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

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!