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Last month, I crossed a major milestone in my life. Before any of you start guessing and give answers like - a major job, marriage, a long overdue vacation, a fancy car or the ideal home, my answer would be a resounding "No"!

By Ashwin Dewan - India Syndicate Jan 15, 2013 11:27AM

The landmark event in my life was...hold your breath; completing eight years as a fan of what I consider to be the best club on planet earth...critics may go to hell...one of the few things that I have ever been committed to for so long...Arsenal FC.



You heard it right.Eight years or 2921 days or 70104 hours or 4206240 minutes or still...252374400 seconds of unconditional love and undying support for Arsenal FC.


Now, to take you back to how it all started...Eight years ago, in the year 2004, I was still a teenager, when I witnessed a football match between Manchester United, a club that everyone seemed to support and Arsenal FC, a club full of unknown players (players who would later go on to form history as part of the famed 'Invincibles' squad).



It was like a scene out of David and Goliath, but then Arsenal FC played seemingly well and in fact won the match and with it my loyalty, loyalty that seems to have no value in today's wayward footballers, with the recent departure of the Dutch Robin Van Persie a 'standout' example.


A 'standout' not in terms of the player being brilliant but in the disgusting manner in which Van Persie chose to repay the club that stood by him in all these years, when he stood alone and forlorn besieged by career-threatening injuries.


After all these years of receiving his salary week in and week out by sitting on the bench because of his injury, Van Persie chose to depart for the greener pastures of another club that would offer him exorbitant sums of money. No regrets, since Van Persie never had class anyways.


Class that was omnipotent during the days of Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Pat Rice and of course, Herbert Chapman. Players for whom wearing the arsenal shirt was the greatest honour ever. Lesson for Van Persie - No one is bigger than the club, and you should thanks Arsenal for what you are today but you just proved you are a gutless cowards. Bye.




Moving on to the club that recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, seven seasons without a trophy may spell the death knell for any other English Club but not for Arsenal. Simply put: Arsenal has got too much tradition and rich history to be deterred by such minor bumps.


However, recent outings have proved to be satisfactory enough to instill faith in us...the Arsenal faithful that there is hope...hope in the way Santi Cazorla, a recent signing from the La Liga, is playing, hope in the way Lukas Podolski, the German international is paying and yet, more hope in the way, Abou Diaby is showing flashes of brilliance before injury cut his playing time short.



But it has nevertheless, been 8 years of 'magical' football of the highest standard. During this period, 7 May 2003 and 16 October 2004 to be precise, Arsenal entered the annals of football history with the famed '49 game unbeaten run' under a great, if not the greatest coach, Arsene Wenger, who has been hugely instrumental in making sure that Arsenal remains a major powerhouse, which will forever be unbroken in the Premier League. I, for one, was privileged to witness some, if not all, games of the unbeaten streak.


Games where Thierry Henry had me awestruck with his pace and finishing prowess, Viera with the imposing way he marshalled his midfield-much like Cesc Fabregas did later on before the lure of his boyhood Catalan club of FC Barcelona proved too much, and Sol Campbell standing like a rock in the defense line-a role that the current captain, Thomas Vermaelen is currently relishing.


Cut to the present scenario and my beloved club, tottering under the departure of major players and financial restraints is trying hard to end the trophy drought and the coach Arsene Wenger ''Le Professeur', every doing his best. And if the recent outings are anything to go by, this might finally prove to be the year when Arsenal takes its rightful place in the top of the Premier League.


Yours truly has tried his best to pay homage to Arsenal FC in any way within the reach of my humble budget. Homage in the form of my entire room adorned in Arsenal memorabilia...tees, jerseys, mugs, banners (with a big one gifted to me by my friend) at the centre of my humble room), mats, scarves, clocks...you name it. The first time I ever wore an Arsenal jersey that was gifted to me by my brother was one of the happiest moments of my life.




Soon that jersey and I became inseparable, I would wear it to college, wear it on my dates (even when my girl friends were fans of other clubs), I mean, when you hang around with me, don't you dare talk about other clubs lest you become endangered to my fury.....I nearly broke the TV when another 'ungrateful' wretch and a has been by the name of Adebayour ran all down the stretch to taunt us fans...A word: my dear ex-gunner, you have disappeared into oblivion while we are still here.


For me wearing the jersey transcends beyond club support, when I wear an Arsenal jersey with the club badge on it...I feel pride that although I may be a humble supporter, I am but one among the millions all over the world who are a part of this wonderful club and its rich legacy. You feel an instant connection.


Granted that we may not have won a trophy for ages now, granted that people label us the 'feeder'club, but as they say 'Form is temporary, Class is permanent', this might just be our season


After all, we are the only team that went unbeaten to earn us the sobriquet of  "The Invincibles"

 

Such is the human race, often it seems a pity that Noah... didn't miss the boat. ~Mark Twain

By Ashwin Dewan - India Syndicate Dec 23, 2012 1:25PM
Perhaps, a saying that most aptly sums up what some people are becoming day by day and more so in my country of India which is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and tradition. But, recent events that the dictionary defines as and the world knows as "rape" has got me thinking and thinking hard... Is India slowly slipping back to the dark ages.



Trust me. I am justified in saying this because when a 23 year old girl is brutalised (am not using the word "rape" here because i want to stress on the epic proportions of this horrendous act) by using the word " brutalised". How else can one react when one reads about a young girl who did nothing wrong but was raped violently by a gang of animals(calling them men would be respecting and putting them on par with us normal human beings), beaten up to the point that her intestines have to be removed..Sheer disgust and horror.

As the young and brave girl fights for her life, my thoughts just recollect other such events that have blackened the year starting from February when a woman was raped at gunpoint inside a car in Calcutta. There were widespread protests just like the protests that we are witnessing right now. The media was constantly on the case and as the protest grow louder and if I may add, more violent by each passing minute...can we blame the protestors?

Every day, we hear cases of rape from all over the country. Of girls being raped by beasts, of fathers raping their own daughters and what's more the brother...Oh!Brother...too decides to join in the act of animals and proceeds to rape his own sister. Perhaps, we are being slowly dragged to the dark ages. After all...how can u justify actions when apart from young girls being violated, the female form is being seen so much as an object of sexual gratification that can be violated anytime, anyplace that even age has ceased to matter. Case being in point...Everyday in the papers, I read of how six to even as small as three year old girls being violated...Horror and more horror.



Chemical castration, life imprisonment and death sentence are some of the words that are being used and suggested by the protestors as a form of punishment for all rapists. Do you agree? Well, I do whole heartedly but barring death sentence. I think death sentence would be too simple a punishment for this terrible atrocity called "rape" that leaves a woman scarred, both physically and mentally for life.

So, in my humble opinion, chemical castrations and life imprisonment plus a beating from other prisoners from time to time so that no man will think of committing this heinous act again.

Perhaps, the time has come for India and the incompetent government to adopt a "prevention is better than cure" policy so that every girl in India can roam freely anywhere she wants and at any time without any underlying of a deep fear, fear of being raped and becoming the latest number in a huge list of rape victims.

Hopefully, such a day will come..Hopefully...!!!


 

For the country of India, the North East exodus from across the country, and particularly from Bangalore will remain a "black mark"

By Ashwin Dewan - India Syndicate Oct 5, 2012 4:25PM
It was irony being played out at its best.

Even as female boxer Mary Kom, who hails from Manipur, a state in the north-eastern region of India, and a bronze medalist at the recently concluded London Olympics was being felicitated by the whole country, news channels were flashing images of thousands fleeing from different cities of India, with the IT hub of Bangalore being the epicentre

Rumors were flying thick and fast, even as nobody bothered to check the credibility of the rumors.  Social sites and sms’s were the medium through which people belonging mainly to the north eastern region were warned of a backlash as the aftermath of the Assam riots, in which countless Bodos and illegal Muslim immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh have lost lives.

Being a journalist myself, as I watched news being flashed all over stating the massive exodus of people from the north-east community, I could not but feel their plight. Perhaps, it could be attributed to the fact that I also hail from the north-eastern region, and would, in all probability have an in-depth knowledge about the feeling of fear and neglect that these scores of fleeing people have right now.
For the layman, the north east has always been a region of fascination and ignorance at the same time. Certain Mongoloid features shared by people within this geographical stretch have resulted in them being labeled in certain terms, which, even the rest of India would agree, border on the insulting and derogatory. For a moment, soaking in the joyous victory celebrations of not only Mary Kom but also Saina Nehwal and Gagan Narang among others, the north eastern community, perhaps, felt that they were on par with the rest of India, a feeling that has been marred, again, by the recent chains of events.

As I keenly observed the proceedings with apt attention to each details, I felt that could this all have been avoided, if corrective steps had been taken earlier. For people living in fear after being labeled foreigners in their own country, was the mass exodus the result of a situation that was on the verge of exploding.

Perhaps, banning inflammatory content on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter might have lessened the damage to some extent but I sincerely feel that this is not the right approach. This might help but for a limited period of time. Instead, the government would be doing a world of good if they recognize the root of the problem and take effective measures to make the people from this region feel that they are assured of safety in any part of the country, once they decide to venture beyond the safety of their homes and their land.


Quick to jump into the fray, prominent residents of Bangalore, namely Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Mohandas Pai and others condemned the spiraling situation, even as a visibly shaken Home Minister R Ashok literally reached the city railway station to assure the fleeing people of their safety.


But how can you instill belief in someone whose faith in the system has been already shattered a million times, fear and anxiety was splashed on the faces of these people, eager to return to their homes, people who had made this city their home, only to be reminded that they are foreigners and not Indians.

One important thing that emerged from this entire harrowing ordeal was the impact the malicious rumors could have. Arrests have been made but it would take some time before the scores who have fled can be persuaded to return once again
Here I would like to mention that, earlier this year in China, a person who spread similar rumors on the net was zeroed upon before being put behind bars in a short period of time, serving as a notice to others not to indulge in such deeds.

If only the country could act as fast, then we would not have to bear witness to such scenes again and in the process make these “forgotten” Indians realize that they are not different than the rest of India





 

After months of dilly-dallying, the writing on the wall was crisp and clear for the lady from West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee.

By Ashwin Dewan - India Syndicate Oct 4, 2012 1:57PM

Trust Mamata Banerjee to carve her own downfall


Even as she served an ultimatum to the Congress-led UPA government to rollback the highly contentious decision of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail as well as in the aviation sector, the whole of the country waited with bated breath to see how the already beleaguered government, reeling under "Coalgate" would respond, the answer was a resounding no.

 

Hardly surprising, one would say. For, even the common layman would agree that the Centre would have had enough of the trantrums of Mamata Banerjee and her stubborn approach to bringing about change or in her famous words, to bring about "Poriborton". Having held the centre to ransom a few months ago with her exasperating demands, it seems that the Centre's patience has finally run out to the point, it does not care about this ally from the state of Bengal at all.

 

As latest developments stand, clearly, left with no option, the head of the Trinamool Congress decided to withdraw support to the UPA government. The response - UPA was least bothered saying it was confident of its numbers. Another setback for Mamata di considering that, in a clear instance of tit-for-tat, Congress ministers are all but ready to quit the West Bengal government, which could potentially spell disaster for Mamata Banerjee's already fragile government, which from the initial euphoria of hope in a economically challenged state has given way to negative 'poriborton'.

 

After scripting history twice, first by ending the uninterrupted 34-year old reign of the Left in West Bengal and secondly, by becoming the first woman Chief Minister of the state, the people of Bengal thought that better days lay ahead for them. However, the 11th Chief Minister of West Bengal has done anything and everything except bring positive 'Poriborton'.

 

Sure, Mamata di's loyalists may disagree and say she has brought about lots of changes in the state. She, for all her critics, has managed to curb if not bring down completely or eliminate the Maoist movement in her state to a large extent. But if seen closely, her negatives outweigh her positives massively. After assuming power, Mamata went berserk, taking one whimsical decisions after other. Not content with painting the flyovers and lamposts of Kolkata in green (the colour of her party), a decision which she later rollbacked, causing grief to the state's treasury. It seems she will not rest until she removes all traces of the CPM's rule in her state.

 

More recently, in the past year, Mamata di has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Laying down diktats to getting journalists arrested for critisizing her, she has lost many of her faithful followers who have now begun to question her moves, which they feel is absurd and flabbergasting, at times. Sample this for instance - Earlier, this year, as Mamata di was addressing a gathering at West-Midnapore a farmer by the name of Shiladitya Chowdhery uttered the courage to simply ask as to what she was doing for the welfare of farmers and that empty promises would not be enough.

 

As the expectant crowd waited for a reply from Mamata Di, the stunned Chief Minister did what no one would have at the least, expected. She branded the farmer as a Maoist for asking this question. What on earth was the farmer thinking right? He should have known that he was talking to a person whose recent actions bordered on the edge of insanity. Although the farmer was let off later, this incident simply highlighted the ruler Mamata has gone on to become

 

When she first set out promising "Poriborton", there was a lot of hope in West Bengal, already suffering under severe economic and industrial backwardness. Little did the people know that there would be "Poriborton" but change that would make the state of Bengal fall into an endless abyss of hopelessness and despair.


Perhaps, Mamata should wake up before it is too late

 
About Ashwin Dewan
Ashwin Dewan
Ashwin Dewan

A die-hard fan of the beautiful game, Ashwin loves any and everything that has to do with football and his beloved club Arsenal FC. Football apart, he loves reading  books, watching movies, playing games on his PS and is now relishing the opportunity of writing for his own blog. Simple things  make him  happy, like the first rains of monsoon, when everything smells of fresh earth. He is enjoying the rollercoaster ride of his profession and prefers to take it a day at a time. Some fine day, he hopes to be in the stands of the Emirates stadium cheering wildly! for his team Arsenal FC.

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