Saturday, January 27, 2007


Usually Sport is looked up as an entertainment and that helps us to break away from the ennui and routine. However there are few times, when sport elevates itself above the usual and provides a true inspiration and glimpse of the power of spirit; and brings out an innate strength, what human being is capable of achieving, when one sets ones mind on it. At that point in time, the sport uplifts itself and provides something more than an ordinary and true entertainment. It inspires.

The Perspiration

Case Study #1: Excellence
Just before this semi-final there is lot of talk about how the gap has been narrowed - either he has improved or Federer did not develop any further to increase the gap. Thus thought the contender, Roddick. He had just beaten Fedex in an invitational off-the-record-book tournament. Roddick was meeting Fedex in the semi-finals of Australian open and coming into the match assuming he had a legitimate chance at beating him. The first set did not seem otherwise - Federx broke Roddick first, Roddick broke back Fedex; that seemed to spur Fedex on; he just elevated himself to a zone and then won 11 games in a row, including a second-set 6-0 demolition, destruction and devastation of Roddick. It was so obvious, when a point that was seemingly lost by Fedex turned around. A Roddick fore-hand drive at the net had pulled Fedex beyond the forehand tramlines; Then, Roddick seemed to have put-away Fedex’s return into the open court; Fedex scrambling back, improvised (rather innovated) a back-hand passing shot. Crowd erupts; and the man, permits himself a smile and an acknowledgement with his raised-racquet. In mid-game, quite rare. The match clearly showed that Federer comes into every match truly believing, without an iota of doubt, that he can beat anyone. To me, that itself gives him a "set" advantage. Pushes his opponent to win 3 out of 4 sets – that is almost impossible at this level; Secondly, Fedex seemed to have this great ability to evolve and dynamically change game-plans during the game.

At a young 25, his confidence, toughness and importantly, his tennis-intellect is extraordinary. I’m sure behind all these, there are tons and tons and hours and hours of practice and hard work; coupled with a steely mental determination. Sometimes I can’t make out if he is perfecting excellence or excelling in perfection. Maybe that’s an upwardly moving bar for him.

Case Study #2: Reinvention

There is one other young man, I am very impressed with. Dinesh Karthik. He was the wicket keeper of the Indian team, and then he had lost his slot to Dhoni. Seeing Dhoni perform, Karthik decided that it will be tough for him to come into the team as a keeper. So he decided to reinvent himself – he started concentrating on his batting and opened batting for his state and zonal team and made good enough scores to come into the team as reserve keeper. When he got a chance as a keeper in a tour match, he performed well with the bat; well enough for him to get into team in a 20/20 match and score runs that won him the man of the match. Then into the test team against RSA when Dhoni was injured – took his chances and into the Indian team as a pure batsman; there made a winning score to get the Man of the match one more time. The point I would like to highlight is this – there are many examples of how players have reinvented themselves as batsman. But in Karthik’s case there is another aspect that stands out, deserving italics :); Keepers, throughout their lives have stood behind and close to the stumps – hence they do not develop a strong throwing arm and cannot field in the deep. Karthik seems to have worked that one through and he is now acknowledged as an outstanding fielder either at close or in the deep; his fielding ability is talked about in the same breath as that of Yuvraj and Raina.

For a young man of 22, this is truly exceptional. He could have been a victim of circumstance. Instead, he chose to be a player – in his mind, there was no option, but to get back, even if he were to redo things completely. Including having the courage to relearn new skills. In that, he has made himself more versatile and hence increased his sustainability. I believe this has started with his mental outlook of refusing to be a victim and seeing possibilities, truly believing in his mind he can get there. And he has. Even if he never plays for India again, he has shown what the potential of a human mind is and how high it can scale and soar.

The Inspiration

As I was on my morning run, a streak occurred to me. I usually do stretches, walk a while and then jog 3 laps on the track. As I was on the first lap, thinking about the above two gentlemen, I wonder if I could push myself. I decided that tiredness would not be an option today; and I ended-up finishing 9 laps. At the end of it, I realized that I have a legitimate shot at, what I assumed to be an impossible physical activity for me – running the mini-marathon (7km) - I will run this year at the Bangalore event. I realize it is not just physical, its mental. I have been inspired. Thank you, Raja Federer and Dinesh Karthik.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hers and Hiss !!

Her View:

I have dreamed about this my life time – perhaps all women do. In another few minutes I will be marrying someone of my dreams; well, not exactly, but will do and importantly, I am glad that I’m marrying him. I had met him in a function at our workplace, about two years ago. He and I belonged to the group that had volunteered to organize the event for the company. This is where I had met him. Initially he seemed to be quite a nice guy; eventually, he just turned out to be nicer!! We are doing fairly well at job and his family seemed nice, with him being the lone-son. There was also some kind of excitement as I look forward to my life with him. In spite of all this, I still have butterflies in my stomach. I suppose, there is a certain amount of apprehension when one commits to something as big and as lifelong as marriage :-) … The past few days were hectic, with all the running around, invitations, shopping, fixing up stuff and so on. At the same time, the emotions over the past day were on a roller-coaster and sometimes were very confusing. There a just a few moment left; in a minute or two, I would be Mrs. Somebody... I wish I could walk to the groom’s room and talk to him one more time; and how I wish, I could peep into his room and see if he is going through a similar predicament…

His View:

I was going through a predicament. Just two minutes or so to go. Two years seems as if I’ve waited for this for a life time. I’m quite apprehensive and anxious. I look at the TV in the room. It was a CCTV showing the marriage pandal. I absent-mindedly look for the remote; perhaps I can switch channels and get rid of this tension. There is just so much anticipation here and I can hardly sit; there was excitement and lot of nervous energy; I pace around the room, look at my clock; perhaps very little time is left now! I wonder what the future would hold… as I pace around, I hear the beep of my mobile. and there is this text message from my friend: “2 passes with 19 & 14 yards. 1st down at Mid-field and 22 seconds to go… AND Brady is intercepted!! Game over!!! Your Indianapolis Colts are in the Super Bowl”! Yessssss!!!!…. As my mother enters to call me into pandal, I stumble along there in a daze and in excitement. It is done, after 9 years in the league, Peyton Manning is finally in the Super Bowl !!!

Ps: Part of the story is true, since I was the one who sending the periodic text message; However, the groom and bride’s thoughts are a result of my imagination...

Friday, January 19, 2007

B-Road Rules!! (Ok, just guidelines)

I had the opportunity to drive a car on Bangalore roads after a long break. Here are some advices, I doled out to all and sundry, in that surreal, half-hour experience:
  • Dear Mr.Hep Hariharan – That painted line on the road is not something meant to bisect your car in two halves, with amazing precision and stillness, with your wheels straddling on either side. That one divides the road into lanes.
  • Dear Mrs. Crouching Kamakshi (no Hidden Dragons) – Clutching the wheels, with an intense wo-maniacal look fixed at the bonnet and going at pace that has cycles overtaking you, is NOT the concept of safe-driving.
  • Dear Mr. Made-IT Madhavan – Glad you are going places in your job, do you have to do that on the roads too ? Remember, you have graduated to a car ? It is NOT a four-wheeled bike...
  • Dear Shri. Cleaner Kannan – If you insist that the truck would be on the right lane, why do you still flap your hands out of the left window? If you want to fly, should you not have clearance above your head?
  • Dear PYTty Pamela – Do you really have to be mobile and mobile stuck between your ears and your shoulder? “தலை சாaithu பார்த்தாயே, தடுமாறி போnaene” and had to screech to a AVOID the drifting you.
  • Dear Shri Auto Anna, are you fine saar? You are on the wrong side of the road and wrong direction on an one-way… But, please go ahead saar, I'll wait. Ella ok, rules yaake?
  • Dear 20-something Horny Harry – That 17-something on the pillion, that you are wearing as the shirt, may be the engine that’s spurs you greater heights and faster speeds; May I suggest that you perhaps ride, taking your eyes off the (adjusted) rear-view mirror? Its scary!!!
  • Dear Shri. Nervous Narayanan – Thank you for your presence – we are honoured!!! Can you please stop honking? NOW ??
  • Dear Shri Bus Basavaraju – I agree… Neevae Doddavaru. Please, swalpa down nodutheera? That speck that you look down on is a car. Swalpa brake saar... SAAAAR !!
  • Dear Edgy Engeetham – Like your niece says, Chill. Simply, drive maadi, stress yaake?
I reach my work in one piece, navigating 10km ride in about 45m, really relaxed and mentally refreshed, all set to take on work and on the world. Well, another ride, another chaos, another jam, another cacophony, struggling policeman, another pothole ... All's normal. Perfect driving conditions in Bengalooru.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Red Planet

(This was published in 3rd June 2007 Sunday edition of Deccan Herald. Online version is at:

Reclined lazily on her side,
gazing at the verdant around,
Feeling the warmth seeping inside.
Suddenly, out of the blue,
come the armies slicing through
the silent calm, rushing to claim,
Her land, dark gold and gains.
Before she could shout, ‘Look out…”
trampling feet finds her mouth,
cutting her cry short.
That cry drowned in mindless and fury,
Instead, wells up in her eyes.
With their spoils, they have left in hurry,
The green in them and around in atrophy.
She tastes the blood salty,
From that deep wound,
and the scarring all around
that will take a long time to heal.
The blood and tears stifle,
The warm embers; The hope in her fades.
The ugly red spots in the crushed glades,
Mirrors mutilation, she has over eons seen.
She forgets yet another wracking pain,
gathers herself, tending to bloody liens
wonders, “Will I ever be green again?”

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The First-Indians !

Few days ago, a news-story on one of the premier English news channel caught my eye. The fact that I’m writing about it, does imply that there was something that I do not agree on ! :) - not that they care, but it has kind of become my favourite whipping horse.

Maybe I should start that Media-Watch blog !

Coming to the point here. The news item that got about 5 minutes of air-time in the news and several re-runs was about an Indian born, US emigrated Gujarati girl getting into the US Army. The news-story was title, the “first Indian Girl in the US army”. This is what gets my goat. I do think there is nothing Indian about that girl. She was with Indian origins – it was very very obvious and extremely crystal clear, that she has severed her links with anything India and Indian and has chosen to become a citizen of some other country. So where is the first “Indian” coming from? I find such links quite irritating. There seems to be awe with anything American that the news-channels seek with their eyes wide-open in some kind of childish wonder. That is really not Candy, folks!

I found the same with both Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams. They are not Indian citizens. They have nothing to do with India now – God bless them, they have made a different choice and that is clearly not India. I have no grief regarding their personal choices; the grief I have is how we continue to be proud of the Indian-ness that they have, in a way, rejected. So why do we hang on to that tenuous link and be proud? I recall the days, when there was a joke on the #cricket on the internet-relay-chat (IRC). If one could prove mother of one’s twice removed cousin of one’s father’s sister-in-law is English, then one could become an automatic eligibility to play cricket for England – this was during Hick’s time. These channels claim to such links also seem as absurd as those.

There are lots more of India in a few others who are in India who toil for India living in India. Can we highlight those, please? Can we be proud of such people, please? For example, there is one Mr.K.R.Datye, who has done pioneering work on Solar/Thermal units that is capable of producing heat up to a point, where it would extremely useful in our rural areas; how about the one on composites out of Bamboo, that has near-steel strength and that can bring down the cost of construction and thus an affordable housing?

Those are the real “First-Indians”, literally and figuratively speaking.