M2: Vaikunth prelude. What went wrong?

Click here to read the part 1 of this story

“Maharaj… Maharaj?”Shivchandra’s meditative stance was broken by a heavy coarse voice that sounded a reverb even more with a gushing wind. 

“Huh? Oh… Mayant! So you have come”said a startled Shivchandra turning towards the commanding general of the Bramhakush army. Mayant, who was also known as Senapati Ashtabal, was in charge of the entire armed force and police of Bramhakush. He earned his name as Ashtabal or a person who knew all 8 warfare techniques known to mankind in the Aryan Habitat. He was believed to be the only one who had mastered all 8. Not even Maharaja Shivchandra was blessed with such prowess. Not only was Mayanat a fearsome warrior, he was also an intelligent strategist. It was rumored that he had never lost a fight in his life. Although one could see signs of ageing, the muscular almost 7ft tall frame was enough to scare away anyone who dared to attack. Some said Mayant had too much say in the internal matters of Bramhakush. No one dared to speak out. Because he was not just the commanding general, but also a childhood friend of Maharaja Shivchandra.


“Huh? Oh… Mayant! So you have come?

“Yes Maharaj”

“Why do you keep calling me Maharaj? Mayant? We are friends, aren’t we?”

“Indeed. But right now, a general is talking to his King.”

“I see… so let me also call you Ashtabal. Tell me, Senapati… what news from the capital?”

“Not bad. The army has recuperated well after this battle. New animals have been recruited. Policing is increased to keep an eye on aftershocks. Things are rather holding well. No sign of any revolt. But…”

“But? But what Senapati?”

“Well… I can take care of the law and order. But I don’t make policies for the kingdom. I have no access to the tax collection or their spend. And not that I have interest, but there have been irregular activities in the art & culture field… too many toys coming up. Sukirti is…”

“Oh, common Mayant… Sukirti is an able man. He is my brother. Don’t mistake him for a horse master.  Yes his ideas are different from mine, but he loves Bramhakush as much as you do.” Said Shivchandra in a dismissive tone and started looking back across the river Sattvi. The royal court of Kansar on the embankment of the river, which was completely distroyed during the war, was being rebuilt. But the new structure was no match to the beauty and finesse of the Kansaras. Shivchandra sighed after a momentary silence. 

“Look at this Mayant… see what we have done. Only if I would have known that the source of our information was not legitimate. I would have avoided this destruction.”

“No Maharaj… our source was correct. The Pindharis had indeed infiltrated the city. They had climbed down the mountain wall. They were planning a full scale war. They were disguised. We hardly had any time to distinguish. Besides, their next target could have been us, this Kaumudi region was vulnerable… We did the right thing.”

“I have my doubts. I inspected the remains of their barracks myself. Pindharis were under prepared. They may have been planning a guerrilla attack, may be. But they had not come for war, at least not with us. We could have defended the river and sent a batch our elite soldiers to free up Kaachi. A frontal attack could have been avoided. See what we have done… we defeated and relegated the Pindharis. But in the process, we killed hundreds of Kansaras, including the royal family.” said Shivchandra, looking back at the royal court again with dejection. Mayant stood his ground. He was absorbing every word of his King. But it didn’t matter to him. The displaced Kansaras or the dead royal family was hardly one of his worries. He wanted Kansar to be a part of Bramhakush. Not only it was prosperous, it was also strategically located. It gave Bramhakush a supreme power over the river Sattvi. The whole of Kansar could become a trade hub. They could earn lacs of gold coins just by trading agriculture and livestock. He could now allow the northern kingdoms to use the route for trade for a hefty fee. Besides, he could now trade the water. All he had to do was to convince Shivchandra to let him build the dam.

“The people our land are missing you Maharaj. You must return to Vishala.” he said. But the king did not respond. He was still looking across the river towards the royal court and far beyond towards a new city under construction. He had decided to rebuild Kaachi and rename it Vaikunth. For he considered it heavenly. While he had lit the pyre of Namandev and Naini Devi himself, he could not find their son Ripudaman. He just prayed the young prince had survived.   

Somewhere near the bottom of the mountain

Even though it was summer, the boy was shivering. An year had passed, but he was still not over it. A frail looking but strong lady wrapped a blanket around him. She was dressed like a man. She handed him a heavy bundle, which the boy could not balance and felled on ground.

“What is this?” he asked in a low voice

“They are weapons of your father, Suketu”

“We are just two of us, mausi. Can you not call me…”

“No! Get used to it. One day, I will teach you how to wield a sword. And many other things. You will reach your destiny… one day. But not now. That beast still stands guard.”

Looking away from the weapons wrapped in a thick black cloth, Suketu pointlessly started out of the cave house. The sun was going down, light was waning. He didn’t know if he had any hope.

to be continued…

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M1-Vaikunth: The beginning

Image Courtesy Meera Walawalkar

Year 298 of the third age. Northern Aryan Habitat

Summer season had started. Yet, it was a pleasant evening in the northern most area of Bramhakush, the mighty kingdom ruled by Maharaja Shivchandra. Birds were returning back to their nests, a warm yet soothing breeze was blowing across a vast balcony of the Koumudi bhavan, where the Maharaja was standing. This fortress, which was built to protect the northern borders from potential attacks and invasions via the river route, was now being transformed into a retreat house for the ministers of Shivchandra. It had recently witnessed one of the most fiercest battles in the history of Bramhakush. Shivchandra, who lead the battle himself, was standing and looking pointlessly at the dilapidated and mutilated ruins of the levee near the banks of the river Sattvi. They were a stark contrast to the beautiful blue and green river flowing across the kingdom, literally slicing the land in parts by its mighty flow. Overlooking the vast expanse of Sattvi was a small, yet a beautiful kingdom of Kansar, which was now a part of Bramhakush.

But Shivchandra did not defeat the Kansaras. Not in his wildest dreams he would have thought of burning, felling and destroying a city that was once the cynosure of every living being in the Aryan Habitat. Raja Namandev was his friend. However the Pindharis left him with no choice.  

One year ago

Kaachi, a city that was the epitome of beauty snugly resting in the laps of a mountain, protected and nurtured by the mighty Sattvi river. Kaachi was the capital city of Kansar, ruled with utter surety by Raja Namandev and Rani Nainidevi, a small yet beautiful and prosperous kingdom. It was spread across the banks of Sattvi river, whose silt plains made it an extremely fertile region. Kansar had vast farmlands and grew almost every vegetable that was possibly cultivated in the Aryan Habitat. even though small and prosperous, Kaachi had hardly faced open war. The city was built in such a way that one side it had large plains, which were used to cultivate crops. Then there was the vast bank of Sattvi river, who turned and meandered again protecting the city from 2 sides. So if an enemy attacked, he would turn out to be a sitting duck for the archers on the high walls of the palace. Besides, Kansar maintained a fleet of ships that were designed to row against the flow of the river. Their armour had large spikes that could easily pierce enemy boats. Due to the current, enemy’s navigation capabilities would be seriously challenged. The city was protected by the tall, rocky mountain standing guard against any one who dared to climb up. Namandev had sledged the whole side of the mountain to prevent movement of any man or vehicle on the face of it. While Kansar did not have a fearful army, the city was virtually impregnable. Yet… Kaachi fell that day.

It was Kartiki Purnima, the day on which Kansara sanskrutik samaroh culminated in a large citywide parade followed by a ball and gala dinner in the open fields. While Namandev did not maintain a large army, possibly he never thought of doing so, he did invest a lot in art and culture. The streets of Kaachi were adorned with beautiful statues, carved stone monuments and many other art works. It housed many museum that exhibited artifacts, rare paintings and gifts received by the kings. The city had more than 100 schools that imparted various knowledge forms to students who came to seek. It attracted students from far north as well as down south for as far as Aryan Habitat was spread. Thousands of people lived and prospered there. Kansara Sanskrutik Samaroh was the week long platform that Namandev provided to showcase almost any talent a man or a woman could posses. The king invited participants and guests from all kingdoms across the habitat. Whole week the city saw scores of royal entourage adorning the streets along with the exhibitors and performers who would come for the event. However there was an exception. Namandev dutifully avoided the Pindharis.

Pindhar was a kingdom on he other side of the mountain, ruled by PindRaj II. Due to their location, being in the rain shadow zone, the country a received rainfall barely sufficient enough to water their crops and recharge the ground. A drought always loomed every alternate year.The rocky nature of the soil meant their cultivation option too were limited. So the Pindharis switched to being carnivorous being. Years of adversity had pushed them to such an extent, people rumored that they would even eat man flesh, if need be. Pindharis were termed barbaric, and for no small reason. They were jealous of their prosperous and beautiful neighbors who they accused of depriving resources meant for the Pindharis. 2 generations ago, Pindraj 1 had proposed a dam on the Sattvi river so that the water could be equally distributed among both regions. However it was not easy as the river was too big. Besides if anything went wrong, it risked a terrible flood in Kansar. Namandev’s grandfather Chandrabhan had flatly refused the young Pindhari king. Furious, he attacked Kansar. A battle was fought on the mountain slopes and on the river. But Kansar’s geographical advantage could not be undone. Finally, he agreed for a compromise to build a canal that rounded the mountain and helped Pindharis gain some access to water from Sattvi. But it depended heavily on the river flow. So when Sattvii swelled during the rainy season, the canal had enough water. So the rest of the year, Pindharis still struggled. As a result, every Pindhari hated a Kansara for robbing them off their right. Pindharis loss made them weak. But they never forgave and never forgot.

to be continued…

5 things Spain should do to avoid defeat

Spain must look to their bench for revival. (c) fifa.com

I know this post will be redundant after tonight. And I’m sure Spanish team management is not going to read my blog OR consider my suggestions even if they read it. But I have a suggestion to Mr. Del Bosque, rather 5 suggestions. Hope they apply their mind and pull off a win today, which looks increasingly difficult with the current situation and Chile’s form

  1. Play with 4-1-2-1-2 formation, or essentially a diamond formation with two up front. Generally Latin American sides play a similar football that allows wingers more space and support for the forwards. Besides, you can have a floating defensive midfielder who will control the passing from behind the half way line. It gives cushion to the back 4 and more options to attack through the flanks
  2. Send Sergio Busquets home. He still thinks he is playing for Barcelona. Instead, if the above formation is adopted, play Alonso at the bottom end of the diamond, Silva and Juan Mata on the wings and Iniesta just behind the front 2. He can be later substituted by Fabregas or Xavi depending on how the match progresses.
  3. Play both Costa and Torres upfront. Spain needs to score goals and quickly. For that matter even Pedro can be considered in place of Torres, given the current form. If Spain scores 2 goals in the first half, they can substitute Costa with Xavi and have a traditional 4-5-1 formation (or 4-2-3-1 option). If they let a goal in, they can substitute Mata with Pedro/Villa and play in 4-2-3-2 formation.
  4. Play Raul Albiol in place of Pique. Pique was horrible in the central defense. Azpilicueta can also be replaced on the right (or was it left?) by Juanfran. Playing Juanfran will give them more option on the wings where he can run down the flanks to support Silva.
  5. Retain Casillas. However we may debate, he is still their best keeper. Da Gea is injured I guess and Pepe Reina has lost place in Liverpool goal since long. So leaving Casillas will be the last thing to do.

Spain are you reading this?

Holiday: Review with a pinch of difference

Image (c) indiaglitz.com

Fan of action movies? Super agents representing covert intelligence agencies? Intelligent, fast and pacy plots?

Fan of Bollywood action, thriller, spy movies?

You can;t say yes to both, mind you. Because there is a difference. Intelligent movies have to be intelligently made and is generally understood by intelligent people. ‘Holiday’ has 2 of the 3 ‘intelligent’ stuffs (may be one and half). But which ones is a question worth answering. Now for the review, Holiday is a story of an Army captain, on a holiday to his home town, who also happens to be a covert agent of the defense intelligent agency. His job is any body’s guess… tracking and foiling terrorist attacks. The movie is about how he prevents serial blasts happening in Mumbai, hunt down and finally kill the terrorists. Thats it! There are some good things about this A. R. Murugadoss creation. And there are some glaring mistakes. Here is my take on the movie, the pros and cons, unlike a traditional review.

The Pros:

  1. Akshay. He has worked hard to be the smartass covert agent who outwits his opposite protagonist. He is likable as a funny bridegroom, believable as a patriotic agent. Lucky that he got a role that suits him and full marks on doing justice
  2. Story. It is an interesting plot. And Murugadoss has been able to unravel it bit by bit much like a hollywood movie except… okay I will tell you the cons later
  3. Farhad. The villan. He is a guy audience will love to hate. Traditionally, in Hindi movies, we haven’t had young villans… or very rarely. And most of them have been adequately styled. But Farhad as the boss of the sleeper cells+terrorist group is very much a common man types. He excels with his frowns and growls
  4. Songs too are nice. Some foot tapping numbers are good.

The Cons:

  1. The main plot has too many breaks. The moment you start finding it interesting, Sonakshi Sinha appears from no where and (literally) covers the screen space. Then you have a lighter moment or a song, which is quite unnecessary.
  2. The terrorist group seems to have no motive behind causing the blasts. They just seem to be too happy to pull triggers. But why and what do they want to avenge, who are they working for, why are they doing it… nothing is explained
  3. Generally when a member of terrorist group is arrested, the plan is immediately put off and all the other team members go underground. But here, not only the team member escapes (rather allowed to escape), he also carries out the whole planned bombing exercise without talking to his handler or the bosses. Where does he get the RDX from? How on earth can he blow up the whole mumbai?
  4. Akshay is shown to do the whole work all by himself. He neither talks to a boss nor bothers to take help from any of the defense agencies/police. Who authorizes him? How can he take his own decisions? And all his friends seem to readily follow him in an arbitrary ‘game’ and end up killing terrorists. But none of them either verify or questions why should they kill those guys. Akshay is not their boss. Can defense men act arbitrarily?
  5. How come none of the 12 friends of Akshay are caught by Police?
  6. If it was so easy to blow up R City mall, why would the terrorist group wait for a specific date and time to blow up Mumbai?
  7. Why would the head of a terrorist group risk the whole mission to settle a personal score with the hero, just because he provoked him? Man! This beat me to core 🙂

All n all, its a nice family movie. But if you are looking forward to it as a thriller, save me! It is probably at the lowest end of my favorite list. I will give it nothing more than a 3 star.

Awesome 3 day fruit diet plan

Image courtesy (c) Filariasis.com

Believe it or not, this 3 day fruit cum salad diet plan has helped me reduce 2 kgs in just 6 days and that too with minimum exercise, sufficient eating and regular routine. Here is how you can follow what I did:

Day 1:

As soon as you wake up, have a full glass of water. It will help you detox a little bit and also quell some overnight hunger. Then have an early breakfast of 1 slice of brown bread/ one chapati without butter. Day 1 is going to be much less on calorie intake. So in case if you are worried of fainting or fear of giving up, you can have a boiled potato without salt or half a glass of milk without sugar.

Light exercise is fine, such as climbing 50 steps or walking for 500 meters. If you exercise, you can have lemon water with a dash of honey after that.

Eat a balanced fruit diet for lunch with sufficient carbs and juices. During my diet, I had 4 bananas and an orange. If possible try to avoid evening snacks. But if you feel tired, you can have an apple or a kiwi or similar fruit that has less fats and is low on sugar.

Have just a small bowl of rice with plain dal (lentils) or curd. Try not to add sugar or salt.

Day 2:

Follow the water routine of Day 1. Instead of a brown bread, have egg white (boiled). You can have 2 or three eggs but try not to stuff yourself.

Do light exercise, such as stretching and brisk walking for 500 meters. If you climbed 50 steps yesterday, push yourself to 100 or at least 75. Instead of lime water, have carrot juice today.

Repeat the lunch the similar to Day 1 and try to avoid evening snacks as much as possible. If you cannot, just have half a glass of milk or a small banana.

Have a boiled egg and 1 brown bread/ plain chapati for dinner.

Day 3:

Repeat the schedule of Day 1 & 2 for Day three but skip eating eggs, potatoes and bananas. You can add tomatoes and cucumber to your diet in order not to dehydrate yourself.

Check you weight on day 4. I reduced 2 and half kgs! And wonder who created this diet plan? ME!   🙂

Some more quetions for Shri Shri

Blocking questions? image (c) ibnlive

Shri Shri, you have very well answered my previous questions. Thank you so much. But the latest closely fought cum abjectly surrendered cum ‘could have easily won’ test match debacle has prompted me to ask you few more questions. Are you going to answer them? No? No problem… the answers are obvious anyway. (PS: Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you about your relations with Meiyyappan or Srini or about your real estate investments or the sports management firm you own or even about your wife’s latest darkest shade of lipstick… oops!)

Q1: What did you tell the team before the start of the second innings that you didn’t when the test match started?

This is quite simple. You might have hurled the choicest of abuses at the team with help from Arsene Wenger (BPL leaders Arsenal lost 1-5 to historic rivals Liverpool last Saturday) or from Sir Alex Ferguson (ManU had lost 1-6 to their horrible neighbors Man City few years ago… at home). A just thing to do, Shri Shri. But the question is, why didn’t you do it earlier? We lost 0-3 to SAFs in the ODIs, then drew a test match we should have won, then lost a test match we should have drawn, then lost the ODI series to NZ 0-4. I must appreciate your patience. For you now have the dubious distinction of being the captain of a team white washed when they were no. 1 in both tests and ODIs.

Or may be you didn’t say anything at all. And the bowlers received an sms that they will get a night out with the Hollywood actress of their choice if they bundle out NZ for a less than 100. But poor lads were denied that luxury by Wagner and Boult, who both will be summoned by ICC for breach of bulls*** conduct, come July. You know why.

Q2: What makes you think Zaheer Khan is a better batsman than you?

He is not, right? Then why on earth were you rotating strikes? When Zaheer came in, we needed another 80 runs. It was a cake walk for you. You could have conserved him and then tried to score in bulk. NZ was not threatening with the ball. But instead, you were seen taking singles on the first ball and Zaheer was trying his favorite cow corner slaps.

Wait a minute, did you think Zaheer could score a half century the way he did against Zimbabwe an era ago and blasted Henry Olonga for 4 consecutive sixes? Boy!

Q3: Is it that Kohli and Jadeja never listen to you or you do not bother how they get out?

Option 1: Kohli listens but Jadeja doesn’t. It was a bad day for Kohli and as usual day for Jadeja. Hmmm, then we must sack him?

Option 2: Both don’t listen. Then what the hell are you doing? Why don’t you try your famous helicopter shot on them?

Option 3: Both listen and both forget what I tell them. – (Smiley) (Smiley) (Smiley) (Smiley)

Option 4: I care a damn! Well then, nothing needs to be said

PS: Post is just for gags!

Q & A with Shri Shri Mahendrasinghji Dhoniji

Image

(c) Santabanta.com

So, after a tete a tete with Mr. Kejriwal, here is my another tete a tete with Mahi. As always, I’m a common man and he is not. So he is not going to answer my questions. Then who is going to answer my questions? Will you tell this to me or should I tell you? I will… so read on!

Q1: Shri Shri, what is the reason for India’s abject failure on overseas tours, particularly under you?

Possibly the answer is, he doesn’t know. Mahi himself has played very well in the last couple of series. But for some reason we have always faltered. We abysmally lost in England. Didn’t learn anything, lost in Australia again. Then played mostly at home, saw Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman retire, played no overseas tour until the recent ‘shorter than T20 match’ test series in SA and lost it as well. So I have no reason to believe that Dhoni knows how to win overseas. Yes his predecessors also didnt win a series. But some have done well than him. And if he is rated the best ever Indian captain, which he is, he should have known the answer. So does the problie in team selection? Lets find out

Q2: Why have you persisted with the likes of Rohit, Ishant and Suresh Raina for that long?

Very difficult one for Mahi. Rohit is a great talent, time and again Raina has finished games for CSK and Ishant looks like a menacing fast bowler. But they all have been consistently inconsistent. Rohit has mostly failed when it mattered and Ishant has mostly not taken wickets when he should have (save today’s performance). But a question Mahi might ask us. If not them then who? At least as of now I cant see any one else we can play in place of Rohit. Ranji has produced some new contenders. But the irony is, top run getters in Ranji change every year. So the lack of consistency starts from there. Besides if we go by Ranji record alone, Rohit was a phenomenal player. As for Ishant, I think the think tank at office has messed up royally. He was indeed a menacing bowler. But time wore him down. He is slowly going the same tunnel where the likes of Munaf and Irfan Pathan have traveled. Classic case of talent mismanagement. May be Mahi thinks he can stem the rot. Otherwise the replacements and peers of Ishant (Shami, Bhuvi, Yadav, Aaron, Pandey) will follow the same route. 

Q3: You have mastered the art of pacing the innings. Why do you think every one can do it?

As much as Dhoni criticizes the team in public, the culture the team is getting into is the same that he himself follows. Dhoni is lazy when he comes to bat, takes time to settle and then hammers every bowler. He is able to do it. But what about others? Shikhar Dhawan never knows what is right. Should he let the ball go or put the bat in the way. We have lost 2 ODI series back to back without registering even 1 win due to poor death bowling and lack of mindset by the opening bowlers. If not captain, who else will guide them?

Q4: What makes you think we are the best fielding side?

Obviously we are not, and you know it. But when the players of national level stop following basics, it hurts. Mahi himself was an average keeper when he came on the international scene. But he was a better batsman than his rival (DK) and he proved his worth eventually. When he started playing, we had the best slip fielders in Dravid and Laxman who were followed by Ganguly, Tendulkar and Sehwag. Even Kumble has fielded in slips. Number of catches these guys have collectively dropped in the whole career is probably lesser than number of catches current team dropped in SA and NZ. It has cost us matches. And I’m sure Dhoni is worried about them as a captain. Slip fielding is more like wicket keeping without gloves. It needs a patient mindset and the eye on the ball… always. I remember Mongia used to help the slip fielders. Isn’t Dhoni telling them how to hold on to catches the way he does? 

Q5: Do you think you can turn this team around?

Obviously he thinks he can. I have a doubt, though. He has the best talent at his disposal. They all, as individual players, are menacing. As an opposition, I’d have been fearing for my life to bowl at Dhawan, Rohit, Kohli and Pujara. But it is not happening. I see the reason in the way Dhoni manages the team. He is consistent in his own performance because he is methodical. But at times, especially in sports, one needs to be passionate. I always remember Tendulkar’s assault on Warne as the classic example of passion followed by Laxman’s 281 & Dravid’ 180 at Kolkata & Galguly’s 144 on a bouncy Gabba. We have to win not because we are superior on paper. But because we believe we can ans must win. Australia’s recent turn around is a classic example. They had an inconsistent lineup with misfiring seniors (Warner, Watson, Johnson), inexperienced fringe players (Bailey, Smith, Rodgers) and not-so-potent individuals (Siddle, Harris, Lyon). They were led by a mild mannered leader who wasn’t able to unite the team only 2 series ago. But they fought. And boy, how! Can we do it? We did it once under Dhoni (T20 world cup 2007). Can we do it again?

Yes!