Google eats Kashmir!

So Google Analytics has decided that Kashmir isn’t part of India. Dunno why. But when I recently logged in to the site, here’s the map I saw:

analytics-nokashmir

Have absolutely no clue why Kashmir isn’t included in this map.

Any theories or concrete knowledge?

Cup within cup!

I thought that the World Cup was “the cup that mattered”. Definitely not to Australia or New Zealand. Australia has mastered the art of putting down the event or series or tournament they are playing in. When they were playing India, the “focus was on the Ashes”. During the Ashes, the “focus was on the World Cup”. And now, during the World Cup, they want to play for the Chappel-Hadlee trophy.

I think this has a deeper reason. I think Cricket Australia is being miserly and wants to save money by not having to advertise for the CH trophy or host the visitors. They last went to NZ and won it there and figure that doing it at someone else’s expense will save money. Sure, they say that they are doing it because the two teams won’t be meeting in 2011. So do it in 2012. And if it’s a matter of just the one match, they could just fit it in anywhere.

What also baffles the mind is this statistical insight by Cricinfo:

The New Zealanders should be happy with the move, as they have beaten Australia in nine of 21 Chappell-Hadlee matches, but have lost all 12 of the other ODIs the teams have played during the same period. The trophy has been contested every season since it began in 2004-05, and is currently held by Australia after they won 3-2 in New Zealand last March.

Are they trying to say that because this match is now considered the CH trophy New Zealand become favourites? What about the head-to-head of the actual tournament they are playing? Or the head-to-head when the two countries have played at neutral venues or in India? This is some seriously cockeneyed statistic!

Which brings us to the point, what are NZ’s chances in the CH trophy in day/night games when they bat first? Never mind the pitch or the venue or the main event!

Future of scams in India

We are in a scam bull-run. Every week, there’s something new. It does mean that scammers have had a great run last few months/years/decades, but look closely and you’ll notice that a lot of these are recent scams. For instance, CWG 2010, Adarsh Hsg Soc., 2G/3G scams, Antrix scam, *insert appropriate city name here* land scam, etc. There’s many more.

This post, however, is not about the past. It’s about looking forward. Like with any sector, there is tremendous competition in the scam industry as well. Politicians and their kin have unfortunately taken the lead here too, but the common man shouldn’t despair. It is the relative scale of a scam that determines its success. So go for the low-hanging fruit even if it’s smaller. Given the amount of money the country loses, I think there’s a case for having an industry body to ensure scams are indeed perpetrated correctly and that they follow previously set guidelines or best (worst?) practices. We need to get organized.

Some thoughts:

  1. A scam must be at least worth Rs 100 crore in size. If not, news channels and newspapers won’t think it worth their time and money unearthing it. Neither would the government. You’d end up going totally under the radar. What’s the point of a work of art if no one can see and enjoy it?
  2. A scam must affect minimum 20 families. Preferrably, these families must belong to the great Indian middle class and have proof that they have worked honestly and very hard for many years to collect their wealth. This is the wealth that must be the point of contention. Else, it’s just a plain robbery. No Robin Hood tactics allowed.
  3. A scam must involve at least one well-known politician, his family member(s) and an obscure central government neta. Without these, you will never get the scale you desire. It is fine if the central govt. chap has risen from obscurity and first hits the limelight only during the scam. Nothing prepares them better than a first-hand experience.
  4. A scam must be wide-reaching enough to compel the Opposition Party (at the Municipal Council, Gram Panchayat, State or Central Govt. level) to demand that the CBI or the ED get involved.

Of course, the above is a work in progress. I look at you — the populace of India that will be affected by one of these pretty soon — to add to it. We need to have some organisation and propreity about this. It can’t happen willy-nilly about it. I foresee a business model in consulting upcoming scamsters, creating syllabi for interested scamsters and also working on the other side — with law enforcement to identify perpetrators. If you would like to be a part of this movement, I invite your thoughts and need you to deposit Rs 1 million into my Swiss Bank account (number available on request). Remember, limited partnerships available. 

Additional inspiration reading: 

P.S.: I also welcome suggestions for new scams. Forms available upon payment of Rs 1000 into an Indian account. Receipt available post scam.

My favourite World Cup

The 2011 Cricket World Cup (CWC) is almost here. It’s in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Should be good, loud, colourful and all that given India’s recent experience in handling cricketing events (read: IPL). But the last time this event happened in India, it wasn’t the happiest of endings. We all remember Vinod Kambli crying his way off the field. Soon after, he was pretty much lost to the annals of has-beens of cricket.

I vaguely remember the 1987 CWC in India. I distinctly recall the 1992 edition in Australia – it was one when I was in class VII, very bad at Maths and was attending extra classes at 7am every day. I would do my best to miss these or catch the match at the tutor’s house. I also remember getting up early and being amazed at the quality of grounds in Australia. Not to mention the coloured clothing and the white ball. And then, there were some terrific matches as well. India beating Pakistan at Sydney was especially sweet since it was spoken about for at least the next four years. Then Ajay Jadeja happened! But that’s for another time.

The 1992 World Cup is a cherished memory because it was the first time the world “LIVE” cricket meant something. Not only at our house, but most friends’ houses, TV sets were bought (colour if they had B/W as was our case) and cable connections were bought. This would change our life forever. That, again, is a topic for another time! Waking up at 5.30am with the permission of my father to watch cricket was the best thing to do. No other day since would I be caught awake at 5.30am with so much enthusiasm! It was a pity when India all but whimpered out of the cup. And it also brought to an end Ravi Shastri’s career. Garlands of slippers awaited him at the Mumbai Airport, if I recall correctly for his slow batting that is claimed to have caused India some losses.

The 1999 World Cup in England was not a typically British affair. With coloured clothing becoming the norm for ODIs, this was an unusually bright event. Tendulkar going home for his father’s funeral and returning to score a 140 against Kenya remains the highlight. India’s wins over Sri Lanka and England saw them scrape through to the next round, but it wasn’t convincing! The most exciting match of the tournament remains Australia beating South Africa in the semi-final. Who knows if Australia would have dominated cricket the way they did since had they lost on that day!

Despite all this, my favourite CWC will be the 2003 edition in South Africa. Yes, India lost the final rather tamely. But it was the first time in a long time that fans felt this team could do something. They went off even worse in 2007, but so did the entire tournament! Yet again, the best memory remains the win over Pakistan and especially, Sachin Tendulkar bludgeoning Shoaib Akhtar. Rumour has it that when Sachin Tendulkar was dropped by Shahid Afridi, he was asked if he knew whom he had dropped… Akram has denied it since, but these things aren’t forgotten or erased that easily!

Another prejudice for the South Africa edition of the CWC is that I have since visited that country and most of the cricket grounds there and can well imagine what an exciting place it must have been for watching the CWC.

What can 2011 offer? The facilities are better, the teams stronger but the format, one feels, is still too long drawn. A month-and-a-half for the tournament is way too long. The good stuff starts almost three weeks into the tournament. Let’s hope there is more excitement on offer than we saw in 2007.

Sublimely ridiculous

Pune Traffic is ridiculous. Pune Traffic Police do precious little do improve it. Perhaps they are understaffed. Perhaps they are under-motivated. Whatever the case, the traffic sucks. And now this.

The traffic police will be imposing fines for not wearing helmets. Ok, good. But here’s the kicker:

But the fines would be imposed only if the two-wheeler riders violate traffic rules like jumping signals or lane cutting. For example, if a two-wheeler rider without a helmet jumps a traffic signal, the police would penalise him for jumping the signal and for not wearing a helmet.

Say what? Does that also mean there won’t be a fine if I jump a signal with a helmet?

Only in Pune, I say!

INR gets a symbol.

NEW-Rupee-Symbol-rupee_295The Indian Rupee has a symbol. Unlike many other things that have changed name in India in the past two decades, this seems like a move forward. One would have thought that the powers that be might have toyed with the idea of changing the currency’s name given our penchant for change (sic).

Thankfully, however, the symbol is all that has been added. Why?

The growing influence of the Indian economy in the global space is said to have prompted this move that will result in the Indian rupee joining the select club of global currencies like the US dollar, the British Pound, European Euro and Japanese Yen that have unique symbols.

So says NDTV anyways.

It seems like a good idea to have a symbol, but the chosen symbol may take some getting used to. It’s a Devnagari “R” with a strikethrough-like line running through it. Not too dissimilar to the Yen’s lines. At first sight, it looks nice. But then one wonders if the winning choice (yes, it was a contest) was to make it easier to fit in. Every major symbol (dollar, euro, yen, pound) has a line running through it. While the dollar has an interesting history, the Euro was devised when EU came out with one uniform currency.

From Wikipedia:

The origin of the “$” sign has been variously accounted for. Perhaps the most widely accepted explanation is that it is the result of the evolution of the Spanish and Mexican scribal abbreviation “ps” for pesos. This theory, derived from a study of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century manuscripts, explains that the s gradually came to be written over the p developing a close equivalent to the “$” mark.”

What legacy is the Rupee sign going to have?Moreover, how soon will it be accepted across India and the world? I tried writing it and boy, will be see variations!

Football versus Cricket

footballfan
Be very afraid, cricket!

It was inevitable. After the dud series in Zimbabwe, India showed up in Sri Lanka to play the Asia Cup. That there are only three other countries worth playing against surely doesn’t bode too well for Cricket. But that’s a discussion for another time.

India’s Asia Cup campaign coincided with the FIFA World Cup. And once you saw the sheer scale, impact and enthusiasm of it, the Asia Cup felt more like the ICL in its wane when the IPL hammered it out into the dark ages. Messrs Ronaldo, Kaka, Messi, Tevez, Vittek, hell even Landon Donovan against Mahela, Sanga, Dhoni, Raina, Shoaib, Afridi… ! The FIFA World Cup felt like a carnival. The Asia Cup was a funeral.

Sure cricket has its superstars and they act like superstars too. But the look like superstars on a world stage. It’s not even worth discussing that the FTP format for cricket is a failure. Test matches, bilateral ODI series, tri-series and whatnot is being played without much consequence. It’s all well and good to hang on to tradition, but soon, it starts to seem pointless.

Continue reading “Football versus Cricket”

IPL WTF-ness!

Praful Patel, who now finds himself part of the ever-growing IPL controversy, had this to say about an alleged email sent from his office:

"Shashi Tharoor called me because he was putting together a team," Patel explained. "He wanted me to speak to Lalit Modi and help him out. This has got nothing to do with IPL. This is a needless controversy."

Er, ok. So what team was Tharoor putting together that needed Lalit Modi’s help? Women’s volleyball?

Man, this is hilarious!

Oh, woe.

As mentioned previously, I have recently moved home and office. And it wasn’t a pleasant experience. What took the cake, however, is the misinformation from Tikona Digital Networks and the subsequent lack of customer service.

Without getting into details (believe me, I can!), let me just say that stay away from these guys. I was committed a “Wi-Bro” connection for the 20 computers at office. So a tech guy came over on Saturday and installed it. On Monday, when we installed their dialler on all the machines, they wouldn’t log on.

Inquiries with the rather helpless customer care revealed that the router can only connect to 5 machines at a time. Well.

Then the usual routine of me calling up all and sundry I had been in touch with happened. A total of 4 hours was spent talking on the phone. As the situation stands right now, there is still no resolution. Only 5 computers are connected and the others are mere spectators. Computers and people.

At the time of installation, the engineer connected my computer and promptly proceeded to show off the speed of the connection. He launched the built-in speed test from the dialler. An astonishing speed of 818kbps was delivered. So I decided to crosscheck. And logged on (with him bearing witness) to speedtest.net. And an astonishing speed of 315kbps was delivered. Well, well.

He immediately proceeded to disrepute the service claiming it was unverified and that he didn’t know where their servers were. And insisted that the speed was 818kbps! Hm.

As it stands right now (about 6.45pm on Monday), I am on the verge of disconnection. Awaiting revert from Airtel, Tata and others. Soon. I shall have broadband. Again.

Makes me want to shout, really.

Excuse me… ?

Everyone’s seen Sachin’s knock of 200 not out. The man is in the form of his life. All those numbers everyone is writing about are simply marvellous and astounding. And all those numbers came because he played.

So when the team decided to rest him for the final ODI… one has to wonder why. For the IPL?

So this is the final squad:

Squad: M Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Sudeep Tyagi, S Sreesanth, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ashish Nehra

Let’s hope a clean sweep happens.