Friday, December 30, 2011

Binary Countdown - 2

I like the way the new year is coming in this time. Having the new year start in the middle of the week usually leaves me sort of discombobulated. It neither puts me in the proper holiday mood nor does it feel like much of a change which I suppose moving into a new year should be. The way 2012 is planning to start, though, is the ideal way. It feels good to kick back and say TGIF, you get the weekend to highlight the holiday and on Monday morning your new year can start, prim and proper.

In case you have missed my count-down to the big day, it started with “Places I want to see” on Monday, “Things I want to do” on Tuesday, “People I want to meet” on Wednesday and “Professions I could have been in” yesterday. Now it’s today … errr, I mean Friday, we are 2 days away and keeping to the theme of this series, I have a list of two. Two events to be more precise.
  • The return of Microsoft – Am I nuts or did you miss Microsoft’s demise? Neither, though you could make a case out for the former. I am not talking Microsoft as in Microsoft Windows 7 or Office. Rather I am talking about Microsoft Windows Mobile! MS, I feel, got caught out first by Apple and then by Google in the hand-held device space and has perpetually been nowhere to be found. Perpetually, that is, since the whole touchy-feely devices started flooding the market place. It’s been a good 4 or 5 years now since Apple, a so far non-phone player, hit the collective consciousness with the iPhone. This was followed by yet another so far non-phone player in Google flooding the market with their 'free' Android OS. And while these new kids on the block were out not only making hay but also effectively making their own sun-shine, MS was nowhere to be seen. And to think that MS was the only one among the big three software giants with a full blown presence in the area of handheld devices before the game was changed and they were left out! Recently however MS has been making all the right noises. The marriage with Nokia looks to be shaping up well (The Lumia phones look awesome. Don’t know how they perform though) and from all the scuttlebutt going around, Windows Phone 8 is shaping up to be a cracker. Here is hoping that the mobile market grows from a two-horse race to a three-horse race. Are you thinking why I am interested in this? Well, I am always in the market for a phone and the more I have to look at and decide between, the merrier. :) All the Android phones are starting to look like, well, Androids, there is anyway just one iPhone so it will look and feel like it always has even though it can talk back to me now, Symbian is dead (though I really like the N8 and E7), MeeGo was supposedly brilliant but was a still born baby, RIM is on life support and Java based OS’es have gone the way of the dinosaur. So that leaves MS as the remaining player who I can look up to, to inject the much needed differentiation in a space that is increasingly looking the same whichever way you turn.
  • The US presidential elections – Yep, it’s a strange one for someone in India to be looking forward to, what with all the drama that Indian politics is capable of throwing up (and is indeed doing so right now!). But of late I have been fascinated by the whole process the Americans follow to elect their president. It all seems complicated and downright unnecessary but whom am I to complain. At the heart of it all is their two-party system consisting of the democrats and republicans and come election time, each party will have one elected representative trying to claim the White House for his (or her) own use. The democrats are going with their incumbent, so no sweat for them I guess. The thing that is holding my interest right now is what they call the nomination process to pick a candidate to represent the Republican Party. This process, which involves quite a few ‘debates’ between the hopefuls apart from the traditional campaigning seems like a great system. Given the televised nature of the debates, these essentially provide the presidential hopefuls a platform to reach a national audience from which to hawk their agenda much before they are actually in the fray for the top spot. At least on paper, this seems like a better system than that followed by our politicians which essentially consists of ceaselessly campaigning. Anyway, the main reason for following the US presidential elections is because whether I like it or not, the fortunes of our economy and the company I work in are closely tied to the fortunes of the US market and by extension, to the ideologies, compulsions, whims and fancies of those who make the governing policies for that market.

 Two days to go and that’s my binary list that I am looking forward to which I hope will keep me engrossed well into 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

No Bucket-List. Only Countdown - 3

I am changing my usual style today and starting off with my list. Today’s is going to be about ‘The Three Alternate Professions’ I usually see myself in. The boring background stuff will come later, if I feel up to it. ;)
  • Racer – I love the idea of bikes and cars and speed, I speed unnecessarily on public roads and I claim to be good at it. Of course no one else has endorsed me but when you are as good as I am, you don’t need endorsement! Anyway, given this love for speed, it’s no wonder that I see myself strapped to a speeding missile with steering control and mixing it with the likes of Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen on a regular basis. But alas, as they say, all good things must come to an end and so it is with me when I have to wake up.
  • Dancer – Remember dancing to music when you were a kid? Yep, I am referring to that un-synchronized movement of your hands and legs and out-of-rhythm shaking of the hips that we all did at one time or the other when we were still young enough to not care about it. Right from those days I have known two things – I can follow a rhythm and someone has to choreograph my dance always, even the aforementioned un-coordinated movement. So it’s pretty easy to imagine myself as ‘Mr. Twinkle Toes’. But make no mistake; it’s Mr. Twinkle Toes the back-up dancer and not Mr. Twinkle Toes the choreographer.
  • Food Taster and Critic – I consider myself a foodie in the sense that I like anything that is labeled ‘food’. From high-brow to road-side and everything in between is a favorite. A couple of things stand in the way of me actually realizing this dream of being a FTC. My taste cognizance begins and ends with heat and spice, so I will probably miss out on all the subtle flavours (that’s what they call ‘bland food’ these days) and the fact that I am a vegetarian and am a teetotaler means that the piece of the ‘global-food-spread’ pie that I can dig into is comparatively small. But I have never let these facts get in the way of a good, mouth-watering imagination :)
So those are the three other avatars that I see myself. My main, and real, avatar is that of a ‘software professional’, which is a better way of saying that I write code for a living. Of course, I didn't set out to write code from the beginning. As I was growing up, there were the regulars like becoming a Pilot or a Doctor. After school, I did my undergraduate course in mechanical engineering. And yet here I am, 11 years after finishing college, pounding on keyboards and dealing with languages, syntaxes, bits, bytes and character-sets. “How come?” you may ask. It’s simple really. After 2 years of kindergarten, 5 years of junior school, 5 years of high school, 2 years of junior college and 4 years of undergraduate college (for a total of 18 years of 'sit-on-your-arse-and-study' kind of formal education) I was ready to stop studying and start earning. I took the first job that came my way and haven't looked back ever since. :)

If you have been following my posts these last few days, you would have noticed that this is not a “Bucket List”. No wishes here. I was going through the news-paper this morning and everybody and their uncle was on about either “2011 - The year that was” or “2012 – What to expect” or some similar thing. So the wise one and I decided that we will leave the wishing to the ones who do it so well – on nationally circulated news papers no less – and stick to general count-down lists to ring in the new year. That's why the foray into my imagination today. That being said, we are almost on the verge of tripping into the next year. Three more days to go.

Bucket-List Countdown - 4

Another new day and here I am to make a few more additions to my growing wish list. I have taken to calling this my “Bucket List” but given the rate at which I am adding to it, looks like I will be left holding an overflowing bucket by the time I am ready to kick the bucket. So I am thinking (Yes, I tend to do that. Sometimes) that maybe I should cut back on the wishing and hoping and wanting so that I don’t put too much pressure on myself. But ‘kya karen, control nahi hota’!! So this is the compromise I have worked out between me and myself. I will give in to the temptation today and get done with it. ‘Kal kya hoga, kise pata’! ;)

Today’s list is more of a Guest List rather than a Wish List. It is about folks I would love to meet. But it’s a slightly different kind of love I am talking about. Screaming their names to get their attention, hankering after their autographs and fawning over them don’t really figure in my plans. Rather what I would love to do is to have a one-on-one with them so that I get answers to a few interesting questions that I have.  So without further ado, I give you...
  • Michael Schumacher – Given that my Formula-1 fandom began and ended with this guy, it should come as no surprise that he is the one I would love to get some answers from. The way I see it in my head, it would be a series of “What were you thinking” questions. Like “What were you thinking when you went straight into Damon in ’94 and repeated the same with JV in ’97? Couldn't you try something else?” ;) Or like “What were you thinking when you let Rubens through in the last second? That dude isn't worth the trouble!” ;) He he, if I get to meet him, I know it would be fun.
  • The entire set of folks who fall under the category ‘Indian Politicians’ – Agreed that this is not a single person. But I really couldn't pick one, so I thought I would conduct an open house with all of them in one place. And once there, I think the things I want to ask them are pretty obvious. Like “Why don’t you guys grow up and start acting like grown-ups?” Or like “How heck do you plan to carry all that money with you once you die?” Or like “So when do you plan to stop acting like divas and start acting as public servants?” Or… well, there are probably thousands of questions I can put forth. But considering that they will all be under a single roof, I think realistically my expectations should be that they will be trying to shout each other down and taking the furniture apart to throw at each other and the open house would have to be ‘adjourned’ keeping in mind the safety of all concerned!
  • Barack Obama – Yep, the current president of the USA. The same one who is, depending on who you talk to, the first Muslim, non-American to become president. I have just one question to you sir. Nobel Peace Prize! Why? How? OK, that’s two questions. Sue me.
and finally
  • God – This is the big one. My very own ‘Interview with God’. Of course this pre-supposes that God is a person, which according to a lot of faiths around the world, is the first mistake I could make. Well, since I am the one meeting with him, I can imagine him to be whatever I want him to be. Wait, I seem to be very sure that God is a ‘Him’ and not a ‘Her’! Hmm. Well, for the sake of convenience and expediency, let me just imagine a ‘Him’. A ‘Her’ would only result in me doing a lot of flirting and not enough talking. So what would I ask God? There are a quite a few but I guess I will start with “Having made man-kind, was it so hard to put some sense into them?” and wing it from there.

Well that’s all. With 4 more days to go for the dawn of the new year, this here is my list of 4 that I would like to meet and chat-up. Here’s to the hope that at least one of these happens.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bucket-List Countdown - 5

My previous list covered the 6 places I want to visit before it is too late to do the visiting. However, visiting places can be just that – visiting. You get on a bus/train/car/flight, travel for how-ever-long and reach the place. You see the sights, eat the food, soak in the atmosphere and you come back the same way you got there. It is just a visit, even though the place you have visited is on that “must visit” list of yours. For getting an absolute high, though, you need to not just visit but do something; something adventurous that you don’t / can’t / won’t do as part of your normal day-to-day life. Of course you can do weed or some of its more sophisticated relatives and get high, but that’s not what I am talking about. Neither am I talking about any procreational activities though I do realize that either of those can also definitely fall under the “adventurous activities you don’t / can’t / won’t do as part of your normal day-to-day life” category for some! ;)

With that mandatory clarification out of the way, let me now get to my list of To-Do activities. The “Bucket-List” grows! 
  • My first experience of watching any kind of skating were the old broadcasts on TV about the winter Olympics and the ice-skating championships which the channel used to show as time and space fillers between regular programs way back when … I don’t exactly remember when but it was way back. What arrested my attention were the grace, the ease and the fluidity with which they were gliding and I have wanted to be able to do that ever since. I have tried my hand at skating a few times and having ended all those attempts rather abruptly after landing heavily on my bum I am still waiting to show off my grace and fluidity. With wheels, without wheels, wheels in two rows, wheels in a single row, blades, skiis, ice, snow, tarmac, it doesn’t matter how I skate and where I skate on, as long as I can. So on the list goes skating.
  • What do Sly Stallone, James Franco, Tom Cruise and Hrithik Roshan have in common, apart from being good-looking actors? I can hear the ladies say “Does anything else matter?” but I am not a lady so I guess I am looking for some other common factor. To figure out this ‘other’ trait they share, try Cliffhanger, 127 Hours, Mission Impossible 2 and Lakshya and you will know what I am getting at. These guys made climbing mountains with nothing more that rope and pitons look easy. Do I hear you say, “It’s the movies, stupid.”? Well, I know it’s the movies and I know mountaineering is not a walk in the park, but hey if it can make me feel like Sly Cruise, I am all for it. :). Add mountaineering / rock climbing to the list.
  • Next up is something that thousands of ordinary folks seem to be doing, in ever increasing numbers, each year. In fact my sister has done it last year and my best friend from college has done it and continues to do it every year. And this has sort of piqued my interest. A marathon, the full enchilada, is a 42.195 Kms long running race. Yikees!! The thought of that distance itself is scary, so I wonder what it is about running a marathon that is pulling in so many people away from the cushy comforts of their couches, into their running shoes and onto the roads. I would like to find that out, first hand. On it goes then to my list.
  • If the challenge of lasting the distance is the marathon’s attraction, then power, torque, the smell of rubber and gas, the feeling of literally controlling your life with your hands as well as the feeling of being absolutely out of control are the attractions (fatal at times) of motor racing (specifically of the two-wheeled variety). Ever since I have been on vehicle without training wheels, I have raced and sped. And have fallen and been bruised, broken, scratched and mended. And have gotten back on the vehicle to resume the speeding and racing. Of course, all the speeding and racing is of the “traffic light GP” variety on public roads where the sheer volume of every day traffic and crowd means that all my racing happens at 50 Kmph! I would have actually been an amateur racer on two wheels if not for a conservative and “safety-first” mindset – my parents’ and mine. But all the same, it’s on my list because I would love to put my leg over a crotch rocket and let loose on a closed circuit where the only other traffic are fellow racers. No speed limits, no signals, no bull-s***. If not anything else, I will at least know whether I would have made it in that life had I chosen differently.
  • The last on my current list of things to do is the one that scares me the most. But I am also super excited about it because I, for whatever reason, feel that I can actually do it. Am not sure how to explain that contradiction but then that’s not what I am trying to do here. I love being in water. Linda Goodman offers an explanation for that by saying that I am a fixed water sign, whatever that is supposed to mean. However the slight hitch is that I don’t know how to swim. My standard answer when anyone asks me about my prowess is water is to say that I swim like a rock! I usually stand on the shallow side of a swimming pool splashing around. On a recent holiday, though, I broke from convention and signed up for a snorkeling session in the sea. The taste of the underwater world (apart from the sea water that is) that I got during that time has got me salivating at the prospect of deep sea diving. Lots of colorful corals, lots of colorful fish and me in full scuba gear lazily floating among it all – bliss. :) 
So there it is. It’s now 5 days to go before the 12 takes over and this is going to be a list of my top 5 things to do in life, again in no particular order.

Bucket-List Countdown - 6

It’s nearing the end of the year and we, the smart one and I, are pretty much glued to our work laptops these days even when we are at home. For her this is an annual thing, what with this being the busiest time of the year for her company. For me, well, what else am I supposed to be doing when she is other-wise occupied? ;) Anyway, we were both busy being busy when she suddenly goes, "You know, there are only 6 more posts to go for me to reach 100 posts". Took me a couple of seconds to realize she was talking about her blog. It took her the same couple of seconds to come up with "You know, there are 6 more days left in this year, the two hours left in 'today' included". As I started the process of processing that apparently independent piece of information she was busy bridging the two observations and said , "You know, we should write something on the 6 remaining days". And that’s how this idea came about of a count-down, "Bucket-list" style.

So my list starts with the 6 places, in no particular order, I would absolutely love to visit before global warming, nuclear war and the Mayan calendar conspire to deny me the opportunity.
  • Taj Mahal - Been there already, but I would love to go back with the smart one and hopefully on a day when the usually maddening crowds take a break from being maddening crowds. Why? I am a romantic at heart. That’s why. :)
  • Petra - Have seen this only in movies. Notably in Indiana Jones and in Transformers and not so notably in a handful of Indian movies and have been in awe. A voice in my head keeps telling me that what I see on the big screen is all there is to see in Petra and a visit would actually be a letdown. But if I am hearing voices in my head, I am probably too far gone to actually listen to them, even when they make sense. :)
  • Pyramids - The Egyptian Pyramids are another place of supposed mystique. Having heard and read all those stories about secret passages, dead souls waiting to be revived, ancient calendars, aliens, yada yada yada who wouldn't want to check the place out? And after watching "Despicable Me", I am going there armed with a safety pin to find out if the pyramids are all that they are made out to be or if it’s just a load of hot air.
  • Marrakech – I am not sure what there is to this place except for maybe centuries of history but a couple of years back my previous company had organized a get together in this place and I didn't get to go. Apart from having heap-loads of history, I heard that it was a great place for relaxing and shopping (not sure how those two go hand-in-hand but stranger things have happened!). Marrakech, in Morocco, has been stuck in my head ever since.
  • Grand Canyon – A freak of nature, if I can call it that. The vital stats - 446 Kms long, 29 Kms wide (at the max), 1.8 Kms deep (at the max) - themselves are staggering. Add to that the beautiful but bleak and desolate landscape usually shown in pictures and it is nothing if not intriguing. I would love to fly the entire length and breadth of it in a chopper. (Reminder to self: Wake up and count the money!)
  • The Polar Ice Caps – Yep. Both would be great, one of the two will do nicely enough. I know I can't stand the cold, I know there isn't much in terms of sight-seeing. I also know that in the Himalayas during a mini (the teeny-weeny side of mini actually) snow storm I strangely felt at peace in the white surroundings. Guess I am just looking for something like that, magnified a whole lot more.
There you go! The places I would absolutely love to visit. Of course there are a lot more but when I got down to listing them, these were the toppers. I can only hope that someday I have enough time and enough resources to actually do the visiting.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kolaveri about Kolaveri...

You know what they say about opinions. Opinions are like the "waste disposal orifices of the homo spaiens"; Everybody has one and they all stink. They don't say it exactly in those words but I try to maintain some parliamentary decency in the language of my posts while trying to convey the whole meaning of what they say. The bottom-line is that opinions stink no matter who is expressing them. And opinions cannot be right or wrong. They are just opinions. Before someone tries to point out the obvious to me, it is not lost on me that this is my opinion and the same rules apply. With that out of the way here are my two 'stinking' cents.

The first time I heard the term "viral" was in connection with some infection I was down with as a kid and was made to swallow gaudily colorful tablets which looked like Cadbury's Gems (for the americanised reader, think M&M's) but tasted like concentrated bitter gourd. The next time I paid attention to that term was quite a few years down the line. I had been introduced to computers by that time and computers with "viral" infections were all the rage ... I mean, they were in the news and classrooms a lot. I was initially confused and later amused at the use of a biological term to describe the fate that had befallen a demonstrably non-biological entity. That was a good 10 years or so back. Fast forward to today and virus infected computers have become so much a part of our regular lives and lexicon that the usage hardly causes a pause. Now, suddenly out of the blue (if you are color-blind, just take my word for it!) we start hearing the word "viral" being associated with a whole different type of entity. One that has no connection whatsoever to biological life forms or even to physical forms. Videos, songs, fashion, games, trends ... you name it and it has probably gone "viral". If we take into consideration what happened in Egypt and in other parts of the middle east a little while ago, you could probably say a revolution went "viral" too! I guess the use of the term in this context is because of the way something spreads across a huge set of people across geographies via the internet which is similar to the way a virus spreads in the body and between bodies via a carrier.

There is one charecteristic which is common to the things that go viral on the net. A huge volume of people seem to like it (not the FB variety of like, though given how 'FB'ised people are becoming that day isn't too far). Why they like it, on the other hand, is not so easy to discern. "Why this kolaveri di" is a case in point. It is supposed to be the first song from south of India that went viral, not just in India but around the world and that is good news (I guess!). Why it went viral worldwide ... now that is something I cannot start to figure out. It is not an outright tamil song. Neither is it an english song. The makers call the language 'Tanglish' which I think is their convenient way of saying all of this - "The song has a few tamil words and made up slang interspersed among a lot a english words used with a total disregard for the grammer of either language, all of which are pronounced with a funny accent" - in a single word. The singer is not a regular singer. Having said all that, do I like the song? Oh yes. Why? Because I found it to be extremely funny. It has got references to things like "soup boys" and "soup song" and "bouvu" which I have no clue about but what the heck. You can figure out the meaning for these based on the context of the song. As it says - "empty life-u, girl-u come-u, life reverse gear-u". Indeed!! :) Others might have found it funny too and yet others might have connected with the theme of heartbreak that the song tries to portray.

However, and this is me finally getting to the point about opinions, people seem to have a problem just accepting that this song is popular. There are some (like this person) who take the song title too literally (Why this murderous rage, girl) and argue that in a case of heartbreak, the murderous rage is usually exhibited by the guy and so the song and its title are not representative. For these folks who can't seem to enjoy something just because it is, without going into the various existing or non-existing pros, cons, whys and whynots, all I can say is "Wake up and smell the coffee" (if you are Kesha, you should smell your bottle of Jack). Then there is the other type (like this person), who don the mantle of the purist. They diss and dismiss it as not even being a song. For these folks there is nothing I can say. I will just keep laughing at their opinions because they exemplify what I said about opinions in the beginning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All Rock - No Star

So there I was along with the brainy one, waiting outside the cinema for the rest of the gang to come. We were three and half couples and related through the wives (Three couples and a bachelorette actually). This was the first time we were all out together, so there was a fair bit of excitement in the air. Welcoming new people into the family and all that you know. But I guess the excitement was more because of the movie we were waiting to watch. Rockstar. The latest hyped-up "blockbuster" churned out by the "blockbuster" making machine called Bollywood.

I am perpetually perplexed at how these movies are accorded "blockbuster" status? I wonder if the censor board is handing them out along with their audience suitability certificates. Or maybe there is some secret place where the producer can walk in, flaunt his collection of filled-to-the-brim-with-currency VIP Skybags and walk out with a "blockbuster" certificate for his movie. Whatever be the case, every other Bollywood movie hitting the screens these days is being touted as a BB. And so is the case with this movie as well. Anyway, my distaste for over-hyped movies aside, I was looking forward to a fun evening with the rest of the group. And on that count, the evening definitely delivered. The movie, sadly, didn't.

I don't look for intellect in a movie. Far from it. But I do expect the movie to atleast be logical in the most basic ways. For example, I can understand the portrayal of an Indian rock star who sings only in Hindi packing the joint where ever he performs in India. But it crosses over into the 'indigestion inducing' realm when the protagonist is shown doing the same in countries like Italy and the Czech republic. And not just in some small intimate setting either. No sir, his concert is shown packing an entire stadium!! From the beginning till the end, the movie is full of such inanity. 
  • The music company is said to be taking 4 artists to Prague. But only our Rockstar is shown performing. That is completely fine but singing along with street performers on the streets of Prague in hindi??
  • This hindi-only "Rock star" is instantly recognized by the common man on the street in the foreign country he is about to perform (Check the shot on the bus where the grandmother's face lights up when she recognizes the guy sitting in front of her)
  • In college, the heroine is termed "The heart-breaking machine". And yet this is the same girl who, for no rhyme or reason, comes up to the decidedly goofy hero and reveals her "Junglee Jawani" side to him. How come?
  • The opening shot has our hero trading fists with a bunch of policemen in a foreign land even as his entourage is preparing for his upcoming concert in the stadium. Why did he pick up a fight with the cops? No idea. How come the cops let him be after he assaults them and takes off for his concert? No idea.
  • The rock star is supposed to be a casanova and a rebel. Where is the womanizing and where is the rebellion? All we get to see is him dressed in a hybridized "pathan" costume and fighting with cops.
  • He flips the bird at a crowd. Only reason why he does it is because he had told us in a previous scene that when Jim Morrison did it, it was cool.

I could go on but I don't feel like putting myself through it again. I guess you get the drift.

As for the acting, I wouldn't be able to tell a bad actor from a good one. But I can definitely tell when someone is not acting and that was definitely what the female lead in the movie was doing. Pretty face and nothing else. The shots focusing on her face in the beginning of the movie were what provided some of the funny moments in the movie for me. My advice to her - "Don't give up your day job. Ever". The male lead is confusing. In the first part of the movie, where he is still a student struggling to make it big as a Rocker, he comes across as this guy who is confused by the fact that his singing fate hasn't changed in the way it is supposed to. In the second half, he is full of...confusion. We are supposed to understand that it is angst and fury but to me it looked like he was still confused. Though it has to be said that he was atleast trying to bring out the correct emotions. I really don't remember anyother character so nothing to tell about them.

There is a scene towards the end where the lady is in a coma and the guy goes in to see if he can revive her. It is one of those scenes which is unintentionally representative of the movie as it is. A few good scenes trying desperately to prop up a comatose movie.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Arif Zakaria - Agenda Unknown

Let me get straight to the point here. One Mr. Arif Zakaria took it upon himself to pass the decry that F1 is a sham sport. Well, as a fan of the sport, I couldn't let it pass. So here goes.

"Before the engine roar fades from our subconscious and the race track is swept clean using a million gallons from the coarse Yamuna water and the swish set move on to yet another peeve- let me say this point blank- F1 is no sport, it's not even a game…it’s a conglomerate of top notch automobile  companies very shamelessly albeit skillfully parading their metallic wares. How the hell does it qualify to be a sport? Where is the human toil? The sweat and grind, the man vs. man gladiatorial mud scrap?"

You know Mr. Zakaria, there is nothing to say about this. Your point is indeed blank. Have you watched any other F1 race in your life before the one in India? Or are you jumping on the bandwagon like so many others have and feel a need to take a stand against it? I ask this because if you have followed the sport, you wouldn't have let loose about lack of gladiatorial mud scraps and lack of human toil. I hope that you don't seriously think designing and building the race cars is as easy as you and I letting loose our opinions on a blog site. Human toil, sweat and grind is very much part of it not to mention the actual driving of them cars. More on this later.

"Make no mistake this is automobile technology at pinnacle, engineering marvel at its dizzying best. The best and the fastest machines the outcome of  relentless human toil in mastering notions of speed, combustion and gravity. Hats off to all, that but it is no sport."

Wait, did you just acknowledge the "relentless human toil" which goes into making the cars? Wow! But you still display your lack of understanding and your ignorance by saying it is no sport. Please figure out what the word "sport" means and I am not talking about your version of it. I am talking about the dictionary meaning of it which says "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc." You see racing there don't you? Racing is a sport Mr. Zakaria and it does require a special bent of mind to not see it that way

"The machines guide the drivers. All they need is a sense of fearlessness and a good anti nausea pill (30 circles in 90 minutes need a bile control prescription). What skill is needed in driving at 300 kmph in a relative straight line?"

Where do I even start with this? The machines guide the drivers? Really? All you need is fearlessness and an anti-nausea pill? I think you are actually crying out for a chance to get strapped into one of these machines yourself because by what you said you could probably do a decent job of it. You are certainly fearless judging by how you are so openly touting your ignorance and an anti-nausea pill is most probably available over the counter drug in any medial store, so you are set Mr. Zakaria. Since according to you, "What skill is needed in driving at 300 kmph in a relative straight line?" If you have ever stepped into a car, sat yourself behind the wheel and driven it, you wouldn't ask the question about skill being required. Yet here you say there is none involved when you are travelling at 300 Kmph! And finally please explain how I can go around in circles 30 times on a circuit which is a relative straight line. That is after allowing you the lee-way of calling the circuit a circle.

"And it’s a bad sport for the feminists with zero women drivers. Why no women drivers yet and just for that I don’t call it fair game."

Another classic piece - no women involved, so it is not fair. I do not know how this disquallifies F1 from being a sport but hey, I am not into ignorance and twisted logic either. Mr. Zakaria, do you know how many of the technical and engineering staff of these teams are women? And coming to your point of drivers, F1 has had a total of 5 women drivers over the years? That definitely is not much of a male vs female ratio to speak about but hey did you even know that they were there? And please do explain your notion of "fair game" because I sure don't see how it is not. Are you saying it should be made mandatory to have female drivers? Is that your idea of "fair game"? IF that is what you mean, then maybe we shoud classify our education system as a "sport", what say?

"Believe me it's all managed. Fixed. Red Bull this year, McLaren next, Mercedes the year after. Settled. So there’s hope for Force India."

This here is the author becoming desperate. After the lack of reasoning and logic in the preceeding lines, he needs this final desperate push to sell his point. That it is all Managed. Fixed, he says. Mr. Zakaria, you do of course mean it in the same way as matches are fixed in Cricket right? Yet Cricket is a sport to support but F1 is not even a sport? And to draw a parallel across other sports - Football is fixed because FC Barcelona seem to be winning always; Tennis must be the epitome of 'Fixing' with the Roger domination, Nadal domination, Williams domination, Djokovic domination etc; Long distance running is fixed because the Kenyans always win; Cycling is fixed because the US teams always win - Hope you get the point Mr Z. As an example of how wrong you are, if you actually bother to take a look at the Red-Bull team over the last 5 years, you will know that they have evolved from being the back markers to the mid-field guys and have finally made their way into the leading pack. As for Force India, their position on the grid is going to be decided by the quality of their off-track and on-track teams and not through some mythical fixing that you alone seem to know about.

"It’s also the worst event for a paying public, the true spectators who form the life line of any sport. You shell out 35,000/- per seat to watch the cars vroooom past for all of 3.5 seconds. I watched the F1from the most vantage point this year, better than any paid/privileged seat- on my TV screen sitting at home. Didn’t Mr. Bean, though omnipresent at the venue, watch it on a screen too? We had the same view."

Mr. Zakaria, please grow up. If you did not want to pay through your nose for a premium seat at the venue of the grand-prix, you don't have to. No one is holding a gun to your head to cough up that money. And let me point out that you conviniently left out the part about 35K being the price only for the premium seats. How about the tickets which were originally priced 2500 and 6500 and later sold at half those rates? Are they still un-affordable? And if you do say that, who exactly are you batting for when you cry un-affordable? The below poverty-line population in our country? Well this may be news to you but I bet they aren't really raring to go to a GP event even if the ticket is priced at 100 bucks. They have more existential things to concentrate on. Do you think everyone flocks to the cricket stadia in our country because all the seats are affordably priced for the lowest economic sections of the community? As I said before, please grow up Mr. Zakaria. This is not a supposed to be a reflection of the economic conditions in our country. This is a sporting event like any other and if enough people think the prices are too high, the prices will be corrected for the longivity of the event.

One last thing. Fans go to a stadium or a circuit because they enjoy the atmosphere of sharing their appreciation of a sport and a team with other like minded fans. Not because they get a clear view of the proceedings. You would understand this if you were a fan. Of any sport.

"So, big deal I wasn’t there. From the couch I marveled at the technicalities (the complex communications network) but scoffed at those who were watching it from the stands. How do you pitch this ‘sport’ to your child? For a true sport inspires while leaving behind an easy legacy. So whenever your child is behind the wheels will you coax him to drive real fast, undertake a few sharp maneuovres and try staying alive in the bargain? No way. Give me real sport. Even though it lasts all of 9.5 seconds, I will give all my dimes and the shirt of my back to watch Usain Bolt."

This here is your major problem, sir. You are risk averse. And lazy. And ignorant. And you want everyone to be like you. Pity. How do you pitch cricket to your kid, I wonder. Whenever your child has a stick in hand will you coax him to whack whatever is close by, out-of-sight and hope they don't break something valuable? And may I point out that in spite of your so called support for feminists and lament about lack of females drivers in the sport, you automatically refer to your boy kid when it comes to coaxing your child to take this sport up. :)

How you pitch this sport to your kid is by saying the same thing that his uncle told spiderman - "With great power comes great responsibility". You pitch this sport to your kid by getting him/her into a go-kart at a kart track and teaching him/her the skill of driving fast and specifically advising them that the public roads are not a race track. Driving fast and responsibly is a skill, irrespective of what you think about it, because it involves finding the limits of your own body and the limits of physics while at the same time keeping in mind that there are others around on the same track. It is a hard-earned skill where you spend endless hours toiling away to get the interplay between the clutch, break and accelerator as smooth as a symphony. It requires you to be at the best physical shape you possibly can be at. It requires brute strength as well as technique to hold yourself up against the physical forces at play in an open car and concentrate on driving eye-searingly fast. And if you know what it takes to make a top-notch athlete, irrespective of the sport, you would recognize that training, sacrifice, hard-work and dedication are what it takes. It is down to human toil, sweat and grind but then given your ignorance at display here, I can't honestly expect you to know that.

You say you would watch Usain Bolt. Usain Bolt would probably spend the 9.5 secs productively by running away from you.