A raagam for the day….

….is Durbaari Kaanada. A lovely new song in the upcoming movie OK Kanmani, Naane Varugiren has me completely drenched in Durbaari Kaanada. Beautifully done song this, both the singing and the orchestral work. Rajan Parrikar has a lovely article about allied raagas here:


The audio samples in this page are absolutely priceless in conveying a general understanding of the raagam, especially the one by Ramashreya Ramrang, completely conveys the basic essence of Durbari Kaanada in about two minutes. Beautiful.

Ryokan on the perils of thoughtless speech

This is primarily for myself. I should be reminded of this every so often.

Talk is always easy
Practice always hard
It’s no wonder people try to make up for
their lack of hard practice with easy talk
But the harder they try, the worse things get
The more they talk, the more wrong they go
It’s like pouring on oil to put out a fire
Just foolishness and nothing else.

Taigu Ryokan.

The perfect test match

With the passing away of Richie Benaud, what a lovely commentator he was, it is time to recall the most perfect test match ever played. The 1960-61 tied test match between Australia and West Indies at Brisbane. In days past, I would look for hours upon hours at old score cards from days gone by, trying to recreate those games in my head, aided by the writings of the old cricket masters.

The Frank Worrell Trophy – 1st Test
Australia v West Indies
Match tied
Test no. 498 | 1960/61 season
Played at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba, Brisbane
9,10,12,13,14 December 1960 (5-day match)
West Indies 1st innings R M 4s 6s
CC Hunte c Benaud b Davidson 24 37 4 0
CW Smith c †Grout b Davidson 7 26 0 0
RB Kanhai c †Grout b Davidson 15 32 3 0
GS Sobers c Kline b Meckiff 132 174 21 0
FMM Worrell* c †Grout b Davidson 65 159 8 0
JS Solomon hit wicket b Simpson 65 141 8 0
PD Lashley c †Grout b Kline 19 36 2 1
FCM Alexander† c Davidson b Kline 60 190 5 0
S Ramadhin c Harvey b Davidson 12 12 2 0
WW Hall st †Grout b Kline 50 69 8 0
AL Valentine not out 0 2 0 0
Extras (lb 3, w 1) 4
Total (all out; 100.6 overs) 453 (3.37 runs per 6 balls)
Fall of wickets 1-23 (Smith), 2-42 (Hunte), 3-65 (Kanhai), 4-239 (Sobers), 5-243 (Worrell), 6-283 (Lashley), 7-347 (Solomon), 8-366 (Ramadhin), 9-452 (Hall), 10-453 (Alexander)
Bowling O M R W Econ
AK Davidson 30 2 135 5 3.37
I Meckiff 18 0 129 1 5.37
KD Mackay 3 0 15 0 3.75
R Benaud 24 3 93 0 2.90
RB Simpson 8 0 25 1 2.34
LF Kline 17.6 6 52 3 2.19
Australia 1st innings R M 4s 6s
CC McDonald c Hunte b Sobers 57 111 6 0
RB Simpson b Ramadhin 92 260 7 0
RN Harvey b Valentine 15 63 0 0
NC O’Neill c Valentine b Hall 181 401 22 0
LE Favell run out 45 93 1 2
KD Mackay b Sobers 35 104 4 0
AK Davidson c †Alexander b Hall 44 81 4 0
R Benaud* lbw b Hall 10 17 0 0
ATW Grout† lbw b Hall 4 4 1 0
I Meckiff run out 4 6 0 0
LF Kline not out 3 5 0 0
Extras (b 2, lb 8, w 1, nb 4) 15
Total (all out; 130.3 overs) 505 (2.90 runs per 6 balls)
Fall of wickets 1-84 (McDonald), 2-138 (Harvey), 3-194 (Simpson), 4-278 (Favell), 5-381 (Mackay), 6-469 (Davidson), 7-484 (Benaud), 8-489 (Grout), 9-496 (Meckiff), 10-505 (O’Neill)
Bowling O M R W Econ
WW Hall 29.3 1 140 4 3.57
FMM Worrell 30 0 93 0 2.32
GS Sobers 32 0 115 2 2.69
AL Valentine 24 6 82 1 2.56
S Ramadhin 15 1 60 1 3.00
West Indies 2nd innings R M 4s 6s
CC Hunte c Simpson b Mackay 39 88 5 0
CW Smith c O’Neill b Davidson 6 22 0 0
RB Kanhai c †Grout b Davidson 54 112 7 0
GS Sobers b Davidson 14 28 2 0
FMM Worrell* c †Grout b Davidson 65 151 8 0
JS Solomon lbw b Simpson 47 222 2 0
PD Lashley b Davidson 0 2 0 0
FCM Alexander† b Benaud 5 67 0 0
S Ramadhin c Harvey b Simpson 6 11 1 0
WW Hall b Davidson 18 45 1 0
AL Valentine not out 7 41 0 0
Extras (b 14, lb 7, w 2) 23
Total (all out; 92.6 overs) 284 (2.29 runs per 6 balls)
Fall of wickets 1-13 (Smith), 2-88 (Hunte), 3-114 (Sobers), 4-127 (Kanhai), 5-210 (Worrell), 6-210 (Lashley), 7-241 (Alexander), 8-250 (Ramadhin), 9-253 (Solomon), 10-284 (Hall)
Bowling O M R W Econ
AK Davidson 24.6 4 87 6 2.63
I Meckiff 4 1 19 0 3.56
KD Mackay 21 7 52 1 1.85
R Benaud 31 6 69 1 1.66
RB Simpson 7 2 18 2 1.92
LF Kline 4 0 14 0 2.62
NC O’Neill 1 0 2 0 1.50
Australia 2nd innings (target: 233 runs) R M B 4s 6s SR
CC McDonald b Worrell 16 91 0 0
RB Simpson c sub (LR Gibbs) b Hall 0 14 0 0
RN Harvey c Sobers b Hall 5 10 1 0
NC O’Neill c †Alexander b Hall 26 61 4 0
LE Favell c Solomon b Hall 7 20 1 0
KD Mackay b Ramadhin 28 78 2 0
AK Davidson run out 80 194 8 0
R Benaud* c †Alexander b Hall 52 136 6 0
ATW Grout† run out 2 8 3 0 0 66.66
I Meckiff run out 2 7 3 0 0 66.66
LF Kline not out 0 1 1 0 0 0.00
Extras (b 2, lb 9, nb 3) 14
Total (all out; 68.7 overs) 232 (2.52 runs per 6 balls)
Fall of wickets 1-1 (Simpson), 2-7 (Harvey), 3-49 (O’Neill), 4-49 (McDonald), 5-57 (Favell), 6-92 (Mackay), 7-226 (Davidson), 8-228 (Benaud), 9-232 (Grout), 10-232 (Meckiff)
Bowling O M R W Econ
WW Hall 17.7 3 63 5 2.64
FMM Worrell 16 3 41 1 1.92
GS Sobers 8 0 30 0 2.81
AL Valentine 10 4 27 0 2.02
S Ramadhin 17 3 57 1 2.51

Balls per over 8
Toss – West Indies, who chose to bat
Series – 5-match series level 0-0
Test debuts – PD Lashley and CW Smith (West Indies)
Umpires – CJ Egar and C Hoy
Close of play
Fri, 9 Dec – day 1 – West Indies 1st innings 359/7 (FCM Alexander 21*, S Ramadhin 9*)
Sat, 10 Dec – day 2 – Australia 1st innings 196/3 (NC O’Neill 28*, LE Favell 1*)
Sun, 11 Dec – rest day
Mon, 12 Dec – day 3 – West Indies 2nd innings 0/0 (CC Hunte 0*, CW Smith 0*)
Tue, 13 Dec – day 4 – West Indies 2nd innings 259/9 (WW Hall 0*, AL Valentine 0*)
Wed, 14 Dec – day 5 – Australia 2nd innings 232 (68.7 ov) – end of match

12th Men: JW Martin (Australia) and LR Gibbs (West Indies)
Davidson was the first man to complete the match double of 100 runs and 10 wickets in a Test match.
The partnership of 134 for the seventh wicket, in the second innings, was a record for Australia against the West Indies for that wicket.

Vaasanthi on Jayakanthan

Vaasanthi has beautiful tribute to Jayakanthan here:


Soon he was to overpower the literary scene of Tamil Nadu literally like a storm with short stories that revealed a deep and sensitive understanding of the downtrodden. For the first time here was a writer who did not just
portray their misery but found in the lives of rickshaw pullers, prostitutes, rowdies, pickpockets and cigarette-butt scavengers, a flaming passion, a liveliness, and truth. The compassion that entwined their characters and attitudes was so moving in his narration that the result was an elevating experience for the reader. He wrote about the slumdweller in earthy prose with firsthand knowledge of one who had lived among them in his early years of struggle when he worked as a compositor in a printing press. Suddenly it was a celebration of life, be it in dirt, squalor or a prostitute’s bed.

was also introduced to the works of the great Tamil poet Subramanya Bharati. Bharati has been Jayakanthan’s biggest inspiration to this day. There is no speech of his that is not interspersed with quotes from Bharati’s poetry. The passion with which the writer recites the quotes never fails to moisten the eyes of the listeners.

Left arm bowlers and other random saccharine cricket thoughts

Wasim Akram is without doubt the greatest left arm bowler to have played cricket. Nothing can beat the fact that as a wide eyed seven year old watching the 1992 world cup, I watched Wasim rip through the England middle order in perhaps what is his greatest remembered bowling performance. Nothing gets better than that. To get a sense of his greatness, as a 50 year old coach of an IPL team having net practice, someone hollered: “Wasim Bhai; ek ball dal do; dil shanth ho jayega” (please bowl one ball; my heart will attain peace). I suppose I was extremely fortunate to watch cricket in an era when Wasim Akram and Shane Warne played.

To watch Zaheer Khan bowl in the mid 2000’s was beautiful. He never had the same pace, but used to seam the ball both ways and was wonderful with the old ball.

To watch Hashim Amla bat is a joy. The relaxed, unhurried pace of his batting. His lush, ample beard. His gentleness and grace. His ethical standards. One could go on. Talking of relaxed and unhurried, one also remembers Inzamam Ul Haq: how much time he had to play the fastest of bowlers.

Sharda Ugra has a lovely essay on cricket in Jammu and Kashmir titled: The bat wallahs.


Jammu and Kashmir defeating Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy last season was the (modern day) equivalent of Eklavya coming from nowhere and knocking the stuffing out of Arjuna. A wonderful David vs Goliath story. I hope they continue to do really well in the coming years.

Several beautiful pictures accompanied the article. My favorite is reproduced below. The joy on their faces is absolutely priceless.


Ronald Wilks on Gogol

Some beautiful thoughts and sentences appear in Ronald Wilks’ lovely introduction to Gogol’s short stories in a delightful little Penguin book.

On the Diary of a madman:

Here we find expressed the essential absurdity and tragedy of life, where dream and reality merge so that we have no means of distinguishing what is true from the illusory, what has value from what is worthless;

On the Overcoat:

The use of language alone (as opposed to any conscious effort on the author’s part to impose his vision or message) to create what is literally another world, where logic does not apply, where values become transmuted and the world is turned upside down, is quite extraordinary.

Gogol did not so much work from the imagination…as by using apparently irrelevent, trivial details to astonishing effect…..

Gogol’s characters do not have psychological depth and are developed in the main purely by external physical descriptions.

On Gogol’s portrayal of women:

It is interesting to note that Gogol generally portrays women either as delicate, ethereal, impossibly unattainable beauties, or as viragos or witches, in league with the devil and ready to lure man to destruction.

Karunanidhi on Ramanuja

Very interesting development this. The grand old man of the Dravidian movement, Karunanidhi, is scripting a serial on Ramanuja. As a boy growing up in an intensely Vaishnavaite family, I was brought up revering Vedanta Desikan, Alwars and Ramanuja and was taught that there was nothing good about the Dravidian movement (because they use to openly lampoon our gods and made fun of Brahmins etc). As I grew up I came to admire several of their causes: their opposition of the imposition of Hindi (language is such a fundamental thing for humans; even if 5 per cent of Tamil Nadu wanted to speak / study in their language as opposed to Tamil, I would fight for their right to do so), their wanting to create a truly casteless society, their idea of using science and rationality as opposed to silly religious superstition like astrology (it beats me how even educated people justify astrology) and which sane person will not be moved by the fact that the first bill signed by C.N. Annadurai when the Dravidian party came to power was the Hindu Marriage Act of 1967 recognizing various kinds of marriages without a Hindu priest. I suppose being removed from their immediate (alleged) atrocities (against Brahmins), it becomes easier to admire their abstract core idealogical beliefs.

Karunanidhi is a beautiful writer. I remember a lesson we had in class X on a verse from Thirukkural. I was “taught” to not like his writings but I was drawn to his arresting and deeply beautiful prose. There is a beautiful story, with comical effect, in Ramayana where Hanuman (or is it Angadhan?) tries to explain the ecstasy of chanting Rama’s name to Ravana who scoffs at the idea but once Hanuman begins chanting the name, Ravana is entranced and he chants too, before he shakes himself off it. One can say I had a similar experience reading Karunanidhi.

One thing that will be interesting is that as an outsider, he might be able to hit at the essential core of Ramanuja’s teachings that perhaps Vaishnavite followers do not see. Also, both of these ideologies, Vaishnavism and the Dravidian movement, are beautiful in principle, with their central ideas valid for all time and for all people and not only their core followers, but seem to have sadly gotten corrupt over time.

An unrelated aside to this is that amongst all Mani Ratnam movies, Iruvar is perhaps his magnum opus.


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