Different country, same set of problems

coming to the US from India, you thought all those problems you saw related to “caste” are behind. Growing up saw a society of brotherhood transformed into us vs them due to the caste. And this all had roots in the “mandal” commission where the reservation system kicked in multi-folds.

For those who do not understand reservation system, it’s basically a reserved spot regardless of your worth in any place – education, job you name it. A specific caste in india which went through rough history where they were treated as untouchables were given reservation with the intent to provide them opportunities which otherwise on a level field they would not make it. This would help them get better – financially, progressive and get at-par. The intent was right, but as the political powers saw this a the “swing” population to sway the votes, they took the baseline reservation and kicked in multi-folds. Just imagine 100 scholarships at a kids school of which instead of 5 reserved to provide opportunities, now they were 55 reserved. Years passed, and the poltics around that caste became mainstream. You had to be politicially correct talking about that specific caste, but people from the same caste could insult, malign other “higher” castes, because they knew, there was a political will to support no matter what as they swayed the election.

I see this happening in the US now. the social justice movement and fight against brutality started with the right intention, but it has taken a violent turn with cities downtowns being painted in grafiti and small businesses out of work due to scare for their lives. The political establishments in those cities continue to molly coddle as their political capital rests on the support for the movement – the fact that it has turned violent and out of control now, they are finding it harder to back off.

In all of white vs black fight, all others are now mere bystanders. My kids, who will be labelled “brown” do not have the same cache as the BLM movement which is now backed by athletes. The athletes shut down games when something they don’t agree with happens – fair or not. The brown folks went through racial profiling for years after 9/11 but do not have the political cache of non-stop victim card players like Steven A. Smith, converted Max Kellerman who try to find a racial bias in things that did not even have racial bias in it. Play a victim only if there is victimization not just because things did not go your way.

This worries me most as now, if you are a brown person and a guy, you fall behind the line at the last spot. Recently I saw the article from the Reddit guy who said he would hire a “black” woman as the top spot. Why? What happened to the EOE (equal opportunity employment). So in future, if there is a job opening, people will be allowed to pick a RACE who that position goes to? that is absurd – imagine the same said by anyone else that they will only hire INDIANS or CHINESE or KOREAN – there would be uproar. But if you say “We will only hire black”, it’s just fine. As the democrats and so called social justice league have taken it over

I thought this country would not have a caste system, but I can see it. And all the non-black, non-white folks, it’s a warning sign. You will NOT be treated equally – at least not your kids.

Instead, the change should be EQUALITY. everyone should be treated fair and equal even by law enforcement. And that should be ALL. Profiling is wrong anywhere – and against anyone. Just because I get profiled at the airport does not make it OK compared to someone profiled at a stop. Agreed, there is no violence associated and that absolutely has to stop. But everyone should be treated equal. PERIOD!

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The privileged are tone deaf

Let’s be clear. What does privileged mean? People who can continue to be home, get paid and are able to put food on the table without worrying about where the food comes from tomorrow?

We as a society are sheep now – we have started following what we are told because once it comes to our “life” we are scared breed now. The common line is “that’s the right thing to do” or hoardings like “I am saving lives staying home”. There are two ways to look at it – yeah absolutely you are not infecting anyone else and hence “saving lives”. But by just staying home, you are also taking food of the table of 90% of the workforce who depend on daily wages. We have become so concerned of how we preserve our own lives, that when there is an alternate opinion of being able to take a cautious but more practical approach, we don’t want to hear it as it puts our life at risk.

Just for a moment, think beyond YOU! In India, a guy who makes $2/day depends on just that to give food. He pulls a rickshaw 8-10 hours a day to just earn that.  He could well be between 20-40 years of age, in a low risk population who is supporting his mom and dad and now because everything is shut down and his family can’t eat. A blanket rule never made sense, we are doing that because we do not know what to do. It’s a fact – if anyone said staying home is saving lives – think twice. It’s affecting the daily wages folks mentally, physically (as they can’t afford food) and emotionally due to immense stress of where will he make the money tomorrow. If you ask him, the answer is, I would take my chances with being out as I am dying anyways staying in. And that is 95% of the population – so this rule is to protect the 5%?

Sweden has taken a different approach – they rely on people doing the right thing themselves with social distancing and still continue to ensure businesses work. People don’t starve to death, there is no anxiety in the population.

Eventually, we will realize this was a bad policy – the restrictions should’ve had analytical data as at some point you have to balance the risks. Else the sure way to ensure that we don’t have casualties is for everyone to stay home until vaccine shows up and that’s just not the reality. Being home is not going to make anyone immune. What will ensure is if we build enough immunity among low risk age groups that those actually protect the aged population. If you cannot get it, you’ve not done enough research. No one wants to take the risk – but staying home is a risk.

So before you say “I am saving lives by staying home”, think about that guys who livelihood depends on businesses being up and going.

At some point, society is going to revolt and that’s what’s happening all over US. It will happen everywhere and all hell will break lose. We could’ve avoided this by following a policy similar to Sweden. We did both extremes – allowed everyone to be out until march when we should’ve done social distancing from January and now we’ve put everyone home because we don’t know how to handle this.

Age based reopening is the right thing to do – whether we do it is a different conversation altogether. VA governor has closed everything until June 10. There is no accountability of why that date – are we going to be completely free of virus by June 10 – where did that date come from. When you are scared to make the tough decisions, you will be left to a place where you will not be making any decisions. Democrats will lose VA as well and the current governor will be solely responsible. It also doesn’t help when POTUS is imploring to open economy and you are defying it. He is rallying his base and you are annoying your base. Guess who is winning Nov?

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Corona Virus – We have been duped

Got up to the news that https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/20/health/covid-19-recovery-rates-intl/index.html

The country has been able to create fear, panic across the world, manipulate the stock market, bring economy to standstill while creating long term effects of depression anxiety across the world and then come out to claim that the virus is mild for most population. Guess who is buying stocks, housing in US stock market now? Chinese investors. If you thought this is a far fetched idea, think again. In an age of winning by any means, this isn’t out of the realm. Countries have gone far beyond to create supremacy and of all countries, we should not think China is any different.

We latched onto the idea that social distancing and lockdowns work – but do they? Countries in lockdown have seen more and more cases overnight. Why is that? Well the way lockdown was executed in China is very different from other countries. China just implemented lockdown one fine day – no time to go to grocery and convenience stores to hoard supplies. Contrast to Eurpoean countries and US. We let people throng different stores and spread the virus 10 times than it would have if we had not created a fear. People hoarded supplies, created cases of people taking out knives over a toilet paper. Then we panicked by shutting down all avenues of poor daily workers to sit home and be late on rent cascading to spiraling stock market and economic and psychological depression. And who is buying everything in market? Chinese investors. Sounds all too familiar

We in the age of contextual content marketing have looked at data without context. Why did we shut down universities where population is 99% < 30 years of age, especially in university town. Those same people came home to their parents and infected their more vulnerable parents who are most possibly > 50 years. By creating a lockdown, all we are doing is extending the time the virus sticks around – the curve can only go flat once more and more population becomes resistant and is unable to spread it. Think about this: Kevin Durant, Rudy and Donavan Mitchell got the virus, had zero symptoms but after being done with it can no longer spread virus nor can they get infected. Multiply that a million times, million people will NOT have symptoms, recover and will not spread. Instead, we choose to lock down people who can deal with the virus, the day we open the lockdown, they will be vulnerable to get it, and spread it and do we go lockdown again? The virus is not going to disappear, the only way to deal with it is vaccine and inherent immunity.

Compare that to H1N1, we had 60 million cases and 6000 odd deaths but we still had stocks going up, people living their normal lives and folks not being out of jobs. I had H1N1, felt miserable for a week, I mean terrible but got up went to work after full recovery. The reason H1N1 died down was not vaccine but the sheer number of people who actually became resistant to it and could not spread it further

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_flu_pandemic_in_the_United_States

We are somehow made to believe this is worse than h1n1 because of percentage deaths in corona viru’s case. That is true for older population and partly true because we have the wrong numbers. First it was reported the death rate is 3%, as the real numbers started flowing in, it now shows 1%. After we realize that the number of actual cases are at least 10 times the reported, that number is going to look similar to .1%,  and if we really dig deep into that, maybe even close to .01% when we start using models that account for people who never even reported because they had no symptoms

The worst part of this is, we did not have lockdown during H1N1 when our kids and youth were at risk and we are implementing lockdown when the older generation is at risk – where is the parity? If we need lockdown now, we need lockdown during every flu season. Having kids make me most irate that during peak flu, poor kids get infected because of older folks who have flu and come to pick up their kids in school infecting other kids not realizing that is far more dangerous than you with corona virus infecting a youth who might not have any symptoms or will have mild symptoms

Instead of same size fits all, we should have restricted travel and contact for everyone over 50 or anyone who comes in contact with them should have taken a step back for 4 weeks and protected the most vulnerable population. If you have a parent, don’t visit them for next month or so. Provide them all necessities, let those be available and be in stock online so you can order for your parents. But we chose to panic, we chose to hoard and take away those essentials from the most vulnerable who are now forced to go to stores and then get sick. We just messed up. And we are in  more and more reactive mode where we are creating further hoarding.

It’s time we look at this differently – impose restrictions on most vulnerable, make sure they get their supplies by not hoarding and let people who hardly get any symptoms go on with their lives. Make it a choice – if you think you are vulnerable though you are not in high risk, stay home for next 4 weeks.

This epidemic will end in a month if we do that, else we will be stuck in this lockdown for next 18 months until there is a vaccine.

The one good thing that should come out of this is, if you have flu next time, your boss would not question why you are not at work! you will take more precautions next time, wash your hands, sanitize often and help bring down flu number yearly. Keep your kids home during flu, don’t go to pick up your kid when you had flu as you might infect the kid.

Generations later would figure out we looked at this all wrong but by then we would have relegated everything to China

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Corona Virus – are we on right path?

So have to admit – being stuck inside the walls and still work sucks! life as right now isn’t ideal. But question is why are we doing this – you don’t have to look far – celebrities posting videos of how to wash hands (pooof!), athelete asking us to stay safe after recovering without a symptom with corona virus, no sports on TV, we are at the mercy of a virus. Or are we?

We are mercy of our own fears – our fears that we all will get the virus and we will all die – at least that’s what every social channel, every news makes you believe. Is it dangerous, absolutely but does everyone get it and die, absolutely not. Do some people fall seriously ill, off course. But there is no disease where “some” people don’t fall seriously ill. Do we change the way we lead lives, no. Then why is this different. Here are some reasons we are told

a. It gets transmitted very easily: Fact – but so was flu last year. Guess how many flu cases we had? https://www.contagionlive.com/news/us-flu-cases-increased-by-4-million-over-the-last-week 19 million. Just think about it. But for some reason corona virus which has 30k in a month is more dangerous.

b. H1NI – this is my favorite comparison – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_flu_pandemic_in_the_United_States – its 60 million cases. I am sure that was never a thought you had given and consider 12000+ deaths.If we think these same numbers for corona, I bet we wouldn’t even breathe due to fear of getting infected.

We are told that it’s far more dangerous because the percentage of people dying is much higher. FALSE. Percentage is deaths/cases found or known. What we will realize at the end of this all is there were far more cases we did not know than did know. So we started with 3% fatality in the US and as we know the actual cases in 15 days that percentage is down to 1 and I can assure by end of May 2020, it would be close if not less than H1N1. So the question is, if we didn’t have a lockdown then, why now? Because we’ve become socially influenced people. We read too much now, we absorb what every expert says without questioning.

Flu and H1N1 were far more dangerous to kids than adults. This is what hits nerve for me. I have kids and when I see we are panicking because a virus is affecting older people but when these viruses affect kids, we call it seasonal and let it go. More kids die with Flu and h1n1 than they will with corona. If we want to care for the old, care for the kids. Lets have lockdown all year long.

 

So why the lock down? And why is it spreading so quickly. Here is a reason

So this is how it spread – fear. Govt gave enough warning that they will implement quarantine. During those 3-4 weeks, we (in all countries) had throngs of folks in grocery stores, pharmacy etc etc stocking at home while transmitting to everyone surrounding them at the stores (as for healthy people this has zero signs). They then came home and transmitted to all folks at home who went out to get their own supply of next 3 weeks and then transmitted to other folks. If you have to implement a lockdown, don’t give room to go out be around million people. Just do it! This whole thing is so poorly planned. Wonder why after lockdown italy still has growing number of cases? Because they already got them going to the damn same grocery stores and staying home are infact infecting anyone who wasn’t sick earlier. Kids who were in colleges came home to their parents who are more vulnerable and the parents became sick. Has the govt ever considered asking did these folks go to get grocery, pharmacy etc? Just knowing who they came in contact with wasn’t enough. Where did they go to eat, hoard toilet paper is equally important.  If you want to shut down, just do it one fine day and then let army control one household at a time grocery. This is so poorly planned.

What could have we done differently?

We should’ve given complete quarantine order for all elderly and folks who come in contact with any elderly. Rest population should not have been quarantined. this would have resulted in 10% of folks being home, 90% going about their usual business, 3% of them getting sick and 99.99 of those 3% being sick would’ve recovered. But guess what, those 3% would never get it again and within a month or so, you would’ve got it, been a bit sick for a couple days and would be completely resistant to it and then in a few weeks you slowly let the older population out so we can take care of them if they get sick. Most probably they would not because the rest 90% would have recovered. But we tend to follow the fear without rationale.

What bothers me is, it almost feels like we don’t care for our kids who get infected every year with flu. Do the math – once the final numbers come out and testing is within hours you will realize this was much less deadly than H1N1. But we chose to ruin economy, lives and basic common sense.

In no way do I intend to say it’s not dangerous, I am questioning how we face the fear? We plan and think but instead we chose panic!

I just hope someone says, I got this pill and it will cure and you will see millions on the road the next day, though it’s not true.

Leaders, can we think outside the box? Quarantine will not work unless it’s absolute and if not let people be people and use targeted quarantine so we can help the vulnerable and let healthy folks fight it out because if we don’t they will have to fight it out in hospitals instead of the comfort of their homes

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#NoToDriverlessTech

OK, I am biased towards the intrusion of tech into every aspect of life. Nothing denying that. But the latest episode of driver less uber killing someone just hits a wrong note.

Let’s start with motivations for innovation – who does driver less tech really benefit? Just taking an example of uber the only people it benefits is UBER. This is their long term strategy to shove the idea that somehow this technology is safer than humans – is basically saying you are a child and we can shove any ideology we want and sell it the right way using the tech innovation umbrella and you should just drink the cool aid. Let’s think at it from different angles

a. Safety: So proponents will throw this the most. Well the driver less tech is safer than humans. I am still not sure how. The claim is substantiated with a statistics of accidents involving human drivers vs driver less. Here is the deal – there are over 264 million cars driven by humans and probably 100 driverless . In 100 by uber, they already smashed one last year and killed on this year. Could’ve well been 2 deaths. Imagine that if you extrapolate (because you really want to talk numbers), you would have close to million deaths. I get it that extrapolation isn’t applicable, but if we really want to compare numbers, that would be your comparison. Plus this tech is nowhere close to perfect. It doesn’t work in snow, wind, rain as efficiently as a clear blue sky – so what’s the point – when we have bad weather conditions, we just stop? I’m sure you’ve been driving on road and suddenly a pellet gets kicked off by someones car and hits your windshield and makes a small dent which you get replaced immediately? What if the same pellet smashes the camera on the car – what then? does the car halt. Way way too many questions. What if the car now has a flat tire – you don’t have a driver to help you fix it. So do you remain stranded.

b. Security: Has anyone really thought about this in detail? I think this is by far the biggest risk!! Remember what happened in Europe? People using vehicles as means to cause harm. Now you don’t need anyone. Recently Russian hackers hacked into the US national power grid. Are we saying the cars cannot be hacked into and are more secure than the national grid protected by NSA – now that’s a laughable notion? Imagine a driver less huge truck being controlled from somewhere else and is headed to crowded area. That’s just crazy to even imagine. Government needs to step in right now. This is the biggest and most neglected aspect of these.

c. Intelligence: To suggest these devices are smarter than humans is just another marketing ploy. Think about it, who made them? Humans. So unless AI can make humans without telling it what to do, this argument is just insane that they can account for scenarios and “learn” as we are being sold. The only reason the car crashed into the lady is because she jaywalked. I sure am not letting one of these cars come anywhere close to the street I live on. The kids play on streets all the time. They don’t care about this. A human can “anticipate” – a robot/AI just can’t. It doesn’t have eyes, or read body clues. Anyone trying to jaywalk doesn’t have a standard “format”. They just tend to “lean”. Does AI get that. Absolutely not.

d. Innovation: Sure these are cool toys. Let’s keep them as toys. Bring remote controlled cars for kids and let them have it. An argument by pro-tech folks in this area is, well if we had resisted, we would be still walking or riding horses. You are missing the point. Innovate to augment human needs not to replace them. What’s the need for driverless cars? Clearly it doesn’t address safety/security or decision making. We went from walking to horses to cars to planes because it helped us get from point A to point B faster. And even today, planes don’t drive themselves. If that’s the case, how did the governor of Arizona decide the cars are safer and issue an executive order to have them on streets? We’ve been on planes for ever and still have humans there. What do we say – follow the money!!! You take the same amount of time to get from point A to B in a driver less car than one with driver pretty much. The only case to justify this could be we don’t have drivers to take people around. Clearly, that’s not the case.

So all this for what? in an ideal world where every car on road is driver less and no one is walking, sure. Until then, we should all say “no thank you” and let’s invest that kind of money in something that really helps – invest in finding cure for cancer or Alzheimer. Don’t waste time on this and try to shove the benefits down the throat. I can almost imagine just like uber, uberX, you are going to see Uber (with human) and one without with surcharge for human assisted. You see where this is going right? Follow the money. But purely from safety and security perspective, there is no justifying this tech.

Just put yourselves in the poor family’s shoes – if they were struck by a drunk driver or someone running a light, they would at least get it. With a driver less car killing one of their beloved, imagine the travesty of not knowing who to blame? Some offshore developer maybe. Just WOW!

Just hope the family sues Uber and the cars end up back to research labs. Latest was Uber will and can be charged for criminal liability just like humans. So does uber go in prison too or gets shut down. What’s the oversight here? Too many questions – Mr Doug Ducey Governor, you just made the worst decision of your life and I am sure $$$ paid a huge part in it. And he only allowed those since March. Imagine that, just a few cars on road in 19 days had one fatality – do we really want to take those chances.

#SayNoToDriverLessCars

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Health is everything, everything else is well everything else

Guess I don’t need to write a post for this topic, but anyways, will still go ahead with the obvious…

In technology they say you are working on leading or bleeding edge, i’ve always been on the bleeding, because it’s the thrill that comes with uncertainty – I never bargained for same in life though? or maybe god just said “Bless you ‘puttar’ sab ismein bleeding edge pe hi raho” [ be on the bleeding edge in everything]..

I’ve been in a vaccum when it comes to health, always believed I was almost invincible – can eat everything, can do everything – don’t feel like mid 30 at all . I remember distinctly getting into a discussion/argument with a friend who recently visited from India – she happened to be a health conscious person, polar opposite to my thinking of leading life. Her words bottomlined on “you don’t know what you eat, you better pay attention”. That time I was like, sure I will (and in my head it sounded like, yeah whatever).

And then it hit – real hard . A week+ back, as I flew back from training from west coast, daring the 5 hour travel with intense pain in back and arm, straight to ER – “I am not sure what pain I’ve in my arm and back, I can’t take this anymore”. The doc had a face of concern, quite contrary to my assessment of my pain (ah well I need some meds, that’s it). Then comes CT scan, and I am still not sure, CT scan for what? And once I get back he quietly says, hey don’t worry it will get better give it 4-6 weeks. Make sure you are careful from here on. “Did I hear that right”? 4-6 weeks, what the…..came home with the pain meds, to read through the details and of course google! Suddenly now it’s reality – hey you are 36 but your work or your phone or your posture or everything else makes your neck like a 56 yr old!!! Had the c6 raducolpathy!  If you didn’t know what that is, it’s better you never hear of that. All I can say is, next time you’ve a neck pain – just don’t say, oh it’s just neck pain! take some anti-inflammatory!

SO yeah, recovering one day at a time, there are good days, some really bad nights of spasms in arm which scares you to core (spasms apparently not a good sign)….

And now the birthday – some might say well bad timing. As i go through the wishes of friends here, back home, well wishers, family – this couldn’t be better timing. Sometimes you need all the positive energy to keep your chin up especially when your view of invincibility seems opaque now!  I made sure I got in touch with the health nerd friend and told her, maybe you are at the right place – i’ll get there for sure, the path might be a touch different, but health is all that is – everything else take a back seat

On this day, when everyone has made my day, I wish each and every single one, a healthy year and life! Let’s live each day fully, as you sometimes just don’t know — so cheers to that and some more wine please;)

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A lasting impact

the title seems a bit cliche, but isn’t that appropriate in the wake of the school shootings? well nothing comes close to describing the impact, but it sure is there to last!

I was walking past one of the monitors in our lobby at IMF only to notice around 8 people gathered near the television sets. It was unusual to say the least as we walk past everyday more interested in what’s for menu during lunch hour. So I paused, told my friend, hey let’s check it out. With IMF you expect the new MD speech or Apple stock news gaining traction, however it was different this time. There was an errie gasp as I approached the set with people shaking their heads as they walked past. I just paid attention to bottomline – shooting reported in a school. I just had the first reaction – when will these jerks stop and I walked away. I went to my desk to have a missed call from my friend. Well we don’t call, we just message as friends, so I called him back, and he goes, dude, these suckers killed those kids! and I said, KIDS? then it all started making sense. I hung up to pull up CNN and my heart dropped, stopped, paused!!!

Being a parent now, I wonder if it makes you weak, or maybe being weak is what we are supposed to feel as human beings on hearing such things. As the President later said, “we as parents…….”, yup, the little guy in your house, is the first one you think of. It’s selfish in a way, but we are “humane” too! I called my wife, told her how I missed the boys even at work today! I couldn’t wait to see them. I’ve never felt this desparte to see my kids, which we see them everyday, but this was different. This incident hit right deep within.

As a day passed, the feeling changed from selfish to compassion towards those parents, what those guys must be feeling, it’s just hard to fathom! what did they do? what do they do now? they dropped their kids the morning and must’ve been planning something great for the day, year, ages…..all taken away by senseless act. I cannot stop reading about those kids, can’t stop thinking about those parents.

This will stick with me forever! I’ll pray for the parents and the kids every single day and may God take care of the innocent….if the gun culture doesn’t change even now, there is no hope. We are looking up to you Mr President! It’s time to act…

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The curious case of Tendulkar!

So, well, isn’t this polarizing? Talking about Tendulkar! There seems to be radical views on both sides, and everyone has always gotten me confused of being radical. Criticizing is not being radical. Radical means being on one side without merit.

Let’s take it a step back, waay waay back, around 1990’s. Tendulkar grabbed attention for being the 16 yr old making debut. You could say watching him at that point, I was in complete awe. Well because the phenom was deserving awesome, at 16 this guy was facing the best attacks. For me it didn’t matter if he scored or not, for me being a part of the biggest stage, representing the country was good enough. Clearly you could see there was talent, and what I would say “flair”. He could play the same shots but the elegance and panache that wasn’t seen. He did not open the batting in one day internationals then!

Then came in the new zealand tour, which basically you could call made me “radically for” the guy. I remember getting up 3am watching games with my dad. He wasn’t scoring centuries every game. But what was worth watching was the freedom and the desire to dominate and win. There was a team first guy, ready to bowl, throw himself around, ready to win!! It was hard to be not a fan, and so were the millions and billions. I can guarantee, at that point, you could not find a single person on the other side of the fence at that stage.  Think again, if there was no one on the other side then, why are there now?  hold that thought…….

Then came the famous “Tenulkar at 25”. I wonder if you ever saw the documentary? He was now transformed into a more authoritative team-mate, even mature to keep converting 50s into 100s. It was the time, I switched off the TV once he got out ( i am sure you did that too, do you do that now? You don’t).  He made the day more often than not.

Fast forward a few years, now there is a distinct difference in his batting, his demeanor, his methods. He becomes defensive, you could sense him being tentative once he starts getting closer to 50s/100s/200s. His demeanor on the field become more distant. The more pressure was built, the easier he started to wilt. He started giving hope and disappointing. By then, losing started meaning more than individuals to me. Maybe because I started playing team sports and for me loss meant a loss. I could care less about him or any other to make a 100 if it meant at the end of the day you lose. when you make a 100, you make it count!!! when you consume 150 deliveries, you make it count. You make sure you put the team in a position to WIN. There was another phemon at the same time, Brian Lara, a left handed stylish destroyer ala Viv Richards.

Brian Lara came and went, well, after a few thousands of runs, but one distinct difference was, if he stayed at the crease,  you knew you were going to be chasing the ball to the end. He wasn’t going to change his batting. On the other end of the spectrum, you had Tendulkar, accumulating runs after runs but when it was the time to play on a bigger stage, you could pretty much say, yeah, he isn’t going to score. 250+ chasing against a good opposition meant, good bye good night!

We as Indians are the least objective. We believe in treating people as god! And can you really be objective towards God? So there were two sections – people who treated him as GOD, for them it didn’t matter even if he kept failing, and people who just hated him as for them if he doesn’t score a 100, he is a failure. If you think about it, both aren’t objective. People confuse my views with the latter one not realizing or knowing or understanding what objectivity meant.

You would never see me criticize a 100 if that means a WIN! NEVER NEVER EVER! For me, it’s more important to see a desire to win, to be a team guy. I don’t see that in him anymore. It isn’t a coincidence, his strike rate drops down drastically towards milestones (statistically correct, lookup the australia tour for an example). For me, that can only mean one of the two things – you are under pressure or you are worried about the milestone. I never said he doesn’t have talent (at least in last 10 years), people quote me from 1990, well, in 1990 I also didn’t talk to girls 🙂

I don’t believe people realize my posts during his innings when chasing 334 or something against Australia only for our other batsman to mess it up. That was one innings, when it “felt” like the Tendulkar of the old, he kept hitting it all over even when he was closing in on 100. We lost the game, but I was the first one to applaud that innings.

Contrast that to the 100th 100 few days back. India is facing Bangladesh. India has the worst bowling attack in the world. Small grounds mean if you bat first, you better make it big. As a pure batsman, with wickets in hand, you should be throwing cautions to the wind. Not our genius. He himself accepted he was bothered by the milestone, kept on “accumulating” runs. Scoring 114 in 144 odd deliveries. You know what that means? 114 in close to 25 overs? If that isn’t acceptable as a team against Bangladesh, how do you justify that for an individuals. Boggles me people don’t understand we should have at least scored 325 that day.  As I said, there is no objectivity.

There is always a time to reflect and cheer sheer number of runs. But in last 10 years, think about how many of those runs meant wins for India? how many match winning innings were there? When was the last time you saw all hopes lost and him taking us out of the rubble.  What I hate is there isn’t the same yardstick for everyone. That’s being typical Indian! I remember one of my post:

“It took 1+ year, 3+ series, 2+ debacles, 20 odd innings, friendly batting conditions, small ground, weak opposition, weaker bowling, ignorant fan base, eunuch selectors, snail like batting, putting the total in jeopardy and a team win – to achieve a personal milestone, and fans are still applauding, wow Mr Tendulkar, at least now can you hang your boots please!”

Statistically, is there anything wrong? And realistically, could any other batsman have survived without being dropped? Unfortunately, even the selectors are “scared” to drop him.

If he is such a genius, if he is such a talented batsman and if he is a match winner, please remind me of the last winning contribution to a test match please? How many years do I need to go back?

It’s time BBCI has a ceremony for his achievements, gives him a medal and says, thank you Sir! Let’s give chance to the future.

At the end of the day, you’ve to always ask this question – if you had to chase 300 against a good bowling attack, and you had an option to pick 1 player, who could you pick? Sachin / Lara / Sehwag / Viv Richards?

Who gives you the best chance to win? Shouldn’t the best player in the world give you that?

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Where’s the gamesmanship, Captain!

If you’ve no idea what cricket is, well, maybe it’s a good time to skip this one!:)

Every now and then, in sports, you see these highly anticipated showdowns which on the game day turn out to be real dampers! I was really looking forward to a Tebow (god’s child) vs Tom Brady (god when it comes to football) matchup this weekend. Turns out the god in reality was just too much for the kid (Tebow). The final storyline of 45-10 only reflects the disparity in the quality of quarterback play but it did damper the evening as it was a one-sided affair. However, if you look at the talent on paper, there was a genuine mismatch on the field of play. Tebow should be given benefit of doubt as well, everyone knows he can never elevate his game to the level of Brady! To some level, I can live with that…..

However, what I can or will never be able to accept is, lack of will when it comes to game time. If you have even followed Indian Test Cricket recently, that’s what stands out and hurts you as a ardent cricket fan. I’ve played the game myself, and captained a team, and I fail to understand how a talented team can go so, I mean, so wrong! When I played the game, for me failure of team meant, MY failure as a captain. No one else was to blame. However, I took every defeat, didn’t matter the margin, personally and vowed I would do everything in my capacity to fix what was wrong or make sure I put the team in a position to win! Here is an example…

It was I believe close to a bit chiller times (60 F in Nagpur is chilly:)), we were organizing the yearly “Cric Mania” event. GS college was as usual the favored team to win, they had the best talent I had seen in my 4 years at college, no wonder 8 of those ended up playing for Vidarbha at some point. Bottomline, the most talented team. The tournament was well revered and was a big deal to win in this one apart from the university tournaments played later on in the year.

At the start of that year, I remember distinctly, when I was appointed the captain, not by vote, but by reputation(:)), even though I had failed miserably in my previous year. I mean miserably equals (0,0,5,23,54,16) as my last scores. I agree, I didn’t deserve, but then it was a case of who else was more deserving. No one else was, so, it was I guess an easy choice for the administrators to put me in charge. When our boss called me to hand over the keys for the store room where we had all our equipment, I distinctly remember him saying “Paha kahi karta yeil ka” == Try what you can with this team. He basically meant, he didn’t expect us to win at all. Well, agreed on some level, we had lost the most talented guy I played with Ambarish Desai as he graduated, and along with him 8 seniors. Basically, the new team only had 5 regulars and others, bunch of well, triers!

That statement though, HURT! I mean, I get it, we don’t have talent, doesn’t mean we can’t compete? My thought process as a captain is like a complete spectrum end of a thought process as a player. Agreed, not ideal, but let’s say it is what it is. Being the most important part is motivation personified for me. I took that bait, and off went on the captain hat. My everyday routines for practices were unorthodox to the limit. I wasn’t a disciplinarian when it came to fitness, my message to my teammates was simple, you are old enough to understand to work on fitness. Do as you please. I just don’t need an excuse during game time. The net sessions were executed like none other, instructions like – you’ve a bat in hand, but you cannot hit the ball (practice leaving the ball), I would give a batsman a field placing and then say – you are supposed to score 13 runs in this over. If you don’t the next guy comes in and bats. For me, mundane net sessions didn’t allow people to think. I tried to simulate game time as much as possible during net sessions. My biggest emphasis was always fielding though. I believed, that is one thing you do not have a dependency – as a batsman you might get out with a good ball, as a bowler you can be hit by a good batsman, when it comes to fielding, you’ve no excuse! People have accused me of putting too much pressure on fielders. My explanation is simple, if you cannot handle this pressure, you don’t deserve to be in! I was just fortunate, that over the few months, I had a team with great character, will to fight to the last, more will over talent. Shyam Deshpande (will), Sumit Pathak (brains), Ketan Kaore (skill), Sandeep Kopulwar (nack of fields), Atul Ballal (deputy) …..everyone had developed their own mantra for success.

Back to cric mania, well, we ended up being in semi-finals against GS. Being hammered would be putting it mildly. We were hit all over the park, it was boys against men! 312 in 40 overs. The match pretty much ended right there. We tried our best, were bowled out for 180. Now that to me, hurt. Since I was the organizer as well, put on a brave face, eventually they won the tournament, congratulated them etc etc. But inside, I could never forget it. I had decided, I needed a revenge, I knew we didn’t match on paper. But were were smarter when it came to brains! Let’s use what we got!

For the next 2 months, I scouted pretty much every game these guys played making notes of what every players likes to do, how he gets out, how he scores runs. All mental notes. We didn’t even have the kind of softwares these people run these days. I came back, in practices, I would simulate a specific batsman or a bowler and try to see if I could come up with a plan.

Then game the big game, again. It was the quarter finals for the university tournament. We batted first, did decent 169 in 40 overs. Everyone thought, well game over. Not me. I had a weird confidence, I knew how each batsman played. The openers come out to see the most weirdest field setting on plant, had a leg slip, only one mid on, everyone else including two wide gully filders. This was their opener, great at off side. I was basically trying to say, look dude, if you think you are that good on the off, try it out. For two overs, the guy kept on hitting straight to fielders on off, no runs scored. Third over start, I told my bowler, dude, pitch it a bit short but on the 5th stump. Let’s see if he tries to drag it to hit on the leg. Walah! short ball, moving away, guy tries to execute a pull way from the off stump – bowled!!!! And from there on, it was one after the other, the match eventually as tied!!! We took a team that had hammered us for 312 to mere 169 in, well just one game!

Point is, as a captain, you don’t need statisticians, you need pure cricketing brain. My mantra always has been, if you cannot win it on the field, win it in the head! Beat them up there. That’s what I call “Gamesmanship”. Every defeat has got to “hurt”. A captain is the linchpin for everything. What do they say, with greater authority comes greater responsibility or something like that. Not too many people were fan of my gamesmanship or a disciplinarian approach to captainship. For me, being a captain was never about pleasing people, it was all about results. Period! I wasn’nt handed over the captain to be popular, but to win games.

Dhoni, a captain of India, not a college cricket team, is totally unaware of such a term! Look back at all the wins we had, it has been about individual brilliance including himself. He never did something that turned the game. Gamesmanship is more important when you side has lost once and how you make a comeback. Look at what’s happening in Australia and England. Did you ever see something different in any test even though we looked like minnows?  Nothing. Well, sorry captain, you got no game.

If you’ve never captained a side, you shouldn’t have an opinion. I’ve been there and done that. The stage is miles or milky ways apart, but the concept doesn’t change. When Clarke was shredding for 300, I would’ve made sure he has to earn everything. You’ve to learn an art of negative bowling. Ranatunga did that successfully against Tendulkar. Yet we see, spread out fields as a mechanism to stop runs. I beg to differ, what you do is, bowl a leg stump line, pack the leg side field and say – If you think you can score on us, go ahead, hit it  against the line. if not, we will give you 300, you’ll just take 5 days to get there. Screw the critics, you are not going there to lose.  Secondly, if I found out well we are making 160 every innings, I would’ve gone to Tendulkar and said ” Dude, cut the crap. You are the most talented batsman, you are opening the innings. If you don’t want to, sit out. Team First, Country first!” . As a captain, you’ve got to have the guts. I remember the last game, my vice-captain was late. He walked in and I said “sorrry dude, grab the scorer sheet. you are not in playing 11”. Everyone was stunned, no one agreed. But it’s a guts call. You’ve to have the ba**** to lead. Else, be one of the other 10! Sehwag has no clue right now about what’s going on with new ball in play, i would’ve said, look dude, be padded up, you go only if 30 overs have been bowled. I want to use you between 30 and 80 overs. If that means he bats at #7 so be it. He is not going in to bat unless he is the only batsman remaining.

Drastic times require Drastic measures, and our captain has no clue of what needs to be done!  Charisma and lady luck can only go so far. These are the times for gamesmanship! Sorry captain, you got none!

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What are you drinking tonight?

Alright, a disclaimer to start. This post doesn’t justify or deny a style of living. It’s an assessment of change in perception. Having said that…

I was born at a time in India where drinking meant a “drunk”. I mean seriously, thinking about it today, I wonder “what were we thinking”. My dad was a connoiseur or food and drinks. He loved to eat non-veg food, mix in a drink or two and that would pretty much be a lifetime. For him living today, eating/drinking what you want was what life was all about. He probably used to drink not more than a drink or two of “rum”/”wiskey” a day. Beer wasn’t his thing. That too, just as a means to spice the evening a bit I guess, but not the kind going out with his friends, partying late night, nothing. Just pure being a regular guy who likes a bit of two of his favorite. But my mom, who came from a family where bringing alcohol or it’s consumption was a pretty much equivalent to sin, wasn’t naturally too happy about it. Seeing your mom feel that way, you pretty much are inclined to form a similar opinion. I didn’t appreciate dad drinking even a bit “at that point in life”. Reflecting back, what was the big deal? one drink, so what, to heck with that….anyways…

I came to the US around 2000, and now there is a complete round about in perception. I was out with my friends until 2-3am (still not drinking), but just a beer or two would be the call of the day. Along the way I met similar minded people, we drank a couple and that’s it. As years passed by, I see more and more of a complete culture shift if you call when it comes to consumption of alcohol. For me, drinking was a part of a party. Now drinking is the party and everything else is just, well, everything else. Every now and then you meet people along the lines of “I want to drink my ass off tonight”, “Oh, that party, everybody was completely wasted”, and mind you I am talking about all immigrants!  I don’t have a problem with drinking, I find it just mind boggling how there is a concept now of you got to get drunk to be cool? I get the part that it’s easy to fit in if you are open to slugging down a few, but never imagined it would get to this. I remember specifically, I got drunk, I mean defined “wasted” drunk, drove my car home and next day for me it was it. I decided “never ever again” and have stood by that until today. For me, throwing up after being drunk, embarrassing yourself and then having no guilt of it the next day, just doesn’t make sense. I can get the point, you do it once, you get it, end of chapter. But I’ve run into people doing it same thing again and again and again. So, what’s the psyche here?

Drinking and getting wasted gives a false sense of confidence. If you are drinking out of your minds to accomplish something you cannot while you are in your senses, you are pure coward. You got to have the guts to say/do something when you are in your senses and if you do the same when you are half drunk, I get it!  I’ve been to school here and I get the point of getting the girl a bit tipsy! Trust me I get it. My point is, just have the guts to say/do when she is tipsy either. I’ve heard the phrase “i didn’t know what I was doing”, sorry girl, don’t buy that. You ALWAYS know what you are doing.

So, where did we get to this? I bet at least 99% of you didn’t demonstrate these traits in India else your parents would’ve beaten the sh** out of you. It’s called, being a part of this culture. That’s what I heard last time. My point is, if you had to learn something from here, learn how people support their troops even though their president makes dumb moves, learn how people here are one when it comes to US vs the world.

In no way, I mean you shouldn’t party or drink. What I am trying to say is, drinking shouldn’t be the motivation for a party! There is a similar concept now in India and I am not sure why. Think about it, are we better served by imbibing this in our culture or we better off without it!

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