Saturday, March 19, 2011


Leo stared into the empty space at his eyes’ level in the drawing room. That blank portion of the wall somehow resembled the blankness in his mind. He had just heard something which turned his whole world topsy-turvy. It was worse than the harsh treatment meted out to him by the mentor the previous day. That was nothing new to him. He had witnessed it many a time. So many of his fellow members in the Order’s Asia-Pacific establishment had been given this appraisal by the mentor. When a member failed to live up to the expectations set on him, his days in the Order were numbered. No, he was not killed. Life was but an irrelevant disposition for the Order. It was meaningless. The only organ in the human body which was given importance was the mind. If a member didn’t live up to the Order’s expectations he was simply discarded. He was ostracized from the elite circle he had always felt a part of and was, in all respects, scientifically quarantined.

 Every member of the Order was a genius and not a single member could be classified as ‘Old’. Leo was the youngest of the geniuses. His path breaking research paper on the Effects of Psychochemical Behaviour Modification Drugs had sparked quite a few debates in the global scientific circles and proved to be the gate-pass for his induction into the Order. He was expected to make further headway to his initial hypotheses. They were eager to have him in the establishment. He was welcomed in a grand way and provided unlimited and unquestioned access to data and equipment. He was surprised by the fact that they could acquire such sophisticated equipments which were not even found in the USA or, for that matter, China – the hub of genetic engineering. He wanted to know who was behind all this, but didn’t dare to ask.

For the first few months he was provided with all sorts of comforts he had only dreamt of in the ‘real’ world. The Mentor, as he was called by one and all in the Order, outlined to him the motto of the Order in a single, crisp sentence – Pursuit for Intellectual Saturation. He was simply blown away.

But slowly, the potholes on the highway began to emerge. The Gleaming glass building that portrayed itself as Naqoya International Medical Center was, to the outer world, a non-profit private organization providing world class medical treatment to the common man. But to the three hundred odd brilliant minds occupying rooms hidden in the labyrinthine pathways at the far end of the center, it was a posh prison. No one was given a glimpse of the outside world. They came to know whether it was day or night only by means of a twenty four hour digital clock that hung in the recreation room. There was food; there was healthcare; there was even a shopping mall and cinema. But there was nothing that resembled the word ‘home’. In short, they existed but rarely lived.

This arrangement suited most of the inmates. They could concentrate on their research in a tranquil atmosphere. They were footsteps away from any equipment they desired for experiments and free from searching eyes and prying questions. Leo found all this very much to his liking for the first few days. Then he inadvertently heard a conversation from the mentor’s office which simply shook his faith in the Order.

“Any probing questions from our guests?”

“None till now, sir”

“How is the search going on? How many more can we expect to join us by this year?”

“At least ten thousand more, sir”

“Good. Be careful and avoid suspicions at all costs. And always remember our vision”

“Yes Sir. Intellectuals above the rest. The world at our behest

Leo was shocked. This was something that sounded very different from what the mentor said. It didn’t sound one bit like intellectual saturation. He felt it was more on the lines of fascism where some of the best brains of the world were cohorts in an endeavour to rule the world.

He later learnt from one or two like minded scientists that this was indeed the goal of the Order. The Order’s ultimate aim was to rule the world. Not just rule, but dictate. This was where behaviour modification played an important role and that was where Leo came into picture. He learnt that there was extensive research being done on drugs which made people docile and which could be airborne. The average human being, once infested by this airborne drug would become what the members of the Order refer to as Post-Human beings.

Post-Human beings were people who would not have the capabilities to think and draw conclusions based on their own reasoning skills. They would cease to be creative, inquisitive and compassionate. In short, they would be SLAVES – people who do as they are told to do.

Leo Kaisuke was bedazed. He knew he was trapped. If he refused to carry on with his work he would, like many of his colleagues, be isolated from the rest and sent to the Rejuvenation Room; a room from which he had seldom seen people return. Having been privy to the actual mission of the Order he was sure he couldn’t carry on his work here for the wrong reasons. So he sat staring at the blank space on the wall. He looked up from the space to see the golden framed portrait of the mentor. Even the artist had captured the cold fury emanating from his eyes.

As he continued to stare, he saw the portrait shake ever so slightly. Then there was a more pronounced shake. That was when he felt his chair sway from side to side. He caught hold of the desk in front of him to balance but it was also rocking back and forth. He immediately fell on the floor, flat on his belly and covered his head. The quake continued for a minute and a half. It was the longest he had ever experienced.

He sat up and surveyed the room as the shaking stopped. Not much damage; just some toppled books, vases and artifacts. That was when he heard a low rumble. It grew louder by the second. It seemed to come from the outside. He went to the window and peered outside.

Leo Kaisuke smiled. It was neither a smile of happiness nor one of sadness. It was a smile of knowledge. The knowledge of what was going to happen.

‘Sometimes it is better for geniuses to die…’ he thought. It was his final thought.


Naqoya International Medical Center was a brilliant piece of architecture. The gleaming glass exteriors, plush white interiors and state of the art security systems made it a building to envy. It, in fact, had very few negatives.

That it stood majestically facing the seashore turned out to be one of them…

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Following India's tawdry display on the cricket field over the past two weeks in the Cricket World Cup, blames have been ricocheting off many a pillar and post. The latest blame, surprisingly, has fallen on some low key government official who is famous for spreading across messages to every corner of the country. Known to his colleagues and friends simply as 'Ambi', this government son-in-law (mapla) has been at the receiving end from none other than skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 

"Well Of course", dhoni started. "Ever since hype for this world cup began, I have been hearing from every corner of the nation that India are in form. Having lost a series in South Africa just prior to the start of the World Cup, I was surprised at this statement but let it go as harmless fan support. Then, as we unleashed our performance in the first five matches, whispers have started doing rounds that India are not in form. Frankly, I was quite nonplussed by this", dhoni continued. "That is when this fellow 'Ambi' was brought to my notice. Apparently he browses through various government tax forms and applications during his work. Now, we all know that in any application form the header will invariably be 'Government of India'. Thus, obviously India will be in form. But during the course of our fourth or fifth match, Ambi, it seems, came across a visa application form of Australia. Naturally, India will not be in that form. Thus, Ambi has been spreading the message that India are not in form".

"So, amidst all of this I don't see why Nehra or Munaf or myself need to be blamed for India's poor show against South Africa. Obviously the media and the fans are giving too much importance to Ambi's words rather than our performance. How can a team be in form just fifteen days back and suddenly not be in form unless its something to do with such a technicality spread by this Ambi?" Dhoni further questioned.

Meanwhile our sources have some inside information that Ambi might be a close ally of Ravichandran Ashwin. Please follow this page for more details about India's form...

Monday, March 14, 2011


After a strenuous jogging session on the beach shore, I stopped by at a bakery and decided to quench my thirst with a 200 ml bottle of Fanta. It was the first time I was having a soft drink in the 200 ml bottled form since my college days. I was surprised at the pricing - Rs. 10/-. My mind immediately went back to the good old days in college and our very own SASTRA endemism - GOLD CUP.

Bottled in the small village of Pillayar patti this refreshing soft drink came in four unique flavours - Orange, Lemon, Grape and Paneer. While Orange did taste a lot like a liquid concoction of the erstwhile 25 paise orange candy known by the name of ravelon, lemon offered a very unique taste which could never be matched by any of the other famous drinks of the same flavour like limca, seven up, nimboos or LMN. It was the most sought after of the four flavours simply for its uniqueness. Grape was more on the lines of Kalimark's Bovonto, only a little more watery. It was the least moving flavour and often remained unasked for in a corner of the refrigerator. Paneer was a rival to our very own Goli Soda which came in the same Paneer flavour. Though 'Gold Cup Paneer' was a lot sweeter, it had all the essential ingredients to make it a worthy competitor for the fabled Goli Soda

Though the flavours were nothing much to boast about, the main attractiveness of the drink was its cost. Priced at Rs. 5/- per bottle of 200 ml, this was the perfect thirst quencher/after-dinner drink/gas-relieving agent. It was also the main sponsor of our bitterly fought hostel cricket tournament and was often presented to the umpires as a form of refreshment for the thankless job they did under the scorching sun. We hostelites didn't mind spending our allowances on this 'budget beverage' and even the most miserly guys were all for buying this 'quintessential quencher' for themselves and their friends. We SASTRAites built a strong foundation for our friendship through this wonder drink and even went to the extent of planning a visit to our college, after passing out, just to grab at the first visible bottle of GOLD CUP. 

So, why am I harping on about this little known soft drink? Well, I just wanted to convey a message of importance and it is imperative that all you readers get acquainted with GOLD CUP so that you will be able to grasp the essence of the message: 

"After witnessing India's shoddy performance on the cricket field for the past two weeks, forget about the WORLD CUP, Our team does not deserve even a GOLD CUP!!"  

Sunday, March 13, 2011


'De Ghumake!!' shouts an energetic Shankar Mahadevan, egging the average cricket-crazy Indian to offer his support to the World Cup. A popular News Channel starts a campaign called 'Good Luck India' cheering the 'gods' of Indian Sport towards their 'everestesque' quest. Our much celebrated Bollywood actors stop eating veg, non-veg or even food as a show of support to heroes who overshadow them whenever they take the cricket field. FMCG brands, advertising agencies, broadcasting firms and news channels set their cash registers ringing by capitalizing on the frenzy surrounding India's pursuit for glory. What will happen to all of them when Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men crash out of the World Cup on 24th march in Ahmedabad? 

Having followed Indian Cricket for the past fifteen years I was initially surprised when, at the beginning of the World Cup, analysts and experts unanimously chose India as the favourites to lift the coveted trophy. The respect I had for the Gangulys, Gavaskars, Greigs, Manjrekars and Bhogles made me swallow my apprehensions and raise the expectations I had on this 'champion' side. 12th March 2011 brought me, and a hundred crore other people, back to the ground reality. Does India look like a side worthy of the 'favourites' tag? 

A batting line up boasting itself to be full of flair and firepower have so far managed to complicate two comfortable chases, flounder a batting power play and commit an absolute harakiri in another power play when they found themselves in a situation very similar to the previous flounder. 

A four-man bowling unit which cannot compare itself to any of the top eight teams' respective units or, for that matter, even the less flashy, more disciplined bowling units of associates like Ireland and Bangladesh. Zaheer is good, not threatening, with the New ball and clever, not menacing, with the old one. Munaf and Nehra are bad,  but keep proving in each and every game that they can get worse. Harbhajan is just a container unless the pitch is crumbling or opponent is adventurous. Chawla is as clueless as a four year old in a topless bar when it comes to handling pressure. Ashwin seems to be perfecting the art of mixing drinks, maybe in anticipation of a future possible job as a cocktail waiter once his team exits the World cup campaign unceremoniously. 

The team's support staff consists of an astute coach, a bowling consultant who is considered to be a perfectionist, an expert physio and some of the best analytical brains of the cricketing world. Yet there is not a semblance of planning when India go on to set a target to the opponent. Would anyone in their right state of mind take up the batting powerplay when two well-set batsmen, capable of piercing the spread out field quite comfortably, are batting with freedom and spirit? When a swashbuckling batsman capable of smashing any spinner in this world out of the ground with consummate ease is available in your team, would you strive to get him to play to his strengths or send him in during the batting powerplay when pacers are bowling? How would it matter to Yusuf Pathan if there are 3 or 30 fielders outside the ring? He is aiming for only one area and there are no fielders there, only spectators. A young talent who thrives on building an innings and holding one end up is being wasted at five down in the batting order when he strides out with hardly five overs remaining in the innings. Does nobody in the famed team of support staff notice these glaring discrepancies that are quite evident even to a juvenile like me? How many more matches do we need to play to 'iron' out the wrinkles in the team and find a 'settled team composition'? What answers will Dhoni give to fans who spend hours and hours of invaluable time following, supporting and shouting their throats hoarse in favour of him and his team?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


6th March 2011 will go down in the chronicles of my updated 23 year old life as a day to remember. I was witness to a Cricket World Cup match…finally! Now only one more dream remains…watching a world cup match involving the Indian team.

The Game

Two big guns of Group B clashing on a Super-Sunday! Couldn’t have asked for anything more than a game between South Africa and England; the latter facing a must-win situation and the former sitting pretty but untested. Being a keen Indian fan I was also rooting for South Africa to lose this match so that India can top the group even if they lose to South Africa (which, given by their current form, they undoubtedly will) and go on to play New Zealand in the Quarter Final (If things indeed happen according to the best laid plans). So did I feel a bit ashamed to be supporting a country which colonized our nation for hundred years and was instrumental in the formation of Pakistan? Ha! Anything for Cricket!!


I made my way into the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, at Chennai, drinking in the world class infrastructure and state of the art facilities on offer. South Africa taking on England at Chennai implied that my short journey from gate no. 7 into the C stand would be more or less hassle free in contrast with the last time I was there at the same stand when India took on England and I was bedridden for 3 days after the match due to heavy stampede at the entrance of the very same gate.

Winter at Chennai?

As England padded up to bat, the sun began its scorch and a few English fans in my stand had already turned pink.  I mused as to what their colour would be if they experienced the ‘real’ Chennai Summer! Maybe ‘Tomato’ish!! As for us Chennaites, we were enjoying the mild march heat of Chennai and getting ready for some intense battle between two teams which had a ‘lot’ in common, even to the extent of player nationality!

Pietersen! Not you, Son!

We were all eagerly awaiting a ‘Pietersen’ special and naturally zealous chants of ‘Pietersen…Pietersen’ started doing rounds as the strapping ‘English’ batsman took guard. Unfortunately our chants fired up the wrong Peterson who ended up looking like Bishen Bedi’s long lost son as he skittled out the British openers even before I could take the first sip of my cola. The Chennai crowd learnt a lesson at that moment. ‘i’s can be dotted and ‘o’s can be rounded only on paper. It’s always better to use the first name for future encouragements. Hopefully the Chennai fans and Kevin redeem themselves the next time around.

In or Out?

As the match crawled its way to the half stage I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a generous sprinkling of people in the stadium, ready to sacrifice their afternoon to watch two teams, both of which were not India, play cricket. It would have been even more a sizeable crowd had the people who spent more time at the canteen rather than the stands decided otherwise.

My support

 I had almost decided to retire as a cricket fan when I saw Trott, whose strike rate didn’t do justice to his name, and Bopara switch to test match batsmanship. Thankfully, ‘South African’ leggie Tahir accelerated proceedings and brought some colour (not a pun intended at his dyed hair) to the otherwise dull affairs. But by the time South African Batsmen decided to ‘choke’ on their lunch I was a born-again English Cricket fan egging on Stuart Broad and James Anderson with gusto.

Moment of the day

 The prized moment of the match came when A.B. De Villiers left a reverse swinging delivery from James Anderson well alone and looked as confused as an LKG child in a PhD class as he witnessed the bails at his end dislodged.

Thank you

 When Morne Morkel finally decided to end the misery of the proteas’ fans by safely edging a wild delivery into Prior's hands, the ‘Barmy Army’ in my section went berserk and I made a thankful, silent acknowledgement to the unpredictable nature of this beautiful game called Cricket.