The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Football on the move …

Football is big business, and huge sums of money are spent in promoting major events. The World Cup, for instance, attracts a huge audience world-wide, as do tournaments such as the European Champions League or the Copa Libertadores in South America.

At the club level, too, football generates massive revenue, and the focus is always on promoting the club “brand” as prominently as possible.

One method used in recent years has been to use aircraft to display the livery of a team or a club, and I came across some interesting specimens.


Japan Airlines football livery2

Japan Airlines football livery1

Korean Air football livery

Tunis Air football livery1

Varig football livery1

Lufthansa football livery1

Manchester United football livery1

Real Madrid football livery1

Eintracht Frankfurt football livery1

You see aircraft of various airlines arriving and departing from airports world-wide. But, when one of these specially painted planes arrives, it something that is really nice to see.



August 28, 2009 Posted by | About this and that, Football | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wacky …

It is astonishing to see the wacky things that people, sometimes, do.

Have just read about a guy from Saharanpur, in Uttar Pradesh, who sold his shop, and used the money to go to Ranchi in order to try and meet India’s cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and get photographed with him.

Why so?

Because his fiancé, a Dhoni fan herself, insisted on the young man doing so to prove his love, and place the picture in a locket for their impending wedding.

INR 15,000 is all the guy got for his audio/video CD shop, and this money ran out soon enough, forcing him to live on a street pavement in Ranchi.

News of this seems to have reached Dhoni, who stopped by on his way to the airport recently, shook the fan’s hand, and got photographed.

Mission accomplished

Mission accomplished

The fiancé is happy, it appears, the young man is waiting for money to buy a ticket to travel back home, and a priest might, I suppose, get summoned shortly to get the couple to perform the “saat-pheras”.

Reminds me of the hordes of film fans, who after completing a trip to Tirupati, descend on Madras to get a glimpse of the film actors who have played roles in mythological films.

Strange world indeed !!!!


August 28, 2009 Posted by | About this and that, Cricket | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In tune with the bands …

I have always been fascinated by martial music, and have enjoyed watching / listening to the music played by the bands of the Indian armed forces – particularly those of the various army regiments. The Republic Day celebrations and the Beating Retreat provided me an opportunity to listen to this music.

Beating retreat1

Did you know that there exists a college of military music in India?

Located in Pachmarhi, a hill station nestled in the Satpura ranges in Madhya Pradesh, is the Military Music Wing of the Army Education Corps Training College. Set up in 1950 under the patronage of Field Marshal KM Cariappa, the college has trained bands not only of the Indian armed forces, but also military musicians from other countries.

One of the most distinguished directors of the MMW was (Padma Shree) Harold Joseph who used traditional Indian folk-lore from places as afar as Punjab, Rajasthan, Garhwal and the Konkan coast to create some wonderful marching tunes such as Hanste Lushai (The smiling hills of Lushai) and Konkan Sundari (The beauty from Konkan).

Here are some links to the music of the Indian armed forces – some of the marches and tunes are truly outstanding. One of my favourites is Herana Herana, a quick march played by the Pipes and drums, which is based on a folk song from Kumaon – check out the army band link. You will need Real Player to listen to this music, though.



August 26, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | Leave a comment

Beating Retreat

It is decades since I watched the Beating Retreat ceremony in Delhi, but the memories linger to this day. Television, unfortunately, cannot recreate the mood, the ambiance, and the splendor.

So, what is “Beating Retreat”?

In the olden days, soldiers on the battlefield stopped fighting for the day at sunset, and would resume the next morning – sounds strange? Sunset was heralded by buglers, whose bugle calls would be heard on the battlefield – and the fighters would “beat the retreat” so to speak.

Today, “Beating Retreat” is largely ceremonial, and has become a part of the Republic Day celebrations in India – it is held on 29th January every year.

Vijay Chowk is located at the foot of Raisina Hill, with the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the background and the two majestic wings of the Central Secretariat buildings flanking the venue for this awe-inspiring ceremony.

The camel cavalry on the ramparts of the Secretariat buildings, the impressive President’s Bodyguard, on their horses, accompanying the carriage of India’s Head of State, and the presence of the three Service Chiefs is a splendid sight.

The massed bands of the Army, Navy and Air Force, marching proudly down Rajpath onto Vijay Chowk, provide a mere prelude to an hour’s spectacle.

Forming intricate patterns, wheeling around, and playing some truly melodious and rousing music, the bands variously conjure up images of the hills of Kumaon, the lush green fields of Kerala, the rugged Vindhyas, the valor of the men of the armed forces, and spirit of courage and determination.

My favourite was the pipes and drums – an amazing spectacle.

Beating Reatreat2

The end of the music by the bands is followed by the drum beats. It’s hard to describe, and words will not do justice in describing it, but you wonder, as you watch/hear the staccato rat-a-tat of the snare drums, as to how the human hands can move so incredibly fast.

A hush descends over Vijay Chowk as sunset approaches. In the distance, one hears church bells, a lone trumpeter picks up the lilting tune of “Siki Amo Le”, followed by the softly played hymn “Abide by Me”.

And, in the rapidly descending darkness, as the bands, as also the camel cavalry move away, thousands of light-bulbs come on at Rashtrapati Bhavan and the surrounding buildings – spellbinding, indeed.

Beating Retreat3

It is brilliant, and I hope I can watch this again some time.


August 26, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The scent of a Rose

The Kerala festival of Onam, which is meant to celebrate the harvest, is just around the corner, and Malayalees are gearing up for this big occasion.

It is an occasion for uninhibited gluttony of the highest order, as the folks from God’s own country gorge on the traditional “Onamsadya”. It’s also an occasion to dress up – the “onakkodi” or new clothes worn on the day. The ladies wear the traditional “kasavu” sarees, the men wear the “mundu” or dhoti.

When attending a typical Onam get-together, one immediately notices the pleasant smell that emanates from the “Onapookkalam”, a carpet of gathered blossoms that consists of many varieties of foliage of differing tints. Commonly used flowers include Thumba (Lucas Aspera), Mukkutti (little tree plant), Chemparathy (shoe flower), Aripoo or Konginipoo (Lantana), Hanuman Kireedom (Red pagoda plant) and Chethi (Ixora).

This year, though, be prepared to observe a different kind of smell – the smell of roses.

While the male of species, reeking of an overpowering deodorant, has moved to wearing faded jeans and T-shirts that are two sizes too small, the switch to tradition on Onam day is quick. And, this year, though, instead of the traditional dhoti, one might well see the garment’s new avatar – the rose-scented version.

This has been pioneered by a dhoti manufacturer in Erode, is priced at around INR 400, and survives about 10 washes. This company is swamped with orders, it appears, and others in the business are apparently looking at providing versions with other floral fragrances.


It always amuses me when a Mallu male, with the slicked-down hair, nonchalantly hitches up his dhoti in public, unmindful of others around him, and struts around like a preening peacock. A sure-shot attention grabber.

At this year’s Onam, though, you are likely to get a whiff of the gent even before he makes a physical appearance.

The concept of looking “as fresh as a dasiy” has a new meaning. 

Wonder what they will think up next.


August 25, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Incredible Bolt

Assuming that he didn’t false start, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Usain Bolt would win the 200m gold medal at the World Championships in Berlin. What no one, including the Jamaican himself or Michael Johnson whose record Bolt broke at the Beijing Olympics, was quite prepared for was what happened when the starter’s gun went off.

19.19 seconds later, Usain Bolt had broken his own record, just like he had done in the 100m two days earlier, and one is now left to wonder what this incredible Jamaican is capable of.

Incredible Usain Bolt

“This guy is Superman II” said Michael Johnson after the race.

Bronze medal winner, Wallace Spearmon, who had resigned himself to second place or worse, said, “‘Insane’ Bolt. I mean the guy is crazy. He runs crazy times and he makes it look so easy … even if I run the best turn of my life, I’m still going to be behind.”

Shawn Crawford, the gold medalist in the 200 in the 2004 Olympics, second in Beijing, and fourth in Berlin, calls Bolt a “gift” and a “blessing to the track world,” adding, “Anything that great is a blessing …. any time there’s a blessing in the vicinity, you’re close to being blessed yourself.”

Bolt has never been the best when it comes to blasting off the starting blocks, but his long stride has helped him burn up the track at a blistering pace. Running in Lane 5 in the 200m finals, he caught up with Alonso Edward in Lane 6, and Shawn Crawford in Lane 8, coming out of the bend. And the gap when he crossed the finish line was close on 6 metres – that’s huge.

It has been financially rewarding, too. His haul from the Berlin championships now stands at US$320,000 – winners of an event earn US$60,000, while world records carry a US$100,000 bonus.

“There was the space age and the computer age; now we have the ‘Bolt Age’,” wrote Elias Makorip, a reporter for the Daily Nation newspaper.

Couldn’t have put it better.


August 22, 2009 Posted by | About this and that, Other Sport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Quick Gun Murugan dosa

Idlis have been getting smaller and smaller, and mini-idlis have become standard fare in many restaurants nowadays. Having partaken of this dish recently, I was compelled to comment that the idlis were small enough to fill a cavity in the tooth.

If idlis are shrinking in size, dosas are heading in the opposite direction. I recall seeing a 6 feet long dosa in a popular Coimbatore reastaurant some years ago.

And, now, a restaurant in Ahmedabad has crafted a 32 feet and 5 inches long specimen that took 40 minutes to make, with 16 chefs practicing for ten days to get it right.

Longest dosa

Aimed at promoting Telugu film actor Rajendra Prasad’s upcoming movie, “Quick Gun Murugan”, this gargantuan has been named after the film.

Sankalp, the restaurant that created this dosa, entered the Guiness Book of Records in 1997 for a dosa that measured 25 feet, and bettered this in 2006 with a 30 feet version.

I wonder if Sankalp offers versions for this dosa such as crisp, soft, masala, etc. And, presumably, the sambar and chutney is served up by the bucket-load.

Curiously enough, Sankalp is located on Drive-in Road. Aren’t all roads meant to be drive-ins?


August 20, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More than just monkeys …

Monkey business

It’s not only monkeys that love bananas – humans do, too.

Although I have never been a great fan of it, the banana is a wonderful fruit in terms of the benefits it offers.

Containing Vitamins C, A1, B6, and B12, bananas are also a good source for the body’s potassium and magnesium needs. The fruit offers a virtually instant energy boost, making it popular amongst sportsmen. It is an inexpensive meal of sorts. It also offers numerous health benefits for ailments and conditions as diverse as blood pressure, constipation, hangovers, heartburn, morning sickness, mosquito bites, PMS, stress, strokes, ulcers etc.

Great stuff.

And, it is not the flesh of the fruit alone that offers benefits.

The leaves of the banana tree are used as “plates” in some parts of the world, and the inner trunk is edible and is used like a vegetable. The flower makes a tasty dish, too.

What of the banana peel? Well, it can be put to several interesting uses. In India, the peels are fed to cattle that you see munching ruminatively by the roadside. They can also be used in various other interesting ways such as :

  • A face mask
  • A fertilizer
  • A houseplant cleaner
  • An ointment
  • A curative for warts

What’s more, the humble peel can, I am told, be used to polish silverware and leather – an excellent alternative to shoe polish.

Quite apart from, of course, providing a source of mirth when some unfortunate soul treads on it.


August 19, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aisle, altar, hymn …

An email forward that I received today had this to say about a mystery that men have been trying to unlock through the ages.

“Why do their wives, who accept them just as they are before they get married, begin the quest to change their behavior and life-style once their vows are exchanged?  

Finally, the riddle is solved. A social-scientist has arrived at this simple and logical explanation.  

When the bride, accompanied by her father, starts to walk slowly down the long aisle, she sees the altar at the other end and hears the choir singing a hymn.  Walking down the aisle, the conditioning process, where the brain absorbs these three stimulii – aisle, altar, hymn – begins.  She becomes mesmerized as she continually reinforces these perceptions: Aisle, altar, hymn … Aisle, altar, hymn … Aisle, altar, hymn.

And finally, as she stops beside the groom, the conditioning process is complete. She looks up at him, smiling sweetly, and keeps saying to herself… “I’ll alter him”.

Now, that’s an interesting one.


August 19, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chapter 11 … yet one more…

Over the past year or so, thanks to the global downturn, some major companies such as General Motors, Chrysler, Lehman Brothers, Nortel Networks (one of the leading sponsors of the 2012 London Olympics), and Trump Entertainment, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

With debt of US$ 1.6 billion, Reader’s Digest, publisher of the monthly magazine which claims the largest circulation in the world, has also filed for bankruptcy protection in agreement with its major lenders. The filing applies only to the U.S. businesses and excludes operations in other countries.

Readers Digest

With the spread of the internet and 24-hour television coverage, reading habits have changed, and magazines such as the Reader’s Digest will struggle to sustain circulation, readership, and, crucially, advertising revenue.

For a slightly older generation, it is sad to see an iconic brand such as the Reader’s Digest face such hard times.

It’s a tough world.

August 18, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | , , | Leave a comment

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