an uncanny sense of introducing us to new words in each comic. This was soon to be followed by the Tinkle series which brought us nearer to humour and ethics besides fulfilling our desire of seeing action.

Treading down the memory lane, I could see myself wait for that golden moment of my quota of comics which were to compensate me for the various trinkets my sister would get on pay day of my father. A princely sum would be forked out to purchase a comic or two from the bookseller. We were undoubtedly spoilt for choices. The desire would be to grab as many but the budgetary ceiling would come in the way. After deliberations which even an international convention would fail to measure upto a couple of titles would be picked up with a shortlist for the next month. Experience did not teach us that by the next month there would be fresh titles on the stands. The books would range from mythology to history. The time taken to shop these books could leave any woman to fume that too much of time was being spent on shopping. It would be easy time for our parents to do some small shopping nearby leaving us under the guardianship of the bookseller as well as the invisible hold of Uncle Pai.

The wait to return home to savour the contents of these books was too much to bear. A novel device was therefore discovered much to the trauma of our parents ( as we realise now!!!).  The comic book in one hand would be opened and the other would clasp the hand of our guardian angels. Confident that there would be no mistake made by them, we could relish the books on the way home. With two books, the choice of which title to be read by whom first was also an engaging conversation. As we now enjoy the conversation of the kids, these memories try to draw out the images of persons who were the beneficiaries of the free entertainment we provided for the folks around. Within the trek of a couple of kilometres the contents of both the books would have been devoured. This would not satiate the desire. Another round of reading had to be done in the name of eating our dinners. This was one of the habits which most elders detested but we continued undeterred. The collection of books were then bound into a volume which helped us befriend a printer near our house. Imagine this man, Babu ( much less my present age) would read the books before binding them. The charm of these books fetched us friends too. As in philately, the attempt to read the other titles which were in the possession of other contemporaries was but natural.

As time passed we came across a colleague of my father who had a bigger collection of this treasure. The manna from heaven for us was that his home was near the market. We still do not know what he would have thought of us. Muthukrishnan Uncle's home was a regular place to visit soon. His kids and we started exchanging volumes of these books. This habit though initially put us through Enid Blyton took us through the familiar growth curve of Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Alfred Hitchcock, Arthur Hailey, Jeffrey Archer right upto the Dan Brown of today.

It was only a couple of weeks back a good old friend of ours dropped in home and shared with us his old ambition to own Amar Chitra Katha comics and therefore his penchant today is to only gift them. The moment he said he had started acquiring volumes of them which is the new trend, it was a mutually understood fact that the old friendship was on revival track- the reason of course the love for the books more than for the friendship. Uncle Pai had again waved the magic wand.

The books that have been savoured, relished and cherished may be many but none could come near the sense of belonging given by these treasured ones. Imagine the days when we would actually quiz each other on the facets of these books. The nearest any set of books got to the sense of this belonging were Asterix and Obelix as well as to some extent Tintin. The reach of these books can be fathomed by the fact that a youngster who is new degree holder grew upon a staple diet of the success stories(?) of Shikari Shambhu and the wisecracks of Suppandi. 

The best tribute one could pay to this legendary uncle is to cultivate the habit of reading, imagining, creating with the anchor firmly dropped in the familiar moorings of culture, ethics and morals. The ultimate tribute would be to restore the moral fabric of mankind by reaching out to the familiar and unknown at the same time. Uncle Pai is undoubtedly an eternal (AMAR) and picturesque (CHITRA) story (KATHA) in himself!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


E mails sometimes have an unknown sense of timing. Personally I am not very fond of forwards but some of them have had a telling effect on me. As I checked the inbox today the following forward from my friend found its place there quite prominently.

An Obituary printed in the London Times - Interesting and sadly rather true.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
                          - Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
                          - Why the early bird gets the worm;
                          - Life isn't always fair;
                          - and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion..

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

                             He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
                                          I Know My Rights
                                         I Want It Now
                                        Someone Else Is To Blame
                                        I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

I found the best way of putting on notice would be to share it on the blog. The rare case of a coincidence on the very same issue rankled my brains. Yesterday, a colleague of mine was run over by a speeding car followed by a couple of vehicles who found their time more precious than another's life or limb. The irony was there was no pedestrian crossing on the busy thorough fare nearby and the closest one was also infested by the two wheelers. The obituary was there and so was the utter lack of common sense as well as the sense of humanity. The basic courtesy of pausing for a moment in honour of the departed soul was also found to be unwarranted. My friend who was unaware of these incidents had sent the above forward - a fitting one for the moment and a thought provoking one too.

May I add another line to this forward
None even bothered to spare a thought for the glorious past of the departed nor
did they contemplate the resurrection of this much wanted value - COMMON SENSE