Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Republic Day


Make no mistake, the turning point of Perth Test Match wasn't Ricky Ponting's dismissal in second innings, but rather Steve Bucknor's dismissal before that.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Three Investigators

I am often blamed for living in past, so much so, that even to the extent of ignorng the present altogether and worse, not looking to shaping up the future. In fact, more than half of my posts are about my past.

However, I take this as a compliment, and continue to be an unabashed past dreamer, so to speak. What to do, when after each passing day, my belief gets even stronger that somehow those were, indeed, the golden days of my life, where life, with all its imperfections, was perfect and that quality of life now is monotonically regressing.

In my convoluted opinion, Standard X Boards is a watershed event in our life, after which all our innocence is lost under the inexpedient rat race of careers, and expectation.

In the same light, today I am going to talk about the - The Three Investigators series novels.

One discovers them after one gets bored of Ma'm Enid Blyton's Famous Five series ( where almost till half of the book the four kids and the dog just keep doing their picnic, eating potato sandwiches, and scrambled eggs ) and before the teeny brawn of Franklin W Dixon's (which I later learnt was just a pen name) Hardy Boys series invariably gets at you, where there is a karate chop here, and a solar plexus punch there.

Might I also add, that in a ridiculous fit of desperation, I also tried a couple of Nancy Drews, which I discontinued in a great haste. This is not to say or do with male chauvinism of any sort, but just that they were just plain bad.

A gentleman called Sherlock Holmes from Baker Street, London, however was a class apart, and there is no age to discover and re-discover him. But more on him in some other post.

The Three Investigators series, which I had then erroneously assumed, was written by Alfred HitchHock, but my disappointment could not but have shown when I later learnt that it was rather written by one Roburt Arthur, who inorder to earn free publicity, used a rather convinient pen name. However, that took nothing out of these brilliantly crafted book series, in which three little boys solved some brain tickling puzzles and unravelled some real flabbergasting mysteries.

They were captained by a plump, but genius Jupiter Jones, who had won for 30 days the use of a Rolls Royce(with gold plated fittings, and an English chauffeur Worthington) after winning a local competetion. The competetion was about guessing the approximate number of stones kept in a jar, and Jupiter Jones was the closest. He was very good with measurement & calculations, and usually used long and complex sentences. He lived with his aunt Mathlida and Titius Jones, and during his free time helped them in running their junk yard.

Next one was tall and atheletic Pete Crenshaw. He was a reluctant detective, who tried to avoid trouble at any cost, but never with success. Brains were not his forte, but sense of dirction was. When ever, three investigators lost their way, Pete was the man to count upon.

Bob Andews was diminutive, studious kind, did most of the research for the team, and kept all the records. He worked part time in a library, and was rather enthusiastic for his appearance.

Together, they formed a formidable team, not to forget the sootradhar - Hector Sebastian an ex-detective-turned-writer who did the customary epilogue and prologue. He also published their stories, and usually at the end of the prologue, gived us a hint about the next oncoming mystery.

The Three investiagtors were headquarted deep inside the annals of Jupiter Jone's junykyard, deftly hidden far from the madding crowd. There were different ways of going inside it. Their motto was - We Investigate Anything! The most interesting part, however, were the puzzles. Every mystery had a riddle associated with it, and it was fun seeing it getting solved and reaching some treausre. The only thing which bothered me was that, though they were fairly young, none of the boys went to a school or college.

Aunt Mathlida was a formidable lady, with a large heart. She was present for the comic relief. When the trio were not solving a case, they were made work hard in her salvage yard, under her strict supervision. When the chauffeur - Worthington - was not around, the two Bavarian helpers of her aunt - Hans and Konrad, helped the boys around with the travelling.

Like in every one else's life, there was one grief in their life in the form of a boy called E. Skinner (aka Skinny) Norris. He was a nuisance, who cultivated deep jealousy against Jupiter. He was a thorn in their flesh, and would give them momentry setback in their pursuit of the case. Pete had reserved some really nice & nasty phrases for this character.

Another ingenius stuff I learned from these books was a funda called - Ghost To Ghost Hookup. If these kids wanted to find something - like a lost car in the town (which was called Rocky Beach, a place somewhere near Hollywood) - to locate it they would call 5 friends of theirs. Each friend will call 5 more in turn. This way they will cover the entire town in just a few hours.

I am not sure how many people remember, way late in 90s, when we used have these series of Ek Do Teen Chaar, Khel Khel Mein, there was another series which showed for a few months called - Super Six. Well it was nothing but a miserable rip off The Three Investigators.

At our school we were crazy for them. We were allowed to issue only two books per person per week but that was too less for our apetite for reading. Since these books were 160 odd pages in all, two early mornings and late nights were enough to get them through. Then we would exchange them amongst ourselves and proceed.

Unfortunately, all good things come to end, and soon all those 40 odd books were devoured.

Later in my life, when I tried re-exploring them, I found that these books have made themselves scarce from the book stores in India(at least Pune and Lucknow - the my India). In fact, I haven't seen them again at any book store since I left school, although those Enid Blytons are dutifully present in scores. The enquiry everywhere invariably provides the same answer each time - they are out of publication!

Can't be true, but everything else I said, I swear, is.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The New ICC Rules

(1) Ricky Ponting (THE TRULY GENUINE CRICKETER OF THE CRICKET ERA AND WHOSE INTEGRITY SHOULD NOT BE DOUBTED ) should be considered as the FOURTH UMPIRE. As per the new rules, FOURTH UMPIRE decision is final and will over ride any decisions taken by any other umpires. ON-FIELD umpires can seek the assistance of RICKY PONTING even if he is not on the field. This rule is to be made, so that every team should understand the importance of the FOURTH UMPIRE .

(2) While AUSTRALIAN TEAM is bowling, If the ball flies anywhere close to the AUSTRALIAN FIELDER(WITHIN 5 metre distance) , the batsman is to be considered OUT irrelevant of whether the catch was taken cleanly or grassed. Any decision for further clarification should be seeked from the FOURTH UMPIRE. This is made to ensure that the cricket is played with SPORTIVE SPIRIT by all the teams.

(3) While BATTING , AUSTRALIAN players will wait for the ON-FIELD UMPIRE decisions only (even if the catch goes to the FIFTH SLIP as the ball might not have touched the bat). Each AUSTRALIAN batsman has to be out FOUR TIMES (minimum) before he can return to the pavilion. In case of THE CRICKETER WITH INTEGRITY , this can be higher.

(4) UMPIRES should consider a huge bonus if an AUSTRALIAN player scores a century. Any wrong decisions can be ignored as they will be paid huge bonus and will receive the backing of the AUSTRALIAN team, board and media.

(5) All AUSTRALIAN players are eligible to keep commenting about all players on the field and the OPPONENT TEAM should never comment as they will be spoiling the spirit of the AUSTRALIAN team. Any comments made in any other language are to be considered as RACIALISM only.

(6) MATCH REFREE decisions will be taken purely on the AUSTRALIAN TEAM advices only. Player views from the other teams decisions will not be considered for hearing. MATCH REFREES are to be given huge bonus if this rule is implemented.

(7) NO VISITING TEAM should plan to win in AUSTRALIA. This is to ensure that the sportive spirit of CRICKET is maintained.

(8) THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE : If any bowler gets RICKY PONTING - "THE UNDISPUTED CRICKETER WITH INTEGTIRY IN THE GAME OF CRICKET" more than twice in a series, he will be banned for the REST OF THE SERIES. This is to ensure that the best batsman/Captain will be played to break records and create history in the game of CRICKET.

These rules will clarify better to the all the teams VISITING AUSTRALIA.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Aussie Way

The Test match - if ever one was being played - has finally ended. At the time of my penning of this post, Harbhajan's lamb is out for slaughter, and in all probabilites, as the previous experiences shows - it would surely be.

I say this because Indians have always drawn special affection from ICC Match refrees be it Mike Dennis the mennice, Jeff Crowe, Mike Procter, Ranjan Madugalle, Dennis Lindsay and many others of the yore.

Not only this, nothing will happen to the immediate careers of Steve Bucknor, and Mark Bensen. I know better of Malcom Speed than this. He is a great fan of his officials, and is infact quite possesive about them. He thinks they are the best available.

Occasionally, he fatherly chides them for not doing their job properly like he recently scolded Proctor letting off Yuvraj Singh for the dissent(for staying too long on the pitch after dimissal). Sourav Ganguly also faces trouble for banging his bat besides the pitch.

Its another matter a few of his favourite protigees like Darrel Hair have behaved with him a bit naughty some times. Its another matter still that Ricky Ponting throws his bat in disgust, and even abuses umpires regularly( he did that to an Indian umpire during last tour) and still referees look the other way.

BCCI, howeever, will do their part well. They will fret and fume, and beat the bush around, and would finally walk the dotted line - keeping on with the series. Sadly, how we miss Jagmohan nee Jaggu Dalmiya in such times. Howmuch ever babu his English might have sound due to that Marwai tinge, but he was never the one to mince his words, and would always walk the talk.

Entertaining and Hard Cricket
Ponting claims his team played "Hard" and "Entertaining" Cricket. I would agree. They appealed hard, as usual. They must have abused every Indian player, and his mother even harder. He appealed hardest even when his hand, with the ball on that hand, went hard on the ground. The entertaining part was that there was hardly any bat contact to that.

He was also very entertainingly animated over his wrong LBW decision. I reckon all this wouldn't have been necessary in the first place. Had he walked way instead of looking unlfinchingly at the umpire, or had that umpire correctly(or shall I say honestly) read that complete give away look, and given him out - he wouldn't have felt so bad about the later decision.

The Fourth Umpire
Ganguly edged, and was 'caught' by Michael Clarke. They all appealed in unision for the catch. So what, if it was caught bump! So what, if the ball was grounded immediately soon. Yet they appealed.

Ganguly waited, and so did the umpire Mike Brensen who was like the batsman - in doubt. One would have thought that he would ask Steve Bucknor or the third umpire.

Instead he asked the fourth umpire - Mr Ricky Pointing, who dutifully raised his finger like an umpire does. What kind of stupidity was this ?

I mean, if at all Brensen was going to believe players' word, and since the cheats were any way appealing as they insisted it was out, then why didn't Brensen give Ganguly out in the first place ?

Of Numbness, and Sheepishness
Ricky Ponting is passing the baton to worthy hands. Ricky Ponting is a great batsman, and a great cheat. Michael Clarke is a good batsman, but even greater cheat. When all this Ganguly drama was being enacted, the sheepish look on Clarke's face said it all. He looked like a thieve just acquitted due to lack of evidence. He knew it all.

But more intrguing was his own dismissal. Even after taking as thick-as-a-thicket edge, and being caught at the slip by Dravid, he stubbornly stood to his ground. Indian players had to shout their lungs out to get the correct decision from Bucknor, who took much lesser time to give Rahul Dravid out incorrectly.

Years ago, 2001 to be precise, Ridley Jacobs claimed stumping of Virendra Sehwag, even when the ball was not in his correct hand. Sehwag was adjudged out. Later, ICC referee took suo moto action and suspended him for the cheating. Wouldn't this nefarious behaviour of the future captain of Australia tantamounts cheating ?

Now, what may be the reason behind his not walking? Mathew Hayden offers one during the press conference. According to Hayden, Clarke waited to see umpire's finger go up. Well, if that's case, then from the next time, complete Indian team can raise their middle finger up, instead of index one, for Clarke's viewership whenever he is adjudged & allowed out.

According to me there could be two theories. One that he might be taking a chance with Bucknor for he knows anything is possible with Bucknor around. However, there is another one.

Michael Clarke has recently been cured of skin cancer. I am not sure, but with all those chemos and radios, sometimes skin may get numb at some places. Clarke might not have sensed the the ball hitting his bat. Its a long shot, but possible.

Monkey Business
In one of my previous post I have already written that Andrew Symonds is not a monkey. Australian team is requested to please change that alibi for the accusation. It shows homework not properly done.

Breaking News
As I finish this story, news has just comes in that Harbhajan has been handed 3 test match suspension. Well, Ponting must breathe easy for now onwards, he too will do some scoring.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Perfect Kill

A short story by Denis R. Soreng

It was late in the evening when I entered Howrah Station .It was teeming with office workers returning home after a typically tiring day at work. I didn't look forward to the prospect of returning home to my husband. The love between us had died years ago. Our marriage had been transformed into a dead corpse buried deep beneath a pile of painful memories. The bits and pieces of pleasure I derived from my daily existence were my only source of sustenance. My husband had accused me of being mentally deranged. But only I know better. He should have thought of a better reason than that to get rid of me.

I hauled my self into a train standing nearby. Finding a seat lying vacant I gleefully slid into it. After having exhausted myself at work securing a place to ease my legs was a welcome relief. The scene inside the train was disquieting. The train being the last one on that particular route, it wasn't long before the compartment was bursting to the full with people. They jostled and fought with each other in a desperate attempt to keep from falling off.

June is the hottest month in Kolkata; it's when the when the summers are at the peak of their torment. The sweltering heat conspired with the intolerable humidity to beat the lives out of the commuters. The stench from the garbage rotting on the rail tracks combined with the nauseating smell of human sweat to pervade the whole atmosphere. I felt like vomiting. I subconsciously swallowed the spittle that formed in my throat. In despair, I stared up at the ceiling for comfort. A solitary fan hung up there in a state of eternal rest, hideously shrouded in spider webs. I closed my eyes in a bid to rest my mind. Slowly I allowed myself to fall into a labored slumber.

When I awoke the train had traveled far into the countryside. The seat next to mine was occupied by a pretty nymphet. She had a concerned look on her face. The object of her anxiety was seated right opposite to us. He was the most loathsome, horrid specimen of mankind I had ever seen. He evidently appeared to be a village goon of some reputation. His bloodshot eyes were planted firmly on the girl. She squirmed uncomfortably in her seat under his leering looks. The redness of his eyes was indicative of the fact that he had soaked himself in liquor far exceeding socially acceptable limits.

The girl's nervousness was infectious. I looked around the compartment. It was completely vacant except for the three of us. I began to grow uneasy. The girl pressed my hand and held up a piece of newspaper for my inspection. She pointed towards a front-page news report. It was on a sensational serial killer who had been haunting Kolkatans for the past couple of weeks. Six young girls had been murdered in different parts of the city. They were discovered with their throats brutally slit open. The killings had been executed with such meticulous efficiency that the murder scenes were totally devoid of any clues. The police were baffled. The report went on to draw parallels with the legendary 'Stoneman' who had terrorized Calcutta in early the 90's and whose identity was yet to be ascertained. The report was undeniably scary and chilling to the bone.

The girl had visibly paled. She motioned with her eyes indicating to me that she considered the man sitting opposite to be a prime suspect. The girl was badly scared and I must admit I was pretty worried myself. Suddenly the train slowed as it approached an oncoming station. I was contemplating the feasibility of getting off the train, well before my intended destination, when the man himself stood up. To my utter surprise and immense joy he hopped off the train as it came to a screeching halt. The girl looked at me and both of us let out a huge sigh of relief. The tension having been released, she began to giggle. I caught up with her silly laughter and soon both of us were laughing away in abandon.

With a rude jerk the train started moving. Soon it was speeding across vast open countryside at a furious pace. Her jangled nerves having been calmed, the girl had begun to doze in her seat. As I looked at her I wondered just how naïve and unsuspecting young girls can be. I slipped my hand inside my handbag and firmly gripped the kitchen knife I always carried. I felt a strange numbness in my fingers but it had to be done. Besides she had an exceedingly beautiful neck. Such a pity!



Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, Merri X'Mas, and Happy Diwali all rolled into one! Sorry for the longish break, but sometime it is necessary for rejuvinating the spirits!


Aryan Smiling