Sand Storm-Movie, Netflix

An Arab-Israeli family with husband, wife, and four daughters, gets wife number two. The marriage arrangements are done by wife number one and two daughters. After a while, husband banishes wife number one and daughters are left to fend for themselves.

The school going Daughter number one has fallen in love with a boy of a different species. This is unacceptable to the father who just added a wife to his kitty. Tribal pride calls for marriage/s within same species. Father fixes a specimen. Daughter’s twists and turns and tantrums does not ward off the inevitable. Fixed is fixed.

The marriage happens. A fat specimen enters the honeymoon room and the daughter, now wife, complains of bad colour of the walls. Several suggestions are thrown. Nearing settlement, a voice calls out – NO. This is daughter number two looking through the window. The movie ends with daughter number one looking at daughter number two as if signalling her oncoming fate. The fat man continues to lurks in the background as if signalling the fate of all the girls.

The flow of the screenplay, camera work and the performance of all the actors are A-Grade. Notable mentions are mother and daughter one and two.

The Moth and the Mountain – Book Review

For the first time, humans reached the summit of Mt. Everest on 29th March 1953. This story is pretty well known. But twenty years earlier, in 1933, a Britisher came up with the unique idea to reach the summit of the Everest. His plan was:

He will fly from London to Everest, land on some high slope of the mountain and thereafter, climb the rest of the way to the summit. He almost made it.

Maurice Wilson, in 1933, was a 35 year old British First World War Infantry veteran. In order to achieve his goal, he took 19 hours flying lessons to get his licence. He then purchased a single engine Gypsy Moth, fitted an extra fuel tank to increase range to 750 Miles and was finally ready for a cross continent flight. His final destination airport – Mt. Everest.

With no communication radio and only a rudimentary on-board compass and primitive maps, and no entry permissions into enroute non-British airfields, the Britisher took off from London and started hopping his way towards India. But not without the British “Air Ministry” trying to stop his scatterbrained escapade.

From London he flew to Fribourg (Hitler’s Germany). Took off from Fribourg for Passau (then Germany, now Austria) but returned back to Fribourg because his heavy laden aircraft couldn’t clear the heights of Alps. Here, he made the first of his many plan changes displaying his focus and determination to get “Everest done.”

He changed his route. Fribourg-Marseille(France)-Pisa-Naples-Catania(all in Mussolini’s Italy)-Tunis(Tunisia,Africa). In Tunis he found no one to refuel. So he took off for Beserta, north of Tunis in search of fuel, but Beserta police locked him up in a jail. After half hour he was released and warned to get out of the city. With fuel dangerously low he flew back to Tunis. Disparately, he searched the airport and found some abandoned oil drums, the contents of which he put into his aircraft fuel tank.

With some dubious concoction in his fuel tank, he flew to Gabes, Tunisia. He took off from Gabes for Tripoli, but within a few miles his engine and aircraft started to rattle and shudder. He diverted back to Gabes and barely made it. He lost his engine at touch down. The engineer at Gabes diagnosed the failure as “water in the engine.”

Now topped up with reliable fuel he flew: Gabes-Tripoli-Benghazi-Tobruk-Cairo-Suez-Gaza-Bethlehem-Aman-Rutba-Baghdad. Beyond Baghdad was the Kingdom of Persia(now Iran) and he did not have any overflying permission to fly over or land in the territory. He needed a change of route.

To chart a new route he needed new maps. So he went searching in the Baghdad bazar and found an old school atlas. On this he charted his tracks: Baghdad-Shu’aiba(near Basrah)-Bahrain. When he reached Bahrain, the British “Air Ministry” finally caught up with him. He was told he cannot go further but fly back to London.

He asked for maps to chart his way back. He was shown a wall map and in that pre-xerox era he had to sketch it by hand on a piece of paper. But instead of plotting his return, he charted his route to Gwadar, a city close to Iran and India border near the Gulf of Oman. He calculated Bahrain to Gwadar distance as 740 Miles. His aircraft range was 750 Miles with extra tank.

But Bahrain official wouldn’t fuel till he gave declaration in writing that he will not fly towards India but fly back to London. He wrote the declaration, fuelled, took off from Bahrain, but instead of turning west, he went east, towards India. The Bahrain officials saw this and alerted the forward bases.

Maurice Wilson flew nine and half hours from Bahrain to Gwadar. On a single engine Gypsy Moth, in 1933, with no communication radio, with basic compass, with route sketched on plain paper, this is a feat. A small mistake and he could have been anywhere.

From Gwadar he flew to Karachi. He was finally in India. (Gwadar, at that time belonged to Oman.) In Karachi, the British “Air Ministry” official showed up again. He was warned not to overfly or enter the Kingdom of Nepal or the Kingdom of Sikkim or enter Tibet to reach Everest. (At that time, Tibet was a sovereign nation.)

But nothing would dissuade Maurice Wilson. He flew Karachi-Hyderabad (the other Hyderabad, now in Pakistan)-Jodhpur-Allahabad. By this time, the British administration had gone bonkers. At Allahabad he was downright refused fuel. Wilson then stole fuel but he left the money stuck on the hanger door. He flew out of Allahabad to Lal Balu (near Purnia, Bihar) and then to Maharaja of Darbhanga airfield at Purnia. Here Maurice Wilson’s fate was finally sealed, flying wise. His Gypsy Moth was impounded and placed under lock and key.

But more adventures remain. Maurice Wilson had 19 hours of flying lessons before he took to air for India. But he had no mountain climbing lessons.

Maurice Wilson only climbing experience was “a flight of stairs”. He was unequipped and unqualified for mountaineering. Out of his aircraft, he was, quite literally, out of his wits.

By now out of money, he sold his airplane and proceeded to Darjeeling, the usual starting point for trek to Everest. The spies of the British Empire were also moving with him. Helped by three hired sherpas, he managed to escape Darjeeling unnoticed, disguised as Tibetan Monk. They trekked via Sikkim and Tibet to the foothills of the Everest.

Maurice Wilson planned to celebrate his 36th birthday on 21st April 1934 on the summit of the Everest. But this was not to be. Till 31st May, he made three attempts to summit. All solo. Then he did not return.

In the following year, 1935, a British expedition to Everest found the body of Maurice Wilson. Quite significantly, one member of this expedition was Sherpa Tenzin Norgay.

Flying and climbing are the extrinsic parts of this story. The book actually delves deeper into the making of Maurice Wilson, both physically and psychologically. Also spiritually. How those times of war, how his own experience in the war, the period of Great Depression effecting his livelihood, his relationship with his father, mother, brothers, wives, girlfriends; how these intrinsic things, all culminated to create the man that he became. By the time Maurice Wilson is climbing and stumbling at the heights of Twenty Thousand feet on the Everest, the reader knows who he is. Morbidly, the reader also knows what will become of him.

Maurice Wilson had left London for Everest without informing his mother. All his letters were addressed to his “flame”. All his diary entries mentioned his love. But, in a very poignant moment, on the heights of Everest, when Maurice Wilson is moving from delirium towards death, he made diary entries remembering his mother.

“I am a fool, who with his longing for love and tenderness runs up cold mountains.” ~ Reinhold Messner, The Crystal Horizon

Modern Love – Amazon Prime

Modern Love is only eight, half-hour each, episodes. Each episode is unique. Each story explores human sides. All the parts are extremely well made and well acted. It’s like the best of hollywood came together to make the best of episodes.

As I was writing this, I thought of mentioning my favourite or some top picks. But as I recapulated I concluded that every episode has its own flavor. The stories are cerebral. This is my type of show.

I liked the ending in the final Eighth episode. The closure is brought on gradually, in stages. Viewers will know that the show is going to end because old characters will start reappearing and completing some of their back stories. It’s refreshing to see them all again because I lived with them in their stories. And when I see them again I discover that I really missed them.

Modern Love is like I met someone very interesting, and someone who I didn’t want to leave.

On Privacy and Surveillance

I resigned from job in May of 2017. Then unhooked from all contacts with former colleagues and contacts of my erstwhile company by August of that year. I felt finally free from all “Kabarees”, the informers, which I had “suddenly” realized where replete in the company and all the companies wherever I had worked. Like, I wanted a new life, a new paradigm.

I am not bright. And I am not wise. Two of the qualities, the absence of which, one would think, is not conducive in this world. But will the world leave me alone? No, they won’t. There is always jealousy in people, a fear that, this “Idiot” may have it good.

I might be enjoying something and not telling.

Yes, I am enjoying something and not telling. But that’s not the point for me to write this. I wanted to write this since long as I always feel that people are “not entirely right” when they talk about Privacy and Surveillance. I know because I have experienced the breach first hand.

There was one time when I lived alone when colleagues used to look into my dustbin to know what I have eaten that day. I have found them lurking outside my door while I spoke inside the house on my phone. They have walked into my house unasked and unsolicited to catch me into some act which they can peddle as gossip.

Breach of privacy is more personal than digital. A digital breach of privacy, the hacking code kind, will need intelligence of a particular kind which comes through study and experimentations. But I am talking about, downright dumbed down surveillance. The one where people are made to pry on people.

People who are watching you are not “only” on Facebook, or Twitter or sitting as some app on the phone. Common people are not that “Internet” or “Tech” learned. They cannot hit some code and download “all your shopping list” so to say. Majority of surveillance are just plain “boots on ground.” And this I realised in my previous company.

When I was fresh in my previous company at the start of this century, there were several instances where “folks” tried to “recruit” me as “informer”. The mandate was, for me to “go to any group activity” (parties, get togethers, or training classes) and “listen what people say” and “report back” to my “handler”. I was aghast with this suggestion of “occupation” and refused it outright. But these “narrative” made me aware that in every “get togethers” or “conferences” or “training classes” there were always an average of at least three “informers”. Quite late, I knew, except me, everyone was informing on everyone. I was an Outlier.

I didn’t care. I was on my own trip. My own life. Absolutely Insular. Till that day in early 2018 when our door to door neighbour, who never spoke to us, knocked our door in the middle of one afternoon and asked for water.

I sit crossed legged on my bed with laptop on a mini desk on my bed and the neighbour who entered was more interested in what I was doing on the laptop. He spoke innuendos, with one eye on the screen literally trying to decipher “what the hell I’m doing”.

Then his visitations acquired some regularity. Many a times he came close to the screen trying to peer and find out my employment. Then one day, I lost my temper. The guy scooted and never came back. After covid he seems to have disappeared. But surveillance over me did not go away.

This door to door neighbour is not connected to me in any way. Workwise, I mean. The fact that he knows I have left my job and staying at home may have been informed to him by someone who knows me, officially. And that is the “guy next building”.

From my previous company there is an office colleague who stays right in front of our building and for the last 18 years I had no idea which house he is in. Even though I met him several times and several times he commuted with me from office to home in my car, but I never asked him where exactly he lives. Never. I just knew he was the “guy next building”. I came to know where his house is, in the front building, only a couple of months back, 2020. Judge me.

So, one day I spotted him looking towards my window from the watchman’s hut. Not only that. After he left, the watchman took over. Whenever I looked out of the window the watchman had his eyes invariable on me. So I started playing a game of hide and seek with the watchman. I would suddenly peer out my window and catch the watchman looking up and he abruptly dropped his gaze. The game still continues.

OK, what happens when the watchman gets changed? Some new watchman comes in. For the initial few days he is oblivious of my existence. He does his own things. Looks here and there. Doesn’t care or look towards my window. Then one fine day thereafter, his gaze gets fixed on my window. His plastic chair, which initial few days faced the main gate of the building, suddenly turns angle towards my building. Then I know he has been tutored. By the “guy next building”.

All companies have a culture of surveillance. All companies will have “folks” who will love “looking above your shoulders” and “report” to the “powers that be” for a “few small coins” of advantage. In my previous company this “surveillance” was raised to the level of fine art. And I could imagine their joy when they got a “Khabree”, informer, right in my front yard. It’s like getting a lottery.

While I was still employed in my previous company, once in a “Training” session there were some discontent among staff due some decision of management. Out of the blue, I got a call from “power that be” and was queried and enquired on the live subject. I told what I knew. Who all were there/What all they spoke/who spoke what/for/against etc. I’m a complete novice in these kind of matters. And I felt dirty been singled out for this inquiry.

After the above inquitions and within a few minutes thereafter, I got couple of emails from the “power that be”. My “training” session was in three parts. And I had just started the first part on that day. After the conversation with “power that be”, I got “approval certificates” of all the three parts emailed to me. Not that this is a great thing. But to get all, before I even completed the course, and after sharing some innocuous information, was an eye opener. What all the other ‘informers” may be getting when they shared tid bits of “info” on a daily basis with the “power that be?”

Hence, what the “guy next building” must be getting by informing on me. He just has to divulge that he knows me and he lives just “next door” to me. I’m notorious enough to many “ole fellas”. He may be encasing that every day. What Luck!

Office Surveillance is Big Business.

So, coming back to present time, the “suspense” of what I do at home may have been too much for “handlers” of the “guy next building”. They may have decided, “well finally we have to get the horse to the water and find out what he eats or drinks”. By the way, On drinking – I’ve discontinued going to my favourite “watering hole” because “informers” have infested that place too.

Anyway, the suspense, of – What the fuck I’m doing- may be killing them. So, one day “guy next building” got me on some lame pretext. “A week back an old colleague had called him because some old colleague from Delhi had called the old colleague about me”. An old colleague from Delhi did call. But he had called three years back, in 2017. I knew, the “guy next building” has started a game.

So, with me caught, the “guy next building” dialled a number of an old colleague who now lives in Hyderabad. As I was speaking on mobile, this “guy next building” was taking note. There is a storyteller in me who few people know. Besides, I too had curiosity about what others are doing after the fall and demise of my previous company. But my target was this “Guy next building” and the lies as I spoke on mobile was been woven for him.

So this is how I decided to beat surveillance and fort my privacy.

Get a Handle or Avatar and create my cover story.

Surveillance, digital or physical, will always be there. You can never beat it. Attackers will always have an upper hand than defenders in the world, cyber or otherwise.

Who am I? Nobody. But how is the information about me important? It is important to specific interests. There will be people in this wide wide world who will hate me for whatever I am worth. And I have lived an eclectic wild life. Just like corona spreads in groups, I have fostered groups. I am not an informer but the camaraderie I created, with parties and outings, are fairgrounds for “informers” to “fish”. Any information about me, just about anything, will “sell for a few coins” and there will be people who will sell just for that, “for a few coins” of favour.

Privacy and autonomy are one and the same thing. And a person, howsoever asocial he is, is, in the end, a social animal. So being watched all the time is disconcerting. It interferes with the peace of mind. It interferes with choices. Privacy protects us from unwanted pressure and abuse of power. But to keep that truth one has to seed and spread a lot of lies.

Why do I think the “guy next building” is a threat to me? Because the moment “He” actually knows what I’m upto, the information will move up the “handlers” hierarchy and in due course “muddy my pond”. It has happened before and it will happen again. My privacy is about “protecting my value”, of whatever it’s worth, because that’s the basis of my livelihood, life.

Arnab and Journalism of Ruckus

There was a time when journalism was suave and straight faced. People of my age grew up with Doordarshan and then Debonair Pranoy Roy burst into our homes with his slick magazine style news and analysis show. It was once a week but it was the show we all waited for.

All the “fighters“ who we see these days on various channels had their beginnings with Pranoy Roy. One notable who has become the problem child of Show TV is Arnab Goswami.

There was a time when Arnab spoke only English. And there was time when he could hardly coin a phrase in good Hindi. Pranoy Roy’s channel still maintains chaste English though NDTV has a Hindi channel too where Ravish Kumar is ruling since decades. Arnab’s leaving Pranoy Roy and joining Times Now was one of the best moves Arnab made. It gave him a free reign and independence where his personality blossomed.

Arnab joining Times Now and India joining the world series of scams together with Mumbai Terror Attack was correct timing and opportunity for Arnab Style Show TV to go viral. Comparatively, Arnab had the upper hand always. His appearance, his vocalisations, presentation style was idiosyncratic. No other TV presenter could equal him. They still can’t.

There was a time when Arnab appeared on TV with CGI Fire burning on screen. Where Pranoy Roy and others had two, or four, max guests on screen, Arnab came with Ten talking Heads. Arnab could have twenty talking heads, because, He does all the talking. Invariably, Arnab’s style caught on.

How do we know that Arnab’s style caught on? Because other channels derided it. As Arnab has became a personality of his own, other Channels also started creating their own personalities. And they had advertisements showing, “Only news, no Shouting”. But gradually everyone started shouting. Arnab really changed the rules of the game.

People love Arnab because they love to do what Arnab does. KICK ASS.

Arnab had done three things, notably. One, he adopted “Journalism of Ruckus”. Two, he started speaking in Hindi, mostly. Three, he broadcasted his right wing leanings. All three are a hit combination in the majority Hindu and Hindi speaking India.

“Journalism of Ruckus” is down to earth street class journalism. Suppose, right now there is a ruckus outside your house. What do you do? You watch out through your window/door or wherever. You talk to each other, you’ll try to find out what really is happening. You’ll get different versions. The more versions you get the more your curiosity grows. Your gossips will get an edge of confrontation. Without anyone realising it, you’ve have added and contributed to the Ruckus. In totality, the Ruckus outside your house gets into your timeline.

This is “SocialMediaFication” of Prime Time TV. The viewers will invariably catch on to the arguments of talking heads on screen, will argue themselves at home in front of TV and will not listen to the talking heads who are not subscribing to their line of thinking. Don’t worry. ALL Your “Not Listening” is carried forward by Arnab on Your Behalf. Also, you’ll have Twitter or Facebook, the best tool of polarisation. By the time the show is over, the viewer and Arnab are one and always on the “Right” and correct side.

So, a Ruckus on TV today, a Ruckus on TV tomorrow, a Ruckus on TV day after, and so on. It is a sure shot attention getter. Information is the least of the worry. The idea is to get YOU spew your prejudices and biases and roll over it, figuratively. This is what Arnab is doing every day since nearly a decade. And no one is wiser, still.

Besides, somewhere along the way, Arnab realised the importance of Hindi and started speaking it deliberately. These days he uses chaste Hindi words which enthrals everyone. This mastery over spoken Hindi gave him various edges. One, Hindi speakers are over Fifty Percent spread all over India. Two, there are more scams up north than south of India so grilling ministers in their own language has a lot of following. And, most of the Pakistanis are comfortable with Hindi than English.

For some individuals, Ruckus style TV will have some expiry date. But for many, this is the daily event of the day. People reading books, watching movies or games will always be in a minority. For the majority, Arnab is their Show.

There will be few who, when they hear a Ruckus, will close the windows and do their own thing.

Biden victory is false

Since 3rd Nov as the results of US elections trickled in, the media presented Biden’s victory as “decisive”. How did they know? How does Biden and media know that Biden is going to win Pennsylvania, the key battleground state? And that was on 03rd Nov itself. Today is 7th Nov and Biden gets 270 plus electoral votes necessary to become the President. But, when Biden had 253 electoral votes on 03rd Nov and Pennsylvania was still counting those mail-in votes, Biden and media knew and declared that victory will be theirs. How do they know that on 3rd Nov when they were 253 that they will reach 270 in due course? How do they know, as the ballots were arriving in mail bags, that those mail bags had votes for Biden?

Not only that. Trump was ahead in Pennsylvania on 3rd Nov, the fact never divulged to public then. It is on the 6th Nov that there was a sudden media fervour that Biden “inches past” Trump in Pennsylvania. And that his victory is close. Biden, accompanied was Harris, comes on TV to “calm nerves” and “assure” people that “victory will be theirs”. That means, he knows, those mail-bags, even unopened, contains votes for him and him alone.

Just to get “outsider” Trump out of the way, the Democrats have defiled a system. Since 2016 till date, the Democrats have launched repeated attacks on the Trump presidency. Four years of incessant attacks. And from all possible places. Democrat’s last trick worked.

First, they raised the question that Trump won, in 2016, because of “Russia”. Democrats alleged that Russia has “influenced” the US elections and “divided” the nation. This went on for a quite a while. Robert Mueller investigation on this “Russian angle” was inconclusive. But the Democrats never left the trail. Anything “inconclusive” makes “arbitrage” space and Democrats started working their tricks here.

Second, democrats raised stink on a phone call between Trump and the President of Ukraine. They made some “White House” official become “whistleblower” alleging Trump wanted to raise dirt on Biden, then a presidential prospect. Even though the allegation did not hold substance they went for impeachment. Having no majority in the senate, they lost.

Third, they tried to block the Supreme Court Judge appointment by “manufacturing” a “rape victim”.

Finally, they had one trick left. Postal Ballots. Who has posted those ballots? How did those posted ballots become so decisive to win a crucial state? How or what did the Democrats know or did, that they had “full faith” in the postal ballots to see them through to the White House?

2020 vote shows the close race between Trump and Biden. Biden “won” Pennsylvania with just 0.6%. Elsewhere too, quite substantial votes were cast for Trump. This “Russia” excuse for Trump’s victory in 2016 is buried now. People voted for Trump and in large numbers. The huge turnouts was not for Biden but for Trump. That is why Biden was banking on the mail in voters, because had there been no mail in, Biden would never have won. Because the crowd which came out and queued to vote in person, and that too, early, because of COVID, was in all out support for Trump.

Now what? US election is a paradox. The President may win but the party may not. And that’s what happened. The US “Lok Sabha” is the Senate. And the republicans are still in majority there. So Biden is dysfunctional. If Biden does not gain two more seats in senate in January 2021, his other way to provide “some work” to his presidency will be to look abroad. That is where US president’s “executive decisions” comes into play and prominence. There are lots of places where a dysfunctional US President may find “fruitful employment”.

Besides, the Republican’s have also majorities the US Supreme Court. This will make Biden’s and the Democrat’s life difficult as most of the policies will be challenged.

Biden will be a paraplegic President with the senate and the Supreme Court not on his side.

So, boots on ground in Afghanistan may be back. Also Iraq, Iran, Syria etc., will all provide “good work” for the US presidency and media. CNN, which was underemployed will now scour bombed out countries and find gainful employment. Their correspondents will again “embed” themselves with US troops in some god forsaken country for vile stories to show and tell.

India’s tough times will start. Trump had sanctioned two of our neighbours severely. Pakistan was left with no funds and had to go begging to China. Even Saudi Arabia did not help their old friends. With dysfunctional Biden in the White House, Pakistan will again see Greens, those dollars which they love so much. Also Biden has made positive remarks supporting Pakistan’s stand on India’s abrogation of Article 370. Pakistan and China will both love this.

China will have its sanctions eased and gain more economic power which they will spend to dominate India. All “factories” which was supposed to have moved from China to India will remain where they were, in China. Chinese will not move away from India’s border and will commit India to a wasteful and exorbitant expenditure. Biden will love this. He will sell arms to India.

All in all, an Indian origin US Veep will be of no help to India.

References:

  1. US Elections 2020
  2. US Senate Count 2020
  3. US Senate Runoff 2021

The Professor – Movie, Amazon Prime

Johnny Depp, the professor, has few months to live. So he decides to kick ass. His credo till death is: “It’s time that we lived a bit closer to the primal truth of it all. So from this point on, let us fuck who we wanna fuck. Let us ingest what we wanna ingest. And all in all, just do whatever the hell we damm well please.”

So he fucks a waitress, smokes a cigarette, and drinks alcohol in company of his students. One female student seems to have a crush on him. And One male student gives him a blow job. This cock sucking is hinted not shown. Thankfully.

And all in the name of terminal illness.

And as the story progresses some profound words are spoken. “ So in preparing for what lies ahead, I’ve come to realise that for much of my life, I’ve been mistaken, and I failed. I failed, not only to comprehend my mortality, but I’ve failed to appreciate it. And as a result, I’ve failed to make the most of my life.”

And at the end of it, Johnny Depp drives out into the unknown to “die like a dog”. (My words)

So, if the story is so hackneyed why watch it.

Watch it for Johnny Depp. A subtle hold on shots. An apt control on movements and dialogues. He has the gift of expressing without emoting. A deadpan face where only the eyes speak. The only other actor who, I imagine, could equal this was our late Irrfan Khan.

Queen’s Gambit – Miniseries, Netflix

As per online dictionary, the meaning of gambit (in chess) is: an opening move in which a player makes a sacrifice, typically of a pawn, for the sake of a compensating advantage.

In Hindi the meaning is a bit crisp. It means “पहली चाल”. Meaning, First Trick.

A “Queen’s Gambit” is a “gambit” of the first mover in chess, in which pawns are moved, initially in the game, so as to control the centre of the Chess space. If you are interested watch this video.

The TV series “Queen’s Gambit” is a story of a female character who grows up to be a world class chess player. The story is of a smart girl with troubled childhood who discovers chess while at boarding school which prepares children for adoption.

From the “frying pan” of troubled parents, to being mentored into chess at a boarding school and then “into fire” of dysfunctional family who adopted her, is a perfect bell curve for a story. Chess is just a prop. The traverse of the character through age and various influences is the main plot.

It’s a seven part, one hour each, episodes which will drive you to download a few chess apps and try the game, at least for few hours. The story mentions a lot of chess moves and books none of which I found compelling after few minutes of perusals. But the series is bing worthy.

The story arch seems contrived yet adorned with good storytelling.

Let people be.

It’s not unlikely that one become a target of someone’s bullying at some juncture in their life. Bullying can be overt or subtle. Bullying during growing up years are more overt. Later in life, when one gets “worldly wise”, there’s a subtleness in the approach.

As is most things in life that is human related, bullying is also power. More extravagant kind of bullying is called ragging. Everyone in India will know ragging. Though there is legislation against it, freshers in colleges are still subjected to this humiliation. Best way to introduce to power is via humiliation.

Bullying or ragging, both are forms of humiliation. It’s virulent. It gets passed on. A person who is subjected to, will, in turn, make others his target. Any human subjected to abuse will abuse others, physically or emotionally or anything else. The germ does not go easily. A person who is abused does not generate compassion or empathy for others downstream.

Charlie Hebdo o is bullying. They are humiliating. And because of the historic biases towards the Muslim world, the non Muslim world is condoning. There is lot of hidden glee permeating the non Muslims. They are so glad that the Muslims are having it that they forget that the tide always turns.

What if tomorrow *Charlie Hebdo* decide to show Hindu gods in bad light. Have we forgotten what we did to M F Hussain. We Indians (read Hindus) are behaving as if we are the most free society, that we accept religious caricatures as daily staple, and we are so very tolerant and open minded that when we see Mohamed defiled in a cartoon we accept that with nonchalance.

The most generous will often be found at someone else’s wedding reception.

Mohamed is never defiled. But *Charlie Hebdo* has used their power to bully, rag and humiliate a following. They have taken refuge in a country, inside a constitution, in a society. By repeatedly hitting on a particular target subject they have displayed their insularity. No matter their ethos “to be irreverent to religion” which they formed at some past, due to their own confrontation with their own religion, which is Christianity, it does not default to propagation of that ethos to other religions and to other societies.

Most of the Muslim world, also Hindu world, have a lot of abuse to contend with. Most of these worlds are the so called “developing world”, in other words, Poor Countries. Part of the reason of their poverty is because of the total lack of the rule of law. The abuse begins here.

Then, to get a better life, for a society with a rule of law, people from poor countries migrate to “rich people’s” land. It is not an honourable existence but more honourable than what they have back home. The least they expect in the new land is another dose of provocation. But in France, and also in most other western world, they get exactly that, provocation.

A human abused will abuse. Mostly, these kinds of abuse remain localised towards the self or within families. Every individual, group, families contend with this. All they want to be left in peace and raise the next generation with wherewithal which they were denied to in their original home country.

But what happens when a nation abuses a community wholesale.

Western science is pretty developed. They have made strides in the understanding of mental illness. PTSD, ADHD are the by words now in any western books, cinema or tv. There is always a call for more understanding towards mental illness, abuse, bullying etc. With all these advancements one expects rich nations to show more compassion. Yet their callousness is astounding.

*Charlie Hebdo* is wrong in targeting a community. And the French are wrong to shield Hebdo. And the world is wrong for their expression of glee and mirth. Terrorism in all forms are condemnable, and those “Forms” should include provocation and incitement thru obnoxious imagery.

Don’t you think, Charlie Hebdo’s rabid depiction of a revered subject is also terrorism.

Cricket is dumb.

Cricket is dumb, viewer-wise. What is the bother? That your country has won or your favourite club has won or your team batter has scored a century or your team bowler has dismissed couple of batsmen. These are blocks of emotion suitably wasted. This is Tribalism — My and Others.

A game of Tennis or Football displays stamina, skill, strategy, teamwork at every moment of the game. In Tennis, the speed of service, the returns, volley, dropshots etc. are the content of every game, set and match. Viewers see the opponent crafting their strategies for victory. A Football goal is richer in content than a fall of wicket in cricket. An action replay of a goal will show thought and strategy. On the contrary, a fall of wicket is just a stupid fall of wicket. It appears like a mistake. Besides, a batsman thumping sixes is a no brainer for the viewer.

Cricket is intuitive. Viewers will never know what skill and strategies are called into play. All skill and strategy are resident in the players. What the viewers see is the resultant. The viewers see a batter score a century or get out. The viewers see a bowler dismiss a batter or get hit for a six. But what is the process at play? That is why cricket commentary is so important. Viewer needs to be informed. Somebody else is doing the thinking for the viewer.

And even if there is no commentary, what do the viewers see on some big screen? Four chief points are the lookouts. That someone’s bowling and someone’s batting and what is the score needed and overs left. It might take a couple of days, a day or half a day to know the outcome.

Football is a ninety minute sport with strategies and processes starting at kick off. A goal is a result of several steps. Every set pieces, like a corner kick, free kick is packed with thought and strategy. Even an attempt on a goal has a strategic build up. A viewer is involved in every step.

Tennis is a display of speed, and accuracy. Three or five setter may take a couple of hours to several number of hours. The more the extension of the game the more is the skill, stamina and strategy called forth in the game. A Five stetter Five hour match means both the opponents have raised the level of the game by several notches and brought out the best of skills. Any viewer will see that.

Both Football and Tennis provide “wholesome” viewership experience. Cricket provides only spectacle. A Football and Tennis game leaves the viewer with a “watched something” feeling. A cricket match leaves the viewer just with culmination. Some team won. That’s it!