Monday, February 02, 2009

Roger - Emotional Athyachaar :(

A Roger v/s Rafa final is as good as it gets in a Grand Slam and every time these two play each other, they dish out a classic either matching or even better than their previous encounters. And this one was all the more significant with Roger bidding to equal Pete Sampras' record of 14 Singles Grand Slam titles.

It had all the ingredients of a thriller, but for an anticlimatic finish in the 5th set, where surprisingly Fedex was completely derailed by a tenacious Nadal, who forced Federer into committing loads of unforced errors with his penetrating ground strokes.

What makes this an incredible win for Nadal is the fact that before the Final, Nadal played the longest match in the history of the Australian Open with a marathon 5 and a half-hour semifinal victory over his fellow Spaniard Verdasco. It was he who should've felt physically drained out, but he showed tremendous courage and commitment to stay focussed throughout the game.

Being a Federer fan, I would just shudder at thought of the possibility of Nadal having had a shorter outing in the semi-final. I am pretty sure he would've defeated Fedex in a much shorter time in the final.

The sight of Roger Federer (regarded by one and many as the greatest player in the history of tennis Open era) crying after a tough loss to his nemesis Rafa Nadal, will remain etched in many a tennis fan's mind. In the past, we have seen quite a few champions expressing their emotions after winning a championship, but mostly they were tears of joy after winning a title. But this one was significant and the bruises of this loss will probably be even worse than that in Wimbledon last year.

From a Federer fan's perspective, what is disturbing is to see the champ pass out in the most crucial stages of a Final with a whimper, especially with Nadal being on the other side. This is FedEx's 5th loss to Nadal in 7 meetings in Grand Slam finals. With each passing match, FedEx is unable to crack the mystery of the Nadal game and with him being on the wrong side of the 20s, FedEx is running out of time both to win the maximum number of Grand Slam Singles titles and most importantly to beat Nadal and regain his No.1 spot.

Will FedEx cope up with the pressure? Only time will tell. With players like Murray and Djokovic knocking on the doors, this year is surely gonna be a cracking and interesting year in the tennis world.

Signing Off....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Load-shedding and Self Discipline

On a bright Sunday afternoon in Pune, sometime in August, just before the Indian independence day, I had a hearty lunch with one of my closest friends and his spouse and we were all set to try out my friend's new play station when the dreaded load-shedding in Pune started. There was no electricity for around 5 hours and we were literally jobless @ home.

We started debating about which entity is responsible for the current situation of our country. The world sees India as a developing country and one of the fastest growing economies. However most tier-I and tier - II cities like Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore etc. have severe power cuts and water shortage throughout the year. Add to it the crumbling infrastructure in these cities and the rapid increase in population in these cities due to rural-urban migration and the situation is nothing short of chaos in these cities.

As one would expect, the blame game started. Who is accountable? I normally tend to avoid anything remotely related to politics. But then, in an indefinite wait for the electricity and an attempt to beat the heat (surprisingly hot in Pune in August), we had a heated discussion. We entered into the ludicrous world of politics, analyzed the system in & out and what could be done to improve the same. It is no secret that the entire system is corrupt and that we the citizens were the ones who are largely responsible in selecting the system.

But as has often been the case in discussions involving me (this is accidental :)), this was a discussion with a tinge of optimism. We were trying to come up with solutions that can be implement within the realms of the common man. With respect to load-shedding, we came up with an estimate of how much of electricity and water is being wasted in a particular area in Pune and what were the common causes of wastage. What was shocking was that within the three of us we came up with a good twenty five points, which we contribute to wasting electricity and water. We figured out (not a rocket science) that if each of us (the three of us) can avoid this, we can reduce the wastage in that area to around a good 0.25%. And if it can be replicated throughout that particular area, a good 40% of savings could be effected. Isn't that huge? Well yes indeed.

Thus, we come to the concluding part of this post i.e. Self discipline. During my bachelor days in bangalore, we room-mates used to fight as to who should shut down light of our rooms and often in our laziness to get out of bed, we slept with lights on. And it is a common phenomenon in every family. So, if we educated people, can rein in our laziness and be a bit more disciplined, we really don't need to work for NGOs to give something back to the society. Simple acts of not wasting a drop of water and optimum usage of electricity are enough to give light to people suffering in poverty.

Signing Off...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mumbai - Method in Madness and a City with a heart

Suketu Mehta in his book "Maximum city, Mumbai lost and found" says the spirit of Mumbai is not seen in the politicians but its people. Suketu gives us an amazing depiction of Mumbai from two different angles, something quite similar to what I am experiencing these days.

I moved out of Mumbai in 2003 and returned back this April after having experienced a "slower" life in Bangalore, Pune and Chennai. From the time my family moved to Mumbai since 1992 , I've always experienced the best and the most memorable moments and I had a rosy picture of Mumbai. Thanks to the pampering that I received from my family, I hardly travelled in trains, and BEST buses and hence never got to see the true face of Mumbai, which according to a Gartner report published in 2005, was rated as the "rudest" city in India.

So this time around, I decide to use public transport to work, firstly to explore the city and its travails and secondly to contribute to a larger cause of promoting a greener environment by running one car less on the road. And everyday, I got different aspects of the "aamchi" Mumbai's spirit.

I wish to share one such incident that made me write this post. Last week on a rainy Tuesday morning, I took one of the most crowded non-a/c buses and with my laptop, it looked like an arduous 45 minutes of travel. It was an usual over-crowded bus, but with a difference. The 25 odd people who were standing in the bus were neatly aligned in three rows and were adjusting themselves at each stop to accomodate a few more people all the time. Usually once the bus is over-crowded and there is no breathing space left, it never stops in subsequent bus-stops.

But here, there was a leader, in the true sense of the word, who was driving a method into the madness by witty one-liners like "mulga ani mulgi close hou shakthoi...koni kaahich bolnaar nahi" (guys and girls can get closer.....right chance, no one is going to object :) and bringing a smile on the face of every individual travelling in that bus. It was indeed amazing, how this one man, brought out the human-being in each individual in that bus.

He urged people to work in a team so that everybody can reach their respective workplaces on time. Another amazing thing about this guy was he knew almost 70% of the folks on the bus by name. No prizes for guessing who this guy is, but of course the bus conductor!!

Take that for a case study on people management!!!! But what's more amazing is the perseverance and the discipline of the Mumbai public. People in that bus were drenched in sweat and were consumed by their own worries of reaching work on time. Yet they realized the importance of each person alighting the bus and accomodated him/her with a smile.

Where else can you find such spirit but our very own "Maximum City"!!!! Salaam Mumbai!!!!

Signin Off...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Small Pleasures of Life

3rd June was one of the hottest days in Mumbai and it was the 2nd day at work for me. And I had to walk a good 1.5 km in the afternoon sun to collect the data card for my office laptop from Tata Comm's main office. After a long day at work, I left office @ 7:15. I was just hoping that the last A/c BEST bus to my place would have some seats and as luck would have it, didn't get a seat. Stood for a good 45 minutes before I got a seat at a stop that was a km before my stop. Mumbai has become too crowded these days. People don't spare the A/c buses too. An A/c bus with a capacity of 30 people carries 45 people. What on earth is the government doing? May be this is our CM's way of transforming Mumbai to Singapore. That's a tired Mumbaiite cribbing about the city's crumbling infrastructure in the wake of the crowd. Anyway coming back to the saga of my travel in an A/c bus, I sulked into my seat with glee even though it was supposed to be only for a couple of stops. I could feel the relief in my strained knees as I stretched them and I slowly settled down to 2-minute nap. Trust me, these 2-minute naps make give a feeling of seventh heaven especially on working days.

Out of nowhere, the clouds opened up and Mumbaiites were greeted by a huge downpour. Overwhelmed by the fresh smell of mud (well i simply love the first rains), I just got down 2 stops before my scheduled bus-stop. The moment I stepped out of the bus, I was greeted by the fresh rain-drops and I was overwhelmed at nature. The child in me sprung to life and I just spread my arms in "Titanic" fashion and looked at the sky for a good 2 minutes before makin my way back home. Onlookers threw weird looks at me for my "childish" act. But "who cared"?.

As I was trudging back home completely drenched, with a huge smile on my face, I spotted several such "grown-up children" just enjoying the small pleasure of Mumbai's first rains. Sometimes, it makes me wonder how we miss out on enjoying the small things in life and miss out on some really dear memories. Sometimes it makes me wonder how mechanical we've become to succeed in meeting our needs that the child in us just goes off to a long sleep

Signing Off.....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Times change people

I'm finally back to the blogging world after a self-initiated hiatus of around a year and a half. Hope that this time, the renewed fervor for writing will last a bit longer than the previous attempt. At a time when cricket and the Indian Premier League is hogging the headlines in India and has captured the imagination of the world with some superb marketing, how can a die-hard cricket fan like me be left far behind? But if u just started guessing that this is going to be another review of an IPL game, rest assured, this ain't anything remotely related to cricket. I guess there has already been an overdose of the game through IPL. Let me introduce two contrasting scenarios at this stage before moving on to the crux of the post.

Scene 1: Eden Gardens, Kolkatta, 13th May 2008, Kolkatta Knight Riders v/s Delhi DareDevils

There's only one name reverbrating in the packed Eden Gardens "Shoaib". Shoaib was the hero of the day with his match-winning spell of 4 wickets for a paltry 7 runs.

As I was witnessing history being made in IPL by Shoaib, thoughts flew back to another incident 8 years ago.

Scene 2: Eden Gardens, Calcutta, Sometime in 2000, India v/s Pakistan (First India-Pakistan series after the Kargil war)

Eden Gardens crowd turned hostile after a controversial run-out decision against Sachin, effected by Shoaib Akhtar. Again only one name on everybody's lips. "Shoaib", but this time being booed more so because of his nationality than for the decision.

Then came a thought. Is patriotism relative?? Can people who once deemed a person as a villain due to his nationality accept him as a hero, when he plays for their city. Well I believe that's exactly the concept that IPL is trying to instil in people. This incident reminds me of another very similar incident in the soccer world. Christiano Ronaldo was booed by the whole of UK, when he faked a foul against England in the World cup in 2006. But once he started playing for Manchester United, the following season, he again became the toast of the same nation that had booed him.

Dual patriotism happens all the time in soccer and it will be interesting to see if the cricket crazy fans of India have the flexibility to sustain the dual patriotism in our national game.

Signin Off...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh Michael!!

Formula 1 will never be the same next year without the biggest name in its history, Michael Schumacher. What a fantastic finish to a fantastic career. All through the last race of this year, the Brazilian GP, Michael showed that he is still at the peak of his skills.

The willpower to retire in style, took him past several obstacles in his last race, most notably, his punctured rear tyre in the 14th lap of the race. After limping half a lap into the pits, he restarted the race at 19th place and then slammed in fastest sector and lap times. And his relentless pressure on Fisichella, forcing Fisichella into a mistake and his special move to overtake Raikkonen, were just a treat to watch.

The fact that in a cricket-crazy country like India, cricket took a backseat, as millions of people were glued to Star Sports on Sunday nite, watching the last race of this season, speaks a lot about this man's popularity in the world.

He didn’t win the title or even the race. Indeed, he didn’t even make the podium. However, Michael Schumacher’s farewell drive in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix illustrated the grit, skill and determination that has made him the greatest driver Formula One racing has ever seen.

Schumacher's F1 career might be over, but true to form, he entertained the world to the last. Oh!! Michael, thanks a lot. You will be missed and F1 will never be the same without you.

Signing off...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

India's Middle Class - Truly worthy or living in misconception.

The great Indian middle class comprising of approximately 300-million population, has been featured in the 7th spot alongwith that of China, Brazil and Russia, in a list of "Top 50 People Who Matter Now", that is published in the July edition of the Fortune group's Business 2.0 magazine. The magazine justified it's ranking by quoting a Goldman Sachs' study which says that more than 800 million people in these countries --outnumbering the populations of US, Western Europe and Japan, will qualify as middle class in the next decade. Sounds good!!!

But the biggest question is "Can our middle class match the might of the top US and European corporations?". The answer is "Still a long way to go".

The idea of creating a critical group of people, who will drive the economy, started during the Rajiv Gandhi years( somewhere in 1991). The first consumer boom was created by handsome payouts to public sector and government employees. However the boom ran out of steam by 1997. A lot of industries were plagued by overcapacity. The manufacturing sector faced a demand crisis and slowdown due to lack of growth of rural economy.

An economy cannot sustain a growth of 8% for a longer duration on a restricted base in proprotion to the size of its population. True, India has serious economic potential, but plenty of that remains to be realised. Though agriculture accounts for 25 % of our GDP, it provides a livelihood to around 57 % of the population. Agriculture needs to improve its productivity to sustain more people. Reforms must be brought about to augment the purchasing power of larger sections of the population, which are not part of the middle class.

Only then, would we be able to say that our middle class has arrived.

Signing off...