Banner by Rituparna Chatterjee, a woman with the potential to make it big. It's not that she can't: she just won't.

Friday, July 30, 2010

What the...

Just as the third match of this seriously WTF series is been played, I've come across another equally, if not more, serious WTF stuff. Diego Forlan is in Kolkata right now.

Diego Forlan. The Diego Forlan. Winner of lots of trophies, including The Golden Ball at the FIFA World Cup 2010. Less than a month back. I mean, we've seen champion footballers visit the city, but it's always men who have retired ages back - to the extent that people often ask themselves "now, where have I heard that name...?"

But FORLAN? Isn't he the man of the moment? Awarded the best player in the biggest sport event in the world, already a living legend, what is he doing in a country that's currently ranked 132nd in FIFA rankings, a couple of weeks after he won that coveted award? That too with a girlfriend as ooooooh as Zaira Nara (is she in town as well? Google her, guys, she is good...)? I mean, WHY? Why on Earth? Has he really run out of better things to do?

I mean, in a solid, imposing barritone, W. T. F.????

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Memories of Tintin

Had there been a game called what-name-comes-to-your-mind-when-I-name-a-country (Brazil: Pele, Germany: Hitler, South Africa: Mandela, Colombia: Shakira), I suppose the obvious response to Belgium shall be Tintin.

And had there been one called what-physical-feature-comes-to-your-mind-when-I-name-a-person (Buddha: ears, Tagore: beard, Merv Hughes: moustache, Angelina Jolie: lips, Pamela Anderson: okay...), I suppose the obvious response to Tintin shall be the unmistakeable tuft of hair.

Just remembered how Goscinny and Uderzo used both of these to amazing effect to pay a tribute to Hergé in Asterix the Legionary. First, they introduce Gastronomix's nationality, with a helmet on:
Then, as Gastronomix removes his helmet, we get to see the familiar tuft of hair, that too in the same colour...
Gastronomix is fourth from left
Some men really knew how to create magic out of subtlety, and still be humble enough to pay tribute to the fiercest contemporary rival.

Incredible.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The suicide queen

Whenever I see Kangana Ranaut, suicide is the first word that crosses my mind, despite the fact that she has seldom been seen on screen in anything that can't be classified as skimpy.

She has appeared in eight Bollywood movies. I've watched seven of them, with the single exception of Vaada Raha... I Promise.

Sane and well-clad, for a change
Of these seven I would think Shakalaka Boom Boom is the only one where she had portrayed what you call a perfectly normal role. The other six, however, gave me the bizarre feeling that she's not that keen on playing what you call a routine performance. For example, she
  • looked insane (though she didn't portray the role of one) throughout Kites
  • was possessed by a ghost in Raaz - The Mystery Continues
  • was a model who went downhill, turned insane and committed suicide in Fashion (the only movie where I liked her performance on a serious note)
  • was saved in the nick of time while attempting a suicide in Life in a... Metro
  • played an entirely insane character who (yes, you've guessed it) committed suicide in Woh Lamhe
But nothing, absolutely nothing compares to what she did in her debut movie. Consider this: the penultimate scene of Gangster, where Simran (portrayed by our lady herself) confronts Akash (Emraan Hashmi) in his apartment. She shoots him, fatally, but while running out of the building Akash shoots her back, twice (possibly).

An ordinary individual would've remained satisfied with those blows and would've died in peace. Not Kangana. She was so obsessed with the idea of a suicide that with blood all over herself she ran through the streets, reached a (possibly random) building, climbed to the terrace and, yes, had a free fall...

Beat that.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I mean, what is this?

I often browse through relatively obscure sections of my CricInfo (or Cricinfo, or cricinfo, I'm not sure where they put their Caps Lock on). However, it's largely due to a friend that I visited a page this bizarre:
Click on the image to enlarge it
Why, oh why is Maharashtra playing New Zealand at Darwin for a three-match series? Or rather, why is a state side, which is certainly not a champion side, playing another international side (almost their full team) in one of the remotest international grounds of a third country, that too in the off-season of all three countries?

If there was ever a serious WTF stuff, it's here. Honestly.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A name of contrasts

When my parents were hell-bent on naming my brother something that would start with Abhi, they decided on the hero from Mahabharat. The elderly relatives persuaded them otherwise, since Abhimanyu, along with Karna, has always been hailed as the tragic hero of the epic; an able martyr who knew his way into the Chakravyuha but was ignorant on the way out: his mother (for whatever reason) was being trained while he was in her womb, and she dozed off midway (do prodigal embryos sleep when their mothers do?), so he remained oblivious of the exit from the maze.

Moreover, Jayadratha, the man with a hundred brothers-in-law, selected (I'm not sure whether he selected the day, or was randomly assigned one) that very day when he became supposedly invincible. So he stopped the entire Pandava army on his own, thereby sealing the entry to the vyuha.

As a result, as everyone knows, our hero was trapped alone inside to face the stalwarts of the Kauravas - it still took seven of them plus the lesser infantry and cavalry to fell him. Just like his cousin Ghatotkach, he had to meet his demise for no fault of his.

Some consolation came in the fact that it was his successors that ruled Hastinapur in the years to come. However, this hardly seems to cover up for unfulfilled potential of the son of Arjun and the nephew of Krishna and Bhim.

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Arnab Ray, vitually known as Greatbong, has already immortalised Gunda, the greatest movie that has ever been in the history of mankind. There's also a remarkable blog on the movie. Of course, Gunda, along with other path-breaking alternative masterpieces like Loha, DalaalMilitary Raaj, Raavan Raaj and Bengal Tiger, mere commercial successes like Dance Dance, Disco Dancer, Boxer and Kasam Paida Karnewaale Ki, and the ignorable award-clinchers like Mrigaya, Agneepath, Jallad and Tahader Katha would not have been possible without ONE man: the man they call Prabhuji, his parents know by the name Gouranga, and the world knows by the name Mithun Chakraborty.

His biography is somewhat like the roles he plays in movies. A middle-class boy with dreams in his eyes, he showed the world that talent, perseverance and honesty can make a legend out of you. If you have it in you, and you work hard enough, you're bound to succeed. Mithunda isn't simply the poor man's Big B: he's the living proof that the poor man can dare to be a Big B and still reach a certain level.

And then, let alone Big B, not even Al Pacino or Robert de Niro could boast of being a part of Gunda, isn't it?

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Last week I saw a 20-year old guy open bowling for India in a test in the absence of Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth. He had pace, he had bounce, he could move the ball, and he took four wickets on his test debut. Not willing to end it there, he, batting at eleven, hit two boundaries, and was immediately promoted to number nine when we followed on. Coming in just as Muralitharan claimed his 799th scalp and India still requiring 47 to avoid an innings defeat, he held fort, hit five boundaries, four of them off Murali including an amazing lofted on-drive, and dominated a partnership with VVS to make Sri Lanka bat again.

It's been a promising start; let's see whether he goes the Abhimanyu way or the Mithun way.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

না, আমার এই লেখার বিষয় "নয়" নয়। এটা সেই অক্ষর, যার ঋ আর এ-র মাঝখানে আসার কথা, যার "হাসিখুশি"র দ্বিতীয় পাতার দ্বিতীয় ফ্রেমে ডিগবাজি খাওয়ার কথা। এই সেই ৯, যার উচ্চারণ "লি", যার ব্যবহার আর নেই। আমার মেয়ে বর্ণপরিচয়ের যে সংস্করণ পড়ে, তাতে ঋ-এর পর সরাসরি এ, আর সেখানে * দিয়ে নিচে লেখা যে এখানে কখনও ৯ নামক অক্ষরের অস্তিত্ব ছিল।

তার মানে ৯ এখন আর ব্যবহার হয় না (তার মানে, ৯খতে, ৯পি, কা৯মা, বা৯শ, শিব৯ঙ্গ, ক্৯ব৯ঙ্গ, আর্দা৯, মজন্তা৯, ৯য়েণ্ডার পেজ, অরুণ জেট৯, মা৯নী ভট্টাচার্য, ব্রুস ৯, ব্রেট ৯, ৯জ্জত পাঁপড় জাতীয় বানান অশুদ্ধ)। কিন্তু ৯ নাকি এককালে ব্যবহার হত। হত হয়ত। আমার বাবা-মাকেও তাইই বলা হয়েছিল, যে ৯ এককালে ব্যবহার হত। আমার দাদামশাইও তাই শিখেছিলেন: আগে ব্যবহার হত। প্রশ্ন হল, কবে ব্যবহার হত? এই যে সবাই বলে, অনেক আগে ৯ ব্যবহার হত, এই অনেক আগে-টা কত আগে?

বঙ্কিমচন্দ্র ব্যবহার করেননি ৯, অন্ততঃ আমার বাড়িতে যে দু'খণ্ডের বঙ্কিমসমগ্র আছে তাতে কোথাও ৯ নেই। মেঘনাদবধ কাব্য বা মাইকেলের অন্যান্য টুকটাক লেখাতেও নেই। হুতোম প্যাঁচার নক্‌শা পড়ার চেষ্টা করলাম, বেশিদূর এগোতে পারলাম না, কিন্তু যতদূর পড়লাম তাতে ৯-কে পেলাম না (যদিও বেশ অভিনব জিনিস পেলাম - শব্দের দ্বিত্ব হলেই সেখানে ২ ব্যবহার হত, যেমন "সকাল সকাল"-এর বদলে "সকাল ২" ইত্যাদি)। জেদ চেপে গেল, আগাগোড়া কৃত্তিবাসী রামায়ণ পড়লাম, কোথায় সেই ৯? বৈষ্ণবপদাবলীতেও দেখলাম, বিদ্যাপতি আর নানারকম দাসের কেউই ৯ ব্যবহার করেননি। চর্যাপদ পড়ার সাহস দেখাইনি অবশ্য।

ইস্কুলে থাকতে সংস্কৃত পড়েছিলাম। সেখানে তো আরও ঘ্যাম - ঋ আর এ-র মাঝখানে তিন-তিনটে অক্ষর: দীর্ঘ ঋ (লেখার নিয়ম ঋ-এ ঋ-ফলা), ৯ আর, অবিশ্বাস্য হলেও, দীর্ঘ ৯ (লেখার নিয়ম ৯-এর কোলে ছোট আরেকটা ৯)। নানারকম স্বরসন্ধির সূত্রের ফলে দীর্ঘ ঋ আর দীর্ঘ ৯ জন্ম নেয়, আর ৯-এর ব্যবহার আছে।

কিন্তু এ তো গেল সংস্কৃত। বাংলায়? আমি যে বর্ণপরিচয় পড়েছিলাম তার ভূমিকায় বিদ্যাসাগর দিব্যি লিখেছিলেন "বহুকালাবধি বর্ণমালা ষোল স্বর ও চৌত্রিশ ব্যঞ্জন এই পঞ্চাশ অক্ষরে পরিগণিত ছিল। কিন্তু বাঙ্গালা ভাষায় দীর্ঘ ঋ-কার ও দীর্ঘ ৯-কারের প্রয়োজন নাই। এই নিমিত্ত ঐ দুই বর্ণ পরিত্যক্ত হইয়াছে।"

উনি ঘ্যাম লোক, অতএব নিশ্চয়ই ঠিকই লিখেছিলেন। তার মানে দীর্ঘ ঋ আর দীর্ঘ ৯ বাংলায় ব্যবহার হত না। কিন্তু ৯? ৯-এর ব্যাপারে তো উনি সর্বৈব নীরব - তার মানে কি তখন বাংলায় ৯ ব্যবহার হত? কে করত? কি সেই বই? কে লিখেছিলেন / ৯খেছিলেন? কারা পড়ত? কে দেবে এই অদ্ভুত প্রশ্নের উত্তর?

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পুনশ্চ ১: বাংলা হরফ টাইপ করা নিয়ে ইন্টারনেটে ঘাঁটাঘাঁটি করছিলাম, দেখলাম বাংলা ইউনিকোডে দিব্যি জ্বল্‌জ্বল্‌ করছে ৯, এবং ৯ (সংখ্যা) হিসেবে নয়, রীতিমত আলাদা ইউনিকোড ক্যারেক্টার কোড 098C নিয়ে (৯/নয়-এর ক্যারেক্টার কোড 09EF)। শুধু তাই নয়, ৯-কারও আছে; আর তার সঙ্গে আছে একে একে দীর্ঘ ঋ, দীর্ঘ ৯, দীর্ঘ ঋ-কার আর, হ্যাঁ, সত্যিই, অবিশ্বাস্য হলেও, দীর্ঘ ৯-কার।

সর্বনাশ! কি হবে এবার?

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পুনশ্চ ২: এরা যতদিন আছে, ৯-এর মৃত্যু নেই।

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পুনশ্চ ৩: এই তিনজনের ছবি এক লেখায় ব্যবহার করব ভেবেছিলাম কখনও?

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পুনশ্চ ৪: মনে পড়ল, উপক্রমণিকায় পড়েছিলাম তব + ৯কারঃ = তবল্‌কারঃ (অ + ৯ = অল্‌)। তবল্‌কার মানে কি, বিন্দুবিসর্গও মনে নেই।

Friday, July 23, 2010

The milestone

I was keeping my hundredth post on hold in anticipation of something big. That something big happened yesterday - Muttiah Muralitharan reached 800 test wickets with his last ball in test cricket.

My earliest memories of Murali are from 15 years back. This was another series where a bowling milestone was achieved - Kapil Dev went past Sir Richard Hadlee's tally of 431 test wickets (why the hell did 431 seem such a big number at that point of time?). We won all three tests by an innings, but he took 12 of the 26 wickets we lost in the series. Even at that early stage of his career he was a one-man army.

Since then he has always seemed to surprise me. The Jayasuriyas and De Silvas stole the show in the world cup, but what went unnoticed was the fact that Murali had conceded 3.77 runs per over in a sixfest of a tournament. Mind you, at that point of time he only had the big offbreak and the topspin: the doosra was added to his repertoire at a much later stage.

My school days had transformed into college days by then; Hair had called him for throwing, followed by Emerson. I went to university, and he took sixteen wickets at The Oval to rout the English. I joined work, and he rolled his arm on and on, taking fifty wickets against every test opposition, taking 75, 80, even 90 wickets a calendar year, taking five wickets in an innings and ten in a match as a routine, and finally, going past Walsh, being overtaken by Warne, taking the crown back, announcing retirement with eight wickets to secure in a single test to reach that 800-mark and making it, and rebuilding an entire village that was totally demolished by the tsunami. Whether an epic contest with Lara in end-2001 or joining forces with Ajantha Mendis to rout us in 2008, Murali was phenomenal throughout the past decade.

Those eyes...
And it was not always about the numbers: the sheer aura and magic about him was unmissable. He came in, diagonally, with some brisk steps between a jog and a walk, his wrist bent, his eyes almost popping out of their sockets in concentration, the invisible thread that he seemed to hold the ball with after release, the unpredictability of what would happen after pitching, the infinite stamina that he somehow never seemed to run out of even though there was often no support at the other end - they all combined to make the man special.

He was never as flamboyant as a Warne; nor as charismatic as a Wasim; never as verbal as McGrath; neither did he look as imposing as a Donald; the sheer humility amidst the magic made him special. His was the story of the nice guy who came first, the guy next door who actually turned out to be a celebrity.

He has his 800th now. This is my 100th post. Let's celebrate it together, mate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A day of contrasts

There was something in Geeta Dutt's voice that used to give me goosebumps at a very young age, and that hasn't changed as of now. Waqt ne kiya still haunts me; meri jaan mujhe jaan na kaho still gives me that empty feeling; jaane kya tune kahi still sends that familiar tingling down my spine; and ae dil mujhe bata de still remains one of the most sweetly sung melodies ever. I've always known that though Lataji was the undisputed queen of Bollywood playback, Geeta's voice was my personal favourite.

While growing up I came to know more of her; the fact that she was a Bengali; that she was married to the greatest director Bollywood has ever produced; and that the man had got romantically involved with one of the leading actresses of the era; and that Geeta couldn't handle the emotional pressure, and had taken to alcohol and sedatives; and that she died of cirrhosis of liver as a result in 1972.

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Throughout the 1980s I had endured the British media hailing Ian Botham; throughout the 1990s it was the British media lamenting the absence of the great man; and throughout the past decade they had debated whether Freddie Flintoff was the new Ian Botham. There was something in the man, after all.

The highest point of his career, in my opinion, came during the 1981 Ashes during the Headingley test - in the opinion of many the greatest test of all-time. Australia had amassed 401 and then bowled out England for 174; following on, England were 6/1 at stumps on day three.

On the fourth day they were 135/7, still requiring 92 to save an innings defeat when Dilley joined Botham. Botham, as folklore goes, had walked up to Dilley and said "let's give it some humpty".

Dilley scored 56 off 75; Old 29 off 31; and Botham remained unbeaten, with Willis for company, at stumps, with England 351/9. England were finally bowled out for 356 the next morning, Botham remaining unbeaten at 149 off 148, 114 of those runs scored in boundaries. Bob Willis took 8/43, and Australia slumped to an astonishing 19-run defeat. Willis and Dilley were hailed as heroes, but the test shall always be remembered as Botham's test, for his unbelievable display of aggressive batting on day four.

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No, I'm not insane. There's a reason why I've mentioned an Indian playback singer and a British all-rounder on the same day. Geeta had fought against the oddities of life, couldn't take it after a while and had ultimately succumbed to the pressure. Botham chose to fight as well, and came out victorious in an Ashes test, the biggest stage test cricket has ever produced. Their efforts had opposite effects - and yet, they had both chosen 20th July for the climax: Geeta for her death, Botham for his innings.

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In between these two incidents, on this very day in 1977... well, let's not get started on that.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The f-word

For people who know me, I'm always one to stop by curious signboards, billboards and likewise.

Yesterday night I was passing by a fruit juice vendor, close to my house when I came across this. It took me a while to realise that it's not some obscure German or Czech fruit that the vendor had to take extreme measures to obtain, and neither is it a grenade made of foam or something equivalent.

This, indeed, isn't just a spelling error: it has to be a contender for The Spelling Error. Seldom would you see a word with spelling errors in every possible, and a few apparently impossible ways.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Holland

I'm sick and tired of going around telling this, but for Tendulkar's sake, HOLLAND IS NOT THE NAME OF A COUNTRY. It's Netherlands. There are two states in the country of Netherlands that are called North and South Holland. I know that many people do refer to Netherlands by the name Holland (they're quite logical to do so; all three big Dutch cities - Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam - are located in Holland), but the thing is, how would it feel like, if we started referring to India as Maharashtra or Punjab or whatever all of a sudden? Naturally it infuriates the people residing in other parts of the country. And however logical it might sound, given the importance of the area, it's not official, and is hence wrong.

Why would we, Indians, known for our knowledge and intellect, commit this irritating mistake, time and again? Isn't it time we rectify ourselves, given that Netherlands is on the verge of probable history in just over an hour?

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PS:
1. True, referring to Netherlands as Holland drives me nuts, but this is nowhere close to people pronouncing Wagon R (Maruti) as Wagner. You know what I mean, don't you?
2. I'm supporting Spain tonight.
3. I'm suddenly elated to learn that Salim-Sulaiman are the main composers of Waka waka. Suddenly I've started developing a totally unAbhishekish affinity towards the stupid song.

OSO, real-life

This was end-2007, India's tour of Australia. This was the famous series where Symonds made a fuss over a certain simian address by our Turbanator, only to be realised later that our innocent hero hadn't done anything that severe - our innocent hero had simply passed an obscene comment about Symo's mother, nothing more than that.

This was also the series that included the test immortalised by Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson - two men of justice who turned an apparently ordinary game into a spectacular one, as displayed by the video evidence below:

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This was also a series that was played a couple of months after the release of Om Shanti Om, a Farah Khan movie that, to the surprise of many people, I loved, despite it being a Shah Rukh Khan movie. Being commercially successful, the movie propelled the debutant Deepika Padukone into instant national stardom. At that point of time, she was the star, the hot Bollywood belle or whatever they call it.

She was there at, well, possibly Adelaide, possibly Sydney, I'm not sure where; what I'm sure of is the fact that she was there. And what I'm vaguely aware of is that there were simultaneous gossips involving her and our test and ODI vice-captains, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. For whatever reasons she was present at the ground.

Now, Sunil Gavaskar and Harsha Bhogle were at it when the gluttonous Star Cricket cameras kept on focusing on her at the gallery. After a while I heard the following conversation:

Sunny: That person in picture... her father is the greatest sportsperson India has ever produced.
Harsha: Sunny, I don't think any other Indian would use an introduction like that for her.

Before I could think of anything else my mouth curled into a smile, and it broadened. I realised how significant a part of me cricket and its commentators are. As Gavaskar went on about his legendary contemporary, I smiled in silent spasms, and knew that this was it. This is where happiness is. India in Australia, live test cricket in the morning, and those priceless comments. Not only was this an awesome conversation, it was as close a remake of Om Shanti Om in real life as could have been - reminiscences of a legend of the 1970s by another of the same era in the 2000s, the subjects in question being the celebrity daughter of one and the sport popularised in our country by the other. It was cricket and Bollywood, two of the things that have moved me the most over years, rolled into one.

That day I made a vow: unless there is an emergency I shall never press that mute button while a cricket match is on. Even if the commentators are as boring as Ravi Shastri and Tony Greig, they might slide in a gem here and there, which might create a moment as savoured this one.

***

PS: This post demanded a picture, so I thought I would use one of the forgotten hero in the story instead of the still remembered ones.

আশা ছিল...

হ্যাঁ, এই সেই শক্তি সামন্ত-শ্যামল মিত্র-গৌরীপ্রসন্ন-কিশোরকুমার-উত্তমকুমার একাকার করা গান; এই সেই গান, যা শুনে ছোটবেলায় অদ্ভুত ইমোশনাল হয়ে যেতাম; যা যুগ যুগ ধরে পূজোর প্যাণ্ডেলে বেজে এসেছে, আর পাড়ার ফাংশানে কিশোরকণ্ঠী শিল্পীরা গেয়ে এসেছেন; যা শুনলেই চোখের সামনে ভেসে ওঠে "ছায়াছবির শেষাংশ সংবাদের পর"।

ভাবতাম, গৌরীপ্রসন্নবাবু বলতে চেয়েছেন
আশা ছিল, hence ভালবাসা ছিল
আজ আশা নেই, hence ভালবাসা নেই
উনি একটা সুন্দর গাণিতিক যুক্তিপূর্ণ গান লিখেছেন, যেখানে উনি আশা আর ভালবাসার অস্তিত্বের মধ্যে একটা সুন্দর if and only if সম্পর্ক স্থাপন করেছেন প্রথম দু'লাইনের মধ্যে।

আবার কখনও ভাবতাম, উনি বলতে চেয়েছেন
আশা ছিল, and ভালবাসা ছিল
আজ আশা নেই, and ভালবাসা নেই
অর্থাৎ কিনা তারা স্রেফ Boolean operators, আর দুটো লাইন দুটো পাতি statement - কারুর ওপর কেউ নির্ভরশীল নয়, শুধু দুটো অধ্যায়ের বর্ণনা: একটায় দুটোই আছে, অন্যটায় কেউই নেই।

মানুষের অন্যতম তীব্র দুটো আবেগের মধ্যে এইধরনের সম্পর্ক গানে ব্যবহার করায় আমার বেশ শ্রদ্ধা বেড়ে গেছিল।

পরে জানলাম, সর্বৈব ভুল।

এখানে আশা মানে সেই প্যাণ্ডোরার বাক্সবন্দী পজিটিভ চিন্তাধারা নয় - নেহাৎই ছায়াছবিতে নায়িকা শর্মিলা ঠাকুরের নাম। সেই গাণিতিক সম্পর্ক অবশ্য তাও সত্যি, কিন্তু এক্ষেত্রে বক্তব্য সম্পূর্ণ আলাদা। Hence হোক্‌ বা and, এখানে গান শুধু এইটুকুই প্রমাণ করে যে ছায়াছবিতে উত্তমকুমারের চরিত্র polygammous নয় - মানুষের মননশীলতার কোনো জটিল দর্শন জড়িত নেই সেখানে। জেনে হতাশ হয়েছিলাম।

পরে গানটা দেখে আরও হতাশ হয়েছিলাম, যখন দেখলাম আজ এখানে আমার আশার সমাধি লাইনের অব্যবহিত পরে একটা ধূপের ধোঁয়া-ওড়া বেদীর সামনে উত্তমকুমার...

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Venus Flytrap

The first Ray book I can recall reading was Aro Ek Dojon (Yet Another Dozen). It started with the spine-chilling Septopuser Khide, which was followed by the even more intimidating Fritz, and later in the book, Khogom. Thought the sharp end of Fritz gave me the maximum goosebumps Khogom was the most macabre, Septopuser Khide was definitely the one that got stuck into my memory the most.

When I grew up I Googled the word septopus, and (as expected) didn't find a relevant result (though I came up with cartoons of octopi with a missing limb). However, the other plants mentioned in the book were possibly real, I thought. So I tried Nepenthes.

It was real.

And then, while browsing through its Wikipedia page, I came across the curiously named Venus flytrap.

It goes by the name Dionaea muscipula, and is found in the Carolinas (no, I wasn't privileged with a glimpse in my five trips) in locations with a low nitrogen content in the air.

But what I found most intriguing was the name. It's decent-looking, but Venus? Was it that attractive? That sensuous? I wonder...

More importantly, it was capable to consume decent-sized insects, even large spiders, so why name it after one of the smaller insects it manages to trap? Mind you, the very small creatures are allowed to escape through the pores, since the effort spent in digestion is not worth the prey. Then why a flytrap?

Then it struck me. Fly isn't necessarily a noun here - it's a verb. It stops the flight of unsuspecting creatures and captivates them into a reduced lifetime of misery. They poor creature doesn't have an option but to face death approach as a sluggish, ruthless, unavoidable demise. It tries its best to escape, but there's no way out - it just faces its end, just like that. I suppose it lets out ultrasonic shrieks that don't escape the walls of its prison - shrieks in vain - shrieks that drown into anonymity after choking existence...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dirty fellows

While following Brazil vs Netherlands on fifa.com (well, there was a television set, but I love following soccer, just like cricket, on the internet along with television, especially when there's work to do) I came across something very curious:

Ten of the eleven Dutch players in the starting line-up had a yellow dot next to their names. Which meant that a single yellow card in this (or a subsequent) match would mean they'd be out next match.

And then, in the 14th minute, the only remaining player (Heitinga) was booked. What was true for ten players was now applicable for all eleven of them. Must be a stunning feat.

***

PS: Brazil leads 1-0 at half-time. Any soccer match that Brazil wins is a good match, by definition.

***

Edit (next morning): Grrrrrrr.

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