The curious case of the 3D Glasses – Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

Since the past two days, the cricketing world has been abuzz with the sudden retirement of Ambati Rayudu, who decided to hang up his boots after being snubbed by the selectors. Time and again, the BCCI and the Indian team management (read Kohli, Shastri and co) have made a mockery of their own people by taking ad-hoc decisions. Let’s take a look at the sequence of events leading to Rayudu’s shock retirement.

About a year ago, Kohli issued a statement that Rayudu is the answer to India’s middle order woes . Things were rosy until the New Zealand tour in January 2019 where Rayudu has scored a Man-of-the Match 90 after India were 18/4 and helped the team put up a good total. With just 5 ODIs to go in a home series against Australia , and an average of 48 with 3 centuries and 10 fifties , Rayudu looked to be a certainty at no.4 . But things didn’t go well in the home series against Australia. Rayudu couldn’t do much in the first two matches and he was dropped for the next three matches. Kohli did a U turn this time and said that the middle order needed “solidification”. In quite a few matches, Rayudu had failed to up the scoring in certain situations and I guess this had been his undoing. The Indian squad was named in the middle of the IPL and as per chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, the “3 dimensional” Vijay Shankar was selected over Rayudu and Rishabh Pant for the no.4 slot.

Then, came the “3-D” moment on Twitter. An understandably disappointed Rayudu tweeted that he had just ordered a set of 3D glasses to watch the World Cup. This was a tongue-in-cheek jibe at MSK Prasad’s justification. Rishabh Pant was silent on social media and continued his good form in the IPL and smashed a few fifties to build a strong case for himself. Both Rayudu and Pant were named in the reserve list for the World Cup. When Dhawan got injured, Pant was asked to join the squad. When Vijay Shankar got injured, out of nowhere, opener Mayank Agarwal , who was not even in the reserve list, got selected ahead of Rayudu and a day later, Rayudu announced his retirement.

Firstly, let’s try to understand the plausible explanation behind choosing Mayank over Rayudu. The middle order has always been a concern going into the World Cup. While Vijay Shankar was supposed to be the No.4 at the time of his selection, things changed in the warm-up matches. KL Rahul got a century at 4 in a practice match and became the default no.4 choice for the first two matches. Interestingly, Rahul had made it to the team as a third back-up opener. The 3-dimensional Shankar doesn’t play the first two matches. Dhawan’s injury forces Rahul to open the innings and Vijay Shankar gets back at no.4. He doesn’t do well in two matches and is replaced by Pant. Pant puts in a decent effort in both the matches. India’s weakest link expectedly has been the middle order with both Dhoni and Jadhav not in the best of form.

Despite all this, when Vijay Shankar gets ruled out, the selectors in consultation with the team management bring in Mayank. The explanation offered is Mayank is a back-up opener as Rahul has had an injury scare. Nothing wrong but is the opener the problem or the middle-order? From now onwards, there is  a 3 day gap between each match and in case Rahul unfortunately gets injured, the guy can always come in. Clearly, the selectors and the team management didn’t want Rayudu. Why pick him in the reserve list and not give him his due especially when a second player has got injured? The 3D comment seems to have hurt everyone’s ego and Rayudu seems to have been “punished”.

The problem does not lie with the axing of Rayudu. There has been no communication made to the player over why he was dropped. This is a typical problem which we also see in the corporate world. We do not want to be transparent. Bad news is communicated in the worst possible form ( the incumbent comes to know of it through public announcements). Had Rayudu been spoken to by the selectors, then I am sure the “3-D” tweet would not have come in. In retrospect, the tweet was Rayudu’s cricketing death-knell. Had both parties kept their egos aside, we could have seen an attempt to solve the middle -order problem in the larger interest of the team and the World Cup.

India needed an experienced proper no.4 going into the World Cup. The likes of Morgan and Steve Smith occupy this position. But our team management let ego come in the way and now we have a risky proposition again. Why pick Rayudu in the reserve list if he was never in contention? Why not pick Shreyas Iyer, Rahane, Manish Pandey etc in that case? The BCCI and the team management never seem to stop behaving like cartoons. The problem with the Kohli-Shastri regime is too many selection blunders have cost the team dearly in recent times ( Bhuvi was dropped in a South Africa test, Rohit Sharma played ahead of Rahane in the same series). Let’s hope that the middle-order does not come to haunt India in either the semis or the finals. If it does, Kohli has no one else to blame other than himself. Ego and flawed logic can cost us the World Cup.

Let’s come back to Rayudu. Once he had been dropped from the squad, he could have just stayed silent and let his bat do the talking. But instead, he did the exact opposite. I wish he had consulted some senior player like VVS Laxman before tweeting. VVS was dropped from the 2003 World Cup but chose to put his disappointment behind and represented the county till 2013. Knee-jerk reactions backfire more often than not. The best way to weather a storm is to let it pass and live to fight another day. But Rayudu decided to be a social media hero.

This is not the first time Rayudu has reacted emotionally when the going became tough. Rayudu was tipped to be the next Tendulkar in his under -19 days. But he had a few disappointing Ranji seasons and had a brawl on the cricket pitch with Arjun Yadav, Shivlal Yadav’s ( former chairman of selectors) son. Amidst all this , he decided to join the rebel ICL at age 25. The others who joined were either India discards or people who had a very remote chance of playing for India. Rayudu was the surprise as he still had age on his side and one good Ranji season could have brought his national team aspirations back on track. But he decided to give in to the lure of playing with international players on prime time TV.

The Rayudu story is a classic case of everything wrong with Indian cricket. Talent needs to be nurtured and given a long rope. There should be a systematic assessment of the junior cricketers with specific performance plans for at least the first three years of transition from under-19. Everyone wants ready-made talent without wanting to invest time. Transparency in communicating decisions needs to happen. Indian society never celebrates failed attempts. Failures are still a problem and looked down upon. By incurring the wrath of the selectors and the team management, Rayudu’s future cricket options have also become bleak. This scenario could have been easily avoided if there were transparent chats and personalized counselling given. But since we cannot take sarcasm with a pinch of salt, we make a mess of things. The World Cup will soon be over and Rayudu will be a forgotten man but unless Indian cricket makes a systemic correction and works on logic, merit rather than ad-hoc random choices, we will continue to see such sad ends to cricketing careers. Rayudu for his bad reactions is equally to blame in this case but seeking advice would have been better for the overall benefit of Indian cricket.

Let’s hope that the middle order ghost doesn’t re-surface in the semis or the finals. Kohli and Rohit will have to continue amassing runs in these two games and hopefully, Pant, Dhoni and co will make bigger contributions. Else, the Men in Blue will bleed and the Shastri/Kohli/MSK trio will have no option but to wear 3D glasses on their return flight.

Jai Hind

Fair & Obsessed – Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

“Hi Handsome.. hi handsome.. hi handsome..” Do you recall this ad? Endorsed by Shah Rukh Khan, the ad shows a dark-skinned person not able to woo girls. SRK offers the guy a “Fair & Handsome” cream and in typical Bollywood style, the boy becomes fair in 7 days and has four girls “revolving” around him. That’s THE mantra to woo girls, if you are a not-so-fair guy that is. It shows a very typical Indian belief that if you have to win in life, you need to be “fair” in complexion. The ad is as much an insult to the female community as it is to the male. I will talk about the males first. Being handsome is equated to being fair. Neither brain nor brawn is required. Only color. As per the ad, that’s how a male thinks and we have the great SRK endorsing it. Nothing else matters in life. Equally insulting is the fact that the females falling head over heels with this approach and going ga-ga over the guy. So, in essence, “ Fair and Handsome” and the parent company Emami think that Indian males and females are a bunch of morons, flawed in their thinking that fairness equals handsomeness.

If “Hi Handsome” was all about the alpha male, then the female version gets even worse. There’s a stupid “Fair and Lovely” ad which shows a girl being rejected in acting auditions. Then she applies “Fair & Lovely” and says “Eureka”. She becomes a top actress with her photo on billboards. Unbelievable to think of such derisive marketing campaigns, isn’t it? But wait. There’s no point in blaming the campaign creators. The fact is that Fair & Lovely is a 2000+ crore brand in India. The fairness appeal cuts across regions and cultures in India. A cruder interpretation of the same is “ we are a bunch of fairness obsessed Indians.” The Indian fairness cream market is estimated to be upwards of 500 million $.

The problem does not limit itself to the youth. When I had signed up for a matrimonial ad in a newspaper, I was shown a few marriage ad templates. “ A tall and handsome Iyer boy is looking for a fair, slim and beautiful Iyer girl”. The Sunday matrimonial section of the newspapers had such ads all over. I was told by the experts that if I don’t comply with the same template, the opposite party may think I am not “fair” and I might not get “good” profiles. I must confess I went ahead with the standard template, party because of the fear that the experts’ words may come true.

It all starts with our mythology. In all the mythological movies, the Gods are fair and the Rakshasas are dark, fat and grumpy looking. Barring Ravana, have we ever seen a fair looking demon/villain? Kids growing up will obviously equate dark colour to evil. In teen-age, “Hi Handsome” takes over. The game ends by the time a matrimonial ad is released. Amidst all this, you have silly superhero movie titles like “Black Panther”. Why use the word “black”? Was there a white panther movie? \

The only plausible explanation I can think of for our society’s obsession with fairness is because of the British and American influence.  The Western society is a superior race, probably due to their fairness and hence we need to look fairer. The sad part is all of us using the fairness creams are educated enough to know that fairness and superiority have zero correlation. Otherwise Viv Richards, Muhammed Ali and Michael Jordan would be nobodies. The irony is that the folks from the Western world think that a pale white skin is unhealthy and wanting for healthy food/drink.

The young brigade is not the only one obsessed with fairness. When our child was born a few months ago, a lot of “well-wishers”( so called elderly relatives, colony residents) have asked us “Colour aaya hai kya?” “ Is the baby fair?”. I wanted to reply “Hey guys – I have a paint box with me – Asian Paints Apex Ultima White. Will paint her white. You can also take some with you”. A friend of mine tells me that people would not come to see her elder sister during childhood as she was dark. I wish all these people were sent to Guantanamo Bay and tortured there.

Despite being a no-brainer, we will never stop our obsession with fairness I guess. If this happens, we will be a fairer society not by complexion, but by action.

Until then, let’s address each other as…

………

………

………

“Hi handsome.. hi handsome ..hi handsome”

Jai Hind

RKR – Father’s Day Special Blog

Rasa-kudi Raghuraman ( RKR) in Hindi , loosely translates to Rasam Peene Wala Raghuraman. In my family, RKR was as big as SRK or MSD or SRT or GST. Even before these acronyms became famous, there was a certain gentleman, who had earned the nickname RKR in the 90s for his Rasam drinking abilities.

RKR had earned this nickname because he could drink 2 or 3 glasses of rasam back to back after having eaten a bowl full of rasam rice. He could easily devour a vessel full of rasam single-handedly. For him, drinking a full container of rasam was as easy as Federer winning Wimbledon on grass. The title RKR was bestowed on him after many such conquests and no one in our family has ever close to taking away the record from this gentleman.

And he was doing this routine, day in, day out just like how Sachin would go out to the nets daily. Harsha Bhogle has spoken a lot about talent, born vs acquired and the relentless hours of practice, which differentiates the champions from the ordinary. If Harsha were part of our family and he would see RKR drinking rasam, he would write an essay on talent, consistency and practice looking at this.  RKR, the phenom, has been doing this since childhood, continues to do this daily and he cares a damn about what others think about this quality of his.

RKR is an amazing athlete as well. I did not know of this hidden talent of his. One Sunday, me and RKR were walking out of our aunt’s house. RKR was scared of dogs, like me. As we came out of our aunt’s house, me and RKR saw a white Labrador barking at us. A teenaged boy was holding it. Both me and RKR were scared. We told the boy to hold the dog tightly so that we could walk out to the main road. As soon as RKR said this, I don’t what happened to the boy. The boy was trying to hold the cuff and keep the dog with him but the dog broke away and came at us. Me and RKR looked at each other for a second. We ignored our mind’s rational decision to stay still and instead, decided to listen to our instinct and decided to run and save our life. We equated the dog to a man-eating Royal Bengal tiger and ran for our lives. We didn’t even look at each other. The dog was coming at us. The boy was running behind the dog. Me and RKR were running without looking back. Usain Bolt would have been proud of our running. PT Usha would have nominated us to the Indian athletics team just seeing our 30 second sprint. The gully road led to the main road via a T junction. As me and RKR neared the main road, the road opened into two directions. I ran to the left. I did not see RKR.

As he was not behind/beside me, I assumed he ran to the right. After about 30 seconds more when I was gasping for breath, I stopped. I suddenly realized that I had lost RKR while running and I needed to find him. I started walking briskly to the other side of the T entrance to the main road. For a few minutes, I did not find RKR. I suddenly started panicking. All sorts of weird thoughts started entering my head. What if the Labrador had bit RKR and RKR was hospitalized? What if he had ran and met with an accident?  I was lost in these negative thoughts for a few seconds.

I felt miserable that I had not run holding RKR’s hand. That way at least both of us would have met with the same fate. It is in such situations that one realizes the true value of one’s father. RKR was after all my dad, who was instrumental in bringing me to this world.  Dejected at the entire chain of events, I was cursing the boy who could not hold the Labrador with him. Neither the boy, the dog, nor RKR were anywhere to be seen. I kept walking in the faint hope that I would see RKR coming from the opposite direction.

I had walked a few metres when I reached a cricket ground on my right. On every third Sunday, a league match would be played with players clothed in whites on a green mat. It would resemble a Test Match ground. I was staring at the middle of the pitch through the grilled fence . All sorts of thoughts started wavering in my head.

As a child, my dad had given me everything I had asked for. All my early memories like my first audio cassette – Darr ,my first animation movie – the Lion King ( my dad had promised me that if I came first in class, he would take me to a nice movie), the Sunday visits to the aquarium with him near Hussainsagar lake and many more memories started surfacing. I was kicking myself for being selfish and not looking at where my Dad was running. I was totally annoyed with myself. I dint want to go back home. What would I answer to my Mom, my aunt, my relatives?

As I neared the stands, I heard a familiar voice shouting at me “ Hari …” . It was RKR’s voice. It was such a relief. I was confused as to how did he land up as a spectator in this match, when a few minutes ago, he was running for his life. He seemed to have read my thoughts “I ran so fast and I could hear the dog coming after me, so I decided to climb up the grill and get into the ground so that the dog could not chase me” When both of us came home and narrated this incident, my Mom couldn’t stop laughing.

That incident, funny as it may sound in retrospect, made me realize the value of my dad. A few children are closer to their mothers, while for a few, it’s the other way around. I was and still am momma’s boy. Because my dad used to work and mom was a house-wife, most of my up-bringing was done by her.  My dad may not be the most perfect dad, but I think I am fortunate that he is still with me. Initially, I used to crib a lot about his imperfections and how he could never equal my mother.

We realize the true value of things when those things are no longer with us. When a few of my friends told me that they had lost their parents at a young age, I realized how lucky I was to have both my parents raising me .Thankfully, for me, the realization has come sooner before it’s too late. We all have our imperfections and, in our eagerness, to compare everything and everyone, we forget that each person is unique in their own way and continue to be judgmental.

Now, the wheel has turned full circle and I have become a dad and I can see my child thinking about me in future in the same lines a few years down the line. There are times when the baby is crying loudly and I am deep asleep. Its not that I intend to but it just doesn’t happen.

Becoming a dad also has made me realize the importance of one thing which most of corporate India has neglected – paternity leave. It’s really sad that most of the board members in the corporate world do not consider this as a priority. The situation is worse in some hospitals -where I am told even maternity leave is a luxury, forget paternity leave. There are a few bright spots like Zomato ( which recently announced a 6 month paternity leave for both men and women)  in an otherwise sad scenario . In today’s times, it is impossible to expect a woman to raise a child independently. The first six months of transition for a woman from wife to a mother is extremely difficult and the basic expectation from her is if the husband /dad spends “time”. There are various things organizations can do – something vary basic like paternity leave, to arranging sessions on how to transition to parenthood, career customization for new parents etc.

My dad worked in a PSU, which was pretty much a 9 to 5 job therefore I have a lot of fond childhood memories . In today’s times, someone who comes in at 9 and leaves by 5 is perceived as “not hungry for growth”. People who stay late , work on weekends, take calls post office hours are perceived to be more “hard-working” and rewarded with promotions in a lot of cases. Unless the culture in corporate changes from the top, there’s a grave danger that our future generations of kids may not have as many memories of their childhood with mom and dad, as our generation had. Father’s Day will become another tick-the-box activity. Let’s hope the future changes for the better.

Happy Father’s Day

Jai Hind

Loose Motions : Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

The last week has been really hot and spicy for me. Four out of 6 days, I have had my most favorite and most recurring health phenomenon – loose motions. My doctor wife makes a technical correction – it’s not loose motions but in medical parlance, it is indigestion. Indigestion is when your poop is semi-solid/liquid but not a colorless form. Colorless poop is loose motions. Ok Maate !! So, no more use of the word “loose motions” in my life.

Loose motions has its own pros and cons. The biggest benefit is because you keep going to the loo every 15 minutes, you are suddenly showered with a lot of love and affection. People who otherwise has forgotten you ask you sympathetically “Kaisa hai beta? Hope everything is fine”. You suddenly feel cared for. Otherwise, if you are in a house with a newly born kid, the dad or the husband is reduced to a piece of rag cloth. Will be used when needed to wipe shit but otherwise will be put in its rightful place – the corner of the room.

When I didn’t have loose motions, I would go and buy butter milk in the nearby shop, but once down with loose motions, I am given home-made butter milk. What a princely feeling !! Family members gave “electral (ORS)” . I guess Microsoft word also is gripped with election fever. I typed electral here and it immediately converted it to Electoral. Microsoft bhi ban gaya chowkidar!!

I am a temporary house-husband having taken a break to be with my wife. Some of my roles and responsibilities include cleaning the house, washing the dishes, drying clothes etc. You are absolved of all these responsibilities when you have loose motions. Whattey amazing feeling I tell you.

The biggest advantage though, which I cherish every time I get loose motions, is the weight loss. My weight was 76 kgs in October and I had joined the gym to reduce my weight by a few kgs. 6 months of gym made me lose a glorious 0.7 kgs but 4 days of loose motions and I lost a miraculous 7 kgs. There’s no better mantra for weight loss than loose motions.

If you have an Indian toilet at home, then loose motions is a literal pain in the ass. That’s the biggest disadvantage. B2- 403, Shanthi Park Apartments is one of those heritage structures which has one Indian and one western toilet. God knows why this kolaveri. I am not allowed to use the western toilet temporarily as my wife feels I will dirty it and she will have to clean it daily. So, like Warner and Smith, I am banned from entering the Western loo for a year. So, without a sprinkler, I had to use the Indian toilet for 4 days. Luckily, my in-laws stay opposite so I had the luxury of using their Western loo and escape the misery.

The other disadvantage is you can’t get to go out. The only place you will be visiting devotedly is the loo. In the hot summer, being indoors is a boon but I would still prefer going outdoors instead of being hand-cuffed to the sprinkler.

The 4th day, I decided to take charge and head to the gym despite having loose motions. My wife  warned against this risk. I did the exercises for about 20 minutes and Newton’s laws of loose motions came into force. Every action has a super-fast reaction. For every 10 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes of loo in slow motion. The gym instructor thought I had gone home for an emergency. When I came back after 20 minutes, he asked “Sir everything ok at home?” I smiled and said “LMAO!”. He said “ Sir, isn’t LMAO laughing my ass off ?” I said “ Naa rey baaba.. LMAO matlab Loose Motions Aareela Oh”. That was it. As soon as I said those words, people around me started becoming Gyaani Baba. I had been warned not to go to the gym during the 11 am slot as it was an “Aunties only” slot.

Aunty no. 1 came to me and said “You have done abs crunches na… Don’t do it.. It causes loose motions . Just do your stretches and go. “ Aunty no .2  added –“ Just have lime juice. Things will be ok” Aunty -3” Have coconut water. That’s best for Loose Motions “. The gym instructor pitched in “Sir, do you know –“ Chaniga pappu “ in Telugu ?”. He googled and showed me “chana dal”. “Have this and it will be sorted”. Before I could react, from the extreme right wing corner, a- la Messi style Aunty no.4 ran and said “ Yeh sab chodo. Just have methi leaves dried”

The killer blow came from Aunty no.5 “They all are confusing you. Just go and have chow-chow bath”. I was cursing myself. Neither have I seen those aunties before and I am definitely not attending the 11 am slot again. What mistake did I do? Did I ask  for their advice? Indians have an annoying habit of giving unsolicited advice. Neither do they get paid for this advice, nor do you want it. Kyun..kyun..kyun. I immediately thanked everyone for their tips ( nahi toh Aunties have big egos… kahaan kali nazar laga diya aur ek aur hafta baith gaye sprinkler key saath)? I came home and narrated this incident to my mother-in-law and wife.

My mother-in-law ( Aunty no. 6) continued “ Best is to have butter milk paa “. I wanted to tell her “ Did I ask you Mahishmati? ” But before I could react, my doctor wife saved the day. She said “ Butter milk sey bhi best is curd as butter milk is not solid and curd is solid therefore it kills the Lacticus Bassiluss and Octopus in the stomach”.I was relieved that my dad was not around else I would have got advice no. 8 “Humare zamaane mey hum neem juice piya karte they”

Basis my wife’s advice, I had curds and took Sporolac and my 4 day ordeal finally stopped. I was just relaxing on the bed hoping that I would never remember this episode. I was browsing the TV and ironically, the following song played

“Tu safar mera, hai tu hi meri manzil

Tere bina guzaara, ae dil hai mushkil

……

Mujhe aazmaati hai teri kami

Meri har kami ko hai tu laajmi

—–

Tu ne diya hai jo.. woh dard hi sahi

Utna mera nahi.. jitna hua tera…

……..

Loose hai mera, banoo mey tere kaabil

Tere bina guzaara, ae dil hai mushkil”

Jai Hind