‘Alex Rutherford’ returns

I hadn’t realized, at the time of writing this post [and then this], just how many of you out there are hard core historical fiction fans. The posts led to several wonderful e-mail conversations with some equally addicted readers, and produced some recommendations for which I am much indebted.

On that theme, here’s the always excellent Nilanjana Roy  [Twitter, blog] on the second book in Alex Rutherford’s Mughals series:

In their account, Humayun emerges as a man of the senses, beguiled and betrayed by his appetites, embracing opium as passionately as he embraces the women of his harem. His virtues are also his weaknesses: the compassion and forgiveness he shows his warring brothers as they plot against him will drive him into exile for years. As with the first book in the series, it’s the Prestons’ attention to detail and their intimate knowledge of the workings of the Mughal empire that makes this a satisfying, meaty read. They’re great on the battle sequences, and when they offer details such as the astrological carpet Humayun has woven when his opium-fuddled mind wants the court to be governed by the planets, they bring the period alive.

Despite the mixed review, I want. Flipkart, I notice, has run out of stock, so it is off to the bookstores this evening to hunt down a copy.

Open thread for live show

Right, so greatbong was live on Yorker today. Tomorrow, it’s just me, and Tejaswi and other in-house personnel.

Open thread, folks — post your questions, and we’ll get a jump start on the show tomorrow.

In passing, and in case you missed it, the Indian Parivar League is getting some stick from Sports Minister MS Gill.

“… the BCCI, they have a direct interest as owners of teams, as people who have a direct benefit from it [IPL] and this is something very dangerous,” Gill said. “They have also used the rules against another rival league [ICL]. But the controlling body has to be for India, for cricket for the long term. It has to be totally uninvolved.”
Bang on, Minister. So what do you think you can do about it, given that most state associations are run by politicians of various hues, and the central board is dominated by heavyweight politicians, literally and figuratively?
Here’s a suggestion: rethink BCCI’s status as a “society”; revoke the tax exemption — that is, or should be, a privilege of genuine non-profits, no? Since the BCCI and its offspring are clearly profit-making bodies, why should it be treated differently from any other corporation? Similarly, it currently gets its grounds for ridiculously low rentals, again in keeping with its non-profit status. Begin charging market rates, and pump those tax dollars and other earnings to the cause of improving the infrastructure for other sports, why don’t you?

No cheers for cheerleaders?

Writing in the Guardian, Kanishk Tharoor — one of two sons of Federal Minister Shashi T — talks of IPL’s cheerleaders and why he is not enamored.

I’m not offended by cheerleading, more bored by it. In any grown-up context, it offers a dispiriting definition of both leadership and cheer. Many cricket fans, including myself, would be happy to see the (metaphorical) back of these cheerleaders. Their twists and pumps add nothing to what is, in truth, a wonderful sporting spectacle. They are a reminder of the ocean of inanities that commercial modernity promises our lives, drowning all occasions in froth. First the fall from grace, then the flood.
But I can’t just grit my teeth or laugh it off. Regular viewers of the IPL are now familiar with the sight of leering spectators separated from the cheerleaders in some stadiums by cage-like fences, an image that brings the cricket arena uncomfortably close to a zoo. It is the larger dichotomy suggested by this unfortunate image that I find troubling, that of Indian men ogling mostly white, non-Indian women. All too common in India is the belief in the licentiousness of foreign women. In recent years, stories of sexual violence against tourists in India have proliferated, a tragic byproduct in some cases of the impression that foreign women are naturally promiscuous. While I wouldn’t draw a direct line between IPL cheerleaders and such incidences, the very nature of IPL cheerleading as a spectacle feeds deeper, insidious notions about race and sexuality in India.


Blimp? Hmph!

Dear IPL commentators: Here’s an image — or three — for your consideration:

The Goodyear blimp

Now take a look at this:

Repeat after me: This is a balloon, not a blimp

Right. Now: Read this wikipedia entry on ‘blimp’. And this one on moored balloons.

Get the point? One flies. The other floats.

And stop calling that bloated balloon sponsored by MRF a blimp. It might be part of your contract to hype the hell out of it each time it appears on your screen — but to keep calling it a blimp makes you sound like a collection of idiots.

Oh, and as my friend Ramesh Srivats pointed out on his Twitter stream yesterday, stop raising the decibel count and screaming “There’s the MRF blimp again!!!” As Ramesh said, it’s not the fricking Hailey’s comet — it is a balloon tethered to a string; it is always there.

Thank you

S/d: IPL followers