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La Vindicación

May. 29th, 2011 | 10:23 am

Life is unfair. It rarely has fairy tales. The French civilization is built on the premise - Vie De Merde.

I tend to like things that will always disappoint me. Yes, I am looking at you - Arsenal. Life is like that, I guess. We are all drawn to potential. Where you know things can change, not know, rather hope. Perhaps we like the pain and the hurt, in a look-at-me culture - self-pity is self-promotion. My life is tougher, my struggles are worse. It's a cycle. You delude yourself. 

And then there is Barcelona. 

They won yesterday. It wasn't the fact that they just won. It is that they won playing a philosophy they believe in. Too see a team whose philosophy is predicated on giving, being unselfish, to be open to receiving, to constantly search to help, to uphold the ideal of others over self, is so gratifying and reassuring. Maybe sometimes, you do not need to be the brashest, biggest, baddest to win. You just need to believe and delude. And just maybe, sometimes, you might actually be vindicated.

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The realization

Feb. 22nd, 2010 | 09:14 am

God, existence and proof.

I am rarely ever spiritual. I always feel its the last resort of those who can not face reality. And maybe most times we all need to avoid reality to keep our sanity - a coping mechanism. But this weekend was as close to a spiritual experience for me as can be. I went to watch Barcelona vs Racing. We were high up, but the pitch was right in front of us. It was spectacular. The grass was perfect, the game was easy to understand and watch. To see Barcelona open up space and move the ball around with precision. It was as close to God as I will ever rationally be I guess. And when the crowd sings, the hair on your back stands up, tickles you and excites. In 200 years or so, we will all go to the Nou Camp to wonder what the modern day coloeseums s looked like. And be amazed.

In logistics, getting tickets took for ever, the walk along Les Corts to the stadium was packed with people in throngs heading out to the game. What a sight, what a way to spend your Saturday nights. Just perfect.

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Life in a

Feb. 12th, 2010 | 12:58 pm
music: Bobby Womack - California Dreaming

Fish Tank.

Gritty? A portrayal of teen angst in an inner city  housing complex. A release from the mundane through alcohol and dance, and a quest to free a white horse. A life seduced by MTV, where dance is the only escape. But more than trying to grow up, the movie dwells into Kia's (our protagonist) need for stability or rather something to hold on to. Overall, a top class movie that establishes Andrea Arnold as one to look out for. Arnold's first movie (the highly recommended Red Road) also uses an animal, namely dogs as a tool to convey a human connection in a gray and exasperating ugly world. Red Road deals with coping with trauma and confronting your demons. Both Red Road and Fish Tank are extremely rich character studies with fully developed non-unidimensional characters. There are no good or bad people, just people. 

Most importantly Fish Tank introduced me to Bobby Womack. Ladies and Gentlemen, behold by the last great soul man - California Dreaming.
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The Fundamentalization of America

Nov. 3rd, 2006 | 08:30 am

I know this is politically incorrect. But one of the biggest threats that we as human beings face is from radical religion. I got to agree with Mr. Bush on this. But where he might not agree with me, is that its the radicalization of both Christianity and Islam (Quick Edit: why not other religions - it's nothing to do with these specific ones, just that they are the two largest ones and hence the most potential for damage). Well we all know about Islamic Radicalization. But what pains me in this country is the growing Christian Fundamentalism.

Take for instance this comment on Aug 25th. -

" ORLANDO, Aug. 25 -- Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics."If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin. "

What's wrong with these people.  How different is it from the "white man's burden to civilize the world" ? Thomas Jefferson would be turning in his grave. An excerpt from a letter that Jefferson wrote-

"Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched.  Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."

What about rapture and the whole "left-behind" series. The thing which amazes me is that they openly justify genocide and ethnic cleansing. If you aren't Christian you deserve to die. In all it's really difficult to get saved. There are just 144000 slots. (All these from the Book of Revelations, which seriously leads me to surmise that St. John - the author,  was crazy). So coming back to the number. Given that there are 2.1 billion christians (we can assume that none of the others are even considered), the acceptance rate is around -  0.0068%.  

Another side note, It was socially acceptable to be racist 50 years back. I wonder what callousness of ours, future generations will look back at with shame. I have a feeling that it will be about how we treat other living creatures.  (well God doesn't really care about them .. they can't go to heaven.. everything here was made for just human beings.).

Ok ok, I understand i've been harsh on Christianity. But seriously, Jesus who was willing to accept everyone would be aghast at the bigotry of the modern day evangelicals. 

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Of books and movies.

Oct. 29th, 2006 | 06:22 pm

I've decided to keep track of the countless movies that I keep watching on Netflix. I seem to forget the list pretty quick. Moving to Manhattan has actually increased my commute time, even though work is on the island itself. The 20 minute commute is perfect. Not that long to get on your nerves and just enough time to get some reading done. I've actually started reading again (after undergrad) and I need to keep track of the books I read as well.

So here goes.

Up and Down -  Czech Film - (Horem pádem) - Pretty decent flick, which touches on the issues of immigration and color in the Czech Republic.  A quote from the nytimes review - "Hana, a human-rights activist, stands for a high-minded liberalism rooted in privilege and moral superiority, while Vera's earthiness and honesty is stained with bigotry and class resentment." Overall a good watch. I'll definitely be checking out more Eastern European flicks.

Rivertown - Two years on the Yangtze - Peter Hessler -  Really nice book about the experiences of a Peace Corps volunteer who teaches English for two years at a university in the town of Fuling. It's a great read, just for the sole reason that it's extremely informative about the differences in chinese customs from region to region. As outsiders, we tend to compartmentalize this huge country under one big label. A little like how everyone expects Indians to be all the same. Though, I get the feeling that Chinese culture is a little bit more uniform than Indian Culture, I do believe there is a lot more diversity than we (atleast myself) recognize.  The book is also a great read about the simplicity and beauty of literature. How we seem to lose that in our great universities in the west  with all their different  "isms"! One particular observation that Hessler makes sticks out. No one questions the fact that in the first semester all the reading he assigned was written by white males. While inevitable, I think we tend to lose something in the politicization of our arts.
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A tale of three matches

Oct. 27th, 2006 | 07:24 am

The last week or so, I was able to take in three matches. The two which were billed to be the big matches, didn't really live up to their billing. So without further delay, the matches.

Match 1: Chelsea Vs. Barcelona. These two teams have now met for the last three years in the Champions League. The match was slightly disappointing. The game didn't generate as many opportunities as the games in the last two seasons. Chelsea as usual were strong defensively and out-muscled Barcelona in the midfield. Barca normally have the skill to actually get out of situations such as these. But Ballack and Essien, were brilliant for Chelsea, just not allowing the Barca midfield any space. Ronaldinho was woeful and so was Deco. Drogba's goal was brilliantly taken. Drogba was all over the pitch.

Match 2: Reading Vs Arsenal. Brilliant from Arsenal. They are easily the best team to watch when in full flow. No long balls. Quick movement, intricate passes, create space and excellent finishing. Henry's first goal (within the first minute) was a fine example of how a goal should be "placed" rather than blasted in (please take note mr. lampard). Their best goal however was the third. A  training ground five a side move, which is to be seen to be believed. (You can catch the highlights on youtube. search for "arsenal reading"). Reading weren't too bad themselves. It's just that when Arsenal play this good, I don't see too many teams being able to hold up against them.  (that includes chelsea and man utd. ).  The premiership just got interesting, with Giggs and Scholes both playing like they last did in 2000.  I caught the highlights of ManUtd Vs. Liverpool. Watch out for a brilliant solo by Giggs where he goes past 4 liverpool players and then tries to chip Reina!  (towards the end of this video )

Match 3: Real Madrid Vs Barcelona.  The El Classico.  Again, just substitute Chelsea with Madrid. Barcelona had majority of possession (64%). But Ronaldinho, just seemed content to pass it onto Messi. Messi did have one moment of outrageous skill where he nutmegged both Roberto Carlos and Fabio Cannavaro, just to see Gudjohnsen blast it wide. Over all, Barca sorely miss Eto, they just don't have a striker who can draw defenders and create space for the others.  Madrid, played decent. I still miss the Madrid of old, when Figo was in full flight and Zidane pulled the strings in the midfield. They look terribly boring right now, with only Robinho providing any form of excitement. 

Overall, both Barcelona games just show where football is currently. Raw strength and pace winning over style, class and creativity. Luckily tho' Arsenal proved otherwise this weekend. So both the premiership and the Liga look to be open this year. I just hope that the teams that win play a more fluent, attacking, entertaining style of football.

Let me know what your thoughts are.

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An English Weekend.

Sep. 15th, 2006 | 07:44 pm

I'm not a big fan of the EPL. i.e. the English Premier League. I think english football is overrated, relies mainly on brute physical strength (perhaps a remnant of their anglo-saxon heritage ? ). They play an unattractive "long ball" game. Maybe the only exception being Manchester Utd. in their heydays and Arsenal (whenever they feel like they ).  However, this weekend seems to have thrown up some nice fixtures.

There is the obvious Man Utd. Vs Arsenal game. Man Utd. look like they are on a roll and playing them at Old Trafford is always a daunting task. But I think Arsenal are going to click this weekend. Yes, I know Henry might not be playing. I think that might force, Wenger to play Walcott (hopefully on the right, where he can take on the much slower Silvestre) and Rosicky in the center, where he can wreck some havoc. 

Chelsea Vs. Liverpool is the next big game and I expect Chelsea to extract their revenge for the FA Community Shield loss.  Both Liverpool and Chelsea have two overrated English players who I'm not too fond of, yes I'm talking about Steve ' I'm the man'  Gerrard and Frank ' Fat ' Lampard. They are both decent players, and hard workers but they aren't too attractive to watch.

West Ham Vs. Newcastle look promising as well. I used to like West Ham, when they had Di Canio and Cole. They looked like they had so much potential, till Glenn Roeder came in and got them relegated. Well guess which team,  Mr. Roeder manages now. Yup Newcastle Utd.  Newcastle, are the epitome of english football I feel, an extremely physical side.  They have a great winger in Damien Duff, who can either stay out and deliver a dangerous cross or cut back in and give the ball a mean thump. All I can say is Titus Bramble must be glad to be on the same side.  Both the argentines in Upton Park are undoubtedly great players. But I feel that Tevez, needs someone upfront who can make those clever runs and read the game as well as he does. Perhaps a case for the old wily fox, Teddy Sheringham ? He's far better than Marlon Harewood, who seems to be from the "Emil Heskey" school of center forwards. Punt the ball and run up front.  What a treat it will be to watch both Tevez and Yossi Benayoun.  Both great with the ball at their feet, and both able to "create" space for their teammates.

Ah what  a weekend to look forward to. Let me know what you guys think.
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Lazy Sunday afternoons

Sep. 1st, 2006 | 09:10 pm

Back again,

After a really long break. The summer is almost dead and like I've always felt whenever September rolls in, a little disappointed. I guess, summer always begins with so many possibilities. Well I think i did something I might never be able to do again ever, I just completely lazed around. I can't think of a single useful thing I did the entire summer. 

I remember summers as a kid were amazing. It meant the annual two month vacation in Kerala. The paddy fields, the monsoons, the half an hour mandatory power cuts. The occasional half a week  "rainfall toppled the tree which toppled the electric lines" power cuts.  But most of all, the time spent doing absolutely nothing, salting the snails climbing up the drain pipes, taggin along with the guy who had been hired to clear the backyard. hmm.  and evening snacks of fried plantains, muruku and unni-appums.   

New York summers are beautiful, it can get a little sticky and hot, but it's nothing unbearable. The women are just beautiful in the summer. Summer has been about lazy central park visits, ice creams, summer movies, netFlix and the new york public library.
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La Ball Española

May. 8th, 2006 | 02:56 pm

Phil Ball is another of my favorite writers. His columns for ESPN Soccernet are incisive and very informative not only about Spanish Football but the Spanish way of life. An example is an excerpt from his latest column :

 " But the potential mix with Deco and Eto'o, two men who carried awkward reputations, was a potential tinder-box. The other galáctico, Messi, is apparently so laid-back he's horizontal, but it's a massive tribute to Rijkaard that he has managed so effortlessly to inculcate a happy togetherness in the squad, and to get Ronaldinho to consistently display his greatness.

The measure of Ronaldinho's own achievement has been that no-one in Spain has ever voiced a single negative about him. This is remarkable in a country where factionalism and enmity are so written into the culture. Madrid may despise Barcelona, but even the hardest anti-Culé, standing behind the south goal in the Bernabéu with his head shaved on the outside and his brain swimming with swastikas on the inside - will reluctantly admit that Ronaldinho is 'OK'.

This is almost unprecedented in La Liga history, and has something to do with the fact that the Spanish admire technical skill above all other virtues in football, except perhaps for the virtue of 'alegría' (joyfulness). This is football played with a swagger and a swerve, football which is based on the primacy of the aesthetic.

Real Madrid have had their great sides, but the Bernabéu first looks for 'entrega' (getting stuck in). Only then will they accept the style. At the Camp Nou, it works the other way around.
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Anyway, it's time to say goodbye to one of the only reasons to watch Madrid play - Zidane has left the building. I've never really seen anyone as majestic as he , on the pitch. It's almost like he exuded an elderly statesman like charm. Ah to see, one more of those pirouette(s). 

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The mysterious case of the canary warf food poisoning

May. 8th, 2006 | 10:46 am

Just as Spurs were poised for their first Champions League appearance next season, a mysterious case of food poisoning struck most of their senior squad. They duly lost the game against  a resurgent Hammers Team 1-2.  Thiery Henry, on the other side of London, hale and hearty as were the rest of Arsenal team, went ahead and demolished Wigan 2-4, thereby killing Spur's chance of Champion's League Football next season.  The entire episode is either suspicious or extremely fortuitous (for Arsenal).

On other news, what about Eriksson's gamble to take Theo Walcott ? Has Eriksson been emboldened by the fact that he is leaving the English team at the end of Summer ? Or does he just want to show prospective club presidents that he is willing to bring fresh ideas into his teams ? I'm sure Theo Walcott is greatly talented, but wouldn't Andy Johnson, who was so prolific last year in the premier league been a better bet ? Would Theo Walcott have got a look in, if he was still playing with Southhampton  instead of being on the Arsenal reserves ? Either ways, I think England will be more exciting with the dash of "Henryesque" pace that Walcott promises to bring to the team.
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