There is no reason on earth to suppose that people in advertising are a fit, healthy lot. Especially those of us who, inspired by the wild, swinging tales of the ad men of the '80s, joined the industry ourselves. Too many of us smoke. And drink. And whole lot more indulge in substance abuse of some other kind.

So it begs disbelief when the Advertising Association of Bangalore holds a five-a-side football tournament. And it's especially silly to shamble on to the field with a couple of other ageing jocks (with the stress on age). Especially when you realise the other team are a bunch of 20 something blokes who look like they'd enjoy running rings around you all day, before buzzing off to drink all night.

But it all gets downright embarassing, when you make what you fondly imagine to be a swift, graceful, elegant tackle, only to realise you've lost more than half a step in the intervening decade, and wind up striking the underside of a well worn pair of football boots, rather than the ball.

As the very essence of your being suddenly concentrates itself upon the nail of your right big toe, as every nerve ending heads shrieking, for the self same spot, as the pain rips up from the shredded nail, past the metacarpals, up your leg, through your gut, past your heart, and straight to your brain, you realise one thing.

You really couldn't give a fuck if the ball went into the goal, or not.

And with the sweat pouring into your eyes, you can't see to make out anyway. And even if you could see, you'd rather be combing the field for your left lung, which you think you hacked up somewhere near the half. And even if you've convinced yourself that you're a going concern on one lung, your calf muscles have formed a union and called a strike, claiming flagrant abuse by management.

So no. At this stage, sweat pouring off, sucking in deep draughts of air, hopping on one foot and gasping out your four-lettered vocabulary, you don't give a good god damn about the ball.

About all you do, is turn to the ref, and in a croaking, wheezing, half-plea, half-query, say "Time?".

A few hours, a second match, and many pain-numbing beers later, you limp home, promising yourself never to indulge in such childish hi-jinks again.

Your wife, with the patience borne of 4 years of salvaging the wreck of the Hesperus, greets you with a gentle smile. To save you the time and trouble, she quickly confirms that you have no intention of visiting a qualified physician of any denomination. She silently, but effectively, delivers a hint by placing your towel within easy reach.

And as you gently disentangle your sock from the remains of your toe-nail, she dutifully ignores your unsuccessfully stifled gasps, and considerately turns away to hide her wry grin.

Perhaps next year, the Ad Club will hold a chess tournament. Or bowling. Or a Halo 3 shootout. Perhaps. But somehow, I don't think so. I think the wives enjoy football too much.


Salvation Is Nigh

Given that we, as a nation, are currently devoting more money, attention and political weightage to the IPL, than to the agrarian crisis, I'm left with just one thing to say.

Let's put Lalit Modi in charge of things on that side of the urban divide as well.

So he does his thing, and starts up a league. (And he's certainly experienced enough to handle it.)

Then the farmers get auctioned off. (And they're certainly more experienced at being bought and sold like so much chaff, than those poor firang cricketers.)

And then we bring bollywood into the picture. Aamir Khan gets a team. (But thanks to Lagaan he gets icon status.) And the Big B. And the Little Big B. And all the other Bs. And Cs. And SOBs.

Lalit bhai can con the sponsors. And sell the TV rights. The filmi types can flaunt it. We can import the Nebraska Corn Huskers to come and cheer things up. And maybe some of the famed Irish Potato Skin Dancers. Nautrally, qualified referees will be provided by the UN and other interested parties. The big agencies can figue out how to pimp it all to the public. (But with celebrities and big ole corn pones shaking their husks, it shouldn't take much.)

And if people get tired of trying to keep track of who's out-harvested who, we can always bring Harbhajan in for some light entertainment.

Of course, there will be those who say "it just isn't cricket, old chap". The die hard fans, who'll swear there's nothing like a good, old fashioned 5 year drought. And the captains of capital, who'll swear that it's no substitute for the old debt-and-death days. But who cares about them anyway? They're just crying after sour GM crops.

So there you have it. The mounting food crisis. The sky-rocketing acriculturalist suicide rate. That pesky inflation thing that just won't go away. All sorted out, in one fell swoop.


Trust me.