Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Chiru-ism and the Foosball Table

“No one scores against Chiru, unless and until Chiru wants him to score” Old Indian saying.

If there was a demonstration of passion and an intensity to win that united the ALM team it was at the Foosball table. And if foosball is a religion then Chiru is god, or probably demi-god.

A common man plays foosball with his hands, Chiru plays with his tongue as well, and that is what makes him invincible… God.

A relatively new game for our ALM team members –the game of foosball; our team surprised all by picking up the game pretty fast… I was the slowest of the lot.

Our engagement at a client location has produced many many memorable matches and conversations which we will remember for a long long time to come. Though one team had to lose, everybody played to win and fight till the end. It’s the intensity to win and the never-say-die attitude which kept the spirit of the game alive… even after more than 6 months since we were introduced to the game. We have to thank Chiru for the broadcast messages before lunch which popped up on our screens telling us that a challenge was waiting… on the first floor foosball table.

Threats were exchanged, sledging galore even before the game starts… and the foosball table proves everybody wrong except for Chiru of-course. There have been n number of occasions when a winning team becomes complacent and exchanges a few words with the other team and the table is there to change the course of the game… unless of-course you are with Chiru. Sometimes Chiru’s sense of timing is so perfect that you question his potential to score and “boom” he hits a goal. Next statement from Chiru would be, “Please wait before you say something, you might not have to say it at all”. That’s Chiru.

A few words on the players now:

Vijay Hajare a.k.a Vijay Deenanath Chauhan is our “Aain” star [Amitabh Bachchan style]. Vijay most of the time partner’s with Chiru and half of his resources are wasted in controlling the inflammable Chiru, the other half on controlling the ball… on the table I meant. Vijay is a pure instincts player and even at this age his reflexes are sharp. His aces are the best. Vijay in offense against Libin in defense and you get a typewriter game… continuous shots, all missing the goal.

Deepu is our flamboyant player who took special training from youtube.com on how to hold and score. His style of play is extremely aggressive and uses his change of pace of shots effectively. If he concentrates on the game [which he seldom does] he can win any game single handedly.

Libin is the best goal keeper and he scores from the deep as well. His aimed shots which eventually land up either in Chiru’s or Vijay’s goalpost have been named as “flukes” by the God himself; more out of their incapability to understand the dynamics of the angles. He has used his angles so much that he is known as the “Fluke-master”.

Next is me. I picked up the game pretty late and so was named as “Harmless Sourav” [by God of-course] since Chiru’s defense was at that time capable to stop my goals. My slower goals have tricked many and all. Sometimes my reflexes come back to live and not even the best of the goalies can save them, forget God. But the reflexes ignite once in 12 years, so its not at all a big threat. My goal scorings are so simple that Vijay has gone on record to say, “Sourav scoring against anyone is like receiving a tight slap on your face”. And the frustration always shows on the goal keeper’s face. My favorite hunting ground is Vijay’s defense. Yes, I’ve had my share of fun whether I won or Vijay lost :-)

And that finally brings us to the God: Chiru.
He is the best because he not only plays with the hands but his tongue also; even the foosball table is jinxed by him. Chiru scores at will. He proclaims that he’d score and voila –there’s a goal. Apparently only Chiru can do this. The table has failed all the other’s who have tried this. Unlike all the others Chiru does not possess any special skills, more-so because he does not need them. His shots are loud with the “Awaz” and after every goal he gives a small speech on how it was made possible and Vijay’s half efforts are wasted here in bringing Chiru back to the game and remind him that the game is not yet over. Chiru is very media savvy and is ready for an interview even in the middle of the game.

We have another prolific player [though not in ALM] lovingly known as the “King”. The “King” though an old hand in the game was not able to progress as the other have, but nevertheless the skills are there and are visible in the way the goals are scored. “King” does not believe in power-play but is more skillful and reflexive. The best part of “King’s” style is the bowed head, raised look above his specs when he scores a goal as if questioning “Dekha? Daal diya.”

We won many, we lost as many but we still are together… as a team and our leader is Chiru. In the last 6 months I have had one of my best times in work… thanks to the lively and challenging team.

Some memorable Quotes exchanged on the table:
“I will stop only real goals, we don’t count flukes” –By Sasi when Libin scores a goal against him
“By the power of Fluke!!” –By Libin
“Sasi your Hindi is too good”- By Sourav when Sasi speaks in Hindi. Sasi’s response –“Yes I know. I am Madhyamika certified in Hindi”
“Sourav chup baith. Khelne de” –By Vijay when I score and sledge at his team. I loved the look on Vijay’s face.
“Ok. Now we will win.” –By Deepu, Sasi when the score is hardly 2 or 3 and the opposition is sitting at 1 goal away from victory.
“Sasi, you’re just too good. How do you do it?” –By Sourav when Sasi scores a miraculous goal. Answer by Sasi –“I will not tell you because I also don’t know it.”
“Khush to bahot honge tum aaj, aain?” Vijay on Vijay Deenanath Chauhan style.

The best of the lot:

If there is someone near the goal counting slot, Sasi would ask him to count on his behalf. This is to show that he scores faster than he can count the goals.

Oh boy!! What a team and what a boss.
Long live Chiru and his Chiru-ism!!!
Long live ALM!!!
And long live the foosball maidan!! Aajao maidan mein!!

Now as I write this its 1:20 AM, a new day as started. Tomorrow morning, 31st of December 2008 is the last day of our whole team here. After these wonderful 6 months of togetherness the whole team is splitting up. We are on our way back home.
Who knows the same team might be together in some other country working for some other clients. And who knows, we might still wait for the broadcast message from Sasi, inviting us for another challenge, another display of passion and determination.

Yes, I have faith that we will live. We will live to fight another day.

On the 31st of December we played one last game and the result was as anticipated. Chiru allowed his opposition to win, and Vijay Deenanath Chauhan had no words to describe Chiru's generosity.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Mumbai Attack: The Aftermath

Its more than a week now.
When I see video clips of Mumbai, I find the city back to normal. 26/11 has become history.

Hotels and cafĂ© were shattered; our defense or rather our ability to defend ourselves was questioned mockingly; innocent hostages were held –some killed, some freed; politicians made their accusations and speeches; eventually the terrorists were killed. Mumbai, and India was free again. My home was safe again.

Just for the sake of a recap: A group of 10 terrorists came into Mumbai via the sea route and targeted important landmarks in my home to hold the hostages. They killed innocents at will. They sent shock waves throughout the community, the country, the world. After almost 60 hours our forces were able to free my home and bring the gun fire to an end. But is it really an end? I do not think so.

From one of the terrorists who was captured alive, it was learnt that this had been a failed mission of theirs. They came here with a target of 5000 in their heads. Not Hindus, Muslims or Christians. Not Indians, Americans or Germans. Just 5000 humans. Period. Going by statistics they achieved only 4% of their target.

I do not care about the nine terrorists being killed, but we lost around 200 people. And this 200 had our bests: The ATS team, the Police force and the NSG Commando, Sandeep Unnikrishnan. These are, sorry were, no are and will always be our bests. Heros don’t die, they are immortals.
But yet we cannot deny the fact that our losses were huge. We lost talent, we lost peace, we lost faith, we lost dreams and most important of all, we lost a sense of security inside our own homes.

A few days later a drama comes to life. The deputy CM and the CM were asked to leave their positions, having failed miserably according to the Congress Working Committee. Heads have rolled, but does it bring us any closer to the solution of the problem? One joker goes to be replaced by another one, and its life as usual. Over the last one week, I have read that the crowd, comprising of the “Aam aadmi” have taken things upto themselves and have held a lot of demonstrations to inform the administration that we are not going to sit down and let terrorists target our homes. That is a good move, but we need the engine to keep moving. Majority of the crowd was because of emotional reasons, we need sustained push towards accountability of the administration.

Some statements that I have heard are, “Close all ties with Pakistan”, “Bomb the terrorist outfits in PoK”, “Remove all the politicians”, “Remove the Z+ security of the politicians”. These were emotional reactions, but some were apt as well. Having gone through this shocking episode deeply, I have my own views on what should or could have been done to prevent such attacks.

Blaming the politicians might be the easiest job to do, but if not a Deshmukh, another one of them would come and rule. Exercising our right to vote and take ownership as responsible citizens would be the first step.

Information from the intelligence department had sent out a warning about an impending attack to Mumbai through the sea. Our guys didn’t take them seriously or they took the terrorists lightly. We cannot have our borders un-secured. This is a serious lapse in the security angle and should attract more accountability. And this accountability should be continued. Today for this mishap everybody is accountable: you and me. What had stopped us earlier from shaking up the administration and asking the questions we are asking now? Let us accept it. We had slept over our duties.

Accountability and ownership are of prime importance at this hour. Our leaders, majority of them, have taken things too lightly; and our leaders replicate us.

Would they have responded to comments like “Bade bade sheheron mein, choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai.” I would want to ask Mr R. R. Patil that would he have made the same statement if his own sons and daughters were held as hostages. I would not wait for an answer. Its quite clear: Accountability and Ownership.

When a leader assumes a post, he takes the responsibility of the nation on his shoulder. At the same time, we as responsible citizens need to (a) elect the right leader, and (b) hold them accountable for their decisions.
We need professionalism at the top and show the same professionalism at our levels as well. Coming back to handling terrorism I have only two basic solutions.

The short term solution points at securing our borders and empowering our intelligence and hitting and bombing the terrorist outfits.

The long term solution points at looking at aspects as to how we can avoid young men and women from becoming terrorists. You and me do not go to Mumbai CST and start firing at will. We would not do even if we had a gun. These individuals lacked the social cover that we all have. Reasons might be many; we need to target the social issues to prevent terrorism. It might be education, stable job, healthy lifestyle, equality in society. We need to address each and every aspect individually.

Terrorism is like a nail. They would grow and they would need to be cut. There would always be a section of unsatisfied individuals who would resort to gunfire. We need to continuously work towards reducing this number of unsatisfied individuals. And being practical I know that it might take more than a decade to reach such an ideal situation.

This time around I would want to invite comments from us on what we feel we should do to reduce terrorism. Write down whatever you feel should help us in making our homes secure and lives peaceful.