Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reliving Sept 24

It was a strange feeling one which I hadn’t lived through ever in my fan life - rooting for India without the associated anxiety or the desperation. My stomach didn’t squirm in discomfort during the death overs, my blood didn’t boil over a misfield, nor did I stand awkwardly with half a foot on the TV hall and half a foot in the prayer hall.

Probably because T20 was a new unheard format at that time, maybe because the big guns sat back at home, or because India just undid the horrors of the 50 over world cup by the victory in England, or it was just that I couldn’t come to terms with a long-haired Bollywood model leading an Indian team. Thanks largely to that confusion, I, for once, was able to do what I have envied seeing a lot of others do. Enjoy a game of cricket that India played.

I had as much fun as Robin Uthappa when he bowed when India won a cricket match 3-0, neither did I go into depression when we lost to New Zealand in the first match of the Super 8s, and surprisingly remained level-headed even after Yuvi’s sixes, and DK’s moment of Jonty Rhodes to dismiss Greame Smith. I looked down at India’s semi-finals entry with a touch of contempt like the way an Arsenal or Man Utd supporter would look at a Carling Cup. Afterall, it was just a T20 World Cup.

Whoever wrote the scripts for sports, and whatever sadistic pleasure they got from taking away the brief period of happiness I was going through! That dreaded feeling of anguish, desperation, anticipation and fear returned when I knew about one of the finalists. Pakistan does that to you.

It wasn’t just about beating Australia in Semi-Finals, it was already dreaming about the showdown at Wanderers. And for the first time during the T20 World Cup, the calculators were back again, the TV went back to its rightful place in the prayer hall, so were the heated abuses hurled up at everyone when Hayden was blazing through and doing the Bhangra along with Bhajji. I was back being the only way I knew I could be as an Indian cricket fan.

There are certain things in your memory that gradually get forgotten with new nicer things happening in your life. Whatever were to happen further in my life, the night of Sept 24 would be among the final few holding fort. For in a span of 3 hours, I went through every bit of emotion anyone could go through.

I wish I could put into words what I went through when Umar Gul  Umar Gul dismissed Yuvi and Dhoni, or when Imran Nazir started the way he did, or how I felt after that 21 run over of Sreesanth. And when Misbah scooped the ball up in the air, I wish I hadn’t shut my eyes and had the courage to watch it live.

Sometimes, Cricket does that to you. It makes you wait an eternity for a moment to arrive, and when it does it lets you totally numb and foolishly dumb. Sept 24 was one such.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chennai da

Kalakki konjam Saalnaava Oothu Machi
'Nee Naan Raja Sir' pograthu Radio Mirchi
Themba ezhutha poren Namma Chennai Pathi
Ketukkutu poi sollu intha Getha konjam Kathi

Stella Maris kitta vechikitta Bata Seruppu
Kodikatti parakkara enga Thalaivare Karuppu
CSK mela kaamikaatha romba Veruppu
Enga kitta orasina pathikkum da Neruppu

Besant Nagar Adyar la 'Yo Dude's aah irukkara Naanga
Albert Theater la oru Whistle ah poduvom Ponga
Tasmac vaasal la romba Galeej panra Naanga
Queue la nippom Padikaattu Muniswaran nukaaga

Figurekku kaaga aakuvom Collegea Boxing Ring-u
Napoleon thaan eppozhuthum engaloda King-u
Kettu paaru kudukkaram Enga Sothula Pangu
Aana mothi paaru da uthidivom unakku Sangu

Ooraan pechu kekkaama konjam Bus Yeri
Vanthu paaru Machi Enga Chennaiku Maari
Kaatiduvom Unmele enga anbellam Vaari
Entha sorgamum pidikala na 'Sorry, Nee oru Somari'

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

100 Crores for the Ice Bucket Challenge

1million videos, 2 million hashtags, 5 million likes in 1 day. Beat that! Facepalm to all those first world countries who keep mocking at our population and unemployment.  India was making a mockery of the bucket challenge. And being the company responsible for fund collection in India, we could see our stock values being written its worth in gold.

“Mani, what the hell are you doing? Where are the donations?”

“Sir, but 1 million videos and counting. I thought we would be…” My manager was howling at the other end. People were just bothered about the likes for their FB videos; only 1 lakh an hour is trickling in.

“I don’t care what you’re going to do. I need 100 crores from you.” The call hung up at the other end. The whole world came crashing.

100 crores. I could see my holiday in Goa crumbling before my eyes. The plans I made with Rhea. My incentive cheque. DAMN!!! I needed to make a plan.

Act 1:

I flicked the Gandhi cap from a roadside rickshaw-walla and wore a sweater and scarf albeit in the heat of 40 degree. That was the only way I could get anywhere close to AK. I neatly rolled out my plan to him.

“Sir, the whole country is going crazy over this. You can capture all the media attention that you once had. Now, is the time, both RaGa and NaMo still don’t know about it, and you will be the trendsetter again.” Arvind Kejriwal sat up the moment I mentioned the word NaMo. He paced across the room in rapid pace thinking about my proposal long and hard.

“Ok, I will take up the challenge. But only on the condition that Ice and a Bucket are made available for free to the Aam Aadmi.”

AK was primly dressed with his customary dressing and the skull cap, and explained an hour about how he had got corrupt free water from the free water that was given during his government, his water tax receipts, and went on and on. His nominations were an open challenge to NaMo, RaGa, and Mukesh Ambani. At the end of an hour, I was sweating more than him.

But, I was happy I finally uploaded the video.   

“What the hell have you done? Delete that video at once.” The moment that video went live, the donations had dipped to 10 Rs an hour. The first hour from Arvind Kejriwal, the second hour from Ashutosh, and by the third hour I had removed the video before further damage.

Act 2:

“There is no one watching the match these days. They have moved on to football and tennis. There are rumours that Anushka Sharma has the PK poster as her display picture. This is your only chance to impress her.” Virat immediately agreed on the mention of Anushka. 100 crores from one video. What a masterstroke!!

I was the unlucky one who had to do it, but if this was the only way I was going to reach 100 crores, so be it. Virat stood before me ready for the challenge and all he had was an even smaller transistor than Aamir Khan. “Saala Behen ki, this will show him who the boss is”

After hours of careful editing of numerous slip ups of Virat with the transistor, I finally had a video fit for public viewing. Virat had nominated Anushka Sharma and Aamir Khan for the challenge.

“Teri Maa ki (Beep), Saala (Beep)…” I hung up the phone before he could complete. With it, the plans of reaching close to my target. How was I responsible if there were more views for Aamir Khan’s video than Virat’s. Doomed!

Act 3:

Last throw of dice. There was no one else who could bail me out now.

“But, all this is against our cultural values. Our government will not support the influence of western ideas into our country.” I sat trying to convince him for more than an hour now. But, Subramanian Swamy wouldn’t budge.

“Sir, according to one version of the Ramayana, Sita’s swayamvar was not based on the bow and arrow challenge. The Ice Bucket Challenge is actually the brainchild of Ram and Laskhman.” I didn’t even have to complete the statement; he had already made up his mind. He quickly made a call to his secretary to call for a press conference.

“Sir, the donations for the challenge.” I stood there gingerly as Subramanian Swamy was making violent phone calls for his press conference.

“Haan, Don’t worry, about that.” He picked up his phone to make a final call.

“Jaitely saab, allocate 100 crores from the Budget for the Ram Sita Ice Bucket Ayodhya Yojana.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Drameballz – Messi move to Chelsea stalled by Mourinho

I know it has been a terrible last one month for you all. Yes, it has been painfully sad for me too. I understand you wanting to smash that bloody phone countless number of times when you got the message from Rajendran (Rechristened ‘Rajendran Rodriguez’) criticizing Brazil’s flank play or when Gokul ‘Messi’ Verma replies only in German these days. I understand your pain, and I have no balm to heal those wounds.

But all I can promise you is that the future looks bright, very bright. Trust me. I have two reasons in my defence:
  1. The World Cup is over.
  2. No ‘Ravi Shastri’ for the Ind vs Eng Series
What we went through was a tough time indeed, but, at the end of the month ‘We are the winners’. The EPL is a month away, and enough time for the insanely crazy football fanatics to move on to #VamosRafa.

We can at peace, get ready for an exciting new season with exciting new players. In case, you have missed, I’ll give you a gist of all the transfer rumours over the last one month.

Manchester City have tabled a 1000 million pound bid for Costa Rica

Impressed by the performances of the Costa Rican team, Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, owner of Manchester City has tabled a 1000 million pound bid to the UN in an attempt to buy out the entire nation. The Premier League Champions feel this will totally take care of their objective of not grooming a single player from the club ranks, and destroy English football totally, atleast for the next decade.

The fans of the club were understandably very enthusiastic about the news. Speaking of which Oomen Chandy Blossomkuttan from Kerala says “I am very proud of what our fellow brothers in Dubai are doing, and all Keralites will back them in their attempts.”

The movement has received momentum from their demi-God when Shakila promised to come back to acting if the deal goes through. Poonam Pandey has decided to strip all, just as a teaser to woo all the Costa Ricans.

Tough decision, for the UN indeed.

Mourinho stalls Messi Move to Chelsea

Yes, the dream deal for any club, the transfer of the greatest player on the planet was stalled at the last minute by Chelsea manager Mourinho. Reports suggest that Mourinho was against this move from the day Adidas held talks with FA, citing how Messi knowing how to play football is totally against Chelsea’s tactics and objectives. He went up to the owner of the club for support, but that was not enough to convince Roman Abramovich, who was planning to sack Mourinho for not winning the World Cup.

Finally, a 20 yr-old video posted by Messi's father has come to the rescue of Mourinho. The video shows a young 5-year old Messi bumping his toy car into the wall while parking it. Mourinho’s caption of ‘If he can’t park this car, how can he park the CHELSEA bus?’ was enough to send the blues supporters into a rage and eventually stall the move.

However, the FA and Adidas have agreed terms to present the Golden Ball, Golden Boot for the 2014 Premier League season to Messi, without him having to play in the Premier League. Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, has given his consent to this extremely innovative marketing campaign.

The one person who has been vehemently opposing such an idea is our ex-prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who has promised to not talk a word till the issue is resolved amiably.

Barcelona Zoo to build team around Suarez

Probably the biggest news so far of the transfer season has been the 75 million pound move of Luis Suarez from Liverpool. No wonder the Spanish press and school kids are very excited about this move, talking of it as the biggest thing that could have happened to boost Spanish tourism in decades.

David Moyes, newly appointed manager of the Barcelona Zoo, has promised to build the entire zoo around their new capture. “I am sure my experience from managing Manchester United for 1 year, and Fellaini for 7 years, will be extremely helpful in managing this tough task ahead of me. I thank Alex Ferguson for personally recommending me for this job.”

Schools in Barcelona have already started advising students to maintain a gap of a minimum 50 meters with all wild animals, and 50 kms from Luis Suarez. Spanish tourism industry has received a 50% surge in visitors in the last week, and is expecting a GDP growth of 10% this year due to this boost.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has personally sent a team of MLAs from Goa on a month long paid vacation to study this phenomenon. As ex-president, Pratibha Patil feels it is her right to be a part of this group, and has submitted the Visas of 500 of her extended family members.

 We'll keep you posted on further developments from the transfer arena. Till that time, keep upping your German vocabulary.

Danke schön.

Drameballz is a new series that takes a weekly look at all the fun that happens in English football. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Six steps to Save your face in this Football Fever

I can understand your anxiety. I can understand your helplessness. Let me get straight to the point. These have been formulated based on extensive analysis and careful research, so blindly follow them without anxiety.

1. You've got to support a team

"How can I support a country I haven't been to, nor whose national anthem I know, and which I have seen only in Maps?" Bullshit.

This is not the time for your patriotism or nationalistic fervour.To sound like as football flows through your veins and blood, you've got to support a team. So choose one. Done?

Aiyoo, you're a madrasi or what? Don't support Brazil thinking its CSK, or Netherlands thinking its BJP. You'll get grilled by their history and quizzed about Selcao and Maracana. Always, choose a team who have no chance of winning, no tactics, no star players, and are in Brazil cos their queen sent them there.

England? Good choice. You've cleared point #1

2. Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo

Who the heck are you to care about Messi performing better for his club rather than his country of birth? How much time did you waste seeing all those videos and reading about them? I'm sorry, your time has totally been wasted.

The best way to avoid controversy is not get into any discussion of greatness abt Messi vs Ronaldo, just take the conversation to another level and make them feel like amateurs. Remember our idea is to get through this one month of epidemic, and not become a pundit. I will make it simple for you. Just memorize these five words.

Total Football, Johan Cryuff, Maradona, Hand of God, Pele, Black Pearl.

That is it, with these you've obtained a masters degree in Football. Randomly use those words in any discussion irrespective of the topic. Post a few comments on status messages, send group mails, but make sure those five words in regular conversations.

A Sample comment on a status message can be: Machan, how're you and your "hand of god" doing? Can you get me a "Black Pearl" necklace this time?

Or, confidently use a foreign language and put up a status message. Let Google Translators go bonkers, others will never ask you what it means for it will expose their ineptitude.

Say spanish: El Mundo Deportiva la Johan Cryuff la roja Ricky Martin song lo Un, dos, tres, Ave Maria Maradona Vamos Rafael Nadal Barcelona

100 Likes. 0 Comments. In 10 minutes

3. Mani Neymar Van James Messi Luis Ronaldo Inam

You just cannot get to the next level of Football Intelligentsia without this step. This will save you from having to paint your faces with sticky paints, waste money on expensive jerseys to desperately show your football knowledge. Choose your favourite name from all 32 teams and mix them by lots in between your first and last names. Change all your social contacts to this name right away. As and when a team goes out, drop that name, and revamp your loyalties.

And when the WC is over, you should reveal that your real name always was "Lionel Mani Messi Inam".

4. Set your alarms to 3.30

Now, this is a mistake all novices do. Staying up all night, forcing yourself to watch, and getting fucked up the next day in office. You've become a semi-pro already by clearing 3 steps, this will make you reach Pro status.

Change that alarm to 3.30. Now, you've got to perfectly keep up this time. There is no way out on this. I'm sorry, there's no way but to be the first on this.

Just look up the scores and goal scorers, and Update statuses like "Wow, what a goal (Fill here)", "Through to the next round (Fill here)" and sometimes even very statiscally brilliant ones like "What a terrifc match, it ended (Score here)".

Choose five friends whom your sure wouldn't have watched the match and forward messages like "Mate, did you see the match? What wing coverage and tactcial formation and inspired substitutions".

Now, go back to sleep.

5. Intelligent Humour

Very very important. I can't stress enough on this. To move to the Senior Pro level, you've got to do this.

Again, don't worry. I will handle this for you. Use this standard template.

Take your friends to some shabby restaurant for a meal. Wait fot them to say "Really, bad management". Immediately pounce on and say "I think David Moyes is the manager, here". Bask in the glory and applause for a while, but be very aware when the next one comes. "Mate, want a bite?".This time the reply should sound really cool. "I am not Saurez, man". Give a smirk, and immediately walk out for a smoke.

Your greatness will be discussed long into the night.

6. Post-Match Analysis

Now, that you've crossed 5 steps of greatness, you'll automatically notice ppl asking you for predictions and analysis. This is the part which will make you an expert, and you need to go really easy and careful on this.

Never give a score prediction. Never ever do that. This is not IPL, we do not know the results beforehand. So, this has to be your response.


"I think both the teams are evenly poised and we are in for a cracker of a contest. I expect the match to go right down to the wire. I get the feeling whoever plays well will surely win the match."

And, immediately after the match gets over, don't wait for others to ask you this time. Get up from your chair, raise a toast, and proudly say

"What we witnessed here was a fascinating contest, At the end of it, I can only say football is the winner"

Wipe off your tears.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Only ENGINEERS can write books

I write this a largely satisfied man. Largely satisfied.

I had disastarous nightmares just before the release of my first book that none would pick it up, and I would receive death threats from those who mistakenly picked up. But Touchwood, the response has been terrific so far - been getting exciting feedback, shipments are going at a decent clip and so on..

But, not everything has been hunky dory, as I woke up this morning to see this email.

Dear Mani,

I just read your book. And must I say it was terrific.....*effusive praises hidden for the sake of humility*....Every single line of the book....*hidden praises*...I will propose your name for knighthood...*extremely adulatory text*....

And it went on for a few more lines, the contents of which I have consciously left out to be not typecasted as boastful. But, the mail ended with a line that made me seethe with anger and made my blood boil with rage.

"The only one thing I still can't come to terms with HOW ON EARTH CAN AN ENGINEER LIKE YOU WRITE BOOKS? ENGINEERS ARE ONE OF..."

I stopped reading after that. Had he been in front of me, I would have done exactly what Mourinho did when some reporter once congratulated Chelsea for playing good football. I would have ripped the last bits of the microprocessors of my laptop up his...

But, he was someone whom I have never seen or heard from before, hence I took a pacifist approach and calmly sent out my well-thought out reply.

Hello Sir,

Thanks for your mail..I will cut all crap and get straignt to the point. I want to give you three reasons why you were completely wrong about your conceptions about Engineers. I am sure you will agree at the end of it that if at all there was a clan that was born to write stories, it is us - THE ENGINEERS

1. Engineers have the greatest stories in mind

My engg college was in Chennai. Well, yes, technically, but that was if Chennai was next to Pondicherry. Because, my college was literally closer to Pondicherry than to Chennai. I travelled approx 50 kms up and down for college everyday. Now, don't be surprised when I say that I was the closest from a engg college to a city in all of my group of friends. One of my friends, Shalil Kumar Guha, studied in a college in Durgapur, for whom the closest known of civilization was Kolkata, a further 200 kms away. Another friend, Raj Dhoreliya, studied engineering from Jabalpur, where they still consider Harappa/Mohenjodaro as the most advanced cities of the world.

Now, imagine, the amount of travel and hardships each of us went through in our blessed engg buses to make it to those lectures. If only, all the engineers decided to write stories about all the dreams during those 4 yrs of sleep.

2. Engineers have mastered the art of imagination

For most of the guys like me when in school, joining engineering was about the most exciting thing life could ever give us. Of all the things that excited us about engineering - the foremost among them was the freedom from the Boys school regime. Finally, all those re-runs of Minnale/Saathiya we watched would have its day. Or so, we thought then.

But sir, you won't understand or believe the pain we experienced when we realized that our boys school was heaven. Never could you have seen million dreams shatter to pieces at the same time as when you notice guys on the first day of their engg college.

For the girls with whom the next four years HAD to be spent with - every single one of them looked like cousin sisters of a Kovai Sarala (Now, If you don't know who she is, google up for reference or visit any of your nearby engg college). And that too, with the boy-girl ratio in engg colleges at 1:100, meant that there were 100 guys sweating it out in the gym to take KOVAI SARALA out for a binge date with Dominos Pizza.

But, looking back at those four years, there couldn't have been a better teacher than Sarala to teach us those hardlearned lessons in creativity, magination, fantasy as we tried to desperately fit Sarala's figure into a romantic trigger our minds craved for.

3. Engineers have what it takes to "Wield the long handle to Good effect"

From Point 1 and Point 2, I am sure you're convinced that Engineers have the best imaginative stories. Ever. I can understand what's running through your mind now. Haa, flash of brilliance anyone can have. One can write a few short stories or a sonnet with that. How can they write big books about it, anyways? Right?

Well, I am sorry. You're not Right. Our competitive training and meticulous exams over four years have well prepared us for this final hurdle.

Here I propose a simple exercise for you. Goto the nearest library, and pick up a copy of an engg book and memorize the definition of a Diode. Don't worry, its just a two lined definition, not even 20 words. Memorised? All ready. Now, answer this question which is posed to every engineer before their graduation ceremony.

Explain Diodes in not less than 60,000 words. (16 marks)

I guess I have removed all cobwebs of your doubts with that single question. Not a single enigeer who has graduated has failed to get a 16 on 16 for that question. My friend Harendra Rathore still holds the Guiness record for writing 75,000 words for that question.

I hope its all clear to you and you agree with me that if at all there is a clan born to write stories - its the ENGINEERS

I have been very patient with my explanation here, in the hope that you'll avoid all reasons for me to file a defamation suit against you. Apologise profusely to all my engineering brethern or prepare a bail bond in advance.

Yours Lovingly,


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Open Letter to Fellow Gunners. Chill. We know our Class.

Fellow Gunners. Chill. The world hasn't turned upside down overnight.

I am sure a lot of you might have experienced the deluge of messages, calls, statuses and wondering what the hell has happened overnight. I went through the same thing, and let me assure you that all's well. Keep Calm, we still have Ozil with us.

I can understand your perplexion with the obsession of everyone around you crying 'Finally, you've turned of age' chants and taunting about a 9 yr-old wait coming to an end.

I know a lot of you want to say "What the fuck yaar?", but dont say it, I dont think they will understand. Because they are not fellow Gunners, you see. So, lets rejoice in our private amounts of happiness, and open a bottle of Romanee Conti or a Screaming Eagle Cabernet, sit by the window and toast a victory drink, and relive Ljunberg and Henry for a moment.

Many of us would have started watching Arsenal roughly the time around which I did. I started watching Football in 2006, and I can understand why all you got a near orgasm watching Thierry Henry combine with Viera and Pires, and the boy-wonder Fabregas. I experienced the same orgasm. Because, we were seeing magic on the field, it was like Mozart woke up from week on week to conduct one of his best symphonies. It was magic. It was mad. It was beautiful.

The kind of performances that would have made you forget that winning/losing was a needless byproduct, when all you were concerned was 'Why the hell did Arsenal play only 90 minutes?'. That was the kind of ecstacy we all got addicted to, and drugged us into believing trophies are junky pieces of silver as they went the next few years dazzling us with splendidness and awesomeness. The only regret during the journey, and which hurts the most of us would be when we were told we dint have enough money to retain people like Fabregas.

Not the trophies we dint get. Actually fuck the trophies. Who cares about them? I have found most of my fellow Gunners extremely pragmatic. They don't get swayed by and needlessly get obsessed with the trophies rant that goes on about them.

Look at the number of trophies that Chelsea has won during the same barren run of Arsenal. But, would we want to trade places and be where Chelsea are right now? Neveerrrrrrr. I can sense you wanting to pick a compass and slam into the retina and make damning concentric circles removing the eyeballs out of anyone who watches a Chelsea game. I know the pain, but lets strictly keep the discussion here to Football and not games of Bus Parking.

Finally, a 9-year wait ends. Monkey off the back. Feels good. Feels happy. Feels proud. And, hope its one of many more to come. Just because it makes us feel good. But, its ok yaar even if we dont win. Because that's not how we look at our Arsenal.

If a footage of the best moments of a PL season is made, we know that Arsenal will commend more than half the screen time. Even, if we get relegated.

Chelsea. Puke.