Notes to Myself


April 2010


एक ब्रिटीश डास मला चावला…मी त्याला म्हणालो, ’चले जाव’, तो नाही गेला, मी त्याच्या पाठीत धपाटा मारला, तो मेला.

(आधी गेला असतास तर काय मेला असता! – मी)

तात्पर्य १: गुजराती माणसाचे हिंदी ब्रिटीशांना समजते, पण मराठी माणसाचे हिंदी त्यांना नाही समजत.

तात्पर्य २: कधी कधी हिंसा हा सुद्धा योग्य मार्ग असू शकतो.

~ कौस्तुभ


Indian Philmey League

IPL 3 has been exciting both on and off field. It has been said often that T-20 format would compete with Bollywood films because it is short (3 hrs), captivating and glamorous. And the predictions were more or less correct!

But what was not predicted that time was the IPL itself would become ‘philmey’ (filmy in Bollywood terms). What has unfold in last few days is nothing short of a Manmohan Desai or a Abbas-Mustan or a Ram Gopal Verma films…in fact combination of all of these (and many more)

Let’s start with the main actors and see how and where we end up:

It all started with announcement of 2 new IPL teams, life was much happening and yet smooth-sailing for Modi and Co. till then. So how did all the controversy start (or came to light..)

Nope. It was not because of the above image…

It all began of April 12 when Lalit Modi, commissioner of Indian Premier League (a domestic Cricket League which is into its 3rd season and is already a multi-billion event), tweeted about the details of Kochi team, a new franchise in IPL 4, that was sold on March 21 for Rs. 1530 crores ($310 million).  Sunanda Pushkar, close associate of Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor, owned 18% free equity of the franchise. One of the partners in the consortium was Rendezvous Sports which was given 25% free equity at no cost, of which 18% was given to Sunanda!

This set the ball rolling…and lets see events that happened thereafter:

Tharoor replied next day with tweet – I’ve had enough followed by his press-conference link on this issue.

Vivek Venugopal, a co-owner of Kochi team asked Modi to reveal team ownership structure of 8 existing teams

Shashank Manohar, President of BCCI (highest cricketing authority in India that owns IPL), rebuked Lalit Modi over his public disclosure

CEO of Kochi team publicly announced that Lalit Modi had offered them USD 50 million to sell Kochi team (apparantly Modi wanted someone else to get the franchise)

Another spokesperson of Rendezvous Sports alleged that Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujrat, along with Lalit Modi had tried to pressurise Kochi team owners to give up IPL franchise

Meanwhile Tharoor said to a news channel that question of giving up minister ship was out of question and that ‘resigning would mean giving up’

Then Shashi Tharoor met Prime Minister of India on April 18 and briefed him. The same evening he resigned. He said he ‘did not want to embarrass Government.’ The resignation was accepted with immediate effect.

(This closes one sub-plot of Philmey League…if you want  a break take it NOW!)

During all this the Income Tax department of India had taken a note of all the allegations and it began enquiring Modi on Apr 16 (Now one can guess that I-T dept on its own won’t move…unless some higher authorities direct them to!)

I-T Dept searched IPL’s office, Lalit Modi’s office and the hotel where Modi had stayed

The BCCI said it had ‘clipped wings of Lalit Modi’ and that BCCI Chief Manohar was projected to Co-chairman of IPL. And that BCCi was not happy with Modi’s way of functioning and would discuss that on Apr 26

With Tharoor gone, its BCCI vs Modi now. And the strongman Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is still backing up Modi (his last but strongest supporter)

On Apr 20 Sharad Pawar met Finance Minister and Home Minister and Pawar was told not to back Lalit Modi.

Pawar’s next statement was ‘IPL governing council would discuss and take collective decision! Rumours spread that Shashank Manohar, now the Co-chairman of IPL would take over from Lalit Modi after IPL3

As the plot stands now: Modi is in trouble…and threat is from BCCI – which is entirely controlled by Sharad Pawar!!!

Now the Philmey League script would take several twists and turns and see how:

The news was planted in media that –

  • the TV broadcaster Sony MSM that paid multi-million dollars to bag TV rights had on its board (with some stake) some Prashant Sule – who happens to be son-in-law of Sharad Pawar
  • another Sharad Pawar aide Prafull Patel, who also is Civil Aviation Minister, had helped leak the bid documents to Kochi team (helping them win the bid for the franchise)
  • and how did this happen? – Well, Prafull Patel’s secretary received the bid documents and a business plan two days prior to bids were due. Who sent these documents to Prafull Patel’ s secretary? Prafull Patel’s own daughter!!!
  • And how she got hold of these documents??? Oh…here comes the classic twist of the Philmey League script.
  • Poorna Patel, the daughter of Prafull Patel works for IPL as personal secretary of Lalit Modi!!!
Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel and his daughter Poorna Patel

Meanwhile – Kolkata, Bangalore and Jaipur franchise stood back behind Lalit Modi. Consequence??? Income Tax Dept raided offices of all three seeking details about their ownership structure, financial status and possible illegal money transfer outside India and/or tax evasion 🙂

Now it was Modi’s turn –

Modi said he would challenge the possible BCCI action against him and would move court.

At the same time another news just ‘leaked’ in the media – Prafull Patel’s (who is Civil Aviation Minister) daughter, Poorna cancelled one of the flights of domestic airline (owned by Government of India), apparently the same flight was used to charter Poorna and her celebrity friends and guests of IPL to go watch an IPL match!!!

When CEO of the airlines was asked about it, he said “there is nothing unusual in this. Many a times we have to cancel flights and many a times the flights are chartered to Army or Rescue operations or foreign guests/ delegates” 🙂

Another business house Adani, that had submitted bid for IPL franchise said that its bid papers have gone missing!!!

A former cricket captain Pataudi has came out strongly against Modi and criticized him. Pataudi’s other connection with Modi??? Well, Pataudi’s son, film star Saif Ali Khan was one of the initial bidders for franchise but lost the race eventually…I now doubt if there could be a comment/ allegation that did not have any ‘second link’

The latest in this exciting script that is unfolding every minute is –

  • Modi has dared BCCI to remove him though he would not move court
  • Another story has leaked in media about how Modi has made a fortune by making personal arrangements with the franchise and has also bought a personal Jet out of it!!!

Look forward to how this Philmey story ends – if ever it ends!

Meanwhile – a sub-plot has emerged out of this. In all this Government tapped the phone calls of many people involved. Now the opposition (out of its own fear) has questioned this phone-tapping and is trying to corner the Government…

For someone unfamiliar with India, it would be difficult to understand where things start and what they lead to. I do not know of other Sports controversies that reveal so deep-rooted connections with politicians, sports officials/ players, film stars, celebrities and businessmen – all at the same time!

~ Kaustubh

साहित्य संमेलन – मला दिसले तसे…

¶मागच्या महिन्यात पुण्यात झालेल्या ८३ व्या अखिल भारतीय मराठी साहित्य संमेलनाला जाऊन आलो तेव्हापासूनच त्याबद्दल लिहायचे होते, लिहायला सुरुवातही केली होती पण काही ना काही कारणामुळे पूर्ण करणे राहून गेले होते…

¶पुण्यात जे काही होते ते अखिल भारतीयच असते. आमच्या घराजवळ ’अखिल भारतीय शनिवार पेठ नवरात्र उत्सव मंडळ’ आहे (त्या नवरात्र मंडळाचा गणपती उत्सव धूमधडाक्यात साजरा होतो! (??) ही अजून एक गंमत). मी साहित्य संमेलनाच्या शेवटच्या दिवशी गेलो. आधीच्या २ दिवसांचे माहिती नाही पण समारोपाला अमिताभ बच्चन येणार असल्यामुळे प्रचंड गर्दी होती. मी संध्याकाळी ५:३० च्या सुमारास तिथे पोचलो.

¶पुस्तक प्रदर्शनात जाता जाता वाटेत कवि-संमेलनाच्या ठिकाणी थोडावेळ थांबलो. तिथे श्रोत्यांपेक्षा स्टेजवर कविता साजरी करायला जमलेल्या कवींची गर्दी जास्त होती. निमंत्रितांचे मुख्य कविसंमेलन आधीच होऊन गेले होते. त्यामुळे हे म्हणजे नवीन आणि होतकरु कवींना संधी (किंवा ’उपेक्षितांना संधी’) देण्यासाठी आयोजित केलेले कवीसंमेलन होते. (एवीतेवी मांडव घातलेलाच आहे, त्याचे भाडे द्यावे लागणारच…मग त्यात चार टाळकी आपली (रड)गाणी गात बसले तर बसु दे की…’ – आयोजकांचा ’आतला’ आवाज!)

¶त्यामुळे एकुणच वातावरण मंगल कार्यालयात मुख्य कार्य झाल्यावर मोठ्ठ्या सजवलेल्या खुर्च्या, टेबलं (टेबल या इंग्रजी शब्दाचे हे मराठी अनेकवचन आहे), फुलांच्या माळा इ. भोवती लहान पोरं-टोरं खेळत बसतात ना तसला प्रकार होता. त्याला काहिही नियोजन नाही, समन्वय नाही. मी आत जायचा धोका पत्करला नाही. एकटा ’रसिक’ असा बुभुक्षित कवींच्या कळपाला एकटा सामोरा कसा जाणार? तसेही कवी संभाव्य ’गिऱ्हाईक’ ओळखून त्यांना बेसावधपणे गाठण्यात पटाईत असतात. (अपवाद वकीलांचा…त्यांच्याहून पटाईत कोणीच नसते!), त्यातून हे शिकाऊ (आणि बरेचसे टाकाऊ कवी)…

¶तिथून जवळच दुसऱ्या तंबूत ’परिसंवाद’ चालला होता. (परिसंवाद ह्या विषयावर सविस्तर पुढच्या भागात लिहीणारच आहे…) विषय होता: ’सातासमुद्रापलिकडील मराठी लेखन’. भाग घेणाऱ्या (इंपोर्टेड) साहित्यिकांत ३ अमेरिकेचे होते, एक कॆनडा, एक सौदी अरेबिया आणि एक सिंगापूर! सूत्रसंचालन मात्र पुण्यातल्याच सूत्रसंचालकाकडे होते…काही झाले तरी या ना प्रकारे सगळी ’सूत्रे’ आपल्याकडे ठेवायची हे पुण्यातल्या लोकांना बरोबर जमते. बाकीच्या देशातले मराठी तिथे का नव्हते कुणास ठाऊक? बहुदा लेखक ’सातासमुद्रापलिकडील…’ असा उल्लेख असल्यामुळे (सूत्रसंचालक धरून) सातच माणसे असावीत किंवा त्यांच्याकडे बरोब्बर सातच खुर्च्या असाव्यात. असो.  दुपारी २:३०-३ ची वेळ आणि तंबूतला उकाडा यामुळे आयात केलेल्या पाहुण्याचा मेक-अप उतरायला लागला होता…पण उत्साह मात्र भक्कम होता!

¶ह्या विषयात चर्चा किंवा परिसंवाद करण्यासारखे काय होते मला कळले नाही त्यामुळे ते मुळात एका उंच स्टेजवर चढून, खुर्च्यांमधे अवघडून का बसले आहेत, आणि अत्यंत निरर्थक बडबड का करत आहेत तेच मला कळले नाही. त्यामुळे मी तिथे न रेंगाळता ग्रंथप्रदर्शनाकडे वळलो.

¶ग्रंथप्रदर्शनात ’ग्रंथ’ सोडून इतर गोष्टींचाच भरणा जास्त होता. पुण्यात तसे सतत ग्रंथप्रदर्शन चालूच असते त्यामुळे वेगळे ग्रंथदालन कशासाठी ते कळेना? खूप जास्त स्टॊल आहेत हे वैशिष्ट्य आहे असे मानले तर एक तर सगळ्या स्टॊल मधली पुस्तके बरीचशी सारखीच होती (कारण ते वेगवेगळ्या प्रकाशकांचे स्टॊल नव्हते, तर वेगवेगळ्या वितरकांचे आणि विक्रेत्यांचे स्टॊल होते, बस्स), आणि दुसरे म्हणजे इतके स्टॊल एका जागी असणे हेही काही विशेष नाही. ’अप्पा बळवंत चौक, पुणे’ इथे असे कायम स्वरूपी ग्रंथदालन आहे.

¶सर्वात महत्वाचे म्हणजे प्रत्यक्ष ’ग्रंथ’ या विषयात लोकांना जास्त रस नव्हता. एकूणच वेगवेगळ्या स्टॊलवरची गर्दी पाहिली की लगेच माझे म्हणणे पटेल.

¶सगळ्यात जास्त गर्दी अर्थातच खाण्या-पिण्याच्या ठिकाणी होती. पुण्यात कुठही गल्लीबोळात गेलात तरी प्रत्येक खाण्याची जागा धूमधडाक्यात चालत असलेली दिसेल. मग साहित्य संमेलन तरी अपवाद का असावा? साहित्यसंमेलनाला सहकुटुंब आलेले लोक जत्रा, मेळा, सर्कस किंवा नाटक/चित्रपट सारख्या करमणूकीच्या ठिकाणी गेल्या सारखे ५-१० मि. पुस्तके चाळून यथेच्छ भेळ, पाणी-पूरी, सामोसा हादडत होते!

¶सी-डॆक या संस्थेच्या स्टॊलमध्ये त्यांनी ’मराठी’ आणि ’संस्क्रुत’ फॊंटच्या सीडीज ठेवल्या होत्या. तिथली गर्दी पाहून मी लगेच ओळखले की ते सीडीज फुकट वाटत होते! जाता जात एक जोडप्याचे बोलणे कानावर पडले. ’अगं, कशाला आता सीडी? आपल्याकडे कॊम्प्युटर तरी आहे का?’ ’नसला म्हणून काय झालं? मिळतीये सीडी तर घेऊन ठेऊ ना आत्ता…अगदीच काही नाही तर पुढच्या महिन्यात ’अबक’ चा वाढदिवस आहे त्याला देऊ या सीडी भेट…’ (म्हणजे स्टॊल वर फुकट मिळणाऱ्या सीडीज घेऊन पुढच्या महिन्यातल्या वाढदिवसाच्या भेटवस्तुची सोय करायची असे किती दूरदर्शी आणि धोरणी ’साहित्य रसिक’ जमले होते!)

¶त्याखालोखाल गर्दी ज्या ठिकाणी होती तिथे वर काहीच नाव नव्हते त्यामुळे तिथे नक्की काय आहे अशी उत्सुकता वाटून तिथे गेलो. तर तिथे दोन कलावंत रेखाचित्र आणि अर्कचित्र रेखाटत होते. प्रत्येक चित्रासाठी रु. १०० /-  केवळ १०-१५ मि. खरोखच सुंदर अर्कचित्र ते बनवून देत होते…त्यामुळे ते बघायला आणि आपले चित्र काढून घ्यायला बरीच गर्दी जमली होती.

¶सगळ्यात जास्त गर्दीचे जवळपास ३-४ स्टॊल असे ’बिगर-साहित्यिक’ असल्यामुळे एखादा गर्दी असलेला ’साहित्यविषयक’ स्टॊल शोधावा म्हणून मी पुढे गेलो. शेवटी बऱ्यापैकी गर्दी असलेले असे ३-४ स्टॊल मला दिसले. ते अनुक्रमे भविष्य/हस्तरेषा वास्तुशास्त्र (वास्तुयंत्रासकट), ’तुमचे यश तुमच्या हाती, मी यशस्वी होणारच’ छाप सेल्फ-हेल्प पुस्तके, योगचिकित्सा/ आयुर्वेद विषयक, धार्मिक/ पौराणिक, पाकशास्त्र आणि झटपट ___ शिका (इंग्रजी, शेअर बाजार, संगणक इ.) छाप पुस्तकांचे स्टॊल असे होते.

¶थोडी फार गर्दी भाषांतरीत/ रुपांतरीत पुस्तकांसाठी किंवा वादग्रस्त पुस्तकांसाठी होती.

तुरळक गर्दी ’नेहेमीचे यशस्वी लेखक/कवी’ (पुल, वपु, संदीप खरे इ.) यांच्या पुस्तकांभोवती होती.

¶मधे एके ठिकाणी एक सुंदर तरुणी सुंदर आवाजात ’पर्यावरण आणि प्रदूषण’ या विषयावर (किंवा तसेच काही तरी असेल) अतिशय चुकीची माहिती देऊन जनजाग्रुती करत होती, तरीही तिने काही लोकांना (त्यांच्या बायका तिथे येईपर्यंत…) चांगलेच ’खिळवून’ ठेवले होते!

¶बहुतेक लोक अमिताभच्या समारोप समारंभातल्या भाषणासाठी रेंगाळत (तेच तेच पान परत परत वाचत) उभे होते…अचानक लाऊडस्पीकरवर ’आता मी अमिताभ यांना त्यांचे मनोगत व्यक्त करायची विनण्ती करतो’…असे ऐकू आले…आणि फायर आलार्म वाजावा किंवा भूकंप व्हावा तसे सगळे ’रसिक वाचक’ हाततली पुस्तके टाकून अमिताभला बघायला आणि त्याचे (हिंदीमधले) मनोगत ऐकायला पळाले.

¶एकूणच स्वरूप फारच उत्सवी होते…वर्षातले ३ दिवस मिरवणाऱ्या आणि नंतर एकही पुस्तक न वाचणाऱ्या गर्दीबरोबर मी तिथे जाणे ही माझी चूक आहे का ’साहित्य रसिक’ आणि ’संमेलन’ यांच्याकडून काही वेगळे, भरीव घडण्याची अपेक्षा करणे ही माझी चूक तेच मला समजले नाही…तेवढ्यात मला मित्राचा फोन आला – ’अरे आयपीएल मधे मुंबई इंडियन जिंकणार! हरभजन तुफान मारतोय…’

¶करमणूकच करुन घेणे हाच एक हेतू असेल तर अमिताभच्या नाटकी, खोट्या बडबडीपेक्षा (’कसं काय पुणे’ म्हणून पुढे हिंदी भाषण, हिंदी कविता…मराठी साहित्य संमेलनात…आणि अध्यक्षांपासून सगळे माना डोलावणार) मला ’लाईव्ह ऎक्शन’ वाले टी-२० जास्त आवडते…म्हणून मी लगेच घरी परतलो!

¶हे झाले सो-कॊल्ड ’रसिक वाचक’ यांच्या बाबतीतले निरीक्षण…संयोजक/ लेखक आणि एकूणच ’संमेलन’ यां बद्दलचे मत पुढच्या भागात…लवकरच…¶

~ कौस्तुभ

Or else…

Last week a VP of our company visited us and spent some time with us – there was typical Motivational Speech by him which was followed by Q&A…I call it DQ&DA i.e. Dumb Questions and Diplomatic Answers J

The VP said ‘Feel free to ask any question…do not hesitate, you can ask any dumb questions…’ and few people took the ‘dumb questions’ part very seriously! They asked really silly and dumb questions – but that is not what I want to talk about here…

The motivational speeches are mostly the stereotype – with typical management jargon…I am yet to come across a senior exec that talks for 5 min. and does not utter any of the following buzz words even once – synergy, collaboration, leverage (If the exec is from Infosys he has to use this word at least 3 times!!! Or else he is not a true Infoscion), traction (this is a new buzz word which itself has seen a lot of traction in recent past – the old fashioned execs still prefer momentum), end-to-end solution (just solution would also do, but would suggest that you are still a novice…the solution must always be end-to-end), holistic approach, value addition and…oh yes, value chain!!!

But there was something else said by the VP that caught my attention…

He was answering a question related to giving more opportunities/ responsibilities…and he said, “Nobody will give you opportunities/ responsibilities, you have to ask for those…demand, seize! If you come forward I assure you that organization will give you an opportunity…but come with a healthy and positive attitude. Say ‘I want to do this or I want this responsibility…’ Don’t say ‘I want this…or else…’ This type of ‘…or else…’ attitude is bad, we would not cater to it”

This was what got me thinking…the bit about ‘…Or else’ attitude. And then I started thinking about my experiences – occasions when I had asked for some responsibilities and how?

When I had asked for some opportunity/ responsibility with the so-called healthy and positive attitude (as defined by the VP), it was dealt with diplomacy and sugar-coated reply – and I did not get what I wanted.

When I had asked for some opportunity/ responsibility with the ‘…or else’ attitude, it led to arguments and altercations – and I did not get what I wanted.

So when did I get what I wanted?

When the ‘…or else’ was still part of the message but it was not explicit, it was subtle, hidden sometimes!

I feel that all this motivational talk about ‘you standing up for what you want and then getting an opportunity from the management’ is good to talk – but it works rarely in practice, and almost never when you are towards bottom of pyramid. I have seen and experienced that when there is any new opportunity – say a new client/ account, foray into different geography, new product/ service launch etc. – the top leadership is always handpicked. So you would often find Head of Asia-Pacific (after or because of having established his credentials there) being moved as the new Regional Head of Europe or Africa market. That has to be done at such key positions.

But suppose the new market requires 500 people across the hierarchy, right till bottom, barring top 10-15 people who would be handpicked, how the rest of the team is formed? It is practically impossible to choose the rest.

One might think that some selection criteria would decide who joins that team; that the appraisal data and/or feedback about performance would be a deciding factor. Again no, not always.  For two reasons – there is hardly so much time to do this for the rest of 480-490 people and more importantly, not all good people can be moved to this new engagement leaving the existing engagements void of good people. There has to be a balance of good and not-so-good people in existing engagements as well as any new opportunities.

So in a nutshell, what this means is, your performance/ keenness to prove your abilities may give you new opportunities – but not always. Similarly you being average to below average performed would not stop you from being assigned to new opportunities. So availability and suitability also plays a major role!

I think this is what is considered as ‘being fortunate/ lucky’ or ‘being at the right place at the right time’…

What I am trying to say is:

  1. It is possible, to some  extent to influence the opportunities that come your way, create a growth path for your self
  2. It is also possible to be just lucky and being at right place at right time
  3. But more importantly – being aware of both these routes to reach a destination and knowing which category you belong to (not forever but for a given case/ opportunity)

I have seen people boast about ‘they seizing opportunities, carving a niche and hence growing tremendously’ and also people who think that they were ‘just luck to get opportunities and thus grow’

More often both views are without knowing the points I mentioned above – so they only have unilateral view/ perceptions.

What I feel is important is to be aware of when you brought about your career growth and when it just happened to you – and both are likely and equally legitimate ways, not one is superior that the other.

Also the ‘…or else…’ part the VP scoffed at is also not the bad attitude always!

At times you surely do need to assert that you want growth and you are capable of achieving it on your own (meaning ‘…or else…’) part, but you still want to get that opportunity from your current work. To me, it is not a bargain; it is just saying that ‘…I am damn serious about my career growth, so if I do not get any here I would have no option but to think about other ways to grow. I cannot wait for my starts to align and lightening to strike before you give me opportunity to grow. I will wait for some time but not all the time!’ – which is also a positive and healthy attitude!

A nice light-humorous article on Sania-Shoaib wedding controversy

Beware a Comedy of Mirrors

Byline by M J Akbar: Beware a Comedy of Mirrors

sania-shoaib wedding controversy

A comedy of errors is a minor fracas. We have all been there. But beware the comedy of mirrors, when you don’t get what you see — or, worse, you don’t see what you get.

Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik have known “true love”, or one of its many transitory manifestations, before, otherwise the first would not have got engaged and the second would not have got married earlier. There is another lady in Hyderabad, Ayesha, who is displaying a nikahnama as proof of an earlier Malik marriage. The Malik family is careful in its response, describing the document as invalid rather than a forgery. But they are safe, since there is no legal hitch to the Shoaib-Sania wedding: Muslim men can marry four times in Pakistan (or, indeed, in India). Sania recently celebrated her engagement to a childhood friend who turned out, on closer inspection, to be maritally challenged.

Shakespeare took care, when writing Romeo and Juliet, to make them about 15 years of age, in the middle of their teens. You have to be gloriously naïve to die for love. Adults live for love, and hope for sustainable compatibility in marriage. It is ironic that the term “Romeo” has acquired connotations of promiscuity when the actual chap was the very model of high romance and fidelity.

Shoaib is 30, and certainly not a Shakespearean Romeo, either in age or temperament. At 30 the original Romeo would have had a son looking around for his own Juliet. Sania has surely factored in the possibility that her soon-to-be-husband might have been a modern rather than an old-fashioned Romeo. But that is a meaningless quibble. She is perfectly aware of the implications of her decision, including the fact that she is marrying a Pakistani. She has every right to make a personal choice that transcends nationality, but she must indulge in the luxury of illusions.

There are other issues, etched in the sexual subconscious of the subcontinent, some of which can barely be mentioned in print but resonate through a mass psychology created by subsets of false arrogance. Signals will be read into television images once the drama is given its visuals.

Sania and Shoaib are stellar magnets for the media, and their marriage will be a public event with repercussions and interpretations beyond their mutual relationship. Pakistani tennis authorities have already made a claim on her; although we have not been told whether Pakistan’s morality monitors have endorsed the short skirts and T-shirts Sania wears on tennis courts. Her mother-in-law, apparently, has already said that such sartorial minimalism is not her preferred taste. India has no problems with skirts, but it might have one with such mothers-in-law.

Love is about wives and husbands; marriage is about mothers-in-law. Fed with the adrenalin of illusion, it is easy to rush in where angels dare to tread. In your happy delirium you do not notice that the honeymoon has been named after a moon, and a moon wanes after it waxes — and if you are not careful, disappears behind a cloud. Sania’s first serious lunar probe should be to find out whether she has become a wife or a trophy wife. This would apply on both the individual and collective level.

Shoaib Malik’s track record is not very encouraging, if his “alleged” first wife Ayesha is to be believed. It was a marriage, apparently, made in a telephone bhavan, since the nikah was solemnised over long-distance phone on 3 June 2002. Ayesha’s photographs in which she seemed slim, it seems, entranced Shoaib. According to Ayesha, she was dumped when he discovered that she was fat. Shoaib contests this. But it would be unusual for a conventional Indian woman to invent a high-profile accusation of such a sensitive nature. In any case, the relevant point for Sania is not the weight of an allegation that may or may not be true, but the weight of the reason. If Ayesha’s problem was the difference between pose and adipose, I hope, for her sake, that Sania is immune to rising fat levels in her body.

Equally, for her sake, I hope Sania has not become a trophy wife for her husband’s country.

Sania still believes that she can continue to be a citizen of India. This is correct in theory; the practice might be another story. India and Pakistan do not permit dual citizenship. Pakistan law demands that if a citizen’s spouse wants to live in the country, he or she must become a Pakistani citizen. A subcontinent mother-in-law might wonder why her son’s wife can only meet her with permission from the Government. And Sania would need a separate passport booklet only for Pak visas. For the couple, Dubai will be a residence, not a home. Sania and Shoaib are sports professionals. Their flutter with the limelight is lucrative, but brief. Their children will need a nationality, and, unless they shift to London or America, they will be Pakistani. Sania is welcome to whatever future she has fashioned for herself, but she should not fool herself into believing that she can marry a Pakistani and retain the rights and privileges of an Indian. On 11 April Sania Mirza will acquire the right to become a citizen of Pakistan, with its mother-in-law’s dress codes. She should grasp the opportunity. Why the reluctance?


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