Monday, June 26, 2006

Italia :Flash Back 1990

Italia 90 was the first Football World Cup which I had watched, as before that one, I was too young to comprehend, and more importantly didn't have a Television set at home.

With annual exams over, I was excited for Maradona, and so were most of my friends. However, at the end of the event, though the tournament had its moments, we all agreed that both World Cup and Maradona were a disappointment.

Most of the fault didn't lie with him. Poor guy wasn't simply allowed to play. Hardly he stood on his legs, he would be pulled down. At the end of it, his would have been some swollen knees.

Virtually, the whole World Cup was played on defensive. Many Results were decided on penalty kicks. What more, it started with a shock when minnows Cameroon piped defending champions Argentina.

Cameroon were surprise stars, with Roger Mila stealing the show. He returned back from the retirement to become the oldest man to hit a goal in the World Cup's history.

But his performance against Columbia in the pre-quarterfinals was interesting. Columbia's goalkeeper Rene Higuita was a maverick of sorts. He use to spend more time outside the penalty box than inside. He even used to take penalty kicks for the team.

Since Columbia was practicing off side trap, his misadventures outside the box could have proved dangerous. And it did. During one such misadventure, Roger Milla snatched the ball from him, and virtually escorted the ball to the nets with the hopping Higuita on his heels.

Columbia were knocked out despite having star players like Carlos Valderrama. Unfortunately, defender Andres Escobar would be killed by betters(as in bet) after scoring own goal in the next world up.

Cameroon juggernaut came to end in the quarterfinals where they lost to England, after leading 2-1 till last 10 minutes, due to two controversial penalties given against them, both hit home by the star English striker Gary Linekar.

Whenever any Football World Cup starts, English media always declares England a strong contender. This, till recently, was true for Wimbledon and Cricket World Cup too. But they never live up to the hype, at least in the period I have been following sports.

England were in the group of death - having star studded but listless Holland, competitive Ireland, and excellent Egypt to compete with. One would have imagined to witness exciting Football. On the contrary, it was the group which scored least goals, and played most draws.

In fact, Holland was ousted in the round one itself despite having stars like current coach Marco Van Basten, hippy haired Ruud Gullit, and Frank Rijkaard.

Number 3 Italy played exciting Football those days, unlike defensive now. Striker Salvatore Schillachi ran amuck in that event and won both Golden Shoe and Golden Ball. Young, promising Roberto Baggio was in their ranks, and so was Paolo Maldini. Walter Zenga, Italy's fashionable, poster boy goal Keeper had an envious record of not conceding a single goal, that is, till semi finals.

Ironically, the semi final against Argentina was a different story for him. Zenga was eclipsed by the third hero(Milla & Schillachi, the other two)of this world cup - Argentinean goalie, Sergio Goycochea.

Goycochea was incidentally the number two Goalkeeper of the team. He replaced fractured Nery Pumpido for late matches. And boy, what a replacement that was. Goycochea was instrumental in keeping formidable Brazilians at bay and knocking them out in the last sixteen.

Goycochea's heroics helped Argentina beat Yugoslavia in quarter finals in the penalty shoot out, and he was the key again with yet another shoot out
against Italy in semi finals. Fancied Zenga was piped, and Goycochea was the unlikeliest hero.

His luck, however, ran out in the finals against Germany, who had defeated England in another penalty shoot out in their semi final.

Germany had more than their fair shares of stars in the team with Captain Lothar Matthaeus, current coach Juergen Klinsmann, former coach Rudi Voeller, Andreas Brehme, Juergen Kohler, Thomas Haessler and not the least, the legendry Franz Beckenbauer as the coach.

But final was bit of disappointment. Three Argentinean players, including the prolific scorer - Claudio Caniggia - were forced to sit out of the main eleven because of two yellow cards in the previous matches.

In the later half, they were playing with only nine players. And to add insult to the injury, referee awarded a very controversial penalty in last five minutes which was duly scored by Brehme.

That brought some what defensive Italia 90 to the end. However, I enjoyed it nevertheless with the typical kid's exuberance.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Breathtaking Africa

Keeping in my mind the performance in current world cup, and the past ones which I have seen, one thing I am pretty sure about - as Cricket's future lies in the Indian sub-continent, Football's future clearly lies with Africa.

If one would have seen Ghana-Czech match, and the Ivory Coast-Holland match, s/he would agree with my point of view. Why only these matches, or this tournament, I have been seeing this right from Italia 90 days, when I first saw a Football world cup. African's skilled ball maneuvering and passes are a treat to watch.

If Italia 90 belonged more to Cameroon and Roger Milla than Germany, and Schillachi, the last one in Korea and Japan was as much of Senegal as that of Brazil. The whole Nigerian Football team was wiped out in an air crash in the 1990s and still they regrouped and won the African Nations Cup.

Senegal were more impressive in their campaign in 2002. They defeated defending champions France in their opener, and this defeat dented latter's confidence so much that they couldn't put a single goal in the whole tournament and exited in first round. The irony was that the most of these Senegalese players played club Football in France's Football league.

Then they drew with Denmark and Uruguay, knocked out Sweden in last 16 with a golden goal, and unluckily lost out to impressive Turkey in quarter finals with a golden goal.

Having said that, I believe Europeans have the most overrated teams in the world, with England the most. They have never lived up to their hype. I always found them mediocre. Without Rooney, they are just the same.

Holland have never even flattered to deceive, and couldn't even qualify last time. Even with the stars like Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit, they couldn't qualify to next round in Italia 1990. They just have Euro 1992 win to talk about.

Italy have given up on attacking Football. Defense is their main stay now. The style of Roberto Baggio, and Schillachi have been dumped in the relics. Portugal is clearly overrated, and so is Christiano Ronaldo. He needs to stop playing to the galleries, and Fuigo, I am afraid, is a spent force.

Germany, has improved. Certainly from the last Euro and World Cup, in terms of performance. Hope they keep up the performance.

What more, even you can see that key players playing for the European sides are imported ones - be it Zinadine Zidane or Thierry Henry, and many more.

So we need to keep a watch on Africa!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006


What a yaaawwwn, yaar! Fought hard not to catch a wink, surprisingly so, for I am not a guy who cares for a siesta!

There is literally no pace, excitement in the movie, and is full of factual and logical defects.

If there were only one or two faults, it could have been passable. But virtually the whole movie is littered with them - God knows who wrote the story, who directed it, and who was the editor.

Kajol's character is so desperate that she falls for a cheap Shayari speaking, road side Lafanga(seemingly) in the very first meeting. Not only she, even her giggling friends, her teacher - every one.

She is so desperate to the core that she decides to sleep with him even when he himself told her that he is a self proclaimed Lafanga! And then she says she doesn't have anymore expectations.

On hindsight, I could guage why was she so desperate. It was in her genes. Her mother was even more desperate. Amazed to find a broad minded Muslim family in the secludes of Udhampur asking her daughter to find a match for herself in Delhi.

Then some eye-blinding ailment which could not be treated five years back, can be treated now. Medical since never made such fast progress in my life!

Then the poor girl was made to travel to another hospital(or same ) immediately after her eye operation and dressing removal. A real doc would have told her to stay put or else patient won't be able to tolerate so much light so early after the surgery. Even a cataract operation patient wears a green clothed spectacles for a good two weeks.

And where is she taken? To the morgue! And what is she made to identify - a dead body? Nope -a hand made pull over by her. What the heck? If only that was to be shown, why couldn't they bring those stuff to her hospital bed.

And please, no body wears a Taaweez or a locket in an Operation Theatre. Every single piece of jewelry is taken out.

Again after the terrorist hullabaloo, and Amir's tearing off Kajol's photograph to pieces at a swanky airport, for the effect, as everybody guesses - they meet again.

Surprise, Kajol is not able to recognize his voice, though she does get "Jaane Pehchane Si" feeling after touching him. Another surprise Kajol feels attracted once again. Despo!!!

Then there is a Toofan outside in which, though, one can sing and dance but can not go out or Indian army can not launch a combing/search exercise. They can't even show terrorist's photograph early enough on television, and even when they showed, they didn't show the name.

They(army) are even more dumber than this. An imposter replaces another kidnapped captain and nobody is able to catch that.

Even though radio signals were sent by Aamir from a particular house, they could not ascertain the location of the house, but when Kajol sent them, they were able to get the location.

And now comes the dialogues. The most horrible part of the movie. Remember those seventies movies when a few dialogues use to become the theme dialogues of the movie, and used to get repeated many a times.

This movie took big on this idea and particularly the two dialogues got on my nerves - "Ab Tumhey Darr Laga Hoga", and "Ehsaan Aapko Jitna Pyar Kerta Hai, Aap Ehsaan Ko Itna Pyar Nahin Kertin".

Let me try to find any good points of the movie. Ok, Kajol was good. She looked good like any Yash Chopra heroine(excessive cleavage show were unnecessary), and acted effortlessly. Aamir was ok in first, and good in second half. No other character is worth talking about.

Music is good especially the opening and the title song. Rest were Ok. Cinematography was good too. But as you see all these things are support cast, and they alone can't make the movie watchable. Script - that is story, screenplay, and dialogues have to be good - which unfortunately were not.

Yash Chopra might have made money - but the days of Lamhe, Chandini and DDLJ seem to be well and truly over.

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Aaj Unsey


Monday, June 12, 2006

Social Expert

We have seen this self proclaimed Samajik Vishleshak - Yogendra Yadav - quite a lot during election times at NDTV. It seems he has developed a great friendship with both Pranao Roy and Rajdeep Sardesai.

For all I am seeing these days is his Kurta-Pyjama clad figure in every channels of the above two groups - NDTV Hindi, NDTV 24X7, NDTV Profit, CNN-IBN, Awaaz, CNBC-TV18, Channel 7.

On each and every channel, he has been vociferously advocating the cause of reservations by giving ridiculous statistics, with even more ridiculous explainations. The moment he feels his argument is trashed, he starts using the phrase - Zameeni Haqeeqat etc. Seems like he has taken his profession too seriously.

Take a life, man. Now that you have got the freebies you don't deserve, just get lost from the sight. Don't try to explain the impossible with your "Reservation Ki Pathashala". We don't need it. You and your ilk go an enjoy the newly got riches bestowed upon you.

And next time, fight for elections. From what I have seen of you in the past, you seem to be a great fan of Mulayam Singh. But just leave us alone.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

If Not Profs, If Not Batchmates, Schrodinger Will Get You

Arjun Singh never studied in an Engineering College, for that matter, in any fiercely competitive professional college, or else he would have thought twice before implementing it.

Take the example of IITs. Not only at the entry level, quotas will have to be implemented at grading level too. I will tell you why.

In my batch, in the year 1995, there were about 350 students. Imagine this scenario, which I am sure Arjun Singh hasn't. In our classes in school, there were always two or three studs who would always take rank 1,2,3 between them.

Below them, competition gradually eases down, and after rank 10 - almost all are at level play field. So normal students escape the heat generated by top 3-4, and bask in the glory of topping the rest of the also rans.

Not like this in IIT. Most of the guys and girls who get in had been in top 3-4 in their respective classes. Then there are icings on the cakes in the form of Math/Physics Olympiad Medallists, State Board Toppers, ICSE Toppers, National Talent Search Examination selections and so on.

So you see, there are no also rans. Certainly not the above ones. But as they say - Kabul Mein Bhi Gadhe Hote Hain, there are also people like me. I was an inconsistent 8th ranker in my class. Never above that, and often below that.

However, if you consider only Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computers - I would move, perhaps, three and four notches above, but not any further.

And when you are left with an army of super intelligent, fiercely competitive, and hard working 350 individuals who spend less time in the hostel, and more in the Lecture Halls, Tutorials, and Libraries - its akin to leave a sacrificial lamb before hungry lions.

As if this was not enough, there are profs. They come in all colours nasty, smirking, sadist, even scheming. Good natured ones are very few and far in between. They may take a surprise quiz immediately after a Rakshabandhan, or they may set midsemester exams right after Diwali day. Their most potent weapon till date - an open book exam.

An open book exam simply means - Aukat Ho To Ker Ke Dikhao!

Now comes the curriculum. I will put before you some bare facts. The three-year chemistry course taught in BSC is crammed into one semester course. Physics is crammed in two semesters, and Mathematics in three.

The very first lecture in Chemistry will introduce you to Schrondinger, and his equation E Shi = H Shi. Now you would say Shi Shi cancel Ho Gaya, and E = H, but its not like that. I don't know what it was even now. No, I didn't forget - I simply never knew.

Schrodinger was not the lone tormenter. Louis Pascal had his say in every field. Then there were Green's Theorem, Langley Theorem, Stoke's Theorem, Linear Algebra, Complex Algebra, Mechanics Of Solid - so on and so fourth for four fast & furious years.

And the grading would be relative. There were no absolutes. Even if you scored 80%, you might be at the bottom. Not that you ever scored that much. When I first got 18 out 40 in my first physics paper, I cried in my room. Later I heard that the class average was 15, so I was above average. That's the story there.

Still, I would say - I survived, and survived honourably. But there are many who can't. Even after legitimately cracking IIT-JEE. There are many terminations, probabtions every year.

And those who get through quotas are put in slow pace, that is they pass B.Tech in five years instead of four. Still many can't because, though number of course per semester decrease, they are graded along with non-quota guys.

So when these 50% quota will get implemented, that would not be enough. Life behind the gates is even more tough. How would Arjun Singh ease that? Perhaps quota at the grading level too because for Schrodinger everyone is equal!

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Blind Faith

Its difficult to comment on someone's hard earned money, but really a nine crore gift to a temple, that too not even in cash, bugs me no end. Even if the donor is Amitabh Bachhan.

Had he given cash, that would have at least come of some use - whatever it may be. This money has gone to jewllers cool kitty.

At the same time if you see the need of this child, and his parents - then how hollow that above deal is rendered.

This is not to say I am not a pious person, but even God would consider this as sacrilege.



Thursday, June 01, 2006

On Alka's Request

These bright young guys have a chance to go to NASA. They don't lack talent, but money. Hope people with surplus come out and help them.