Bane of Our Times!
By Shoaib Hashmi

You may have been watching Wimbledon, but then you may not have been looking, so let me put the record straight for you. Venus Williams did not win the women’s title! In fact she tried every ruse in the book not to. At crucial moments, like set-points in the tie breakers, she made double-faults; she made silly unforced errors, she threw lobs into the next court and she stumbled over her own feet to miss sitting shots. In face she did everything to offer the match to Davenport on a tray - and Lindsay simply didn’t have the gumption to take it!
And to drive home the point, she’d come to the match wearing an ugly big bandage on her thigh which showed under the hem of the skirt! In fact she always does. In any case the fact that she wasn’t going to win was obvious by the second set, which is when I put my two rupee bet on Venus and signed off.
Because if I’d stayed to listen to one word more of that idiot Vijay Amritraj’s moronic commentary, I would have killed myself! For one thing he has that irritating and grating high-pitched voice. I am as tolerant as the next man, and if nature gave him it, he is welcome -- but he should have more sense than to stuff it down our offended ears on a public medium. What is more, he has nothing to say!
I think that is the bane of our times. Some man of charm and attraction makes a name for himself doing something, and it becomes a fad, and every village idiot, and former player with nothing to do wants to get on the bandwagon. Richie Benaud started it, and we have had to suffer the manure of a string of cricket commentators, and now it is Vijay’s turn.
A charm of manner, or an attractive turn of phrase are gifts, and they can be honed and perfected -- but they cannot be forced. You cannot bring excitement to an event by mugging up what you think are expressions of excitement and mouthing them when you think they might be needed -- especially in a grating voice. I am going to be vicious and say that there are few things more aggravating than a man without charm putting on a charming act!
I shouldn’t be cribbing because they have been mucking things up for me on a wide canvas, probably as a conspiracy. Sports are meant to be displays of human excellence, and above all showcases of the beauty and elegance of a well-toned human body at the height of its powers. We seem to have reached an age when the endeavor is to make everything as ugly as possible.
First in cricket they exchanged the elegance of white flannel for the clown uniforms and gutter colors of one-day cricket. Now they have got at the most flowing and graceful of sports. I don’t know if you are old enough to have seen the beauty of Pancho Gonzalez playing tennis.
I assure you it was very different from what they have made of it. A tennis match today, especially in men’s tennis is an exercise in repugnance. They come to play in ugly baggy knickers and even uglier t-shirts, with ugly headbands and wristbands, and they show off their hairy tummies, and above all it seems to have become a hallmark of fashion to come to play a Grand Slam final not having shaved for a week, and not having washed either!
Let us not stop at tennis. Have you seen one of those pop singers, or the men who show off the latest fashions? I think they take lessons, and then work at it for weeks to come on looking dirty and ugly. I would have thought it was not the rule of a game but simply good manners, if you appear in public, to be clean. I guess I am old fashioned. Okay, I’ll kill myself!



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.