ICF: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
maniac: I grew up in Mumbai. My family is originally from Andhra but due to my father's central government job we always lived outside of our home state.
My Grandfather and Great Grandfather were both Telugu and Sanskrit scholars/poets, so my parents made sure that I at least knew how to read and write basic Telugu.
A lot of my close/immediate family members are in the Army and Air Force and that was my only other dream apart from becoming a cricketer. I realized very early it could never be fulfilled because of my asthma problem.
I would say academically I was an above average student. Just scored enough to stay out of trouble and out of the firing line and at the same time did not raise too many expectations with my grades either . My parents were never pushy and supported me in whatever I wanted to do.
I did my MBA. I ended up getting a campus recruitment in an analytical role by chance due to my finance background and a decent amount of competency shown in Math/Stats in college.
I was not a tech guy originally. Over the years those analytical roles morphed into more tech-oriented roles and I got lucky getting a head start being in the right place at the right time and saw data analytics domain grow into this whole industry onto itself .
As I said above apart from Defense services, I never had big dreams or ambition apart from wanting to be a cricketer. Unlike with Army, I was dumb not to realize sooner that was never going to happen. All I have left from that is my face and limbs look like they are surgically attached to the rest of my body due to all the tan playing cricket the whole day in punishing summers in Azad and Oval maidan.
I would say I am an overachiever, so maybe that keeps me grounded (at least I personally feel that way) and makes me grateful for everything I have in life.
ICF: When did you move overseas, do you have plans of coming back to India permanently one day? Can you see yourself retiring in India?
maniac: There are various stages most NRIs go through.
Stage 0: When you see your friends and cousins go abroad, in your heart you feel you have very less odds in comparison, and you are like, "whatta sellout this guy!". I am going to stay in India and single-handedly lead India to its old glory.
Stage 1: You sense a window of opportunity, you are excited but you downplay it because you don't want to jinx it. You secretly visit the famous Visa Balaji temple in Hyderabad. You think to yourself I am going to move to USA temporarily, save a lot of $$$ and then come back to India and fulfill the prophecy of restoring India's old glory.
Stage 2: I am in Amreeka babyeh! bring on Las Vegas, Times Square, White House, Hollywood, Disneyland etc.
Stage 3: Once the excitement settles in, you dream every night of still being in India and then suddenly wake up middle of the night and see the carpeted floor in your apartment and go back to sleep dejected.
Stage 4: You make your first trip to India, you want to show off and boast to your friends and family about your conquests but soon realize no one cares. Your 3 week vacation involves maybe 2-3 interactions with your friends spread over the 3 weekends of your vacation. One weekend reserved for extended family gathering. Towards the end of your trip, you just can't wait to get back to your life but the ambition to change India is still alive.
Stage 5: You get married, you have kids, you try to enforce some values on your kids but they are just following your lead out of obligation, they absolutely don't care about India or Indian culture and soon will not even care about the obligation if you push them too hard. You eventually realize that apart from maybe your parents or sibling there is nothing else in India that you care about. You see cringe WhatsApp and Facebook posts from your extended family and old friends and thank your stars that you can communicate and ignore them at your own convenience with no strings or obligation attached.
Stage 6: Then come the Green Card, Citizenship and before you go through the rat race with all your responsibilities and add to that the relationships/friendships you build over the years where you live, you have an epiphany and realize that moving back to India is going to accomplish nothing and has no value because everyone you care about the most are with you in the USA.
You can put me somewhere between Stage 5 and Stage 6 which means I have given up on the idea to play the modern Chanakya.
ICF: How often do you travel to India, do you want to increase the frequency of your visits once Covid-19 crisis is over? When was the last time you visited India and what do you miss the most about USA when you're here?
maniac: My parents are both 70+. They cannot travel long distances as it takes a huge toll on them. The flight journey from US is anywhere between 16-24 hrs which is not easy on anyone leave alone senior citizens.
I have made it a point to travel to India every year. In fact towards the end of 2018, I took a 5 month break from work to spend time with them .
When I am in India 9/10 times, it's for some kind of a family gathering/vacation. So just like any vacation, you do get a fatigue and want to eventually get back to your routine life, your work, your spouse's work, your kid's school, your bills, your responsibilities etc etc.
ICF: How did you come across ICF? What is the inspiration for your username? Popular query, how are maniac and Global.Baba related?
maniac: Maniac and Global.Baba have the same relation as Aatma and Param.Aatma (Didn't forget the dot).
I hear a lot of members saying they discovered ICF through PakPassion. It was the opposite for me. I have always been an ICF original .
I might have come across ICF through a random google search looking for some cricket news. I don't even remember to be honest, it has seriously been that long, if you take my active tenure here + the time I spent just as a lurker/guest on here before that.
When you say username, can you be more specific on which one ? Maniac is just a random username without much thought put into it. The origin of that name is so lame that I won't even get into that.
ICF: Who is the best ever cricketer according to you?
maniac: Best cricketer ever according to me is Sachin.
Forget the stats, the debates, the arguments and counter-arguments. When a player becomes synonymous with cricket itself, you can't get a bigger cricketer than that.
ICF: Most underrated cricketer according to you? Most overrated?
maniac: Most underrated cricketer (India):
Anil Kumble. No one denies Kumble is a legend but to me he should be put on the same pedestal as Sachin, Kapil and Sunny and not in the next tier.
Most underrated cricketer (World):
Ross Taylor, self-explanatory. Honorable mention: Andy Flower. I wanted to stick to 1 but this was a very close contest.
Most overrated cricketer (India):
The entire current Indian team/squad. Individually some great players though.
2 questions back to ICF.
1. Despite being portrayed as the greatest Indian team ever and drawing comparisons with Aus and WI teams of the past, what exactly have we accomplished apart from that test series win in Aus?
2.What has this team accomplished which previous era Indian teams haven't?
80s- WC, World Series, series win in Eng.
2000s- WC, WC final, CT, Test no.1 ranking, WT20, series wins in Eng, WI, NZ, Pak. Away series draws against ATG Aus and SA teams.
How does this team hold a candle to any of those sides?
Most overrated cricketer (World):
Andrew Flintoff. Very good cricketer, probably has good-great stats, match-winner on his day but despite not having significant accomplishments other than maybe that Ashes win, the English media portrays him in the same vein as Sobers, Kallis etc.
ICF: Who is the biggest waste of talent in cricket?
maniac: Irfan Pathan- One of the most gifted cricketers in terms of skill and talent. I will admit I was somewhat hopeful for a miraculous comeback till the day before he officially announced his retirement (obviously with diminishing returns every year). Could have been so much more but never found the next gear. I seriously thought him and Dhoni would become the 2 pillars of Indian cricket like Sunny-Kapil but what a wasted talent.
Andrew Symonds- This guy had legit talent to be an ATG in all 3 formats. I am sure he still has decent numbers but could have easily been so much more.
Hansie Cronje- What a shame that no one mentions his name when they talk about great captains.
Other honorable/dishonorable mentions: Vinod Kambli, Mohammad Asif
I am sure there were a lot of SA players during apartheid or even some WI and Aus players who might have found it tough to break through the ranks but these guys stand out for me because I followed their careers start to finish.
ICF: Among rookie cricketers around the world are there some names that have caught your attention? Using your powers of prophecy shed light on some special talents coming up in Indian cricket.
maniac: Shubman Gill- This kid would have already played 10-15 tests and 40 ODIs if he were from any other country. He needs to be in the team as of day before yesterday.
Washington Sundar- The kid is a decent bat. His 2nd skill is good enough to keep him in the side. When I saw him first at 19 years of age, the way he was absorbing pressure with the ball was superb. He is going to be my high risk pick. Mental strength is half the battle and it seems so far that he has strong nerves. Needs to improve his fielding though.
Navdeep Saini- Time is ticking. He is going to hit peak in a year or 2 and we need to use him as much as possible to get him the experience. Very exciting bowler and doesn't seem to be a one-dimensional cricketer.
Shreyas Iyer- Future captain. That rare occasion when BCCI or anyone involved in team management has made the right investment to groom a future captain. Usually they go with the biggest name for captaincy. This is a great move and a right move. He has all the tools and required acumen.
I am not going to mention U-19 cricketers yet because the transition from junior to senior is a massive leap.
World cricket, I am going through a cricket withdrawal. Look out for upcoming threads once cricket season starts .
ICF: Name the cricketers who have proved you wrong over the years?
maniac: Cheteshwar Pujara, I always thought of him as a home track bully who won't do jack overseas but he has evolved into our most dependable batsman in test cricket.
Ravindra Jadeja the test cricketer. His incredible success as a test bowler is something that I will never understand. So please don't even try to explain it to me. Let it just be one of those fascinating cricket mysteries.
ICF: Phase or decade when you enjoyed cricket most and why?
maniac: Biased towards 90s cricket because I guess everyone is a fan of the era that shaped up their formative years. Even though most of mine and other Indian cricket fans' most memorable moments have happened from 2001 onwards I will stick with 90s.
ICF: Rule(s) that you would like to change in cricket?
maniac: Draw Match- About time to eliminate the concept of draws from test cricket. I know a team trying to save a game adds to the beauty of test cricket but how many highlights of great test match draws do we watch on YouTube? No result after full 5 days has no place in the year 2020 in any sport.
Use of Technology- If you have the technology to remove manual errors or at least significantly reduce them and still adamant not to use it, that is stupidity of the highest order in my book.
Weather Interference- I can understand if it is an extreme weather condition or there was/is a natural disaster but cancelling matches for a 20 min drizzle is unacceptable. More state of the art stadiums or some work around like a re-schedule or something has to be put in place. This has gone on for too long.
Apart from that, ICC changes rules every 2-3 months, so my new rule would be for ICC to not change any more rules unless it is extremely necessary like due to the current Covid situation.
ICF: Who is the greater ODI batsman, Sachin Tendulkar or Rohit Sharma?
maniac: Sachin Tendulkar
ICF: What is your favorite Rohit Sharma knock in each of the formats?
maniac: ODI- 140 vs Pakistan, 2019 WC
T20- 50 vs South Africa, 2007 WT20
Test- 72 vs New Zealand, Auckland
IPL- When he hit the 4 6s vs Mashrafe Mortaza in the last over to win the game in the 2nd edition which Hyderabad won.
ICF: Which of the ICC tournament losses since 2014 hurt you the most? What does India need to do to overcome the hurdle in ICC KOs and break the trophy drought?
maniac: 2017 CT followed by 2014 WT20 final. In fact I wasn't even hyped up for the finals because I thought we already have it in the bag. Sports for sure is a great leveller.
Simple the better team on that day wins. We need to bring our A game. You can't play a knockout in cruise mode.
In 1983 the guys brought the fight to WI, in 2007 WT20 and 2011 WC even though we were better than the other finalists they brought the fight which made those games exciting.
2017 Pak team was absolutely inspired and motivated, same goes for NZ in 2019 or WI in 2016 or SL in 2014. They brought the fight and we were blown away, it's that simple. There is no foolproof solution to this problem. In a knockout it just becomes about who wants it more.
ICF: Do you think Kohli should step down if he fails to win the next ICC tournament?
maniac: I personally don't think Kohli should have been the LOI captain after the 2019 WC failure. Since that boat has already sailed, next WT20 should be his last chance. He is on 2 strikes already with CT and WC.
ICF: Tests, ODIs, T20Is, IPL - rank them in order of preference.
maniac: Bilaterals don't mean anything anymore apart from the Ashes. Here is my detailed preference:
2. SENA tests
4. Tests against the top 2-3 sides at home
6. CT/ any big multinational tournament like Titan Cup or Benson and Hedges back in the 80s/90s or even the Nidahas trophy was unexpectedly fun
7. Asia Cup
8. Remaining overseas tests and tests at home
9. Bilateral ODIs
10. Bilateral T20Is
ICF: Could you list your top 5 favorite tests featuring India?
maniac: India vs Pakistan Multan 2004
India vs Australia Kolkata 2001
India vs Australia Perth 2008
India vs South Africa Durban 2010
India vs South Africa Johannesburg 2008
Hon'ble mentions- vs Pak Chennai 1999 , vs Aus Mohali 2008, vs Aus Adelaide 2003, vs Eng Chennai 2008, vs SL 1997 (the 900 scorecard game, motivated me to give up watching test cricket for a while), vs WI Chennai 1988 (Hirwani 16 wickets game, earliest memories of cricket), vs SA Cape Town 1997 (that Sachin-Azhar partnership).
More than Australia which was vulnerable at times despite being one of the greatest teams ever to play cricket, for my generation beating SA in SA in tests always seemed to be a bigger uphill battle. So biased towards tests featuring SA.
ICF: Do you dislike Dhoni and/or Hardik? If so what was the tipping point?
maniac: I do not hate or for the matter of fact dislike either of them. Hardik Pandya is an incredible athlete and a genuine talent. However I don't think Pandya belongs in tests but he will be my first pick in LOIs. Do I seriously have to explain why one finds Pandya irritating?
I admire Dhoni the cricketer. A small town boy with no Godfather becoming the King of Indian Cricket, I can't think of too many bigger success stories in India than Dhoni. I guess the timing of this statement couldn't be more relevant given what happened recently with Sushant Rajput (ironically the man most famous for playing Dhoni on screen).
However I hate Dhoni the brand. For Brand Dhoni I have no problems even using the word hate here. The contradiction is I think Dhoni's story is an inspiration to Indians, Dhoni's service to Indian cricket will never be forgotten but 'Brand Dhoni' is a menace to Indian cricket.
ICF: What made you back Ishant Sharma when he was the butt of jokes on this forum?
maniac: I believed in the talents of both Ishant and Rohit right from the start. You can call it admiration at first sight. I knew they had a dip in performance few years in but I genuinely believed in their talent.
Sure, I had some fun with it because some fans were so frustrated with them that at some point the disappointment turned to hate (all in good spirits). At times I thought there was irrational criticism of them than constructive criticism, so I just rolled with it and had some fun or as people call it these days trolling .
ICF: Should the IPL be expanded to 6 months?
maniac: No. We can't eat Ice cream/Cake everyday. Can we?
ICF: What do you think is the reason that our test batsmen aren't scoring enough 100s overseas?
maniac: I didn't know that frequency of 100s in SENA has gone down by that much to be honest. Vijay, Kohli, Rahane, Pujara, Rahul and even Pant all have multiple 100s in SENA countries. I do agree that there aren't too many match-winning 100s or memorable innings anymore like we used to see from SRT, Sehwag, VVS, Dravid and Dada in the past but not sure if there is such a significant difference if we compare the sheer volume of 100s. Don't have stats in front of me so not sure on that. Only reason I can think of if this analysis is true is the S/R of modern players and attacking mindset in the T20 generation might have taken away the grit and patience to play long innings.
ICF: Rate these 3 Indian fast bowlers in tests? Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Jasprit Bumrah.
maniac: I will rank them in the following order:
Srinath and Zak took tons of wickets on fruitless surfaces while Bumrah is still unproven in SC conditions.
In terms of support, you can't compare the bowling unit at Srinath's disposal vs Bumrah and to some extent even Zak.
Bumrah is still an exciting prospect and has a long way to go. I have never seen an Indian bowler display so much acumen and awareness from day 1. He will be special but still too early for him to be compared with the other 2.
ICF: Do you think the rich legacy of Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Kohli will continue and if so who is the next batting superstar from our shores?
maniac: Shubman Gill
ICF: Do you see Bumrah making it big in test cricket, an ATG prospect?
maniac: Absolutely! He is on the right track. My fear with Indian fast bowlers was/is sustainability. Having said that in recent times, when a guy like Shami who is a great bowler but not a genuine athlete can turn it around, I am kind of confident that Bumrah will be more than OK.
ICF: Why do you think Indian cricket despite all the talent/resources has never reached the domination level of Australia or West Indies ? Do you see that ever happening in the future?
maniac: These things happen by chance. Having resources and passion doesn't result in dominance or else England would be winning every Soccer WC. Similarly, talent doesn't always translate to success. There are plenty of once in a lifetime talents that faded away with a whimper and junior talents that couldn't cut it at the next level.
I personally think Aus and WI or even SA got lucky that they had a group of match-winners and ATGs rise through the ranks all at once. There is a reason why they could not repeat their golden eras since then. Similarly, India was formidable on every surface against every opponent from 2008-2010 because we had a dream line up when it came to batting and a competent bowling attack. Unfortunately most of those greats were at that phase when you reach maximum peak followed by the downward spiral which is inevitable.
With the quality of cricket and talent for most teams going in a downward trend and with India producing a higher volume of exciting talent in every department than the rest of the world, I would say the odds of that happening are extremely high.
ICF: Rohit, Ishant, SRH: choose one only.
maniac: Team is bigger than the individual
ICF: Your favorite cricket memory from when you attended a match in person at the stadium?
maniac: I attended the 3rd test between India and England in 1992-1993 now known as the Kambli series. I was in 6th or 7th standard then so my friend's older brother who was in college at that time was our designated adult. We even had a cringe poster "Mumbai/Bombay Curry makes Englishmen Hurry"- Yes very original I know. The match was memorable because my friend's brother lost his wallet so we spent most of our time looking for it . In the end we had to pay for the cab ride back home for our designated adult.
Another memorable moment was when I attended an exhibition double wicket game at Brabourne Stadium some time in the mid 90s. It had some star power along with some retired veterans. Sachin and Kambli were in one team. Azhar and I believe either Kumble or Jadeja was his partner. There were some WI and NZ players too. Anyways, the most memorable moment from the tamasha was a 6 hit by Gagan Khoda who was part of the tournament. He hit a huge 6 which was struck so powerfully that the ball hit the cement balcony and it was incredible to see how much dust/cement particles flew around from the impact. It was amazing to watch live. Thank God there was no ICF then,otherwise Gagan Khoda would have had his thread on ICF and would have probably skewed my talent spotting track record .
ICF: Do you think Indian captains of present era have disproportionate power (thereby having longer tenures) vested in them compared to previous eras? What is your view on IPL captains becoming Indian team captains and how to resolve possible conflict of interest there?
maniac: To answer your first point: Conflict of interest, abuse of power, favoritism have existed since time immemorial. What I have noticed in recent times is the lack of accountability from the captains for their failures. Indian cricket's 3 pillars- Sunny, Kapil and Sachin were all held accountable and sometimes even harshly punished by the board.
I thought Dhoni was an anomaly when it came to getting a free pass at times because of his success and trophy cabinet but this has become a dangerous trend.
As far as 2nd point goes: IPL is an Indian league and obviously the Indian captain will be associated with one franchise or the other. That is unavoidable. It should be part of the selectors' and board's responsibility and job profile to ensure no conflict of interest takes place.
ICF: How many test 100s do you think Smith and Kohli will end up with? Is Tendulkar's record of 51 test centuries under threat from either of these two active champs?
maniac: I guess Covid-19 situation has knocked off quite a few potential runs from their kitty. Not just with these 2, but I am interested in general to see how many players maintain the same momentum they had in the pre-Covid world. I think in ODIs Kohli will set almost a Bradmanesque target when it comes to 100s. I would expect even Rohit to cross Sachin's ODI 100s tally, if he maintains the same form he had last year. Obviously this depends on how soon cricket starts back up again and all those other external factors.
In tests, I think it's an uphill battle for both Kohli and Smith because they have 5-6 years of cricket left max and they need 25+ 100s to beat Sachin. Given all the caveats and factors mentioned above, It is not going to be easy. If I had to wage a bet here, I can see Smith having a Kapil Dev like moment where he will just about get past Sachin at the twilight of his career. It will be more of an uphill battle for Kohli.
ICF: Do you follow/play other sports besides cricket?
maniac: Rummy and Poker
I am actually a very outdoorsy guy (damn you Covid-19).
I prefer playing a sport rather than going to the gym. Working out in a gym is very dry and boring activity and I always feel like it's a chore. I need to motivate myself to go to the gym but if I have to play a sport which I like, I am up for it even if I am half-alive.
I have gotten better at Tennis over the years and I used to be pretty good at Table Tennis and Badminton. Don't have good enough competition among my friends circle, so have given up playing Table Tennis in the last few years. I also love playing Squash/Racquetball.
ICF: Who in your view is the greatest Indian sportsperson of all time?
maniac: Rohit Sharma (Joke). I would have to go with Dhyan Chand.
ICF: Who was/is your celebrity crush?
maniac: Growing up hands down (no pun intended) Raveena Tandon.
ICF: What are your hobbies?
maniac: I like to unwind end of the day with good old FIFA on my PS4 (if I get the time) or Need for Speed. I am still a big fan of arcade style games (Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Samurai Showdown etc). Not into Call of Duty and those warfare type games.
Apart from that I like to sketch. Not that good at it, but getting better and also trying to learn Piano/Keyboard these days not to the amusement of the wife and daughter.
ICF: Your favorite cuisine and food item?
maniac: Indian fast food- Chaat and other quick bites you get on Indian roadside stalls.
I know it is a beverage but one food item I can't live without is Chai.
ICF: List your favorite movies and TV shows of all time.
maniac: Very tough to pick with so much content available these days. Here are my Top 20 movies across all industries and Top 10 TV Shows. There are at least a 100 other movies out there that I can list and many more that will give me remorse later on as to why I didn't mention them.
1. Maya Bazaar (Telugu)
2. Sagara Sangamam (Telugu)
3. Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari (Telugu)
4. Don (Amitabh one)
6. Shawshank Redemption
7. The Entire Marvel Universe (give or take the odd movie or two which I didn't enjoy)
8. Rocky Series (including Creed Series)
9. Inside Out
10. Jurassic Park (The original one)
11. Agantuk (Bengali)
12. Anniyan (Tamil)
13. Con Air
14. Kshana Kshanam (Telugu)
15. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
16. The Departed
17. The Truman Show
18. Rush Hour series (Part 1 and 2 only)
19. Superman (original one with Christopher Reeve)
20. Andaz Apna Apna
1. Mahabharat (BR Chopra)
2. Malgudi Days
3. Duck Tales
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (90s show)
5. Crystal Maze (Remember this???)
6. Ramayan (Ramanand Sagar)
7. Great Indian Laughter Challenge (Only the 1st season)
8. Breaking Bad
9. Game of Thrones
10. Stranger Things
ICF: Method actors a la Daniel Day-Lewis or normal natural actors like Tom Hanks? Favorite actress? Baahubali or Avengers, which did you like better?
maniac: I prefer natural actors. I think method acting is a gimmick. If you can't play the guitar or piano to save your life but still convince the audience that you are a music maestro, that is a greater performance than actually learning to play the piano or guitar for your role. Obviously some level of research is required for any role. I am talking about the guys who go to extreme lengths. I think it is a gimmick to sell the movie.
Sridevi is my favorite actress.
Avengers over Baahubali.
ICF: Your favorite movie industry in India: Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi or something else?
maniac: Unfortunately outside of Hollywood, Bollywood and Tollywood, I have only seen a handful of regional cinema which were recommended to me because they were probably considered as some of the best films made in that industry.
I am sure they produce a lot of trash too just like Tollywood can once in a while surprise you with a great film. So, with a heavy heart I will go with the Hindi film industry which lately has been making some good offbeat films with a lot more frequency than the other Indian film industries. This is obviously coming from a place of what I have been exposed to in terms of Indian cinema. Please feel free to stand up for your favorite/regional film industry and any recommendations are welcome.
ICF: Who is your favorite Telugu actor in the current generation?
maniac: None to be honest. If people think Bollywood is run by nepotism mafia and is the worst place for talent, then they have no clue about the Telugu film industry.
If I had to pick one as a mandatory option then I will go with NTR Jr. Even though I don't think he would have been a leading hero if he weren't the grandson of NTR Sr. I think he is a powerful performer and very talented and would have been a successful actor regardless.
ICF: Your favorite historical character from the subcontinent?
maniac: Valmiki, Veda Vyasa, Chanakya/Kautilya and Aryabhata.
There are many greats we can choose from but these 4 capture the essence of India that has stood the test of time
ICF: With all the BLM protests going on, have you ever faced racism in USA?
maniac: There are 2 types of racism:
Ignorant/casual racism : Do you know of any ashrams or gurus (I do know of one with a dot ) ? How do vegetarians survive and where do they get their protein from? Do you speak Hindu (not a typo) at home? Is it ok for you to drink beer? They have <insert any brand, trend etc> in India, wow!
This is an often ignored aspect of racism which happens to most of us in some form or other on a day to day basis.
This is the worst form of racism because it flies under the radar and is a lot more prevalent and people don't take this seriously. This keeps the bias alive subconsciously without one even realizing it.
In your face racism: I have had those uncomfortable stares a few times that can be clearly interpreted as a little hostile .
I have had only 1 incident where I was on the receiving end of verbal racism. There was this homeless guy (probably a schizo) who kept yelling racist jibes at me and asked me to go back to my country . It was a little scary because I was on my way back home from work and it was about 8ish and usually after rush hour in US especially in winters, the train station can get very quiet and eerie. Apart from that I don't recollect anything else.
I would say the in your face racism is the lesser of the 2 evils as one can just brush it off and walk away unless of course my option is to choose between a trigger happy redneck or some idiot asking me if I eat monkey brains a la Indiana jones. I will make an exception in that scenario.
ICF: How do you rate these 6 years of Modi sarkar as someone based outside India? What are the areas where this government can improve?
maniac: What you see on social media or online every day is very divisive. Either Modi is a hero who can do no wrong or he is the root cause of all evil in the world. There is no measured and neutral analysis of Modi or his policies and decisions. This is the problem with world politics in general at the moment. Every world leader big or insignificant has blind followers or blind critics.
This makes it very challenging for people outside India to form a well-balanced opinion. It just goes back to what your foundational ideological leanings are.
Indian voter is not the stereotype we see in movies or media of the idiot who sells his vote for a packet of Biryani or a bottle of cheap liquor. I am sure it happens but I would like to believe that is a negligible minority. I sometimes try to initiate a friendly political conversation with say the auto driver or Uber driver or the thela wala when I visit India and at times I am mesmerized as to how clear and articulate they are in their thoughts when it comes to politics. Not that I am a benchmark but some of them can run circles around me in a political debate. Even if they have a totally different political leaning as mine, they make some great points you can't ignore. Even people who vote based on caste or religion are not as dumb as the image of that person would appear on paper. They have valid grievances and reasoning for doing what they do.
For example a lot of Muslims wanted the Ram Mandir conflict to end even if it meant some form of a compromise. A lot of BJP fans think demonetization was a great idea on paper but implemented poorly. So not everything is black and white.
I think Modi government has taken some strict, need of the hour decisions. Personally, I think the idea and vision behind these moves have been great but the implementation and communication have been average to poor. We can blame the opposition all we want for propaganda but I think that is a window of opportunity given to them because I feel the theatrics have overshadowed what should have been a clear and simple message at times.
ICF: What do you think of bifurcation of your erstwhile state into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh? Have your views changed now compared to 2014?
maniac: I never grew up in Andhra or Telangana. So as an outsider looking in, it felt like it was just disgruntled politician(s) trying to raise unrest for his/their own political gains. I wasn't aware of the ground level issues.
Over time I did hear genuine arguments that made a lot of sense as to why the bifurcation was required. I am not talking about the types who just regurgitate TRS manifesto but really compelling arguments from people who I trust to be honest, educated and rational folks.
Having said that, I still think that the biggest takeaway from the bifurcation was the creation of yet another dynastic party in India that just adds to the circus that is Indian politics. I have heard some good work has been done in rural Telangana so I guess not everything is gloom and doom.
ICF: Do you see BJP making inroads in AP/Telangana in the 2020s?
maniac: AP is going to be tough to infiltrate. BJP's best chance is to align with one of the big 2 parties in Andhra and gradually build a voter base.
Telangana, absolutely! I see a big gap for a viable opposition in Telangana. BJP needs to be a aggressive here to make inroads. This is easily doable.
ICF: Rarely see you get angry, you have the knack of injecting humour everywhere, so how do you manage to keep your cool?
maniac: I can't speak for everyone but I am here to amuse myself first and if in that process if I amuse someone else, that's a huge bonus.
As far as keeping my cool, I am not a monk or a saint . I just try to use common sense and not let things said on an online forum affect my peace of mind. Doesn't work all the time though, I have had my fair share of moments where I let some posts/posters get to me .
ICF: Who are your favorite contributors on this forum?
maniac: Tough to pick . Every group of posters or individual posters bring something unique to the forum. There are too many high quality posters on this forum and at question number 45 I am already fatigued to type all the names Lol.
So I will stick with the posters who the moment I see them post, I click on the thread without even thinking twice or saving it for later.
The Realist, Audiophile and Saurav01/Magneto.
ICF: What would you recommend ICF to work on to improve its fanbase and to increase activity?
maniac: What really works for ICF is that elite-club like environment. Most posters here feel like a part of your family or your friend circle even though you probably don't know 99% of them at a personal level or don't even know their real names.
I think this is what sets ICF apart. An old poster returning makes you feel like your family member has returned after a long break, a new poster goes through that slow burn before he is accepted in to this exclusive club. We have our own inside jokes and catchphrases. This is what I love about ICF and the ICF family.
With reddit and social media, there are plenty of forums these days for one to express their views directly or with anonymity, however what ICF can do slightly better is to be more proactive when it comes to administration and moderation.
I understand the fact that this is a volunteer activity than an actual day to day business/job for all our admins/mods and no doubt they do a great job balancing their day to day lives to keep ICF running smoothly. What I mean by being proactive for example is, ICF has had a few outages over the last few years which is understandable and a lot of guys have been proactive in getting it up and running but a small reminder to the members when it is back would go a long way to get some of the lost traffic back.
I also think we need to be courteous to people with a different opinion than our own. Sometimes things do get a little ugly when not necessary. If you need a diverse user base I guess the mods have to step up. I like the very free and liberal (the good version of that word) approach but there needs to be a balance at times.