July 8, 2010

No need to Apologize

Filed under: Anthropology — Tags: , , — HarryCool @ 12:09 pm

My response to Joel Stein’s apology

I am an Indian and I love my country. I see absolutely nothing offending when I read your article. It’s just a harmless humor-oriented view on the Indians who have come to live in your town. I can imagine how everything would have changed there and anyone would have felt amused at the strange ways of a foreign community. This would happen the other way round as well. Imagine a community of Americans living on their own in a small town in India. All Indians will find their ways and manner strange and amusing. I live in Manila and find Filipinos to be really strange in the ways which are part of their everyday life and considered absolutely normal. I see no hatred or malice in your article.

Indians make fun of Indians all the time. Punjabies find South Indians (commonly mocked at as Madrasies) strange. Probably no one likes Bengalies (except for the Bengalies). All joke about the Sindhies. Sardar jokes go around like Blonde jokes in US. This all goes in good humor. Our films are full of fun and mockery at one set of community or the other. In fact the various states of India are more different from each other than the various countries of Europe. There is more a similarity between the culture and ways of a French and British then there is between a Sardar and a Madrasi. It is an absolute cultural wonder of the world that a Sardar and Tamil can stand next to each other and say they come from the same country.

I think the reaction to your article comes more from a sense of insecurity and inferiority complex. There is Jealousy at play here too. There is no need to Apologize

…. it is his opinion and he is entitled to it just as we are to disagree. Yet, instead of leaving it that, Indians have gone overboard in demanding an apology from Time and Stein. Frankly, that sucks.
Indians are too thin-skinned, taking umbrage at the slightest writings or statements.
It is nothing but sheer hypocrisy, the kind at which we seem very good at, that every praise of an Indian community is lauded and hailed, but on reading the slighting negative piece, the knives are out.


July 3, 2010

The African Tragedy

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , — HarryCool @ 2:54 pm

For that very moment it was heartbreaking the way Ghana lost but the fact is they should have won this game much earlier than the extra time of extra time. The way Ghana played the entire match is the bigger reason of their defeat today then the missed penalty by Gyan. I have throughout the tournament criticized the Africans (all African teams) for their lack of finish, running out of ideas in the D or cold feet. They are physically strong, control the ball well in the midfield, extremely confident and play a Brazilian style which looks better than Dunga’s men did in this world cup. The fact is that Uruguay capitalized on the opportunity which were presented while Ghana could not on their own-created opportunities. So many chances were not converted throughout the game (and the tournament for that matter). 

Ghana reaching this stage of the tournament in spite of the ton of missed opportunities in the games before, in itself is a blessing; that they should not really call this situation unlucky now. At the very best, it is poetic justice for them. All the little strokes of luck throughout the tournament were undone by this one unlucky one.

I am actually a big fan of the way Africans play and really wish them well by heart. All my small little interactions with Africans in person so far have been very pleasant and so I like them as individuals as well. This liking for Africa is what frustrates me when I see them struggle near the goal after a great build-up from the middle. This behavior reminds me of the Indian Cricket team of the past when they were known to choke in close encounters. They still do, but only in the final :p 

Ghana looked like they finally had the touch in the game against the Yanks but it wasn’t enough for this one.

 Uruguay got the opportunity and they took it. They too fought hard but were not the better of the two sides. Any footballer worth his time in sport would have done the same thing as Suarez. His actions were absolutely in line with what happens in football in situations like that. In fact he wouldn’t have thrust his hands out deliberately for that matter. This was an instinctive handball. If you look at the footage carefully, had he thought a little more (wasted more fractions of seconds), he could have headed the ball out as well as it was not that high and looked within reach. But in a split second situation like this, it’s not the brain but the spinal cord that takes the decision which we usually call as a reflex action. It’s like slamming the breaks of your car in an absolute emergency. You don’t think, rationalize or look for other ways. You do what comes first. So he is safe from my criticism! 

Football is a team game and today it is more important than ever to remember this then to just blame Gyan for the defeat or Suarez for the victory. 

Missing the penalty was just one of the many opportunities that Ghana (and Gyan) missed today. The part that hurts is, unlike Uruguay’s game of luck, Ghana created the opportunities on their own and still could not finish it in. 

Ghana sure looked like a team that had the potential to beat the Dutch. I can’t say this much about Uruguay though. Ghana also is a team that does carry the fortitude to win the finals considering they were as far as semi finals already (almost). Ghana winning the world cup 2010, the fantasy which was actually so close to reality that it hurts to see the way it got crushed. It hurts. Yes it does even though I do not know where exactly they are in the map of Africa. This is how beautiful football is! 


The vuvuzelas choked into silence. Only Uruguayans couldn’t share Ghana’s pain.
“I think I made the best save of the World Cup,” Suarez said later, unabashed.

There was sadness in his eyes but he looked remarkably composed.
“I’ve nothing to say, you know? It’s part of the game,” Gyan said

Of Suarez, Gyan added philosophically: “He’s the hero now in his country because the ball was going in and he held it with his hand and unfortunately I missed the penalty, and they’ve come back and they’ve won … But football is like that.”
Suarez showed no remorse. He was just happy to have stopped what would have been the sure winner for Ghana.

With a squad with an average age of just 24 years and nine months, Ghana will get other chances.
Not that that was any consolation.
“We were so close to making it,” defender John Pantsil said. “It was very, very painful.”

“I think it was instinctive,” Uruguay Coach Óscar Tabárez said. “The player instinctively stopped the ball and was booked with a red card appropriately. He was thrown out and he’ll miss the next match. What else do you want me to do?” 

If you still insist that no matter what he should always stick to the rules, then you’ve obviously never played a real football match in your life

Our heart rates go up just from watching that scene; how do you suppose Suarez felt at that moment?

Brazil lost to consistency

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , , — HarryCool @ 2:51 pm

Nothing much to crib about in the Brazil vs Holland game like it is in the one after. Except for the fact that Brazil played like anything but Brazilians and lost to a consistent Dutch. Why am I hung on to Consistency in this post? Because this was the first game I saw in this world cup where a team did not change its style of play with the changing score line.

Whether one goal down, level or one up, Dutch stuck to their boring lack luster, flat but effective football as compared to the missing Brazilian flow. Brazil on the other hand, just like any un-Brazilian team would do, seemed to be content with the 1 – 0 lead and rightfully got to pay for it.

This also incidentally is the first game in this world cup (the one after this one being the 2nd) where a team down by a goal came back to win the game. This little statistic in itself speaks of the not so exciting world cup. The only thing exciting about this world cup is the French, Italian and English elimination and of course the Vuvuzelas and Jabulani.

Except for the goal and one nice move, there was nothing Brazilian about the Brazil game today. Another un-Brazilian thing about Brazil today was once at level I thought now they will show the Dutch What Attack Is. I thought it would be fun now. Instead Brazil turned out to be cry babies. They did not come back onto Dutch as a true champion side would, they instead were whining and fighting and all that. That was sick to watch. After watching them for so long over the years this is the least you expect out of them. Yes, everyone knows Latin Americans do not take defeat well but one also won’t expect the Brazilians would buckle under pressure like this so soon. No Good Job Mr Dunga. No Good! They deserved to lose. That is it.

Italians coming back on to the Kiwis, Cameroon’s massive attack after a goal down against the Japanese and English blitzkrieg on Germans was so much more exciting than watching these Brazilian cry babies. So moving on to the more interesting observation of this game today albeit a personal one…

The first goal by Brazil reminded me of my days in school. This is a typical trick I and Pradeep used to do at kick-off. One of us will dash towards the opposing team’s D while the other one would kick the ball right through the middle into the front the moment game would kick off and you’d have a goal in the very opening second. We used to do it in strikingly similar fashion to the way Brazilians scored today. One pass and ne touch into goal – fox all. Even though it was scored in the middle of the game and not at kick off, the goal really made me nostalgic and actually proud (funny) that the idea we considered unique to us is actually a genuine international play! Ha ha , those were the good old days of football in school. No one used to like me and Pradeep being in the same team.

July 1, 2010

How Bastar battlefield turned into death bed

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — HarryCool @ 6:51 am

59 CRPF men against 200 Maoists is not a bad ratio. Or shall I say “should” not be as bad a ratio that the casualties end up as one-sided. Can you imagine 200 terrorists winning a one-sided battle with 59 US marines. There sure will be a bloodbath on the other side big enough that they won’t be able to take away weapons or their injured/dead with them.

The fact is that CRPF men would have tried to run away the moment they’d have been ambushed. They just wouldn’t have fought. How will they? They are poorly trained and don’t have enough/right arms to fight with. Shouldn’t this be the case for the opposite side? What a pity.

Why do we not have 59 CRPF casualties? Why did the rest not stay on to fight till the end? How did they let the maoists take away their dead/injured? How did the maoists afford to take the left over arms of dead CRPF? It is obvious that maoists didn’t just ambush and then run away. They stayed on and cleaned up their mess as there was no one else to kill. Either the enemy (CRPF) had been killed or it ran away.

Jo dar gaya, samjho mar gaya. That is what happened in Bastar.



Twenty-seven men of the 39 Battalion were ambushed and cut down by Maoists in Narayanpur on Tuesday afternoon. Most had crouched behind the mud walls of the field, taking cover and firing back at the Maoists. But it was an unequal battle since the Maoists were in a remarkably secure position: A 20 feet deep nullah or rivulet, which the police say, they used as a trench to launch the attack on the CRPF party.

“The party with 59 CRPF men and one special police officer had left the camp early morning to clear the road unto Jhari Ghati ahead of movement of buses and troops. They were on their way back when they were ambushed near the nullah 3km short of the camp,”

It was not clear if any Maoist had been killed. “Our men said they saw bodies of at least 10 Maoists being carried away on wooden stretchers,” said an officer, who did not wish to be named.
men fell to bullets in this piece of land about 10 metres long and 20 metres wide.CRPF men, exposed to a shower of lead fought to the end almost without cover, wounded and huddled in a tiny paddy field. Along the mud walls of a small paddy field, big splotches of blood had turned the brown earth and tiny green shoots red. A majority of CRPFAnd the

June 29, 2010

Technology is not beautiful

Filed under: Sports, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — HarryCool @ 2:16 pm

Germany wins 4 goals to 1 of England in the Stage of 16. However, 2nd goal from England when the score was 2 – 1 is not given even though the ball is clearly behind the goal line after bouncing off the crossbar. A few hours later the same day, first Argentine goal against Mexico is a clear offside but referee fails to notice. Before the World cup finals, France is able to qualify thanks to a double-hand goal by Henry against Ireland which is not spotted by the referee.

There have been many other smaller in scale bad calls throughout this world cup so far. However, does that merit including technology to assist the referee. Every other sport does it, then why not football too? Because no other sport is as beautiful as football is? Because no other sport has that smooth flow as football has? The answer is YES!

Referees are as much a part of the game as players are. Players do not have technology to assist them while on the ground. They make bad passes, they miss chances, and they at times do self-goals. Do we give them some sort of technological solution to take away their flaws? Do we make the game perfect? Life is not perfect and so is Football. Let the game be human from all aspects and it will remain beautiful just the way it is today.

Germany and Argentina would have won anyways albeit in a different manner. French got the boot and that too brutally. It is the 360 degree human nature of the game that makes it interesting. There are unfair calls but then there are teams that rise in adversity.

All other sport use technology this is the biggest reason football should not. This is what separates it from the rest. This is what makes it beautiful. I don’t want some geeky spooky jerk controlling the outcomes of the game sitting in some dingy room up in the stadium.

People who complain about the bad calls need to Man Up and get on with it. It happened to you today; it will happen to someone else tomorrow and level it out. It’s all in the game. I said before Life is not perfect, well it isn’t fair either. Football is life and I want it to remain.

endnote: I am ok if the use of technical solutions is immediate and applies to only black-white situations. The only one I can think of is the goal line technology. There should be something like an immediate red/green if the ball crossed the line or not. Offside, tripping, fouls/tackles etc do not qualify. Pausing the game for a few minutes to entertain player protests and reviewing the replay to take a call; or even waiting for just one minute to talk to a 2nd match referee who is in front of a monitor (the geeky spooky jerk I talked about earlier) is so very pussy like! American football for all of its macho image is actually a game for big overgrown pussies! They wear all that protective gear, they have communication equipment to talk to each other, they pause every now and then and whine; come ‘on – soccer is beautiful and a sport for men (no offense to women soccer. my comments are just a metaphor for the sissiness in using technology to resolve issues).

June 27, 2010

Yanks rub it in with last-minute goal

I was surprised by own feelings when USA won by scoring in the dying minutes against Algeria. A neutral viewer like me would in general not want americans to win irrespective of the side they are up against. While everyone in the world has their own reasons for not cheering for the Americans, I think broadly it is because of either or a combination of these two – american arrogance and/or jealousy. In my case, it is more of the later.

I come from a culturally richer and older civilization. Yet due to its own shortcomings the land I come from is nowhere near the prosperity and success of the americans. India being in dumps in spite of the fact that indians have as much potential if not more as the americans, makes me jealous of their success. While I look at all American actions with utmost criticism, I know fully well, had my country been as successful as the Americans, they’d have been just the same in their attitude and actions towards the rest of the world (eg fighting terrorism); and would have been worse if not the same on the arrogance index as the americans.

In spite of this clear admittance of jealousy towards the US, I still didn’t believe I would want so bad for them to lose. I think it was the fact that they pulled it off so dramatically that it just added to my feeling of loss just the way it would have had an opposite impact on an american. Well, my feeling of loss would not be as high in intensity (since I am not an Algerian) as the joy of an american with that last-minute goal, but similar concept.

The Yanks did fight till the end. Well, a Draw would have kicked them out just as much as a loss, so they didn’t have anything more to risk by going all out.

“This team embodies what the American spirit is about,” Donovan said. “We had a goal disallowed the other night. We had another good goal disallowed tonight (on an offsides call), but we just keep going, and I think that’s what people admire so much about America.”

See the way he goes on about the “american spirit” and all about how great America is and all that crap. We do that so much in India too. Indian culture, Indian diversity, India’s rich heritage, how great we are yada yada yada.

“We’re kind of like the cardiac kids at the moment,” Howard said. “That emotion, that passion is what American sports fans thrive on. Given the American sports psyche, this is probably going to be more amazing for them than if we played unbelievable and won 3-0.”

Again the same BS about “american psyche”. Which sports fan in the world will not find a dramatic end like this more amazing over a straight forward 3-0 win? It’s obviously more entertaining anywhere in the world and has nothing “american only” about it. The fact is that Howard is just looking inwards, absorbed in his own big well, unconscious of the fact that the feelings will apply to anyone anywhere in the world.


June 22, 2010

India should never qualify for the World Cup Football

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , — HarryCool @ 7:13 am

… at least not in my lifetime.

India is a cricket playing nation and I love this game (and Football too). One sport is already enough for me to worry about not losing that I do not want football to add to that. I watch Cricket only when India plays. When India crashes out of any tournament, I no longer track it. Even if it is world cup cricket, the moment India is out, I am out. I feel cheated whenever India loses. I consider the failure of my team to win as my own failure. It affects me personally. I no longer watch any other match until the next big tournament.

Soccer, I truly love. I have nothing personal at stake. All I have is the Joy of watching a great competition. When I watch a game I am watching a game not a team. I enjoy every great move, every great goal and every great piece of defending. I enjoy the action. I was thrilled to see North Koreans give Brazilians a tough fight whereas most of the Brazilians would have been stressed about what was going on. The very next North Korean game, I loved it when Portugal stripped them of all the respect they earned in the game with Brazil. I loved how Mexico beat France and I hated the fact that I could not see Spain getting beaten by the Swiss.

I do not want to spoil this one full month of entertainment and excitement which I wait for 4 years by having India take part in it. I will get emotionally attached to the success of one team. The moment India gets out of contention, I will lose my interest. The desire to be the best of the 32 teams will overshadow my love for the sport which I played like crazy in my adolescence and youth; and which I think had such a huge role in making me whoever I am today.

I love this game and that is why I do not want the country I love to be playing it. If they do, the game will no longer be beautiful, it will become a rat race just the way it is for all the countries which are participating.

I can relate to the pain of all the football crazy French who can no longer enjoy this tournament because their beloved country got kicked out so soon. It has happened to me every 4 years since last 20 years. French may still watch the cup, I am sure many will, but it will not be anywhere near as much fun had France still been in contention.

Finally, I have this solid intuition that 2011 will not be painful. Mumbai as the destination for the final is like fate deciding it finally that this is going to be Tendulkar’s cup. For all that he’s given to Cricket, I think it is time the game now rewards him with its penultimate prize. I will be there to watch HIM lift the cup in Mumbai. Amen.


June 15, 2010


Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — HarryCool @ 1:55 am


Really irritating noise. I initially thought it was the residual electronic noise of TV guys blocking crowd noise from there broadcast or something like that. Never imagined that it is a real noise coming out of that instrument … Ban the damn thing!

the ubiquitous narrow instrument that’s making every contest in South Africa sound like a ferocious swarm of radioactive bees—or a Hollywood publicists’ luncheon
… It’s apparently irritating TV viewers … you bet it is!
Besides, who are we in the U.S. to complain about vuvuzelas? We gave the world Twitter and Ke$ha. – yea, you got that right! Don’t forget facebook.

June 11, 2010

Bangit Disappointed

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — HarryCool @ 7:17 am


He is the Military Man, shouldn’t he be the one to Shut Up as it is him with his loud unleashed mouth that is mixing politics with military by going on about his sob story!?

Philippines’ political system is really immature. It is frustrating to track Indian politics as I belong to that system and it hurts to see it screwing up. But when similar stuff happens elsewhere in a different manner, it does not cause frustration, it causes amusement.

However, to be fair, India may be a third world fucked up country just like the Philippines (if not more) but Indian Military is in a different league and way above the follies of the Indian political system. Indian military, its professionalism, standards and processes are probably the best in the world and beyond most if not all of the developed world. Obviously it is not fair to expect Philippine military at that standard.

June 9, 2010

The crumpled sari

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , — HarryCool @ 7:12 pm

One of the best reads in a really long time. Every single line is worth replicating here. The whole article is very well written. Fresh and brainy views. Not the usual stale sob story of the system that we read every so often.

In fact, the quality of this article gets further reinforced by the praise showed in the comments. Usually one reads all sorts of comments on opinionated articles going in all directions. Here the comments are unanimous in the praise of the writer. Bravo!


Sagarika Ghose
Hindustan Times

The crumpled sari is decidedly unaesthetic. So is the untidy hair and rough speech. But then if you are a lone woman without patronage or godfathers or family lineage, fighting a brutal Left Front machine for 20 years, perhaps you can’t afford the luxury of being a bhadramahila (genteel woman). Mamata Banerjee may be the object of elite derision for her wild ways, but the fact is that she is a remarkable politician, one who gives hope that the dream of Indian democracy is still alive. The Trinamool triumph in West Bengal’s municipal elections has created worry that West Bengal is going from the frying pan of the Left to the fire of the Trinamool. But there are many reasons to celebrate the victory.

The old man in a loin cloth, who knew that the biggest curse of our subcontinent is the elitism of its leaders and the wretchedness of its people, would shudder at the kind of democracy we are fast becoming. An exclusive band of super rich families controls Parliament. Sons and daughters are smoothly inheriting their parents’ political seats and legacies, accompanied and cocooned by corporate and social networks built over generations. A benevolent feudalism is replacing parliamentary representation, where the ‘leader’ builds his base among ‘his people’ in the spirit of the old zamindars rather than in the spirit of parliamentary democracy. We hear no passionate speeches in Parliament, we still don’t know what exactly motivates today’s MPs beyond family duties, we are not allowed to ask what the thinking is among the supreme leaders of the government. Politics is best defined as a contest of ideas. But we hear no new ideas, our politicians are not called upon to formulate new thoughts, because talking to the people or to the media is regarded with contempt by the new neo zamindars in their black-tinted Pajeros, who demand constant subservience.

If Pakistan had Jinnah’s Savile Row suit as the leitmotif of its politics, we had the loin cloth. The loin cloth was supposed to define our democracy, as a mark of constant identification, dialogue and contact with the people. Yet today the elitism of our politics is so entrenched that we are failing to generate mass leaders, or bridge builders who alone can heal the wounds created by our harsh social differences. The mass leader is extinct in India. Instead we are fast becoming a plutocracy like Pakistan where the jihadi is the demon child born from a terrifying world of opportunity-less destitution on the one hand and a closed super-rich world on the other. We must thank god for the Lalus, Mulayams, Mayas and Mamatas. Without them our democracy would be like Pakistan’s, a bonsai plant set out for international display.

We are not yet Pakistan because in our country a young plebeian woman Mamata Banerjee can even defeat a veteran communist warhorse like Somnath Chatterjee in that famous Jadavpur election of 1984. She can then rise through the party ranks, by dint of raw streetfighting and a rumbustious political style, to such an extent that Congress leaders can feel threatened enough to force her to leave and set up her own party. It is an irony that the very Bengal Congress leaders who blocked Mamata at every turn are now forced to survive on her whim. When Mamata Banerjee sat next to the train tracks at Jhargram, at the site of the tragic train collision insisting that she would not move until the last body was taken out, it was a political moment almost reminiscent of Indira Gandhi on an elephant crossing a flooded river to sit with the suffering villagers of Belchi. We’re used to seeing politicians at corporate gatherings or at conferences. We rarely see them sitting on train tracks. We see Left leaders holding forth on foreign policy but the Left must ask itself why today it has no leader like her. Mamata fought the Left for 20 years, never losing stamina even after the disastrous one seat showing of 2004. In the end voters rewarded her for her tenacity.

Yet Mamata Banerjee is not your textbook democrat or a reassuring force of governance like a Nitish Kumar. She’s seen as irresponsible, volatile, unpredictable, too inclined to dharnas and rallies and not the best performing minister. She was at the head of the rag tag coalition that drove the Tata plant out of Singur, her relationship with the Maoists is still unresolved, her constantly changing manifesto is based on negativism and the Trinamool still lacks the solid party organisation and base of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). There is every possibility that once in power, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will struggle to govern, and much like Mayawati, err on the side of ad hoc populism. The Trinamool itself could run out of steam. Once the thirst for ‘parivartan’ has been exhausted, the party could lose its raison d’etre and be reduced to a regional rump or a one-woman band.

Yet the enormous significance of Mamata Banerjee is that in an era when mass leaders are an endangered species, she is a natural born mass leader who has climbed the political ladder by sheer public mobilisation. Look at the recent Rajya Sabha nominations. The sad fact is that salient, talented and important as all the Rajya Sabha nominees are, many of them would perhaps struggle to retain their deposits in a popular election. Our fashionable disdain for ‘netagiri’ has meant that mass movements in India have become de-legitimised and almost extinct.

But it’s the grassroots leaders who have the power to ensure that we do not become Pakistan where the rich control politics and the poor blow themselves up out of desperation, either as Maoists or jihadists. For better or worse, we still need our Mamata Banerjees.

Sagarika Ghose is Senior Editor, CNN-IBN
The views expressed by the author are personal

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