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Monday, March 28, 2011

Chp 344. Why I don’t like cricket - II

India’s QF match was amazing. We won a thriller against Australia and there were celebrations all over India. Well done India! I’m so looking forward to Wednesday’s “Finals before the Finals” match against Pakistan. Comon Indiaaaaa!

Ok now on to part 2 of why I don’t like cricket

Like I said before, I will cheer for my country during the World Cup, but other than that I do not watch cricket anymore.

I did pour out a lot of emotions on my previous post. I’m sorry if that sounded harsh to some [which even evoked a response post], but that’s just the way I feel. I see things as they are and I don’t try to justify it with counter-reasoning or fervent mediocrity.

The next (and final) point is purely about the way we get to see the game, and not about the game or the fans.

Reason #2 – Why I don’t like cricket - Advertisements Over-Dose!

Like I mentioned in my previous post, my main game was basketball. School and College basketball captain, University team member, played for various successful clubs in Mizoram and Tamilnadu, and even managed to qualify for an International level club tournament (where we got hammered by Mercantile Bank, Sri Lanka).

I was addicted to NBA back then. Never used to miss the Playoffs on TV as it usually took place during my summer vacations. I was a hardcore Jazz fan during the Jazz-Bulls rivalry of ’97, ’98. I hated the Bulls. Don’t get me wrong, Jordan was God, and the others like Pippen, Rodman, Kukoc, Longley were all good too. But John Stockton was my idol. I loved the Jazz team combo of Stockton, Malone, Hornacek, Ostertag, and Anderson. Simple yet effective, whereas the Bulls were more of a stylish one-man show.

I could relate myself to Stockton really well because he did none of the fancy superman stuff that Jordan did (which was awesome, but didn’t help me in my career at all as I’d never be able to do those stuff). Stockton was down to earth simple, yet lead the league when it came to assists and steals. I learnt a lot from him as I too was a play maker (ball-controller). Maybe that was why all my NBA idols those days were all point guards –Stockton, Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Avery Johnson, Penny Hardaway, Tim Hardaway etc. Short guys who could dribble, pass, steal, assist and shoot over big guys.

After the Bulls era came the Lakers and Spurs, and the Finals started becoming boring because whoever won the Western conference (either Lakers or Spurs) would usually go on to win the conference Finals.

But the main reason why I stopped watching the NBA playoffs was because I discovered football. I became an ardent fan of Arsenal during the early 2000s, and it struck me – watching football was wayyyyyy more exciting and interesting than basketball because of one very simple reason – lack of advertisements!

With football, I get 45 minutes + another 45 minutes of pure uninterrupted continuous joy. No advertisements except during half time.

With basketball, especially towards the end when there is just one minute left and the score is almost tied, expect the game to drag on for at least another 10 minutes or so with either coach calling a time out every 5 seconds, followed by yet another bombardment of advertisements.

That’s the same case with cricket. Too many advertisements. A couple of ads after every freaking over. And that’s not all - If an important wicket is taken during a match, instead of a slow motion replay or commentary from the experts – advertisements fill our TV screens. By the time the ad is over, the excitement about that wicket has all but fizzled down.

Imagine the same thing happening for football! An ad appearing every time the ball goes out or there is an injury or even during a substitution! Dayymmm. That would be the end of football for me.

You might find it a bit ironic that I am bitching about ads so much, considering I work in an ad agency. Well, a prostitute who sells her body for money does it for the money, and not because she enjoys having sex with different strangers. I roll out ads because it is my line of work, but watching football is my passion, and I wouldn’t like any ads interfering with my pleasure - my moment of solace.

Making ads is fun. Watching them while you’re in the middle of something else? Not so much fun. For the more mature audience out there, I’m sure you wouldn’t wanna be interrupted every 3-4 minutes during sex, would ya? Same thing with cricket - Why the interruption?

In cricket, just imagine a complete innings taking place without a single ad! After every over, instead of ads, imagine if they show replays of important shots or wickets, or stats of the players, strategy etc. by an expert commentary panel. Wouldn’t that be freaking awesome?

But then again, that will never happen. Cricket is an Advertising Heaven. That’s the reason why the media gives it so much attention – because of its huge potential as a cash cow. By giving the game more prominence compared to any other sports, more people are hooked to this game, ergo more money churning in. If you think this game is for the common man, do you even know how many tickets are actually available this World Cup for the common man? And the few tickets available are being sold in the black market at prices as high as 50,000 bucks! Yes, the perfect venue to mint cash while you are I lose out obliviously, like sheep to the slaughter.

One may argue with the chicken and egg theory – what came first - The cricket fan or the media buzz? But at the end of the day, what we get are ads after ads interrupting us incessantly during an exciting innings or over. It’s like hitting a speed breaker every time your adrenalin is just about to take off. But like it or not, that is what we get – more ads, less cricket. And nothing we say or do will stop certain people from getting richer even at the cost of our entertainment. Clearly at the end of this World Cup, the team that wins will not be the only winner.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chp 343. Why I don’t like cricket - I

Well if you’re thinking this is just a rant by somebody who is crazy about football and doesn't understand the game of cricket, you’re mistaken. I was never born with a grudge against cricket – my dislike for the game grew through the years.

Here are the main reasons why I don’t like cricket -

1. The association of cricket with patriotism

Many of my friends do not know this, but back in school (Tamilnadu) I used to play cricket and was even a pretty good fast bowler! Surprised? Yeah its confession time I guess. Today I act like I do not understand the game at all, and even irritate my colleagues with moronic questions like “Which team is batting first? Ok. And which team is batting second?”

I stopped playing cricket in college as I concentrated on my main game – basketball. From school BB captain to college BB captain, I’ve never known a more satisfying pleasure than sweating it out on court every evening and converting a fade-away 3-pointer with a swiiiish. After college, I moved to Hyderabad where my good friend Pawan would come over during the cricket Asia Cup (2004) and we would cheer our asses out for our national team.

But it was there that I started meeting certain type of people who associated cricket with jingoism – the fanatics. Sure, when India is playing, I will cheer for my country. But why the eff should I watch a boring test match? And how does watching India play a test match make anyone more “Indian” than the other???

At first, I thought that was just the mentality of some people, but as I started traveling more around India, from Lucknow to Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, back to B’lore etc, this disturbing cricket fever (or should I say plague) has infected far more people than I feared. If you ever say you don’t like to watch cricket, expect people to stare at you in disbelief, some even going to the extent of calling you a traitor! And most of them even assume cricket is our National Sport! Lolz.

Sure our Indian cricket team has won more laurels than other Indian sports (if we don’t count the 8 Olympic gold and 1 World Cup title won by our hockey team of past), but nobody has the right to force anybody to like any sports. And I have never even hated this game in the first place – it was such people with their more-patriotic-than-thou bullshit attitude who kept spewing out their fucked-up ideology at me that made me dislike this game today.

Now, if India plays, I just lock myself up in my room and watch the game on my own, cheering for every six and four we hit or every wicket we take. But I will not become one of those obnoxious blockheads who are quick to judge anybody as unpatriotic just because the game of cricket doesn’t appeal to them.

If you don’t believe me, try writing a blog post about cricket and criticize it, maybe even calling it a stupid game – you will see lots of angry abusive comments about how you have no right to say such horrible things about cricket and your country, even though you have not mentioned India anywhere in your post, and that you should be lynched or thrown out of India for such a blasphemous post.

Such is the fanaticism. And such is the reason why I distance myself from this game today. It’s not the game. It’s the people. And the media just loves adding fuel to this fire, don’t they?

When our Indian football team plays against other countries in the AFC, or when our hockey team plays in international matches (there’s the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah cup tournament in Malaysia), or when Paes, Mirza, Somdev etc play a tennis match, I never accuse any of my friends who don’t follow such tournaments of “betraying India”, because interest in a particular sports has nothing to do with patriotism.

Yet, many people believe you either love cricket or you don’t love India. Just cricket, cricket, cricket. No other sports. Even when India is not playing! - WTF, I’ve been asked why I wasn’t watching the Bangladesh – South Africa match because every Indian should be watching it! I’ve faced similar questions last year during the IPL tournament too when my loyalty to India was questioned because I’d rather watch an EPL match than an IPL match. For fuck’s sake, an IPL team consists of many foreigners. Where’s the patriotism in that?

If you and I join this unruly crowd of delusional cricket lovers not interested in any other sports, then the day when India will not excel in any other sports approaches closer and closer. No viewers = No buzz = No sponsors = No tournament = No players. The death of all the dreams and hopes of every other Indian sportsperson whose only fault is because he or she was excelling in some sports other than cricket.

Now what is so patriotic about THAT?

I’m not saying stop watching cricket this World Cup. If India plays, I wish them all the best and will definitely be there cheering for my country. But if somebody shows no interest in the game, don’t assume it’s because that person doesn’t love this country – he or she just finds the game boring. Simple as that. I love physical sports but chess bores me to death. If there’s a World Cup for chess and India is playing in the “Finals” against, say, Russia, I will definitely NOT be watching the “match”. Doesn’t mean I’m unpatriotic. I’m just bored.

Why can’t some of you see it this way?

[To be continued - Reason #2. Advertisements and over-exposure]

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Chp 342. Whatever happened to… Alizée?

Last night, completely out of the blue, I thought of Alizée! Remember Alizée? That cute young French chick so many of us had a crush on almost ten years ago? What the hell happened to her?

Flashback circa 2003. Some juniors from our college hostel campus managed to download the music video (live performance version) of Alizée’s J’en ai marre, and that immediately spread like wildfire in the hostel with everybody carrying their large IDE hard disks to various hostel blocks to copy the file, and every time we had to shut down and open up our CPU cabinet and attach the IDE cable and power cable, while rearranging the jumper if necessary, and doing the same thing again once we had transferred the file… ah those golden years. Lolz.

But it was worth it!

So I googled today and here is one of her songs we all loved those days – J’en ai marre. It’s in French. I studied French as a second language for six years in school. So I didn’t understand anything.

What’s so special about her? I dunno… She’s not the Megan Fox hot kind. She’s extremely cute and pretty, and yet has a slight charm of sexiness in her which she teasingly flaunts, but not very obviously. I think she was famous during the same era as the girl band M2M and in the same cuteness category, but they definitely didn’t come under “sexy” like her.

Trust me, I wasn’t into this kinda music. I was a death-metal loving hardcore grunger with tattoos all over my arm and ready to rebel about anything. I even made a “Kill Boyband” website on geocities those days. But one look at her (music video) and I was completely smitten. That doesn’t happen much, you know.

Her cover of Madonna’s La Isla Bonita isn’t bad either –

Here are the other music videos of J’en ai marre.

[French version]

[English version]

Listening to the English version, you suddenly realize, this song is not exactly “innocent” as you thought it was… bubbles and water, legs up for hours… I’m fed up… lolz!

Today I spent some time on Google researching about her, and looks like she is pretty much still around! But then her next two albums didn’t make much of a ripple at all in the music industry. Her two new albums Psychédélices [2007] and Une Enfant Du Siècle [2010] didn’t get as many hits as her pre-2003 days on, or on the global chart position. In fact she’s been written off by many critics as a cutie desperately trying to be sexy. Too bad…

I’m not interested in knowing how her two new albums sound like. I’m just posting this frivolous post to talk about a crush I once had.