Monday, September 27, 2010

Tennis is spreading in Asia

It makes a lot of sense for tennis to be spreading its wings in Asia. We have the money, we have the fans and- aside from the CWG fiasco- the rest of Asia has some of the best facilities to offer. MINT's story on tennis in Asia

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who is the greatest tennis player of all time?

Uptil a few years back, we all thought tennis star and former World No. 1 Roger Federer would very soon lay his claims on the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) title. He may be 29 and claim he's still not done yet, and Rafael Nadal comes along and threatens to outrun him in the GOAT race.

Read Mint's story on GOAT debate...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Celebrating Dabangg

At first, it might sound surprising that Dabangg is still running houseful and after a little less than two weeks since its premiere, it's still not easy to get tickets. But once you watch the movie, you'll know.

Dabangg mainly caters to the front benchers, and God knows there are plenty of those in India. But what really helps Dabangg is its simplicity. Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) is a cop in a small town in Uttar Pradesh. He's street smart, practical and devious in his own way, with shades of grey but also has a heart. There is a baddie who goes about his extortion and illegal business. As Chulbul goes about punishing small time criminals, before laying hands on the big baddie, he falls for a damsel, marries her, at the same time fighting fires in his own backyard.  

Dabangg entertains; there's no doubt about it. It's classic old school Bollywood at its best. It celebrates Bollywood. Not necessarily the kind I subscribe to, but atleast it's great time pass. The story is okay, the movie is no cinematic excellence. It's not something that we can showcase to the international audience. But then, who cares? The movie caters to the quintessential Bollywood fan and it doesn't disappoint. There's romance, action, dance. And then ofcourse, there's Salman Khan. Plenty of him; he's all over the movie. He's beating up the baddies, he's singing, dancing, mouthing dialogues like he's never mouthed them before and as if that is not enough- especially for Salman fans- his bare chest with (believe it or not) his shirt ripping apart and flying away as he flexes his muscles in the climax before delivering the final punch to the chief villain. Don't  ask me for logic; it's all happening.

And oh, speaking of action, they might at first seem a novelty in Bollywood in the way that they are intelligently crafted, choreographed and executed, seem to be influenced by southern flicks- Rajnikant types- and also very loosely lifted from the Sherlock Holmes (2009).

Dabangg is not for you if are looking for a great plot and want to tax your brains, trying to solve some mystery. It's a mass entertainer. The story is well told and is backed by a good script, but a weak story. As the front bencher would say; paisa vasool. Go watch it, once.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nadal - Djokovic in US Open Final

Another opportunity missed on a Nadal-Federer grand slam final. It seems decades ago since these two heavyweights met in a Grand Slam final. Their anticipated final this year was looked forward to for many reasons. They have never met in US Open before. Nadal has never won a US Open. To lay his claim on being the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), Nadal would need to win the US Open. And had be beaten Roger Federer here on Sunday, it would have meant that he had beaten Federer in the finals of all the four grand slam events. We'll have to wait another year for this to happen, if at all it is destined to happen.

But props to Novak Djokovic on beating Roger Federer in the semi-finals. He saved two match points in the final set to win a gutsy five-setter, 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.  On Sunday, he stands between Rafael Nadal and his  ninth major. After playing late on a Saturday and an exhausting five-setter, less than 24 hours before his Final, I wonder how much recouped will Djokovic be in front of Nadal who seems to get fresher and fresher after each match. It's hard to stop Nadal when he is so charged up. If not a tough contention, it'll be a pleasure nevertheless to watch Rafael Nadal capture his ninth Grand slam title and a career Grand Slam (winning all four grand slams in his career).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Three Cheers to Meter Jam

Meter Jam is back. The highly successful campaign to create awareness about the callousness of a section of taxi and auto drivers is back with a bigger edition on 12 October. If you've ever been refused a ride in autos or cabbies, if you've ever been spoken to rudely by them or if you've been a victim of meter tampering, 12 October is the day where you must avoid them. (Though I must add not all taxi drivers and auto drivers are dishonest)

The other point I want to make is the sheer lack of taxis outside railway stations. Years ago, there was a perfectly managed taxi queue outside Mumbai Central railway station. Atleast one policeman used man the queue and ensure that taxis don't refuse passengers. A couple of years or so back I alighted at Mumbai Central and went to the taxi stand, that has since changed its place. All drivers refused me and I had to ultimately walk all the way to the top of the Mumbai Central road-over bridge, with my luggage, maneuver the traffic the absence of any signal, wait for a cab before I could successfully hail one. Thank God, at CST station, this problem is not there; policemen are always there to ensure we get a cab. At Dadar station too, I can see a mess, especially people alighting at the Dadar terminus. And the less said about Bandra Terminus, the better. I have not had the opportunity to catch a cab at Kurla Terminus, but I wouldn't be surprised if the situation is the same.

How about a situation, where each and every taxis is mandated to serve a minimum number of trips at each of the railway terminus in a month. Firstly, enough policemen must be positioned; atleast one per taxi stand, to ensure that taxis don't refuse passengers. Make it mandatory for each taxi (not taxi-driver) to serve (pick up a passenger) at each of the six railway terminus (Churchgate, CST, Mumbai Central, Bandra, Kurla and Dadar) in Mumbai. Not just these terminuses, but all railway stations. The same goes for autos too, outside important stations such as Andheri, Borivali, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Thane, Kalyan and so on.

A device or mechanism should be arranged to record a taxi's attendance at all these terminus's. At the end of the month, data should be collated at the Regional Transport Offices to make a note of who's fulfilling the mandatory requirements and who isn't. Before picking up a passenger, a quick check on their meters and whether they are working properly. I do not know how easy or difficult it is to catch meter tampering, but taxis that regularly pick up passengers at train terminus and airport (especially the latter) have their meters tampered.

At the end of the month, an audit needs to be done on who served at railway stations and who didn't. Taxis that do not do their duty should be punished. Care should be taken that a single taxi should serve all these railway terminus's, within a definite time frame, say, four to six months. You can post a policeman at the post to man the taxis, but it's not possible for him to ensure taxis reach the station to pick up passengers.

If need arises, the government may incentivise taxis picking up passengers at the railway terminus. But it is absolutely necessary that when tourists enter Mumbai, there's a cab, preferably an honest one, waiting for them to pick them up.

Meher Mahino, Ava Mahino and Adar Mahino: The holy trinity of Zoroastrian calender

Zoroastrians- or better knows as Parsis and Iranis of India- have a separate calendar. We look at the English calendar of course, but we al...