Dilli ki sardi & Biking

A random discussion on Delhi winters with some colleagues reminded of the joys of riding on a winter evening in Delhi. The cold, slightly damp, wind across your face. The fog. The warmth of the engine. And the fog that doesn’t let you see too far in the distance, and because you are riding slowly you are actually enjoying the view. Missing my bike and those rides with Tk so much!

These lines by Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are just so apt.

You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.

On Story Telling

Got this gem from Natasha Badhwar, who is a gifted story teller herself, on Twitter (follow her now). The quotes below are from Steve McCurry‘s (of the iconic Afghan Girl photo fame) wonderful blog.

The story was the bushman’s most sacred possession. These people knew what we do not; that without a story you have not got a nation, or culture, or civilization. Without a story of your own, you haven’t got a life of your own. — Laurens Van der Post

People did not wait until there was writing before they told stories and sang songs. — Albert Bates Lord

To be a person is to have a story to tell. — Isak Dinesen

Reminded me of a chapter from the wonderful book, “Soccer in Sun and Shadow” by Eduardo Galeano.

Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Try it. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium. There is nothing less mute than stands bereft of people.

At Wembley, shouts from the ’66 World Cup which England won still resound, and if you listen very closely you can hear groans from 1953 when England fell to the Hungarians. Montevideo’s Centenario Stadium sighs with nostalgia for the glory days of Uruguayan football. Maracana is still crying over Brazil’s 1950 World Cup defeat.

At Bombonera in Buenos Aires, drums boom from half a century ago. From the depths of Azteca Stadium, you can hear the ceremonial chants of the ancient Mexican ball game. The concrete terraces of the Nou Camp in Barcelona speak Catalan, and the stands of San Mames in Bilbao talk in Euskera.

In Milan, the ghost of Giuseppe Meazza scores goals that shake the stadium bearing his name. The final of the ’74 World Cup, won by Germany, is played day after day and night after night at Munich’s Olympic Stadium.

The stadium of King Fahd in Saudi Arabia has marble and gold boxes and carpeted stands, but it has no memory or much of anything to say.

Soccer in Sun and Shadow: Mini Review

You can’t write enough about a book that begins with, “We lost, we won, Either way we had fun.

In the book, Eduardo Galeano takes you through a brief history of football (soccer to him) through the last century, inter woven with a lot of social commentary. You get goosebumps reading his description of certain goals, matches, and individuals. Though not as intricate in social details as CLR James in Beyond the Boundary, you can clearly see the viewpoint of a South American in a game that was then managed by the Europeans.

To choose a few highlights from the book would be a travesty, given that every short note (the maximum length of a chapter is three pages) is a masterpiece in itself. You would have read authors describe players, plays, matches, or rivalries, but have you ever read an ode to the stadium? Read what Galeano has to say of it when a goal is scored.

“… the stadium forgets that its made of concrete and breaks free from the earth and flies through the air.

There is nothing more mute than the stands bereft of people.

At Wembley, shouts from the ’66 World Cup which England won still resound, and if you listen very closely you can hear groans from 1953 when England fell to the Hungarians. …… The Stadium of King Fahad in Saudi Arabia has marble and gold boxes and carpeted stands, bit it has no memory or much of anything to say.”

Or what he says of idols.

“Sometimes the idol doesn’t fall all at once. And sometimes when he breaks, people devour the pieces.”

And of course, he writes the most (for a player) about Maradona, who he felt has not been fully understood and punished too often for speaking out his mind.

“Maradona charged a high price, and paid one as well. He charged for his legs – and paid with his soul.

Diego Armando Maradona never used stimulants before matches to stretch the limits of his body. It was true he was into cocaine, but only at sad parties where he wanted to forget or be forgotten because he was cornered by glory and couldn’t live without the fame that wouldn’t allow him to live. He played better than anyone else in spite of cocaine, not because of it.”

If there is only one soccer book you will ever read, let this one be it!

Indiaplaza Sucks!

This is a copy of the email I sent to Indiaplaza today.

Hi Narinder & Shazia & Anthony,

Your customer service just blows me away!!

Thanks for the brilliant work. You guys haven’t obviously delivered the book till today. That after you guys called me on Monday and assured me that the book would be with me on Wednesday!!

And I was unceremoniously put on hold for 20 minutes when I called up today (again – I have spent more than Rs. 50 on calls to your clueless helpdesk so far).

I think, and correct me if I am worng, that you guys have no clue of how online shopping works. The sensible thing to do was to ship me another copy (Wow! See – this ain’t rocket science), while you checked what happened to the original.

Here is what I want – and I hope you guys understand – so I have put it in simple steps:
1. Cancel the (damn) order. I have bought the book.
2. Refund me my money – that seems to be the fair thing to do.
3. Pay me the interest on the my money – I would like it, even if it is in paise. You can decide the interest rates.
4. You know what – I will not ask you to refund my money I spent on calling you, and since this is not America, I can not sue you for mental anguish. Actually – I can not sue you for anything – I am sure you have imdemnified yourself against it by your T&C. And really I don’t care. If you want, give me my money back, else you can go have a pizza for the same amount.
5. Grow up and learn how to do business!!!

Best regards,