Saturday, January 12, 2008

A non-cricketing sociological take on the monkey business in Sydney

Two grown men calling each other names. What is worse, instead of slugging it out right there, mentally or physically, they run to the umpires. Whats still worse, the umpires, instead of decreeing a punishment to both, right there, simply run up to their own umpire, whose behaviour often reminds me, of that of the Lok Sabha speaker (when members physically intimidate each other with chairs, microphones etc) , which one inadvertently sees on TV while surfing. He is seen to be doing something, but in reality nothing constructive happens.

There is something to be said in favour of making people hold their ears and do sit ups, make folks stand in a corner for hours, be denied lunch, and write 10,000 lines saying "I will not abuse " etc.

Someone needs to do a sociology study related to cricket.

Why do Australians sledge so much ?

Is it a defense mechanism for something, despite their acknowledged superiority in various facets of the game ?

Why does Symmonds, the only non-white member of the team smear his face day in and day out with a white sunscreen, despite having, genetically, more melanin in his skin giving him better protection, than , say, Ponting ,Gichrist, Clark et al, who don't use so much, but can still give Kareena Kapoor stiff competition in the Safedi Complexion Sweepstakes ? They say the sunscreen company sponsors him, and money is the consideration.

Does it have to do with a self perception of being "different" , caused maybe, by some childhood experience , of being different in a white world ? Does this also explain the use of bullying tactics in the field, where actually the bat and ball should suffice ? Does it explain why a friendly pat of the bat of Brett Lee's back by Harbhajan, caused ONLY Symmonds to "dutifully" rush in to interfere, despite the fact that Lee wasn't complaining ? Does Symmonds have to try to be more equal than others ?

Harbhajan may have called him a monkey or even something worse. Actually, any word would have been OK with the Australians. The purpose was to create a situation where he wouldn't play further.

They say power corrupts. Yes, it first corrupts the mind.

In any society, when someone has been at the top for a long time, and there is a perceived challenge from someone else, two things can happen. One, you do your best, stretching your physical and mental limits, then sit back and accept what happens . The other way, is to manipulate things so that your challenger is seen in a bad light, you build more on that, and achieve success by hook or by crook, mostly by crook.

What path you choose to follow depends on who is at the top. Watch the body language of Ponting and his boys, on the video visual where he tells the umpire that Clark took Ganguly's catch. The leader of the pack , his finger up, is dictating stuff; the expressions on the faces of the juniors standing behind, display their amazement at the blatant capitulation on the umpire's part in response to Ponting's so called bravado. When the man at the top is a thief, the others get lessons in stealing.

Happens all the time. In life as well as in politics, and , well, cricket.

Getting to play a test/ODI match is fine. But you are supposed to have made the grade when the entire opposition crouches around you on the pitch mouthing unprintable abuse. You learn to ignore. You also learn the abuse.

Sometimes you answer with a six-run hit, or four-letter word.

Time was when one did sports for exercise, entertainment, as an excuse for not studying, and sometimes, because you had aptitude for it. You played till you ran out of perspiration. So did your friends. There were scrapes, scraps , a bit of fisticuffs, swallowed tears and perceived insults; but ten years down the line, you always looked back fondly on those days, as you met up to have a drink with the guy who actually kicked you on your backside in the final round .

Reactions have been diverse.

The chief referee, Proctor, who accuses Harbhajan, says he knows about racism, since he hails from South Africa. That's like Musharraf saying he knows about democracy.

The ICC Chairman, Speed, would shine in another avatar as an Indian politician, as he redefines the reasons behind the removal of umpires; "they had a bad game ..." !

But the best has come from Michael Holding. He called the whole thing rubbish, and said something, that I have been wanting to say for a LONG time : that monkeys are our ancestors, everyone, regardless of color has descended from them, and calling that racial, is rubbish.

Actually, folks have a doubt whether Harbhajan said anything remotely connected with monkeys.

Some said he cursed Symmonds, in "accepted" Punjabi style, in words that had something to do with Maa.

Others are convinced that, playing his valiant knock of 63 against great odds, Harbhajan was singing a prayer he learnt in school that went "man ki shakti, Tan ki shakti, de Bhagawan...", and Symmonds, only heard the beginning. (What a pity. If Hayden had heard the whole song, he would have shaken Bhajji's hand in admiration.)

Still others claim that Harbhajan was tired and tried to psyche himself up with virtual energy, by singing "Man ki shakti, Bournevita!" as he flitted around between the stumps, and Symmonds hear the first part....

he new analysis of the rhesus monkey genome, conducted by an international consortium (Baylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston), of more than 170 scientists, reveals that humans and the monkeys share about 93 percent of their DNA. By comparison, humans and chimpanzees share about 98 to 99 percent of their DNA.

While monkeys across the world are probably disgusted with the going ons in their name, by humans who should know better, maybe its time for someone in Bollywood to make a song about chimpanzees ?

And commission Brett Lee, who is so good with his guitar, to sing it ?


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