IPL, EPL: Leagues Apart

March 31st, 2010

“To put things in perspective, the amount of money spent on Kochi and Pune’s IPL teams is same as that spent on Manchester City last year,” said Indian Express (don’t judge me, it’s my job). Until then my when-it-comes-to-math-I-turn-dyslexic mind didn’t fathom the gravity of the million billion rupees splurged by the latest owners of two new franchisees of Indian Premier League (if you are one among the 29 people who don’t know what it is, I am not explaining and, trust me, I envy you). Does this mean that IPL is IPL and EPL (English Premier League) is EPL and the twain do meet? Are you (certain Mr Modi) kiddin’ me?

I don’t mind the money part but I do have problem with this never-ending run making marathon being touted as India’s answer to EPL (the name itself is a derivative). I never saw Roman Abramovic talking about finer details of football on the cathode tube while in IPL the owners masquerade as coaches at the dugouts. Those marble dolls with alabaster cheeks can be seen talking about “team strategies” as if they are giving a power point presentation on selecting curtains for kitchen. The moment a wicket falls or the ball soars over the boundary, camera shifts to the pretty owners or, in the case of reclusive ones, to the anodyne gyrating of cheerleaders. You have to give it to Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, though, that he sold everything that is worth selling. If the 1985 World Series was dubbed as the Packer’s Circus, the IPL is truly Modi’s harem.

Modi is, however, justified for devising every which way to make money but the moral high stand that he takes gets onto my nerves. He says that IPL is a platform for young cricketers to rub shoulders with the players they admire. That’s hogwash. The condescension on the part of the senior players can never be more apparent. Here’s a rookie bowler, who’ll get a ball signed by the “man himself” (Sachin Tendulkar), for bowling his heart out. I don’t remember a younger Rooney genuflecting before Giggs so that he would get an inflated football as souvenir. Thus, seamless integration is still a genuine problem.

Has playing well in IPL changed the fortune of any local player apart from Ravindra Jadeja, who ironically is ‘banned’? Will we throng the stadiums to watch Ranji matches where the IPL performers will be playing? The answers for both queries is no with a capital N. In fact, Brendon Mc Cullum even said recently that one-day international is well on the dinosaur way looking at the amount of 20-20 being played these days. If you know your cricket, Mc Cullum is not puritanical by any standards.

A couple of days ago Times of India (like I said, it’s my job) carried an anchor story on front page that on basis of weekly wages IPL players are next only to their NBA counterparts. Good for the players but then that’s it. The IPL is sending a wrong signal out there when it bears the name of a country where, according to Wall Street Journal newspaper, only 1 per cent of the 1.2 billion population earns above Rs 85,000 per month (Arjun Sengupta report is so 2007). With this NBA comparison are we to forget for a fleeting while (six weeks precisely) that we continue to be a third world country and that we are far ahead of England (EPL) and Spain (La Liga)? In a recent Spectator article, these were Lee Langley’s words, “The privileged (in India) inhabit an environment of fitness gyms, personal trainers, mobile phones, chauffeur-driven limos, lipo-suction and designer labels, blind to the filth and decay outside their radar, where millions live as they have always lived, clinging to survival by their fingernails.” Superbowl of India – take a walk!!

IPL will face its major litmus test next year when two new teams will come and the pool of players remains stagnant. Therefore, here comes Brian Lara, Lance Klusener and all those geriatrics, who couldn’t even find a commentary job. If IPL was a movie, it would have been put by a critic as a bastard child of ‘Wild Hogs’ and ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. With these teething problems, IPL is nowhere up there as yet. So, for now, leave those inane comparisons to a future date and revel in the bowlers’ leather-chasing masochism.

P.S: Don’t stop supporting Deccan Chargers, like my room-mate, just because it ‘represents’ Hyderabad (Telangana) and you belong to coastal Andhra.

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War against emoticons

March 5th, 2010

Truth be told, “Frowning At Smileys” was the headline in my mind until a Daily Telegraph article ended with this bleak portentous line, “In the future Shakespearean tragedies would be rewritten in a series of downcast emoticons”. Thus, the headline, which, to the uninitiated, is derived from Martin Amis’ sublime book “War Against Cliches”. Be it on gTalk, the Google equivalent of Yahoo! Messenger or on sms, my florid sentences aimed at the cerebral cortex of the recipient fail to register until they are followed by a miniature version of a Halloween pumpkin with gamut of emotions pasted on it.

If you are reading this then I don’t think I really need to delve into how a colon followed by bracket or a semi-colon for that matter or a colon followed by ‘p’ are supposed to represent your current state of mind. Thanks to the smileys I am always skeptical if the irony or sarcasm in my words is being noticed at all by the person, usually those of fairer sex, on the other side. Thus, I follow it with a smiling emoticon to convey the hilarity intended. In short, during this virtual communication people are in a verbal Jacuzzi – a pool of warm, swirling water, relaxing yet constantly moving and challenging – but only if smileys are there in the water.

For every intelligent remark that I make online or on sms I make it a point to tag a smiley along or, even worse, an exclamation mark. In my earlier job my editor’s thumb-rule while editing is to avoid exclamation marks. Why? It’s like laughing at your joke, he said. What about people who use at least three exclamation marks to convey the gravity of situation? Author Terry Pratchett said that everyone of those has a diseased mind(!).

I am no Luddite, by the way. I dig YouTube, I tweet my movie watching schedules, I update my Facebook status every nine hours (mostly I am a quote hanger there), until recently my religious views on Facebook was ‘pro-piracy’. I almost qualify as a poster child to that new saw making rounds, “I am only popular on the Internet”. My problem with the smileys is that they are making me feel inferior. While I am trying to woo (or whatever you kids call wooing these days) that ‘new’ Facebook friend with my Kevlar-like grip, suspend your disbelief for a while, over English, I am almost sure that the words would ring hollow until there’s a smiley lurking around.

For the record, I have no problem against swimming in the alphabetical soup of tsk tsk or lol or hehe or rotfl. I know that’s like quitting drinking, but making an exception for beer and hard liquor (I am so tempted to use a smiley, preferably the wink one, here). But then, dealing with bigger evil is of more important. For now, I hope there is an Alcoholics Anonymous or sex-rehab (a certain Mr Woods would attest to it) equivalent for shedding the addictive habit of mine to use smileys. Smiley patches may be?


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