About the Blog

This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

October 18, 2013

Sach is the greatness

Unfortunately Peter Roebuck is not around to write a fitting tribute to a great chapter in India's cricketing history. His writings had a unique perspective on the game, he wrote with elan and cared a damn about the etiquette or the organized rigors of newspaper column writing.

While numbers do tell a story of Sachin’s greatness in the game of cricket, a lot more came packaged with it and mostly hidden to the untrained eye. Anybody who has played Cricket at a competitive level knows what it takes to be a good player. Having played in the college team and a rather unsuccessful attempt at the University level , I can write a thing or two about it.

In my previous article on Sachin i wrote about his duel with Wasim Akram, the mastercraft bowler, and the ‘transaction’ that would unfold between them in the blink of eye. Only that it would resume ball after ball , over and over again. This is something available now in the form of statistics i.e, number of balls played, number of runs scored, number of boundaries, average and so on.

What this does not reveal however is the effort a master bowler - absolute craftsman in his art, tried to cut him short in those many attempts. Anybody who has seen Akram getting 3 crucial wickets especially that of Lamb & Lewis in the final of the world cup in 1992 will testify. I mean what it takes a bowler to do at the highest level and at the most crucial of times to win you the world cup. 



 
I am sure Akram would have put in much more than his usual effort when he was bowling at Tendulkar. His variations were too many ; the in-swinging and out going balls, the dipper, the snorter, the length balls and the ones that swung in late were all in his armory. He presented all these at a very lively pace which translates into a potent combination. He was the most lethal bowler of his era and made bunnies of several international batsmen. He had cheeka (Kris Srikkanth) practically for lunch breakfast & dinner during India’s tour to Pakistan in 1989

Sachin’s true greatness can be measured against this backdrop and how he got the better of Akram in this duel. This young man walked into a cauldron of human emotions bearing the expectation of millions of crazy fans and the weight of the entire team. Something like the gladiator walking into the Colosseum with people baying for his blood.

75000 plus spectators rooting for you at every turn, the weight of their expectations getting released with a roar in every boundary scored. On the other end the canny bowler much like the predator is measuring up with every trick in the trade and going for the kill. So much emotions and weighed by so much expectations. Plus the pressure of run rate and the target on hand.

Betraying his emotions and holding his nerve, he took to his crease with amazing grace & poise. He judged and dealt every ball and its cunning package. The length of the pitching ball, its trajectory, its pace, its swing……. all done and dusted in three-fourths of a second (the time lapse between the ball released from the bowlers hand and its moment of reaching the batsman's crease).

Ball after ball, over by over. Against the best in the game and at the highest level. Every ball was probably hurled at him with that extra effort. The opposition knew that he was the lynchpin and getting him out meant winning a psychological battle against the whole Indian team. In a India-Pakistan match this would reach hysterical levels.

Like in any competitive game, Cricket too embodies the battle of one-upmanship in a war of talents. There is a victor and the vanquished. Even in a contest between teams, there is always this undercurrent of rivalry between two players. Therefore this duel between Akram & Sachin embodied the pinnacle of two warring talents at its best

In summary it takes more than sheer talent to make a heap at the highest level. Ultimately numbers do speak for themselves , and that’s why statisticians are always a part of the game. But do they tell the complete tale? Analysts might make up a good story with numbers, but its only a tip of the iceberg.

October 6, 2013

Vespalogy

Well before you think this is one of those articles paying a rich tribute to Vespa, hold on for a second. Yes I do own a Vespa, a 6 month old ravishing red beauty that makes people often take a second look . Plus an uninvited often heard innocuous question ‘ Kitna dethi hai’?

At Rupees 80,000 plus change on road the Vespa comes at the premium end of the Indian scooter market. There are no two questions about the styling and the ride quality . And I am saying this with ownership experience but is the overall quality commensurate with the style package?.

The service record of the past few months belies my expectations. Before I say ‘all-style-but-not-much substance’ I will list out my tale of woes
 

Barely 48 hours of getting the vehicle from the showroom wify dropped it while resting it on the side stand. I later learnt that the side stand was faulty & the company had quietly replaced the faulty side stands that often tipped the vehicle (without much resistance from its state of equilibrium)

Initially we had issues with engine idling, much like the diesel engines of yore, the Vespa had to be started with a choke first thing in the morning (and this was a standard instruction given to us at the time of vehicle delivery). The company guys had set the engine idlying idling to such fine levels, ostensibly to stretch its ‘not-so-attractive’ mileage, that the vehicle used to often come to a halt at the slightest hint of slowdown (like a speed braker on the road). After a trip to the service centre and some ‘adjustment’ this was taken care of but the choke thing to start the vehicle is still diligently followed.

The first Mansoon brought its own set of problems with the Vespa. The horn would often get stuck and the keys would be doubly difficult to get the ignition ON. After repeated complaints they replaced the horn switch but I am not yet fully convinced about its efficacy. The ignition set was ‘oiled’ to make it workable.

The battery failed after about a month and after testing and keeping under observation for 2-3 days, the Vespa guys admitted to a faulty part and replaced it with a new one. Two months down the line its back to square one as I write this article. The visit to the service centre is due tomorrow.

Its front suspension is often touted as the best in class and based on aeronautical technology. But I have complained that sometimes I hear some sound emanating from it on rough roads. The guys in the service centre tell me that it may be due to dirt creeping in while washing . The Tip : to slightly screw the suspension cap while washing it (they haven’t bothered to show me practically how though). I am still ‘iffy’ about it.

 
Passers by often stop to admire and inquire. The Italians put their heart out in designing automobiles and its very evident in this product too. But despite its long chequered history and the iterations that the scooter has gone through in its styling and presentation over the years, niggling quality issues still remain (in my opinion)

I am willing to live with its 45’ish (kms) mileage but with quality issues staring at me I will just stop short of paying rich tributes to the world’s most iconic scooter.

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