Last word on Indians at Beijing Olympics

My 82 year old aunt was greatly disturbed the other day because of India's Olympics performance. She said, "Boxing, wrestling... are these sports? Hurting each other... ". I pointed out that the other medal, the big medal, came from shooting guns, which if someone from Iran or North Korea would have won, Mr. Bush would have labeled as WMD. She said, "Still, they are only practising... hitting targets, not a person".

Then I came out with my ace of spades, saying, "These games of archery / shooting was the cause of Ramayan. If only King Dasarath would find a gentler pastime than target practise with arrows, Ramayan would never have happened". To avoid any counter point, I quickly added. "And look at how much drama a game of target practise created", referring to the archery competition during Draupadi's swayambhar. My aunt diverted the topic, "I like gymnastics".

Talking about gymnastics (and India and Olympics), did you check out the Israeli rhythmic gymnastic team's performance in the three rings and two clubs routine? The background music was "Dhoom Tana" from Om Shanti Om.

Indians at the Olympics

As the Indian participation in this Olympics came to an end today, everyone is going ga ga over the Indian performance in the Olympics. We have managed one Gold, and two Bronze medals - the best ever by any Indian contingent in the history of the Olympics. Already crores of rupees has been promised to these guys as gifts or prize for getting an Olympic medal. We, as a nation, are very emotional and show this outburst of generosity whenever someone from our country achieves something in the international arena. After all, we saw the same frenzy when the young Indian cricket team won the T20 World Cup. Being emotional is good, at least in some situations, but unfortunately, not in this case. We tend to reward those who achieves something despite the system, where we should really develop the system so that future athletes achieves due to the system.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem in these champion sportsmen getting money or accolades, they deserve it. It's just that I think if only a fraction of that money was spent in development of infrastructure and other aspects of sports, we would have much better chance of achieving something in sports in future.

And there is no better time to say these hard words than now: when the nation is overjoyed and celebrating, before we stop forgetting about them. Otherwise, before the next Asian games, Commonwealth games, or Olympics we will suddenly wake up and start finding medal prospects.

Bloggers of the world, united

Rohit Talwar a.k.a RT had been making plans to come to Kolkata to meet Sayantani Dasgupta, when she is here in Kolkata and me. So mid July, we had booked tickets and made a plan for the long weekend of 15th August.

After much confusion, cancellation (of tickets) and change of plans, RT finally arrived in Kolkata late on Thursday night. We came home, and talked, gossipped, discussed everything under the moon. Also since he came with a long list of things-to-do-in-Kolkata, we discussed those and decided that only a quarter of that could be done in the three days he was here, and made a feasible plan for the weekend. This was accompanied by the usual snacks - biscuits, potato wafers, and Maggi, of course. Finally slept around five in the morning.

Next day, RT woke up at one in the afternoon (despite my attempts to wake him up since 8:30), which meant all the plans that we made last night were to be reworked. So we ended up having lunch at Mocambo in Park Street, and I showed him Park Street. Then we went "sightseeing" - Eden Gardens, High Court, GPO, Writer's building, Howrah bridge, 2nd Hoogly bridge, Race course, Victoria memorial, Fort William - all from outside in an hour or so (I am proud of myself). Then we strolled in the old market area of Esplanade called New Market. Rohit finally had something that he liked - the mutton roll from Badshah. We took the Metro to Rabindra Sadan and had coffee and browsed books at Crosswords. Later in the evening, handed him over to Sayantani, who took him to her grandparent's house in Salt Lake.

On Saturday, RT came back around noon, and informed me about yet another change of plan. He had to prepone his going back to Delhi. So we had lunch at home (he liked the poshto or poppy seeds, I think), got his new tickets online, and cancelled his old tickets. We had fuchka (paanipuri) nearby, and strolled over to Rabindra Sadan / Nandan complex. We saw Victoria Memorial, and then went to Park Street once again. Had tea at T3 (The Tea Table) and then went to the highly anticipated (by RT) Someplace Else - a pub. A few drinks later, we came out and had rolls from a local vendor and came back home.

On Sunday, we got ready early and then went over to young blogger Sinjini Sengupta a.k.a Butterfly's home. Sayantani and her brother - Aritro also came there (Sayantani and Sinjini are first cousins). We took a cab and went to Vedic Village, a resort in the outskirts (technically outskirts, looked outside) of Kolkata. While going there, we revised our discussion of the remake of Sholay that RT and Manasi are supposedly making, with all the meaty roles going to them and people they like. Meaning, I am reduced to the minor villainous role of Kalia, and Sayantani is Samba. Watch out for this movie, as this is going to be the first time that Veeru (played by RT himself) is going be be beaten (badly) by Kalia.

Anyway, so we reached the middle of nowhere Vedic Village. The resort is nice with spa facilities, conference facilities and nice restaurants. We chose Bhoomi, the bengali restaurant, and enjoyed the lunch (not sure about how much RT enjoyed it) there. Here is Butterfly's version of our day at Vedic Village.

As Rohit's flight was later that evening, we came out soon after lunch. Dropped the Dasguptas and the Sengupta at Salt Lake, came back to my place at Bhawanipur, quickly packed and went to the airport to see off RT. A very enjoyable weekend came to an end with a tired me reading Haruki Murakami's Underground, a gift from RT, just before going to sleep.

P.S: The title should really read "Bloggers of India, united", but then, Sayantani does stay in the US these days. Some photographs to go with the text will be published as soon as RT sends me his set, or Sayantani uploads pictures taken from her pink Nikon Coolpix.


Yesterday, I had gone to a village about 70 kms away from Kolkata to attend a wedding. It was a distant relative's wedding (infact she happens to be my grand niece), and I had only gone there once as a child. Anyway, the plan was to go there in the afternoon and come back early in the evening. However, it rained heavily here in the afternoon and it took me quite some time to reach the bus terminus. Another hour of queue and waiting, and it was already early evening when the bus left the terminus! A few rounds of traffic jams and snarls, and I finally reached the place well past eight! As soon as the pleasantries were over, I was quickly informed that there was no way to return to Kolkata at that time. So, there I was, all dapper and dandy, stuck in that far from anywhere village, with the prospect of having to stay with the 'wedding party' looming large. No way, I was going to do that! Damn, if only I had my all-terrain boots on (or even my sneakers) I would have started to walk back.

Just when I was about to embark on my backup plan of going to the nearest town - Diamond Harbour and stay put there in a hotel, my aunt (maternal) appeared. Now, I was not even expecting her to be there (the marriage was on my father's side), but somehow (long story) she was invited too. She happened to be associated with a school nearby. After she heard of my plan, she recited a grand plan of taking me to the school, which had a guest house, and where she would be staying as well. A quick ride and a short plod over mud road to the school, and I was in a comfortable guest room, with clean sheets and towels and all. The bonus was total isolation from the urban world, meaning frog croaks and cricket sound mixes were playing as lullabies. After a good night's sleep and a great cup of tea in the morning, I caught a bus for Kolkata.


The Olympics is on! And what a show the opening ceremony was! I have nothing to add to what the world is saying: "Wow"! One reason I always watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics is because each time I learn about new countries. This time, I heard of these countries for the first time: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Tuvalu.

I had already seen numerous pictures of the Beijing National Stadium a.k.a The Bird's Nest. But what impressed me was that the inner rim of the stadium is actually one giant (and I mean GIANT) screen!

One thing that could improve about this Olympics is the coverage by Doordarshan. I am already tired of the blabbering by the hosts, who doesn't seem to have any clue about what they are talking about. I am particularly fond of the gentleman who was wearing a "cricket ball and bail" motif tie (and covering Olympics)! And each time the lady says "Olampics" (I swear she says that). And each time they say "Maruti Suzuki Olympics update brought to you by Maruti Suzuki" (what a miracle!).

Anyway, so everyday, while working I keep checking the widget on iGoogle, which updates me on what's happening. And whenever I get TV access (damn I need a TV for myself), I am checking the Olympics. I saw the first match of Saina Nehwal. She is good! She outplayed her opponent quite easily and seems to have a cool head. Oh, talking about Saina, wonder why TOI published a huge picture of her showing her midriff (while she is in action). Trying to create another Sania Mirza, are we? Let the kid play! Don't make her a fashion icon, model youth, youth symbol, sex symbol, and what not... like you did with Sania.

I hope the games is without any political disturbances. It was good to see a Russian and Georgian share the podium in the 10 mtr air pistol event without any problems. Rightly so, there shouldn't be any politics in sports.

Update on Monday, 11th August 2008: Abhinav Bindra won the 10 mtr Air Rifle event, becoming the FIRST EVER Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics. Way to go! Am I happy or am I happy?

Some songs and memories associated with them

Tomake chai: A song by Suman that changed bangla music scene in the early nineties. It literally means "I want you", but the entire song is about wanting a cigarette, without mentioning it once. It's part of my growing up years.

Country roads: Another part of my growing up. Listening to it a thousand times and thinking about how to get a voice like John Denver.

Hum dil de chuke sanam: That was the summer of 99... my first job, and most of my colleagues made this a quasi theme song, and sang it in various tunes every day. There was also this teasing me about a friend, but that's another story.

Leaving on a Jet plane: My favorite airport / railway station / bus stand song.

Jab koi baat bigad jaye: I sang it once and the listener cried.

Comfortably numb: Well, my favorite "comfortably numb" song.

Bidhir badhon: A subtle yet strong patriotic bangla song by Rabindranath Thakur. Used brilliantly by Satyajit Ray in his film "Ghare Baire". Sung by Kishore Kumar with no background music.

Wish you were here: Another Pink Floyd favorite. Just plain soul.

Zindagi mil ke bitayenge: The seven of us in a team made this our theme song, especially for the lines: "Hum to saat rang hai, ye jahan rangeen banayenge". And boy, did we make our life colorful or what?

Everybody hurts: Hope! Eternal hope!

I am sure you have your songs and memories attached to them. Please share, if you wish.