Monthly Archives: April 2011

Breaking News: All Teams playing Barcelona to now start with 12 men

In what looks to be a change of rules with far reaching consequences, UEFA has ruled that all teams playing Barcelona from now on in the Champions League will start with 12 men in their side. This judgment comes close on the heels of the extremely volatile Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Michel Platini, the President of UEFA communicated this rule to the media less than 48 hours after Jose Mourinho had made some strong remarks about the Catalan side.

The Red Card

“UEFA is always interested in fairplay. We go to extra lengths to ensure that we provide a fair and even platform for all clubs to perform to the best of their abilities. Keeping this in mind, it has been decided that all teams facing FC Barcelona  will now start with 12 men in their side. Based on the trend that we have observed previously with Barcelona, we believe that this will eventually lead to a proper balancing of the sides and will deliver a good contest on the pitch.”

He also clarified that this ruling will stand for both the group stage and the knockout stage. He also said that this rule will come into effect only from the next edition of Champions league ruling out any possibility of a dramatic comeback by Real Madrid in the 2nd leg.

“We cannot discriminate between teams who qualify to the next stage and those who don’t. That won’t be fair. And we are all for fairplay. So we try to be fair.” said Platini.

When asked about other fairplay issues such as allowing technology to be allowed on the pitch to ensure proper and fair decision making, Platini refused to comment saying that he did not want to see PlayStation in the stadium.

Platini tries to play Fair

This decision, has quite expectedly, brought about some strong reactions among the who’s who of european football. One of the first to respond to the new rule was none other than Jose Mourinho himself.

“Whats the point now? UEFA tries to do something after everything is over. And they are not even allowing us to enforce this rule in the 2nd leg. This only shows that Barcelona has influence even over UEFA themselves. I am the best coach on this planet. I beat Barcelona with 10 men in the previous El Classico. Now who can claim that on their resume? I don’t need 12 players to beat Barcelona! I need 11 and a fair referee! But UEFA will never make sure of that. Especially not when Barcelona is playing.”, he said.

Arsene Wenger, whose side has been getting repeatedly humiliated by Messi and Co., appeared to approve of the gesture by UEFA.

“This actually is bigger than just Barcelona. This is about playing the game on a level playing field. You cannot have a level playing field when one of the teams is bound to be reduced to 10 men AND while the other team has the best player in football history. It is plain common sense. Just look at how our boys have been getting humiliated and defeated by one, having a key player sent off and two, Messi going free to score”, he contended.

When pointed out that Arsenal could not string more than 3 passes together for the first 70 mins of the Last 16 tie when they were playing with all 11 men, Arsene Wenger only replied, “But who was winning at that time?”

Pep Guardiola on the other hand was already thinking about how to tackle the situation. He said,”We will respect the rules of UEFA. If they feel that we are not providing a level playing platform, then we will make sure that this will not be repeated. But at the same time, we have our commitment to the fans to win more trophies come what may. I am talking about our commitment to the fans that we will do anything it takes to win trophies with the only condition being that we need to play beautiful football. This will make us look like we “deserve” to win simply because we play the more entertaining football. If this happens, whatever else we do on the pitch will not matter at all!”

“So in order to honor that commitment, we will work harder because we will now need to get 2 players sent off. This means that we need to spend more time to over dramatize the tackles while making sure that it still looks real. We will probably hire a WWE superstar for this purpose.” he elaborated.

The commitment of the players to the cause was immediately evident. Dani Alves wrote on his Twitter account:

“Must spend more time training the youth in the academy to fake falls and injuries. The future needs to be ready.”

However, Pedro appeared to be disappointed with himself for being unable to get an opponent player a yellow card during the game in spite of going down clutching his face. He tweeted

“Must hold correct part of body in pain. Holding face instead of body part that was in contact doesn’t work. Sorry fans. Will do better next time.”

It is reported that Pedro was using the ‘Long Update” feature in Tweetdeck.

Sir Alex Ferguson was fuming at the rule for not being enforced this season itself.

“Why shouldn’t it be enforced now itself? Let it take effect from the finals onwards. Why should people who play Barcelona only from next season get a different treatment? This is not fair. We are a club whose sole purpose is to create a self-righteous fan base by winning more trophies and by having a rich history. You know, rich history is the only parameter behind supporting any club. And we need to achieve it by doing anything it takes. We also like to hunt for glory. We should also be allowed to field 12 players in the final. We have more or less qualified to it” he said.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager on the other hand was thinking along totally different lines.

“Roman Abromovic wants one thing and one thing only. The Champions League trophy. If this rule is enforced from next season, then we need to think of using it to our advantage. If we can get one of our players to be sent off in every single game in the next season, then we will have a case to argue that we need to START with 12 players, irrespective of whether we are playing Barcelona or not. So this way, we can start the entire  season after next with 12 men and then make sure that we will NOT get sent off! I think I can finally win the Champions League for Roman.” he said.

ESPN football self proclaimed pundit Shebby Singh was already analyzing what players should be chosen for that 12th man. Speaking to John Dykes, he said,

“You see John. The teams need to think smart. They need to think out of the box. Irrespective of how many players you have on the pitch, you have to simply accept the fact that you cannot stop Messi from scoring. The only way you CAN stop that is to use that extra 12th man as an extra goalkeeper! Now Messi will need to get past not one but TWO goalies if he has to score! I think this is a very important point and all teams must give it a thought. “

He continued, “There is actually another role for the 12th man John. This thing just flashed to me. What if…what if the only purpose of that 12th man is to influence the referee to give decisions AGAINST Barcelona? Think of it John. This is actually a very good idea. Why just stop at making a level playing field? See if you can get the better hand! Get the 12th man to do what Barcelona is doing. Get him to dive, fall, fake injuries and complain to the referee everytime a Barcelona player goes past him. Then the ref has to take some action surely! This might actually lead to a Barcelona player getting sent off. Then you can substitute this 12th man with a real footballer and seize the advantage in the game! This is a very good idea!”

By this time, John Dykes was reportedly choking on Shebby Singh’s smug.

The Stereotypical Dream

So I am having a good time here in Iowa. No no. It does not mean that I am having a good time BECAUSE I am in Iowa. I am just having a good time thats all. Actually, come to think of it, Iowa isn’t a bad place after all. There are many awesome places to see and things to do around it. Just nothing IN it. But I digress.

So I have a job here. And I have a car. And I have a new awesome camera. The immediate and implied consequences of those three facts are what I have been making the best use of. And as a result, I find that I am actually quite happy with my life now. Not needing to worry about money, having the means to travel around, meeting new people and spending good time with them, exploring a new hobby- everything seems to fall perfectly into place right now. And this got me thinking in a different direction altogether.

The good and happy position I find myself in right now is obviously not just restricted to me. Most of my friends with whom I did my undergrad are all similarly well settled in some job somewhere and are having an equally good time, if not better. Which made me ask the question:

What is it about my friends and I that has made it possible for us to be in this position in our lives?

Most of us are bright and smart. And where we are now must be partly attributed to that. Sure, we did make the cut in a few examinations or get admissions to some good foreign universities. But these are not really the sole factors which helped us to get where we are now. What I am trying to get my head around is the very system that facilitates this process.

The one common fact that I observe is the most obvious one. All of us started off in Engineering courses. After we finished our Bachelors in Engineering, we either eventually landed up in some management institute of repute or in some good university for Masters (in India or abroad). Subsequent to that, we found jobs and now we find ourselves in a good position. (Else, continue for a PhD if that is what is your calling.)

The thing that strikes me the most in that process is its ease and convenience. It is almost like there is a perfect flow chart laid out in front of those who study Engineering in India. Follow that flow chart where the primary variables are your effort, intelligence, desire and interest, and you are very likely to come out of the process successful. (Successful may mean more money to you. To your parents, it may mean that it is now easier to find you a suitable bride. If you are a Gult, it means your ‘value’ increases. The last two are for men, obviously. But I digress.)

My point is that in India, as long as you are not dumb, you have a good level of interest and are ready to put in the required effort, you are very likely to get to the position I am talking about  – if you are an Engineering student. I am saying that being an engineering student facilitates and/or expedites our journey through the above process. That there are extra advantages to studying Engineering that will help one come out to be financially successful. And I am also saying that not many other disciplines can claim the same.

Maybe it is because of a lack of people I know who have taken up other disciplines that I am unable to arrive at a different conclusion. But simply put, it is a whole lot more difficult for people in disciplines other than engineering to be financially successful to the same degree as their engineering counterparts.

And I do not say that with pride or happiness.

For I myself was a victim of getting brain washed into joining Engineering when my heart lay in pure science. That I eventually found a topic which got me interested and excited equally is what I consider extremely fortunate. But for those who chose to pursue their true interests (when it wasn’t engineering that is), I find it extremely disappointing that they have to tread a much harder AND longer path to be financially successful to the same degree as their engineering counterparts.

At this point, let me make it clear that I am not going to discuss about ‘true satisfaction’ in ‘doing what you really like’ and where your ‘heart lies’ etc. True, people choosing to pursue their interests in different disciplines will probably be more happy studying it. But here, I am only comparing  tangible parameters, and specifically financial success. ‘True satisfaction’ and such are subjective ideas and they warrant a different treatment.

People from other disciplines have to study longer, work longer and make decisions filled with a lot more uncertainty before they reach the same level of financial stability and success as we engineering folks do. (And by that time they are likely to be married so it will not count anyway!) I personally find this very discouraging and destructive.

In a society where we require specialists in all fields, this kind of a glaring contrast in the different options available for students to choose their area of specialization is definitely counter-productive. But fact still remains that engineering is indeed the easiest way to get to where you want to go. And though most of the other disciplines do offer ways to get there, you have to almost always tread a harder, longer and more uncertain path.

Make no mistake. I am by no means trying to suggest that Engineering is THE SHIT and that everyone needs to take up Engineering to be successful financially (as if thats not already happening). In fact, I secretly pray everyday (I don’t know to whom though) that people (mainly parents) come to their senses and encourage young students to study their discipline of interest. But the wide gap that presents itself saying Engineering-is-the-easier-way-than-what-you-want-to-study does not help matters. Of course, the way to narrow the gap is not to make the engineering path less easy or convenient, but to make the paths of all other disciplines free of hurdles and unnecessary social stigma.

Which eventually brings me to the title of this post. The Stereotypical Dream. It is a dream every guy has and cannot really deny. Financial freedom and being in a place where there are a lot of things to do and places to see. It is also a dream that every parent has of their children too. And engineering seems to be the only quick, easy and assured way to realize it. Sad but true.

PS: This post is not my attempt at a  “In your face Manu Joseph” response. Yes. I read that article and found it amusing to say the least. It is not even worth linking to.

Of Haircuts & Atlas Shrugged

So I needed a haircut. When it comes to haircuts, my policy is to get it cut as short as possible, the only objective being to avoid going to the salon for the maximum time possible. And if you are in Des Moines, Iowa, if you want to get a haircut on a Saturday evening, then apparently the only way to get it done is to go to a small shop in the biggest mall in Iowa.

And so I found myself at Jordan Creek Parkway Mall, wearing PJs, a Tshirt and sandals. I was extremely tempted to walk around the mall with a White Russian in my hand. But alas, I found my ‘shop’ much too early for that. 10 mins and a bunch of hair lighter, I found myself standing in front of a movie poster and staring at it.

Apparently, there had been some things going on in the world of cinema while I had forgotten about it. There was POC-IV, there was Hangover 2, the mandatory sequel to a successful movie, and a bunch of other movies. And then there was Atlas Shrugged, the poster in front of which I was standing. I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that a movie was being made based on the 2nd (unfortunately) most influential book in the world. I looked at my watch. It was 6:50 PM. The movie was going to start at 7:10. At this point, I looked at myself in the mirror next to me. And this was what I found:

A T-shirt saying “My Phone number is 17. We got one of the early ones.” A blue pyjama clinging onto my waist. And a pair of brown sandals which could very easily be mistaken for my bathroom slippers. But more importantly, I had just had a haircut.

And where I am from, the only thing that should be on your mind after having a haircut is taking a headbath after making sure that you do not make any contact whatsoever with any household item, living or non-living. Your clothes need to be set aside and soaked separately. And only after the headbath will you be allowed to re-engage your sense of touch and taste.

So there I was, just after a haircut, in my to-be-discarded-separately night clothes, with all these thoughts going on in my head. After thinking for all of 5 seconds, I just said, “Ah! F*** it!” and bought tickets for the show and a big scoop of choco-nut ice cream for timepass.

Remember, I had no clue that this movie was even being made. So when the first scene showed that the movie was set in 2016, I feared that I was watching a movie which was mistakenly named after the book. But then I figured out that the writers had cleverly worked around the irrelevance of the railways in present day America by creating a partly dystopian world where trains are the only feasible means of transport. So this way, the main theme of the book was made to seem relevant.

The movie was good. I really liked it. One of the really good things the producers have done is to split it into two parts. Again, I was not aware of this until the screen showed “End of Part -I” at the end of the movie. Another really useful thing about the movie was that the cast does not include one single well known actor. This works for the better as the on screen persona of a well known actor could have easily spoilt the character’s true image in the movie. That being said, the casting is almost inch perfect. Dagny Taggart and James Taggart, Hank Rearden, Ellis Wyatt, Wesley Mouch all seem very much the part. Special mention to Francisco D’Anconia’s role. There could not have been a better casting for that.

The acting is quite convincing too, for the most part. And again, that is largely helped by the actors actually looking their parts. John Galt’s character is still kept in the shadows and is not revealed fully. The movie as such goes on until Wyatt’s Torch. (You will know what it means if you have read the book). There are some truly well-shot sequences in the movie. First among them is the train journey across the first Rearden Metal track. Really well shot, exploring the Colorado landscape to the maximum.

Even though the pace, characters and script stick true to the spirit of the book, there are a few things that I was really hoping to see. For instance, Francisco D’Anconia’s speech about Money is totally ignored. I was really looking forward to that. But having said that, the movie does cover most of the important aspects of the book.  And I am already looking forward to the 2nd part.

But whatever maybe the case, there is still no substitute for actually reading the book.

Updates: Abiding…

“….or how I embraced Dudeism, unwound myself and became happy..”

Yeah. So I have now officially converted my religion to Dudeism. This merits a complete post to itself containing all my fundamental realizations and changes and thats what I aim to do now. Let me first state that I have never found more peace, contentment and happiness in whatever I may have been practicing so far. I have gone through different stages of believing and non-believing in my lifetime. From an ignorant kid ready to believe whatever my parents told me to an outright rebel atheist in high school to a gradual transformation back to belief eventually leading to 3 years of total cult-like worship and practice of ‘authentic spirituality’, saved only by the 80 page John Galt speech in Atlas Shrugged to become a skeptical believer and then finally to completely understand the inherent atheistic nature of this world and man’s own need for a God. Through all this, I never felt that satisfaction or happiness in being at peace with the world even once. I tried in all places, tried to convince myself that I was already happy, performed many diverse activities, looked for meaning in every school of thought I ever came across- but all to no avail.

Now, I just say, “Ah! Fuck it!” and get on with my life.

 

The Dude Abides

As the Dudeism website says:

Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.

There is more truth in that quote than what appears. There are simply so many schools of thought on this planet and all of them are equally convinced their explanation of the world is the correct one and all others can, NO make that NEED TO, eat shit. Earlier I used to sharply defend whatever I believed in at that time while painstakingly point out the flaws in their line of thinking.

Now, I just say, “Ah! Fuck it!” and get on with my life.

In all seriousness, life is indeed short. It is almost a crime to spend even the smallest amount of time worrying about which God is the authentic one while rendering the other Gods unauthentic by default. And as I learnt it the hard way some time back, you never know if you are going to wake up from your sleep tomorrow. So as it is said in my mother tongue Kannada..

CHILL MAGA….

So what does this mean apart from me deciding not to give a fuck about religion and everything associated with it? For one, I feel different. I spent a lot of time thinking about WHY I was feeling so different. Eventually I realized something very fundamental.

All my life, everytime I met somebody new, the first thing I did was to pass some judgment upon them and/or frame some kind of an opinion. As one of my ex-roomies put it,

Everyone’s a dick until proven otherwise.

Damn! Think of it. Thats pretty much how most of us look at others. Simply put, we look at everyone as a dick until they prove otherwise to us. Thats how fucked up we are. Well at least thats how fucked up I was. And thats really sad. And then the difference I was noticing in myself became evident.

I had simply stopped judging people. Suddenly every single person around me looked as a potential good friend to me. This could never have happened earlier. Earlier, I used to judge people on so many parameters and so easily conclude that one person is worth talking to while another isn’t. These ‘parameters’ used to include things such as taste in music, books, movies, sports, activities, age, views on religion, views on alcohol and drugs, liberal/conservative, food preference, where they studied and their level of ambition..You name it!

Now, I just say, “Hey man! Whats up?!?” and get on with the conversation.

And this has helped me make so many new friends here in a place which has been tried, tested and certified by many Indians to be the “…best place to start and raise families.” Point being I was finding it extremely difficult to make new friends of my age who I can talk freely to and get drunk with. And now I have an awesome group of friends around my age and I still get drunk with people a lot older than me.

The idea of judging is not restricted to just people. Even other things like music, books, movies and the like are not spared of our judgments. There is this issue of ‘taste’ and then there is this issue of ‘elitism’. I just dont get it. I was actually feeling ashamed and embarrassed that I liked some music, book or a movie when it was being considered as too ‘popular’, ‘cheesy’ or that it simply did not qualify for being explored because it was associated with somebody who didn’t make the cut.

Now, I just say, “Ah! Fuck it!” and go ahead to see what the book, music or movie is all about.

There is a word I recently came across. UPTIGHT. Go look it up. Dudeism simply helped me NOT to be that. It is so damn easy to just stay in your comfort zone and not explore whats out there. Again, life is indeed to short. You need to go out, see places and do things. And its not gonna happen if you are just too damn uptight! I was so damn uptight before, not willing to let go of some routines and lines of thinking. Now I realize I have only been imposing rules on myself- with no tangible reward.

For instance, my Saturdays and Sunday mornings were mandatorily filled with Premier League, Serie A and La Liga matches. Then one day I just said, “Ah! Fuck it!” and I found myself in Minneapolis eating an Octopus and feeling the cold air pierce my eyes while I was sliding down a snow slope in a tube at breakneck speed!

And I was like “FUCK YEAH!!”.

Simply put, I was just too damn uptight in my thinking. I needed to stop passing judgments on people and things. I needed to accept and acknowledge whatever I was feeling irrespective of how others viewed it. I feel some way about something? Well…Fuck it! I feel that way about that thing! End of story. I am not going to apologize for who I am and what I feel.

Dudeism has helped me get so damn relaxed and at peace with the world now. I don’t remember the last time I got upset about something. And knowing how I was before, that means I have come a long way.

And I am Happy…..