If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: Virat Kohli’s Aggression is Essential to Who He Is

If a rupee was donated to the Reserve Bank of India every time someone said “Virat Kohli is such a great batsman, if only he controlled his aggression a bit…” we could bail out all the struggling public sector banks in the country. Twice.
Virat Kohli is not the best batsman in the world, across formats, despite his aggression and combativeness, he is the best because of it. Like all elite sportsmen and sportswomen at the very top, Virat Kohli hates to lose. He hates conceding even an inch, or being bullied on the pitch. The relentless and unending desire to win every single moment in the game, to dominate every ball with the bat, to stop every single run on the field, to encourage his troops every single minute on a hot day of a Test match, to constantly be performing at 100 per cent, is what makes him Virat Kohli.
With great success comes greater criticism, and this is true for all sports. From the ranting John McEnroe, to the short-tempered Wayne Rooney, and angry Serena Williams, premier athletes have always come under heavy criticism for their competitive, aggressive, and in-your-face attitude that has been an essential part of their sporting make-up and what elevated them to the highest level in their field. As fans, we wish they were perfect athletes without the aggression, forgetting that without the attitude they would’ve not come this far.
Kohli wouldn’t be half the player he is if he didn’t ecstatically send off every opposition batsman or show his disappointment at every decision gone the other way. If he is your captain, you love him to bits for how passionately he backs each of his teammates. If he is your opponent, his brash and arrogant presence makes him the perfect bête noire.
Kohli loves a challenge, a fight, a combative experience. If you give him a daunting total on a tricky wicket in an ODI game, he thrives on chasing it down just to prove all his critics wrong. If you taunt him to find a gap while batting, he will take on the challenge and pierce the field to establish his supremacy. If you try to intimidate him with bodyline bowling, he will eventually hook one for six to let you know he means business. If you try to get under his nerves by sledging him, it only charges him up further, bringing out the best in him. Ask Pat Cummins.
The aggression and determination goes far beyond his mouth, his expressions, and his provocative fingers. It is ingrained in his personality – a typical Delhi chaud, if you will. On the third day of the Perth Test on a difficult wicket, Kohli was first hit on the elbow by a Pat Cummins delivery, and then on the forearm by a searing Mitchell Starc bouncer. The physio was on the ground and play was halted for a good five minutes as visuals of Kohli’s swollen arm beamed across the world. Injury scare? From Kohli’s body language during treatment, one could almost hear him say, “How dare they try to intimidate me, I’ll show them.” Virat Kohli did what Virat Kohli does, scoring a fantastic 123 as more records tumbled.
Columnist Rohit Brijnath writes about Kohli, “Why he has a beard and tattoos is unknown because he is intimidating enough. His look is plain: Are you ready because I am.”
Actor Naseeruddin Shah recently commented on the Indian captain, saying he is the “world’s worst-behaved player”. He may be right in his assessment. But Kohli doesn’t take the field to be the world’s best-behaved player, or the world’s worst-behaved player. He goes on the field to win. And you might say what you like but the truth is, that is what it’s all about – winning. “The Gentleman’s Game” is an empty moniker that has long stopped meaning anything, with the incredible money, pressure, and stakes at play.
We either have Virat Kohli with all his hundreds and his motormouth, or we don’t have a Virat Kohli at all. I much prefer the former.
Friendly banter or sledging isn’t an excuse for horrible behaviour, which is why we have umpires, match referees, and microphones on the ground. Checks and balances exist in the system, and the ICC must come down strongly when the line is crossed. Kohli has been fined in the past, and should be heavily in the future as well, when fault has been established by those in charge. But as long as the chatter is healthy and within the rules of the game, it should be allowed to flow, as has been the case in the India-Australia series so far. Human sport should have human element to it, because without the emotions of those playing it, sport might just be a boring endeavour of athletic display by robots.
As  a fan, I will chuckle for years at gems like “Shaam tak khelenge to inki gand phat jaayegi”, as well as enjoy the majesty of the 123 scored on a challenging wicket at Perth. Let the bat, as well as the banter, do the talking, as long as it lies within the rules of the game.

Leaked! RBI Governor Urjit Patel’s Resignation Letter to the Indian Government

Dear Government,
Congratulations on the Statue of Unity, it’s a marvellous structure. While I appreciate you building a statue for one Patel, I am uncomfortable with the idea that you wanted to turn another Patel (me) into a living statue. Accuse me of overreacting, but how did you expect me to feel when so much happened in the last couple of months? The independence of the RBI was under so much threat that I had to change the subject line of my resignation mail to Preserve Bank of India.
I preferred our arguments over those long mail threads with half the office marked, but when Arun Jaitley decided to make the feud public, I had no choice but to awaken the Gir Lion inside me. On purpose, I chose a guy named Viral to issue comments on my behalf so that the message would be loud, clear, and… viral.  
I get it, this is election year and you want more money so you can roll out some schemes and campaign across the country to tell us what an awful Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was. Who doesn’t want to dole out cash just before election season? Even my neighbour’s three-year-old son wishes he could buy a new phone everyday but it’s a stupid idea and that’s why he doesn’t handle finances at home. Remember the time you thought demonetisation was the best thing since sliced bread? The brahmastra that the Indian economy needed – and you laboured that metaphor further by calling it a “surgical strike” on black money? Well, guess what? You asked for our advice and we told you it was a shitty idea but like that drunk friend who texts his ex, you went ahead anyway. How did that work out for y’all?
There’s a reason the RBI and the Finance Ministry have distinct jobs, and it’s best if you didn’t interfere in ours and we didn’t interfere in yours. Did you see what happened when Raghu Ram was asked to do comedy in Tees Maar Khan? People are still recovering in hospitals. At this point, our story feels like a retelling of A Series of Unfortunate Events. In August, you appointed S Gurumurthy, an RSS ideologue, to the RBI’s central board. First off, the only thing the RSS has in common with the finance folks at the RBI is a terrible fashion sensibility. But Gurumurthy surprised everyone when he claimed that India’s liquidity problem could be solved if the power to print currency was in the government’s hands. My economics degree from Yale University cried actual tears.
I really wished you lot could make up your minds. One day we were accused of reckless lending in the past that led to the current bad loans crisis. The next day we were accused of choking up the banking system with too many regulations. Which one is it?! Aadmi kare to kya kare?
As we speak, you are drafting new regulations to enable closer supervision of the RBI. Why don’t you take my Gmail and Windows password while you are at it, eh? You also wanted to invoke section 7 and give us direct orders, something that has never happened in the RBI’s 83-year old history. Sure, that’s what I want on my CV – to take directions from people who thought demonetisation was a great idea and get blamed for the next blunder.
I have to say, though, that I have one thing to thank you for. For the first time since the RBI started, the general public is aware of what goes on behind our closed doors. Even when Raghuram Rajan was the governor, folks would only discuss him as a thirst trap. Now, however, people ought to be discussing the India-Australia cricket series and not RBI vs Government.
I know you don’t like me, and can I just say, the feeling is mutual. You may not have respect for me and the institution I represented, but the markets and the world looked at us as an independent regulator with a strong influence on monetary policy. Now that I have quit right before a national election, congratulations on the alarm bells and the ripples that will be felt in the market. It’s like changing the captain from Virat Kohli to Rohit Sharma in the middle of the World Cup, you simply don’t do it.
Now that I have quit, I am looking forward to grabbing a drink with my mates Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Subramanian so we can do what employees usually do after quitting – bitch about their former bosses.
Yours faithfully,
Urjit Patel

Isha Ambani’s Sangeet, aka Gujarati Coachella, Has Set #WeddingGoals that No One Can Match

Is it an Apple product launch? Is it an award show? No, it’s Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal’s sangeet. This is Gujarati Coachella, the sangeet of the century, one that will set #LaganNaGoals for years to come.  
Ordinary Gujaratis have a three-hour sangeet celebration where everyone first dances to garba and then the DJ plays “Gangnam Style”, “Despacito”, and other songs from his 2016 playlist and you once again break into a garba. But not the Ambanis. For one, it’s not called a “function” (so middle-class); it’s called a pre-wedding bash. And secondly, they don’t play songs from a pen drive on a music tape like us mere mortals from Malad. They get Beyoncé to sing for them and the whole of Bollywood to dance for them.
The Ambani sangeet is nothing like what we’ve seen in recent times. The Virushka shaadi created history – this is the first time someone used an ad to announce their wedding. The DeepVeer wedding was full of drama and suspense: Will Ranveer and Deepika fight over a lehenga? And Nickyanka took the hype to the next level, with choreographed Instagram posts and Sansa Stark doing an item number. The Indian public thought they’d seen it all.
But had they?
Mukesh Ambani reportedly saw the footage from these events and said, “So cute these guys try so hard to hype it all up. Why can’t people keep it simple like I did for Anant’s fifth birthday party, where we got Messi and Ronaldo to play football for the kids.” On a scale of Diwali firecrackers, if Virushka, DeepVeer, and Nickyanka were sutli bombs, then the Ambani shaadi is like 10,000 ki ladi. It was loud, non-stop, and made at least three people go, “Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan?”
Obviously, everyone at the sangeet was either rich or famous or both (except Anil Ambani). Karan Kundra and Anusha Dandekar might be cool at the Nickyanka wedding, but there’s no place for mediocrity at the Ambani-Piramal sangeet. The last thing Mukesh Ambani wants is for a drunk Jackie Shroff to start misbehaving with former First Lady of the United States Hillary Clinton. Yes, Hillary Clinton was in the house (palace, actually), as was former Secretary of State John Kerry. How well do they know Isha Ambani? Who cares, just enjoy the carnival.
What can you do in life with hard work, determination, and a net worth of $43.1 billion? A lot. For one, you can get Salman Khan to be a background dancer to an even worse dancer in Anant Ambani. On a Shah Rukh Khan song. And in an embarrassment to Gujaratis everywhere, the GUJJU song from Kal Ho Na Ho was recreated on stage (who woulda thunk?), which led to thousands of people throwing up in Surat and Ahmedabad. Mukesh Ambani has single-handedly managed to do what no director in Bollywood has managed to do – get Shah Rukh, Salman, and Aamir to perform on one stage.
The sangeet was a Christmas miracle in itself – Abhishek Bachchan managed to “dance” (if we can call it that) for more than three seconds. Hillary Clinton finally got more than half the crowd on her side as her bhangra performance with John Kerry was cheered by all. My faith in the power of money was restored when Beyoncé, who has never toured India, agreed to perform at the sangeet and risk her credibility by following Salman and Abhishek on stage. It is amazing what you can get people to do, if only the right amount of money is on the table. India’s Richie Rich was the conductor and the whole world was dancing to his tunes.
The Ambani-Piramal duo has blown the world away, and the wedding hasn’t even begun. This was just a pre-wedding bashHow do you top this? Is the wedding going to be on Mars? Is Modi going to announce a special currency note with Ambani’s face on it? At least one thing is loud and clear: Stop trying, everyone else, India’s Royal Wedding has arrived and it has won the wedding season.

Mr Prime Minister, How About Some Kaam Ki Baat?

Dear Prime Minister Modi/ Vikas Purush/ Renaissance Man,
How do we address you? During the 2014 general elections, all you spoke about was development. Vikas was the only word you heard on the radio, TV, or the internet — so much so that my friend Vikas refused to step out of the house. Along with that word, you were omnipresent, like watching Shah Rukh Khan trying to promote Ra.One. India had been waiting for a long time, for the divisive politics of caste, class, and religion to be replaced by that of development, economics, and governance. And you had caught that pulse.
You are a master orator and the microphone brings out the best in you. When the opposition spoke of caste, you spoke of Digital India. When they mentioned religion, you spoke about how Hindus and Muslims should work together to alleviate poverty. You even went on to win the social-media game, that would later be taken to the next level by your good friend Donald bhai. The people of India awarded you with an electoral victory, as your Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan began with virtually wiping out the Congress party.
Four years on, as you’ve travelled more countries than a travel blogger and dropped a Star Wars reference at Central Park, we are now heading toward election year. You have had a couple of blips, with demonetisation and GST implementation but you’re Gujarat ka dhikro. It was the dream of the Gujarat Model that you sold us 1.3 billion people; the only Gujarat Model that has worked since Upen or Ashmit Patel.
Sadly, all the positive messaging and promise of acche din from 2014 has dissolved ahead of the 2019 polls. This has been replaced by slurs and bitter name-calling. Following political debates in the country feels no different from browsing through the comments section of a YouTube video. Everyone is an Urban Naxal, and everyone is plotting against your good office.
Last December, ahead of the Gujarat elections, everyone was suddenly obsessed with Rahul Gandhi, to the extent that the Gujarat government denied him permission for a roadshow (they denied you permission too, but who knew you had a seaplane)? Where you once spoke of infrastructure and foreign investment, last year I heard you compare Rahul Gandhi to Aurangzeb. Really, sir? A man who looks and acts like Chetan Bhagat on steroids, is akin to a dreaded dictator? In an election where education and health ought to have taken centre-stage, one of the biggest issues had been whether Rahul Gandhi is Hindu. Does it really matter whether he is Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Parsi, so long as he unites the country by making all of us laugh at him?
We have also came back to the bugbear of the Ram Mandir, the political equivalent of a tennis ball before any election. It is the Draw Four card of Indian politics, brandished every time the populace is in severe need of division. Mr Modi, we expect you to walk away from the rhetoric and focus on issues plaguing the country, such as unemployment and violence against women. Instead, the BJP seems to be more engrossed in statue politics, with a promise to build a Ram Statue bigger than the Statue of Unity.   
In the past, you didn’t let petty name-calling get in the way of your development agenda. Remember how you turned around and totally owned “chaiwallah”? But it seems no one wants to miss out on a free hit these days. Mani Shankar Aiyar offered you one and you hit it out of the park. And again. And again.
But since 2014, there is a sense of disappointment for Indians who voted you to power. 
It would be naïve on my part to suggest you’re the only guilty party. Your opponents have also been equal party to the crime. It feels like collectively, all of you are taking us for a ride that we didn’t sign up for. But you are the Prime Minister of the country, and the one people look up to. It would be only fair that you should direct the country toward intelligent debate, of the kind we deserve.
Can we please have some Kaam ki Baat now?

Why Every Indian Mom Suffers From the “Yeh Toh Ghar Pe Bana Sakte Hai” Syndrome

When one of the first McDonald’s outlets opened in Mumbai in the ’90s, there was a lot of excitement in our middle-class home. And though today we feel stupid like those guys who were excited about Google Plus, back in the day, all my sister and I wanted was to get hold of the toys – Toy Story was a rage then – and have a burger. We had no idea what it tasted like, we’d just seen Americans eating a lot of it in the movies. Fast food was a concept alien to my roti and daal-chawal-eating family and we have never set foot inside a eatery that did not have pure veg plastered outside its entrance in a tacky font.  
Taking a leap of voluntary faith into the world of cancer-causing food, we set aside an evening to have dinner at McDonald’s – the place where teenagers now go when they run out of pocket money. While I was enjoying the novelty of the Pizza McPuff (it looked more appetitising than a McAloo Tikki), all it took my mom was a bite of one fry, to call out Ronald McDonald’s people for lack of originality.
“Yeh toh hum ghar pe banate hai, wahi potato chip!”
My mom, like many desi mothers, suffers from “Yeh toh main ghar pe bana sakti hoon” syndrome. It is an attitude of outright rejection and dismissiveness rooted in desi pride, which acts as a hindrance when enjoying new experiences. If you tell mom you want to have tacos, she will compare it to papad and risotto according to her is just bland rice. Of course, this syndrome extends beyond the platter.
Whenever we go on a family vacation, there are only two things we do: sightseeing and fight over shopping. Every suggestion turns into an argument. No matter what I pick, mom has a standard response. “Yeh toh Mumbai mein bhi milta hai. Yahan sab duplicate maal hota hai.” Whether it is chappals in Kolhapur, shawls in Kashmir, or traditional pots in Rajasthan. Eventually, we don’t buy anything because you get everything in Mumbai.
At first I thought she only said that to avoid spending the money, but when you ask her, “Kahan milta hai”, she’d be ready with an answer. “Mira Road ke Monday market mein ₹50 mein,” she confidently proclaimed looking at a hat I wanted to buy at a flea market in Goa.
When we go sightseeing, my sister and I place bets about when mom’s “Yeh to hamare yahan bhi hota hai” syndrome will strike. During a family vacation to Scotland, while everyone was in awe of a castle, she told the tour guide, “We have a similar one in Maharashtra, the state we come from.” When we looked at her quizzically, she said it was just like one of Shivaji Maharaj’s many forts. No matter what part of the world we travel to, the minute she sees snow, there is a mandatory mention of Shimla.
When I was obsessing over the Potter movies, she told me about how Chota Chetan was magical. When I told her I wanted to visit Disneyland she turned around and asked, “Hamare Essel World mein kya kharabi hai?” The only thing left for mom to do is compare the Eurorail to the Mumbai local.
This ailment is especially pronounced when mothers see their children relishing street/restaurant food.   
Burger? Yeh to vada pav jaisa hi hai.
Turmeric latte? Bas fancy naam de do, hai to haldi doodh.
Franky mein hota kya hai? It is just roti sabzi.”
Sprite aur pudina mix karo, ho gaya tumhara Virgin Mojito.
Jokes apart, a lot of this has to do with the time our parents grew up in. My mother like most other moms had a modest upbringing. She did not travel much, she wasn’t exposed to the outside world the way my sister and I are. But this changed after our economy opened up in the ’90s. Like my father, people’s spending power increased. We started eating out, travelling. When this happened, our mothers felt like the familiar world that was so dear to them, was under attack by this alien way of life. So protecting this world became a defence mechanism of sorts. My mother’s reactions to most things foreign is an outcome of this.
And much as the BJP and I love her version of the Swadeshi movement, it often comes in the way of her enjoying fully, the beauty of new and different experiences. Now I’ve taken it upon myself to expose mom to new things, hoping that she’ll run out of comparisons.
With this in mind, I was really looking forward to a trip to New York with my family. But now I know how that’s going to turn out. Mum’s going to look at Lady Liberty and say, “Humare pass Statue of Unity hai!”