Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Insults and Monkey-Gate

Australians are the past masters in the art of sledging; if you can call it art.

They provoke the opposition player and wait for retaliation and naturally the retaliation results in punitive punishments and the original incident is forgotten. Witness the recent one game ban for in-form Gautham Gambhir for retaliation. The actions of the bowler, Shane Watson, mouthing insults (available I am sure in high definition video) that precipitated this incident were almost completely ignored by the match umpire. Many Indian players have recounted episodes where the Australian fielders in slip cordon would refer to wonderful night spent with the batsman's relative. This is not considered an insult, it is not considered a harassment; it is considered a form of badinage and supposed to be taken in that spirit.

Harbhajan Singh was accused of using a racial epithet against Australian player. He was accused of calling Symonds a monkey.

First, it is normal to be called a monkey or other animals in India. My mom frequently compared me to various four-legged creatures, not necessarily affectionately, so did a majority of my elementary school teachers. Half the boys in my class have been called a monkey one time or other when they were mischievous. Almost all of us have been referred to as either a donkey or son of a donkey when we were slow with our responses in class. I remember a teacher whom we used to harass a lot during class addressing us as "thick skinned buffaloes".

Second, Harbhajan should have defended himself since it was not meant as an insult. Monkeys are revered and have temples built in their honor. In fact he should have pointed out that it was as a compliment to be compared to Hanuman!!

Third, assuming that Harbhajan called him a monkey, why cannot the Australians take it in the right spirit and laugh at at. After all, it is not as if Symonds looks have launched a thousand ships; in fact I have heard from unreliable sources that his looks have caused mirrors to crack when he looks at himself.

Assuming that an Australian player insulted an Indian player's mother, there are no rules of etiquette on how to insult that restrict Indians to talking only about sleeping with the Australian player's female relatives. I am afraid reader will blanch at my using the words insult and etiquette in the same sentence, but the rules are simple; you identify a raw nerve and keep hitting on that nerve. If you find that a player hates being teased about his looks; then talk about it more!!

A player who thrives on being aggressive on the field and loves dishing out to others has no right to expect politeness from his opponents when it is their turn. This is typical Australians being babies when they lose. It seems like when Australians sledge they call it an art whereas when the others pick up that art and apply it so well that it now hurts, it is racial epithet. Talk about double standards!!

Taking a step back; referring to a player's relative being great in bed is an insult if that player perceives it be so. Calling someone a monkey is an insult if that person perceives it be so. Perception is after all reality.

There is a solution for this - do not sledge; play cricket, but if you sledge, do not come complaining to mommy when your opponent does it better!!

PS: When the teacher called us "thick skinned buffaloes" one of my classmates quipped "Madam, but we do not give milk!!". She put her head on the teachers table and cried. No kidding.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

How I wish That The Grinch Had Stolen Christmas!!

The title was inspired by this article in CNN and at about the same time my wife's colleague posted this.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Venus Williams - My Hero

I have always been vary of charlatans who claim that they made a certain prediction years ago
  1. Mark my words, this stock will go up 10000% or
  2. Get out of that stock, it is going to crash.
I think when people make prediction they should make it in a public fora with suitable controls so that we can verify such claims of omniscience.

Over the past decade, I realize that I personally have failed in this; I knew when I saw Venus Williams in 1995 or so that she would one day be a world champion. I also knew that Serena had a better all round game. How I wish I had stated it publicly!!

That does not prevent me from at least expressing admiration for Venus. Are there many athletes who are personally or professionally as graceful as she is? It seems to me that watching her play is akin to watching a ballet. She makes it seem effortless. She has a monster serve; amazing span; great defense. Along with Navratilova and Graf, she would be considered one of the best grass court player. She has won five Wimbledon titles in all.

Her serve in fact is out of the league. One could write an entire article on just that topic. She frequently averages first serve speeds that are comparable if not higher than similarly ranked men!! No woman comes (except maybe Serena) within 5 miles of her average speeds consistently. In fact Venus holds the record for the fastest serves in all grand slam venues and the fastest serve overall!!

Most people think her father is arrogant, opinionated, and many other unprintable adjectives. No one sees him for what he is; he has raised two world champions in really trying circumstances. He did not have the benefit of a nice suburban setting to raise them. He at least has gone on record to say how his daughters would one day rule women's tennis. This was years before they had even played a single professional game. He along with his wife deserve kudos for raising two really good children. In the age of self-aggrandizement amongst professional players, these two are quiet but self confident without the need to push themselves constantly in the limelight. They have a good balance between tennis and life. Tennis is not for them the be all and end all. They have interest outside tennis that provides them an outlet to express themselves.

What else is there to say?