Sunday, June 30, 2013

A bend in the river....

This appeared in The Asian Age...

                                A bend in the river….
So now we have an infuriated Goddess as an alibi. That conveniently lets off all those scoundrels responsible for the deaths of so many pilgrims in Uttarakhand. Poor Goddess. Yes, she was displaced from her abode recently. Summarily removed from her temple and relocated to another higher level. Or so the gullible locals have been told. The real story is likely to be dramatically different. The Goddess was clearly in the way. It wasn’t her safety alone that was at stake, it was also the future of an ambitious, lucrative mega hydel power project. The ancient shrine of  Dhari Devi had to be uprooted to facilitate those plans. God knows what the pious pujari was told by lobbyists. But move her, he did. The exact date of that shifting remains hazy but in retrospect, those who took that decision must be nervous indeed. That’s India. We believe in stuff like this.Equally,when all else fails,we conveniently blame the Gods.  After all, the displeased Goddess cannot go to court , nor file an FIR, or even take the RTI route. She can merely sulk in silence and do her worst. We have seen the terrible consequences of that! Her wrath has devastated a tiny but  hugely strategic State ( China breathes down its neck), killed countless innocents, ravaged the region and destroyed virtually everything that lay in the path of those furious flood waters. With the rivers on a rampage, India once again bowed to the will of the Gods. That said, it is time to assess with ruthless honesty ( if we have the guts), what actually went so horribly wrong in Uttarakhand. Is it that tough?Let’s start with basic questions :  here ,we are talking about a historic pilgrimage centre that has existed for centuries. Millions of pilgrims have trekked up those treacherous paths over the years. The numbers have only grown. And yet, successive governments have done nothing to address the perils faced by believers? The inconvenience of the faithful who risk life and limb to make the hazardous journey year after year? And hello! Is the Indian Monsoon an unknown phenomenon?Do we not know the magnitude of the havoc those rains wreak across India season after season?  So why are we behaving like we were dealing with something entirely alien and unpredictable? Even in the past, those nasty landslides have claimed many lives ( who can forget dancer Protima Bedi’s tragic death while on a pilgrimage?). Despite all of this being a given, our response to the calamity has been abysmal, dismal and sickeningly callous. Thank God for our valiant men in uniform! One shudders to think what might have happened had we left it to our politicians to handle the crisis on their own.
Well… we do know what some of them did after disaster struck. Vijay Bahuguna,the Chief Minister of  Uttarakhand, reluctantly cut short his European junket and came back  to utter the usual platitudes. Allegedly, he was compelled to give up his Moulin Rouge moments when orders from Dilli sternly summoned him  -  report for duty, or else! Ditto for Birthday Baba Rahul Gandhi who was kicking up his heels in London, and enjoying the services of his favourite barber there. That’s when Mama Mia advised him to forget his quiff for a bit, and come right back ( maybe it was his barber’s day off for he took his time ). This was after Mama Mia’s aerial sortie and view from the clouds, as she surveyed the devastation from the plush aircraft, along with a stone faced Manmohan Singh. Our P.M. repeated the same old lines from the same stale script (“Our hearts go out to the families of those…..”), making one wonder whether he has a set of  clichéd speeches handy for every crisis -   natural disasters/ terror attacks/ epidemics/ train crashes/ riots/ miscellaneous- developments- of- a- scary- kind. And how hard that poor heart of his must be working to keep ‘going out’ to victims time and time again!
Khair. What a despairing nation witnessed was apathy and ineptitude on an epic level, when it came to leadership. Netas of every hue shamelessly exploited the tragedy, converting rescue operations into nauseating photo ops.  We saw scuffles between politicians racing to get there first on aircrafts they weren’t paying for. And we saw the unfortunate tussle between Rambo and Dumbo, as Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi tried hard to win dubious badges of  honour for ‘doing something’ during the crisis.While politicians will be politicians and vie for glory even during a tragedy by milking any and every opportunity,  the apparent indifference of corporate India was even more distressing.Whatever became of those highly flaunted private jets and choppers they jauntily pose with for glossies?Where were our flashy Billionaires when we needed them? Here was the beleaguered Indian Army  coping with an unprecedented situation. Here were fearless IAF pilots giving up their lives to save others (along with nameless police personnel and compassionate citizens). Each one striving day and night to do whatever was humanly possible to rescue  stranded pilgrims and locate bodies of the dead.Commandant Nitya Nand Gupta, heading the NDRF, sacrificed his own life, along with his crack team of 20 rescuers when the Mi – 17 helicopter crashed. Yes, India will honour and remember their extraordinary valour. Is that enough?
The most shocking allegation doing the rounds involves the anti-environmentalists position taken by the State’s CM, Vijay Bahuguna, who has strenuously lobbied to clear ambitious hydel projects at the cost of  massive deforestation. He went so far as to accuse the MoEF of ‘blocking’ development in his State. Critics point out that there was much more at stake in those mega deals than just the hydro power potential Bahuguna refers to. Let’s leave that for now and begin on a fresh note with a comprehensive development plan for what is a very important pilgrimage site for Hindus. What about providing roads and supporting infrastructure to facilitate easy access in future? What about reviewing some of those lop-sided development plans, which have also permitted the haphazard construction of shopping malls and hotels, carved out of   those very mountains that finally protested by caving in?

The Goddess has every right to be furious. Dhari Devi ( a manifestation of Kali), legendary protector of four dhams in the region, will not easily forgive the promoters of the 300 MW  Alaknanda Hydel Project  that allegedly wanted her out of the way before starting work. We are a superstitious and sentimental people. The curse of an enraged Goddess can (and has) moved mountains. Rivers, too. Let’s not anger Dhari Devi any further. Why not ask her for forgiveness and bring her home ?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Rishikesh...

Another time.... another place....
Arundhati and I had spent four idyllic days on the banks of the Ganga in  Rishikesh during October 2012.... mesmerised by the holy river..... at peace with ourselves....
 We are praying for all those still trapped ... praying for the dead..... praying for grieving families...
Such tranquility... such beauty.... these images are reminders of what nature wants and intends....challenge nature, and face its fury.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What gals really, really want.....

This appeared in Mumbai Mirror.....
                                Why would any girl want to be one of the guys???
I was ridiculously jet lagged when I watched 100 crores and still counting YJHD (first day, second show). I could have opted out. But it was a family outing. I was prepared to doze off, wake up half an hour later, and feel like I hadn’t missed a thing. I was so wrong! The movie was just what my brain dead self needed to wake up and enjoy the pop corn.  Let’s get it straight – it’s not an art house film. It isn’t made to impress critics at Cannes. It is what it is – a glossy, glitzy, urban formula entertainer with two extraordinarily good looking and talented actors in the lead. Period. Do they manage to capture the zeitgeist? Yup, they do.  Does the script reflect what’s going on in urban India? Yup, again. Is the lingo in sync with our realities? Do Naina and Bunny touch our hearts? Is the romance real enough to extract laughs and tears? Do we know/ recognize people like Aditi and Avi? Yes, to all the above. Apart from the almost absurd deliciousness of  Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, for me, the two scene stealers and heart breakers were Kalki Koelchin as Aditi and Aditya Roy Kapoor as Avi. It was their far more convoluted and tumultuous relationship that took the movie beyond rom-com ennui  into a slightly more complex terrain. On many levels, this is really Kalki’s film, since she is the surprise package. Kalki does not possess either Deepika’s spectacular body nor her mass appeal. And yet Kalki is so much more ‘today’ in this film than the picture perfect Deepika. Kalki starts as a feisty, audacious, free spirited gal pal of the two boys, who later (disappointingly) transforms into the standard ‘I’ll settle for the guy with the BMW, thank you,’ bride. We have all known versions of Kalki . Girls who are not particularly attractive but are  immensely popular with the boys, often because they opt to become one of them. They choose to sign up as honourary members of the Boy’s Club, smoking, boozing, cussing, gambling with the best of them. They can be easily spotted hanging out with the all-male crew, dressed in cropped shorts and ganjis. At some distant point the boys become men. But they quite forget that the sole female member of the gang has grown into a woman herself.  Win-win for the guys. Lose-lose for the chicks. Which is what happens to Aditi. And which is why she loses the man she loves and sensibly settles for a Beemer instead.
The question her character raises is important.Why do so many bright  young women opt to become ‘one of the boys’? Is it to create a differential between themselves and other ‘girlie-girls’? Is it to win some vague trophy in the highly competitive popularity stakes? Or, snag a suitable boy friend at a later stage?  I keep encountering versions of  Kalki  in real life. Often, I feel like offering solid ‘aunty advice’ to these misguided girls who are busy playing poker, swigging beer, puffing cigars, talking tough and trying a bit too hard to conform and fit in with a group of  fellas. What for? I mean – really! Most of them are fiercely competitive and pointedly ignore other women. They can be heard sharing a laugh with the guys as they diss a ‘typical’ girl on the fringes of the group, mocking her for being a prissy lady. Sometimes, one hears airy comments like , “ Oh please…. I have nothing in common with other women, I feel bored listening to their inane gossip. I’d rather hang with the guys. I am just more comfortable with men.” Sure. Maan liya. Then what happens?

This is where Kalki’s story in the movie gets more interesting than the far more predictable romance between Ranbir and Deepika (though, their proposal scene alone is worth the ticket). Being ‘one of the boys’ is a cool option sometimes. But more often than not, you get treated like a guy, too. If that’s what rows your boat, go for it. But if you want to have your bhel puri and eat it, too, think again.  Remember, Deepika gets Ranbir in the end (and he, her). Whereas, poor Kalki loses dishy Avi  and marries a good hearted, over weight clown ( Kunal Roy Kapur, heartbreakingly adorable)…. plus, the BMW, of course.
Blogdosts I am having picture-issues. For some strange reason, all my Spain pics are showing up ulta or thedha when I try to post them here. They behave themselves perfectly in other spaces. I have been dying to show off my fotoo-takeouting skills ( some pretty neat shots in my repertoire, even if I say so myself), but each time I upload a couple the images they get inverted. Is that a cosmic phenomenon.... like the Supermoon? Just kidding! But I know there are quite a few really smart people out there and I am seeking immediate help. Merci beaucoup. Gracias! Dhanyavad!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Turmoil in Turkey.... Chaos in Mumbai!

This appeared in the Asian Age....
                              Turmoil in Turkey….Chaos in Mumbai…
Mumbai could be Istanbul…. and Istanbul, Mumbai. And yet, vast distances separate the two cities.  I am not talking about just the miles that separate us.It’s the distance in our hearts and minds. I left Istanbul a day before the Taksim protests paralysed this lively, buzzed area packed with tourists and locals enjoying the mild weather and bright sunshine. My girl friend in Turkey pointed out various historic landmarks that dot the heart of this stunning city which  kisses the shimmering Bosphorus Strait. “ This is our lung,” she proudly pointed out, drawing  attention to what is now a globally recognized symbol of  the Turkish people’s angst and sense of outrage against the present government – the Gezi Park. Nothing all that special about the modest nine-acre park, one would say while comparing it to Hyde Park or Central Park. I took pictures of the large gates and noticed the number of people strolling in and out of the tranquil park that was slated to be sacrificed and converted into a (shudder,shudder)  shopping mall. When my friend mentioned how upset the people were with the Government’s arbitrary, unilateral decision to destroy 60 acres of greenery, I didn’t pay too much attention to her remark. Little did I know then what was to follow a few short hours later, when riot police cracked down harshly on unarmed protestors, spraying them with tear gas, drenching them with water cannons and making it abundantly clear there would be zero tolerance towards any demonstrations that challenged the fate of the park.
At about the same time back in Mumbai, there were intense debates raging about the fate of another equally important landmark - the Mahalakshmi Racecourse (built in 1883 and over 225 acres). But with one significant difference. These debates were being conducted by various political groups and the citizens were conspicuously absent during the discourse. Well, there were letters in the press and panel discussions on television. But beyond that – nothing of any consequence.And certainly nothing to suggest the likelihood of riots breaking out to save the Mahalakshmi Racecourse . If anything, the battle lines were drawn between vested interests claiming dubious ownership over what is a staggeringly valuable land mass in the heart of Mumbai. There was an unimaginable amount of wealth to be made. And the vultures were circling overhead…. ready to swoop at the first chance.This was perhaps Mumbai’s biggest land grab opportunity and there were any number of players  waiting impatiently to pounce on it .What a stark contrast to what was taking place in Istanbul. It wasn’t just about the threatened Gezi Park, of course. Or the old trees the environmentalists were trying to save there. And let’s not even try and guess whether there will be a Turkish Spring . The key thing is that it was a spontaneous  uprising of  people across the country. Ordinary citizens who had bravely decided to stand up and be counted. And it was the people again, who had boldly  challenged the diktats of  a man who had successfully won two terms as Prime Minister, and was angling for a record third.  Reccep Tayyip Erdogan  clearly misread the mood of his people in general and the protestors in particular, when he called them ‘looters’. The damage was done. Instead of backing off meekly,the protestors stepped up the agitation and the escalated acts of defiance  stunned and impressed the watching world.
Nothing of the sort happens here in India. Or is likely to. Last week there were horrifying reports of   the wanton destruction of 50 acres of mangroves which were dubbed ‘invasive species’ and destroyed by rapacious builders ‘developing’ the posh Lokhandwala area. In another shocking incident bulldozers rolled into the 5.5 acres of the controversial Willingdon Colony and brazenly pulled down five bungalows without seeking clearance from the heritage committee. Never mind that this nasty move flouted all rules of the SRA ( Slum Rehabilitation Authority). There wasn’t a squeak of protest from anybody of any reckoning. The reasons for this apathy are simple : citizens are terrified of the consequences. We have unilaterally surrendered Mumbai and handed it over to gangsters parading as politicians.Every single political party  operating in and around Mumbai is after just one thing  - land. And to get that, these goons stop at nothing – murder included. What can the aam aadmi do? Go to the cops? That’s a joke. By the time a complaint gets registered, the land is gone! Besides, when it comes to the nexus between the Mumbai police, the Municipal corporators and the political class, it’s one big happy family that feeds off the many loopholes and laws governing our precious spaces. And that’s the way it has always been. When rulers themselves are gangsters collectively working to annihilate a once great metropolis, perhaps the resignation of citizens is easier to condone.
Even so, what happened in Istanbul serves as a valuable lesson to us in far off Mumbai. If we at all care about our city, we shouldn’t just sit tight and let those rogues take over what rightfully belongs to every Mumbaikar. Today, it’s the Racecourse, tomorrow it will be Hanging Gardens and next the Zoo. We watched silently as mill land in Central Mumbai was sold to overnight developers fronting for politicians. We did nothing about the wanton destruction of our life-saving mangroves. We care a hoot about our heritage buildings.We have become bystanders to all the rot around us. We weren’t always like this. So why have we given up the fight today without   even the fig leaf of resistance? Any answers?

My takeaway from the recent Turkey trip was this : the Turks have not lost their passion. They have not forgotten the past. And they are concerned about the future. It’s not just that one park that belongs to the people, it is the entire country – every square centimetre of it. It’s time we reclaimed our own.

Pretty Boys all in a Row

This appeared in The Week...
             Pretty Boys  all in a row…
I have stopped visiting my neighbourhood parlour. There are several reasons for that. But primarily, I don’t go in there anymore, because I feel what used to be a welcoming, estrogen-driven comfort zone in the past has now turned into a pretty embarrassing space. Why’s that ? Well for several years, there have been more men than women perched in those fancy chairs. I have absolutely nothing against male vanity ( swear!), but I so wish those blokes would stick to their own salons and leave us to ours. Visualise this : a youngish, attractive-ish  lady  is getting her upper lip waxed/ bleached/ threaded. Right next to her sits a burly, hirsute man getting his nostril hairs clipped….is this a pleasant sight for either of them to be subjected to? I think not. Here’s another common scenario : a middle –aged desperate housewife has pulled up her billowy maxi to reveal alarmingly hairy legs that are in serious need of depilation. Her regular girl is examining the hairs closely and offering a graphic commentary (“ Madamji…. Why did you wait for such a long time? You have a forest growing on your legs. This is going to pain! Why don’t you go in for our full body laser treatment? We are offering a summer discount. Or, there is another good package – get your arms, legs and underarms waxed and we’ll give you the bikini wax for free.”). The hirsute man is listening keenly. He butts in to ask, “What about a full body wax for me?” Aaaargh!
Most beauty parlour chairs these days are taken by beauty conscious men who somehow prefer to patronise newly made over uni-sex salons. Some of the guys are much prettier than the ladies. Certainly, they are better groomed. I notice their meticulously tweezed eyebrows, neat French manicures, shaped hairlines, tinted forelocks, pampered pedicured feet…. and marvel at how hard they’ve worked to look that way! By contrast, most women in the same salon resemble shabby laundry bags. They’ve turned up in crumpled caftans, flip flops, a make-up less face, straggly eyebrows, chipped nail varnish, and worse  -   dense hair on their visible body parts.Almost without an exception, they can be overheard complaining about the lack of time (“ I’ve been working like a beast without a break for two straight months. When I am not in the office, I am on a plane. There’s just no time for all this nonsense.”). The men listen in to the conversation and occasionally offer helpful tips. Wait a minute – was it all that long ago when we women formed the sympathetic audience nodding understandingly while men banged on about their mad work schedules and how they lived on airplanes?? Oh dear. The new order is far from appealing.We know the market for men’s beauty products is out-galloping every other cosmetics’ category. But sharing night cream and hand lotion with your lover/husband is a bit much! It’s almost as yucky as sharing a toothbrush.

Hmmm. A lot has changed. I am all for change. Change is good. Change is exciting. But this kind of change? Naah! If men really, really want to blow dry their hair, paint their toe nails, wax their armpits and fix various parts of themselves, can they not create their own spas and salons? This is the worst kind of male intrusion into our personal space since the introduction of common lavatories. I resent it vehemently and wish to reclaim the territory. But seeing the time crunch both men and now, increasingly women too, keep griping about, here’s an idea for Richard Branson : How about full- fledged beauty salons on board those wretchedly long flights? Once upon a time Virgin did offer similar facilities in the smashing Virgin lounge at Heathrow ( I had a terrific hair cut there). It’s time to extend the same facilities on long haul flights. But puh-leeze, Richard darling – separate cubicles, yes?We know you love drag. But do think of paying passengers who aren’t as adventurous, okay, sweetie???

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I am back!

This appeared in Sunday Times today....
                                      SSC,First Class Ambika’s journey has just begun…
A young girl came to meet me just after the SSC results were declared. She had passed with flying colours – a first class, no less.She needed a little advice as she was very confused. At age sixteen, her state of mind was entirely understandable. Ambika 9 that’s her name) is a really remarkable teenager for several reasons. And here’s why: As a resident of an over crowded slum colony close by, she is the first person from her family to have attended school. Her mother is a sweeper in the area. And her father, a labourer. Both parents have worked tirelessly, often slaving for fourteen hours a day, to see her and her brother through school. Good schools, says the mother as she opens a box of pedas and asks her daughter to touch the feet of elders and seek their blessings. “Her life is going to be different – she will not clean toilets and scrub floors like me. She will go to college. She will study hard. She will make something of  her self… I am sure of that.” So she will. I am equally sure. She is not alone. There are thousands of Ambikas in India today. And they are getting a shot at changing their destiny, transforming not just their own lives but the lives of so many other hopefuls banking on India’s prosperity and progress.
These are just a few of the more powerful and positive stories emerging out of today’s India. And we should be proud of them. Twenty years ago, a girl like Ambika would not have stood a chance  to put her foot into a school. She would have been doomed and damned from the time of her birth.And she would have accepted her fate philosophically, just as her mother had accepted her own. The big question is,what becomes of an Ambika after she gets admission into a ‘good’ college, as she well deserves to? And this is the tricky part that has no clear answers. Here we are, still concentrating on non-issues  and negatives, squabbling, arguing and fighting among ourselves as to who will be the next prime minister of our country. As if, once that is sorted, all our troubles will automatically vanish. Two weeks ago, we watched in dismay as the BJP biggies met in Goa and applied the tilak on Modi’s forhead, while a patriarch sulked in another city and other family elders boycotted the event. It was a shabby show of churlishness and disunity that sent out a distressing message to Young India. In place of wisdom, sobriety and a grand vision , what the young saw was an ugly public rift that sent out terrible signals. It was a little like a huge family wedding going for a toss when the Grand Old Man starts behaving like a spoilt brat for not getting enough importance during the saat pheras. Absurd and demoralizing said our disappointed youngsters who had hoped for something far more uplifting and dignified.
Now, all eyes will be on the Congress to see how those guys handle what could be a similar scenario. They also have an elderly gentlemen with mega ambitions of  becoming the next P.M. ( again!). And there is a Prince waiting in the wings for the Queen Mother to organise his coronation .  Well, the sooner that happens, the better. At least, the young voter won’t be left in a limbo wondering: Who? What? When?  It is always the suspense in a thriller that creates the tension – not the climax.The BJP has taken care of that. It’s Modi. Take it or leave it. Next! Now all eyes will be on the Congress, unless of course, we are all caught off guard by a brand new candidate popping out of the woodwork. Either which way, let’s just get on with it. Young Ambika’s future is at stake. Her dreams are directly linked to India’s future. If she feels thwarted and let down, we are in trouble. Big trouble. But are any of our mighty netas thinking of her?

I wish I could have offered sage advice and reassurance when Ambika sought it. But I was sounding hollow to my own ears. Our bachchalog have a built in radar and can sense discomfort very easily. I backed off and quietly accepted the offered pedas. The next elections are upon us.There are just two key issues that need to be addressed : tackling corruption and creating jobs. If the country moves forward, so will Ambika. It will be a win- win situation for both. But if not?? Will Ambika resign herself to a life without promise, like her mother did? Unlikely. Ambika will strike back and demand her rights. Ambika’s time has come….ignore her and face defeat.
Why upside down??? Don't ask!!! Because our world is also ulta.....

Sunday, June 9, 2013

BCCI : Board of Crooked and Corrupt India

Arundhati shot this at our neighbourhood salon after we both had our summer trim. I am off tonight. Will be back after the 24th. I shall miss this space desperately! Adios Blogdosts!
This appeared in the Sunday Times today....
                                  BCCI – Board of  Crooked and Corrupt India
Many years ago, I joined a Kho Kho Club in my area and was soon elected its President for Life. I promptly hand picked board members from a coterie of chamchas who understood the commercial potential of Kho Kho and were willing to play ball with me. At the time, Kho Kho was just about taking off in India, but I was confident if we nurtured the game and spotted the right players, we would be able to convert Kho Kho into a major sporting event that would attract big  money. My board members agreed this was an excellent idea.  But in order to make Kho Kho a national obsession, we would have to sex up the game and change its format to suit television. Of course, we  imported the best cheer leaders from Ukraine.  Nobody had a problem with that, except purists of Kho Kho who insisted we were bastardising the  game and prostituting players. Not so, declared the stake holders, claiming it was a good move, given that Kho Kho had lost its sheen over time and become a bit too slow and boring. Veteran players of  Kho Kho were not  happy about the faster format, but we took care of them by hiring Kho Kho legends to provide commentary and generally guide us during the changeover. Their expertise didn’t come cheap. But their names added credibility and respectability to Kho Kho. There was no looking back after that. Soon our Kho Kho brand took off and money started to pour in. Our players also benefitted greatly, especially those from small town India. Advertisers queued up to sign our Captain, while hysterical fans begged us to host more and more matches across the country.
Mogambo khush hua!
Suddenly, something went phut! just as we were about to grow even bigger.I blame it on a few rotten eggs. We became media’s favourite punching bag overnight.  Jealous rivals plotted and schemed to get rid of me! Imagine! ME!!!! As if that was possible or easy! I was the Patron Saint of  Kho Kho  for heaven’s sake. The board members were my friends.We were members of a cosy club. I knew too much about them.They knew too much about me. But it seems there were traitors in my midst and I was caught off guard. Then they began pointing fingers at my poor, innocent son-in-law! What did he have to do with anything? He was just another Kho Kho fan, supporting his favourite team. Maybe he had placed a pizza bet here and there. Is that a crime? As if that was not bad enough, my Captain came under attack as well. This was too much! Of course , I had given the talented Captain a decent job and also  employed a few other top players. Is that also a crime  -  if so, under which law? Absurd! Critics should have known I am a law unto myself. And that my word is law. Ours is a private body. We don’t owe an explanation to anybody - how dare people ask for it? Then came the ultimate insult – some idiots had the audacity to ask me to step down. Resign. Why? Which specific law had I broken? Prove it, I tell you! These rascalams have no other work or what?
Anyway, since the situation was getting out of control, I had to do something quickly.  Stepping down was out of the question. I would step aside… not down. Big difference. It is my show, after all. And so it shall remain forever and ever. Those ungrateful traitors can do nothing to me or my son-in-law. Fortunately, my suggestion was accepted by everybody and a stooge stepped in to take care of the mess I had created. This is how it should be. We have to protect one another and stand together. All this talk of corruption and crookedness and compromise will soon be forgotten. After all, what can be bigger than the great game of Kho Kho in our country? So, in the interests of this great game, I appeal to fans to forget everything and just enjoy the sport. See how even the media has stopped hounding me. They have found a new target – a  flashy Kho Kho team owner who placed bets on his own team. So?There are far more important national issues to deal with than Kho Kho – believe it or not.
As for the fate of my Captain. Why worry? Captains come and go. It is the game that matters. And that my dear countrymen, will definitely go on. What’s the bet?????
And this appeared in Mumbai Mirror yesterday...

                                       Rabiya’s lament…
 It’s been just three days since Rabiya buried Jiah - her beautiful, doomed daughter . There can be no bigger tragedy in the world than for a mother to lose her precious child. And if suicide is the cause of the child’s death, then the depth of that tragedy is still more immeasurable. 25-year-old Jiah Khan is gone. God bless her troubled soul. But what becomes of  Rabiya Khan , her grieving mother? One out of three lovely daughters is no more. That void is a permanent  one. Understandably, the other two girls have their own lives to live, and will move on eventually. As will neighbours, friends and other relatives. That’s life. From this moment on, it will be Rabiya and her memories. Rabiya and her sorrow.Rabiya and her regrets. It is the future of the twice divorced Rabiya that will require emotional cushioning as she deals with the tragedy that is likely to haunt her for the rest of her life.
I have been talking to several film people during the past few days. Some of them knew Jiah and Rabiya quite well. A prominent film maker recalled the copious tears of joy Rabiya had shed after watching the first screening of Jiah’s debut film, ‘Nishabd’. According to him, Rabiya was so overcome with undisguised happiness, it was almost like she was avenging the trauma of  her own thwarted dream ( Rabiya was a small time starlet). Apparently,right after the lights came on, Rabiya kept repeating how her daughter would be the biggest star in Bollywood after the film’s release. Around her, appreciative friends were equally busy declaring Jiah the next best thing in movieland. Jiah herself was slightly more restrained, but it was obvious that mother and daughter were more than confident that Jiah had already conquered Bollywood. That the film crashed with a resounding thud, must have been the first of many shocks and several disappointments to follow. And this is where the tragedy began…
Rabiya’s own film career had never taken off. The bitterness of that rejection must have gnawed at her insides for all those long years when she waited for Jiah to grow up and reverse those old rejections. Showbiz is full of similar stories. Ambitious mothers who were once stars themselves are known to aggressively push their nubile daughters into the business , hoping against hopes that the girls will succeed where they themselves didn’t. Right now, in Bollywood, there are half a dozen failed/ disappointed actresses trying desperately to promote their good looking daughters ,  in the vain hope that the girls will hit the elusive jackpot. Alas, that rarely happens. And when their efforts don’t succeed, these mothers transfer their frustrations onto the daughters, and exert pressure on them to try harder… harder….harder. Some young girls can handle the pressure. Others crack. As Jiah did. Her last message to her mother is particularly poignant (“I love you hamesha…”). And one hopes her mother wasn’t one of those who made Jiah feel like a loser for no real fault of  hers.
The day the decision was taken to rename the then 16- year- old, is the day her destiny was sealed. Switching from being a carefree, free spirited  Nafisa to a sultry, sexy Jiah may not be such a big deal for another girl. For Jiah it clearly was a challenge she couldn’t quite handle. Had that rebirth gone according to plan, had she found success and security, she would have been alive. Given her  temperament, perhaps the big mistake was for Jiah to live by herself. There were early warnings of her fragile emotional state when she had attempted suicide eight months ago. What she needed more than anything else was love and reassurance.Someone to come home to. I am sure Rabiya did provide both to the best of her ability, after she relocated from London and came to Mumbai to be with her. But such is the irony that often those closest to you, miss those all -important signals. And when the worst happens, they have to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.Raising daughters is always difficult ( Manju Kappor did a wonderful book on this troubling subject). Perhaps it’s time for someone young and spunky to write a book on ‘raising’ mothers. Not for nothing is the mother-daughter relationship described as the most complex one on earth.
 Sadly, in this terrible saga, there’s one more mother to think about – Zarina Wahab…. a sensitive actress I have always admired.Sooraj Pancholi, her son, is unfortunately but inextricably caught in the vortex of this tragedy. Zarina says he is more like her than his volatile father. The Lord be praised! “He is a quiet, obedient bachcha,” she told me.
 As a mother, I feel for her. And for grief stricken Rabiya, of course. 
And this in The Week .... as you can tell, this has been a heavy duty writing phase! I wish going on a short vacation was a little easier!

                        The M-Word
Even as a teenager, I never suffered from period cramps. I was fortunate.Perhaps my training as an athlete helped me to overcome the monthly menace that paralyses so many young lives. I could hardly afford to confess to my trainer that I wouldn’t be running / jumping at the highly competitive sports’ meet because I was menstruating.No sportswoman enjoys such an indulgence. No matter what, you play the game.Period cramps can wait. One of my daughters gets laid up for two straight days a month, doubled up with pain and unable to crawl out of  bed. Nothing helps. Not even a hot water bottle. Fortunately, today’s urban teen is raised to take menstruation in her stride as compared to the nasty old days. I notice the naturalness with which teenagers mention their ‘condition’ to friends, boys in the group included. This is a huge change from earlier times when girls were made to feel like they had a highly infectious communicable disease by their own families. Mothers would strike their foreheads in despair and curse their fates for giving birth to daughters, making a bewildered twelve year old feel guilty, ashamed and miserable for bleeding. I escaped such a fate, but my sisters didn’t. They were treated like outcastes and made to hide any evidence connected to their biological cycle. The word ‘menstruation’ was never to be uttered in the presence of men folk. And those four ‘unclean’ days had to be endured in discreet isolation. It is in this context, that I applaud the efforts of three entrepreneurs from the National Institute of Design (NID), who have launched, a website that addresses various aspects of puberty , along with exploding the incredible and annoying myths associated with menstruation. Myths that make a woman feel ‘impure’. Or advise her to stay away from pickles, not shampoo her hair or stay out of the kitchen. Aditi Gupta, Tuhin Paul and Rajat Mittal have earned the gratitude of several young girls who may not have the sort of access to responsible information when they most need it. Mothers are often hesitant or even ill informed themselves, leading to much confusion and self-loathing in the teenager’s mind.
Since it is a free website in English, the three bright sparks have decided to broaden their reach by translating the content into several languages. What’s more, their latest objective is to launch comic books in various Indian languages to  further simplify the information. They are trying to generate funds for this project and are also looking for volunteers. Their target is pretty modest –  5 lakhs is all they need. So far, they have managed to collect half the amount, mainly from family and friends. It is an initiative worth supporting, given their commitment to it. Ambitious and motivated, they also hope to make these comics  available in international languages. For the moment, the focus is on setting their ‘characters’ for the comic books, by getting the details right. For this purpose, they are building a library of  ‘looks’ from different regions, so that it will be easy for  readers to identify with these characters.
I thought how much easier life would have been for my generation had we not had to battle age-old taboos and hide our monthly affliction from the world. The worst ignominy during school days was to stain the pristine white uniform and deal with the stares and sniggers that followed. Today, with superior  sanitary products, and better awareness of personal hygiene, some of these issues have been taken care of. But not all. Despite more openness, girls are still emotionally and psychologically hampered by a society that makes them feel ‘unclean’ on some level and excludes them from auspicious functions. Till such time as we relook at our antiquated attitudes to the subject, our female teens will be forced to adopt a brave façade and project a fake nonchalance during ‘that’ time of the month. A time that is indeed difficult and delicate. For PMT is definitely not a myth. It is a recognized medical condition that affects millions of women worldwide. Some of us have had to take the inescapable monthly mood swings in our stride and soldier on. But for those whocontinue to suffer month after month, perhaps a quick visit to Menstrupedia will provide much needed comfort.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Jiah Khan - my perspective on her suicide

This appeared in Mumbai Mirror today....
                             Is suicide the only option….?
It’s yesterday once more. I didn’t know Jiah Khan. But that hardly matters. A young life has been snuffed out abruptly and tragically. And that’s what matters. We are talking about Jiah because she was famous, beautiful and a Bollywood actor. Or else, she would have been just another number in the growing list of young adults who seek an out before their life has even begun. The word ‘suicide’ has such a terrifying ring to it.And yet, so many alarmingly young people are opting to end their lives rather than face the challenges reality poses. The most vulnerable appear to be attractive females in the glamour business. And there are reasons why they reach for that rope or dupatta and hang themselves. Reasons that are so poignant and heart breaking, it makes you wonder why anybody would want to get into showbiz in the first place. Out of the thousands who flock to Bollywood, only a handful succeeds. Years and years of struggle go into that tenuous hope that there will be a rainbow at the end of those stormy clouds  hanging over their tender lives. Over the years, I have watched other Jiahs, with deepening sorrow and a growing sense of despair. And each time, I have felt like warning all those other young girls waiting in the wings to stay away from this lethal business…. unless they possess nerves of steel. There’s no place for losers and has-beens in Bollywood. This is not cynicism talking. This is experience.
My mind keeps going back to Parveen Babi. It’s a scarily similar tragedy with an almost identical story line and cast of characters. Jiah’s boyfriend Suraj Pancholi , is being questioned by the cops ( It’s tempting to add – like father, like son, in this case). Jiah’s depression and mood swings have been referred to by Mahesh Bhatt as possible reasons for her suicide. He should know! Ironical, but those were the exact explanations given for Babi’s death. Mahesh had shared a close relationship with Parveen. Then again, Jiah’s mother has mentioned her daughter’s recent decision to opt out of  Bollywood and become an interior decorator. Parveen Babi had done precisely that! Uncanny. Showbiz is a voraciously hungry monster that devours the unwary. It extracts an enormous price, Jiah aka Nafisa has just paid it.  Watch out!There will be other Jiahs as well. And yet, Jiah had it better than most. She’d experienced the intoxicating pleasure of seeing herself on the big screen… and not in just any old B-grade skin flick, but opposite a Bollywood legend – Amitabh Bachchan himself. A better debut would be hard to find. Moreover, it was a role that suited her unusual personality – a case of inspired casting. Jiah played  the desi Lolita, nubile, unambiguously sexual, predatory, wanton and unconventional. Perhaps it was these very qualities that did her in. Jiah was unlike the typical filmi heroine ( ditto for Parveen). Jiah was an outsider – a London girl trying her luck in the closed, incestuous world of Bollywood. Yes, she had got her dream break. And two other big banner films with top stars like Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar. But  after that? Jiah  languished  on the sidelines for three years. Perhaps she simply didn’t fit in. And unlike another London girl (Katrina Kaif), Jiah didn’t meet a patron saint called Salman Khan, either. Had that happened, she’d still be alive. And successful to boot. Jiah probably imagined she could hack it by herself,  relying on talent and good looks. Poor Jiah. Little did she know there are thousands like her on the fringes of Bollywood, hanging around producers/directors and just about anybody connected to a studio, in the hope of getting a role. Any bloody role. In retrospect,maybe it was Jiah’s early and comparatively easy success that killed her.
Think about it. Had she not got those breaks and tasted fame (limited – but fame, nevertheless), she’d have struggled for a while and gone back to where she’d come from. Gone back to her family in London and a more conducive environment. But instant  success is often a nasty beast. Jiah obviously believed it wouldn’t be long before she hit the big time and made it as an A-lister.Unfortunately, Jiah miscalculated. Bollywood is an unbelievably cruel place unless you know how to crack the system and play ball with the powerful names that exert such a vice-like control over the business.There is no place for fragility here. Jiah didn’t factor in the fierce competition either. With each passing day, a new ‘face’ is born in Bollywood. That same face becomes history soon enough.Sexy, young heroines appear and disappear in a flash. Those who manage to hang in there are either a part of the film fraternity, or plain fortunate. According to rumours, rejected and dejected, Jiah soon became a player who belonged to a desperate set – attractive, hard up women who hang around at parties and events hoping someone will notice them and cut a deal. Ugly situations and compromises follow…. it’s a nasty story. Bollywood’s party girls are easy meat. Sharks feed on their insecurity. Exploit them mercilessly. And then dump them. Soon , money runs out.  What happens next is a straight descent into hell. Drugs, booze, prostitution….till there are no takers left even for that kind of diversion. Boyfriends, husbands, gal pals, secretaries, hangers on, free loaders… any number of people come and go. But they too swiftly find other targets. Loneliness and panic follow. Demoralised and defeated, with nobody to turn to, these girls become clingy and possessive. Paranoid and suspicious. Boyfriends tire of their constant nagging. God knows what really happened between Suraj and Jiah that fateful night.But whatever did transpire, it must have been painful enough  for Jiah to take that ultimate step (shades of Viveka Babajee’s last moments).When all hope finally vanishes, there is just one option left. The ceiling fan whirling ceaselessly overhead sends out a tempting signal – offers an immediate exit from misery and humiliation. Jiah gave up… and took it.

Poor Jiah Khan. May she finally find peace in a place that is kinder to her than Bollywood  was… or can ever be.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

That's my Turkish friend Ekin ( which means 'wheat') and me, strolling through the very area that is currently barricaded and the scene of violent protests (Taksim). We walked into this wonderful old hotel from another era.... and lingered there, admiring the beautiful objets... the flowers.... the carpets... the view!

This appeared a few weeks ago in The Week.... I forgot to post it! Sorry!!

                            Better than the original David…
Sigh! The era is officially over. And football’s Adonis has walked off the field and into the sunset after shedding tears in public yet again! Oh David! Football will never be the same again! At least not for millions of swooning female fans who pretended to be interested in watching a bunch of  sweaty, hunky men kicking a defenseless ball around, only to ogle Mr. Perfection - David Beckham. Nobody will ever be able to either bend it like him or end it like him. Beckham became so much more than an ace sportsman during the course of his 20 year career. By the time he made that sensible decision  to retire, he was already a mega legend and perhaps the most recognized living sportsman in history. It no longer mattered whether his footwork  was shaky or faulty. At least for his women admirers, Beckham’s magic extended well beyond his on- field achievements. Beckham had become the personification of the idealized man – a startlingly good looking one at that. Seen as a loving and loyal husband ( let’s make an allowance for the odd Roos chapter) , a hands on devoted dad,  Beckham lived the much envied life of an enormously successful athlete, adored globally and worshiped by advertisers who fell over backwards to sign him up for the juiciest endorsement deals going. And this enduring love affair with Beckham continued years after younger, hotter and better footballers came into the picture. So, what was it about Brand Beckham that captured so many hearts – male and female?
I can only make a case for him as a woman. There is something heartbreakingly vulnerable about the man. Given the unapologetically macho posturing and positioning of  his chosen game, Beckham’s off-duty persona projected an entirely different image. He was comfortingly androgynous without ever appearing wimpy. He looked perfectly in tune with his feminine side, minus any self consciousness or strain. As a father of four, Beckham’s admirable commitment to his family life added a lot to his aura. When his posh wife Victoria talked about David dropping off the kids to school every morning, we believed her. He just looked like that sort of a father. Pictures of the couple cuddling Harper, their new born daughter, were so incredibly, heart warming, that young mums across the world must have fought with their husbands for not being as involved as David. The actual grouse being entirely different, of course (“Why the hell aren’t you as gorgeous…?”).

David Beckham became the most objectified poster boy of sports twenty years ago. And women in droves lusted after him. Yet, it was guilt-free lusting, because Beckham never pandered to the playboy image of football players. It’s impossible that he was not aware of his powerful hold over fans’ collective fantasy. But unlike some of the other sex symbols in the business ( Christian Ronaldo comes to mind), Beckham retained his dignity, even while posing in suggestive underwear that caused traffic jams in cities across the world.  This lovely and very disarming quality, will remain with him, even as he repositions his brand and confronts new realities, post-retirement. Chances are he will seamlessly shift into other high profile roles , possibly as a goodwill ambassador. If he does do that, he will win still more admirers and continue to generate positive press coverage. Beckham’s biggest strength has been his extraordinary ability to stay ordinary. Given his wealth and fame, this is an attribute that has disarmed his worst critics. Today, Beckham is indeed in a league of his own. Most of our cricketers would do well to take a leaf out of his book. God knows some of our high flying boys are in desperate need of a reality check (given the recent IPL spot fixing scandal). Beckham is much bigger than any of  them . Why, he is even bigger than the game he excelled in during his prime. His greatness was not in the number of goals he scored. It was in the humility that he consistently displayed. Testosterone and modesty don’t always go together. But boy! When they do – you get a David Beckham. What a babe! Even Michelangelo couldn’t have found a better model to immortalize.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Talking Turkey

The turmoil in Turkey ! And I was right there in Taksim Square, strolling past the disputed Gezi Park, just a few hours before the rioting began. These images of Istanbul and Perge ( in Antalaya) remind me of the quieter, more peaceful time I spent in this country, enjoying the glorious moonrise over thhe Bosphorus. I clicked that picture from the terrace of the magnificent Kiragan Palace Hotel, where we were dining with local friends. The gate you see is one of the many entrances to what has to be one of the world's most exquisite hotels, carved out of marble many centuries ago - a tribute to the Ottoman Empire that dominated the world. And Perge, where we feasted our eyes on Roman columns and other architectural wonders going back so very many years. A few days later, the country is in the grip of violent protests. And we are dealing with the absurdities of BCCI shenanigans.
This appeared in Mumbai Mirror yesterday...

                  We’re all going on a summer holiday….
One of the most annoying tv commercials airing these days, shows a school boy coming home early from  cricket practice and cribbing to his father about being the only chap in the group not going on a summer vacation. At this point, a little girl pipes up and says in an irritating sing- song way , “Papa… papa… even I want to go on a holiday.” The poor dad looks a little sheepish, recovers quickly and assures his kids he’ll organize a chhutti for them.His wife ticks him off  sharply (yup, right in front of the kids), saying, “Why are you lying to them?” And that’s the cue for the father to grin broadly and inform the family he has switched EMI payments to some other bank. Why do I find this commercial so intensely irritating? For the same reason, I find most lifestyle ads disgusting. There must be countless fathers stuck in similar situations, unable to fulfill the unrealistic demands of their children at this time of the year. There is so much pressure to ‘get away from the heat’ ( like we know any other weather!) , it has become a social disease that claims more victims than a heat stroke. We are bombarded on all sides by peddlers of holiday packages. We fall for these cons  We succumb. And if we are left without the option of that face saving vacation, we are doomed.Neighbours one runs into in an elevator , stare pityingly at those  staying put, as they themselves load bags into waiting cars… and drive off smugly to the airport. Aaaargh!
As a school girl in Delhi, our summer breaks were car trips with the family, often to destinations that were even hotter than Delhi ( Agra! Imagine!!). We stayed at government Dak Bungalows and ate inedible oily meals cooked by  drunk khansamas. But we still managed to have a great time. Yes, even sleeping under discoloured and torn mosquito nets, with blood- thirsty mosquitoes buzzing around our ears. Like Karan Johar stated many moons later, it was all about loving the family.Today, holidays have been converted into competitions. It’s all about impressing the neighbours.  And the pressure exerted on poor dads and moms to make sure the kids can boast about a dream vacation is such that large sums of money are being borrowed to placate these brats. Of course, the only holidays worth taking and talking about are foreign ones. Who wants to see India, I heard a kid scoff  last week.
How on earth do young parents deal with this nasty zabardasti? Should moms be totally candid with their kids and admit how tight the money situation really is? Should dads be discussing EMI problems in front of  innocent bachchas?How should harrowed parents deal with the disappointment of children who expect them to produce funds and plan swanky holidays – just like the parents of their more affluent friends in school and college? Tough, tough, tough. Today’s kids are well informed and cunning. They think nothing of ‘shaming’ their parents into shelling out money for what in the old days were called ‘wasteful expenses’. An older generation of more cautious parents knew how to traipse around such landmines. Not that it placated kids. But at least, kids didn’t make them feel guilty and inept for not whisking them off to Mount Titilis. These days, the bachchalog have become fully besharam! They not only make unreasonable demands but hold the parents responsible for not fulfilling them. The comparisons with Sweety’s dad and Munni’s mom, never end!And kids don’t really care where parents produce that extra cash from – so long as it’s there!

This year’s top ticket destination is Turkey. I am headed there myself. Am I glad I don’t have pesky kids in tow. But what’s the bet, the flight to Irresistible Istanbul will be packed with brats bleating, “Papa… Papa…  forget visiting Topkapi … let’s go and see JohnAbraham’s home from Race- 2 .” Abraham’s ‘home’ in the movie was, believe it or not,  the super fabulous 560 rooms Mardan Palace Hotel in Antalya Why not? Bollywood has always been the most reliable tour operator in India.The Bosphorus beckons. And I am right there! The hell with those EMIs.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Paisa pheko, tamasha dekho....

My Istanbul moment.....
What an incredible destination! Layered and complex.... it takes several lifetimes to reveal itself to mere mortals like ourselves. Like India, in many ways. I have great images... let me know if you are interested.... and I shall post them here taada taadi....
This appeared in Asian Age today....

                     IPL-6 –UPA-2  -  Paisa pheko, tamasha dekho!
Of course, the joke’s on us!The biggest one! A smaller version was enjoyed earlier this week in a brightly lit cricket stadium. The other one, has been running for nine years. Think about it. Is there much of a difference between the IPL and the UPA? There’s even an overlap of scandalous, disgraced players !Cynics might sneer – same- same, but different. Sure. But both brands are guilty of an identical crime – they have taken India for a jolly good ride. The country has indeed been taken to the cleaners. And in a way, we asked for it. Both brands (for that’s exactly what they are) have systematically shredded India’s reputation  -  globally as well as within India itself. And that’s an awful feeling. The dreams and aspirations of a billion plus people have been taken for granted, and collective sensitivities trampled on. Worse, precious hopes have been cruelly shattered. The IPL muck that continues to surface in bits and bobs  (adding up to precisely nothing), has underlined the basic rot within the entire system. A rot, so corrosive and pervasive, that it extends well beyond the cricket field and pretty much sweeps everything into its voluminous fold. So far, the names of political biggies (who are as much a part of the conspiracy to cheat the public as those tainted players), have been carefully shielded.Ministers are quoting vague laws. The writing on the wall is abundantly clear : nothing is going to happen to anyone. Had the government in power not been as blatantly corrupt , chances are, cricket too would  have been less corrupt. It is because of the rampant abuse of power by leaders who rule us from Delhi, that the dangerous goons who hijacked the IPL had the guts to do what they did  - not just to the well loved  game of cricket, but to millions of  believers across the world.Remember, cricket is a ‘religion’ for diehard fans.
Sham is a pretty powerful four letter word. These days Indians have been forced to confront it on a daily basis. Nothing is as it appears. Everything is naqli. Most of what you read is fake. Nearly every action in that stadium (as in parliament) appears to be stage managed and manipulated. The shadowy figures controlling crores of rupees in illegal betting, are no different from the equally shadowy figures who control the IPL and are a part of the sarkar. Someone’s son, someone else’s son-in-law.  Even as we struggle to decode Coalgate or the 2G scandals involving billions of our money, we also watch open mouthed as disgraced cricketers, bookies and brokers, discuss dirty deals supposedly orchestrated by the D-Gang in Dubai. And while Delhi cops make a big show of how efficiently they’ve cracked this particular racket, bewildered citizens are left as confused as ever. It’s come to a stage where whatever goes wrong in India – be it in politics or sports -  is blamed on Dawood! It’s our best bet. It shuts mouths. It provides a convenient alibi. But why does nobody ask  – is India so weakened that we have allowed an overseas gangster to take charge, take over and assume absolute control ?
The UPA-2 has given itself high marks in the report card. Sly, off-the-cuff remarks quoted in the press suggest all is not hunky dory between 10 Janpath and 7 Racecourse Road. That’s a pretty cunning way to relay an important message.If our Madam so wishes, she can downsize anybody – the P.M. included.The truth of the matter is, the track record of UPA -2 is as abysmal as the sudden  fall from grace of IPL-6. The masks are off for both.The halos have disappeared.There is the bigger issue of zero accountability, zero transparency, zero punishment. To say nothing of autocracy, sycophancy, and plain nepotism . If the IPL bossman Srinivasan was allowed to run the franchise like a dictator from a banana republic… if his son-in-law Gurunath is suspected of collusion in several cricketing deals, how different is the story from Sonia Gandhi’s , as Srinivasan himself has boldly and brazenly pointed out?? She too has controlled the UPA in a dictatorial fashion for nine years. She too has had to deal with son-in-law issues. The one thing both tarnished brands continue to have in common is big talk and tall promises. There’s far too much at stake for either to come clean and make amends. Both are in the same business, as it were. And that business involves duping countless trusting citizens, emotionally and financially.
One would like to believe the party is really and truly over for those who brought such shame to cricket and politics. One team ( Mumbai Indians ) has won the cup. And with the closing ceremony another IPL season has ended. India may or may not see IPL-7. But what will happen to the UPA in 2014? Political pundits insist UPA-3 ain’t happening. But that still won’t get our stolen money back!The netas in both rackets are nanga in the hamam.But who will name and nail them? If Srinivasan is the Baddie. Who are the Goodies?It’s so much easier to go  after chhota mota cricketers. Those chaps are dispensable. After a point, nobody will care. Sreesanth will receive offers galore to host reality shows, publish a book, act in movies.Even  become a member of parliament  like  Azaruddin. Notoriety has its advantages these days. But the all-party politicians who call the shots in cricket, will swiftly cover each other’s backsides and talk piously about cleaning up cricket.As always,it is only genuine lovers of the game who  will  be excluded from this  cosy party.
This isn’t cricket. Perhaps it never was….