Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Path not Taken

Summer in Europe has come to an end. This is the last time one (by one, it is implied that it is an Indian who is used to temperatures as hot as Arnab Goswami's temper) could take a long bike ride in the nice evening weather in Germany. Cycling through a forest is great. It provides one with fresh air, good exercise, great scenery and improves reflexes, since one has to be quite agile, lest a boar should run full on to the fahrad. In short, biking through the forest in the south-western region of Germany is fun and the end of August is the best time to undertake this journey.

Good cycle, good headlights, good taillights. Enthusiastic driver. Time to go home. Enter the forest. Then two roads diverged into the green wood and the driver cannot travel both.
She must choose and choose wisely. It is time to go home, but an enthusiastic driver. What to do.
She looked at the one road and looked as far as she could.
Far she could see, to where it bent in the undergrowth.
But nay, she is the enthusiastic biker and she took the other path, just as fair,
because it was grassy and wanted wear.

Little did she know that Robert Frost had mentioned an Autumn climate, rather than the sweet summer. She now has a lot to face in the dense canopy of the forest which is so thick that it came to be called the 'Blackforest.' She has boldly chosen one and has to go ahead. Cycle she does, coolly at first and quickens her pace in a moment. The only source of light is that tiny diode on the front of her bike and the occasional firefly that kept hitting her face. The canopy felt like the vast sky, just without the bright moon and the twinkling stars which were blanketed. Few minutes into the ride, came they. No one who ever traversed the path near the forest had gone without tasting one of them. The eyes were not spared either. Squinting her eyes, she wanted to reach the end as fast as possible. But the forest never seemed to end. The little diode was still the only source of light. She rode at maximum power since she got well nourished after swallowing a million of those insects.

And then came the end of the road. She hated road endings but not today. She cherished it and felt happy that the forest ended, only to enter the farmland which was infested with enough insects to fill a boeing cargo! But back came the moon light under which she looked at her body, covered with insects like in the movie, Mummy.

She shall be telling this with a sigh
that she took the road less traveled by
the reason for which she now knows why

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Plant and do not forget!

"Monsoon finally! I feel as relieved as drinking sweet lime after biting into a chilli." said Mahati's friend. The summer this time was so hot that some Indians went to the Sahara desert to chill out. Added to the heat was the disappointing loss to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final. Hence only after few rains did things cool down. Mahati and her friend were on the terrace enjoying the monsoon rains which are much awaited for, in India almost every year. The Indian Meteorological Department failed again to accurately predict Indian monsoon and hence, as they always did, they rolled dice everyday to predict the weather forecast and the amount of rain. Today they said it would be overcast. It started raining in the evening. Close enough!

Mahati's body was in the state of a thermal gradient, with her feet experiencing intense heat being radiated from the floor of the terrace as the air above it got cooler. As it rained, the first rain drops to touch the floor got vaporized instantly, sacrificing themselves to take the heat away from the floor so that the next generation of drops can land peacefully. As the temperatures dropped and the air got denser, with more oxygen to breathe in, Mahati and her friend heaved a sigh of relief and decided it was time to enjoy a walk in the rain and went downstairs. As they reached the gate of their apartment, they saw the watchman who decided to enjoy a beedi in the beautiful rain. He just finished the beedi and was putting it out against the trunk of a tree which was sprouting fresh leaves. "Balram, it is not good to smoke, especially in such a weather and on top of it, you are hurting a tree?" asked Mahati. The watchman, bewildered at the fact that he was hurting something made of wood said, "This is how I have been putting out my beedi for the past ten years madam!" Feeling disgusted, merciful and amused at the same time, Mahati and her friend went on just as the watchman plucked out some fresh leaves to chew them.

Salutes to the brave women of the Chipko movement 
"People need to change. They need to plant more trees. Otherwise, this guy is going to chew all the fresh leaves, killing them all! It is monsoon time and Vanamahotsav is round the corner. In the academic year, this is the first ever festival that school kids need to celebrate. They should go on a sapling planting drive. I heard that in a temple courtyard recently, they planted 3000 plants. That is great!" said Mahati. Her friend asked casually, "How many of them survived?" Mahati replied, "You are so pessimistic. It does not matter how many survived. In the 3000, even if 30 make it t become fully grown trees, it is great, no!" Her friend asked, "then why can't they have simply planted 30 plants and made sure they all made it to become trees? Let me explain. Once planted, a sapling needs the care that one takes, for a baby. It is not at all practical to take good care of thousands of plants. Planting saplings is not a photo opportunity. It is the duty of the people. Vanamahotsav means 'The festival of trees and forests.' It is not enough to chop down a tree to make way for a politician to plant a flowering plant and pose for photos. That was not why it was started by K M Munshi and actively endorsed by our first PM Pandit Nehru in 1950. This is a drive to conserve forests and make sure there are more trees around us. It is not necessary to plant 3000 saplings in the hope that 30 will survive. It should be that 30 saplings should be planted and made sure they grow into trees, apart from conserving the existing trees. Plant and take care of it. Do not forget and leave the plant to rot. That is the idea of a festival of trees!

They kept on walking on the street in the potholes of which rainwater was settling down, not knowing where else to sink into the ground. "Still, something is better that nothing, right." Mahati said. Her friend stopped suddenly and pointed at a huge banner hung on the side of the road. The banner read, 'Planting drive to plant a million saplings by our beloved chief minister - Vanamahatsav celebrations, 2016. Jai Telangana'
Right below the banner, there was evidence of the planting drive. Ten neat holes were dug and fences constructed around them to protect the saplings. The saplings dried up and died. The banner continued to flutter, stronger than ever.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Puppy Shame!

It was Friday night and Mahati invited her friend home for dinner. She finished garnishing the pulihora and bisibelebath and they both were setting up the dinner table when her flatmate stormed into the room. She was coming back from her office and was visibly upset, angry and both. A concerned Mahati said, 'What's up? Anything wrong? I invited my friend for dinner and made a Andhra special.' Her flatmate did not quite notice Mahati's friend. She asked, 'How can people be so mean?' Mahati quickly put all the dinner in a hot pack.

'The guy that my parents wanted me to marry rejected me saying I am too thin for him.' said her flatmate. 'How can people judge someone based on their looks and physique? Is that not mean and hurtful?' Mahati replied, 'Absolutely. But what you should actually be doing is feel happy and grateful that you would not be married to someone who did not even interact with you to know about you. He let the weighing machine weigh your character. Obviously you would not want to marry a person like that. It is good news. Let us be happy for that, no.' 
Her flatmate did not cool down yet. 'Yeah, you are true, I should be happy. But what if all the people I know and will know in the future are like that? That is because, now that I think of it, girls who I thought would befriend me for what I am and of course, all the elderly aunts in my family also are the same. They judge me because I am thin. How correct is that? I am sure that some aunty lady would have told the guy that "look she is too thin. she is not suitable to marry." In fact, some so called friends are worse, whenever we go shopping for clothes, they direct me to the kids section. Is it my fault that I am thin? Is every one of them perfectly shaped? Does every woman need to have a so called curvy figure? Why can people not just be themselves and not indulge in bashing others for something they have no complete control on!'

Mahati understood her flatmate's agony and tried to console her. She said, ' Try not to think of all those. You might have only a handful of friends or people who like you for who you are. Only worry about those. Do not bother about others. When friends do such body shaming, it generally is in a very friendly manner, try to think of it that way. And when relatives say so, well, they are all relatives after all, what more do you expect.' she winked. 'However, even relatives try to tell for our "own good" you know. We do not realise it but we also do it quite often. After all, we are relatives for others too, is it not. None of us are Buddha or Gandhi. We do hurt others unknowingly. Just try to only take from what you hear, what you really need. All this might seem to be a way to escape the taunts of the society and not stand up against it boldly. But trust me, you would achieve nothing out of standing up. Nor do I say that you should start eating and exercising once someone comments on your skinniness and start dieting once someone starts bashing you for being a kilo heavier. Whatever others think of you, you do know that there always is someone who knows what you are. Don't let go of them! And now, enough of philosophy and let us eat before thermodynamics starts working on the imperfect hotpack!'

Mahati's friend who was listening all along laughed and asked, 'But what about me?'
Mahati's flatmate, who in her furore have not seen him till then, had a look at him.
He was five feet, three inches tall!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bucketing Down with a Shower

Well, yes, the title is a cheeky way to say that water is wasted when using a shower. But before starting any argument, let me confess that I use a shower daily, not because I like it, but because I have no luxury of using a bucket (In the west, you would find a lot of wastage of resources and energy). But somehow, there are a lot of people who are convinced that a shower wastes less water than a bucket bath. I do not think so. India has been facing water shortage since times unknown and we have come to a conclusion that using a bucket is the best way out. I support this 'tradition.' By the way, California too has just realised it. Maybe in few years time, we would be seeing buckets in every bathroom in California atleast.

One Quora explanation tells us to plug the water in the bath tub, take a shower and compare the water levels with the volume of a bucket. It is absolutely nonsense. Probably the writer got confused between a bucket and the bath tub (I am scared of the wastage created by a tub bath, so I will not even talk about it). I decided to do a simple experiment in a hostel bathroom in India. The reason for choosing a hostel bathroom is because generally in hostels, the shower faucets are clogged in most of the pores (the reason for this is a research problem no one has ever probed into) and thus I am literally using the slowest possible shower faucet. I filled a one liter mug with the water from the shower. It took me a bit more than 12 seconds for the mug to fill. That would mean 5 liters per minute and assuming 5 minutes for a bath, it consumed 25 liters of water. Assuming that those who believe that they are conserving water by taking showers will also bathe very fast, I cut down the bath time to a very very modest 3 minutes which brings down the consumption to 15 liters. Now, according to Milton, selling its products on Flipkart, the common bucket is 18 liters in volume, thus making a shower bath better, mathematically (in reality, it is not, you know! :-P)
However, to give an edge to shower faucets, I have made a lot of assumptions above. I have also not considered the initial wastage that generally occurs while using a shower and also the fact that a bucket is never filled to the brim (even the volume is calculated likewise).

Now, instead of my calculations, I look at the American "Faucet Flow Rate Regulations" (yes, there are such regulations), framed in 1994 (I really wonder if the US knows about a bucket! I am kidding, it does, Amazon.com sells them). According to the regulations, the maximum allowed flow rate is 2.5 gallons per minute which is about 9.4 liters per minute. The aim is to bring that down to 1.2 gpm but that is only in California but let me assume this is the norm everywhere. Even though it is a huge, huge assumption, let me go ahead and say that every shower faucet in the US urinates 1.2 gpm or 4.5 liters per minute, rounded off. An average person showers for 8 minutes. That would mean 36 liters of water in total. Phew! Again, the 'conservationists' who believe shower bath is good would let's say bathe for only 5 minutes which makes the count 22.5 liters of water. Again in the shower's defense, let us assume that a common bucket has a volume of 22 liters. The shower still uses more water!

However, I am showering no praises on bucket bath. That is because in the true defense of those in support of a shower bath over bucket bath, I have always taken into account that those who go for bucket bath only use one bucket of water which might not be true. Using two or more buckets of water makes it way water consuming than a regular shower bath. But hey, I have assumed so much for the shower players, I can make this small assumption as well. Just keep in mind that there are millions who are still thirsty while we bathe daily/weekly. Overall, "a" bucket bath is way better than shower in the present circumstances at least! Also, c'mon, with a bucket bath, one can reach any particular spot on the body but that is not possible with a shower bath. Most importantly, you can take your time in a bucket bath without having to worry about turning off knobs. What is the point of taking a bath if one cannot stand and wonder or recollect the lyrics of a really long song!

Some disturbing links:

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Other Side of the Moon!

After a hard day at work, Mahati also had a hard time at home. The air in the apartment that she was sharing with her fellow Indian friends was full with unpleasantness. Mahati wondered what would have come up this time. "It is always difficult for us Indians to live in countries like this" her friend was saying. Mahati quickly realised the gravity of the situation and completely agreed with her friend and joined her in bashing the western world because she knew that if she did not, there would be no dinner and she was hungry. In the canteen the next day, her friend brought up the topic again. Confident that there is no problem with regards to food, Mahati freely spoke her heart out this time. 'Why are we unhappy?' she asked. 'Because we are not given the opportunity to be happy.' Mahati wondered whether it was the salad, because she was not happy with those huge lettuce leaves in whose pockets were hiding one or two tomatoes.

She realised that the salad was not the problem. 'Why are we not allowed to explore and express ourselves?' 'Who is stopping you from expressing yourself?' Mahati asked. 'We are discriminated by our looks, color and language. These are no reasons to discriminate. Why should we not be allowed to explore?' Mahati now understood. Something at the workplace or the salary slip, she decided. 'We come here for opportunities, yes,' her friend continued 'but we also work hard. We are here not because we have no opportunities back in India. We are here because, these countries are rich enough to have enough opportunities in every field of work. And since we do well in our work, we deserve to be respected on par with the locals.'

'Agreed. But I do not think that these are reasons enough to be unhappy about. We are all lucky that at least we are given an opportunity to prove our talents, to be able to eat food whenever we are hungry and sleep when we are tired. We also come from a country where there is enough food for everyone even though some individuals get food equivalent to a hundred people and some go hungry for days. Still there is food for everyone and hence most households are full of laughter. Maybe not every household, but every one who go out of India for these so called better opportunities all have a home to which you can look forward to going to and there is always some one looking for you to come home. What more can one ask to be happy? There are millions who cannot define what their home is. No matter what, we know that we can always go home, right, unlike many others.'

'Yes. But why on Earth should we not be allowed to be happy when we are away from home? Should I be happy only thinking about home?' Mahati replied, 'Nobody is stopping you from trying to be happy with your life, are they? Just try to enjoy life and be thankful.' 'Yeah sure. Thanks. Aah. See, look how happy that girl seems. She is fair and liked by everyone here. She has no reason to be unhappy like us.' he was saying, Mahati's friend. Mahati got up and went to the girl and introduced herself. 'Hi. Nice to meet you.' said that girl.
'Which part of this country are you from?' Mahati asked
'Oh no. I am not from this country. I have come here in search of some opportunity to work.' the girl said.
'I see. You were so nicely mingling with the people and seemed very ha..I mean, we thought you are from this country itself. Why did you come here then?'
'Oh, you see, I did not want to come, I had to come.' the girl winked.
'Where are you from?'

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nothing but the Best!

A time capsule is defined as 'historic cache of goods or information, often intended as a method of communication with future people.' This would help the future anthropologists and historians. Emperor Asoka's pillar inscriptions of Sarnath is one example. Even though not even as close to being significant or historic like the Asokan pillars, the time capsule at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, Germany is useful for the common man to understand the shaping up of one of the world's largest economy. Yes, the museum devoted to exhibiting the development of the brand Mercedes, just like any other museum begins from the origin. But what is exciting comes after the origin. The way the company has taken shape and the way the entire country has developed as the automobile developed is explained quite brilliantly and that is the best thing about the museum.

The journey begins with the display of a superb model of a sports car. Probably that is the indication about the grandeur of what is about to come further. An elevator to the top floor from which the journey of the automobile starts is not just any ordinary elevator. It is the time capsule. As it goes to higher floors, there is a fast recap of videos visible on the wall opposite, thus taking us back in time along with it. At the entry, there is a statue of a horse as if to thank the animal for serving mankind so well before the automobile revolution. It could as well mean that the service of the animal stopped just at the entrance of the automobile. Either way, the horse is happy. It can have a life of its own.

Whether a coincidence or competition, it is a wonder that both Mr. Daimler and Mr. Benz had developed their own automobile in the year 1886. If Daimler modified a horse wagon, Benz made a carrier of his own. They both ran on gasoline. Thus started the journey. It goes on to show how the ambitious men that they both were conquered every part of the transport and logistics sector. The breweries in Germany were more than happy with the arrival of the automobile and were among the first customers. Later, an Austrian businessman, who wanted to win the annual vehicle race in France got a customised car made for the very same purpose and named the car after his daughter, Mercedes. After Benz and Daimler came together, they retained the name. Interestingly, it is only around the late 18th century that Germany as it is now has grown in popularity under the iron chancellor, Otto von Bismark. If this is a coincidence, then the crucial role played by the automobile companies during both the world wars is no coincidence. 

Once the war ended, west Germany, especially Bavaria grew in the automobile sector. Now, every fourth car on the road is a German car. Due to the destruction left by the war, nation building, like the breweries earlier required good transport and logistics facilities and Mercedes was in the forefront in grabbing that opportunity. So much did the car and their speeds develop that the group had to focus exclusively on safety at a point of time. Thus came the 'airbag.' No, the seat belt was invented by Volvo. Towards the end, there is a proud exhibition of the Formula One race cars, the suits worn by different drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Juan Manuel Fangio. Surprisingly, Micheal Schumacher does not feature anywhere. There are also exhibits of the original cars used by celebrities like Pope John Paul II (someone) - basically the papal car, the car used by Lady Diana, the truck that carried athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympic games, the car used in Jurassic Park etc. There is also a souvenir shop and a car showroom, into which people generally go to sit in the car and click photographs.

Any normal human being whose heart beats at 72 cycles per minute wishes to travel at least twice in that time capsule. This museum is a perfect reflection of the motto Mercedes-Benz: Best or nothing. It is nothing but the best!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Politics and Cricket: Bullying a Bully

As India immerses itself deep in challenging cricket and landslide electoral mandates in politics, it could be the right time to think about politics in cricket.
There is one more thing that Indians love, apart from cricket and politics: movies. Indian movies somehow tend to show that the rich guy is the villain, even the 'high budget' movies. For the common man, the relation of movies to cricket is quite simple. The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) is rich. And hence, BCCI is the villain. And anyone who can tame the bull(y) by its horns is a hero, even an otherwise hated person. It probably is the human nature. Not many ever support the Tiger when it chases its prey. This brings us to the question, why the hatred? Even if there is no hatred, there definitely is no love. BCCI is not loved like FIFA by the fans. Is it all because the BCCI, within a span of very few years grew from an underdog and a sidekick to being the boss in cricket? Well, that should make the average cricket fan in India be fond of BCCI. It just is not loved just as same as cricket in India. Maybe the movies do have an impact on the people.

On a serious note however, it is quite sad that many a man has conveniently forgotten the tremendous changes that BCCI brought into the game in India. The board had over years transformed the face of cricket in India and made heroes out of people who know nothing more than hit a 22 pound sphere with a three foot stick. And when a jobless, retired supreme court judge decides that the BCCI is bad and requires a changeover, he is welcomed as a hero. The bull has been brought down onto its knees by its horns. Many would argue that the BCCI had made a lot of money and hence it is bullying other countries and boards. Well, it would be great to know how the world of cricket got ruined by that. BCCI per se does what the United States of America does to the entire world. And we all love America and carry no love towards BCCI. The board was registered as a society in Tamil Nadu way back in 1928 and why did we have to wait for over 80 years to realise that it is wrong for the board to be a society and not pay taxes? Just because it is the only board running in heavy profits? How come we then don't bat an eye that Education Testing Services (ETS) in the name of SAT, GRE, TOEFL and GMAT is robbing millions of dollars from Indian students who wish to go abroad for higher education and yet, ETS is a non profit organisation. But when BCCI which is lifting hundreds or maybe thousands of players and those related to cricket, there occurs a problem for it to continue as a society.

The seasoned quitter!

It is probably because of lobbying, in which India is earning quite a name in the last few years. In Indian cricket, the Mumbai lobby is the strongest. And when met with opposition from people like N. Srinivasan from the south, we all know what happened to him. A major portion of his downfall is his own doing. However, when things did not quite work out at the BCCI, the lobby sent its representative to the ICC. It seemed like he waited for the right moment to attack the BCCI and the moment came in the form of the recommendations of the Lodha committee. The outcome of these recommendations might definitely help city boards like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. We have to understand that we will all see more of Kohlis, Rahanes and Nairs and cricket in India will be the same. But what about the Mahendra Singh Dhonis, the Kedar Jadavs and the Ravindra Jadejas? How come Maharashtra and Manipur have the same say in cricketing decisions. A single vote for Maharashtra would mean complete Mumbai dominance and it is not good. No wonder Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri are quite happy. Even electoral colleges keep in mind the population and popularity in mind while deciding the vote share. Not even a competitive lawyer like Kapil Sibal could make the court understand this simple logic.

The advisory committee! How on Earth did a sensible person like Ramachandra Guha agree to be a part of it? If being a cricket historian takes one to the advisory committee, then should P.N. Oak had been made the Endowment minister or Arundhati Roy the principal secretary? Going by this logic, the appointment of Gajendra Chouhan as the chairman of FTII can also be justified. Guha should have followed example of Dravid in politely rejecting honours. Instead he chose his idol, Sachin Tendulkar in readily accepting jobs which he is not capable of fulfilling. By the way, Harsha Bhogle was ousted by the BCCI. Does that not make him the topmost contender to the advisory committee?? He would have truly been a wise choice! Whoever the advisor is, he/she should remember that nothing or nobody is above the game. Protecting the interests of Indian cricket should be the priority of the board, which it of course has been doing quite nicely for years, until the Lodha committee entered.

In their entire life, the Lodha committee members would have spent more time in the cafeteria in the district court that on a cricket ground, or knowing about cricket. While I do acknowledge that a judge does not necessarily need to be highly knowledgeable about the things that he reports on, I feel that they have gone too far into 'changing' BCCI for the better. They should have been content when the majority of their recommendations were implemented. All the problems stemmed from the IPL spot fixing for which the BCCI had done enough amendments. The thing is...The newly appointed CoA do not know how to play! And if they want to do well, the BCCI has to function the way it always functioned. Yet, the committee finds faults entirely in BCCI and not at all in the law and order maintenance! Just like what they did their entire life, they simply punished the easy target. And when the BCCI is at its weakest, Shashank Manohar at the ICC is attacking from the outside. The result: The bully BCCI has been bullied into doing things!

Monday, February 27, 2017

In a Perfect World, in Tennis!

I am a lone Rafa fan among a bunch of stupid friends who are Federer fans. Sorry for delaying this but I kept it in waiting so that I can dedicate it. This piece is for all the big Federer fans out there, especially MY GREAT, AWESOME FRIEND, PRASIDDHA who is ready to crash onto Saturn along with Cassini space orbiter if it would make her meet Roger Federer. (You win today, but one day I will win too!)

In a perfect world, in the sport of tennis, the perfect tennis rankings would feature Roger Federer at the top, followed by Rafael Nadal in the second place. The perfect grandslam final would be played between these both, with Nadal thrashing Federer on clay or a slow surface and a fierce battle ensued between them on other surfaces. And for a period of time, a record 160 weeks to be specific, this did happen in tennis. Everything was perfect, until other beauties like Novak Djokovic took over the crown. However, there is only one perfect situation and true tennis fans have missed it for a long time even with Rafa and Roger around.

And for once, just once, there came another chance. Again, everything was perfectly for the setting. In unexpected, yet delightful turn of events, the best players in the world right now, Djokovic and Andy Murray lost cheaply in early rounds in the Australian Open while Wawrinka and Dimitrov just scared the many a fan for a brief time. Thus, after six years, the result was, the perfect moment came once again. Called together by their colloquial name, 'Fedal,' they did play like true gladiators that they are but only a bit old and weary. They both knew Federer's time was up (sorry, Federer fans, sadly this is true) and this match is the last big thing that they could do together! Ah the lovely couple and their sad break up!!  Even the craziest of Nadal fan would have not worried if he lost. Because he would be losing to Roger Federer! No one cares who wins as long as they get to see them play each other in a major. And they did not disappoint. They fought and they fought bitterly. Federer the ever child he is and Nadal the ever fighter he is. They fought for the championship. No reason for Nadal fans to be upset. After all, this is just Australian Open. Not the Wimbledon nor the Roland Garros (better than the US Open though). I am sure that if Nadal continues this kind of a show, we know what birthday present he is going to give himself this year.

This would be the end. We only walk forward. No going back! 

Both were gracious. They played for the victory like they always did. They played for the tennis fan and importantly, they played for tennis, the lovely game that Sir Isaac Newton improvised sitting in the lawns of Cambridge. It could be tough to play to balance all the three. They did it because it is them, 'Fedal.' They are now not two different players. And now, there will not be one clear winner in the match. Just as Federer wonderfully said after the match, 'If tennis allows it, they both would be sharing the trophy.' And yes, they spoke wonderfully. It was as if both of them prepared for a speech together, which could be used irrespective of who won. They both carried the same grace and competitiveness right from their game into the speech. The speech was spontaneous but felt well rehearsed like the Nobel prize or the Academy award acceptance speech. Well, this match was definitely the Oscar of tennis, it is only once in a lifetime event.

If this match did not display the spirit of tennis, nothing would have. Of course, most of their encounters and many other tennis encounters did display the spirit. But they played a grandslam final like an exhibition match. It takes great sportsmanship to do so. They also perfectly understood the gravity of the situation. While they celebrated each point which they won so hard, they also knew to celebrate in the 'non hurtful' way. It is as if both of them knew the other's fanbase. They wanted to keep everyone happy, yet wholeheartedly fight for the trophy. That is the return they have given for all the love that they received. This match has taken the Federer-Nadal rivalry to another level: it paired their names. A Fedal match is now not something which tennis fans would watch to support one player. It is the whole match as a package that they would be interested in. Of course, they are never going to meet in a grand slam final again. Their (read Federer's) age will not allow them to. Their (read Nadal's) body and fitness will not allow it and their rankings definitely will not help. This is it. This is the last that we have seen them play each other in a major final and they made it a true tennis match which makes the average tennis fan go like, ' Well, that is for a lifetime!' 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Turning the Tables

"Why don't you come over one day. It's fun. I have been working in this industry for five years now and there was not one day when I felt bored" said Mahati's friend. He worked as a sound manager for a TV show. He entered the film industry hoping to become a good director and had his write friend make some wonderful scripts ready. He wanted to earn an extra rupee, so he grabbed the first opportunity that came to his hand: to work as a sound manager for a TV show. As fancy as the name sounds, all he has to do is to click the right button at the right time. It of course is exciting and not boring because, one small mistake and he would be vapourised by the director.

It was any other routine day. Mahati felt that she should rather go to the shoot since it was a movie shoot of the hero on the TV show and it could be a change from the regular. She could see how a film is shot and would actually see the hero in action. Mahati went along with her friend to the shoot. Her friend was busy managing the reflector paper, so Mahati was left for herself. On the set was a movie in which the hero played the role of a poor guy. Mahati pondered what the hero's past had been. He had come from a humble modest family of a cashier in the government vegetable market yard. The hero had faced a lot of pressure at home to not take up acting since it would not guarantee a fixed income. The hero also had to face lot of insults multiple times from multiple persons in the film industry. 'What a man!! He definitely must know how hard life is,' thought Mahati. She felt great to see him in action.

The movie reflected Mahati's mood. The villain was a billionaire whom the hero once helped on one occasion. Obviously, when the hero needs help, the villain does not come forward voluntarily. Hence, he is the villain. 'What an actor!! He definitely must be aware of life lest he cannot express emotions that well' Mahati thought. She mentally thanked the wonderful director who was responsible for introducing and bringing fame to the hero. Despite of multiple failures and insults to the hero by many others, this particular director never stopped believing in the hero. He made him what he is today. Then she remembered that the director died recently because of poverty and illness. She felt sorry for him for a moment and went back to adoring the hero and his acting skills. The hero ended the scene with a strong dialogue on poverty, common man and the power of a single man, who without a strong backing can have mighty influence on the society. 'What a simpleton!! He definitely must know what poverty is and being left out by those who had once approached him for help feels like' thought Mahati.

Something in the back of her mind struck her. As she was trying to process what she had thought in a while, the hero who had donned a poor guy's character and championed the cause of the common man sped past her in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce to his home in Bandra. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

A walk through the ages in Baden Karlsruhe, Germany

Statutory Warning: The writer has been dormant for quite sometime now. Hence, the blogpost is duly scrutinized and perused. However, do not mind if the post wanders away from the topic or if you find English, not being the language that humans generally speak. Thanks

Germany is a great place to work in, provided one knows German. Or provided one knows how to shut themselves off from everything but work. Any attempt in learning German language, heritage or culture will be welcomed by the locals warmly with a huge smile. To learn German, one could try the hard way out, that is by watching the television in Germany. It is ridiculously ridiculous to watch even 'The Simpsons' dubbed into German as 'Die Simpsons' and worst, to watch Nickelodeon channel in German. Well, that is the hard way. A much easier way would be of course to enroll for German classes. Apart from language, one way to learn the culture of the place would be to visit museums. The Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe is one place which teaches a lot of good history.

Nice view in the night!

The palace is centrally located in the town which is built in such a way that all roads lead to the palace. The palace which was built in 1715 does not at all seem so. Whether it is the German archaeology department or the engineers of the 18th century, one does not know. A quite costly ticket for the museum visit will however take one through the ages, from about 2000 BC mankind to Steffi Graf of the modern era. A walk through the ancient Cyclades, with their marble stone figurines, through Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Greece, Macedonia, Sicily, Rome, gives the perfect routemap for someone from Asia visiting the place. The Byzantine empire is obviously given a lot of importance in the early history. An entire section is devoted to explaining ancient funeral techniques. Great!

The renaissance period section greets one with a life size dolls of Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles (yeah, that's right!), how they were all murdered and stuff which moves on to silver and bronzeware of that age. The later part of the museum shows how rich the Barons, the Duchess and the Dukes grew in Europe. Lavish lifestyle, one must agree. And a safe one too, because one cannot find many weapons. Probably the Persians were too busy deciding who would invade India that they left Europe mostly in peace to fight among themselves (this obviously is a joke and please, no talking about the Crusades, because they fail to be mentioned in the museum). The lavish lifestyle included lots of games that were played which is seen from the variety of medallions and trophies on display. A pineapple featuring in the trophies has been in usage from times unknown, apparently.

That would bring us to the last section of museum, where there is a pleasant surprise in wait. A number of tennis balls used by Boris Becker and Steffi Graf are on display along with scientific inventions by great companies like Bosch. Interestingly, Adolf Hitler features no where in the museum even though a number of war boots and the Nazi arm strap are on display. That is very nice of the Germans(?).

The tower is a special one, climbing on the top of which gives one a good view (I don't I need to mention Karlsruhe. One cannot see Paris from this 90 foot tower.) The statue of the Baron of the palace features in the huge lawn present outside. The palace is marvelous and needs a full day to cover everything present inside. A visit to this place truly takes one through the Art and Culture of Karlsruhe Baden. Try visiting it in Germany. Karlsruhe is an hour's journey in the 257 kmph train from Franfurt. Do the math!