Saturday, January 07, 2006

american desi and artificial interests


A few days back one of my very reasonable friends alleged that the interest any of the desi's in the US may exhibit in core American games/sports, like American football for instance, is very artificial..

This argument started when we were following a thrilling game between Washington RedSkins, the DC home team with the Philadelphia Eagles on New Year day. The game was important because a win on this game would give the RedSkins an entry into the playoffs. After a wonderful game (where RedSkins won 31-20), I was discussing the game with Eswar, when this very reasonable friend stepped in and asserted - the whole thing sounded very artificial and superficial to him.

Coming to think about this, I really do not blame him for that conclusion. I find many of what we desis do very artificial indeed:
  • I find it artificial when we desis try to mimic the (horribly irritating) rap musicians - wearing a monkey cap, partially holding the hands upto the chest and yelling Yo wazzup! in a basal high pitch;..
  • I find it artificial when we desis pickup an 'American' slang, adulterating the decent English that we can speak as pathetic as one could, thereby making it unintelligible for anybody to understand; ...
  • I find it artificial when we desis listen to the traffic, check the weather and print out maps before we drive to the superstore on the next block; ...

So if all the above is considered artificial, then what is wrong in my friend's observation that cheering up for an all American team in an all American game to be artificial ?

That I cannot agree. I, for one, love sports/games blindly. Be it whatever. I can sit & watch any sport of any sort without getting bored for hours - Tennis, Soccer, Golf, Swimming, Cycling, Formula One, Pool etc etc., - I just love sports. And I know that there are quite a few of my friends - this one for sure, who do the same. We share a passion for sports. Sports is universal, just like how music is - borderless, boundaryless.

Just because Iam from India doesnt mean that I have to sit & cheer only cricket - the game in our DNA, or hockey - the national sport or kabaddi - where we easily win medals .. I can equally appreciate Tennis and maybe cheer more when Leander or Sania get to the matchpoint, appreciate Racing and maybe cheer more when Narain completes a race, appreciate Golf and maybe cheer more when Vijay Singh hits a birdie, appreciate Chess and maybe cheer more when Anand does a check mate. Being in India has never hampered us to follow any of these 'imported' sports.. And coming to America has just widened our scope to look & follow more sports - basketball, baseball, football and the like.

I agree that (I used to think) American football is nothing but a game of rough bullies weighing 250+ lbs each falling over each other just like that - a bigger version of relatively leaner Sumo players or WWF. I used to laugh at the irony that this game is called Football, when they rarely use the foot and the ball isnt even round. But I have come to admire, follow through and enjoy the sport over time - and just like how some need exams to increase seriousness in a reading, just like how some need a speedometer to pump adrenaline while driving crazily on a freeway, I just need to cheer & support a team/player to take a more active interest in sports (just a variation of Maslow's theory X, I guess;)). And so I support a team, conveniently the RedSkins - home team from Washington, DC where I live.

When one does something not just for conversation starters or to look cool, when one watches a game waking up at crazy times like 3:20 AM because a favorite team plays, when one travels a few thousand miles staying in rubbish motels just to follow a 90 minute race - the interest sure may be an acquired one, but definitely is not artificial.


PS: On a totally different note, DC folks - do visit Misha's coffee at Old Town. They serve excellent coffee and the place is cozy. You can catch up on reading, play scrabbles/chess, discuss politics, blog(the internet is weak & unusable though) or the best - sip coffee and engage in advanced ornithology !

Sunday, January 01, 2006

of sports and women


So what is with sports and women ? I mean, why cant they relate to sports in general and every sport in particular ? Not only dont they try to understand, but they also have a certain distaste, aversion, pet peeve, hate, dislike and every other possible such adjective towards games and sports. Before I continue, let me clarify that the women in this post actually refers more to Indian/Desi women, though I am sure what I have stated is more or less applicable to the female gender in the Universe.

Are games that hard to understand ? I mean, no one expect the woman to play but to just sit through, watch and maybe cheer. The lady of this generation studies rocket sciences, does complicated arithmetic calculations, cuts code in 10th generation programming languages, cooks multi-cuisine with equal ease, drives rashly on the road making even Montoya bow his head in shame, manages work and home intelligently - so it is very surprising when she shakes her head in despair and announces that she cannot follow games & sports !!!

How complex can cricket be ? Every Indian has the sport in his blood, isn't it not ? I have always thought the almighty creator injects cricket DNA to Indians, basketball to Americans, Soccer to the Brazilians and the like ? But maybe he does the injecting to the male species. Coming back to cricket, how complex is the sport, really ? Every street corner in India witnesses kids playing cricket. Anything round is considered a ball; a strong stick turns into a bat; and the wall or a lamp-post or a fence is the wicket - and the sport begins and can run into hours. There are even crazy gangs that can play a virtual-cricket using page numbered textbooks. Breaking glass panes, diverting the poor motorists off the road, hitting the neighbor's scooter, pulling off the last page of The Hindu - all this is a package of growing up with cricket. And women cant understand our passion for the game ?

The other side of this is also dangerous. When the womenfolk do watch cricket or any other sport, they watch it for all the wrong reasons. "Sourav is too hot ya", or, "Oh God. Agassi, aww, wow, huh, (sigh) " - censorable dialogues follow through and they admire the sportsman, sometimes not even knowing what sport he plays. When we are around such women, I wont be surprised if we feel gay watching male sports !

The Indian televisions tried to market the cricketing sport to the ladies by making the hot Mandira Bedi as a program anchor. Well, the audience & popularity sure increased, with a double whammy as we watch Sachin hit a sixer followed by a blondie-kinda yapping from Mandira. Now the cheerleader concept needs to come to cricketing sport and it is like a dream ! Anyways, the Bharatiya Naris who watched Mandira worried about her dresses, the earrings, the short sleeves etc and accused the passionate sporting fans of watching her and not the game....

Of course, women tennis, ladies soccer, girls rowing - are all watched more by men. And again, this is because of the taste for the sport than anything else, though the maledom is again looked at with suspicion. Same is when we hook up the TV to follow NBA or NFL - for Godssake, they dont show the cheerleaders for more than 5 minutes of the 3 hour game ! The women have reason to hate every sport - Cricket is a waste of time; NBA is a late evening crime; Football is rough; Sumo is nauseating; WWF is ridiculous; Women tennis is a F-TV show; Racing causes ear-ache; Golf is boring .... the list is endless!!!!!

So my friends, there is something with the women and sports. Something repelling. Something dead against. Maybe women think of sports as their mother-in-laws. You can love them both, but you cant make them love each other. And if you did attempt that, within minutes you would realize that your love for either of them will drop down heavily. And you wish you ran 2 separate lives that don't run into each other.