Random Thoughts

Eighteen is Great. But Nine is Fine

Eighteen is Great. But Nine is Fine
Great Descendent of Good Queen Bess
They’re the Same Everywhere
Gay Bill
Oh my God! I Don’t Have One
Think it Through

Eighteen is Great. But Nine is Fine

Golf lovers of the world unite. You’ve nothing to lose but nine holes.

First, let me share with you dear readers the story I heard from horse’s own mouth about the origin of 18 holes of a golf course. After all, you must have wondered sometime or the other how on earth the number was arbitrarily fixed.

Once on a visit to St Andrews in Aberdeen I asked a wizened old veteran how the number was fixed. He had just returned after finishing his quota. At least that’s what he claimed. You must be bit of bluffer or a bland liar or preferably both, to be a good golfer.

He said:

“I’ll tell you, young man, what I heard half a century back from an old veteran of the game. There was once upon a time a great debate here in this course to fix the number. Of course, the opinion was divided. Lot of debating and disputing! Finally, people turned to Old Mack, one Colonel Mackenzie, a seasoned stalwart of many a tournament.

Tell us, Old Mack, how many holes there should be? He pondered over for a while and then said slowly; I start playing with a bottle of Scotch. After finishing the first hole I open the bloody thin’ and have big swipe and move on towards the second. I’ve a second swipe after taking the ball out of the second hole and then trudge along. It is the seventeenth swipe toward the end. And when I take the last eighteenth time the bottle is finished and also the game.”

And that’s how the 18 holes of the course were decided upon. And that’s being debated all over again. People these days don’t have the time to walk that long nor the stomach for eighteen swipes in one go. So the ‘Time for Nine’ Campaign: To Save Golf, Cut the Game in Half. Golf Digest is teaming up with U.S. Golf Association and the PGA in endorsing the idea of playing nine holes, via a new “Time for Nine” initiative.

For most people, nine holes is less intimidating, more fun, and just plain more doable than 18. People these days are used to doing things in smaller packages of time than the old, five-hour golf round. One of the tragedies of civilization is that as it advances people are left with less and less time for more meaningful things of life. So let’s learn to live with another Americanism: “Eighteen is great. But nine is fine”

However, what a sacrilege! Thank the Good Lord. Old Mack is not around to see the day.

Great Descendent of Good Queen Bess

I was around in 1953 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ascended the throne. I remember the pomp and ceremony with which the Brits celebrated the second edition of their Queen Bess.

Who could then envisage that the Queen will manage to linger on and on for the next six decades, at times, I’m sure, to the unrecorded chagrin of Prince Charles and his mistress of long and wife of short duration.

Great Britain, today, is no longer the county it once was. It has been almost completely metamorphosed. Unrecognizable indeed are today’s landmarks to those who recall their visits over half a century ago. People had then thronged to get a glimpse of black-and-white images of the new Queen. Today, B&K is a relic of some remote past that only historians talk of. There was rationing still when Her Majesty addressed her subjects after coronation. It ended a year thereafter. No more the weekly 4oz of bacon or ham, 2oz of cheese, one egg, 3 pints of milk, 2oz of tea, 8oz of sugar, 4oz of margarine. Today, waste as much as you can.

There is something mysteriously enduring about the British monarchy. The last king of Egypt, Farouk (overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952) used to say that after a century or two only two kings will survive: the king in the pack of cards and the king of England. Was he right in his forecast?

You’ll be shocked to hear that there are today a good score and ten constitutional monarchies in the world. The list reads: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Andorra, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Belgium, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, Grenada, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Spain, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Sweden, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates and last but not least, the United Kingdom.

I had the honor of running into one specimen, myself – That was the King of Liechtenstein. The bloke was lunching in a restaurant where we stopped for a meal. That happened to be his birthday. And we were driving through his 61 square mile big kingdom.

Is the monarchical arrangement better than the extravaganza of Presidency we maintain? Whatever arrangement the Founding Fathers envisaged and the Constitution provided for, Nehru and his descendants made sure that we have a titular head living for four years in a 340-room mansion with a floor area of two lakh square feet, performing ceremonial duties. Yet few official residential premises of the Head of the State in the world match the Rashtrapati Bhavan in terms of its size, vastness and its magnificence. Elsewhere on the planet it would be called unforgivably extravagant waste of public money; in India, it is a contrivance of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to wield effective control.

They’re the Same Everywhere

The more the competition, the more the proclivity to cut corners to succeed. The dictum is universal. As applicable to us in India as to the People’s Republic of China.

An estimated one crore high school students were registered across China to sit in the crucially important two-day exam to qualify for admission in various universities for what is called higher education which is a passport to an assuredly better future. And students will do anything to access that. Come to think of think, won’t you and I – their elders and role model setters – do the same?

In the north eastern province of Jilin, students were banned from wearing clothing with metal parts. Why, you’ll ask. Simple. That’s to clamp down on “wireless cheating devices”. I’m sorry these weren’t available in our day. Nor did we have access to smart phones – now getting smaller and smaller and therefore easier to hide – as an illicit aid.

I’ve seen Indian parents wait with refreshments for their little darlings to emerge triumphant after the test to fortify them with nourishment. The same I read about China.

Gay Bill

The news of the last bastion of conservatism about to fall is exciting indeed.

And that kept me mentally glued to the gay bill debate in British Parliament.

I’ve been lying in bed with a fall injuries and reading (of all things in the world) printed transcripts of parliamentary debates in the House of Lords on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Isn’t it exciting that over 90 peers put their names down to speak on a hotly contested issue in the Lords? While there were passionate speeches made on both sides, the debate was notable for the range and breadth of the arguments made against the idea of gay marriage in general, and this Bill in particular.

The following from Lord Dear is fascinating indeed.

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’, Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ But ‘glory’ doesn't mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’, Alice objected. When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”.

I would suggest that if we substitute the word “marriage” for “glory” we get somewhere very close to the essence of today’s debate. As Humpty Dumpty might have said, “There’s a nice knock-down argument for you. Marriage means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”.

And here’s another gem. This one is the stand of Lord Edmiston

The reason marriage is limited to one man and one woman is that it takes no more and no less to produce children. If we were to accept that love is the precondition for marriage, why should we restrict it? If there is no possibility of genetic offspring or indeed no requirement for consummation, why should not close relatives get married? If that were to happen, I can see all sorts of interesting possibilities for inheritance tax planning. We would open a Pandora’s Box. I do not believe we have looked closely enough at the unintended consequences.

The Government could be plunged into a “constitutional crisis” if members of the House of Lords reject plans for gay marriage.

Oh my God! I Don’t Have One

Have you heard of a new disease called nomophobia?

Nine out of every 10 people aged under 30 admit to suffering the new age phenomenon of “nomophobia”, the fear of having no mobile phone, a survey says.

Telecom giant Cisco, in a survey conducted on 3800 people in Australia, found nine out of 10 in the group aged under 30 were addicted to their smart phones and became anxious when their phone went missing.

“It's happening subconsciously, and one out of five people are texting while they're driving,” Cisco chief technology officer said.

For many under-30s, the smart phone has become an extension of themselves, from the moment they wake up until the second they fall asleep. This love affair with the smart phone is both enabling and crippling at the same time.

It is reported that these people check for texts, emails and social media at least once every 10 minutes. Are you one of them? I’m not. Not yet.

Think it Through

“I will give you a talisman”, Said Gandhi. “Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”

Now it is simple. And straight. And, above all, no doubts whatsoever. The nine glorious years of the UPA have inured the country into believing: don’t ever wink for a moment while looting and grabbing.

PS. Your Diarist is back in circulation, having almost recovered from deep bruises sustained in a fall off treadmill. Whether you missed him or not, he immensely missed writing the column.


More by :  Sakshi

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Views: 3318      Comments: 1

Comment So true Sakshi ! your statement '...in India, it is a contrivance of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to wield effective control.' sounds so on the face !

Ooms Singh
13-Jun-2013 23:50 PM

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