The Broken Fourth Wall

It's been centuries since the concept of Fourth wall has been in existence. At home, you would see a Kader Khan talking to camera in his millions of comedies or a child Mithun in Muqaddar telling the camera - "meri ma hai lekin baap ka pata nahi, main harami hoon".

A little further, Marvel comics has a character who knows he is a comic book character! Most recently he was seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I could never appreciate the fourth wall and subsequently its breaking until I saw it in action. It was one of those moments when I witnessed something remarkable unexpectedly, kind of an aha moment. I was part of an exercise where a play was staged, and then paused to get audience reactions. To my surprise the reactions from audience were met with reactions from the characters without them coming out of their characters. It was not a defense of non committal parties. They were vehement or mild defending their actions as those characters would have, but defended they all. The experience amazed me, the simplicity and effectiveness of the medium. Not to say, the message they were trying to drive came home easy and was thoroughly entertaining. To put it mildly, it was f***ing awesome.

When F7 is not enough

when a missed letter, or typing the next letter on the keyboard can get you in trouble.

Duck (in more ways than one!)

I am sure there are many more, but these are the ones I have come across at one point or the other. It is never a good idea to type looking at only the keyboard.

IIT Kharagpur: A tale of two news reports

Came across these two news stories on the same day:

IIT student hangs in hostel
IIT Kharagpur tops the list of best Engineering Colleges

Dhoni: A leader or a manager?

A leader creates a way when there is none, while managers help navigate a defined path.

Dhoni has already catapulted to the league of the best captains India ever had. In a short career span of less than five years, he has seen fame and glory which can fall short to may be just Sachin Tendulkar. He is considered one of the coolest persons on the field and is counted as one of the best playing captains in world.

There were few times when he went wrong with the media. Extremely frank in his opinions, he is one among the minority in Sub continent players who can speak well (not commentary material but not an Inzy either). He is the man among boys and nobody has (had) any questions about it until recently.

The signs of crack started showing in IPL 2, when he lost his cool and some run out and stumping chances. His batting is no longer what he came in the team with. From a prolific boundary hitter, he became a nudger, a lot many times struggling to get a run a ball. His team went on to do well in IPL 2, but it was largely despite him and not because of him.

World cup started on a completely wrong foot, losing the first warm up match and Times of India making a big deal of something about Sehwag's injury. I still fail to see what the big deal was about (ok, I am dumb). While writing of this post, India is already out of contention in wc 2009 and are struggling in their third super eight game against South Africa with Dhoni and Yuvraj on crease.

And see, this is what happens in T20. not even a minute passed since I wrote my last line and Dhoni attempted an impossible run, Yuvraj was not even looking at the runner's end. Dhoni was duly sent back to the crease first and then to the pavilion. This was pure stupidity or nerve may be.

Back to the point of the post. T20 2009 saw India's early demise and all the fingers are being pointed at Dhoni's captaincy. With a team that is strongest on the paper is still relying on a couple of people to bail them out in every game. Dhoni is not even a shadow of his former self as a batsman. He is jumping, crawling, swinging but reaching nowhere. His lack of confidence showed when in all the chases all he seemed to try was rotate strike and expect the other players to do the heavy hitting. His captaincy has left enough gaping holes and he is being blasted from all the directions.

Is Dhoni really a great leader who transformed a bunch of misaligned players to put up a formidable line up that even Sachin Tendulkar feels is the best ever he has seen. Putting that completely on Dhoni would be gross injustice to the older captains especially Ganguly who actually nurtured a lot of players who are the key stars in the current line up.

Has Dhoni gotten far too much credit for the recent successes where he was leading team to victory just because he got a good team who could win matches without much needed from the captain. Has it been the case of a good manager, with a pretty strong team where all he needs to do was juggle them around. Taking this a bit further, is this the case of a 'wily' manager who actually removed all the uncomfortable elements (read Seniors) one by one so that he can reign supreme. While playing under other captains (Kumble) his performance seemed to dip considerably while it picked back up pretty well soon after he got the captaincy.

A lot of people in my generation would hate Dhoni for actively trying to drive seniors (trio) out of the team. I think they were on their way out anyway but he gave that slight nudge to initiate the fall. Of course, we still have Sachin playing because no one can drop him from team in India and expect to breathe easy next morning. However, this is a thing of past and he now has a new set of challenges to tackle. This is the first time since he took over as the captain when he is under pressure to perform as a player and as a captain. How well he comes out of it will define what he becomes in long run, a flash in the pan or a legend.

(India needs 25 off 10 now with 3 wickets in hand)

Re: Its ashes for now, can he do a Phoenix

After his Australian open loss this year to Nadal (yet again), I wrote a piece about Federer and the ghosts of Nadal in his mind.

While Federer was climbing the stairs of glory, French open remained an anomaly in his otherwise perfect script. Losses to Nadal in the French weren't probably as biting to begin with. But the sting kept getting nastier with every loss. Initially Federer could dismiss it as just the surface. But then came the Wimbledon scare where he narrowly defended his title (07) and Nadal seemed that much closer to usurp all the he had. French open final of 2008 was extremely humiliating, but that still was Nadal's turf. Soon after, an epic loss in Wimbledon 2008 would have started ringing the death knell. It was a proclamation by Nadal, do what you can in the best way you can, I will still kick your ass. An Australian open defeat which saw him break down, choked on the podium, prompted me to write the piece I mentioned earlier.

All these losses one after the other cemented a belief our rather disbelief in Federer. Shades of that disbelief keep coming back to haunt him. The final set in Australian open 09 saw it. It seemed as if Nadal became his Kryptonite.

The ghost of Nadal is still out in open, but having conquered one of the ghosts (French open), that will be one less albatross while playing. I think this would bring a lot of self belief back. Not sure, enough to beat Nadal convincingly though. Here is what I think can be the ideal script for him. Have Wimbledon (preferably against a lesser player) and then face Nadal in US open final and crush him like he could in the days of yore.

However, Nadal's form is far from over. I always thought Federer has great strength of mind, but I got to concede Nadal might have greater. The way he got back to Federer after every loss is much better than what Federer could manage after his.

As I have always said, these are the folks I watch tennis for despite being in a cricket crazy nation and spent a sum total of 30 minutes on tennis court in my life.

WC T20 2009: Aussies out!

Trust Ponting to come out with a statement calling T20 to be a game of luck. After complete demolition by Gayle, Sri Lankans pushed them off the cliff in a balanced match. Aussies have lost last five of their T20 games. I guess all they were lacking in this side were two retired players and an undisciplined moron to see them through.

Timezone Puzzle

Working in a global environment for many (not putting a number is intentional ;) years now, I would expect myself to be an expert in timezones. But sadly, that has never been the case. At times, the differences are not clear. Sometimes when the differences are clear, like in case of NY (9.5 now), the math is just too tough to do again and again. After downloading timezone converters, using websites etc, here is the 'tool' that I found most useful.

Line to the excel

PS1: I did use outlook for some time showing two zones, but doesn't help beyond that.
PS2: The AM/PM thing is a little mixed up (can change in your sheet if you want to), but works just fine for me.