Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Mouse Trap - a street play

(Having met Jagdish, Shravan and Priyadarshi within a fortnight, I thought this script had to be revisited. One last time!)

Disclaimer: No rats were hurt while this script was written. And re-written, another three times.

Principal Characters

Bushy Rat Senior(BRS)

Bushy Rat Junior(BRJ)
Bony Hair (Bony)

Sad Mouse (SM)

Kofi Anonymous (Kofi)

Narrator: Long ago, in a kingdom of rats, there lived one Mr. Bushy Rat

(Enter Bushy Rat Senior)

Narrator: He was the last rat standing in the global rat race. A race of arms that is. The Texan rat acquired unwarranted power and therefore, assumed the coveted title of "The Ruler of all Races". Until one day...

(A dirty rat attacks Bushy in the posterior and flees away)

BRS: (Howling in pain) Ow! Ow! That hurt!

(Enter Bushy Rat Junior)

BRJ: Father! Father! Who's that rat? Are you all right? I'll kill any rat who dares to attack my father.

BRS: Son. That was Sad Mouse. The Ruler of I-rat. He's a powerful mouse who controls the country's supply of cheese. We've been at loggerheads because of his demands. So he's been after my life ever since.

BRJ: Father! I'll bring him down to his knees at any cost. I'll do anything within our power to bring him down! And I won't give at rat's ass to what the world has to say thereafter.

Narrator: Twelve years later...

BRS: Son. You are now old enough to rule the kingdom. You are the heir to the throne. You are no longer our little rat. You belong to the kingdom now.

Crowd: No! No! We don't want him. Take him back. Boss, refund!

(The Bushys rush back to their hiding.)

Narrator: One day the World Trading Granary is attacked by Terrorats. Bushy Jr is all infuriated.

BRJ: Freedom itself was attacked this morning, and freedom will be defended. Make no mistake. The United States of Cheesyland will hunt down these terrorats. We'll smoke them out of their holes, or wherever else they hide and give them a hiding. I therefor declare a crusade against terroratism. Let us set a trap to catch that scum of the earth who calls himself Awesome Sin Laden.
(Enter Bony Hair, The Prime Minister from across the ocean)

Bony: Greetings, my lord. Your fur seems a little ruffled. Is everything all right?

BRJ: My dear Bony from over the ocean! How good to see you. I'm afraid things aren't too good here. I thirst for vengeance. This is payback time. I want to draw first blood. I'm going to rid the world of terroratism.

Bony: And how do you propose we do this, my lord. Many races will oppose your move.

BRJ: Bony, what's wrong with you? Do you know who my father is? He built this kingdom. Nobody can challenge my authority here. So stop being a pussy!

Bony: My Lord! I take strong offence at being accused of having feline characteristics. I'm a rat! And I detest all cats!

BRJ: I'm so sorry, Bony! It's the pressure of dealing with Terrorats that's talking. I didn't mean to offend. Come on. I think you'll like this. Let's declare a War on Terroratism.

Bony: Wait! Wait! Let's call the RRC!

BRJ: RRC? Have I heard that name before?

Bony: The Rodent Radio Corporation my lord. They'll do a great job of covering up the war with their coverage. So you can attack without worrying about opposition! Yes, you con!

BRJ: I'm proud of you my dear Comrat! You are the smartest rat I've ever known.

Bony: Second only to you my lord.

BRJ: (Commanding his armies) Let the attack begin!

(The war begins.)

Narrator: It is said the soldiering is a cowards way of harming mercilessly when strong, and keeping out of harm's way when weak. After this mindless rat and mouse game, Bushy's forces stood vindicated. They continued to stay at vigil, but bored.

BRJ: Bony! I'm bored.

Bony: Me too. No wars! What to do?

BRJ: Yes yes. We once had Korea and Vietnam. Or if nothing else, there was always India and Pakistan. But with Mouse Mohan choosing to stay quiet, and Mushy Rat forced into silence, we cant do a thing there...I know we'll do. Let's attack I-rat! This has been pending for long. My father once tried attacking I-rat 12 years back, but with little success. 

Bony: That's a splendid idea, my lord. But how will you justify the attack?
BRJ: Hummm... let's see. (Excitedly) We'll accuse them of possessing the WMD.

Bony: WMD? Forgive my ignorance, but what exactly is the WMD?

BRJ: Even I know this one. It's Weapons of Mouse Destruction, silly!

Bony: Oh that's fantastic! What an idea, sirjee!

BRJ: Ah! That was nothing, my honey Bony!
(To his forces!) My dear rats! It's time to invade I-rat!

(The war begins. Now enter Kofi Anonymous)

Kofi: What's going on? You have to stop this!

BRJ: Kofi! My Friend! You have been missing the action. Join the party!

Kofi: What party? We are talking about war here! I'm against war in principle. 

BRJ: We are also against war in principle. We are just waging a war for the sake of world peace.

Kofi: World peace? You are breaking the world into pieces you fools! Don't you know at the end of the war, it doesn't matter who was right! What matters is who is left?

BRJ: (To Bony) What did that mean, Bony?

Bony:( To Kofi) Now Kofi, please don't just stand there reading poetry. Poems never brought world peace. We've always had to fight for it.

Kofi: Peace is not an aftermath of war. It is the assassin of one.

Bony:  That really doesn't make any sense, Kofi.

(Kofi looks confused)

BRJ:  Yes yes! It did not make any sense to me, either. Now you decide whose side are you on? We are going to fight for world peace, whether you like it or not!

Kofi: Do you call yourself pacifists between wars? (Bony and BSJ nod in approval) Who are you fooling! And on what grounds are you taking the responsibility on yourself?

BRJ: We want to rid the world of WMD.

Kofi: Holy Cheese! Aren’t you two the biggest manufacturers of WMDs?

Bony: We have a responsibility here. The WMD could always fall in the wrong hands, you know!

BRJ: Which is why to be on the safer side, we produce more WMD.

Kofi: (completely confused) No no! I cannot let this happen! Young lives are at stake.

BRJ: Leave him alone! Let’s go and attack!

(The war goes on, I-rat is destroyed)

Narrator: this is RRC live at 1700 hrs. Our beloved Bushy Rat Jr is going to address his subjects shortly.

BRJ: My Dear Rats. I-rat is finally under our control. I hereby declare war on I-rat over and terroratism vanquished. I soon hope to announce the capture of Sad Mouse. And only then can my pop rest on his ass in peace.

Soldier: Sir! I-rat is destroyed!

BRJ: Well done, Soldier! What news of Sad Mouse?

Soldier: We haven’t found him, Sir!

BRJ: (Furious) YOU OAFS! Search every hole in the I-rat!

Soldier: Done, sir!

BRJ: Not Just Rat Holes soldier. Search every hole. Even Spider holes. If Spiders have holes.


Narrator: This is RRC, live at 1705 hrs
BRJ: My dear rats! We got him. I’m proud to declare that Sad Mouse will face the justice which he has denied for years to so many of his subjects. I can now proudly state that my pop’s ass can rest in peace…

BRS: But I’m alive, you fool!!

BRJ: Oh sorry, father. I meant you can now rest on your ass in peace.
( To Soldiers) Bring him in!

(enter Sad Mouse, in the custody)

BRJ: There you are, you sad little mouse. I’ll make you sadder than you’ve ever been.

Sad Mouse: #@%$#^%^%*^%* (Some words spoken in a language the other rats cannot understand)

BRJ: (Hiding behind Bony) What did he say? What did he say??

Sad Mouse: Release me and I’ll bite your ass too!

Bony: Oh no! Thank you very much for your kind offer, but Jerry dear wouldn’t approve of your kindness.
(in a threatening tone) We’ll see to it that justice is done and you are punished. Always remember - the mills of justice grind slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.

BRJ: Well said, Bony! Even though I did not understand a word of what you actually said.
 (To Soldiers) Take him away.

Narrator: For now it’s all bliss in the kingdom of rats, but hey! What’s this?

(Bushy, Bony rejoice singing “You and I, rule this beautiful world” to the tune of the famous Hutch Jingle from 2004. Then suddenly, Sad mouse joins them, shakes hands, and starts singing.)

It appears Sad Mouse has now joined the ranks of our favourite rulers.

As you can see, extremists everywhere have more in common than what we come to believe.

You see friends, when intention disappears into oblivion and desire binds those hungry for power, we must unite against this extortion of our fundamental rights and rebel against such atrocities.

(Play ends)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

An Open Letter To Sachin Tendulkar

Dear Sachin,

I'm just an ordinary fan. Just like the millions in India and across the world. Like several others, I was drawn to Test Cricket after watching you bat. Must say, much has happened since I first heard about you in 1989. 23 Years. Yes, I've turned from a fearless 7-year old brat without a care in the world, to a concerned insecure man full of self-doubt, who simply refuses to turn 30. Been a long time hasn't it.

Like every other fan of yours, I can easily list down a few great innings of yours from memory. I woke at 6 in the morning, just in time to catch what I believe was the innings that transformed not just yourself, but the 50-over game itself. Yes, that unbelievable 49-ball 82 at Auckland which decimated the Kiwis, and which would turn you into the first of many successful ODI make-shift openers. A 90 against Australia at Mumbai on the '96 World Cup, where only you stubbornly stood between Australia and victory. The now legendary duel against Australia in 1998 which would begin with a tour game against the visitors, and end with the twin centuries at Sharjah, only to haunt the great Shane Warne for the rest of his life. Or that arrogant knock of 98 against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup.

For a man like you, with 100 international centuries and several other match-winning half-centuries, there is clearly no dearth of stories as far as your exploits on the field go. Yet, I seem to know very little about Sachin Tendulkar, the man. The 16-year old boy who'd take one train after the other, to go from one maidan to another, if only to get many more run-making opportunities in a day, at an age when boys would bunk their tuition classes only to catch an India-England match. The 21-year old youngster, who'd marry the lady of his dreams at an age when many girlfriends are stood up by boys watching an India-Australia ODI. The 33-year old father of two, who'd survive yet another career threatening injury, at an age when most men would report ill to watch the India-Pakistan Sharjah Cup finals. Yes, we've spent a lifetime watching you grow from a school-boy cricketer to a sporting icon, knowing every thing you've done on the field without ever understanding the sacrifices you've made for the sake of this cricket-hungry nation of a billion. With your talents, you've managed to do much more than any other cricketer in the 23 years you've played for India. Which is possibly why we call you God. Not because you are a super-human, but simply because you did so much more in your field than what was believed to be humanely possible.

But then you were always human, weren't you. How could I forget the painful loss at Chennai against Pakistan, when you gave us hope of a victory on a 5th day pitch. When the only thing that brought you down was the cramps caused by the humidity of the coastal city. Or the emotional century on the 23rd of May 1999, just a couple of days after the demise of your father. The excruciatingly slow 241 not out at Sydney, when you curbed your instincts and refused to drive any delivery pitched outside off. Or even that ugly half century after recovering from the tennis elbow injury. An innings which would eventually win India the test at a Mumbai dust bowl. When you were down, you just fought like nobody else could. We find ourselves in that familiar territory once more. Only this time, it seems much worse.

As humans in a civil society, we never dare to ask a man his salary, or a lady her age. And yet, we have the nerve to ask you when you're retiring for good. Inappropriate or insensitive as it may be. Even your strongest of supporters who fought countless arguments on your behalf, seem to have joined the doubters. And now that you have retired from ODIs, you have once again attracted much more attention on yourself, and inadvertently shielded a system that was never meant to produce world champions anyway.

The truth of the matter is, people will never let you be. As long as you play, your intentions will always be in doubt. You may have been the second best batsmen on the failed tours of England and Australia, but it was your failings that always rose above the collective failure of team itself. It was blamed on your "selfish" desire to chase a mere statistic. The reactions from fans like me will never be easy to understand. Perhaps we all still like to believe in heroes, and hate it when circumstances reduces heroes to mere mortals. Perhaps you have pampered us to some really high standards that you may never be able to match yourself anymore. Perhaps, we cricket fans don't really deserve you. Perhaps, you don't need to go through the grind anymore.

Maybe it's time to explore other aspects of life that you've missed out on over the last 39 years. Maybe it's time to forget about cricket and try your hand at something else you've always wanted to do. Cooking, singing, or even playing PS3. Maybe it's time to forget about what the press says now, and remember some of the best things written about you. Quoting Time Magazine, "When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race an F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, (and) Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam. When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to 'open' the Nehruvian economy."

But then you were always a champion. You have possibly never thought of anything else other than cricket. For you, retiring from the game is perhaps as bad as death itself. Many before you have tried to fight the inevitable, before they eventually gave in. But don't worry. It's not a submission as much as it is an act of accepting reality. You do not owe anybody an explanation. In your time, you've made children complete their homework early, teenagers to take up a sport, the youth to write about cricket, the middle-aged to forget about their worries in life, and the old feel happy to be alive. And for all that you've given us, I can only offer you two words of mine - Thank You!

I know you still have some Tests left. I know you'll perhaps want to go back to being that 16-year old who knew no fear. Maybe there's still a new Avataar of Sachin Tendulkar awaiting to burst out on the field once the Aussies visit India in March. It's difficult to say what lies in store for you. But whatever unfolds, you can can be rest assured that this will not be the last time you'll hear the familiar chant that's separated by three claps.

SACHIN...SACHIN...(clap! clap! clap!)


Your Fan for life.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

There’s a void in the batting, dear Srini

The following are the excerpts of the confidential discussions between Indian Skipper Dhoni and BCCI Head Honcho N Srinivasan. Also note that the following excerpts could be sung to the tune of ‘There’s a hole in the bucket’.

There’s a void in the batting, dear Srini, dear Srini,
There’s a void in the batting, dear Srini, a void,
Then win with your bowling, dear Dhoni, dear Dhoni,  
Then win with your bowling, dear Dhoni, your bowling,
The pacers are injured, dear Srini, dear Srini,
The pacers are injured, dear Srini, injured,
Then win with your spinners, dear Dhoni, dear Dhoni,
Then win with your spinners, dear Dhoni, spinners,
There’s no turn on the pitches, dear Srini, dear Srini,
There’s no turn on the pitches, dear Srini, no turn,
(A request is now placed with the curator at Motera, Ahmedabad)
Now win at Motera, dear Dhoni, dear Dhoni,
Now win at Motera, dear Dhoni, at Motera,
(India win by nine wickets at Motera, but there’s still a complaint)
There was no bounce at Motera, dear Srini, dear Srini,
There was no bounce at Motera, dear Srini, no bounce,
(A request was placed with the curator at Wankhede, Mumbai)
Now win at Wankhede, dear Dhoni, dear Dhoni,
Now win at Wankhede, dear Dhoni, Wankhede,
(India beaten comprehensively at Wankhede, so Dhoni comes sulking)
No win at Wankhede, dear Srini, dear Srini,
No win at Wankhede, dear Sirni, no win,
Just bat carefully at Eden, dear Dhoni, dear Dhoni,
Just bat carefully at Eden, dear Dhoni, just bat,
(India lose comprehensively again, Dhoni come sulking again)
There’s a void in the batting, dear Srini, dear Srini,
There’s a void in the batting, dear Srini, a void.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Facing up to a Cricket Addiction Patient (C.R.A.P)

In July 2012, on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of India’s famous victory in the Singer Akai Nidahas Trophy at Colombo in 1997-98, Indian scientists began conducting a series of experiments on people who watch every single match of Team India and remember every fine detail of it. We are not referring to those who remember all of Saurav Ganguly's centuries against non-Test playing nations. We are talking of those who even remember every single occasion when Ajit Agarkar conceded less than 5 runs an over in a match in which he bowled at least 7 out of a maximum of 10 overs.

Scientists have revealed that those who have been largely untouched by the gentleman’s game, majority of whom are women, do indeed live in the real world. And they have been the biggest victims of Cricket Addiction Patients (C.R.A.P).

Says Purvi Ranganathan, who recently helped her partner come out of the closet and admit to his C.R.A.P problems, “I take complete responsibility for Sundar’s C.R.A.P. condition. I went wrong in many ways as a wife – worked hard, day in and day out, nights even and sometimes over weekends too. I cared too much for my young family. Took my feelings out and left it at home so that when Sundar was not busy hurting them, at least he could play with them and entertain himself. I’m guilty of all that and more. But what I did overlook was his obsession for the Bowling action of his state-hero, Sreeshanth. Seriously, I never saw it coming.”
According to Purvi, Sundar spent the day memorizing the bowling figures of Kerala’s legendary fast bowler ever since the great man bowled out Sachin Tendulkar in a NPK Salve Challenger game between India Red vs India Green at Indore.

Scientists suggest that these non-Cricket watching population, a dying breed thanks to the popularity of IPL, are known to be very hard working, trying to understand the complexities of the life they live, and also of Cricket, which has affected several male members of their family.

It appears the C.R.A.P. victims also tend to compare arbitrary statistics of famous cricketers across generations and indulge in a time warping exercise of putting together fantasy teams and then arguing for countless hours over their individual choices. Sample this –

“Macha, I think the Sri Lanka All Time XI has to feature Roy Dias and Arjuna Ranatunga. (turning teary eyed)Watching them stealing singles off Indian outfielders was very reminiscent of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn stealing a kiss after that dip in the pool in Roman Holiday. Aha! Whattey style I tell you.(Sips Leo filter coffee and says) Compared to them, Sangakkara and Jayawardane playing their reverse sweeps and inside-out shots to long off is more like listening to Justin Beiber lyrics. Very repetitive, I tell you.”

According to Dr Abhijit Singh Paswan, programmes are being set up all over the country to help these addicts to realise the fact that Cricket is not just a game, but also something else, like an irritating insect for instance. “If you make a metal association of cricket with something uncomfortable, a C.R.A.P. victim will respond to it by zoning out of his cricket world immediately and getting back to life. For instance, if Chanderpaul’s batting reminds Sitaram Punj of the crab on his dinner plate that was still alive when he attempted to eat it, he’d immediately turn off the television and brush his teeth. Or if Rahul Sanghvi’s bowling reminds him of the time he was forced to endure an 8-hour drive holding a full bladder, he’ll just close the Cricinfo tab at work and go take a meeting with that pissed off client.  

However, if you do want to help victims out of their misery, you’ll have to join him and watch a match, wait for a reaction of extreme disgust from him, and then remind him of an incident that was far from memorable for the victim. For instance, if Umpire Aleem Dar turns down an appeal from Harbhajan Singh, remind the victim of the time when he was rejected by every single girl in his first year of Mechanical Engineering at B.A.I.T.S. (Short for Bokissam Ananthapadmanathan Institute of Technology and Science). If you see Zaheer Khan dropping a dolly, remind the victim of a time when he dropped the hot Sambar on his sports uniform of Striped T shirt, White half-pants and Carona canvas shoes. When you see Ashish Nehra going down with an injury to his….you get the drift.

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth the effort. Until then, you’ll have to hear him rattle out the ODI scores of Dinesh Mongia in the ODI series against Zimbabwe in 2001-02. Be patient.