Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Worship

I went to attend Sunday worship service at the Chandigarh Bible Fellowship this morning. I have been an erratic attendee at this fellowship. An SMS from a friend in the fellowship inviting me and my wife to join them for this service made my dithering self decide what I wanted to do with this Sunday morning.

It does help to seek God's face in a company.

The opening passage that was read from the scripture did exactly what scripture is supposed to do to a parched, cracked, yearning human heart.

16I heard and my inward parts trembled,
At the sound my lips quivered
Decay enters my bones,
And in my place I tremble
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
For the people to arise who will invade us.

17Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,

18Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

19The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

These are concluding lines from the book of Prophet Habakkuk. They grabbed my attention as I saw myself in that image of fig tree failing to blossom. The thoughts of failure and unproductiveness had plagued me since the weekend began. The Word restores me somewhat.

It does help to hear the Word in a company.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Indian Wrestlers

There was this very interesting compilation of facts about Indian wrestlers in yesterday's Hindustan Times. I just loved it.
And many congratulations to Sushil Kumar for winning a medal for India in Olympics. But it was very sad to hear that he did not have masseur and then there was a story in Express about dismal conditions these Oympians have to live and practice.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jason Lezak: The Hope and Glory of Michael Phelps

Will he? Won't he? The million-dollar question about Michael Phelps winning seven gold medals in these Olympics would have been answered in negative rightaway but for the 32-year-old Jason Lezak, who almost single-handedly quelled the French challenge in 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay. BBC website had the headline Phelps wins second gold in relay. It was the team event that could have spoiled the party for the young American, but as it turned out, it was the adrenalin pumping through his oldest teammate that saved the day for him. In this picture above, BBC did capture the rapture of someone who is sure to become legend in the sporting annals of the world. But I would have appreciated a picture of the old—old by the standards of average age of swimmers—warhorse Lezak too. He deserves to be seen as much as Phelps. I had to look for three other websites before I found this group picture, in which Lezak is second from the left. The members are, from the left, Cullen Jones, Lezak, Phelps and Garrett Weber-Gale (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle). Phelps, of course, is the star and one that will hog the limelight in days to come, but for me this race and this day belongs to Lezak. This not-so-young swimmer has certainly proved right what his woman compatriot, Dara Torres, 41, said a couple of days earlier, "...the water doesn't know what age you are." What a phenomenal woman she is! Her team has won the silver.
Meanwhile, Lezak did manage to make headlines, even if he missed his share of photographers' flash!
  1. What a race! Lezak keeps Phelps' hopes alive (Associated Press)
  2. Phelps can thank wingman Lezak for this one (Fox Sports on MSN)
  3. Brilliant Lezak keeps Phelps on Olympic target (AFP)
  4. Teammate Lezak is lifesaver for Phelps (
  5. Jason Lezak made sure Michael Phelps still has a chance for 8 golds (International Herald Tribune)

Abstract Art: A Shot in the Arm

I loved this one! Recently, as a promise to a friend forced me to rekindle my interest in art, this little comic strip gave me some valuable insights into the philosophy of abstract art.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Change of look!

I gave a new look to my blog. It's first time in more than two years that I tried a new layout and design to arrange my variegated mental emissions. And it's not bad. The sans serif font gives it a neat, typical Internet look and blue is the colour I can live comfortably with. I have also added a cricinfo widget, though I am not sure if I want to keep that forever.

How many other people are trying something different these days? Sehwag, I heard, is practicing switch-hitting a la Pietersen. Pietersen is in the midst of change himself as he captains England for the first time in a Test match.

Hockey needs to change. Indian hockey team will not feature in this year's Olympic games in China. They have been adviced to follow Korea's example and adopt a more European style of play. By the way, China needs to change its Human Rights record for the better.

Out there is Zimbabwe Mugabe is in talks with his rival Morgan Tsvangirai. But is the old fox going to change?

Ban on SIMI is not changing.

Abortion law in India is not changing, as pronounced by Union Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss.

What has certainly changed—without any controversy—is the look of my blog.

Monday, August 04, 2008

This Is Not A Tribute To Aleksandr Solzhenytsin

The reports of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's death were obviously the big news of the day. I had tried a few times, unsuccessfully, to read him in the past. I tried reading his One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich at least twice and suspended it even before I was halfway through. Too much for me to handle I guess. This might have been a compliment to his writing. The cold—the way it is cold—in that book left me too uncomfortable. Perhaps, living in north India made it difficult for me to imagine that kind of cold but the real power of the pages that I did manage to read was in the description of the grinding manual labour, the hopeless schemes to get close to the fire, the conspiracy to hide a piece of bread. All this demanded too much from me.
I also started reading his The Gulag Archipelago once. I left it because I thought I needed to train my brain muscles by reading the smaller one first. That never happened of course. But I did start reading it. I am reproducing some lines out of what I read from the opening chapter, "Arrest":

But the darkened mind is incapable of embracing these displacement in our universes, and both the most sophisticated and the veriest simpleton among us, drawing on all life's experience, can gasp out only: "Me? What for?"

And this is a question which, though repeated millions and millions of times before, has yet to receive an answer.

Arrest is an instantaneous, shattering thrust, expulsion, somersault from one state to another.

We have been happily borne—or perhaps have dragged our weary way—down the long and crooked streets of our lives, past all kinds of walls and fences made of rotting wood, rammed earth, brick, concrete, iron railings. We have never given a thought to what lies behind them. We have never tried to penetrate them with our vision or our understanding. But there is where the Gulag country begins, right next to us, two yards away from us. In addition, we have failed to notice an enormous number of closely fitted, well-disguised doors and gates in these fences. All those gates were prepared for us, every last one! And all of a sudden the fateful gate swings open, and four white male hands, unaccustomed to physical labor but nonetheless strong and tenacious, grab us by the leg, arm, collar, cap, ear and drag us in like a sack, and the gate behind us, the gate to our past life, is slammed shut once and for all.

That's all there is to it! You are arrested!

And you'll find nothing better to respond with than a lamblike bleat: "Me? What for?"

The grim passages recounting utter helplessness and dislocation demanded discipline, and resolve, I was incapable of rallying. I left this one and pursued—and not perused—One Day.

I once browsed through his Cancer Ward in the Russian section of the A. C. Joshi librabry in Panjab University. I had read a reference in some other book of the moral dilemma one of the characters faces. I picked up the mangled copy—mangled not because it was a popular book; just neglect and insensitivity—and read through some paragraphs. The patients there had some very sharp discussions going on. But then there's so much you can read between stacks, even if the sick are making some telling comments about damaged bodies and souls.
I have pulled out the two novels I had bought long time back from a second-hand bookdealer. The sombreness that accompanies his death might have an effect on my efforts next time I get down to read him.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The paranoia-makers, the Maoists of Nepal

The king has abdicated the throne in Nepal. That's good. Maoists have become a major force in the mainstream political scenario. That's not good. That's bad. Very bad. Recently, in a magazine, they have come up with this accusation against the Dalai Lama that he is brainwashing the Nepalese children of Tibetan origin in the schools run by Tibetans. The Maoist publication go on to say that he is raising an army of Tibetan-Nepalese against China. And this he is doing on America's insistence. Maoists are going to be as bad, if not worse, for Nepal as the erstwhile king. The superstition of king-as-god will be replaced by Mao-as-god. Is Nepal moving from one dark age to another?

Friday, August 01, 2008

I like sports!

Roger Federer lost in the third round of the Cincinnati Masters. Croatia's big-serving Ivo Karlovic sent down 22 aces to overpower world No. 1 7-6, 4-6, 7-6. Federer, however, still keeps his cool and calls it a good year so far, and thinks that winning gold in Beijing and US Open will make it a great year. Is he the only one, who is not getting it? Anyway, one must give it to him for his composure and optimism. Perhaps, he will deliver what his fans so desperately want him to. As for the ongoing tournament, can anyone now stop Rafael Nadal from going into the Olympics and the US Open as the top-ranked tennis player in the world? Novak Djokovic meets him in the quarters. Let's see how he holds up against the marauding Spaniard.

Meanwhile, in Galle Test, the great Sehwag-Mendis show is on. Ajantha Mendis has 4 wickets till now out of 6 that went down. Virender Sehwag has scored 181 out of India's total of 302, that's about 60 per cent of India's total score. He has hit Mendis out of the ground four times, who otherwise has terrified everyone else. Murali doesn't have a single scalp to show. Will the tail hold on to allow Sehwag to go for a double century? Will Sehwag hold on? RECENT! Murali got Kumble stumped. Mendis got his five-for. Sehwag is eight short of a two hundered. Jayawardene needs two wickets.

Freddie Flintoff comes out with an inspiring performance after England caved in for 231 in the Edgbaston Test. South Africa are 256 for 6, not too far ahead of England. That's the kind of Test match I love to see. Freddie has 4 for 68 so far. If he gets another wicket and a 50 plus score in England's second innings, he will be back in the spot that he so richly deserves, the best all-rounder in the world.