Thursday, May 29, 2008

Test Match Cricket : You beauty!

Teams overcoming a large first innings deficit and winning. Batsmen adapting to the conditions by playing very cautiously. Fast bowlers producing great spells to rattle the batsmen. Spinners toiling away for hours, casting their webs and waiting for the batsmen to fall into their trap. Out of form batsmen striking form by showing a lot of application. Batsmen getting struck on the head and heroically returning to bat. The game being played hard, but still within the limits of gentlemanly behaviour.
Test Match cricket is back at last! Where have you been darling? I really missed you a lot.

What's the best way to learn good english?

As I was clearing out my bedroom recently, I came across a few old and very dusty notebooks. On opening them, they turned out to be my Std X English notebooks. All of them were filled with a large number of seemingly pointless letters. Basically there were letters addressed to newspaper editors complaining about the lack of proper and clean water supply, the irregular power supply, potholes in the road, traffic issues, complaints against late night revelers, lack of sufficient interaction between people and the government, the nuisance of stray dogs and other such creative topics. Just made me wonder why on earth do we learn to write such letters, since nobody is actually going to write them in real life, unless of course you are 80 years old and have nothing to do. Can't students spend time reading some good literature which will definitely improve their language and ensure that they have fun as well? Or is it compulsory for schools to make the subject as boring as possible and remove from it the tiniest amount of fun that the student might derive from studying it? My father studied in a convent school as well, and he keeps telling me how their Headmaster - a priest called Father McGrath (no known relation with Glen, this guy was Irish) - made their subject a lot more interesting by making them read a lot of stuff outside of standard prescribed textbooks. As a result of this my father developed a great love for the language, which can still be seen today. Even today, forty years after he left school, he occasionally recalls a poem that he had read when in school and though he doesn't remember the words too well, he remembers the theme of the poem and it's background. Now that clearly shows how dedicated a student he was. In comparison, I don't think any of todays school kids will be able to recall anything like that forty years on. In fact, I am pretty sure that if you mention reading stuff beyond the textbooks, they will argue with you saying that they do so, and promptly point to the nearest copy of 'Navneet's Digest'.

Other than that I also noticed something very peculiar. I had used a lot of phrases and idioms needlessly. I never did anything quietly, I always did it without a word. Just as I was always 'as cool as a cucumber' whenever I found myself 'in a pickle'. But even back then, I didn't like the idea of using such superfluous phrases. I always wanted to concentrate on writing something meaningful, something interesting and something which is only as long as it should be. But my teachers 'were aghast' when they heard of this and immediately asked me to 'mend my erroneous ways'. According to them, writing was all about using fancy words and phrases; comprehensibility and precision were qualities to be abhorred and not worshipped. That was something I absolutely hated to do, but as my notebooks show, I finally gave up and submitted to their diktat.

Even today I don't really understand the need of using fancy language while writing. It's all right if you use words which may be unfamiliar but nevertheless are precise and contextually important. But if you start using fancy words just for the heck of it, you are only limiting the number of people who can understand your writings and that is definitely undesirable. But that of course, is just my opinion.

Finally, before ending, I'd like to mention one last thing that I noticed from my old notebooks. The stuff I wrote was pretty bad. Though I never made any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, most of my writing was basically chaotic, unorganised and without any purpose. So it seems that my writing skills have improved over the years, the credit of which, at least in part, goes to this blog. So expect more of such long and involved posts in the future.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

CAT 08

The most important thing for me in the coming months is the CAT which would be sometime around November. And I have started off with my preparations for it, albeit a bit late.
So just to try something new, I shall be posting my SimCAT scores on my blog. Hopefully, the fear of public humiliation might lead me to study harder. So here it goes:

May 18 : SimCAT 1
I screwed up! These three words basically sum up my exam. For the first time ever I managed not to finish a CAT paper and that was really bad. I screwed up big time in Verbal, which is generally my forte, did okay in Maths but definitely need to improve. As for DI, it was a pretty good attempt from my side, much better than my last few papers. So let's hope the performance curve keeps pointing upwards.

Verbal Maths DI Overall
Percentile 97.36 96.76 90.58 98.42
Score 32 35 39 106
Cut-off 28 31 45 113

So, basically, I'm yet to clear the DI cut-off and unfortunately I failed to clear the overall cut-off too. Let's hope I clear them both next time around. That will tell me where I actually stand as I shall receive an All-India ranking if I clear all cut-offs.

(Key : SimCAT : A mock CAT exam conducted by IMS
DI : Data Interpretation)

And in more football news...

Leeds United are one step away from re-entering the championship! After overcoming a first leg deficit to overcome Carlisle 3-2 on aggregate, Leeds just need to beat Doncaster in the play-off at Wembley on Sunday to re-enter the championship. It's been a hard season for Leeds with the 15-point penalty, but winning on sunday might just rekindle hope in the hearts of all Leeds fans.

(Though I hope they do better than the last time they played a play-off, which was when they lost 3-0 to Watford in May 2006)

Three cheers for Chelsea!

Since shifting to the hostel three years ago, one thing that I have really missed is watching football. Even though my favourite club is no longer in the EPL, I still like to watch a few games, and since almost all my friends support Man U, it turns out that I end up watching a lot of Man U games. But unlike all my friends, I am not a Man U supporter. So let me try to analyse yesterdays game from the POV of a Chelsea supporter.
Yesterday's match was one I really wanted to see. I had missed the champions league final for 3 years in succession and was not going to miss this one. Especially since this was between two teams with an intense rivalry of late.
As you all know by now, Man U won on penalties. They did outplay Chelsea in the 1st half but Chelsea fought back superbly and managed to dominate the rest of the game. They created some great chances, with Lampard & Drogba both rattling the frame of the goal. Petr Cech as usual was outstanding and was the chief reason why the Londoners were only a goal down before they scored. Even Lampard and the two Coles - Joe & Ashley - turned in brilliant performances.
But my heart goes out to John Terry. He made an outstanding reflex save to deny Ryan Giggs in his record breaking 759th appearance for Man U. He was great throughout the game and led by example. But as it so often happens, the hero of the match is the villain of the shootout. So it is a great tragedy that he ended up missing the penalty that could have won Chelsea the title especially because he lost his lost his footing while taking the kick (despite that he didn't send the ball high into the stands which an ex-Man U player infamously did). He certainly did not deserve this.
Most people will argue that Man U have been better this season than Chelsea but we must acknowledge the spirit of the Chelsea team. They got over the sacking of Mourinho and out of nowhere re-entered the title race very late into the season and almost snatched it from Man U. And they also finally managed to enter the Champions League final. It has been a good season for them, despite the fact that they have no silverware to show for it. I really hope that Avram Grant stays on as he has done a very good job. Same for players like. This season Chelsea might have been denied by a Man U team that was on a dream run seemingly throughout but next year might just be Chelsea's year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Return of the King

This has to be the best news that I have heard in a very long time :

Warne considering Ashes comeback

I can already hear Michael Vaughan uttering the choicest of swear words in his northern accent.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Summer Reading

The holidays are always a good time to catch up on a bit of reading. And the long holidays that I am facing now are no exception. And to get through them I have already got a few books which should last me through the endless days when I have nothing to do. They are as follows:

1. Good Omens (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman) : I'm already halfway through the book and its damn good. Note to self: Read more of Pratchett & Gaiman

2. Malgudi Days (RK Narayan) : Has been lying with me for ages. Hope to start soon.

3. Night Watch (Terry Pratchett) : The only Discworld novel that I could lay my hands on in BCL. I know its not the first in the series by any means, but after reading Good Omens, I really took the above mentioned self-addressed note seriously.

4. The long dark tea time of the soul(DNA) : Wanted this one for quite some time. Anything by DNA has to be good.

5. Crime & Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky) : One of the all time greats, as they say. I haven't actually read many of these 'classics', so lets see how it turns out.

6. Beyond a Boundary (CLR James) : Widely acclaimed to be the best book ever written on cricket, this book shall be the next chapter in my cricketing education which has been side-tracked of late.

And most importantly,
7. How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT (Arun Sharma) : Got it from Abhishek yesterday. Started with chapter one today. I know this doesn't actually fit here, but who the hell cares.

P.S : Since we are on the topic of books, this is a gentle reminder to all those of you who have borrowed books from me and haven't returned them for ages. Please do so soon.