Random raaga thoughts

* Which Carnatic raaga(s) best characterizes the mood / color of monsoon: rain, thunder, dark clouds, pitter patter sounds, the water dripping of leaves in little droplets, the smell of mud / earth both before and after the rain etc etc

* Which sort of raagams “mix” together, i.e., some raagams sound great sung one after another (Purvi Kalyani and Kedharam and Anandha Bhairavi for example) but other combinations don’t seem to mix well; is it possible to characterize this

* Is it possible to put a “metric” that measures distances between raagas in “raagam” space as opposed to “swaram” space: i.e., some raagas are classified as janyam of say Harikambhoji or Karaharapriya but yet sound so different (they seem to be “close” to each other in swaram space but far apart in “raagam” space).

Watching VVS Laxman bat

Was rewatching the beautiful 32 VVS Laxman made in the Blomfoentein test against South Africa in 2001. John Wright, the then India coach, called it the most beautiful 30 odd he had ever seen in his life. How beautifully does he bat; The backfoot drives, the pull shot, the hook shot even (does any other Indian even play the hook shot), the serene grace and elegance he exudes. With due respect, I doubt even SRT can play some of the daringly inventive strokeplay that VVS can pull off like a magician; He simply dazzles you with his range of strokes, one is awestruck with wonder at his creative genius. I so wish the great poets like Kamban and Nammazhvar had written about this. A sheer artist (can one say, in terms of Carnatic music, that he is a cross between Ramnad Krishnan and MD Ramanathan?).

Marlon Samuels reminds me a lot of VVS.

Happiness is watching VVS Laxman bat and then listening to a beautifully langorous Marivere by MD Ramanathan.

Mumbai

Everybody thinks Mumbai is a lovely, cosmopolitan place, perhaps the best place in India. Samanth Subramanian offers an interesting counterpoint. (Part of an article on the Breach Candy club which appeared in the Granta Magazine.)

granta.com/breach-candy/

I’ve never liked Mumbai. I lived there once, for six months in 2003, and fled, and when some of its residents talk to me about their fondness for the city, I think of them as hostages, victims of a classic case of Stockholm syndrome. Mumbai feels like some giant Malthusian experiment, its resources stretched thinner and thinner by its multiplying population, so that the city edges closer and closer to absolute collapse. It hasn’t collapsed yet, Mumbai’s admirers will point out. But lives within its periphery collapse every day, in brutal and tragic and unnecessary ways, severed from the kind of support and opportunity that a successful city should be able to offer them. Mumbai gears its resources unashamedly towards its wealthy. Its land and water go to them first, its best roads lead to their houses, and their lungs work most of the time in air conditioning, away from the smoggy outdoors. Everything can be grabbed by using money or influence, in a manner that is only a semantic shade away from outright theft.

Cricket, movies and memories

It is a strange quirk of my mental constitution or perhaps a reflection of my current state of affairs that when I watch movies, thoughts about cricket matches watched earlier are triggered. For example, yesterday I watched this lovely movie OK Kanmani, (which is really Alaipayuthey 2.0 (and this comment is to be interpreted in the deepest sense of 2.0)) thoughts of Baz McCullum’s sensational dismantling of the Australian pace attack in the 2015 World Cup was triggered. The 2015 World Cup was a kind of coming home kind of event for me. 23 years earlier, I had begun watching cricket in the 1992 World Cup also played in Australia / New Zealand. (So many memories of that World Cup which deserves a blog post of itself.) The way McCullum, ebullient and carefree, jumped out of his crease charging the Australian fast bowlers who were bowling at 150 kms per hour and smashing them all over the park…..what an impression it would have left on a little kid first watching cricket (another little aside: the grounds in New Zealand have little play areas for little kids…what a wonderful idea…during the 1992 World Cup, fired up by watching the actual cricketers, how I dreamed of playing cricket….). But more poignantly, the movie was stirring various emotions and all I could remember was a sad time in 1993 when my cousin had lost his father and we had visited him, the entire family shell shocked at the unexpected loss, and as an aid to forgetting it the kids played cricket; He was about 13 then and I was 9, and while batting he would charge down the wicket and try to smash the bowling all over and I remember how ironic my innocent comment then was….”Beware, play more carefully, the way you are playing you are going to lose your wicket”…(which I of course said in utmost earnestness) to a guy who had just lost his dad.

Random thoughts on cricket

* Graeme Smith walking out with a broken hand to save a test match; captain na ipdi than irukkanum ; Faf Du Plessis has all these qualities…..

* 2004 Karachi: Mohammad Kaif holding on to a sensational catch laying to rest the ghost of 1986 Sharjah and Miandad;

* Hansie Cronje swinging it in and out and causing Sachin Tendulkar all sorts of problems

* Sachin’s catch in 2004 to dismiss Inzamam; Robin Jackman saying on air I have never seen Tendulkar this animated

* The sheer joy of watching Rahul Dravid fielding in the slips and his reaction time at short leg;

* The joy of watching Inzamam Ul Haq bat; the amount of time he had to play fast bowling justifying in some sense Imran Khan’s comment that Inzamam was the best batsman of the world, Tendulkar included (emphasis his);

* Steve Waugh running all the way to the boundary, retrieving the ball to give it to Dravid after the 2003 Adelaide test match;

* Dale Steyn saying that Sreesanth’s wrist position was the best, so pure, so beautiful; what a waste of a talent;

* The beauty of classical, old fashioned wicket keeping as epitomized by Peter Nevill of Australia, Prasanna Jayawardene of Sri Lanka, Sarfraz Ahmed of Pakistan and to a lesser extent by Wriddhiman Saha and Naman Ojha of India.

* Watching Amol Muzumdar doing the presentation at the end of Irani trophy; couldn’t help but feel for him; first class debut at age 18 for Mumbai and scored 270 odd on debut but never played a single test for India; have to feel for the likes of him, Rashmi Ranjan Parida etc;

* Lovely to see domestic players like Sheldon Jackson of Saurashtra, Naman Ojha of Madhya Pradesh, Sudip Chaterjee of Bengal and Karun Nair and Stuart Binny of Karnataka all play against Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni and Balwinder Sandhu of Mumbai. Is it just me or it seems like atleast teams like Mumbai and Karnataka, their Ranji teams look fairly all India, i.e., they have representatives from a lot of Indian regions.

Sport, life, winning, losing and equanimity

Sport mirrors so many aspects of life. To watch the scenes at the end of a very close game: to watch the winning teams’ supporters and the losing teams’ supporters. To watch the little kid, with his or her face painted, the huge cap covering their faces, tears streaming down, to watch the wise old person who has watched a lot of games put their arm gently around the little kid. A fan is a fan, 12 years old or 55, wise or otherwise and your team is your team. South Africa may have lost a close T-20 game to Australia but Kagiso Rabada is one of my favorite modern day cricketers.

Back home, the Irani Trophy game is unfolding. Jay Bista and Karun Nair batting so well. Bista seems like a throw back to a different era. Bespectacled, quiet and studious, quite a contrast to the present day cricketer of bulging muscles, flaunting tattoos and extremely well groomed beards etc; How nice it would have been if Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara and five strong wicket taking bowlers had played for Rest Of India. Would have been a really nice way to test the true strength of this present Mumbai team and to find out which players will make it to the next level.

Edit: (added after the completion of the Irani trophy game) What a beautiful game it turned out to be. After conceding a lead of more than 250 runs, Rest of India came back to win this game. It was truly beautiful. The fourth day provided a startling twist and the fifth day saw both teams in the hunt. Beautiful batting by Faiz Fazal, Karun Nair, Sudip Chaterjee and a lovely cameo by Stuart Binny took Rest of India home. Another beautiful part of sport, (life?) although this sounds cliched but is somehow true, is to perhaps keep hope right until the end.

Martin “kaaka” Crowe

Note: Kaaka is crow in Thamizh and this is how my father referred to Martin Crowe when we were watching the 1992 World Cup where, as a seven year old wide eyed boy madly in love in cricket, I was first introduced to Martin Crowe. Apart from his elegant batting, his head band was beautifully elegant; in these days of machismo, it seems to be hard to find the kind of delicate elegance embodied by Crowe. Also, the decency with which he played the game; let’s throw out all sledging and unwanted talk under the name of banter.

To see one of the greatest batsman say this:

To see the two sons I never had, Ross Taylor and Marty Guptill, run out in black, in sync with their close comrades, drawing on all their resolve and resilience, will be mesmerically satisfying. I will hold back tears all day long. I will gasp for air on occasions. I will feel like a nervous parent.

And let us not forget his innovative cricket max. I think it is a great concept: 10 overs two innings. (Also, let’s not forget SRT’s suggestion that ODI’s split into two innings of 25 overs each)

Mike Selvey has a lovely tribute here at the Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/mar/03/martin-crowe-batting-master-craftsman-mike-selvey?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

And Dileep Premachandran, one of India’s finest cricket writers has a tribute here.

Martin Crowe: Marked by nature, gone too soon

Which cricket lover will not be moved to tears watching this lovely tribute video:

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