Monday, September 14, 2015

The Elusive 18th Grand Slam - Roger Federer

Tennis was a new realm of entertainment for me. I had never taken interest in any other game than Cricket. But the year of 2001 and especially, the Federer and Sampras game was the one to which intrigued me and have been following the game since.

Sampras and his achievement weren't new to me. If someone from a third would country, where Cricket dominates every other sport, in terms of popularity, knows Sampras then, it is evident enough to list it among his milestones. People were already calling Sampras as the greatest open era tennis player. But little did Sampras know, the boy he was playing against in the fourth round of Wimbledon 2001, will be the one taking over all his records and creating new for his own. Federer was a over night celebrity after the win, but, very few players have had the talent and determination to maintain the success rolling. Though, he lost the very next match to Tim Henman but not without making him earn every point. 

That was Federer's start and I know that he has finished but today, I'm writing to make myself realize that possibly, the 18th grand slam will be an elusive dream. Today, I saw Federer loosing 2015 US Open final to Novak Djokovic. Federer also recently lost to Novak in the finals of Wimbledon 2015. I saw that game too expecting a Federer win but it didn't came. Same were the expectations today, but, the result was the same. Though, considering it as a good change, Federer was playing a lot better than the Wimbledon final today. His timing and power on that trademarked backhand was exquisite. When Federer took the second set back after breaking Novak's serve, I was elated and had a strong feeling that today may be THE day. But, in next 90 mins, Novak took the game away, far away from Federer. There were bursts of brilliance from Federer in between, enough to make Novak sweat, but not enough to trouble him.

The results of the two grand slam finals between these two players reminded me of Federer's dominance over Agassi. Following is a statement by Federer for Agassi and how he needs to pick his game:

"On my day where I'm not playing perfect, I know I can beat him. He's not as good as he was when he was at the top of the ranking, otherwise he would be there. Fortunately, I'm there. I think he has to raise his game, not me"

Believe, this is something similar happening to Federer these days. Seems like it is karma.

Being a Federer fan, I wish to see him retire with a great win under his belt and will to be waiting for that currently elusive 18th grand slam.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

And The Trek Starts

Waiting at the pick up point for more than 40 mins was not helping with the restlessness. But I'm not among the elite group of people who can emote that easily. My restlessness was buried deep down and usually doesn't see the day light. But, in my mind, I was picturing all those great things that I had heard from people who trek. My imagination was flying sky high. And it was not just about the trek but also about the bunch of strangers I would meet on this trip.

While waiting, I found myself surrounded with a bunch of hyperactive people. Hyperactive isn't my genre. So was sitting calm and subtle, observing, judging and imagining the next two days away from my comfort zone.

After about 50 mins of wait, we all boarded the bus and next 7-8 hours went sleep deprived. I do like some or any pleasant noise around and me being me, its felt good to be part of a group where some people can just not sit quite. We reached our base camp by morning 4-4:30 and started our journey to Lushington Falls by 8 AM. Soon, we reached the place which was the starting point of our 16 km trek.

Note: - The trek was through a rain forest in monsoon season and I realized that a bit too late.

We were given a tiny bag of salt at the start of the trip, which I ignored and didn't carry, keeping in mind the pictures of the earlier trek I had seen on Bangalore Mountaineering Club's facebook page. A few 100 meters in to the forest and I realized what grave mistake I have committed by not keeping the salt pocket with me. I caught or vice versa about 18-19 leaches on my legs and had to cry for help every time. While, I found most of them on and around the ankles but a couple of the leaches were too intimate and were found pretty close to my - you know what. I don't regret my decision on wearing a shots to the trek but it would have been a better idea to wear something different.

The trek started from a village just off the road, through fields, followed by dense rain forest and ending at this.

Src: Prashant Nayak || Flickr
After spending hours absorbing peace around the violent water fall, we returned for lunch. Its not easy to even remember what one ate a few days back, but the sumptuous meal offered for the lunch was worth remembering. The simplicity of the food was the best feature. It wasn't overloaded with spices which is somewhat of a rule in southern India.

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Returning base camp by night, we lit some wood and sat around while playing and listening music, This exact moment was were I felt that I have had it all from trip. All of my expectation from the trip were met exceeded. 

I believe, that the first experience of something new matters the most as it sets you up for later experiences. Here's hoping for many such experiences in life.

People behind the pictures: - 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Is cricket really shadowing other sports in India?

I recently read a blog post by someone who believes that other sports in India aren't getting the same recognition and appreciation despite various sports person achieving great heights in their field of sport.

I, for one, am fed of these comparisons where people think that Indian cricket got this reputation and fan following over night. Indian Cricket team also has struggled similarly like most of the sports around India and probably more than a few sports too.

Indian team won their first test match at home in 1952 and 1967 overseas in New Zealand. Indian team was not a great test match team till they started competing and winning since Ganguly lead the team. Before that India was a less than an average test match side. Though, they were great at home but never outside of their own turf.

Yes, India was good One Day side and they proved their metal for the first time with 1983 world cup win. But that was not it, Indian team retained the great form and won the Prudential Cup, involving all the test playing nations in the year 1985. These victories out side of India was responsible for creating the buzz among the people at home.

Decline in India's performance in Hockey at this particular time also lead to the growth of Cricket's popularity. This was also the time when cricket started attracting glamour and investors started pouring money in to the sport. The balance then started to shift towards Cricket and lack of success in other sports was a major contributor.

From then on, Indian cricket team hasn't been out of the picture. They have been consistent across ODI's, however, test cricket still requires a lot of improvement.

And we as Indians have accepted all who have risen to glory in their own field of sport. Saina Nehwal to Gopichand, Peas - Bhupati to Sania, Vijendar - Sangram - Yogeshwar Dutt - Sushil Kumar, Deepika Kumari

Its not that we don't appericiate efforts sports person make in other fields but they would have to struggle a lot and really a lot, if they want to compare themselves to the status of Cricket in India.

Friday, July 10, 2015

We Are (G)Root !!!!! - English Challenge in Ashes

At the start of this decade, the world of cricket saw some promising new corps making a statement on the international stage. However, one of the most promising and consistent performers over the last few years is none other than Joe Root.

Joe Root, like his challengers for being the best rising batsmen around the world, had performed exceptionally with scores around the world. You can point to any country on the map where English team traveled and you'll find Root's stats reflecting his genius. He, now, has become the spine of his national test side similar Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli, who are also made of the same thread. Though, Williamson and Root seems very similar to each other. Both are classical and text book batsman. They play by the book which is what every coach around the world wants their students to learn. But, reason for me mentioning Root today is because of the on going Ashes.

England is hosting the Ashes 2015 and with the recent performance at home against New Zealand, Aussies shouldn't mistake them as any less. English team is going through a transition at this moment. They have moved on from Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root has made that transition as smooth as it possibly could get. I was eagerly waiting for the Ashes to start especially cause English team is playing on their home turf. On the very first day, we saw a gem of an inning from Joe Root. His 134 lead to a total of 430 and Root again stood rock solid against the Aussie fast bowing attack. Even better, he attached the Mitchell's from Australia and scoring fast against them.

I admire the way Root usually approaches his innings. He is always smiling doesn't matter if its Mitchell Johnson - staring down his throat with dread eyes - after delivering a fast bouncer - which goes whispering past his ears. He has shown a different side of temperament. 

Joe is the most exciting player to be participating in this years Ashes, at least for me. Here's hoping for the best and a great and competitive Ashes 2015.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why Pay MRP?

The first thing I should tell about me sharing about the following information is that I'm not paid to do it. I'm just happy to share the information and I hope this information helps explore the benefits too.

So, I believe these days you are not counted to be among the smart people if, you are paying MRP for products or services starting from groceries, to booking cab, to paying for a movie etcetera and etcetera. I always try to find some deal on products and services whenever I'm going out to buy or while buying online. To tell you the truth, I'm the worst when it comes to haggling. However, online shopping isn't the place where you have to. But it is also the place where you can get many a deals. When you hear that different people paid for same service or product, its simple that the person who got it cheaper has "googling" skills. Yea, it is a word and I'm standing on its side so that Oxford will recognize it as well.

So next time onward, spend few minutes on the internet. Search for good deals you can get on the service which you are trying to buy in MRP. Even in the worst case scenario, you'll just be loosing a few minutes of the day, however, if you luck strikes, you might get a good discount.

The reason of sharing this information today is because of the experience I had today. Minions the movie is releasing this Friday and I'm all excited to watch it. Plus, my last movie experience was at this IMAX theater which I want to visit again. So, while searching for the deals available on the movie, I found that the IMAX theater was offering a 30% discount, if, I pay through a specific online wallet service. It took me less than 5 minutes to make an account and money to it. And in next 15 minutes, I was able to book movie tickets for the same theater at 30% lesser price than what I had paid the last time round.

So, give it try. It is like one of those Magic 8 balls where it won't just tell you to try your luck again. You also might be able to get some help out of it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rise of the Challengers - Bangladesh

As the umpire adjudged Mustafizur LBW, it marked an Indian win and also concluded the India vs Bangladesh ODI series. Though, the win was a saving grace for the Indian team, however, it being the high point of the 3 ODI match series wasn't something which fans back at home were execting.

There's no doubt that Bangla team has learned a few new tricks. They have produced some exceptional performances against one of the best teams in the world, especially, on their home turf. They have "Bangla-washed" New Zealand and Pakistan in ODI series in past few year, latter came just a few months back.Underestimating this Bangla team is a mistake which team India, Pakistan and England has recently committed and have paid the price.

The zeal and grit displayed by Musrafe Murtaza and Co. proves that the team is ready to graduate from newcomer to the challenger. My favorite player from the Bangla team has been Mushfiqur Rahim, who stood tall against the best of the attacks in the world to take his team home. Watching him slogging one of the best off spinners around, Saeed Ajmal, through mid wicket was nothing less than a treat.And that's not just it, his quiver is full of shots to play all around the ground. Another player which has come up in the ranks in this year has been Taskin Ahmed. Taskin is a gem of a fast bowler. He can bowl above 140 kmph without sweating, hits the deck hard and has been the only bowler to extract extra bounce from the pitch in this Indo Bangla series. Mustafizur is the find of this series. His accuracy and change of pace was impeccable and the best of Indian batsmen couldn't find a way through. He finished the series with 13 wickets and entering the record books subsequently. However, I still rate Taskin as a better bowler than Mustafizur. Bangla pace attack shows great hopes with both these youngsters in their rank, lead by seniors players like the captain Murtaza and Rubel Hossain.

Moving from Bangla's fast bowling to their spin bowling, which is lead by the ace all rounder and current number one, Shakib Al Hasan. He is the first Bangla produce who has proved himself in all different conditions and rightfully earned the title of being their best player. He leads the attach with Nassir Hossain and any occasional spinner in the team. He accuracy with the ball is the flawless.

Now, the batting of the Bangla team. The roar is lead by the fearless Tamin Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar. Sarkar being counted among the players like Gayle and Baz to have the best boundary percentage in their careers in recent year can display their ruthless aggression against any opponent. Batting line then feature the experience of Mushfiqur and Shakib whom the middle order depends. But the lower middle has Shabbir Hosain who makes sure than even with 4-5 wickets down, Bangladesh doesn't go out without a fight. Shabbir has produced a few innings in this short career which have proved crucial in Bangla wins.

I skipped but didn't forget to mention the star of the world cup for Bangladesh, Mahmudullah Riyad. Scoring two centuries on the trot doesn't happen to players every week. He plays at the most crucial position of a cricket team, No. 3. I would like him to play at the same position for many years to come.

The best aspect of this current gritty Bangla team is average age. This team has the perfect mixture of young and restless energy measured and controlled by perfect amount of experience.

I hope to see great cricket from the Bangla Tigers in the coming years.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Take a Break - Ooty and Coonoor

It isn't difficult to find eateries in cities where tourists line up all year long. Ooty and Coonoor is one of these places. Though, being the hardcore North India food lover, it isn't easy for me to adjust to the South Indian food and their eating culture. So, the first thing I search for after getting down in a new city is to find the good North Indian serving eateries.

So, I was stayed one day each in Ooty and Coonoor. I landed two good places serving great food. First was the Earl's Secret of King's Cliff which was a bit far from Ooty railway station, however, eating in a glass house especially when its raining, make it worth your money. The property seemed pretty old, reflecting ancient English architecture.

The food left me wishing that if only the food was as good as the weather outside, then, it would have been among my top three places to eat I have eaten, yet. It goes without saying that Earl's Secret is for the elite class with an average cost of 1600-1800 INR for two people, especially when the food's taste or quality doesn't match its price. However, the property is so beautiful that I don't mind spending. In case, you are travelling with someone especial, then, this is one must visit place.

Glass House - Earl's Secret
The second best of the trip was Hydrabad Birayni House in Coonoor. Its close to Coonoor railway station. Would you be amazed to hear that their Biryani was their USP? Naah, right. Me too. But, it was among the top three Biryani's I have ever had. They serve biryani's in three sizes. Everyone knows at least one of those people who would eat as if they have been living in a dessert for last 2 years. If you know such a person, then, call her/him and challenge them to finish one large serving of HBH Biryani and bet your life earning on it. Even you home or life, I you will. HBH is exactly for those kind of people who live to eat. I would highly recommend HBH, not just for their sumptuous food but also to their great taste. I couldn't try much after ordering their biryani for obvious reasons.

If you ever get a chance to visit these place, then, try to keep an eye for these places. Also, if you tell them that I have referred you, then, you might have to pay for dessert which we didn't.

"Its monsoon in India and probably not a good time to travel" who so ever tells you this, tell them to STFU. Take some time out, visit places, when ever you get some time take a break from this hectic lifestyle.


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