Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Indian Rupee, the Novel, and the pastimes.

So well the Indian rupee has become only the fifth currency to get its own symbol, or that is what is being reported. However, if you go through the list of "Insert Symbols" in Microsoft Word, you will find 23 currency symbols, and that excludes the dollar, yen, pound, euro and the Chinese RMB signs, which are part of Latin signs. And we Indians, as we do for everything ranging from Sunil Laxmi Mittal and Indra Nooyi to Sunita Williams and Kalpana Chawla, are gloating over the "achievement". Just like in the case of the four people above, I do not know why should every Indian be proud of it. How does this indicate that the Indian currency has landed on the international stage? Are countries like Iran willing to take payment in Indian rupees (an exemption they are making for the Chinese RMB) - no, they are not, and I am not sure even Bhutan would agree to payment in the new Devanagari symbol. This is just another symbol, and it is a decision taken by a cabinet. It is not that the Rupee has suddenly become stronger, and can buy you 0.03 USD instead of 0.025 USD. The decision could have been taken ages ago, and it would not have mattered. It doesn't matter now anyway.
And the symbol was something only an IITian could have come up with. Mr. Udaya Kumar apparently studied "typography, scripts and ancient printing methods" but for those who know how IITians work, it was innovation at its most obvious. He just decided that all currency symbols have a horizontal or vertical dash running through an alphabet, and voila, he improvised with the devanagari र. And now, it has come to represent Indian tradition and also the half- letter of the Roman R. And Mr. Kumar is part of Indian history, and an answer to another useless question that children have to answer in their GK tests.

So well, it is day 11 of my break, and I haven't done much writing yet. Except for some write-up on Indian politics. The good news, however, is that I have the broad storyline ready, and I will let the characters develop as they come. Moreover, I have the opening paragraph ready. And I am looking forward to your feedback on the same. Here are the opening lines:
"I am no good at opening lines. Because of which, in order to start this conversation, I will just assume I have been introduced to you by a Barney Stinson- like wingman, who has darted off saying “Hi! Have you met Karan?” leaving me face to face with you.
As you might have guessed, I am Karan, a big fan of “How I met your mother”. I am also a big fan of Friends, Scrubs, Seinfeld, the Big Bang Theory and South Park.
I love REM, the band. I also like Dire Straits, U2, Coldplay, Third Eye Blind, Doors, the Beatles, and Bruce Springsteen among others – well there are too many of them to mention. I like good music, period – and that does include some Hindi music as well, though not too much. "

It will be a tale of rivalry and revenge based on the Mahabharat, and Karan and Arjun will be the two central characters. I have twisted the plot a bit though - Karan will be the upper caste super achiever, while Arjun will be his lower caste peer entrusted with the responsibility of his four brothers and widowed mother. The story will take us through the struggles between the two, and there will be number of other characters like Duryodhana, Draupadi and Krishna.
The narrative will be in first person, and all characters will introduce themselves and lead towards the plot. So there will be chapters dedicated to a single character, and the entire story will play out according to his point of view. For we often forget, there is no absolute truth, and that truth only depends on how we see it.

Apart from this though, there is nothing much else going on. I haven't introspected much about what I wanna do, but on the flip side, I am finally learning driving and loving it, and there are plenty of good movies and sports events to fall upon to - on TV and on the big screen. And I have discovered the joy of Age of Empires again, and am actually playing better than I remember myself playing. The parties continue though, and I am looking forward to play tennis again. Soon. On the cards is also a trip to Chandigarh for the reissue of my expired passport, and a week-long trip home. And then back and getting done with some real work. Life goes easy on me, most of the time, as the song goes. Looking forward to the next three months, and life in general. For a change.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The God of Loserness.

I haven't felt so low in a long time. I feel like a fucking loser, after watching Argentina crash out yet again. To Germany. In the quarter-finals. And it was kind of more difficult to take in because this time it was Maradona, the God himself, who was coaching the team. And it had the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, and a star strikeforce who had managed 170 goals in the past season for their respective clubs. Surely, nothing could have stopped the Argentine juggernaut from rolling, and the effortless way in which Argentina had managed to win its previous four matches convinced me, and many supporters like me, that this was the time to end 24 years of heartbreak. And our hopes came falling down like a pack of cards as the Argentine team was dismantled. The God, and the demi-god, could just watch. And do nothing about it. For maybe there was another God at work. The God of Loserness, and more often than not he strikes.

I have often wondered how I have influenced results of final/close-to-final matches I have managed to watch. All I need to do is to watch a match, and the team/player I was supporting was more likely to lose. When I say more likely, I mean like with a 99% probability. Lets go through the entire list:
1) Rome 1990: Me supporting Argentina, and Germany won.On a penalty that wasnt there, and two red cards shown to the Albeceleste. I watched the whole match, even though it was school the next day - a Monday.
2) Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne 1992: In the three successive matches, I supported New Zealand, South Africa and England respectively and watched every ball being bowled. As you might have guessed, all three lost and Pakistan ended up winning the Cricket World Cup.
3) Los Angeles 1994: Again I watched the entire match, supporting Paolo Maldini and Roberto Baggio against the arrogant Brazilians. Again my team lost.
4) Kolkata 1996: The most famous of the lot, if you are a cricket fan. I remember watching the entire match and crying later. How did India throw it away just when I was telling my dad that we have won it, when we were cruising at 90odd for 1, is a question that haunts me till this day. Sri Lanka, a side I absolutely hated, then went on to defeat the Australia of Glenn Mcgrath and Steve Waugh in the finals as well.
5) Paris 1998: An exception that proves the rule. I did not get to watch the final, being ragged in my first day in DAV College, and therefore, the team I was supporting, France, won 3-0 against the Brazilians. Only time in my memory that I have cheered the final result in the Football world Cup. But, mind you, only because I missed it.
The list goes on, including the finals of the 2005 Champions League at Istanbul. While I did follow club football, the 2005 finals were the first I had a chance to watch since 1995, when the ESPN boom took club football away from Doordarshan. I started watching it right after the half time break. Milan leading 3-0, me supporting Milan in a common room full of Liverpool supporters. And we all know what happened then. The God of Loserness led to the downfall of the club, and Milan fans only revenged the defeat two years later because I could not see that match, otherwise Liverpool and Milan both would have six trophies by now.
And the defeats of Argentina to Germany in the two successive World Cup quarterfinals have been probably the most difficult ones to take. Especially, having followed football all through this season, and watching all teams I supported in different leagues lose, I thought the World Cup was payback time. Milan, Arsenal, Schalke all lost. In the Champions League, Milan and Barcelona fell and of all teams, Inter Milan, with that arrogant bastard, Mourinho, won. I took it in my stride, because I thought that the one God above will compensate me for the whole year, by making Argentina, and Maradona, and Messi, win. But how wrong I was! And now I feel like such a loser.

Well, I am just being a sore loser you say. Why make such a big deal out of it? After all, it is just a game, and I have other things in life to look after. Except that, sadly, I dont.

Now, you can either live a life of meaning or a life of happiness, they say. I decided long ago - a life of meaning is no life at all. A life of happiness is what really it is. And these are the small things that bring true joy. And for me, at present, an overeducated, out-of-work, single man, there can be no bigger joy than watching sports. And cheering my team to win. Except that the life of happiness turns up into a life of sadness when all the above happens.

But I have no complaints, all these years. Losing makes you a better person. And I guess I am a better and a stronger person after 20 years of losing. For this is the beauty of sport, and of life. It gives you a chance to fight back, and you have never really lost till you think you have lost. So I will be back supporting Argentina in 2014. And the God of Loserness will bow to the spirit in me. Eventually, I hope. A hope that has been sustaining me for the past 20 years.