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Thursday, July 15, 2010

CRICKET: NYT on Cricket and Baseball

When I was President of North Texas Cricket Association, I had to go to various cities and ask for Cricket Grounds to play, thank God in two short years we increased the grounds from 6 to 16, the city of Plano giving 4 in one park to play the national games,  and we moved up from about 10 to 32 teams.
 
When I went and talked with the folks, I had to explain the game of Cricket in the simplest terms so they can understand it. One of the humorous stories is - when the British were ousted out of America, their tea got dumped and everything thing that was British got kicked out including Cricket. However, the first baseball ground was converted from a Cricket Stadium in Philadelphia. 
 
Any way, we won the MCC international recognition for the best overall cricket development in the Western Hemisphere. We had played a few tournaments from 40 over, six a side to 20 over games and I just could not introduce the Americanized version of Cricket, it is still remains to be done for Cricket to become a national game in America like soccer, rugby and other sports.
 
Mike Ghouse
 
 
 
July 14, 2010

Cricket and Baseball Find Common Ground in Show

LONDON — There was a time when the discreet men in blazers who run Lord's cricket ground in London would have considered it an abomination to equate baseball with cricket in any fashion. Yet, there it is, an exhibition behind the famed Lord's pavilion, cricket's holy of holies, celebrating the similarities — and, in case anybody thought cricket's traditionalists had run up the white flag, the differences — between cricket and baseball.

In witness of how much has changed in English attitudes toward America's national game, the exhibition is being jointly hosted by the Marylebone Cricket Club, for more than 200 years the rule maker in worldwide cricket, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Hall of Fame will host the exhibit beginning next April, representing baseball's own start on coming to terms with a game that many baseball enthusiasts have long loved to disparage.

For the English, cricket has always been the gentlemen's game — played in whites, with decorum prized as highly as the grace of a batsman's "strokes," and committees to codify "the spirit of the game," above all the principle that playing honorably is more important than winning. Baseball, by contrast, has been seen by most cricket lovers as a vulgarization of the true bat-and-ball game, which Rudyard Kipling said defined what it was to be properly English.

Baseball, in this view, was a game for stoutly built men proud to be called "sluggers," uncouth players who said things like "I'd rather be lucky than good" and chewed tobacco, and who, unlike barehanded outfielders in cricket, wore leather gloves to catch balls. Worse, there were baseball managers who kicked dirt at umpires.

For their part, most Americans have professed bewilderment at what has so enthralled the English and their former colonial subjects who took up cricket and, in many cases, learned to regularly thump their former masters. With "test matches" between the main cricket nations lasting as long as five days, and then often ending in draws, it has been an American commonplace to say that watching a cricket match is as exciting as watching the grass grow.

Against this background, the Lord's exhibition is a bid for a kind of standstill agreement, an effort to move the games beyond decades of chafing toward a new era of respect. At a time when BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill has engendered new trans-Atlantic tensions, the exhibition, titled "Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect," may carry a wider message about two countries that have traditionally combined admiration for each other with a degree of wariness and mostly good-natured disregard.

"Perhaps that's because sports are a tribal thing, and cricket and baseball have been so absorbed into the respective national psyches," said Adam Chadwick, an Oxford-educated classics scholar and curator of the Lord's museum. "On both sides of the Atlantic, we like to celebrate the 'special relationship' between our two countries, but that tends to disguise the fact that we have such fundamentally different outlooks."

The paradox is fully explored at the exhibit, and demonstrated by a collection of memorabilia from both games. The baseball bat a fading Babe Ruth used to hit the final three home runs of his career — for the Boston Braves in a game with the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 25, 1935 — is displayed alongside the modern, heftier cricket bats built to empower the "slogging" for the fences — the "boundary," in cricket terms — that is one of the baseball influences that have found their way into contemporary cricket.

Nearby, a cricket uniform from 1821 with a tight-waisted jacket of the kind used by Nelson's midshipmen at Trafalgar sits alongside a far more comfortable-looking baseball outfit worn in 1866 by LeGrand Lippett, a famous player of his time. The jersey Casey Stengel wore for a 1924 off-season tour of Europe with the New York Giants is displayed, along with the battered "Doubleday ball" discovered in an attic in 1934 that is regarded as baseball's most sacred relic.

But even as the exhibit shows how the games have evolved in parallel, it conveys the unmistakable theme that what many Americans view as their national game was originally an English sport, played by children nearly 300 years ago.

Beth Hise, a co-curator who is a Yale-educated Cleveland Indians fan living in Australia, addresses the issue head on in the text she wrote for the exhibit, calling the idea that baseball was an American game in its origins "a powerful and popular myth."

She attributes the myth to Albert G. Spalding, a prominent 19th-century baseball player and founder of the sporting goods company named for him, who declared in 1908 that baseball was an American game invented in 1839 by Abner Doubleday. In fact, the curators say, baseball — or base-ball, as it was known then — originated in England at least as early as the first decades of the 18th century, perhaps even earlier, and was taken to the United States by 19th-century immigrants.

The exhibit also makes the case that cricket, played in America from as early as 1709, was America's principal bat-and-ball game until the eve of the Civil War, with thriving cricket clubs in many major East Coast cities, including New York, Brooklyn, Newark, Boston and especially Philadelphia.

But the story traced by the exhibit, like the arc of the two games as they are played today, is as much about baseball's influence on cricket as the other way around. In recent years, as test match crowds have dwindled, the most popular forms of cricket have been the new, shorter varieties of the game, played within a single day, or, with an even more rambunctious following, the Twenty20 form that is played faster than many baseball games.

Cricket talk is now sprinkled with baseball terms — "batter" (in place of batsman), "catcher," "pinch hitter," "outfield," "switch-hitter," "strike," "curveball" and "home run derby," to cite examples overheard during a recent test match at Lord's. Some of the best cricket teams — Australia's, for one — have hired baseball coaches to improve throwing skills, one area where baseball has long had an edge.

"These days, in the shorter forms of cricket, it's all attack, attack, attack, there's no real time to defend, and that's something we've taken from baseball," said David Lloyd, one of the game's most popular television commentators.

He added: "In the end, the games have a lot in common, starting with what's basic: You go at the other team head to head, and you tell them, 'O.K., we'll both have a go, and when it's over we'll have scored one more run than you.' Simple, really."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July 4th - what does freedom mean to you?

May you feel blessed and free, happy July 4th!What does July 4th mean to you?July 4th means freedom to me and I continue to debate with myself which one of the two is most important to value to me, Freedom or Justice?Thank God for America, where we the people cherish and value the freedom endowed to us by the creator. I chose to be an American and I am blessed to be one in my heart and spirit. I have come to revere our constitution for the value it places on equality...

Now a few tid-bits about July 4th followed by the list of events that led to American independence, the declaration of independence, Bill of rights and the link to our national Anthem sourced form Library of Congress and Wikipedia.

continued: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2010/07/july-4th-what-does-freedom-mean-to-you.html

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Own Private India

I don't know what to make of the following article..... it is funny, it is critical and it highlights the change... 
 
Indeed as Indians we are taking the responsibility to be a part of the society, it is necessary that we integrate rather than assimilate. However, we need to be ready for the change, our kids, grand kids or their kids will fully assimilate into the society, our heritage becomes their history.
 
The safety and security of a society depends on integration where people of different religions, nations and races attend each others weddings, funerals, birthdays, graduations and other celebrations as normal event.  I just want to share a bit of my own personal life - my late wife Najma's funeral was attended by nearly 2200 people at the mosque, we had people from every religion, race, different orientations and others and they all came to pay respects to her. Thanks to all.
 
For most of us, this is our permanent place as we may take our last breath on this land, and those of us who will be buried, it would become our permanent address. Thank God the cemeteries in America are eternal.
 
What is your take?
 
Mike

My Own Private India

Click here to find out more!

Illustration by John Ueland for TIME

I am very much in favor of immigration everywhere in the U.S. except Edison, N.J. The mostly white suburban town I left when I graduated from high school in 1989 — the town that was called Menlo Park when Thomas Alva Edison set up shop there and was later renamed in his honor — has become home to one of the biggest Indian communities in the U.S., as familiar to people in India as how to instruct stupid Americans to reboot their Internet routers.

My town is totally unfamiliar to me. The Pizza Hut where my busboy friends stole pies for our drunken parties is now an Indian sweets shop with a completely inappropriate roof. The A&P I shoplifted from is now an Indian grocery. The multiplex where we snuck into R-rated movies now shows only Bollywood films and serves samosas. The Italian restaurant that my friends stole cash from as waiters is now Moghul, one of the most famous Indian restaurants in the country. There is an entire generation of white children in Edison who have nowhere to learn crime. (See pictures of Thomas Edison's Menlo Park.)

I never knew how a bunch of people half a world away chose a random town in New Jersey to populate. Were they from some Indian state that got made fun of by all the other Indian states and didn't want to give up that feeling? Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep numbering our parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?

I called James W. Hughes, policy-school dean at Rutgers University, who explained that Lyndon Johnson's 1965 immigration law raised immigration caps for non-European countries. LBJ apparently had some weird relationship with Asians in which he liked both inviting them over and going over to Asia to kill them.

After the law passed, when I was a kid, a few engineers and doctors from Gujarat moved to Edison because of its proximity to AT&T, good schools and reasonably priced, if slightly deteriorating, post–WW II housing. For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor.

Eventually, there were enough Indians in Edison to change the culture. At which point my townsfolk started calling the new Edisonians "dot heads." One kid I knew in high school drove down an Indian-dense street yelling for its residents to "go home to India." In retrospect, I question just how good our schools were if "dot heads" was the best racist insult we could come up with for a group of people whose gods have multiple arms and an elephant nose. (See TIME's special report "The Making of America: Thomas Edison.")

Unlike some of my friends in the 1980s, I liked a lot of things about the way my town changed: far better restaurants, friends dorky enough to play Dungeons & Dragons with me, restaurant owners who didn't card us because all white people look old. But sometime after I left, the town became a maze of charmless Indian strip malls and housing developments. Whenever I go back, I feel what people in Arizona talk about: a sense of loss and anomie and disbelief that anyone can eat food that spicy.

To figure out why it bothered me so much, I talked to a friend of mine from high school, Jun Choi, who just finished a term as mayor of Edison. Choi said that part of what I don't like about the new Edison is the reduction of wealth, which probably would have been worse without the arrival of so many Indians, many of whom, fittingly for a town called Edison, are inventors and engineers. And no place is immune to change. In the 11 years I lived in Manhattan's Chelsea district, that area transformed from a place with gangs and hookers to a place with gays and transvestite hookers to a place with artists and no hookers to a place with rich families and, I'm guessing, mistresses who live a lot like hookers. As Choi pointed out, I was a participant in at least one of those changes. We left it at that.

Unlike previous waves of immigrants, who couldn't fly home or Skype with relatives, Edison's first Indian generation didn't quickly assimilate (and give their kids Western names). But if you look at the current Facebook photos of students at my old high school, J.P. Stevens, which would be very creepy of you, you'll see that, while the population seems at least half Indian, a lot of them look like the Italian Guidos I grew up with in the 1980s: gold chains, gelled hair, unbuttoned shirts. In fact, they are called Guindians. Their assimilation is so wonderfully American that if the Statue of Liberty could shed a tear, she would. Because of the amount of cologne they wear.

See TIME's Pictures of the Week.

See the Cartoons of the Week.

Read more:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html#ixzz0sUKIa5Jj

A good story on co-existence from Punjab, India

 A good story on religious co-existence from Punjab, India

 

In the past I have posted articles about Muslims managing and maintaining Hindu temples in Bengal or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and Sikh Gurudwara near Baghdad. Hindus are managing and keeping up with Mosques including maintaining the first Mosque in India in Kerala built around 725 AD, good stories abound about people every where. Pakistan has set aside funds to restore the temples there; Malaysia punished the guys who desecrated a Hindu Temple. Good things are happening 99:1 Ratio; we just don't hear them all. How many people know about the good things you have done today?   

 

Dr. Harbans Lal, a Sikh Scholar shared the story of Sikhism, and the beauty and birth of the Sikh tradition germinating from interfaith practice. He told me that the land for the Golden Temple (Sikh's holiest shrines) was granted by a Muslim King, and the foundation stone was laid by a Muslim.... and then most of the Guru Granth Saheb was written by people from every possible faith that existed in India some five centuries ago. That reminds me of my own father who contributed towards building the Hanuman Temple in my Town and funded other temples on the occasion of festivals.

 

In the following article, Joga Singh shares this, "it was just a gesture towards restoring the collective heritage of our village" and I wish every Earthling cares about every religious sanctity, particularly of others with the same sentiments. Joga Singh, you are my hero.

 

Our media focuses on bad things giving the impression that only bad things happen, indeed they do, but statistically insignificant. Watch the Six o Clock news for the full 22 minutes, you see murder, mayhem, arson, fire, rape... that is indeed the fact of the life but only a tiny-weeny speck of the whole truth.  In Dallas Metroplex, we are nearly 4 million people, sadly less than 1/100th of 1% of people (400) are a witness and some are a victim to this tragedy.  Where as the 99.99% of the Dallasite may not even notice it - All of us go to work and get back home, go to schools and back to the nest.

 

When will our Media report Good/Bad news in the same proportion; 99:1?

 

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer and a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day and is a frequent guest on the media.  His  work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

 

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Across rural Punjab, Sikhs and Hindus are helping restore mosques destroyed during Partition
 
Punjab: mosque
Shades Of The Old Punjab
Across rural Punjab, Sikhs and Hindus are helping restore mosques destroyed during Partition
 

Brothers In Arms

  • Around 200 mosques across Punjab have been repaired, rebuilt or built from scratch with the help of Sikhs and Hindus in the last 10 years
  • Many destroyed during Partition riots are now being restored by village communities
  • In some cases, the Jamaat-e-Islami is involved, but most are unorganised village-level efforts
  • It's a reassertion, after decades, of Punjab's unique religious and cultural synthesis

***

The Ghuman family of Sarwarpur, near Ludhiana, cannot understand what the fuss is about. Ever since Sajjan Singh Ghuman, an NRI Sikh living in England, rebuilt a mosque in his native village that was damaged during Partition, the shrine, as well as his family back home, have attracted the curiosity of  outsiders. "We never imagined we would be on a Punjabi TV channel just because my elder brother rebuilt this small mosque for the poor Muslim families of our village. For him, it was just a gesture towards restoring the collective heritage of our village," says Sajjan's brother, Joga Singh, who manages the family's lands in Sarwarpur. Sure. But what Joga and his family, or even  the TV channel, do not know is that the sentiment that inspired his brother's act is being manifested in scores of villages across Punjab, with Sikhs and Hindus joining hands to either rebuild old and damaged mosques or build new ones. Odd? Perhaps. But Punjab, as admirers of its unique religious synthesis say, has always defied stereotypes to do its own thing.

That spirit comes through clearly in the actions of a group of school and college boys from 600-year-old Ajitwal village near Moga. During Partition, when Muslims fled Ajitwal, just as they fled in waves from other parts of Punjab, an ancient village mosque was vandalised. As years passed, someone encroached on its grounds and the place became a village dumping ground. A neem tree on its compound became a hang-out for the village youth. One day, a bunch of boys decided to clear the muck. Within days, the entire village—now made up of Hindus and Sikhs—joined them. Says 20-year-old Laddi: "We were never short of money or material. Anyone who passed this way would contribute in cash or kind. Someone brought five bags of cement, another donated bricks and so on...." This, when there were no permanent Muslim families left in the village. But, once repaired, the mosque began to be used. A few Muslim migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, labourers and petty tradespeople, began praying here. A maulvi from a neighbouring village now comes to conduct Friday namaaz. To the delight of 80-year-old Nachattar Kaur, who was born and brought up here, the sound of the azaan (call to prayer) is being heard again, after decades. "We have always believed in this shrine," she says. "It is a house of God. God bless these boys for restoring the oldest relic of our village."


Muezzin's call: Worshippers at the Dhuri mosque

In Malerkotla, the headquarters of the state unit of Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind), publisher and Jamaat member Ramzan Sayeed, who has also translated the Quran into Punjabi, observes, "It is only in Punjab that Sikhs and Hindus are helping to build masjids with tractors, labour and money." That this should happen at a time when Islamists are being reviled and resisted across the world makes it remarkable; and that it should be happening in a land where the soil is soaked with the blood of Partition, and stories of murder, rape and looting have been passed down the generations, renders it especially significant.

In the months after Partition, some 50,000 mosques across present-day Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were destroyed, burnt or converted into temples and gurudwaras—homes, even. Today, Muslims comprise just 1.5 per cent of Punjab's population, mostly migrant labour from UP and Bihar and some Gujjar families from Jammu and Kashmir who have settled here, in addition to small pockets of Muslims, such as those belonging to Malerkotla, who did not go to Pakistan in 1947.


Not mere mortar and bricks Students of Ajitwal village, near Moga, rebuilt the ancient masjid

However, in the last decade or so, the Jamaat has managed, with extraordinary village-level support, including money and materials, to free and revive about 120 mosques. Scores of others, like the one at Ajitwal, have been revived or rebuilt purely by villagers themselves. Jamaat president Arshad Ali told Outlook, "We consciously involve Sikhs and Hindus whenever we help build a new mosque or repair an old one; and every time, the community's response is overwhelming." He reels off the names of scores of villages where this has happened. One of them, Diwa Gandwan in Fatehgarh Sahib, has only 17 Muslim families, most of them poor labourers. Mohammed Jameel, a farm labourer who lives in the village, told Outlook, "We never imagined we could have a masjid of our own, but we do now. It would not have been possible without the help of the Sikh landlords here, who filled up the low-lying area by bringing us earth in their tractor trollies." The first brick of the mosque was laid by a Sikh priest from Fatehgarh Sahib, who also donated money.

Arshad Ali contrasts this attitude with the one that prevailed when he began working for the Jamaat in Punjab some 30 years ago: "We used to face opposition whenever we tried to assert ourselves. But all that has changed now. Our effort to construct masjids is helping foster religious brotherhood in Punjab." Hassan Mohammed, the imam of the Jama Masjid at Mandi Gobindgarh, recalls that last year, when he tried to mobilise Muslims of Jhampur village to rebuild their village mosque, they were afraid of even the suggestion. He then approached the sarpanch, a Jat Sikh, who immediately got a few boys to clear the overgrown area. Other villagers chipped in with contributions in cash and kind and, soon, what was once a crumbling ruin became a vibrant place of worship. Such stories abound in rural Punjab today.

There are no clear-cut answers for why this is happening. It helps, clearly, that Muslims are only a tiny, largely poor, community here, no threat to anyone, and that sympathy for the underdog is a distinctive Punjabi—especially Jat Sikh—trait. But that's only a partial explanation, as is the other obvious one—that this is a manifestation of collective guilt over the atrocities committed by Sikhs and Hindus against Muslims during Partition.

Guilt could be a factor, acknowledges Sikh historian and writer Prof Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, "There is no doubt," he says, "that the atrocities of Partition are a blot on the history of the Sikhs. We, as a martial race, are not supposed to attack the weak and unarmed, but it happened, and ever since then, there has been remorse." He recalls how a few years before his death, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, long-time president of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), confessed that he too had killed a Muslim during the Partition riots and felt haunted by his act. Possibly to atone for the act, Tohra constructed a mosque in his native village and laid its first brick with his own hands.

On the other hand, much of the present effort to revive mosques is coming from a generation that does not have the blood of Partition on its hands; one that has witnessed and endured, rather, the violent Sikh separatism during the '80s. That's why Pramod Kumar, director of the Chandigarh-based Institute of Development and Communications, feels this is "the collective reassertion of Punjab's unique cultural synthesis" and "an attempt to build a secular Punjabi identity, as opposed to a communal identity or religious one".

But predictably, radical Sikh scholar, Prof Gurtej Singh, takes a different line: "This is an instinctive manifestation of the Sikh's disillusionment with a Hindu-dominated Indian state that has done all it can to obliterate Sikh identity. During Partition, we were made to believe that Muslims were our enemies and we massacred them in large numbers. We have now realised that not Muslims, but Hindu-dominated parties like the BJP are the real threat to our identity." Pointing out that Sikhs and Muslims have gradually come to value each other, he relates an anecdote about Shia Muslims recently discovering how Sikhs protected one of their shrines in Samana in Punjab, and how they are returning the gesture by helping Sikhs build gurudwaras in the Gulf. He also lauds Pakistan for enacting a Sikh Marriage Act which he helped draft, whereas India is yet to do so. "These things," he says, "accumulate in the popular psyche, and manifest themselves in various ways".


Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims at the mosque site

But try telling 67-year-old Kesar Singh or 24-year-old Kamal Vohra that this is only a story of Sikh-Muslim bhaichara. Kesar, a Jat Sikh farmer from Ratia, some 15 km from Dhuri, a Hindu-dominated town in Sangrur district, and Kamal, a Hindu whose family migrated from Sialkot in Pakistan, have slogged shoulder to shoulder for days to rebuild Dhuri's lone mosque. Kesar admits to a special bond with the mosque, which he visits every week, along with 20 other Sikhs of Ratia, for Friday namaaz. "The old imam has been my friend for the last 50 years and I enjoy his liberal interpretation of the Quran," says he. But when the old mosque was demolished to make a bigger structure, it wasn't just Sikhs but the entire Hindu mohalla that helped dig the foundations. Hindus and Sikhs from nearby villages, too, contributed with hefty donations. As always, Punjab never fails to surprise.