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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Eternal Stalker Named Death

Late Ramen Sarma
Death strikes its victims in varying forms. Sometimes it takes one unawares. Sometimes it makes one embrace death second by second. It's not known why a particular kind of person deserves a certain kind of death. It stalks, always; be it in terms of diseases, accidents or any natural or unnatural causes.
When I lost the youngest of my beloved maternal uncles that was a kind of an experience I was desperate to share with all.
He had only minor ailments like pain in the legs, of course, apart from well-controlled diabetes and moderate blood pressure. Ramen Sarma worked as public prosecutor in the district court. He was always a cheerful person and cracked jokes or mimicked funny lines at every encounter we had. He had been my all time favorite since childhood days. He was a happy-go-lucky one. He never bothered about what to eat or what not to eat and spent more than his salary-always. He was a renowned stage actor and also acted in a few Assamese feature films. It was only much later I found out that he never had even a bank account. But Ramen mama (maternal uncle) was lovable and had a lovable family of wife, daughter and a son.
Over the years pain in his legs started causing worry—not to him, but to his family. When it became continuous and ringing and pinching he was advised to go for treatment. Under family pressure he got admitted in a reputed hospital away from his home. It was immediately found that all the arteries and blood vessels of his body from waste downwards were completely blocked. Only way was surgery. But then, they found blockage in the heart too and could not operate. Luckily, the heart blockages eased up after angioplasty and he was taken to the operating table for the second time. They cut open the less affected right leg, but even in that the doctors finally failed to operate due to the advanced state. After two months of mental torture my uncle returned home with his family, suddenly feeling lost and resigned to fate. The doctors gave some hope, maybe the treatment and the new medicines could work and he might get better.
It was only the third day after his return home. Since the previous day he was feeling a little more energetic. He was moving around, doing his errands and making tea himself. On the fateful day too he got up early, shaved and had a hearty breakfast. Then he felt stiffness in his right leg.
As the stiffness was creeping upwards he decided to inform the doctors of the hospital and called his doctor brother-in-law home. Slowly whole of his right leg became stiff and lifeless. The stalker crept on up relentlessly and his right hand too became lifeless. Whole of his right side was now paralyzed. To relieve his anxiety the relatives made him some tea and he sipped it managing with his left hand. But he knew what was happening to him and so called his elder brother who was also a doctor, "I'm paralyzed on my right side. I just wanted to inform you." Then he broke down and cried helplessly. The march of death went on. He could no longer sit properly. He had a blood vomiting and then crashed. The stalker made sure that he was still conscious and responding by opening of eyes and feeble movement of his left hand. The doctors advised a CT scan and finally he was taken to a hospital in the nearest city. Nothing could stop the stalker. He died later of a massive brain haemorrhage.

Let him be Ramen Sarma of a remote town called Nazira in Assam, a state of North Eastern India or let him be someone in the most advanced medical home of the most progressive United States; man is finally rendered helpless before this stalker. The only question is why the stalker discriminates and dishes out either painless or instant or fully conscious or cruel or horrible or protracted treatment to its never ending victims. What are the yardsticks of this discrimination, if any?

The Eternal Stalker Named Death - Bizarre Strikes

Late Anjali Barua (Biju Baideo)
She was preparing for the marriage of her youngest son to be held within a few days. That day was really hectic. She visited nearly fifty households around the city and extended personal invitations to them. She reached home just before eight in the night.

She was not at all aware that the stalker had entirely different designs ready for her. A unique plan at that.

She was a bubbly girl from childhood days and was immensely popular. She was also a talented singer. Though she did not pursue it to professional levels she never left it either-continuing to perform in private sessions and family functions. She got married to a business stalwart and immediately set about putting her new home in perfect order. Her home was always abuzz with guests and relatives from all sides and of all connections. The one storied bungalow was lovingly named 'canteen' by many due its staggering hospitality at any time of the day or night. Slowly she got into the business of her husband and showed her magic there too.

Somewhere within or outside the city a truck was being loaded with packets of incense sticks. It was to reach a destination within the city that night.

She decided to end the eventful day by visiting her ailing elder sister just one kilometre away. At that moment an old family friend turned up. Normally she would have invited him for a chat over a cup of tea. But at that moment she really wanted to see her sister and so she asked her guest to give company to her husband. She occupied the passenger seat of her car and set off just about eight-thirty in the evening.

The stalker gave the finishing touches to the proposed timing, the expected impact and other details. He sat back contented and smiling.

The two-lane city street was not known for heavy traffic and it was quiet that evening too. There was no dew or fog either in that peak-of-the-winter-season January evening.

Farther down the road the truck ignored a no-entry sign and accelerated beyond set limits.

There was a sharp bend ahead and a break in the divider for side crossing and u-turns. The car was nearing it with its driver and passenger thinking nothing much about anything in particular.

The truck driver crushed the accelerator pedal to the limit never anticipating the sharp bend in the road and if he went ahead he was bound to have plunged straight into the drainage canal. So now he crushed his brake pedal to the limit and steered to his right. The sudden impact made the wheels on his left (In India we have right hand drives) lift off ground and the truck tilted to his right. Continuing with the momentum the truck with its all four wheels in air literally flew on to his right and into the gap in the divider.

The car had just arrived there. The flying truck landed on top of the car and crushed it instantly. Thousands of awestruck pedestrians and onlookers descended on the site offering a helping hand and wanting to lynch the truck driver. As the police station was nearby a law and order situation was prevented.

Miraculously, she did not seem to have any apparent injury as she sat inside with both the doors broken and jammed; she was more concerned for the driver who was trapped hopelessly. She even started calling her husband and relatives giving details of the accident with the advisory ‘not to worry’. She was conscious when being taken out and to the hospital. The eternal stalker never erred in His plans. The head injuries and concussion proved to be fatal for her as the lovely lady lost her consciousness on way to hospital and died an hour later. The car driver remained trapped under the truck for over two hours and finally survived.

Thus ended the lovely saga of a lady named Anjali Barua. Losing a beloved cousin sister I just wondered why. There was nothing to understand or guess about it. Why was it necessary for her to die so unnecessarily, so unexpectedly, so meaninglessly? The stalker always had His ways. Anjali Barua's husband, Pabitra Jivan Barua—a pioneer of the printing industry of Assam—just sat there staring out helplessly at the devastating loss of his life partner, support and solace. Beset with his own health problems he hardly knew how to differentiate one medicine from the other and when to take what in what doses. His life partner would no longer help him sort it out.

Even if we managed to meet the stalker that would hardly help as by that time He would be on numerous other projects and one particular victim would not be remembered. Like that same night farther west in Mumbai a drunken young lady taking sips of beer while driving mowed down and killed a police sub-inspector and a biker. Ironically at that moment the sub-inspector, on a campaign against drunk driving, was testing the biker for traces of alcohol.

Ours not to reason why, ours but to wait and die. Or, maybe you are not yet in the radar of the stalker, but you do not know who are.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Eternal Stalker Named Death: More Tragic Scripts!

The way death claims its victims is as normal as it is unique. One wonders who writes the scripts for some of the victims who perish without knowing why. These scripts are always most inhumanly creative, cruel beyond imagination and most horrendously instantaneous. True, one would never know the when-how-where of one’s last earthly activity, but one has the right to know at least why there is discrimination in the scripts, and this question we had raised earlier also. Of course, the answers would never come.

The youngest member of the family had all the right to be excited at the coming event. It was too early for him to get unduly concerned about the ways of the eternal stalker named death. His earthly existence began just about six years ago, and every small or big pleasure entertained him thoroughly. And this time it was big. His father was planning to buy a car. He was doing the countdown one month in advance making or revising future plans every single day. Why him, no one in the 7-member family had any clue to the designs of the stalker.

Finally the car arrived. His father knew driving and so things were moving easily. It was decided that the maiden trip in the brand new car would be to their ancestral home in the nearby town, and all of them would travel the next day morning. His father really wanted to show his prize possession to his relatives there.

Early morning they started the journey; his parents, his grandparents and his two siblings. The air inside the car was joyful, alive, eager and talkative. For the first two hours the journey was smooth with his father driving expertly and at a moderate speed. The highway was wide, good and well-maintained that would tempt anyone to drive at breakneck speed.

A lorry was moving ahead in their lane and his father felt no hurry to overtake that. In fact the lorry was occupying almost two lanes and there was not much space on the right side for overtaking.

Suddenly a tanker with a huge capsule laden with hot molten tar honked continuously trying to overtake both the car and the lorry. Although the space on the right side was not enough the speeding tanker went on with it. In the process it hit the road divider. The severe jolt made the capsule detach from the engine and lurch forward dangerously.

Their car had no room for manoeuvring an escape, because the lorry was close in front and on the left side it was rough terrain off the highway. Within a few fearful moments the lurching capsule overturned and fell on top of their car crushing it beyond recognition. The hot bitumen started flowing out immediately and engulfed the vehicle.

Miraculously he did not get any serious injury, and managed somehow to extricate himself out of the mangled mess. He hit the windscreen feebly and cried out to the passers-by for help. However, the script was so tightly written that no rescue was possible. The spreading hot lava of bitumen muffled out his cries and engulfed his tiny body in a few seconds. Assembled pedestrians helplessly witnessed the little boy with all his dreams and innocence die an agonizingly cruel death in front of their eyes.

Another boy, hardly into his teens, too had no concerns about the stalker, and only wanted to enjoy a few more moments of life. His caring parents dropped him and picked him up from school every day without a break. That day he had his last exam paper and wanted to celebrate the end with his friends. He asked for his father’s permission to come home on his own only for that day which was granted. And he was dropped at his school as usual by his father.

The most sought-after celebration took just an hour. The happy boy then went to the local railway station to take a train home. He had his best pal with him. As they entered the station a crowded local was about to leave. His friend immediately boarded the train as it started to move. To be with his friend the boy walked briskly along to get a proper hold to board. In his effort he slipped and fell into the gap between the train and the platform. His slim little body was sucked in, cut and mangled in a few moments as if to follow the script in toto.

The eternal stalker never relents. How many more scripts are in readiness for special humans—who can tell? 

(The two articles written earlier on this theme will be published here in coming days. Both these two and the above one are based on real incidents.)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Milord...O' Landlord!

The local landlord was known for his fastidiousness. Although some would like to term it eccentricity. Whatever it be he had been extremely choosy in finalizing his clients. He had several small flats for rent in his building, and he always preferred non-local hassle-free renters in his own unique way.

His terms and conditions were very clear, if not transparent. Guests staying overnight were a strict no-no; water with a predetermined litre limit given only once, mostly in the dead of the night; main gates would be locked at 10 pm every night and anyone coming late must inform in advance; CCTV cameras in the campus observing irregular activities and playing or singing of loud music not at all preferred. By profession he and his wife were teachers, and maybe he took his profession too seriously. He had three young children, two boys and one daughter.

One of his flats was going to be vacated soon and the word spread easily by mouth in the small city. Normally he engaged a broker who would fix up clients and on approval would charge a fee separately.

Hearing from a friend one young man approached the landlord directly. The landlord preferred to keep him outside the house while having the initial talk or interview.
"Hey, you need a house?"
"Yes sir, a friend told me one flat will be vacated in two days."
"Right! ...What do you do?"
"Sir, I'm a businessman. On the supply chain contracts."
"How long have you been here? Are you a local?
" No, I'm not a local and here only two years on business. "
"Good!", he paused seemingly assured and to the client's surprise. " How many in your family?" , he resumed his quiz.
"Only myself and wife Sir."
"No issues, no?", he asked eagerly.
" No...not so far. Hopefully we'll have in near future!"
The landlord suddenly stiffened. "Sorry, in that case I cannot allow you here!"
Taken aback he client was as astonished as he was disappointed. "But why, Sir?"
"Well, you see! You'll have a baby and he or she will grow up fast you know! And then he or she will quarrel invariably with my little ones! No, I cannot take that risk! Sorry!", he started retreating into his house.
The client stood there puzzled and staring. Of course, he was desperate for a flat, but how on earth could he make a promise so unearthly! The chill in the air caught him squarely now.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Loner!

The first head turned. Its eyes were focused on the entrance of the busy roadside restaurant.

The owner of this crucial part of the anatomy had sharp features and other delights too. He was short, rather emaciated, of dark complexion and had a Charlie Chaplin mustache. This latter addition gave the face that belonged to the canine variety a comic look.

It was evening time and the air was thick and suffocating with peak hour traffic.

The first head as we will call our hero hereafter was waiting at the bus stop, and the deliberate turning of his head away from the coming buses backwards to the restaurant naturally attracted some attention. Its taut positioning and the intent gaze emanating from it appealed to the curious instinct of a lot of fellow commuters. More and more heads started turning in that direction.

The ever increasing number of heads didn’t exactly know what to find or what to expect there, but their collective curiosity was constantly fueled by the undivided attention showered by the first head on the ephemeral sight.

The first head made a sudden move now. He started walking at a brisk pace towards the restaurant. The other heads followed him devotedly with their fixed expecting stares. They waited impatiently because they wanted to make sure before they decided to make their next moves. Although always drawn on by such curiosity chores on a daily basis they still thought—why to waste time unnecessarily on the prank of some stupid crank. Being the proud inhabitants of a roaring Indian metropolis they never ever failed to realize that time was money and if a minute was not to be translated into a few bucks more they expected to get at least moneys’ worth for that lost time.

After reaching the entrance of the eatery the first head stopped abruptly, and began taking surreptitious peeps into the crowded environs inside. The counter manager was all smiles and as always he effortlessly stuck to the eternally welcoming posture.
“Come on in Sir, why stop there? Lot of crowds, yes Sir...natural at this hour! But not to worry—we have tables for you. You can climb up to the AC block for more comfort!”
The first head mumbled something inaudible and continued with his random peeps. The manager persisted.
“Are you looking for your friend, Sir? No issues—please come inside and take a thorough look”, the manager was now a little apprehensive. He had been in this business for over two decades and he prided himself in knowing all sorts of customers inside out.
No impact though on this particular one. Again, the mumbling and the peeps continued.

Now the other heads were sure that something fishy was indeed going on. Some fun was definitely in the offing. Most of the heads started moving towards the restaurant.

The manager was taken aback failing to classify this particular specimen. Annoyance was slowly robbing him of his placid welcome gestures.  
“Please don’t mind my saying so Sir, but you are definitely creating a hindrance right here in this crucial point of entry! We always want to give the very best of service to our customers and we cannot survive otherwise. Please try to understand, Sir! I still welcome you, please come inside and have a seat!”

The first head paid no attention to the pleading manager. By now quite a crowd gathered outside the restaurant. There were murmurs, whispers now.
“What’s happening, pal?”
“How do I know? Let’s go still nearer and find out!”
“I knew the fellow is not normal; but I fail to understand what he’s up to!”
“Maybe he’s plain mad, maybe we’re wasting our time!”
Nobody knew why they were all there. However, they were all egged on by their insatiable curiosity—the expected thrill of watching something unique without any cost or without any impending fear of any danger to them arising out of their participation.

Now a few waiters joined the harassed manager, but even their combined efforts failed to make the first head articulate. The manager eyed the potential customers greedily and wished all of them came inside ordering happily. But alas! Nobody was interested in coming inside the eatery. His annoyance now gave way to glowing embers of anger that stirred within him.
“Hey, what’s the fun, huh? You people either come in or disperse! I’m not going to tolerate this kind of infringement on my fundamental right of doing business with freedom any longer, not a minute longer, I warn you!, the manager thundered to the crowd growing in size with every passing second.
There were hostile reactions to the manager’s histrionics. To his consternation there followed a voracious exchange of invective and the crowd swelled further. The situation now threatened to go out of control.

Meanwhile, the first head was at total peace with itself and was dexterously carrying on with its sneak preview of the hotel interiors.

Finally help came in the form of a traffic policeman who shouted his way through in a bid to find out the root cause of the problem. While continuing with his authoritative overtures he was constantly passing on messages through his walkie-talkie. The manager held at this last straw and furnished him with a brief of the issue.

The policeman walked up to the first head and demanded to know what was going on. Failing to give a proper enough justification would mean an instant arrest for creating a law and order situation, he warned. The first head now decided to break his silence.
“You see, I’m very lonely and depressed...”
“I don’t see how you are, just explain your actions. Quick!”
“...I have no near or dear ones. I live alone in my house, eat alone...sleep alone...passing every minute in a pain for me; I get no appetite...I...”
“Cut it out, bugger! I’m not interested in your backgrounder. Stick to the point”, now the policeman was getting impatient.
“Please, no abuses! I’m a respectable person. I must stress the point that knowing the background is a must to understand any situation”, the first head readied itself to launch into a scholarly discourse. “I told you of my painfully insignificant and mundane existence. But God has a plan for every living being and I was no exception. You see, I fell in love with a beautiful girl who gave a new meaning to my life. Suddenly I was alive and bursting with energy...”

The policeman was beginning to enjoy now and a grin cracked his dry lips. There were also a few giggles from the crowd. The first head was blissfully oblivious though.
“...I never wanted to lose her; I proposed and she accepted as per God’s will. My joy knew no bounds. But I had a I really going to get so much happiness...the loner that I always was. I was paranoid about losing her...”
“Hold it now, enough of your love story, buddy! Do please come to the point, my dear forlorn lovebird”, he paused dramatically for effect.

He was rewarded. For a change there were no giggles.

“As always I was waiting for a bus this evening, and suddenly I saw her...but I’m not sure...sort of hoping against hope. I desperately want to be proved wrong. I still stand here to confirm...she cannot do this to me! ...You see, I saw her with a man! I saw both of them entering this very restaurant! ... If they come out now...and confirm my worst fear...I’ll drop dead right here...!”

There was absolute silence for a moment. First the policeman started it. He bellowed with raucous unleashed laughter. His body shook and tears blocked his eyes. Soon all in the watching crowd joined in the mayhem merriment.

The manager never wanted to let go of this opportunity. He invited all for a cup of tea and welcomed the now silent first head to have a thorough search in all corners of the eatery.

However, the first head began to slip away quietly taking advantage of the relieved situation. As he jostled into a running bus he mumbled to himself, “Abominable nincompoops! Laugh hyenas! How would you know! That this was just good enough fun in my uniquely creative way to have an appetizing supper tonight! Eeeeekh...eeeeeeekh! I’m already feeling hungry, ravenously! Eeeeeeeekh...need food now!”

The restaurant was bubbling with activity. Nobody noticed our hero slipping away. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Well Done, Senor!

The city bus was not overcrowded, but most of the seats were occupied. So I had to take a seat meant for senior citizens on the front left side of the bus. An elderly lady was occupying the window seat alongside me. To add to my peace of mind two seats meant for the senior citizens and differently abled persons were still empty.  So there was no immediate danger of losing the seat.

After the first stop one senior citizen boarded the bus, and to my surprise instead of taking the empty seat ahead came straight to me mumbling something. I pointed to the seat on the front rows indicating that he might as well occupy it. The elderly gentleman did not budge and muttered something again. I thought I heard the word ‘madam’ and so surmised that the lady on the window seat was known to him and that he wanted to give her company for the ride. Without much of a protesting mind I obliged him, and to my luck one of the seats on the last rows just got empty. Instinctively I kept on watching the senior citizen as I sat down on my new address. More surprise was in store.

Instead of sitting down he again mumbled something to the elderly lady, and the lady got up too. I was really confused now. What was he up to? The elderly woman moved somewhat stiffly towards the seats on the right side of the bus meant for ladies only.  I immediately turned my focus to those seats, and found that one seat there was empty. As the senior citizen finally sat down satiated on the window seat everything, suddenly, was revealed to me. I laughed out inside me and I was not able to prevent the amusement infecting my facial contours.

It was a compact plan. While he was boarding the senior citizen took in the scenario inside completely and accordingly made his calculated moves. He disposed of me first which was not at all against the law, and then he eliminated the lady too which was also quite logical. His target was plain and simple—to have a comfortable ride occupying the window seat.

Well done, Senor! Keep it up! 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Nature’s Paradise: Manas National Park!

The night vigil prolonged almost into the wee hours. We were perched on the wooden balcony of the forest bungalow hoping against hope to have a darshan of the uncrowned king of the jungle. The darkness was impenetrable and the air was still. Except for the night forest sounds and the thin cackle of the river flowing behind the bungalow there was absolute silence. We were asked to look for a pair of luminous glows coming out of the thick forest beyond into the open courtyard in front of the bungalow. We were told that the animal’s eyes burn at night and that they normally prowl around the bungalow—not for hunting, only for maybe an evening stroll. We were a little scared too if the animal tried to jump into the balcony. However, we were given assurance that the height was good enough, and the animal never becomes aggressive unless provoked dearly. Finally, we had to give up and agree with the general opinion that the animal is rarely sighted there since years.

That was a long time ago at the Mathanguri Forest Bungalow, most sought-after even now, of the Manas National Park of Assam—better known that time as Manas Tiger Reserve. It is a sad commentary that the numbers of the majestic Royal Bengal Tigers are dwindling fast in India. That time the tiger population at Manas was about 125 which decreased to around 60 at present. No doubt, the National Tiger Conservation Authority recently disapproved plans of tiger preservation in 16 states of India including Assam some time back. This puts the onus on the Assam government to thrash out more practical ways to preserve the beautiful species.

The Manas National Park consists of the core area of the sprawling Manas Project Tiger Reserve, which encompasses an area of 2,837 sq. km running into five districts of Assam. The Park has several dense reserve tropical forests and vast stretches of grasslands. The significance of Manas lies on many counts. Considered among the best national parks in the world, Manas is also a Biosphere Reserve, an Elephant Reserve, an Important Bird Area (IBA), and a World Heritage Site. It is a prime tiger habitat that had the country’s second highest concentration of the great cat till the late 1980s and is one of the earliest Tiger Reserves of the country, formed in 1973. In view of its pristine natural eco-system representing the overall biota of the region, it was elevated to a Biosphere Reserve in 1989 under the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme. It was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1985 as a site of outstanding universal value.

The Mathanguri forest bungalow is situated just by the side of the Manas River, named after the serpent Goddess Manasa of Assam. Water of the river is crystal clear and you can see the river bed littered with stones of various sizes, shapes and colors. Sitting down on the rocky shore you can look beyond to the blue hills of Bhutan on the other side. A view of such natural purity and beauty that it leaves you glued to the spot never wanting to go back to the mundane concrete jungles ever. This nature’s paradise does not offer you much in terms of amenities in the guest houses, but it is more than compensated by the ecstasy you feel looking around and imbibing the spirit of pristine nature.

Manas National Park lies on the gentle slopes of the Himalayan foothills and is located on the north bank of River Brahmaputra. It is bounded on the north by the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan, on the south by the populous North Kamrup district of Assam and on both east and west by buffer forest reserves which are part of the Manas Tiger Reserve. 

Among the 22 endangered mammal species found in Manas are the pigmy hog, the hispid hare and the golden langur. In fact, Manas boasts of the only viable population of the pigmy hog, the smallest and rarest wild boar, anywhere in the world. It is also the only place where you can see the big five of the Indian jungles – the tiger, the elephant, the rhino, the buffalo, and the gaur. The avian population is impressive too with nearly 500 species of birds of which ten are listed in the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. For the tourists the Park provides excitements like white water rafting on the Manas river, trekking, elephant rides and arranged trips into Bhutan on the other side.

This nature’s paradise was in dire straits due to social unrest and insurgency for a decade from the late eighties. However, the vibrant and immensely diverse biosphere emerged successfully again attracting lots of tourists in the last few years. The World Heritage Site was also restored.

Manas National Park is connected by air, rail and road. The nearest airport is Guwahati and it is about 4 hour’s journey by road. By rail, Barpeta Road is the nearest railway station from where you can travel 40 km to the Park by car or bus. The best season is from October to March. If you love nature and want to be in her lap then Manas National Park is the ideal destination for you. 

(Photos by Sivasish  Thakur

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cricket ODI: Kohli-Dhoni Push Gives India 2-1 Lead in Mohali Against New Zealand!

A brilliant century, his 26th ODI ton, and an unbeaten knock of 154 by Virat Kohli steered Team India to a 7 wicket victory over New Zealand in Mohali on Sunday and a 2-1 lead in the five-match ODI series. As a much-awaited silver lining Captain Cool under pressure, MS Dhoni joined the vice-captain in the chase of 286 runs promoting himself to no.4 position in the batting order and contributing a solid 80  runs consisting of 3 sixes and 6 fours. The duo came together when India were is some spot of trouble losing both the openers at 41/2 in the 9th over and added 151 runs taking the team score to 192 in 36th over when Dhoni fell to Henry. Mohali has been a high scoring ground with the chasing team winning in the last three consecutive matches. Dhoni kept on winning the toss in this Series, and here he naturally chose the fielding option once again.

Put into bat the Kiwis started well and were in a position of strength at 153/2 in only the 29th over looking good for a total of over 300 runs which was really required to create some pressure for the might of India batting. But it was not to be. As is seen regularly in this tour of India, New Zealand again had a middle order collapse losing 6 wickets for just the addition of 46 runs at 199/8 thanks again to some inspired bowling by Amit Mishra and Jaspreet Bumarah. But for some rear-guard action by Neesham and Henry that finally took the score to 285 all out the match would’ve been a rank walkover for India. However, the Kiwis must have been aware of the fact that in the last match they made India cower with a total of only 242 runs.

If at all the visitors enjoyed any hope of creating some pressure it all went up in the air as Taylor dropped a regulation catch offered by Kohli early on when he made just 6 runs. That was unpardonable and the costliest lapse, and from that point onwards Kohli was unstoppable. With a steady Manish Pandey at the end overs, Virat Kohli saw India home in the 49th over. With two matches coming up—on 26th and 29th—the Series is still open. One question that comes to mind is that India perhaps would not be looking for a win riding on a Virat Kohli great knock every time. The other batsmen need to fire, particularly Rohit Sharma. The Indian bowlers have been doing a good job so far, but they too should learn to apply pressure when odds are hugely in their favour. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cricket ODI: New Zealand Win Thriller, India Captain Cool Fails To Finish, And BCCI Jolted!

When your home team loses you always try to find out reasons or issues responsible for that loss and try to justify that had that being different things would have been positive. Although this is a natural reaction of the home team fans, one must take in the overall picture too. There is no denying the fact that New Zealand dished out a professional and gritty performance in the second one day international (ODI) match played in Delhi yesterday against India and won deservedly. The match was an entertainer down the wire as the narrow margin of 6 runs for the win made it abundantly clear.

On a traditionally slow Kotla pitch New Zealand, put into bat by India, did not get bogged down by the early loss of Guptil for a duck, but carried on the momentum with Skipper Kane Williamson hitting a superlative century and contributing for two major partnerships. The Kiwis looked set for a big score, but some tight bowling by Mishra and Bumrah accounted for 6 wickets for just 21 runs at the later stage. Therefore, the final target of 243 set by them seemed not too tall and was considered gettable by the batting might of India. However, spirited bowling and magnificent fielding by the visitors made it difficult for India, and losing wickets at regular intervals India folded up just 6 runs short. It showed the rather over-dependence of the home team on Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli. Rohit Sharma fell cheaply again like in Dharamsala. Matured Pandiya ignited last hopes of an exciting victory, but as he got out in the penultimate over the match was sealed.

The home team fans were rather disappointed ruing the issues they thought responsible for the dramatic loss. Some thought on a traditionally slow turner India should have opted for batting after winning the toss. Then, the looming question of Captain Cool, MS Dhoni still donning the shorter format team cap. He is known to be finisher in such encounters. However, he could not do so yesterday and rather struggled to make 39 runs in as many as 65 balls. When Dhoni came into bat the situation was not that difficult with runs coming quite easily. After the match Dhoni lamented that if any batsman could have batted for few minutes more India could have won. Of course, he is also included in that. Now, rather than blaming Dhoni one must credit the Kiwis for their never-say-die attitude and professionalism. The match was a thriller and had the ups and downs all throughout providing absolute entertainment to all concerned.

New Zealand made the ODI Series level at 1-1 with three matches to go. They lost the Dharamsala match earlier, maybe not quite recovering from the Test whitewash of 3-0 dished out by the Viral Kohli led Test side. More than that, the rollicking Rahane and Kohli partnership made it very easy for India in that first ODI. New Zealand has been a very competitive side in the shorter format and despite the absence of retired Brendon McCullum the side is not weakened. We can look forward to some exciting one day encounters in the coming days. For India Suresh Raina is expected to come back in the next match. However, who will make way for him is not clear, because though Rohit is out of form he is not likely to be dropped, and Kedar Jadhav is playing quite well. Axar Patel could be the option as Raina can also bowl.

Meanwhile, the richest cricket board of the world, BCCI is made to bite the dust by the Supreme Court in regard to Lodha Panel recommendations. The characteristically arrogant Board has been trying to stall the reforms and asked for more time in the last hearing. The Supreme Court has come down heavily on their defiance and today froze all transactions between BCCI and the state cricket associations even stopping release of funds for match purposes till the Board implements the reforms recommended by Lodha Panel. The apex Court also asked Lodha Panel to appoint an independent Auditor to scrutinize BCCI accounts. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bollywood Is Not A Unified Whole!

Bollywood is actually a misnomer. In true subservience to Hollywood this name was coined since the Indian Film (Hindi) Industry was located in Bombay—which ceased to be so long back and Mumbai took over. Therefore, if at all, this industry should be called Mullywood! Anyway, Bollywood consists of a vast assortment of producers, directors, actors, music directors, lyricists, singers, production managers, spot boys and a huge lot of technicians in various categories ranging from cinematography to post-production labs. Basically all these people are individuals and thus all have right to their own opinions. Difference of opinions has been a celebrated hallmark of democracy—particularly in the largest democracy called India. If this democratic right of having one’s own opinion is universal why Bollywood be an exception? We cannot jump to the conclusion, as many self-motivated individuals engaged in media or politics often do, that ‘Bollywood is divided’.

That the righteous difference of opinion applies equally to Bollywood is made amply clear by the mind-boggling types of movies being churned out by this industry over the decades. Every producer or director has his/her own way of approach to filmmaking, own concepts or ideas and own intellectual types or standards. Likewise, all actors or singers or technicians have their own forms of expression that may be termed as excellent or poor. Else why would this industry make movies like ‘Pistolwali’ or ‘Hunterwali’ and also ‘Mother India’, ‘Sholay’, ‘Black’, ‘Neerja’ and so on over the decades? Grading of A or B or C for movies has been too apparent all the time. If some desperate souls still try to ‘unite’ Bollywood based on the celebrated ‘masala formula’ (an unholy but deliberate mix of entertainment ingredients) of Hindi films, they must admit now that the formula has come to a natural death quite some time back as the evolving audiences of the country saw through it. Therefore, it is almost surely established that Bollywood has difference of opinions within and this has nothing to do as the industry being ‘divisive’.

There is thus absolutely no problem if someone in Bollywood supported the continuance of Pakistan actors in Bollywood films and some opposed it, if someone even slammed the Prime Minister of the country and if some rallied with the government. The problem lies elsewhere.

There are always opportunity seekers, particularly from some sections of the media and politics sectors, waiting for every kind of expression, and thanks to social media opinions are now never private. The celebrities enjoy huge fan following and so their tweets go viral if the concerned tweets are controversial. The opportunists take full advantage of this and try manufacturing ‘mass ‘opinions’ thus contributing to the on-going tirade of labelling the whole country as ‘divisive’ ‘intolerant’ or ‘propagandist’. The currently popular term of ‘polarisation’ is also an off-shoot of this, particularly nurtured by some sections of the media not realising that in the process they are getting polarised and losing the principles of objectivity or neutrality. This ridiculous tirade to misinterpret ‘difference of opinion’ has led to even categorisation or sub-categorisations of universally accepted terms like ‘patriotism’ or ‘nationalism’. True anti-nationals are relishing this new-found chance.

When Bollywood biggie Karan Johar expresses himself, his mode of expression may well be controversial, he does so from a practically business point of view as the release of his film has been caught up in the melee. Maybe he preferred that mode of expression to avoid hounding from the opportunists. And, it is woefully wrong to label him as ‘giving in to the so-called ultra-something forces’ thanks to misinterpretation by the ever vigilant opportunists. If fact, every individual or association or company is guided by certain interests, and nobody could be so selfless as to defy one’s own interests on this planet. This ‘self-interest’ is also universal and often this also leads to ‘difference of opinion’ which is again lapped up by the waiting opportunists.

At the macro level the ‘self-interest’ leads to ‘vested interests’, and in India the sway and the clout of the vested interests can never be denied—at every level of activity and existence. In the present fluid situation it is hazardous to express one’s opinion—for or against or anything. However, for nonentities or non-celebrities there is not much fear of being labelled something. Therefore, at least at an analytical or argumentative level, this writer would like to suggest that the overwhelming power-play of the vested interests got severely affected by the change of government in 2014, and so, since then every effort has been made to hold the government responsible for anything under the sun. This is, of course, open ended and not mutually exclusive.

Coming back to our basic subject, Bollywood has only difference of opinion and the industry is not divided or ‘divisive’. If it has problems presently, these can be solved too. 
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