Culture Czar

Where I talk about cricket, and the books I love, and cricket, and music, and cricket, and movies, and cabbages, maybe, and kings...

Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

See above and below!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Lifetime of Work, One Moment In Time

It is with an overwhelming feeling of joy (and a touch of surrealism) that I must let the world know about my selection as Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

When I opened the Time website just minutes back, I was the last person I expected would get chosen. This may sound like my usual fake modesty, but the thought had seriously never crossed my mind. You can imagine my shock when I opened this page, and found that I had won.

It is with a deep sense of humility that I must reluctantly accept this. This is as much a tribute to me, as it is to the many people who have made this possible. If I name just a few persons who have contributed to this, it would be an insult to the many I may not recall immediately, so I shall refrain from praising even a single person. I am sure they will understand.

Of course, a lot of hard work has gone into this, and I refuse to single out a single achievement. Who am I to judge what brought more joy to people, whether it was my painstaking, gritty (and matchwinning, dont forget matchwinning) 78 in the Finals of the Intra-University Tournament at College or my frenzied, last-minute piece of inspired guesswork that went into spelling "chamois" , a feat that clinched the 9th Standard Spelling Bee at school? How can *I* decide whether the effortless cracking of the Guardian Crossword one evening was more meaningful than my finally managing to complete Kafka's "The Trial"? What IS my greatest achievement? Was it the adeptness with which I managed to reserve as an e-mail ID (alas, now defunct), or was it the culinary perfection that my Maggi Noodles has been known to achieve?

Different people will have different viewpoints on this, and I respect this diversity. My work must speak for itself. In my victory, I shall also be gracious- I shall not talk about any of you losers who weren't selected.

Thank you, I once again thank you from the bottom of my heart for this rare honour.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Misinformation, Disinformation

Once in a while, a news item comes along that can manage to make me amused and pissed off at the same time. This gem joins that august list. (If you want a write-up on the ICICI-Sangli Bank story, this is a decent place to go.)

For those who are too lazy to click, the piece is short enough to copy and paste:

The Communist Party of India deplored the reported move of the ICICI Bank to take over the Sangli Bank Limited and said such "clandestine moves'' was not acceptable.
"It is very distressing to see that foreign banks are allowed to take over Indian banks. This will adversely impact the job security and other rights of the employees,'' the party's Central Secretariat said in a statement.
It said that when the Left parties and the United Progressive Alliance were discussing banking reforms and other issues "such moves are clandestinely allowed to take place." "It is not acceptable.''

Hmmmm. I know that ICICI Bank is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Either that's enough to make it a "foreign" bank, or our friends in red tend to associate good "Indian" banks with half open iron grills, threadbare red carpets, chaiwallahs scurrying to serve the DGM's Guests, and rude tellers with iron tokens.

Which means that any bank that markets itself with any kind of flair (Read: Snazzy ATMs all over town, Neon-and-Orange billboards, and an unfamiliar in-your-face slickness) is assumed to be the local arm of one of those huge multinational banks. Which leads to the logical conclusion: They didn't think Indians had it in them to do it so well.

As I said- amused and vaguely irritated.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I just thought up a cool title for my blog.

Unfortunately, "Children of a Lesser Blog" is taken.

Meanwhile, I've started a cricket blog. But since I've been unusually busy lately (or, paradoxically, unusually lazy), I haven't found the time to post much.

Maybe I should just post a para a day. By 2046 I'll have a book ready.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Sad Tale of a County Cricketer

I don't normally post "news stories", but I couldn't resist this one.

Richard Green played a handful of matches for Lancashire, was a right-hand medium fast bowler, made his county debut with Andrew Flintoff, no less, and was a recipient of the Denis Compton Award. Your normal county cricketer, one would think. Till the Net made him a Superstar.

He dabbled in property maintenance, and even set up a now defunct website. However, he decided on a rather unusual way to get traffic to his website. To cut a long story short, he announced that if his site got 5 Million hits, his girlfriend would allow him to do a threesome. He even announced it on his blog, with photo of him and grinning girlfriend. The LSE puts it better than I ever can.

And it came to pass that the site got 5 Million Hits. Wonderful, which meant that the promised threesome happenned, with an "exotic dancer" called Holly, no less.

But, alas, what happenned next? Cricketer gets jealous of girlfriend, girlfriend turns to exotic dancer called Holly for solace during this "difficult patch", and then, guess what, girlfriend and exotic dancer called Holly are suddenly seeing other!! Ah, the joys of young love....

News of the World also has a touching piece on this.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fraudian Slip

I was speaking with someone the other day, and the topic somehow veered around to books. I dropped the usual hints about how well read I was, and then did a mental checklist, to remind myself of my vast erudition.

For those who came in late, I'm, as far as books go, a complete stud. I own books by authors ranging from the surprsingly Italian Wu Ming Clan, to the Trinididian Marxist historian C. L. R. James, from the Must-Own Vladimir Nabokov to the Own-It-Or-You're-A-Loser Tom Wolfe. One day, I promise myself, I'll even read them.

So, getting back to my vast erudition, I try and figure out how many "Classics of English Literature" I've read. In the original, of course. And get the answer pretty fast.

Disclaimers: This is only "English", as in Tea and Crumpets, With a Little Milk, Thank You, literature, and not American/ Indian/anything outside the British Isles. This excludes anything written before 1900. And this, obviously, only includes books read in the original text.

Back to the point. 4 Books. Four. The number between Three and Five. Listed out below:-

Shocked? Don't be. Most of my reading in my formative years revolved around these cute pocket sized titles which went by the name "Jaico Abridged Classics" or something. Really nice books, especially for a 7 year old. They cut through the clutter, and tell you in about 280 pocket-sized large font pages what the book is all about. In case you're a dumbfuck, they also have a large picture on each page so that you know what is happening. Engrossing stuff.

I'm a little better when it comes to Shakespeare, though. I've read two of his plays, Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night being prescribed texts for the ICSE and ISC exams.

What about the rest? Ah. Comics. All of Shakespeare's plays, I've read all of them in comic book form. Highly reccomended, especially if you're an 8-year old kid. I can still quote extensively from Macbeth, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice and the rest. (Incidentally, another excellent source of Shakespeare quotes is PG Wodehouse).

I am still wondering whether I am now a symbol of our appaling cultural degeneracy, or just a really lazy reader who took a short cut to bibliophilia. Maybe it's a sign of the times anyway. As Shakespeare should have said, "All the perfumes of Araby cant hide......"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Football Fewer

Once every four years, the Love of My Life gets discarded for a significantly more global mistress. That awful line over and done with, the Soccer World Cup, also known as The Greatest Show on Earth, has come, thrilled, and gone.

Normally, I avoid football. I honestly can't tell the difference between, say, a Lampard and a Gerrard, or even between a superb tackle and a blatant foul. As for the EPLs of the world, it's something I'm quite indifferent towards. Yet, there is something seriously addictive about thirty days of non-stop football. Even England vs. Sri Lanka had to take a back seat to matches involving countries I didnt know the capital cities of.

Football has never moved me in the way cricket can. Laxman's "coruscating, series-turning 281", as (Wisden put it), Dravid's outstanding 233 at Adelaide, even last year's maddeningly tense Ashes series- these are all memories I can take with me to a desert island. It follows that I haven't the faintest clue about what's happenning in the world of football, save an ocassional Beckham-secretary scandal.

Yet, come FIFA World Cup and I am hooked. It's the whole idea of "country against country", for one- definitely something I can relate to. I really can't get emotionally involved with clubs battling it out for random trophies. Soulless corporatized artifical clusters of footballing talent never did it for me. Now, country against country- that's something that's easy to follow. No information overload, no keeping track of too many things, and most importantly, something concrete to support. For ninety minutes, I pick my team of choice on the spur of the moment, and cheer them on.

Then, there's the thrill of seeing a rank underdog gun down a fancied, flat-footed "potential champion". Senegal beating former colonial masters France in 2002, for one. Ghana upsetting the Czechs, for another. And, famously, Cameroon putting one past a stunned Argentina in 1990- the year that started it all for me. The joys of discovering that strange teams like Ivory Coast and Chile and Liberia have players who are, quite frankly, studs. (Note to nit-pickers. Yes, I know Liberia didnt play in any World Cup for the last 16 years, at least.) The scanning the league tables every day to see who needs to beat who by how many goals to qualify.

Of course, I also enjoy watching a good, well-fought game of football, and where do you watch the best, if not at the World Cup? I've had my share of moments of magic- Zidane against Brazil (two World Cups, not one!), Australia vs. Japan, that otherworldly Ronaldinho goal against England, Oliver Kahn's brilliant saves last time around.... top quality stuff, the thrills of The World Game distilled to perfection.

Another four years to go, and it's back to cricket, back to arguing with my wife that Yes, I know it's not India who's playing, but it's important that I watch Harmison bowl to Inzy, watch Pietersen bat to anyone. Life has resumed normal service.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Some authors I like. At least one book of. And yes, this is a self-indulgent post. There will be enough authors I've forgotten to add :-)

Nice No-Nonsense Thrillers

Alistair Maclean (literature, really)
Matthew Reilly
Frederick Forsyth
Colin Forbes


J. T. Edson

Pseudo, Make Me Drip with Vicarious Intellectualism, But Decent Reads

Umberto Eco
Salman Rushdie
Orhan Pamuk

Contemporary Literature Quote Unquote

Bret Easton Ellis
James Ellroy

Science Fiction and etc

L. Ron Hubbard
Philip K. Dick
Robert Heinlein

Oldish Stuff But Lovely

Dashiell Hammett
H. Rider Haggard
John Buchan

Books with Pictures

Gary Trudeau (Doonesbury)
Scott Adams (Dilbert)


Ramachandra Guha
Neville Cardus

Any more? Let me know.