August 18, 2009

Towards Testing Times

For a connieuseur of the game, there is no better sight than seeing thirteen white flannelled gentlemen battle it out with the bat and the ball, The aroma of the leather granade whiffing past the helmeted and visored cranium or the turn and guile befoxing the striker and make him appear a complete buffoon is something that can gladden the heart of a purist in much the same way a silken glance past the fine leg or a delicious floor hugging drive through the covers will.

Much like how moronic cinema has outnumbered those wonderful classics, the slam-bang version of the cricket game has stolen a march over the traditional and more beautiful version. Yes, the T20 is like the oxygen bar where you get all the days requirement in one hour, but for you to survive, you need that twenty percent all day long rather than the hundred in an hour. The latter might be a tonic to give you more excitement and some fun, but for the game to survive, the pinnacle of test cricket should remain in the pink of health.

The Blonde Twister has penned a piece for the Times with his views to rehabilitate the dying spectacle that Test Cricket is. He has advised an abolishment of the full day variety of the game and advised a balance of Tests and T20 matches. He has advocated a three match test series and a five match T20 to be part of a tour. He also wants to curb the new menace of switch hitting. There are quite a few advocates to propose and oppose his views. Like every armchair enthusiast and analyst, I too have a few ideas which might help in making Test cricket not only reach its optimal health, but also make it enjoyable for the spectators. And most importantly, makes it interesting for the players.

  • Do not completely abandon One day Internationals, ration them. Same with Tests and T20s. A new regulation should be in place wherein every team should be required to play a minimum and maximum number of games of each form of cricket. For example, each country should play atleast 15 test matches in a calendar year. And a maximum of 20 test matches per country in a year will be ideal. Similarly, 20 ODIs and 30 T20 matches would be an ideal bet.
  • 5 match Test series. Two, three and even four test matches should be abandoned. Each Country should develop atleast 5-6 Test venues and each match should be played at a different venue. In case five different venues are not available, then a 3-match series should be organised with each match at a different venue. Each venue should be in a different city. Let us avoid a situation where Sri Lanka plays three matches at Colombo or Zimbabwe has two in Bulawayo.
  • Sporting Pitches. We may love those flatbed pitches conducive to hitting for the T20s and ODIs, but one of the main reasons for Test cricket's downfall over the past decade or so has been the lack of sporting pitches. Also, individuality of venues needs to be appreciated. A fast bouncy pitch at Mohali might be ideal to acquaint the Indian youngsters with chin music, but the subcontinent is known for its turning pitches, much the same way the WACA was purpoted to be fastest in the world. We need to get them back to their original character.
  • Encourage domestic cricket. Not just the IPL, the Pura cup, the Ranji Trophy and the English County Championship. Make it compulsory for all the big names to participate in a minumum number of domestic matches per season to be eligible for international selection. So if Tendulkar does not play five domestic four/five day games, he will not be eligible to face Brett Lee and Bil Hilfenhaus at the Gabba. This not only makes their game better, but also gives the first class players an opportunity to gain good exposure.
  • Laxen the Bowling rules. Wides on either side of the stump should actually be wide. Give the batting team an option of selecting a free-hit or a free-run for a front foot no-ball. Allow chin music. The bouncer needs to reclassified as a ball above the head and not just one above the shoulder.
  • Allow Referrals. Three failed referrals per innings to the bowling side should be allowed. The bouncer/no-ball decisions should be included in the can-be-referred list.
  • World Test Championship. Have a biennial Test Championship and not just a ranking system. There should be a rolling shield for the same. Nothing short of an Award and a Reward can lure today's money-hungry system.
Lets see how these play up!

August 16, 2009

Negative inflation... My foot!


Probably only the prices of Oil have been on a plateau this year. Rice has been consistently a high rise tower while pulses have been the Burj Al Dubai on a price histogram. On one hand the Government makes tall claims, backed up by some crazy statistics and more eloquent press releases, that the inflation which had touched 12% has now gone two points into the negative. Total bullshit.

I'm not really sure what parameters are taken into consideration when they calculate the inflation figures, but I'm pretty sure that rice and pulses do not have a place on that list. A Nokia E71 which costed 20K a month ago is today sold at 18K and a Sandisk 4GB SD card which was priced 700 bucks in April is now costing only 500bucks. And well, I'll not even talk of the falling prices of LCD TVs. And if you are not satisfied, wait for another month. Dussera and Diwali discounts will then take inflation into negative double figures.


Yes, tomatoes which had costed 30 bucks in the summer (when of course the production goes down) are now 20 bucks and cauliflower is now being sold at 20 apiece instead of 25. Vegetables are taken for consideration when it comes to inflation, but more important pulses and rice seem to be on a low index. Two months back, Tur dal was sold at 50-60 bucks a kilo. Two years back it was priced 30-40 bucks. Today, it costs 110 bucks. A 300% rise in the cost within two years for a major food produce is not good for the economy. It shows that either the production has fallen or there have been induced periods of black market hoarding.



What has the Government been upto doing the entire process needs to be investigated. The rut started early in June and as half of August has gone abegging, apart from declaring food security as a priority from the ramparts of the Lal Qilla, nothing concrete has been done. Comfortably enough, the authorities are blaming the traunt playing monsoon for the mess that the food prices are in. Very understandable if they are talking of perishables like fruits and veggies. But what about rice and pulses? If there is scanty rainfall, then the impact should be in the next half of the year and not right now! The previous crop should be the one which brings the food onto the supermarket racks. It is absolutely clear that the price rise has been artificially induced by food stock hoarding by distributors to create a more paying market and thus encourage black-marketing. The Prime Minister has declared in his Independence Day speech that we have enough and more stockpiles of food supplies to last us even if the worst fears of the Department of Metro-illogical astrology come true. If that is indeed true, why is that stockpile being kept under a lock and key? Why is it not being made to come out into the markets?

One reason why the market physiology has changed are our altered buying habits. Traditionally, rice and pulses used to be marketed in bulk, where in most consumers (and the retailers) kept adequate stocks of these at home or at retail godowns. Today, the supermarket culture has taken over. I still remember my childhood when we used to go to the wholesale shops and buy those jute bags filled with 50 or 100kgs of rice and dal. Today, we buy a 20kg packet of rice (and sometimes even a 5kg pack) and dal is more often than not bought in 1-2kg packs. This makes the retailer also procure the same in lower quantity packages. The distributor thus holds the greater stockpile. And he sits on his stock shutting all supplies for a short period to declare an artificial shortage and in the process jack up the prices and make more moolah. On the other side of this distributor is the farmer, who too bears the brunt of this hoarding as the distributors buy the produce from the farmers at a lower rate citing lack of sales and increased stock reserves. So basically the end user and the producer are being taken for a ride while the distributor goes laughing to the bank. One reason why the authorities are unable to tackle the issue is the rampant corruption and kickbacks associated with the distributors and the politicians being hand in glove.



This has major adverse effects on our food production too. A farmer who has been traditionally producing rice now finds the costs prohibitive considering that he has not been getting good value for his produce. He tries to overcome this by giving way to newer crops like either the genetically modified varieties of rice or shun food crops and get into tobacco or cotton production. Or corn, which has a better export value, but has low usage in our own country. Or he burns his fingers trying his hand at growing vegetables. In the meantime, the soil too starts losing a bit of its sheen. The farmer might soon get visions of selling his land for a lumpsum amount to the industrialist who finds the place ideal to setup his car or mobile manufacturing unit, or maybe even to the government for a SEZ that gets planned.

I would not mind paying a bit more for my mobile calls or on my cable television bill, but when it comes to paying more than its worth for rice and dal, it cracks me up. If a person who can afford these high prices says so, imagine the plight of the poor person who has to struggle to make ends meets. At the end of the day, you and I can live without reading this blog or without seeing a Shah Rukh Khan movie on the 100 inch LCD home theatre system; but I need my dal and rice day in and day out. And I need that without having to pay a premium.

August 14, 2009

Patni Chalisa



Namo namo patni maharani
Tumhari mahima koi na jaani

Humne samjha tum abla ho
Par tum nikli badi bala ho

Jis din haath mein belan aawe
Us din pati khoob chillawe

Saare bed par patni sowe
Pati baith farsh par rowe

Tum hi ghar ki makasi
Tumse hi ghar satyanasi

Patni chalisa jo nar gaawe
Sab sukh chod param dukh pawe!


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Disclaimers:

This is not an original work of poetry/ fact by the blog owner.

This is only a humourous account (of reality).

All indications to persons married or engaged are coincidental and not intentional.

If replies to comments or further posts on this blog do not appear for an unbearably long time, kindly inform the Punjagutta Police Station, Hyderabad.

August 10, 2009

Howzzat?

The new look Chai Biskut with Vrij is now online !

It still needs a bit more work, but the basics are all on. Do post your views on the new design.

August 08, 2009

Is it time?

Don't you think its time for a new template for my blog? Yes, indeed. So I've started once again taking something off the available templates and tweaking them to my requirements. I guess by tomorrow, the modelling of the same will be complete and it will be available for viewing!

All the blogs followed might not be visible in the blogroll initially, but give me a few days, and you will find your name on the blogroll!

Till then, you can do the following...

  • Pray for some inspired cricket by the Poms :)

  • Open www.irfca.org/gallery/openline and have fun oogling at those beautiful things featured there!

  • Watch Sach ka Saamna videos at www.sachkasaamna.in

  • Get your cameras out of the closet and take snaps of traffic violators, then post them on your blog.

  • Count the number of times you swear in the next twenty seven hours. Have a glass of water for each count!
And if you still can't spend on enuf time.. count the seconds till the new template goes live!

August 04, 2009

Guntakal

Guntakal (GTL) is an important railway junction on the intersection of three busy routes in South India. The Chennai-Mumbai, Bangalore-Hyderabad and Hubli-Vijayawada routes pass through this place. In fact, this place was hardly a village till the Indian Railways brought it to limelight. Today, it is the HQ of the Guntakal division of South Central Railway, has a major Zonal Training Centre, a large Diesel Loco Shed and important workshops to name a few establishments. It provides a home to more than 5000 railway employees.


The sun sets behind the Guntakal station. The lines on the left come from Gooty,
while the line on the right, climbs down a steep gradient and veers in a sharp curve from Dhone!

More than the history and geography, its uniqueness lies in some very unique train operations that happen from the evening to late in the night.

  • The Rayalaseema / Haripriya expresses run between Hyderabad-Tirupati and Kolhapur-Tirupati respectively. However, these trains run combined. In fact, they run in 6 parts from 3 destinations. The train starting from Hyderabad has coaches to Tirupati and Kolhapur. The train starting from Tirupati has coaches to Hyderabad and Kolhapur. The train starting from Kolhapur has coaches to Hyderabad and Tirupati. All these three meet at Guntakal just after midnight and a mix and match happens and the coaches are combined and sent to their respective destinations of Hyderabad, Tirupati or Kolhapur.

    The moon rises over the Guntakal-Gooty Line


  • The Hampi express from Bangalore to Hubli has a part of it running to Nanded. This portion is detached at Guntakal, a single guard cum luggage cum second class coach is attached and a new loco takes this combination as the Bangalore-Nanded Express to Nanded. In the return direction, when the Nanded portion arrives at Guntakal, the guard coach is detached and when the consist from Hubli arrives, the loco comes and attached itself to the Nanded portion and goes back and attaches itself to the main train making it a 24 coach train. This then goes to Bangalore.

  • The 4 days a week Vasco da gama-Howrah and its slotmate 3 days a week Hubli-Vijayawada Amaravathi expresses carry 4 coaches from either Vasco/Hubli which are destined to Kacheguda(Hyd). At around 5pm, these trains reach Guntakal, and are detached there. They wait till around 10pm when the Yeswantpur-Kacheguda express arrives from Yeswantpur. These coaches are then attached to this train and sent to Kacheguda. In the other direction, a similar procedure is followed but the wait is not 5 hours but a little close to an hour.

Apart from these mixing and matching of train rakes, quite a few trains passing through this station undergo a change of loco and almost all trains passing through undergo watering, cleaning and also have a change of loco crew, TTEs and the guard.

With a new Electric Loco Shed scheduled to come up here in a couple of years, expect this place to become busier! Nevertheless, its fun to be at Guntakal.. esp, in the evenings!

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