Do sport films help make sport popular?

24 Dec

Do Bollywood sport films help make sports more popular?

With the release of movies like Dangal and Sultan, I wonder if the larger-than-life portrayals of sport stories on the big screen affect the popularity of the sport they are based on: Did Chak De India, in any way, contribute to the rise of hockey? Did Bhaag Milkha Bhaag get individuals to take up athletics? And will the recently released Dangal inspire more women to pursue wrestling?  Keep Reading:


Hand-to-Toe: My first Yoga experience

15 Oct

I was more than happy to guest blog for SportsJig, the sports networking app that promises to do great things for people – it encourages an active lifestyle, and their initiative surely ‘moved’ me. Below, a post about my first yoga experience:

Hand-to-Toe: My first Yoga experience

I am not flexible. The only time I stretch is when I stretch out on bed, lie down and go to sleep. The feeling is quite heavenly. Ask me to touch my feet though, and I go through hell. “Also, you need to do it without bending your knees,” taunts the pesky, heavy kid next door, munching on colourful candy. “See, like this…”: Candy in mouth, head bent, his hands touching his toes, knees straight, he was eager to demonstrate the antic until a drop of candy-filled saliva touched the ground. That, he took as a signal to straighten up. Sweet.

I’ve always wanted to practise Yoga – it’s pretty cool to be able to stand on your head. (Cartwheels seem like fun, too, but we’ll keep that aside for awhile.)  Keep Reading…


A Lot of Salt

22 Jan

…isn’t good for you. But sometimes you need it for the chips.

Shit has hit the fan. India lost to Australia in a cricket match, we Indians believe we could’ve won had it been us – you and I – playing at the pitch. Skipper Dhoni has been getting a good washing ever since. Nadal is out of the Aussie Open. (What’s with all things Australian?). Then there’s the Almighty, the God who chose to hand-pick David Bowie, Glenn Frey, and Alan Rickman just like that, like picking ‘gems’ from a candy box. Looks like He’s planning a show up there. He’s taking away the music and the entertainment, and leaving us with the sounds of bombs and violence and massacres. Even the crash at the bourses has been a foud lucking one.

And we have been left to survive with intelligentsia, few of who have been shitting bricks after the Ashley Madison hack. Sometimes I think we deserve these hacks. Why? Because it’s possible that our passwords aren’t clever enough. According to some data, the most common passwords being used today remain 1234, 123456, 12345678… the wonderful series of numerals in exactly the same original order we learnt at age two. It’s unbelievable. The second most popular password is ‘password’. Oh, same same! Clever! But we’ve got to hand it to those geniuses, who planned to adopt way more complicated shit – ‘passw0rd’ (with a zero). Wow, alpha-numeric! Who would’ve thought of that? Bill, maybe? Nah, Bill is a smart bloke, Bill knows better than that, Bill doesn’t keep hack-able passwords. Do you know Bill? No? Ok, never mind Bill. Do you know Billy from Ilium? Be_Like_Bill_meme1 Billy from Ilium features in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse 5’. No, don’t know him, either? Ok, never mind Billy from Ilium.

Mum’s really worried that I’m reading a book titled ‘Slaughterhouse 5’. She constantly asks me what it’s about. I keep telling her that I’ve just begun reading it, and up to now, it’s about the Dresden massacre. And that the book is actually quite funny. She asked me what Slaughterhouse 1 to 4 were about. I had to leave the conversation at that, although the question is a very valid one especially if it comes from someone you call ‘Mum’. You don’t mess with Mum.

There’s this interesting part in ‘Slaughterhouse…’ where Kurt alludes to the Gideon Bible and picks the part about Lot and his wife, who turns into a pillar of salt. Do you know that one? Ok, so Lot tells his wife not to look back at the destruction that has taken place – the uprooting of cities and all that, but like all wives, she obviously does what she is told not to do – she looks back, and then turns into a pillar of salt. Apparently, the message here is quite deep. People aren’t supposed to look back. But I’ve been doing that for a few days now – looking back and into all my previous writing – cleaning it all up – polishing it, refurbishing it, dusting off the particles, primping it up with panache and plumes. It’s funny how what you were once so convinced about comes across as a putrid piece of work now. Well, I may turn into a useless pillar of salt, I know. But then there are at least those few who prefer their chips ‘classicly salted’. So not all useless, eh, Mr. Lot? 

Run. Write. Run. Is this how it’s done?

18 Jan

Overcoming the writer’s block with the daily dose of 500…

Dan Kennedy has a new way of doing it. He calls it the little morning exercise. Correction. It’s called the gay little morning exercise because you are supposed to be happy doing it. Yay! You’re supposed to be happy that you’re writing something – it could be just about anything, so long as you write. Graham Greene was into it, too. 500 words-a-day, no matter what. And up to now, I’ve done 71. Now 73. 74. Okay, it can be easy if you trick yourself out of it. 88. But we are grown up. We don’t do child-like things. 99. Even though we are tempted to.

beagle-tToday, and every day after today – my ass, I have to write 500 words, I have to squeeze them out of me. Yesterday, I had to run a half-marathon. I had to squeeze 21.1 km out of me – Ok, that’s 13.1 miles for all those who don’t get the kilometer-shit, but we shall take that in our stride.

Running a half-marathon, and writing – up-hill tasks both, mental games, physically challenging, and very very unpaying. Writing, physically testing? – Well, it could lead you to pulling your hair out or someone else doing that for you. Mum, for example. All she sees me do is sit for hours-on-end, leg-over-leg, staring at a screen, not answering door-bells, or telephone calls – the ones that come on the landline. And that shit really gets to her.

There’s another similarity in dealing with running long distances, and writing. It becomes easier if you break up the acts into quantified little goals that you achieve part by part. Peu-a-peu, if you know French. Schrittwiese, if you know German. Little by little, if you know what I mean. I’ve reached a crazy 292 words. But the secret to success lies in not doing the math. It’s good to be ‘in-the-now’. Never mind how much has already been done, never mind the how-much-more-to-go, focus only on the present – the current word being written, the current step being taken, and pretend it’s all good. Breathe in. Remind yourself that you are not going to die. Hydrate. Then take another stride, and write another word, because word after word after word is power, and step after step is… another step.

You will feel maimed, mangled, mauled, mutilated, until the rhythm takes over. Remove the negative shit from your head, shut up that insidious little bastard-voice that keeps bringing you back to the numbers game over and over again, trying so hard to knock you down. Overpower it. Concentrate on the marvel of the human form propelling in perfect cadence against the backdrop of a rising sun. Pray that your knees are strong enough for the concrete hills, and keep repeating to yourself: I can do this shit, it’s not difficult. And it won’t be long before you’ve got the whole 385-yards under your belt, and reached the amazing 500! Oh Lord, mum’s still after my life to answer those door-bells, and telephone calls, the ones that come on the landline. 507.

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Let’s make a beginning

Let’s make a beginning

12 Jan

write It’s been years since I put pen to paper, or typed out words on a keyboard in beautiful, lyrical fashion. It’s a shame. I’m out of habit. It’s gone. The words don’t come to me like they used to. But they have to. I’m adamant. Because words make me happy. And I have to write, even if you don’t read. For one day, you will, and when you do, I’d like to give you something you’ll love.

The Sugar-Plum Tree

11 Feb


Spent the day a-reading, The works of Eugene Field,
The Delectable Ballad of Waller Lot, And the tale of fishermen three
The gingham dog and calico cat, My! What a fight had they,
Ne’er has such a story been heard, Near or far away.

I loved the rhyme of the Morning Song, I climbed the Sugar-Plum Tree,
I took the pen from my pocket above, And now I write for thee
Of what do I write I really know not, Of the flowers or shining sea,
Do I write about my neighbour’s dog, Or some war in history?

I see some children in the park, I could tell you how they play,
With ball and bat and gloves and hat, Until the end of day
I could tell you the story of Superstorm, He runs so wild and free,
Or must I write of the clouds above, As I sit on the Sugar-Plum Tree?

The birds they sing and spread their wings, The worms they crawl the earth,
I do not think I’ve added much to thy wisdom of the world
I tap my head, I pull a twig, There must be some story to be told,
Wait, I see a maiden, dressed in pastel blue and gold.

She seems to be from Faraway Land, Is as fair as fair can be,
But as she nears the Sugar-Plum Tree, She looks more and more like me
She stops to ask the children playing, A fancy thing or two,
Maybe of the house beyond, Or the way to Meadow Dew.

They look around and speak aloud, And soon their fingers point,
Not to the house or meadow beyond, But to the river joint
Her walk so brisk, her spine so straight, here-or-there she does not see,
Not once does she e’en turn around to glance at the Sugar-Plum Tree.

I am sad, my heart is weak, In my throat there is a lump,
I know not if for a love not found in the water she will jump
‘Pray tell me girl, what evades you – Hope or Love or Luck?’
‘I promise you, I’m a happy ‘un, I’ve just come to feed the ducks’.

As I turned to walk away, I was wrapped up in a breeze,
And down I came a-falling from atop the Sugar- Plum Tree
I fell with a thud, was covered in mud, The air was filled with ‘Aahs!’
And all I could see in the morning light was a bunch of painful stars.

My world it stopped right then and there, I felt no fear or harm,
When a boy so bold, with skin of gold extended me his arm
In his eyes so clear and bright, It’s me who I could see,
And he and I, we fell in love, right under the Sugar- Plum Tree.

         – (c) Urvashi Ashar

One Super Bowl, Two Crazy Brothers-in-law

5 Feb

AImage second-by-second lowdown on the Super Bowl thanks to two frenzied brothers-in-law back in the US of A has left me sleep deprived, cranky and googling. For those of you, who, like me, don’t know what Super Bowl really is, it’s got nothing to do with a large helping of food. Actually, it may have something to do with food – A Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving, but that’s besides the point. More importantly, the Super Bowl is the most watched American broadcast of the year.

I can fathom the coolness of this event only by the fact that the numbers watching it is more than the ones that watched the final episode of M*A*S*H. Now, I know M*A*S*H is cool because this dude – Charlie’s dad, actually… Do you know Charlie? No? Ok, never mind! – not one to shed tears, actually cried when he watched the final episode of M*A*S*H. So yeah, Super Bowl is cool… like Star Wars, maybe!

It was half-time: the best part of the game, according to my sister, a true Indian girl who prefers cricket to American football, any day. Beyonce’s performance was apparently very oomphy. One of my other brothers-in-law described it as ‘Bootylicious’ (with an exclamation), while the other felt quite bad that he was discussing Beyonce’s sensuality with his wife’s cousins on a social platform. However, they both were at much ease when my sisters, their respective wives, gave them a thumbs up, because they, too, thought Beyonce was hot, and honestly, quite out of reach!

The excitement was interrupted by a power outage. Someone cut off the power chord in the stadium, and around 80,000 people were ‘stranded’ and felt ‘cheated’. My brothers-in-law included. Outrage. ‘Typical New Orleans’ the puny one typed, in all CAPS. So much anger. It was terrifying.

While impatiently waiting  for the television to find its ‘connect’ in order to air the Super Bowl, my bro-in-law (not the puny one) found something else quite interesting. This time it was a YouTube link. Click. Now we see Kate Upton washing the all-new Mercedes Benz CLA in slow motion. I really didn’t know what to make of the ad or the man my sister has married. Anyway, they then spoke of some amazing ‘Doritos commercial – the one with the goat’, and how ‘Terrible, terrible’ some pistachio ad was. Nuts.

Power restored. Back to the game. It was supposed to be getting interesting now. They cheered some ‘touchdown’, a term not to be taken literally (All it means is that a goal has been scored). It was by Bryant McKinnie, who stands 6’8” tall and weighs 365 lbs. They called him ‘the beast’. This was followed by my puny bro-in-law asking the not-so-puny one to look up Haloti Ngata – He earns a whopping 2.9 million a year.  And they both – one an environmentalist and the other some finance guy sitting in a corner of some office – were encouraged to take up football professionally, until they were reminded that they have to be strong, very strong to play the game.

Offended, they claimed Mighty McKinnie would make a good groom for me – just like that, out of the blue. I guess they say these things just to say these things, without realising what a rich lady that would make me. They then discussed Michael Oher – ‘Blind Side’ was based on Oher – and suddenly I felt a little closer to American football than I’ve ever felt before.

Okay, so the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl XLVII. And some Joe Flacco (Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens) who was announced MVP (Most Valuable Player) was caught saying ‘f***ing awesome’ on camera, and the people went plain crazy.The Americans went to sleep, and we Indians didn’t wake up because we hadn’t slept in the first place.

Having spent hours following this update, I assumed that Baltimore Ravens was the side my brothers-in-law were cheering. After all, McKinnie, Ngata, Oher – the ones they had spoken about – were on the Ravens Team. But when asked if they were celebrating the win, they used words like ‘Yuck’ and ‘Never’ and asked if I were mad, and what had gotten into me. And then complained about how the wrong team had won.

They eventually went back to discussing Kate Upton and the Doritos commercial, the one with the goat. And I didn’t know what to make of all this, or the men my sisters have married.