Monday, April 12, 2010

Interview Michael Crummey

"My experience of travelling to India has been overwhelming in the positive sense of the word," says Michael Crummey, who was one of the finalists for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize. Michael Crummey's tryst with writing stated with his first collection of poems titled Arguments with Gravity. Later he turned to fiction with the short-story collection Flesh and Blood. Since then there has been no looking back for him as his first novel River Thieves was a national bestseller and was also short listed for the Giller Prize. His latest release Galore is one of the regional winners for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best Book.
Set in Newfoundland, the novel tells the tale of two families- Irish catholic and an English family across two centuries. It explores the relationship between them. Even though there is a lot of animosity between them they are forced to be bound together across generations. According to the author, there is a kind of magic realist element associated with the book. Set in Newfoundland, the novel tells the tale of two families— Irish catholic and an English family across two centuries. It explores the relationship between them. Even though there is a lot of animosity between them they are forced to be bound together across generations. According to the author, there is a kind of magic realist element associated with the book.
1. You started with poetry and then graduated towards writing fiction. What comes more naturally to you?
It’s really difficult to say what comes naturally to me. Poetry feels meditative. I can connect with my inner self through poetry. Fiction feels more like work. I feel exhausted. I need to take a break after writing for three to four hours. This might be due to the fact that fiction requires a lot of mental labour.

2. Your writing often draws on the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Any specific reasons for the same?
Obsession (laughs). I am still trying to figure out the reasons for this. There is something really fascinating about the history of Newfoundland. It has undergone an incredible transformation. The pace of change has been so rapid. Children inhabit a different kind of world from what their parents lived in. their parents lived in a world which was quite different from that of their parents. I am totally in love with the world that has disappeared and wanted to present a portrait of that through my book.

3. What kind of research was involved in the book?
A lot of research went into this book. I read a lot of folk archives and community history. I interacted with a lot of people. After talking to them I came to know about things that were just below the surface. The entire experience was magical.

4. The title of the book Galore seems intriguing. Please throw some light on the same. Galore is one of the few Irish-Gaelic words to make it into regular usage in the English language. The word mimics the crossover between the Irish and English eras which depicts the plot of the book. The word means abundance which essentially has positive connotations, whereas galore can be used either way.

5. What are the other books you are working on?
I am really lost at the moment. I went through a real hangover after finishing the book. I was depressed after finishing the book. I had created a world which had become an essential part of me. I am just starting to come out of the same.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ICC should fix the number of Tests in a year

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the man under whose leadership India have attained numero uno status in Tests, felt that the ICC should take steps to popularise the longest format of the game and proposed that every side play a minimum number of Test matches a year.
“We can play a minimum number of Test matches and one-dayers annually. Above that, if institutions like the ECB and the BCCI want to conduct more Tests, then they are welcome,”he said on the sidelines of a function here on Monday.
“It is difficult to have a specific formula as the Future Tours Programme is fixed three to five years before and we have to adhere to that. But still, in my view, we can play a fixed number of Test matches every year,” he added.
Dhoni, did not speak much on the Kotla pitch fiasco.which led to the abandonment of the fifth and final ODI between India and sri lanka on Sunday. “It was the only abandoned match that I have played which means the wicket was not so good. The ICC officials will take a decision on the pitch,”he added.
Teammate Virender Sehwag , however, refused comment on the issue. The dashing middle order batsman refuted suggestions that players were succumbing to the burden of playing too many matches. “I don’t think we are playing excessive amount of cricket. This has been the case since the last eight years. However, the number of Twenty20 matches have increased since the advent of the Indian Premier League.”
Dhoni had a word of praise for the BCCI. “It has given us the discretion to opt out of any series. Players will be rotated. If a player has minor niggles then he can sit out out and nurse them so that they don’t materialise into major injuries in the future,” Mahi added on the eve of the launch of his website. He was accompanied by his teammates Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma who also launched their portals.
The ICC is mulling over introducing day-night Tests in the next two years. Dhoni was circumspect in his views on day-night tests. “It’s difficult to predict the future of day-night Tests. It is a proactive step taken by the ICC. We will have to wait and watch for the reactions of the fans.”
Speaking about his new year resolution, Dhoni said,“Even though we have attained the No. 1 ranking in Test cricket, rankings don’t really matter for us. We are preparing for the upcoming tri-series in Bangladesh and look forward to begin the year with a win in the series. Our motive is to enjoy the game and take each match as it comes.”
Sehwag had some advice for under-fire pacer Ishant Sharma. “Every player has to go through this phase. I also lost my place in the Indian side in 2007. In my view, playing Ranji matches will help him regain form and he will surely bounce back.”
Sehwag was of the view that his website would act as an interface between him and his fans. “This will provide me with an opportunity to interact with budding cricketers from far-flung areas. I will provide them tips to improve their technique.”
Dhoni felt that this website will shatter the myths surounding the lifestyle of the players. “Our lifestyle is simple and does not have any flamboyance. The website will provide a reflection of our lives.”

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rohit Sharma was once touted as the next Sachin Tendulkar by his Deccan Chargers teammate Scott Styris, but a slew of disappointing performances by the young player led to his ouster from the India team.
Sharma however, is looking to stake his claims again, and on Thursday, stroked his way to a patient 101 against Railways in their Ranji Trophy Super League Group A match at the Karnail Singh Stadium to provide Mumbai with the vital first innings lead here on Thursday.
Sharma’s hundred came in 214 balls."The wicket was not easy to bat on as the ball was keeping really low. I just wanted to get acclimatised to the conditions and demands of the pitch and then play my game. Thankfully. my plan worked," he said later.
Sharma’s ton steadied Mumbai, who were tottering at 161/7, and helped them to a first innings lead of 97 runs. Asked whether this knock was a signal to the selectors, he said,"I don’t want to send any message to anyone. Playing on this pitch was a challenge for me and I managed to face it."
He also expressed the hope that this knock would silence the people who considered him to be a batsman suitable for the shortest format of the game.
The youngster, who claimed a hat-trick in the Indian Premier League this season against the Mumbai Indians, is focusing on improving his bowling skills in a bid to make a comeback to the national fold.
"I am taking my bowling very seriously because I want to be a good all-rounder."
Sharma has been criticised for his inability to face short pitched deliveries in the past, but he himself has a different view. "If you see the videos of our World Twenty20 matches, you will find that I didn’t get out to short-pitched deliveries. I feel that there is nothing wrong with my technique."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tania's day out

Woman Grandmaster Tania Sachdev brought smiles to the faces of a group of invited HIVpositive children in the capital, meeting them here as part of a initiative organised on the eve of Children’s Day.
Said Tania, “It is a satisfying experience to be a part of this initiative. In my view, there could not have been a better way to celebrate the occasion of Children’s Day. I convey my heartiest wishes to these kids,”
Tania rued the fact that her busy schedule did not permit her to be a part of such causes more frequently, and expressed her wish to support these kids any way she could.
Tania, who represented India in the recent Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam, is busy preparing for the National Women Chess championship, which will be held in Chennai next month. She will start training with Lev Psakhis of Israel who will be arriving in India soon.
Asked why she had opted for a foreign coach, she said, “I have an Indian coach as well but the level in coaching is an important factor. Therefore I am learning from a foreign coach.”
She revealed that the game has had an effect on her personality. “Apart from giving me a lot of exposure, the game has transformed me as a person. Moreover, I get to travel to fascinating places and interact with people from various backgrounds. This has played a key part in broadening my mental horizons.”
Tania harbours the dream to win the World Chess Championships. She admires Vishwanathan Anand but wants to follow in the footsteps of the Hungarian chess grandmaster Judit Polgar. “Playing in a world dominated by men is an uphill task but this lady has made it look so easy. I am a big fan of the amazing talent of Polgar and would like to imbibe her qualities in myself.”
She was all praise for the FIDE commission for Women’s Chess and expressed the hope that it would help bridge the disparity between men’s and women’s chess events. “There is not enough money in women’s chess. This acts as a severe deterrent for the players. In my view, the prize money at Zonal level, Intercontinental levels and World level should be increased.”
Being a Delhiite, she sounded optimistic about the Commonwealth Games which will be held next year. “In India, everything comes together at the last moment. I am sure Delhi will do a wonderful job.”
Chess takes up most of her time. but still there are some things she loves to do during her leisure hours. “Well, I watch tennis and football whenever I am free. I am a big Roger Federer fan. I really find the Roger-Nadal on field rivalry exciting.”
She was introduced to chess by her parents who wanted to channel her restless energy. Now it has become an integral part of her life and she wants to achieve many milestones.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quest for learning the secret of my success
“A woman’s life is either an asset or a liability to the society. I am proud that I became an asset,” says Dr.Kiran Bedi. The Magsaysay award winner was present at the launch of the second season of her show Aap Ki Kachehri at Hotel Claridges in the capital recently.
The first woman IPS officer is pleased with the feedback she received from the audiences for the first season. “It had a great impact on Indian as well as international audiences and this was well evident from the viewers’ response in Sydney, UAE and Toronto.”
Kiran feels that doing this show has enhanced her knowledge about intricacies of the law. “I learnt so much about the rights of Muslim women,” she adds.
Ask her about the veracity of the judgements in the show and she quips, “90 percent of the judgements have stood ground. Moreover, we never imposed our decision on anybody.”
Kiran wants Aap Ki Kachehri to metamorphose into a movement, which encompasses schools, resident welfare associations, panchayats and business houses.
“Law schools should include legal mediation as a part of curriculum. We have counselors but no legal arbitrators. These qualified people will help in the settlement of cases outside the courts” she opines.
So, what is the secret of your success? “Well, I credit my success to my quest for learning. You have to charge your mental faculties otherwise, they will be rusted.”
To say that Kiran Bedi and recognition are synonymous with each other would be no exaggeration. The achievements of this revolutionary have been translated onto celluloid by Australian filmmaker, Megan Doneman, through a documentary Yes Madam Sir. The documentary, which is doing the rounds of film festivals these days, is garnering rave reviews from all quarters.
Kiran Bedi is all praise for the fact that she gets to wear designer costumes in the show. “I hope I can keep them after the show ends,” she remarks in a lighter vein.

SC verdict shocks activists

The recent ruling by the Supreme Court has left people shocked more than surprised. The judgement, which states that ‘kicking your daughter-in-law is not an act of cruelty’, has met with strong reactions from all quarters. Nafisa Ali expressed her bewilderment at the same.
Dr. Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research and president of an organisation Women Power Connect says, “There are lakhs of women who are tortured by their in-laws. How can the Supreme Court ignore their plight is beyond my understanding.”
However, psychologist Sameer Malhotra feels that being the highest authority, the SC has to carefully examine evidences and take various facts into consideration. “I do not want to comment on the ruling but I feel that the court needs hardcore evidence to pronounce any judgement.”
Kalyany Chawla, vice president of Christian Dior is extremely angered by the judgement. “It is absolutely outrageous that a body that upholds the law and order in our country can pass this kind of statement and actually make it legal. Moreover, any kind of physical abuse is unacceptable,” she adds.
The activists want the government and the people to wake up from their deep slumber and do something against this Draconian ruling.
Ranjana Kumari expects that some enlightened lawyers will file a review petition against it. Jaya Jaitley, a former politician and an activist opines, “The government should overturn the judgement like it did in the Shah Bano case. We are living in a democracy and people need to voice their opinions. I believe that the Supreme Court judges should be hauled up in the court of public opinion.”
Kalyany remarks, “The judge who gave this judgement should be debarred from giving any such judgements in the future which are against the very grain of our culture where respect for a woman is paramount.”
Dr. Samir Malhotra feels that differences are bound to happen between two individuals and the solution to these problems lies only in communication. “In my view, if the partners take responsibility for their relationship then there will be no space for dissent,” he concludes.

The Legacy continues

Sir Don Bradman once remarked to his wife during the 1996 World Cup that this man reminded him of his times as a batsman. There is a famous anecdote in cricketing circles that the match fixers will not get on with their unscrupulous conspiracies until this man is on the crease. The bowlers who scalp his wicket value it as the priced possession of their career. While the cricket lovers worship him as a deity worthy to be placed on a pedestal, the younger players draw inspiration from his heroics. Yes, this is how Sachin has manifested various hues in the lives of myriads of people.
The master blaster recently achieved the incredible feat of scoring more than 17,000 ODI runs in international cricket. The Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Hyderabad was the witness to this milestone on the red-letter day of 5th November as Tendulkar clipped the last ball of the fifth over bowled by Ben Hilfenhaus towards square leg for three runs. Those invaluable three runs finally buried the palpable tension of millions of spectators and the atmosphere of nervousness and anxiety as the whole stadium stood up to hail the phenomenal right-hander. His innings of 175 against the Aussies was a befitting compliment to a 20-year long career, which has had its own share of ups and downs.
The grandfather of the Indian cricket team (as he is fondly called by his teammate Yuvraj Singh) shows no signs of tiring and each of his innings underlines his inherent desire to be a part of the 2011 World Cup, He has an appetite for more runs; a deep urge to play for India and it is this yearning, which inspires him to spin magic with the bat. Many of the cricketing legends feel that the day this hunger dies, it will be curtains down for this batting maestro.
Whenever he steps on the field, a collective roar of Sachin! Sachin! fills the stands. Whenever he is adjudged out, a pall of gloom and silence descends over the stadium. Such is the burden of expectations on him that anything less than a hundred from his is considered a failure. He is considered the man with the Midas touch, a man who can single-handedly reverse the fortunes of the team when it is in doldrums.
His adieu to the game will definitely be a moment of sadness for the nation where cricket is a religion and he the God. His numerous followers will surely place his name as a ledger in their hearts and the memories of his centuries will remain etched in the minds of millions of cricket lovers worldwide. But for now, the blistering career, which started with a blob is in full swing and who knows the little dynamite might make more giant leaps to amass many more runs. At this moment, the famous lines of Longfellow echo in my mind

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And in departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints that perhaps another
Sailing over life's solemn main
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother
Seeing, shall take heart again.