Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bring Home the Gold, Take Home the Message

Abhinav Bindra is attracting all sorts of attention - deserved praise, and some not-quite-deserved chunks of cash (see here). Anyways, once the last "congrats" has been said or posted, there are some key points to note here.

Firstly, this whole "billion people" stuff. To say a billion people are uplifted by one Indian's achievement, or to ask him how he felt carrying the aspirations of a billion people and so on and so forth, is the sort of dangerous crap that swung the other way when we got trounced at the World Cup. What was the outcome then? A billion people bayed for the blood of 12 men and a coach. A billion people went about making crude jokes about the team's performance. A billion people went stoning the houses of Indian team-members and beating up professional look-alikes of them. It's time we recognized this for what it is - rank bullshit. A billion people, half of whom don't get to eat enough every day and a good deal of whom lack access to radio or television, ought to have other things to worry about than a dude's performance in a sport. Similarly, nobody can not stink when weighed down with a billion aspirations. Sportsmen do what they do for themselves and for love of the game. I'm not saying they don't look forward to the happy faces of family, friends and fans and so forth, but please, no more billion people references. Change channels or beat up whoever you see or hear using that damned term.

Equally bullshitious is the notion that a nation of a billion people should produce a ton of gold medalists. That's like 6th standard unitary method taken to the extreme - if 20 men can finish building a house in 30 days, a billion men should be able to do it in a fraction of a second. Right?

Anyway, a from "showing an Indian can do it" (like we all thought Indians were born with osteogenesis imperfecta or something), Abhinav Bindra has shown the way forward for Indians in sporting events now.

For starters, he's of the upper class, the kind that does not require:
  • the Government to put good food on their table
  • the Government to take care of post-retirement careers
  • the Government to provide intensive, extensive and expensive training
  • the Government to supply equipment
  • the Government to send him to places like Germany for training and tournaments
The keener-eyed would have noticed the common running thread amidst all the requirements. Unlike all the unfortunates to this point who have required life-support from the Sports Ministry to prepare, Abhinav Bindra's been able to take the training into his own hands to an extent. His limitations were, in my opinion for the first time in Indian sporting history, himself. And that is the situation where a sportsperson has a fighting chance. Not when his/her training depends on the whims of Secretary-ji as regards food, housing and equipment, and when he/she has no idea as to the condition of counterparts from China, America, UK etc.

Second, the event itself - shooting, the sort of thing you associate with Army men or burra sahibs of the old times. Again, this is an event that allows you to take a lot of training into your own hands, unlike say running, wrestling, swimming etc. when you have to wonder if the Government will provide an adequate training facility. It helps when you can practice this at your own farmhouse. It's not a coincidence, IMO that India's other world champion in a sport other than cricket is a chess player - Vishwanathan Anand (whose only endorsement offer has come from Memory Plus (I think) and Aptech). His training has similarly required access to chess books, a chess set and a clock, freeing him from the whims of the babus at the Ministry.

This is the pattern Indians have to emulate in the future. Let's face it, hell will freeze over before the mandarins of the Sports Ministry establish a program worth a damn for picking promising young athletes and training them to be fighting fit for the Olympics. There are people nationwide with the aptitude and ability to win the gold. But it's the ones who can afford the time and money by themselves to train, who will win. With the expansion of the middle class as is happening now, it's likely if not hopeful that more people will rise in this manner in various events. Here's hoping for the rise of 10 Abhinav Bindras at London in 2012. And as before, kudos to the man.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fear and Loathing (of self basically)

Its official.

Our generation has come to fruition. Abhinav Bindra has gone and blazed the way ahead (check his DOB here). Now ask yourself (as I am repeatedly) .....

.................what the fuck have you done lately ?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What is Wrong with This?

Being first in Guwahati and then in the US, I have this tendency to lose track of the desi pop scene - music, movies, books, etc. I did not, for instance, know about Bhagat's new book till I saw it's review on a blog. So anyways, I did not know of this till friend greyscalp, a Master of the Universe, told me about it. And boy did I regret knowing about it!!

This video made me cringe, as I hope it makes readers here cringe - let me know I'm not alone. Racy boy-girl romantic songs are OK - liking 'em or not is a matter of taste - but this one is uniquely bad taste in:
  • Making the girl a young 'bai' and thereby of the servant class, a particularly vulnerable position for her
  • Making her the initiator of this affair, thus giving the hero the moral "she started it" high ground
  • Try to keep her off saying he has given her the due baksheesh and bonus. The usage, in particular of "fut fut fut", like she's some bhikari wiping his screen
  • Sexualizing her by dressing her up as a French maid, that looks particularly awful despite the fine figure of whoever was saddled (no pun intended) with the role
  • Having her demand such affection because she's the one who cooks and cleans for him (hear the second stanza)
I don't know how many women of the housekeeper/Mami/bai class are objects of any house-owner's desire. Those that are, however, are likely to be young, even underage and highly vulnerable (sexually and economically). Dirty enough to fantasize about one, but hey, we all have fantasies that we would prefer others not to know of. To make a video on the lines of this fantasy however is just a new low - the Indian equivalent of calling all women 'b*****s' and 'h*s', like the really bad rappers do here. Not a coincidence, I suppose, that this Ishq Bector is a rapper from Canada. Following the likes of such great Canadian hip-hop artists as ..... oh right, there aren't any, he decided to leave Canada and eke out a living lowering Indian standards.

The only thing I found more distasteful than I. Bector's dirty little fantasy was this video:

Now there's a s**t for the taking, a wannabe who throws herself at you. Why bother with poor, hardworking bai's, Mr. Bector?