A to Z of the CWG

The Commonwealth Games in Delhi are finally here, and just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, here’s an A to Z guide to get you up to speed:abhinav-bindra.jpg

A is for Abhinav. India’s first and only individual Olympic gold medalist, Abhinav Bindra may shoot himself to a fifth Commonwealth Games medal and a thousand more marriage proposals.

B is for Bolt. The Jamaican sprinter named Bolt is missing from the Games, but as a safety inspector at a new bridge in Delhi said, “We’re more concerned about any other missing bolts.”

C is for Clean Up. No, not what’s been happening at the athletes’ village in Delhi, but what Indian athletes hope to do on the medal table.

D is for Delays. The Games have been plagued with delays: delayed funding, delayed construction and even delayed corruption.

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David Davidar shown the door

Many of you are familiar with David Davidar. He’s the author of the best-selling novels ‘The House of Blue Mangoes’ and ‘The Solitude of Emperors,’ and was head of Penguin India for many years, before moving to Penguin Canada in 2004, a rising star in the publishing industry. Well, Davidar left Penguin abruptly this week.

Davidar.jpg

Penguin Group vice-president Yvonne Hunter announced Tuesday that the charismatic CEO is leaving the company to return to his native India to “pursue his successful writing career and other projects.” [TOI]

At least that’s the spin the company initially tried to put on Davidar’s departure. Via Ashok Banker, I learned that Davidar had been essentially fired after Lisa Rundle, a former Penguin employee, filed a $523,000 sexual harrassment lawsuit against Penguin and Davidar.

The accusations are accompanied by quotations from several e-mail messages Mr. Davidar allegedly sent to Ms. Rundle during the period in question. Last year, he is said to have written that he “could do very little except think of [Ms. Rundle],” that she was “utterly gorgeous,” “a vision in pink sipping a champagne cocktail,” and that she should not be “stubborn” or “fight” him.

“Davidar over time became more and more intense with his persistent protestations of lust and desire for Lisa,” according to the claim, “and in return she became increasingly disturbed and afraid.”

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Are you ready for some BBB (Bhullar brothers basketball)?

Bhullars.jpg

If you love basketball and hope to see a desi player in the NBA, you might want to pay attention to the twin towers of Western Pennsylvania, also known as Sim and Tanveer Bhullar. Sim, 17, is 7-foot-4. His brother, 15, is the short one: only 7-foot-2.

The Indo-Canadian brothers, who play for Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pa., are not just tall, but also talented. 

Sim, who just completed his sophomore season, averaged about 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks. He has three-point range and is a strong passer, but he also can run the floor and finish strong with power dunks.

“You just don’t find big guys that agile,” Kiski School head coach Daryn Freedman said. “There’s nothing like him in the country right now.”

Tanveer averaged about 12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks during his freshman season. He possesses a smooth 15- to 17-foot jumper and has quick feet and soft hands, key attributes to low-post success.

They both have improved immensely at Kiski School under Freedman, a longtime college and NBA assistant who arrived at the school about a month before the Bhullars did. They have since remade their bodies, regularly working out at 5 a.m. with the Kiski wrestling coach. [Link]

Working out at 5 a.m.? These guys are serious about their basketball. Sim already has a scholarship offer from West Virginia and Duke may come calling soon. The brothers are likely to be solid college players, but will they someday be dunking over LeBron James?

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Switching it to the higher side

speak english.jpgIf you have a business and are looking for content writing services, you may want to consider Muneek Shah’s company in Gujarat. According to its website, the company “has assembled a team of the best writers from around the India.” If that isn’t impressive enough, here’s the sales pitch on the home page of the website:

Professional copywriting service is the way to feel customers confident about their business and switching it to the higher side by the words. So those who really want to stand out different and innovative among all others choose us or effective and strong web presence.

When a potential customer gone through your writing, you have just a seconds to prove you’re self by catching their attention. Though the literature has same fonts, color and style, it should be eye catchy. They should be attracted and convinced them to stay to read what you have to say. Along with the best service marketing tool is essential to target the perfect mass and capture the business.

Choosing a professional copywriting service can really make all the difference on the business world. It takes a special kind of skill and experience to create a winning writing, whether it is an online presence, articles, marketing campaign, or any other type of collateral. In fact, good copywriting is critical to the success of your business.

Here at our team, that is what we do. Our professional writers dedicated to providing you authenticated, informative and heart winning copies that will attract the potential customers. They just hypnotized the customers in favor of yours by the ornamental words. [Link]

So what are you waiting for? Switch it to the higher side.

And while you’re at it, please tell these guys that they’re spoiling it for all the Indians who communicate well in Engish and are trying to market their services worldwide, as they should. (There you go, Kerala Cookies.)

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Fast food chains keep moo-ving to India

Taco Bell recently opened its first outlet in India, selling tacos for Rs. 18 and cheesycow shaker.jpg tortillas for Rs. 20 in Bangalore, making people think they’re eating Mexican food. Like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and others, Taco Bell had to tailor its menu to Indian tastes and preferences, as Saritha Rai writes in GlobalPost.

In chili pepper-loving India, you might think that spicy Mexican food would be an easy sell. But it isn’t quite that simple and Taco Bell has made big changes from its American cousin. “It took us over two years to perfect our three Vs for India — value, vegetarian and variety,” said Bajpai. [Link]

Yeah, but what about the fourth V: vindaloo. A chili pepper-loving country needs its burrito vindaloo.

Following in the footsteps of McDonald’s, beef is off the menu in this Hindu-dominated, cow-worshipping country. Taco Bell offers chicken instead. [Link]

Upon reading this, I decided to write a letter to the president of Arby’s.

Dear Mr. Smith,

I heard that Arby’s might be interested in opening a franchise in India and thought I’d tell you a little bit about the country to help you make decisions about your menu, decor, employment, etc. India is a Hindu-loving, cow-dominated, chili pepper-worshipping country. No, wait … that isn’t quite right. It’s a chili pepper-loving, Hindu-dominated, cow-worshipping country. That means, of course, that you won’t be able to sell any roast beef sandwiches there – not a single one — but don’t worry, you’ll be able to sell billions of roast chili sandwiches.

Considering that it’s a Hindu-dominated, cow-worshipping country, it’s very important that you put a big sign outside your front door that says: ”Cows eat free.” Make sure your entrance is wide enough for customers to bring their cows with them, and your employees are waiting with garlands and incense. It’s also wise to put pictures of cows on all your signs, with no reference whatsoever to roasting them. Cow-shaped chili-pepper shakers would also be a nice touch, as would a cow-shaped manager.

Another thing: If you happen to get any employment applications from Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, please check their identity carefully. India’s growing economy has attracted people from all over the world, many of whom do not speak the local language and, even worse, have never kissed the feet of a cow.

Finally, you may want to consider changing your name slightly. Arby’s is a fine name, but if you want to score points with Indians (and a certain blogger I know), please consider the name Abhi’s.

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A Pakistani man of U.S. citizenship?

After the alleged mastermind — and I use that term loosely — of the attempted Times Squareshahzad.jpg bombing was arrested, I was intrigued to see how he’d be described in the media on first reference. Was he a Pakistani, a Pakistani-American, a Pakistani native with U.S. citizenship, an American of Pakistani descent, or an Ameristani?

Here’s an early AP story (after his U.S. citizenship was established): A Pakistani man believed to be the driver of an SUV used as a car bomb in a failed terror attack on Times Square was taken into custody late Monday by FBI agents and local police detectives while trying to leave the country, U.S. officials said. [Link]

Here’s a later AP story: Seized from a plane about to fly to the Middle East, a Pakistan-born man admitted training to make bombs at a terrorism camp in his native land before he rigged an SUV with a homemade device to explode in Times Square, authorities said Tuesday. [Link]

Here’s the Wall Street Journal: A naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Pakistan admitted to federal agents on Monday that he attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square this weekend, according to court documents filed Tuesday. [Link]

Here’s Slate: Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistan-born American citizen arrested on suspicion of being Times Square’s would-be May Day bomber, did not act alone. [Link]

Here’s Al Jazeera: An American former financial analyst has admitted attempting to detonate a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square. [Link]

Here’s the Washington Post: The arrest of a Pakistani American in connection with the failed Times Square bombing again put a spotlight on Pakistan as a global terrorist training hub, raising the prospect of intensified U.S. pressure to break up militant networks. [Link]

Here’s Newsday: Reports that American Faisal Shahzad flew to his birth country of Pakistan to train for the attempted car-bombing in Times Square highlight that nation’s long history as a haven and training ground for terrorists, experts say. [Link]

Here’s Fox News: A Pakistani man from Pakistan with strong ties to Pakistan has been arrested for the attempted car-bombing in Times Square. [Link]

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Sunil Chhetri, the Wizard from India

chhetri.jpgI don’t follow soccer closely anymore, so it came as a surprise to me when a friend sent me a link to an article about Sunil Chhetri, the first player from India to sign with an MLS team. What in desi-heaven’s going on here? The Pittsburgh Pirates sign Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, the Indianapolis Colts give John Gill a reserve spot at defensive tackle, and now 25-year-old Chhetri is making waves with the Kansas City Wizards. Someone tell the Chicago Bulls to send their scouts to India immediately. The next Jordan could be jamming and juking on a court in Jalandhar.

Sunil Chhetri was little more than a name on a list when he first popped up on Kansas City’s radar.

The Wizards, like most MLS teams, receive dozens of letters, video links and DVDs each month from players seeking a chance to play professional soccer. The Kansas City staff feels guilty about not giving everyone a chance, so they take a look.

Chhetri immediately caught their eye, even in the limited video clips they were able to obtain. Find a way to get him to the United States and we’ll give him a shot is what they told representatives from the Indian team. [Link]

So Chhetri was smuggled across the Mexican border and taken to the Wizards’ headquarters, where the receptionist was excited to see him: “I’m so glad you came. Windows 7 has been giving me fits.” Actually, he showed up at the Wizards’ training camp in Arizona and dazzled everyone with his feet. And his nose.

Blurry-fast feet. Nose for the goal. Connected with the other players on the attack almost instantly. Good instincts, able to adapt to the team’s style of play without thinking about it. Quick to get the ball ahead instead of holding it too long. Hits well with both feet, uses his entire body to strike it. Pretty good in the air at 5-foot-7.

Even better, Chhetri had a burning intensity to go with his talent.

“We learned he’s extremely competitive, has a desire to be successful and when you have that, you can get a lot out of a guy,” Wizards coach Peter Vermes said. “If someone has the talent and they don’t have the fire in the belly, so to speak, every day you’re struggling to get those guys going. This guy just gets it.” [Link]

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Tharoor bowled out

Shashi Tharoor resigned today as India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, failingtharoor_pushkar.jpg to make it to even his first anniversary. No, it wasn’t something he tweeted that was his undoing — it was something someone else tweeted.

Mr. Tharoor was on the receiving end of a Twitter attack last week from Lalit Kumar Modi, chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League. …

The seeds of the current feud were sown in March when two new IPL teams were put up for auction. One of the teams, which will be based in Kochi in Mr. Tharoor’s home state, was won by Rendezvous Sports World. The group, which includes figures from India’s real-estate and cinema sectors, agreed to pay $333 million.

Three weeks later, on April 11, Mr. Modi sent out this on Twitter: “Who are the shareholders of rendezvous. And why have they been given this 100′s of million dollar bonanza?”

He revealed the names of the group’s shareholders later that day. The list included Sunanda Pushkar, a woman frequently photographed at social events with Mr. Tharoor, who is in the middle of a divorce from his second wife. [Wall Street Journal]

The would-be third wife stood to gain greatly from the Kochi franchise — or so it appeared — which caused an uproar from opposition parties and an Internet slowdown as millions of young men entered the search term “Sunanda Pushkar pics.”

Mr. Tharoor has denied accusations that he stands to benefit financially from his links to Ms. Pushkar.

“It has been suggested that I have indirectly received personal benefits from this enterprise because the Rendezvous management team, who hold stakes in the venture, includes a close friend of mine,” said Mr. Tharoor in a statement that he tried to make in parliament Friday before he was shouted down by other parliamentarians. He gave it instead to journalists outside. [Wall Street Journal]

So what’s next for Tharoor? Will he marry Pushkar? Will he remain in parliament? Will he write more books? And will John Abraham play him when the movie about his life is made?

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Oh, the life of an Olympian

It must be nice to be an Olympian, especially if you’re one of just three athletesIndia team.jpg representing a country of a billion-plus people at the Winter Games. Shiva Keshavan, Jamyang Nangial and Tashi Lundup must feel like kings, what with the Indian sports ministry bending over backwards to give them royal treatment.

From bearing the expenses of their ceremonial clothing to daily allowances of $50 per day, the sports ministry on Tuesday said it has spent around Rs 7.4 lakh on the eight-member Indian contingent at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. [Link]

Wow, a daily allowance of $50 per day! They’ll be able to visit the prestigious French restaurant Lumière, order whatever they want on the menu — six mushroom ravioli, Fraser Valley farm duck, braised eggplant & peppers – and dash out before the bill arrives. No point in being a top athlete if you can’t make a fast exit.

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A Gill in the big bowl

Bobby Jindal wants you to root for the Saints in the Super Bowl, but here’s a reason to root for the Colts: John Singh Gill, son of Ajit and Ann Gill, is a defensive lineman for the team (via Ultrabrown). He was recently elevated toGill.jpg the active roster, so he may see some playing time. Now I know what my friend meant when he said, “I’m looking for 69 during the big game.”

If the Colts win, Gill won’t be the first desi player with a Super Bowl ring. That distinction belongs to Bobby Singh, who won a ring while on the Rams practice squad in ’99. The Fiji-born Singh is the only player to win a Super Bowl, XFL Championship and a Grey Cup. Other active desi football players include Obby Khan, a center for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Brandon Chillar, who plays linebacker for the Packers and is perhaps the best desi football player ever (Baichung Bhutia not included).

Gill, a Los Altos, Calif., native, played college ball at Northwestern and answered some questions from NUsports.com:

Q:If you could dine with anyone from any period in history, who would it be?
A: Ghandi (sic)

Q: If you could have a starring role in any film already made, which movie would you pick?
A: The Godfather

Q: What is the greatest lesson in life that you have learned?
A: Always do your best in every aspect of life

Q: Something people would be surprised to know about me is…
A: I am half Indian

Q: My ultimate SportsCenter highlight would be…
A: Returning an interception 100 yards for a touchdown

Q: The person that inspires me the most is…
A: My parents

Q: My favorite food is…
A: Italian food

Q: My favorite pre-game ritual is…
A: Eating

Q: If you were to have your friends attribute one quality to you, what would it be?
A: Loyal

He wants to dine with Gandhi and he likes Italian food? Oh, I get it now: He meant Sonia Gandhi.

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