Friday, January 26, 2007

Things That Never Change

1. Parents will never change. My sis-in-law had come down with her son. She said to us and must be to everyone down here, ``Shakti will study in Hardvard. Right Shakti?''. Never mind that MIT is close to her house also.

2. Many ask me why women like me. May be, there are very few to listen to women, relate to their feelings and basically respect them for what they are. As often I used to, I think women, inspite of their intelligence and intellect, are still foolish.

3. I think I will contiue to be lazy and at times concerned, not abt me, but abt others. I watched Bharathi this afternoon.

Conquering Cricket - The Case of Shane and Glen

I have for long wanted to write cricket. I think history can't present me with a perfect opportunity ever.
For Warne will not be walking up to the crease to tweak and twirl the cherry, teaching valuable lessons in orbital motions to space scientists.
Likewise, Glen will no more measure up gently towards the popping line to send 'em down straight with an ever-upright seam, a real-time simulation in parallel physics.
After Sydney, the world, and not just the Aussies, will miss two of the greatest bowlers to have born Down Under. Two simple cricketers with the simplest of actions and the simplest of mission. Bowl them out.
If not for Glen and Warne, Australia could never have dominated the cricketing world for a decade-and-half.
Of course, the batters were always there led by the indomitable Steve, the sulky Taylor, elegant Mark, powerful Ponting, one hell of a Hayden and Gilly, the thunder-bat. There were a few more like the lusty Langer and meditative Martyn in a line up so dominant that redefined the very essence of batting into one of aggression and attack. In fact, 400 runs on day one has become so common with these villainous willows being wielded around across continents.
But batting is not all that counts. Winning lies in wicket taking. And Australia relied primarily on wily Warne's magic to make the cherry turn by more than fifty degrees, even on flat tops, and magnificent Mc Grath's single-minded devotion to a single-line, searching an invisible fourth stump.
Two great bowlers with two contrasting styles, yet yielding the desired result. Victory. A word synonymous with Cricket Australia. Like all, they were also rookies to start with.
I still remember Warne's debut against India in his home turf Melbourne. Ravi Shastri clobbered him around the huge park. The blonde leggie, feeling the big stage for the first time, with the vaseline on his nose, showed that he had a huge heart. The 18-year old's face clearly showed the frustration in failing to nail his first victim. After making a double century, Shastri stroked one gently back to the blonde. Warne was born.
No one watching that match then must have thought that Shane, the blonde, will be the first to reach the 700 wicket mark, unimagined in those days and unbelievable even now. Speedsters like Hadlee, Kapil and Botham all would have settled somewhere around 500.
Even now, any bowler in operation will settle with 500, extremely satisified. Not Warne. And his spin-twin, Mutiah Muralitharan, the one and only offie, whose wish is to have a thousand of 'em in the bag.
Warne firmly believes and has admitted openly that Murali will be the first and perhaps the only one to achieve a thousand in test cricket. I sincerely feel that these two great spinners of all time to come, with a very bad habit of wanting to see the backs of batters, have elevated themselves to a plane higher than even the extra-ordinary. Their's is a league of super-naturals. Reminded of Pistol Pete and Roger the Romancer playing in an entirely different planet of tennis?
Not to be left behind by the spinners, the machine like McGrath has been tirelessly trail-blazing the cause of the faster kind in cricket. Glen is more special than the two spinners. For I feel, No batsman has ever conquered the Pidgeon. Save for the Laxman – Dravid partnership in erstwhile Calcutta for a whole day.
Even the greatest batsmen of our time Sachin and Lara have not had the measure of his line and length even after nearly two decades and after close to fifty thousand runs in cricket. Glen is in a league of his own with discipline as the first and last word.
We will write about Murli when time necessitates. But Warne has been conquered. For he has had trouble in the sub-continent. While he has foxed Pakistanis, a master class in tackling spin, the Windies, the Kiwis, the Africans and not to forget the English, his bunnies, Warne will have nightmares when he lands in the sub-continent of spin.
Indians, save for Rahul the Wall, have somehow retained the psychological advantage against the versatile spinner by beginning to attack right from the word go. Images of Sidhu, Kambli and Jadeja going down the track to nullify the spin are there in our memories. So are Tendulkar's cross-sweeps and pulls, Laxman's wristy flicks and on-drives to Warne's frustration.
Only occasionally, Warne will feel that off-stump pitching it in leg. May be, Warne tried too much to spin in the land of spinners. We will know more about his agonies when he comes commentating sometime later.
The burning desire to take on the best batsmen all around the world and the will to conquer as a part of an invincible team has made the duo legends in international cricket. It is straightaway saddening to think that we will no more be watching the two in action.
Glen will be there till the world cup wanting to sign out in glory. I just had a look at his debut picture. Cricinfo has it from Getty Images. He is not that. He has travelled far but on a very straight road.
But to watch Warne, we will have to go back to the footages. Especially to that ball of the century when Gatting watched it all mutely. And may be, he is still watching it even now with disbelief.
Or may be, take the flight to Hampshire and watch Warne lead and bowl them over after over in those county grounds, radiant in rays of a late summer noon, with a gentle breeze flowing, sipping a very English tea.
May be, Warne wanted to end it all that way. Away from the media, away from his
femme fans and away from his own proud self. A flamboyant spinner's splending
farewell to what they call the game of gentlemen. In innocence and bliss.

Tailpiece: It is not fair to talk about the personal lives of these two great bowlers. I have to here. For there is a lesson for everyone. While Warne's fantasy for love goes on breaking hearts all around, especially of Simone and three children; Glen will always be by the side of Jane, of whom cancer cells are very fond of. A foundation of love.

Friday, January 12, 2007

over dinner...

It was over dinner that a few doctoral students revealed us the reasons for the lack of scientific temper among the youth of today. They were all pursuing Ph.D in bio-technology in Universities in North India.

The conversation started with the simple question if the distinguished fellows were at the Indian Science Congress to present papers. ``It will take twenty years for us,'' the reply shot back from one of those girls. All their professors were presenting papers, of course.

The girls, and the one boy, were highly respectful of their professors. ``Without them we are nowhere,'' they said very clearly. They were not presenting papers but were putting up posters. I am not sure what poster presentation could Ph.Ds in bio-technology make.

Inspite of the highest degree in a high-end technology, the girls were not sure of a career in the nation. ``The companies start with a salary of 25 k. Which is nothing but stupid,'' said the girl from Delhi university. That's what a fresh eng. grad gets in an IT company.

Not many of them were interested in moving out. They all liked this country and want to stay back. But will they? It is likely that they, even if reluctantly, move out for greener pastures. Because there are neither the labs, both public and private, to put their knowledge into practise nor a rewarding system in place.

We still can boast and believe in that the next R&D hub of the world is India. Leaving the professional aspect, the highly matured girls said they have to counter personal problems like late marriage. ``By the time you finish doctorate, you feel you are too wise to marry,'' said the girl from Patiala.

The question is: ``Why is it that it always takes at least 4 years for a Ph.D in India?'' In my mind, not many academicians have looked at this simple question. We still have a system in which a student has to go to college for a decade to obtain a doctorate in any discipline.

At least these girls were priviledged to have good professors. There are thousands of girls tortured by the very learned men guiding them in their thesis in this very same nation that often proudly states that it respects women very highly.

Back to the point. If research in life science is gonna be the key to future, including the markets, what do we have to keep these girls who wanna live here. The scientists are there. Only the system is not there.

If the problem can be identified over dinner in a sultry southern town, then it can also be simple to set the system right. I am not sure how many dinners it will take. Or may be, we may just be happy eating dinners.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Planet Earth

Even if you have never learnt science or really understood physics or for that matter chemistry, the subject you graduated from, it is possible for you to cover a science congress. To top it, two nobel laureates in Chemistry are going to give public lectures. And I am to report them for the people. I think I should have at least made an effort to listen those chemistry lectures a decade ago.

So, here we are, two of us, who seldom care for themselves, to write about the 94th edition. It started with a press meet in which the speaker will not answer specific questions. As everyone could see that, it is another science congress. Neither the youth is there nor the funds are there. For two years, the nation can't have a tsunami warning system in place. This is a nation that knew about tsunami after the tidal waves claimed thousands of lives.

So, Science has never been in our genes. We can be proud to possess spiritiual genes, of late a bit mutated, if you will agree to that. The theme though is going to be the talk of the century. It is pretty much difficult to say if talks materialise into actions.

Let's face the fact. One by one. With one or at best two instances to explain each one.

Energy Security:
Only recently we have mortgauged ourselves for nuclear energy. The United States has at last set its foot on the sub-continent. Unlike the commercial colas that came first, the nuke deal should be considered as a strategy of Uncle Sam in South Asia. Is it another victory for Pak diplomacy or at last a victory for Indian diplomats? Pretty tough to tell. Accepted that Oz will also supply enough nuclear fuel for us for a century to come. If the West is finding it difficult to dispose nuclear waste, what about us? Where will Planet Earth, here Mother India, do?

Mineral Resources:
I have no idea of this. This is the land that sold thorium from its western sands for a long time without the knowledge of it. Now, Orissa will be mined in and out. What will happen to the original tribals? When we talk of Planet Eart, or we not talking about its children. Related to nukie, when the west was looking to improve its coal usage efficient, why are we turning nuke?

Water Resources:
The Ultimate Question to us. Wheter to interlink or leave the rivers to run their natural course. Let us ask why have we never thought of nationalising water resources? May be we are waiting for a civil war by the middle of this century.

Ocean Resources:
Ocean is there around the peninsula. Not one effective desalination plant! Not many know of the marine biological park. And not many cared for fisherfolk, till the tsunami came calling. Shrimp culture is spoling the coast. The chemical industry is slowly moving in for the kill. Science has never been put to good use here.

Monsoon Forecast:
The joke of the summer monsoon has always been that whenever the MET says it will rain it will not and whenever it says it will not, it will certainly.

Natural Hazards:
I have no idea of this. I only wonder how nature can be a hazard. If we are talking of disaster managements, then we probably are the worst in the world.

Waste Management:
Supreme Court fixed March, 2003 as the last date for corporation to implement solid waste management. Here we are in 2007. Have we?

From this same university from where i type, five lads came to my office. M.A in English. They can't speak the language my daughter in KG could speak. I have nothing more to say, except to tell you to go back to the first para of the blog.

to be continued...

Stories From The Soul Town

There lies a magical land. Surrounded by the green ghats to the west, gurgling great rivers on the east, the valley with the very blue sky. A temple town of the tamils. Sitting on the dancing rock on the highland overlooking the valley, the writer procreates the lives of the people of this lesser known south west. Full of strange yet simple souls.