Saturday, November 29, 2008


It still hasnt sunk in.

A bunch of psychotic killers can just waltz into our country armed with enough sophisticated weaponary to wage a small war, can shoot inconsiderately and manage to reach the commercial capital within the commercial capital of the country and hole up with hostages while the entire security machinary has no alternative but to sit back and say oops.

Enough has been, and is being said about the attacks so I shall not write too much here. Just a few points that have come to my mind.

1. In todays editorial in Times of India Jug Suraiyya wrote something which is invaluable in my opninion. Lets get our nomenclature right. These people are not Jihaadis or Fidayeen or any such originally respect inducing names for fighters for a cause. These are just psychotic brainwashed murderers and criminals. Giving them any other name is aggrandizing their inhuman acts. They should be treated the way criminals should be.

2. My heart goes out to our ill equipped police force. When I see young men of my age walking towards life threatening situations with only a basic gun and a prayer to protect them, and then I see the huge entourages including hordes of commandos, ambulances and generally a large number of cars that trail on most minor to national level politicians, I seriously think that the priorities are all mixed up. But Ive given up hope. When we can have an attack on the seat of power, the parliament, and even then not have any reforms for the security forces, you can well imagine the sweeping reforms that will be instituted after the hue and cry of this terror strike subsides.
Young men would still be going in grave situations with not even basic protection. I know life is deemed very cheap in our country but is its cost really valued at even less than a basic bullet proof jacket and a proper helmet? How long till even the most patriotic security personnel starts getting second thoughts about his chosen profession?

3. To see officers go into the attack leading the charge and taking risks with their lives makes your heart swell with pride. They are the true martyrs who had the option of sitting at the back and planning and sending willing jawans into the battle, but with the act of donning the mantle themselves and leading the charge they have made their name indelible in the list of true patriots.

4. What is the upshot of this event going to be? Its shameful but I think that absolutely nothing is going to happen. Again I go back to the parliament attack. If a country can take a daring attack on their very heart and then slip into the lethargy of meandering words at obscure international forms then what can be expected as an off shoot of this attack. We are a soft target.

China did their Olympics in the face of huge expectations of some sort of terror strike. But not even a whimper was heard. A strong state backing up a strong security and intelligence service with strong intent in mind can prevent disaster. A nations resources, if concentrated on the job at hand, will always be superior to a rag tag group of psychos who are surreptiously supported by another nation. China did it, and it stands to reason that we should be able to do it too. As the real threat has changed from a full on invasion to such terror attacks the role of the security forces and the resources they get has to be realigned to beat this kind of danger.

5. I again wonder about the mentality of these suicide mission people. Life is the biggest gifts one can get. To snuff out lives of innocent people, not to mention your own life, without even a proper reason just doesn;t make any sense. Seriously, what has this attack achieved for the cause they propound? Nothing. More hatred. More suspiciousness. All it did is that probably a khakhi uniformed colonel or general would be congratulating a rag tag bearded man living in a terror training camp near the border and giving him more weapons and money.
What were these men thinking? Apparently they had a return path all planned out. Who are you kidding guys? Whoever gave you this plan had no intention of ever seeing you alive. They fed you a lie and are probably sipping champagne somewhere while you are hunted and shot.

6. I dont want to give condolences to the affected families on this blog. Thats something very very personal and a casual blog is not the place to show respect and grief, even if it is heartfelt.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Changed Opinion and Pondicherry Ahoy...

Yeah, I know. After a rather cryptic post I seem to have disappeared putting doubts in your head about what's happened to me. I have been deluded with phonecalls and emails asking me what I meant by the post. Touching though it is to hear from so many (2) well wishers, let me assure you that the blog would be the last place I would open up my misery and spoil your day. If I was miserable, that is. Which I'm not.

In fact the reason for my absence is anything but sad. I was travelling for pleasure over the last weekend and since coming back i've been vegetating before I finally managed to write a small piece here.

I'd gone to Chennai and then proceeded to go to Pondicherry over the weekend. My love for Chennai is well known and I personally feel that every minute spent there is probably a minute too much. Before this I had been there for exactly one day and six and three quarters hours and it felt like eternity. However, this time I sort of changed my opinion of the place. AG is staying there for the time being and he showed me around all the hotspots of the city. Fortunately the weather was simply brilliant so the hotspots weren't exactly 'hot'. As in any city it is the company you have that matters the most. All cities have 4-5 nice places that you can go for good food, ogling at girls, relaxing, pubbing etc to offset all other standard problems of commuting, traffic, terrible weather. And this time I really had a good time there visiting the former and ignoring the latter.

Then we went to Pondicherry and my luck and the brilliant weather followed us till that extremely picturesque town. The 9 square kilometre town influenced heavily by the French is one of the serenest places I've ever been to. The sea is gorgeous and the beach has to be the cleanest i've ever seen in India.

An old bachpan ka dost P (childhood friend for non-hindi readers)is staying in Pondicherry itself and it was great to meet up with him after a long time. AG and I rented out a bike and zoomed around the town. (As an aside, I sometimes regret not knowing how to ride a bike well. And this was definitely one of those times. Now the thing is that I could ride a bike a decent bit while I was in college third year but then I got a car from my parents and since then the necessity of transporting a large number of people whenever we went out meant that I had to take the wheel rather than the handlebar. But definitely I would love to get a bike and get the heavenly feeling of the breeze blowing through my hair as I streak down the country road, at peace with nature - er..except for the clouds of poisonous exhaust that I would be belching into the surroundings)

We landed up at P's place and then quickly went out to the beach on our bikes. The weather was awesome by that time and the grey skies were looking magnificent as they reflected on the sea. The gradations of grey culminating in white surf breaking near the shore was a melancholically beautiful vision. The man-made beach interspersed with a small french style bistro and some shelters to avoid the sudden torrential rains common on beaches is a great place to just walk around pensively with no fear of bumping into cootchie-cooing couples like in Mumbai or Goa.

After hanging out at this small restaurant and bar there for sometime we went back to Ps place where I tried my hand at the Xbox he had. Admittedly the games he had were antique but as I haven't ever played on a gaming console it was fun.

And then came the highlight of the trip. P in his wanderings and craving for good homelike food discovered a dhaba being run by that most enterprising of all indian people - a sikh. This Sardarji ka dhaba had the MOST AWESOME paranthas. So in the heart of South India, under the influence of French culture (the roads are named like Rue de Marine) we had good ol' north indian Delhi's paranthes. Oh, they were sinfully good and made me remember mom's paranthes (well, almost :))

A great trip, probably AGs last as a bachelor and though he may have preferred spending more time on the phone as opposed to with me, i'm sure he'll also look back at the trip wistfully later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Irony, the irony...

God, fate, destiny or whatever you want to call it is a hell of an ironical beast, especially in terms of timing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Path to Online Fame or Where I Pimp for Part Time work

(Warning: The apostrophe key on the laptop Im using is not working. So youll have to insert an apostrophe where you deem required. For example the Im and youll would have to be corrected as you read the previous line)

Before I started writing about tennis on a part time basis I wasnt very clear about how the entire season was structured. For me, as with most people, the for Grand Slams were the only events that counted. The Grand slams are still the most important tournaments but going by the fact that the player ending up being the number one in the womens tennis hasnt won a single grandslam begs us to understand the entire season. Now im sure not all of you are tennis fans and would not like a long lesson. Ive informed you of the importance of knowing the whole season schedule - now its up to you to go and find it.

Suffice to say that the season ending tennis masters cup between the top 8 mens and womens players is a very very important tournament in the calendar. This year the womens masters cup was held in Doha (These are the articles I wrote about it which were published on : ) and was won by a resurgent Venus Williams.

The mens tournament, that ended today, was held in Shanghai and saw Novak Djokovic taking the honours ( and )

Why im writing this post is that when I applied for the part time job I had to give a sample of our writing which would showcase the english skills and the excitement towards tennis. I had written a preview of this years tennis masters cup. And as that preview has not been published I can safely put it up here to give you guys a glimpse into the awesome article I wrote to secure my super high paying tennis correspondent role.

Here you go:

Masters Cup preview

It’s a qualifier list that has tennis lovers across the world rubbing their hands in anticipation. And booking tickets for Shanghai for the Tennis Masters cup in November , of course!
The men’s singles tennis scene hasn’t been too competitive for the last few years now. The Federer – Nadal rivalry, though great in itself, was becoming a bit monotonous and even though the tennis was top notch, we were all rooting for some new talent to explode on the scene and take the battle to this duopoly. Gone are the days when expecting a Federer – Nadal final was almost a given. Now, both the greats would think of the other players in the draw as ‘easy’ at their own peril.
The world is looking at this tournament as a dueling ground for Federer to reassert himself. It is amazing to see that Fedex has decided to take the usurping of his ranking and his coveted Grand slam as a personal challenge. The glint of grim determination in his eyes is all too evident now and gives goose bumps to all his fans. And the new look lean, mean and emotional Federer is a sight that would have all other players quaking in their designer tennis shoes. This Federer is not the Federer of old. He will fight tooth and nail for each point and scream if he’s frustrated. He’s not willing to give any quarter in a match now. And that presents a scary picture for Nadal who still hasn’t really got the respect that he deserves. He’ll have to dig deep and prove once and for all that sheer hard work and determination can, indeed, overcome ethereal natural flair. Nadal would be looking to put a stamp of authority in these year ending championships and ensure that he goes into the next season without any doubts.
But all this conjecture ignores the charge of the young brigade. Would Djokovic and Murray sit around and watch the veterans (if you can call two young men of 26 and 22 that) battle out their personal issues? I think not!
Djokovic has been on the verge of greatness on so many occasions this year that he would be raring to finally break into the league when his name is taken in the same breath as both the champions. His hunger for victory is going to take his matches to a whole new level, whoever the opponent. Murray’s prodigious talent is unquestionable. Add to that his liking for hard courts and things become tricky for his opponents. If Murray is able to harness his raw talent we could end up seeing a final featuring him and Djokovic with the Big two gracing the sidelines. It could happen! And that’s what is pushing up the excitement of this tournament.
One thing is for sure, with all players coming into the tournament with a point to prove to themselves and to the world, the battles are going to be epic and loud. Loud, you ask? After all, even Federer has started screaming on court now!

Remember, I am more than willing to take up freelance / part time writing projects at very reasonable rates (sometimes even a smile would suffice). So if you have to get something written, or know someone who wants to get something written, or know someone who may know someone who may want to get something written do send an email to

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quantum of Wha...

Come ON!! You can't call THAT a Bond movie! No siree, you can't.

Where was the customary visit to Q to load up the latest awesome gadgets?

Hell, where were the gadgets? (Yeah, yeah Sony Ericsson phones are cool (I have one too - the G700) and the Microsoft Surface in M's office is very nice. BUT YOU CAN'T KILL PEOPLE OR GET INTO BED WITH BOND GIRLS USING THEM!! {hmmm, the Surface and Bond girls...could lead to some interesting things. Pause for imagination to run wild a bit here...back? some more...back? ok, we resume}

Where are the pun-ny double entendre names for bond girls (Holly Goodhead,Plenty O'toole, Pussy Galore)?

Where is the nuclear weapon / world domination attempt / oil field / world war 3 initiation centered plot?

What is this? A watered down Vin Diesel flick?

Actually, when you think about it Vin Diesel would've done a way better job as the lead in this movie. After all this movie would've been right up his alley. All Quantum of Solace has is a line of chase sequences strung together with two bit dialogues and flashes of skin. The chases are damn good, no doubt. And they cover all modes of transport as well. So you have a chase on foot, in a car, in a motorboat (Ok, so how does a beat-up fishing boat beat down two state of the art motorboats with sub-machine gun toting goons?) and, to top it all, an aircraft chase (Again, a beat up transport aircraft beats a fighter plane. I mean, seriously, what were they thinking?)

And the pseudo bond-girl's revenge story was a straight lift from numerous Mithun da movies. Has the Bond brand come to this!

The villain would have to be one of the most non-sinister loser of a villain of all Bond movies...ever... even the ones that haven't yet been made. I mean the guy started off thinking that he'd play an evil-incarnate megalomaniacal callous villain. But when he read the script (spoiler warning) and realized that he'd be plotting all his terrible (?) plans around water resources in far off Haiti to get a freakin' utilities contract for his company, I guess his enthusiasm fizzled out. Quite correct too. In the end it seemed that the guy was doing the movie only because he signed the contract earlier and was ruing every second of the shooting.

And Daniel Craig? He's no James Bond. Give me the measured smoothness of Pierce Brosnan or the twinkle-in-the-eye panache of Sean Connery any day. He had the chance of recreating the suave one liner status of Bond with the 'She's sea sick' line (You've seen it in the trailers - Bond walks up a pier with a girl in his hands and tosses her into a confused helpers arms with a wry dialogue). But he did that terribly! It sounded like he was reading it from a cue card. Trust me, that line could've become legendary (or legend...wait for it..dary as Barney Stinson would say)if Pierce Brosnan was delivering it. It could've become the iconic signature line of the movie ('Kitne aadmi the...' - Sholay, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn' - Gone with the Wind)

All in all, not worth a trip to the movie hall late at night with the road dug up and no parking available and sitting in an awkward corner. You guys rent out a Vin Diesel movie instead - way more fun.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Easy Quote

Read this in a book by a new writer (for me) that i'm reading.

"Everyone has a right to make fools of themselves once in their lives"

Book is 'Expecting someone taller' by Tom Holt.

Somehow I really liked this line a lot. I just hope my one time is not over yet!

On a related yet different note I discovered another library in Bangalore. This one is in Koramangala and is called easylib. Its very near AK's home so visiting the library is not an issue. Their collection is quite phenomenal and had me salivating (er..its not that kind of collection - perverts). What I especially liked was a section on award winning books. So you have a lot of booker, commonwealth etc etc winning books which generally are interesting when you're looking to read some new author but have no recommendations from anyone.

Their website is

* On re-reading this post it feels like a paid advertisement for them. Alas, no one pays me for writing such reviews. This is a completely independent opinion. However, I shall not refuse payment if offered...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Next Tennis Article Published...

My article covering the Paris Masters Semi Final happening in, unbelievably Paris (Bet you'd never've guessed it!), is up on The Sports Campus. The link is:

Go, go- read it and write lots of nice comments.

(For example:
'Sigh, this article brought a tear to my eyes. How could anyone one write such a brilliantly poignant piece? Amazing'

'If this doesn't get Swapnil a Pulitzer, I don't know what will. Hell, even a Nobel prize for literature shouldn't be too far away!'

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Award Purpose Book , Anyone?

I'm reading this book called Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2007.

It's a book written from the perspective of a black girl on Bougainville, a small tropical island in the South Pacific when a civil war strikes and reaches their village. In the face of uncertainty and strife the lone white man on the island, who was a recluse and an eccentric, reopens school after around three years. He introduces the children to Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

The children are transported to the Victorian era inhabited by Pip, Joe Gargery, Pip's sister, Magwitch etc etc (I know, I know everyone has read Great Expectations and I needn't go through all the characters). He provides them an escape from their torn lives and helps them in retaining hope. But in the end the protagonist looks back at those times and understands what really happened and what the adults went through)

Quite frankly I really can't say too much about the book because I couldn't figure out if i like it or not. It just seemed like a regular book written only for the purpose of getting an award. In fact it seems to follow a couple of elements that most of these award winning books have. In fact its almost becoming like a recipe. Another book that comes to mind is Vernon 'God' Little that followed a very similar path. Though it was a better book as it was more in your face and did not push the crisis to some distant pacific island.


Take one innocent child, preferably of a minority group
Garnish with a dysfunctional family (Single mother - either perpetual drunk or zealous religist flavour (to taste)
Stir in a father figure who personifies all that is fair and good in this world (better if he's grieving)
Cook all of it in a Kadhai (Wok) of a crisis (school shootout / political turmoil)
Flavour lightly with coming of age story
Garnish with loads of evidently engineered philosophical gibberish (oooh the judges will not like a simple story. They need layers and overlying layers and underlying layers)


The Booker winning/ shortlisted book is ready. Take small bites between sips of red wine.

Now I may be opiniated here but I think the original book following this path was that all time awesome 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Now THAT was a book written with heart. The innocence of Scout came out brilliantly there, the situation that arose was easy, simple and believable, the family wasn't dysfunctional though. But Atticus Finch was the perfect father figure and one of the most awesome central characters of all times.