Thursday, September 15, 2005

Ball game

After a whale of an Ashes, the India-Zimbabwe series seems no better that para/gali cricket. And even the commentators are feeling the effect of it. Watching in a post-lunch daze, I heard Sunil Gavaskar exclaim, “Well, that’s a plop ball!” Plop. How well it sums up the series.

This is what happened. The voluble Harsha Bhogle and Sunny were jabbering inanities as a soporific session was on. Zaheer Khan bowled a bouncer which rose and then the trajectory wilted till the keeper caught the ball near his ankles. Here is the commentary excerpt:

Sunny: Well, that’s a plop ball!

Bhogle: Sunny, now what’s a plop ball?

Sunny: You see, balls that don’t carry through. It loses steam and the trajectory dips. Maybe, it’s because the soft side of the ball grips the surface.

Bhogle: (laughing) So, there must be a quack ball, a plock ball, a schlock ball….
[The inanities go on]

Sunny: There is a curve ball, a speed ball, a zap ball…

Bhogle: There you go! Another plop ball.
(Both laugh)

Sunny: And of course, there’s the dot ball.

*****************************************************

With so many balls around, I wonder why the Indian team lacks them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Oh! Calcutta!

Learnt here and here that Kolkata now has a KFC and a Subway outlet. What’s more, the other weekend the Subway store ran out of sandwich breads.

The article says: Having inaugurated the Subway outlet, US consul-general Henry V Jardine was happy to hear how Calcutta had taken to it. “It is a reflection of how dynamic, changing and cosmopolitan the city is today,” he said.

I'm sure it’s for the good. But, are we losing our Waldorfs, Tangra, Flury’s, Shirazs and Amenias? And the neighbourhood roll stalls and phuchka wallas?

Till date I’ve never had better biryani or better hakka chowmein outside of Kolkata. Au contraire, I had decent paturi/muittha only outside of Kolkata. Can anybody solve the paradox?

Read India Uncut’s take on this here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Giving head to Sania

Just when I had thought all the punners had quit TOI and joined DNA, I was proved wrong. I almost hit bullseye when I had predicted on the eve of the Sania Mirza-Maria Sharapova US Open 4th round match that TOI was sure to carry the headline: Sania, yet so far. Next morning I was disappointed. The headline said something very tame. But I reconciled myself to the fact that the match ran late into the night and the chief punners might have left for the day.

However, yesterday I was vindicated. The paper's esteemed supplement carried the headline: Sania, not so far. Inverting the legendary Outlook (?) headline: Sonia, yet so far. So, the punners are still there, alive and kicking the hell out of clichés.

This reminds me of a wonderful post Tridib had written about how headlines reflected the tone of newspapers. The talking point was Bush winning the second term. Taking cue from the post, I am woolgathering on how some of the papers must have tackled the Sania-Maria clash.

The Times of India (Actual): The pre-match headline reads Super San Day in over 100 point size. Allright, they have a sober Sania picture, but Maria is seen baring her cleavage while exulting after winning a point. Next morning they say: Tame end to Sania’s Dream.

The Telegraph: Sania loses match, wins hearts. The report starts with a wistful portrait of Sania, sitting alone in the stadium after the day’s matches are over and ruminating, while a handful of groundsmen tend the turf. The correspondent reads her thoughts as if he/she were a clairvoyant moonlighting as a reporter.

The Hindu: Sharapova beats Sania. The piece is no different from a Ranji Trophy match report. It accompanies a pixellated grey picture of Sania shaking hands with Sharapova.

The Hindustan Times: Much like TOI, but with a better layout. There will be a piece by Vir on how Sania symbolizes the Great Indian Shift from cricket to other sports and how he used to play (and beat many) on the green lawns of South Club in Kolkata. And how he unwinds by playing tennis when he stays at the New York Ritz. And how he digs into strawberry and cream at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club.

The Economic Times: A digitally altered picture of P Chidambaram in Sania’s tennis fatigue, holding a raquet. Watching from the gallery are Manmohan Singh, in a tennis cap (he’s the coach), and Sonia, in an offshoulder, strikingly conspicuous among the aam aadmi. A bubble quotes PC saying, "I propose a 20% duty cut on nose studs".

Punjab Kesri: Sania you ess aapen se bahar. Will most likely carry a pic of Sania with her pants showing.

Aajkal (a Bengali vernacular): The report will begin with what Sania had for dinner after the match, will go on to say how her first coach said she would win the US Open one day, then talk about how her mother reacted in front of the TV and how her neighbours went for an extra namaaz that day…. Finally after around 300 words, the report would talk about the match.

Business Standard: A 20-word brief on Page 1 headlined “Sharapova wins”