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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Indian Cricket - 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards !

What a week this has been for Indian cricket. Accusations of team politics, inefficient captain, character-less coach, management mishap etc - you name it and it has been there. Indian cricket probably reached its lowest point ever since the match-fixing accusations broke out in 2000. At that time, we believed that this could probably the worst thing possible for Indian cricket and so, the positive was that we only had to look forward - we had a talented team and we could go places if they just keep their mind on the game.

5 years on and we seemed to have reached another low point - but this time the issue seems to be more internal - rift between the coach and the captain. Of course, Greg Chappel is very new to this role and Saurav has been the Indian captain for the last 5 years. Probably, it would have been better if Chappel could have waited for a couple of more series - many of the issues that were brought about in the limelight "might" have been "miscommunication" issues, as the BCCI officials and the review committee, set up to investigate the affair, put it. But Chappel is no rookie - he has played cricket the hard way and so seen it all. In fairness, I think he did what he thought was indeed beneficial to the Indian cricket team. He has tried to bring the aggressive Australian attitude - if you are not good, then you don't fit into the team - it doesn't matter whether you are the captain or a newcomer. You need to perform well to merit your position in the team. Especially in a team such as India, where there is so much of talent waiting to enter into the Indian team, the stakes are even higher.

Coming to Saurav Ganguly as a whole, he obviously is going through a pretty bad patch in his career and that seems to have affected him as a person and a captain. I find it surprising that the man who had eradicated favoritism and regionalism from the Indian cricket team - epidemics that had always affected the Indian team - and brought in fresh ideas and always backed his players is now himself playing the same game. Something obviously has gone wrong somewhere. Obviously, if you do not include some player in the team, you are going to ruff their feathers - that is another matter. But manouevering team composition so as to protect oneself and to feign injury to avoid the hard workouts is another. Mind you, all this is straight from Chappel's email - so, it could indeed be "miscommunication" after all :) !

Given that there has been such an issue between the captain and the coach, the Indian board had a review committee to look into this issue and the wise men of the committee included :
3 former captains - Gavaskar, Shastri and Venkatraghavan
The manager of the Indian team - Amitava Choudhury
and Jagmohan Dalmia and Mahendra !

I don't understand what the last 2 mentioned gentlemen were doing in the committee - it looks like the Indian cricket team does not play for India anymore but for the BCCI ! - someone really needs to take a look into this, else these mercenaries will kill Indian cricket as a whole ! Everyone knows the closeness Dalmia and Ganguly share and so, even if Chappel had brought about the issues in front of them, it might have been swiftly swept under the carpet.

It is tough to comprehend how Ganguly and Chappel are going to work this thing out - given that this has been in the public eye for so long. I, as an ardent fan and follower of Indian cricket, sincerely pray that Indian cricket forgets this ugly episode and looks ahead to achieve the goals and targets ahead. Yes, I need to mention this as a swan song to my Blog - we need DIVINE intervention - tennis elbow or no tennis elbow ! WE NEED HIM !

-- Thyaga

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Snaps from our weekend trips

We have been travelling in and around the Bay Area quite a bit over the past few weekends with my parents - here are some of the snaps that we took. It has taken me a while to post them - hopefully, it has been worth the wait ;-).

Enjoy !

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Trip to Berkeley

Over the last weekend on Saturday, September 24th 2005, we had been to Berkeley. Although Susmita & I had seen Berkeley before, we hadn't been there for quite some time. Also, we had a lot about the marina from my people and so, we really wanted to check it out. Also, it would be another outing for my parents.

We started off after lunch to Berkeley - I had expected some traffic on the road because it was a gorgeous day perfect to be spent in the beach. However, the traffic was normal and we reached the marina within an hour or so of leaving home. The marina was just wonderful - there were people who were sailing, boating, kayaking, yatching etc. There were also some classes being conducted for the enthusiats - we walked along the marina and then went along a boardwalk where people were fishing. It was a little windy out here but the warm sun made it a wonderful experience.

From there, we headed to the famous University Avenue of Berkeley. Now, a trip along University Avenue is similar to a trip along any shopping area in India. Saree shops, salwar shops, jewellery shops, Indian sweet shops, Indian restaurants - you name it and it is there on that street. We spent some time doing some window shopping and made our way to the famous Vic's chaat shop. Now, this shop is quite well known all over the Bay Area and for a good reason too. The chat was excellent and so was the tea ! We had couldn't resist ourselves and had some sumptuous food there.

With our stomachs now full and our hearts filled with enthusiasm, we made our way to the Berkeley Rose Garden. This is supposed to a FREE garden where you can stroll and look at all the different varieties of roses that were grown there. It was just fabulous and my mom took a special liking to some of the roses. We sat there for a while and spent some time thinking as to what it would take to grow some of those roses in our little garden :).

Finally, we entered the University campus and also saw the Computer Science building (Soda Hall). I wasn't very impressed by it - it didn't look impressive at all. Anyway, after taking some photographs, we decided to call it a day and headed home. So, the trip to Berkeley was a short and sweet trip - something that we shall all remember. Here are some snapshots from our trip - relive the experience.


Friday, September 23, 2005

More on Sports and Religion ...

I had posted an article a couple of days ago about the raging debate that has been sparked as a result of Yousuf Youhana's conversion to Islam. Here is the Cricinfo article on the same subject written by Osman Samiuddin, the Pakistan editor of Cricinfo.

-- T

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Durga Puja in the Bay Area, 2005

Durga Puja is just around the corner. Here is an update on the list of Durga Pujas that are going to be celebrated in the Bay Area this year.

  1. Sanskriti - Oct 15 th and Oct 16th at Gunn High School Spangenberg Auditorium, Palo Alto. Directions.

  2. Prabasi - Oct 15th and Oct 16th at Chabot College, Hayward.

  3. Pashchimi - Oct 8th - Oct 12th at Sunnyvale, Temple.

  4. Livermore Hindu Temple - Oct 8th - Oct 12th
See u at one of the Pujas :) !


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sports and Religion - keep them separate

A couple of days ago, Yousuf Youhana, one of the 2 non-Muslim cricketers of the Pakistan cricket team (the other being Danish Kaneria) converted to a Muslim, much to the chagrin of his family and relatives, who believe that he was persuaded by some current and ex-members of the team. Whatever be the reason, this incident has brought up a very sensitive topic into the forefront of the current cricketing news - religion. I really don't understand this fanaticism of mixing religion with sports (and to that matter, with any other important facet of life - more later on that).

Does the fact that you are a Hindu or a Muslim or a Sikh or a Christian make any difference to your performance on the cricket field ? Yousuf Youhana has been a prolific scorer for Pakistan for the last few years and so, I don't see his religion having caused any hindrance to his scoring ability. Of course, the choice of religion should ultimately rest with the person but from what his family members have to say, it seems more out of compulsion rather than choice and that is what I cannot accept.

Time and again, we see the same incidents happening all over the world. Whether be it in secular India or conservative America, religion is always considered a stealth weapon for political victories. This clearly creates a divide among sections of people of the country and instead of belonging to one unified country, we belong to different religions within one country. Every religion is different and it should be respected for its ideals and values - but if you tend to identify a person for his religion and not for what he / she is, then that is where the problems seep in.

I wouldn't be surprised if Danish Kaneria, the sole non-Muslim now in the Pakistan cricket team is converted too. That would be really sad indeed. Perhaps they could take a cue from their Indian neighbours - the president is a Muslim, the PM is a sikh, the second in command is a Christian and leader of the opposition is a Hindu !

Spread your wings, open ur eyes, turn on ur antenna - there are miles to go, wonderful things to see and great things to learn.

-- Thyaga

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Some useful Govt initiatives

We always say that the Govt. does not do this, should do this, should have done this etc. But this Blog for a change will be on a couple of Govt. of USA initiatives for the consumers. I think, that this is a really useful and cool thing to have.

(1). Do not call registry - I think this one is around a year or so old now, but I think many of us still don't know about it. Even if we know, I think we don't really know how it works. Basically, it is a database of phone numbers which the telemarketeers CANNOT call into. So, if you add your home telephone number into the database, then rest assured - you will not get any tele-marketeer calls. In other words, you can have your dinner in absolute harmony !

(2). Free Credit Report - this initiative entitles a consumer to a FREE Credit Report once every 12 months from any of the 3 Credit agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. I got to know about this service sometime last week. Although this is useful to have, there have been some worrying reports about this service - so, look before you leap :).

Take care,

Friday, September 16, 2005

New York Trip Photos

Finally, I have managed to upload the snaps of our New York Trip. I had forgotten to take the battery of my digital camera (getting old ?) and I coudn't also purchase a new battery anywhere in NJ. So, we took all our photos on Appa's Canon camera (analog). So, instead of just getting the films developed in a regular way, we also ordered a "Photo CD" for each film roll - this gives you a digitized version of the photographs as well. This is obviously a more expensive option than regular print development - but it has proved to be a savior.

The digitized snaps are actually very good - wonder what technology they use to do that. Anyway, I have uploaded some of our snaps from our trip to New York. Enjoy them !

Cheers !

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Wrap up - 09/15/2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Indian Cricket Team in a Flux

The last few days have seen some really dynamic activity happening in the Indian cricket team - mostly off-field than on. This very team, which epitomised unity and cohesion during the World Cup / Australian and Pakistan tour days seems to show signs of disintegration. For example:

  1. A disciplinary committee has been set up to investigate the claim that some players within in the team mis-behaved during the recent one-day tournament.

  2. An anti-corruption unit is investigating claims which said that the recent one-day tournament might have had some matches fixed and the anti-corruption unit also suggested that one swash-buckling Indian batsmen and 2 Indian fast bowlers might have been involved (no names were revealed).

  3. Yuvraj Singh is picked ahead of Md. Kaif for the First test when current form clearly shows that Kaif should have made it into the team. Dada's explanation was that Yuvraj had played well in the past in the Test matches - hmmm, what does that mean ?

  4. After scoring a fantastic hundred, Laxman shot out against his critics. That is fine considering that he was under enormous pressure. But he also said that there were negative vibes "inside" the team as well and he wanted to silence them as well.

  5. After scoring a hundred, Dada said that he was asked to step down on the eve of the First test. He didn't tell the name of who suggested that but gave ample proof that it came from the coach Greg Chappel.
I don't want to know who did what and why this happened - we need to get our head together and think straight. World Cup is not far away and if we need to have any realistic chance making it anywhere close to the finals (let alone win it), we need to shrug off all these petty issues and concentrate on 1 thing that matters most - play well !

Cheers !

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New Blog Search tool

Joining the growing list of Blog Search tools comes Blogger's (and Google's) own tool for it. I played around with the tool and found it quite nifty. I don't want to spend time in the post explaining to you how to use it - if you need more help, here you go :).

Happy Blog Searching !

"Inside Intel" :)

Last Sunday, on the 11th of September (it would have sounded different if I had written 9/11 !), we took a trip to Susmita's office - Intel. My parents wanted to see where she worked, what is really "INSIDE" of Intel etc and etc. More importantly, I wanted them to see the company which employees more than 80,000 people worldwide and has been an iconic symbol of the Silicon Valley.

We visited Susmita's cubicle, her conference room, cafeteria, took a lot of snaps and from the looks on my parent's face, I could say that they were in awe. Actually, it is not only them - whenever I enter Susmita's office, I always feel this sense of being inside an "esteemed" company. This is where technology begins, this is where the heart of the computer is made - this is where one of the industry's best talents work to bring to us a faster and efficient chip (and hence a faster and efficient computer). It is good to visit these places once in a while to have a reality check on oneself and also get inspired to do great stuff.

Go Susmita go !

-- Thyaga

Monday, September 12, 2005

Weekend trip to Santa Cruz - Fantastic !

Last Saturday, on the 10th of September, we had been to Santa Cruz and boy! - it was a trip worth remembering. The weather was perfect to be spent on the beach. The beaches were good, the sand was warm and the water cool. Also, the Boardwalk was crowded with activities happening all over the place.

We spent quite a bit of time lazing on the beach. In fact my mom and Susmita happily took a short nap (or "power nap" as Susmita puts it) on the beach. The best part of it was that although it was sunny, it wasn't hot. In fact, if you had your sun glasses on, you could really while away your time at the beach on that day.

Anyway, after spending some time on the beach, we walked around the Boardwalk, played some games, had some coffee, garlic fries (which was totally cold :( !), ice-cream and then did our customary shopping for memorilibia. Finally, we wrapped up our trip by getting onto the Skywalk - 2 people sit on each bench and then this bench moves along a rope from one corner of the Boardwalk to another.

Aftre spending a wonderful day at Santa Cruz, we came back home and had a wonderful dinner. It was one of those days which was perfect to go to the beach - I am glad that we did.

Adios !

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hilarious take on Bush

This video is really funny - it is a hilarious take on GW Bush. Enjoy it in your spare time.

-- Thyaga

35+ yet going strong !

2 people made headlines last week - Andre Agassi, who made it to the finals of the U.S.Open and Shane Warne, who fought on bravely in the drawn final Ashes test at the Oval. Both of them are above 35 years of age. But unlike other sportsmen whose natural sporting ability tends to decline when they move into the wrong side of the 30s, it has been totally the opposite for these champion sportsmen. Agassi has played some of his best tennis after 30. Shane Warne still mesmerizes the batsmen all over the world. Indeed, they are legends in their own right.

I guess, we can all take inspiration from these champion sportsmen. If you have the will and the heart to go all the way, then you shall definitely make it. It definitely gives me inspiration to keep running although I do not find as much time for it as before. I shall definitely try to keep up to some level of fitness - at least I hope to.

It is a moment to enjoy the achievements of these 2 champs - so cheers to them !

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

iPod's new direction

Apple Computers announced today its much awaited plans for the future of iPod. First up is a thinner version of iPod called iPod Nano. The next annoucement was the iTunes Cell Phone, called Rokr made in collaboration with Motorola. For more details, click here.

I believe that this is a positive and encouraging step from Apple. Firstly, the iPod market never seems to dry up. However, there are a bunch of iPod look-alike products in the market that are available. So, Apple always needs to be ahead of its rivals as the market leader by constant innovation. That is exactly what Apple is doing.

However popular iPods might become, they can never beat cell phones in popularity. Also, cell-phones today are becoming so very powerful that they can do almost all functions that a PDA does. (Palm can better explain that :)). So, the next alternative was to combine cell-phones with music players. So, you carry only one gadget - to listen to music, to make a call, to write an email etc ... all by a small gadget held within your palm. Pretty neat concept, if you ask me.

What do you think of this move by Apple ? - would love to hear your commets on this.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New Jersey - New York Trip - Day 4

Yesterday was the penultimate day of our trip. We spent the day in New York visiting those places that had not yet been visited. Places that we visited were as follows:

  1. Wall Street & Trinity Church - although Susmita and I had seen this place, my parents were yet to see it. We stood beside the Ground Zero and remembered all the innocent victims and the heroes of September 11th. It was indeed sad to see the vast amount of open space in the midst of all the tall buildings. Anyway, we saw the NYSE and the Trinity Church at Wall Street made our way towards Battery Park.
  2. Battery Park - this is the place to get onto the ferry for Statue of Liberty if you would be coming from New York. We spent some time there and relaxed our tiring legs.
  3. Lunch at Udipi - we decided that the safest bet for lunch was to have Indian food and so we once again went to Lexington, where we had lunch at Udipi. It was quite crowded and the food was average.
  4. Washington Square and Greenwich village - this was another park in the mid-town area bang opposite to the NY University. My parents decided to relax on the benches there - Susmita and I walked down the streets of the village. It was a decent place but nothing much to write about. Probably, it comes to life during the night - hard to say.
  5. Manhattan Mall & Macy's - the last stop of our trip. We spent bit of time doing some shopping. With Susmita around, I don't feel so lost in all these big malls and shops. Also, I felt that my parents enjoyed it more than their previous trip to Macy's.
On our way home, Susmita and I had a KFC sandwich and my parents had dinner cooked at home. After that, Susmita and I joined Krishnan and Chitra in their basement for a small movie + bhaat session. After all, this was the last day in their home. I was feeling a little sad that the holiday was coming to an end but I was also feeling good that we had a good time and it was indeed a wonderful break !


Monday, September 05, 2005

New Jersey - New York Trip - Day 3

Yesterday, we, including Padmanabhan Mama & Mami, Krishnan, Chitra and Shivant, all went to see the Statue of Liberty. For that, we had to take the Ferry from New Jersey to the island where the Statue is present. The ferry ride was quite magnificient, because we could take in the whole picture of the Manhattan skyline. We spent some time in the island by going along the circumference of the island and everyone was busy with their cameras clicking away to glory. Finally, we caught the ferry back to New Jersey and went to have lunch in Jersey City.

The place that we had lunch (Rasoi) was located in a completely Indian neighbourhood - right from garment shops to music cds and from restaurants to Paan shops - all of them were there right in 1 street. Anyway, we had a sumptuous lunch and then Susmita, my parents and I all headed to New York because we were meeting a couple of Susmita's childhood friends from school - Manti & Oasis

Once in New York, we met Manti and Oasis (and her husband Nirbhik and his sister from Montreal) at a Chaat place - Dimple. We had some coffee and then headed over to Herald Square. Here Susmita and her friends decided that they needed more time to catch-up. So, I took my parents to the Macy's store at Herald Square. Now, this store is 7 stories tall and is supposed to be the largest store in the entire world. After entering the store and then going through 2 floors, we decided that it was just not possible to completely see the entire store :). In any case, it was time to go back and meet up with Susmita.

We then went to Time Square again and hung around in the neighbourhood. After that, we had dinner at Pizza Hut because it was getting kind of late and then started our journey back to Hillsborough.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

New Jersey - New York Trip - Day 2

Yesterday was the 2nd day of our trip and it was just fantastic. We started out quite early from Hillsborough at 10:00 am and then reached New York around noon. These were the places that we visited in their order of occurrence:

  1. Empire State Building - After the fall of the twin towers, this was the highest building in New York and hence, it attracted quite a large number of people who had packed in during the Labor day weekend. It took us around an hour and a half to get to the top of the Building (86th Floor) but once we reached the top, everyone realized that the wait was well worth it.

  2. Lunch at Lexington - After the Empire State Buidling visit, we went to the house of Jhaadu at Lexington. After a brief stopover at his apartment, where we were treated to some wonderful water-melon juice by his wife Piu, we went to have lunch at an Indian restaurant nearby - Chennai Palace.

  3. Grand Central Station - Immediately after lunch, we took a cab to the Grand Central Station, the largest train station in the country. We didn't spend too much time there - so the dome and the architecture, took some pictures and left.

  4. RockeFeller Center - The next stop was the RockeFeller Center. My memories of that place was that of a huge Christmas tree with an ice-skating rink nearby. The ice-skating rink was now converted to a bunch of restaurants. There were lots of people, lots of activities, lots of shops and we all felt that we were INDEED in New York.

  5. Central Park - The next stop was at Central Park, where Simon and Grafunkel had composed some of their famous songs. But I was actually quite disappointed with the park - some of the places were just dirty and smelly. The only good thing about the park was that, we managed to take a break and stretch our legs on the grass and even were lucky enough to gather some sleep.

  6. Trump Tower - Close to Central Park was the Trump Tower, where The Apprentice is filmed. We definitely wanted to visit that place because Susmita and I like the show quite a lot. We were all just dazzled with the interiors of the tower - we spent quite a relaxing time at the Starbucks there.

  7. Times Square - The final stop was Times Square - we wanted to go to Times Square at night so that we could all see the lights. When we arriced at Times Square, the first expression was the best of them all - all our jaws just virtually dropped on seeing the GIANT flourescent screens and the flashing ads and the people and the music and the noise etc. It was just electric. For a moment, we just stood there taking in everything that was visible in Times Square. In one of the screens, they were showing the US Open too. I mean it was something out of this world. After spending some time walking through the Square a bit dazed, we decided that it was time for dinner. Luckily, we got an Indian restaurant nearby - BombayMasala. The food was decent for the price that they charged - but then it was at the heart of Times Square and so, the prices automatically go up.
After a long but eventful day, we eventually returned home well past midnight.

-- Thyaga

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Jersey - New York Trip - Day 1

We arrived yesterday morning (2nd September, 2005) at Newark International Airport, New Jersey, a little tired after our red-eye flight from San Fransisco, CA. But we were excited because it was our first vacation with the whole family (parents & spouse). Anyway, we were staying at the place of our family friend at Hillsborough, New Jersey. Of course, this place was quite far from New York (car - 1 hour to Penn Station + train - 20 mins to New York). But we didn't mind the distance because we were all so very excited :).

On the first day, we didn't do too many things lest we got tired and worn out. So, my parents took it easy and relaxed at home, while Susmita and I made a quick visit to Wall Street, met with a friend of ours working there and then hung around at Seaport village. We came back home soon so that we could get up early today. Hope to have a good day !