Thursday, November 17, 2011

Darren Bravo

So ... this kid is good. Very good.

Was watching him play India today - West Indies needed 500-odd to avoid an innings defeat, so it was hardly the most riveting cricket - but he played quite brilliantly nonetheless. Earlier in the year (or was it last year?), when they were in Sri Lanka, I saw him score a 50 and thought that he might be the next big thing in cricket (TNBTIC, for short). Am pretty bloody sure now.

I mean, look at that backlift! Seriously, gave me the creeps, I tell you. See, about 3 years ago, I made peace with myself that I would never see Lara bat again. Last year, Lara said that he might play T20 cricket again, and I was excited, but I told myself to wait and see if he did. No sign of that, so I am ok. I have moved on.

But now this bastard comes along. Made me wet my pants watching him bat. Fucker.

And then there's Marlon Samuels scoring 80 at the other end. Another guy who I thought would be very good back in 2003/2004, and then look what happened. Match-fixing, banned for 5 years.

Now he is back. The cover drive was still there. He seems bigger now (prison gym?), and although I hate, absolutely hate his guts for cheating ... he does look so bloody irresistible doesn't he?


Over and out.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I can see clearly now

Time for some reminiscing. It has 3 and half months since my life was turned upside down by a girl. I've never been in love before - never even liked a girl so much that I could confuse that with love. Nothing. Ever.

And then she comes along.

June 7 : We meet, and talk all night. It's not love at first sight, but there was interest. And curiosity.

June 10 : We have spent the last 3 days texting each other non-stop. We talk as though we have been talking all our lives. There is a deep sense of familiarity and belonging. We meet again. Barriers are broken, and we find something unexpected. Mutual affection. Mutual respect. A surprisingly deep bond. A kiss.

June 11 : We make out. I am talked to by elders. Happily, they don't seem too perturbed by it all.

June 12 : We talk all night until 4AM on 13th morning. I tell her I love her, almost accidentally. She doesn't hear it because we get cut off. We talk some more, and I almost forget that I had said it to her. Then she says it. Spontaneously. I tell her I love her too.

June 22 : We meet again. Our first date. Again, that same sense of belonging. We are welcomed with open arms by her mother. We meet the next morning at the beach. Talk of sex continues unabated.

July 1 : We meet. We have sex. The weekend that convinced us that we had met the right person.

July 10 : More lies are told to parents. We meet. Spend her birthday together. I give her a gift. It is accepted with heartfelt gratitude.

July 11 : Much heartbreak at the thought that I am moving away, and we may not see each other for long months. Bittersweet moments are spent at a railway station with each trying to keep up a brave face so that the other person doesn't cry. I cry in the train on the way back.

July 14 : I leave from India. We talk on the phone. I hear her sing for the first time. I leave the country where my sweetheart lives.

Since then, we have been on the phone as much as we possibly can. The parents and my friends joke about how much we talk. Cell phone bills skyrocket until drastic measures must now be taken. We are happily in love, and are beginning to be more vocal about plans of marriage. Of a life together. Of kids.

We tell each other "I love you" and "I miss you" at least twice a day. Sometimes more. We really care for each other, and the deep sense of loss of not being able to be with the other person sometimes gets the better of both of us. We are uneasy. There are disconnects that would not happen if we had been together.

But, we love each other. The sense of empathy, love, and even gratitude are overwhelming. We see ourselves reflected in the other person, and we like what we see. I like who I have become since I met her. I like the fact that one of my best friends sent me an email today asking me when I was going to get married (so that he may plan his trip to India). I am closer to my other friends now since I have returned. I am working on both mind and body with equal gusto. I am planning for a future for us to be together. And I am learning how to give myself to another person - without question, without fear of judgement, without even realizing that you are giving.

I am deeply grateful that I have been able to experience such an incredible experience despite myself. I never really pursued the idea of love. I was a cynic, and always believed that love was for the birds. I believed that the closest I was going to get to it was that I would meet someone. Someone interesting, who met all the academic and superficial criteria that society has set for me. And I would learn to love her. Like my father. Like so many people I know of my age. That I would end up marrying a stranger. And live like a stranger in my own home.

But now, here I am. In love.

Funny, that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


For many years now, I have used Ubuntu exclusively on my machine, so much so that I decided to buy the Dell laptop that came pre-installed with Ubuntu (9.04 at the time) instead of my standard practice of getting a Windows machine and wiping the harddrive to install Linux.

A few days ago, I upgraded to the latest Ubuntu release (11.04 - Natty Narwhal) only to find that they had chosen to go with their own desktop manager (Unity) over the tried and tested Gnome. I was curious, so I played with Unity for about .. oh, 30 seconds, after which I installed GNOME 3 and began playing with it.

GNOME is where the heart is, unfortunately, so I couldn't resist. Gnome was the culmination of a long, arduous journey for me that began with trying to configure X windows, discovering FvWM, Enlightenment and the other cool window managers around then, to finally finding one that suited my computer usage. So I wanted to see if GNOME 3 lived up to my expectations, and here are my first impressions.

I like the new interface. It is still a little clunky, but I like the dynamic workspaces, and the fact that the entire window management process seems more in the Jeff Han mould than the old Win95 mould (where you have a "Start" button, and a swiss-army-knife panel sitting at the bottom). I also find myself relearning the keyboard shortcuts to many things again, which appeals to my inner geek.

What I dislike is the lack of easy configurability. In an attempt to make the desktop more noob-friendly, the developers have taken away some accessibility features that I think are quite essential. The first and foremost is the ability to quickly and easily change themes, skins, icons, and the desktop background. This might not seem like much, but being a creature of habit, visual cues are essential to the way I use the computer, and not being able to make the desktop look the way I want it to look easily is something I hope they address soon.

I did figure out how to change themes, though, which was a fun, and (in hindsight) a rather educational experience. I still haven't figured out how to change the icon of an app in the panel. This annoys me.

Having also upgraded to Firefox 4 (and its new tab organization tool called Panorama), it appears that there seems to be a trend towards more modular computing (where apps are merely set aside for the time being, rather than closed/minimized and reopened). It is a bit overwhelming at the moment, and I am not sure this is altogether a good thing, but it must be said that it is visually striking, and that might be good enough to win a few hearts.

In other news, a certain Mr. Bin Laden is dead. Most people I speak to here at Purdue have had mixed feelings about it. Is it a good thing? Should we be celebrating the fact the Americans have finally ended a decade of killing innocent civilians in the name of justice? Or should we mourn the fact that they continue their "war on terror" rhetoric?

I am too old to be happy, and too young to be sad, I suppose.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Ashes, 2010-11

Had a few things to say about the Ashes this year, and thought I should put them down here for posterity. The series has been oddly lop-sided - most "pundits", including myself, thought that it would be a tough series with England having a small upper hand.

However, it has to be said, that Australia have underperformed very badly, and will have to do some serious thinking in order to rebuild the team from here on.

Some of the individuals deserve a more in-depth examination :

Alastair Cook : He has been in prime form, breaking all sorts of records for Ashes series runs. A dismal summer led to many questions being asked about his technique and place in the side, but he has answered his critics with the bat, as they say. He spent much of the summer falling over onto the off-side because, according to Boycott, he planted his front foot on the line of the ball, and then looked to play the ball around his front pad instead of under his eyes.

He has corrected his technique, and has shown that Gooch's faith in the kid is well placed. Kudos to both Gooch and him for finally coming good on their promise.

Paul Collingwood : The calls for his retirement are getting louder everyday, but I find this "public lynching" by the media a little too tiresome now. He is a fantastic fielder, and a good, solid batsman. In 2010 he gave England something they had never had before - an ICC trophy (in the form the World 20-20 cup). If he is to retire, it would be best, therefore, to leave it to him. One bad series does not imply that he will never come good. He is only 34, after all. Nowadays, the life-span of cricketers (particularly batsman) has increased substantially with modern physiotherapy and fitness regimes.

We should give him some time, and let him be the final judge of his form.

Chris Tremlett : The dark horse of the tournament for me. He was kept out of the first test by an established bowling quartet, and made it in only thanks to injury to Stuart Broad. He has more than made up for Broad - he has bowled a beautiful length to extract optimum bounce and seam movement, and has rarely bowled a bad ball.

Fantastic prospects for England if this kid can continue to improve.

Ricky Ponting : The failure of the tournament, by a long distance. He scored two fluid 70s in India in October, and came into the series with the possibility that this would be his last. He has been caught fishing outside the off stump too many times for a player of his calibre. When the need was to buckle down and play out spells of good bowling, he opted to hit out, and only managed a couple of boundaries before edging one to the slips.

A player of his experience and ability should have known better.

Mitchell Johnson : A player who just refuses to learn. He is obviously talented, but spraying every third ball down leg-side when you are the leader of the attack is just irresponsible. He managed one glorious spell in the series, and that will continue to keep him in the good books of the selectors, but I don't think he should play for Australia until he works out how to bowl the ball at the stumps.

Bollinger, Hilfenhaus, and lately Ryan Harris have proved that they are much more reliable (if a little less penetrative) than him, and should be chosen over Johnson in the future.

I could go on. Mike Hussey, Usman Khawaja, James Anderson, Andrew Strauss (for his captaincy more than his batting), and the incorrigible Graeme Swann all deserve a mention, but I must stop here.

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Interwebs

Particularly liked this comment about the distinction between "Document" and "App", and how the Internet is finding it difficult to bridge that gap.

Google talks Chrome OS, HTML5, and the future of software


JS: On the Web, it seems that there's a spectrum of sites that exists between "document" on the one hand, and "application" on the other. Google Maps would be an example of an application, whereas Ars would be an example of a document or document collection with some navigation added on. But you guys put both documents and applications in a browser window, still.

I know you're still refining the user experience, so I guess what I want to know is, are you going to stay within the document/browser paradigm, or are Web applications going to become peers, with their own window and their own specific window chrome. So maybe [a Web app] is like this OS X window, so that the view looks like an application to the user, and not like a "webpage." [I'm essentially talking about moving from a document/browser paradigm to an application/window manager paradigm for a certain class of sites.]

MP: That's a good, insightful comment. It is weird that when you cruise the Web today most of the Web is still a fairly static web of things that fundamentally seem more like documents than they do like applications. Even CNN, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, etc. are really fairly static pages. And yes it's being served to you dynamically, and there are ads, and whatever, but fundamentally you're reading words off the page and it's not quite like something like Gmail, or Picasa, or even Netflix, where it really does feel like an app. Everything being served to you [on these sites] isn't really static at all—you can reorder lists by dragging things around, and it feels like an application.

So far in Chrome, we haven't really made any distinction between those two things, because the Web doesn't really make any distinction between the two. You can't really tell when you get to a page what the page is supposed to be. But there is a lot of stuff that we're starting to work on in Chrome OS where we're starting to add specific features for things that really are apps.

A good example for Chrome OS is mailto links. Typically, those kick you out of the browser back into your Windows mail program, which, if you're using Gmail, is a complete hassle and annoying. So we're doing a bunch of work now to figure out, how do we make that actually launch Gmail. Or, better yet, if you're actually running Gmail, how do we get it to switch to that tab and open a new compose window, which is what you want it to do. Or in Chrome OS, maybe it should pop up a panel and you start writing in that, so as not to interrupt your flow in the site that you were on.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Maturity and Misery

Time. The one aspect of life that seems to go on, unceasingly, without regard to anything that we humans do in our petty lives. Yet, we define ourselves based on time. From when you would like to meet your friend at a coffee shop, to how old you are, to what you will be doing in the distant future - we seem to view our lives through the lens of time.

But what of time? What does it teach us? Does it lead us somewhere, or is it merely an innocent bystander as we go about our lives?

I turned 28 recently, an age where I should have gone past the teenage angst. Should have matured into a young man - capable of going through life without the hand-holds that have guided my path until here. Yet, I feel adrift. Lost. This is my attempt to understand this emotion, and maybe crystallize it for future reminiscing.

It seems like my whole life has been a case of the world telling me where to put my feet, and me obliging without a protest. At first, it was the parents, who did the best they could. Then, I just seem to have been buffetted by the winds of fate, as it were. My choices seem to have been entirely decided by the path of least resistance.

Does everyone go through life like this? I doubt it. There are those who take the bull by the horns, and search within themselves before coming to any decision worthy of note. Not I.

Now that I have reached a point where the going is tough - there are many unanswered questions in my future, and every passing day merely makes me more aware that these questions are unanswered - I find myself unsure of where to put my feet. The choices I make today will, no doubt, have repercussions in the future, but the magnitude of those repercussions is beginning to frighten me.

Does everyone feel this way? Is fear a natural part of living, or is this something only a few people have in common?

I am certainly more introspective than your average person. I enjoy revelling in my own misery - this is something I learnt a long time ago. But I always assumed that with time, I would learn to deal with such misery better. It appears not to be the case.

Time has taught me, though, that with every passing year, while the source of the misery changes, the depth of the emotion seems to remain the same. It seems, now, that my troubles are worse than they have ever been, but the logical side of me knows that that is not true.

Will this help me deal with the troubles I have now, and surely will have in the future? Not entirely, I don't think - but it will allow me some perspective. I am, even now, in the nadir of a black mood, capable of isolating myself from myself - seeing that I am merely looking at the cup half empty.

Time has also taught me to reach out to those close to me at times like this. While I try, and sometimes fail, to do so - it seems that Time has also taken away so much innocence that it makes it that much harder to call people "close".

I do know that this is common to a lot of people though - so I feel a little bit better about myself. I often hear complaints from people about how many fewer friends they have now than they did in their heady college days.

Time has taught me to cherish the friends that I do have, and there is a lot to be said for that. Maybe these are the new hand-holds of life - not the tangible ones, but the ones in your head. You learn, with time, where the pitfalls are, who to trust, and who not to. Is this knowledge all that we have to take away from 28 years of wasting oxygen?

It appears so.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anal Nightmares

First Music, then Movies. Now Porn. Is nothing sacred anymore?

A new record: 9,729 P2P porn pushers sued at once

On October 29, Ford helped Axel Braun Productions sue 7,098 anonymous online Does for sharing the film Batman XXX: A Porn Parody. According to the legal complaint, the film features "adult actresses engaging in various intense sexual acts" and was distributed via BitTorrent by the 7,098 IP addresses in question.

On November 4, Ford stepped up his game again, drafting a complaint on behalf of porn producer West Coast Productions against a whopping 9,729 people—the most we have ever seen in a single one of these P2P complaints. (The film in question, according to Slyck, is called Teen Anal Nightmare 2.)

That's nearly 17,000 people in under two weeks. In contrast, it took the RIAA five years to go after 18,000 individuals

And in other, more cheerful news ..

"Horde of piratical monkeys" creates LimeWire: Pirate Edition

LimeWire Pirate Edition builds on the old LimeWire codebase, but it removes LimeWire's use of some centralized servers, the toolbar, in-app advertising, and software backdoors. It also enables all the features of the "Pro" version that LimeWire LLC used to sell as a premium product.

According to the coders behind the release, "A horde of piratical monkeys climbed aboard the abandoned ship, mended its sails, polished its cannons and released it FREE to the community to help keep the Gnutella network alive."


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gideon Haigh

Just got Gideon Haigh's Silent Revolutions as a birthday present from a friend. Haigh happens to be one the wisest people writing about cricket nowadays, and, having heard an interview of his on TestMatchSofa, I am pretty excited to listen to what he has to say about the history of Australian Cricket. He has a good command over the language, and seems to enjoy revelling in seemingly trivial incidents in the history of the game - and most importantly, he doesn't get too caught up in statistics, something most current writers tend to revel in.

An excerpt : In an article about Bradman's feats in the 1930 Ashes series, he writes : "When Australia passed 700, it was discovered that the Lord's scoreboard had not been designed to go past 699, and a small 7 had to be fetched to hang from a hook. Wisden, too, would need sturdier bindings by the time Bradman's business was finished."

Will write more about this once I am done with the book, but so far it seems to be a very good gift indeed.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


During a very enlightening conversation about a lot of things with S and D today, talk turned to "race" and cultural differences. I brought up the fact that I was very nervous teaching here for the first time because I wasn't sure if anyone would understand what I was saying, and whether my students would hate me because the way I spoke was different. The response?

S: What you speak is proper English. If I don't understand what you are saying, then I am the dumbass.

D: When S speaks .. he just says things, sometimes without a pause - and I understand it fine. But when you speak, I know where the commas and full-stops are.

Just thought I should record that comment for posterity.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sachin - The legacy

Many things have been written about Sachin Tendulkar over the years - his cricketing abilities place him amongst the very highest echelons of great cricketers, and his effect on an entire nation has made him one of the most talked-about cricketers ever. One question one is forced to ask is, what is his long-term effect on the game? In 20 years, or 40 years, will he still have an impression on the game that goes beyond the rheumy eyes of nostalgia?

Let us first consider the One-Day game. Yes, the One-Day game that was, not too long ago, the red-headed step-child of cricket, has been transformed in the last 20 years. Now, a genuine game in its own right, it has its own fluctuating strategies, its own "sessions", and its own lunch break.

Sachin is, together with Viv Richards, one of the two great batsman of the One-Day game. Sachin's effect on One-Day cricket will be remembered as long as they are still being played. Together with the Sri Lankan opening pair (Jayasuriya/Kaluwitharana), the Indian openers (Tendulkar/Ganguly) were instrumental in showing the world how to take advantage of the 15-over field restrictions. While scores of 50/0 were common in the first 15 overs up until the early 90s, soon scores of 90/2 started becoming par for the course. The idea was, even if one or two soldiers perish, a run-rate of 6.00 per over after 15 had already put you so far ahead of the game, that getting your average score of 240-odd became a canter. You now only had 150 runs to score in 35 overs.

This is an important effect Sachin's batting has had on the game - he has been the most successful One-Day opener ever, and his run-scoring abilities in the shorter form of the game will be hard to top. 17,598 runs at an average of 45, and a strike rate of 85 ... and counting. He will be the benchmark for all ODI batsmen to come.

Sachin's effect on the longer form of the game are harder to gauge. While he has played some unorthodox shots (the upper cut over the slips comes to mind), he has, by and large, stuck to the textbook. His back-foot punch (down the ground either side of the wicket) is something to behold, but he is not the inventor of the shot. He has merely adopted it very successfully, as have many others (like Gavaskar, which is probably where he learnt it from).

He has, together with other great batsmen of his era - Lara, Ponting, Kallis, Dravid, Steve Waugh - modernized the benchmark for a good middle-order batsman. Batsmen had to reacquaint themselves with quality spin bowling from 1993 onwards, and these batsmen definitely showed the way in that regard. Watching Lara vs. Murali or Sachin vs. Warne is an education in itself.

The last - but certainly not the least - piece of Sachin's legacy, will be his impression on Indian cricket. Sachin has been the iconic Indian cricketer for nearly two decades now. Gavaskar and Kapil were the largest icons in Indian cricket before him. While they were undoubtedly great cricketers, there was a lot of petty in-fighting which the discerning public did not like. Sachin has, together with Dravid and Kumble, brought to Indian cricket a certain humility and dignity that one feels was much needed (particularly in the wake of the match-fixing scandals in 2000).

Also, together with Gavaskar, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly, and lately Sehwag, Sachin has ensured that the world has a very high regard for Indian batsmanship. In a recently concluded series against Australia, a certain Cheteshwar Pujara made his debut. In the previous series, Suresh Raina made his debut. Both of these were important events - and not just for India. Every time an Indian batsman makes his debut now, every cricket follower takes a moment to register the fact. Just to follow their careers a little more carefully. Just in case one of them turns out to be of the calibre of his illustrious predecessors.