Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oz Open & Close!

With today’s match between Roger Federer and Andy Murray, Australian Open came to an illustrious end. Federer won this match in straight sets and took his Grand Slam titles to inimitable 16. Andy Murray loss surely paints on an empty canvas of how the future tennis will be and that he will be a dominant force in it. He tried his best today to topple the Emperor of Tennis and break British Grand Slam jinx but he cried. The cry was nothing compared to Roger’s when he yelped, “God, this is killing me!” last year at this very tournament after losing to Nadal in a 5-set epic battle. But still even a hardcore Federerphile like me can feel Murray’s agony when he moved his lower lip and tried to fight back tears on the podium.
Other than Federer, a lot of exciting things emerged from the first Grand Slam of calendar year and one of them was the Phoenix return of Justine Henin to the ladies final and eventually losing to Serena Williams in 3-sets. Though she showed mettle in the 2nd set but somewhat gave up the steam in the final decider. I wanted her to win like her fellow Belgian, Kim Cljisters did in US Open two months back! This was Serena’s 5th Grand Slam Down Under and 12th overall.

Australian Open is called “the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific” and this year it had a lot of Asian to go with the caption. For the first time ever, two Chinese women entered the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament. Zheng Jie and Li Na managed to fight their way into the second last stage of grabbing the title. Li Na was very close to reaching the final but was defeated 6-7, 6-7 by ever-resilient Serena Williams.

In the doubles, Bryan Brothers were dominant and ousted Daniel Nestor of Canada and Serbian Nenad Zimonjic to win their 8th Grand Slam finals. As for the women', the Williams Sister were fluent to win their 4th Oz Open and 11th GS titles overall.

And for us Indians, Leander Paes made sure the tricolor flew high when he clinched the Mixed Doubles with his consistent parter, Cara Black of United States. This is Paes’s 11 GS title, tying Bhupathi’s record of 11 GS titles, most by any Indian ever.

This year also saw a record attendance at the event. About 653,860 tennis lovers attended and that figure is more than the last record by about 50,000!!!! No wonder this Grand Slam rocked! I just hope all the coming tennis events, in ATP as well as WTA, keep up the tempo and make sure they get the best of talents on circuit and keep tennis high!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Down with the Kings!

My great ancient nation just completed 60 years of Republic. 60 years of having any monarchy or regal relevance over people's will. After all, we are in the 21st Century, right? Wrong.

The definition of Republic remains the same but the functioning at grass-root level changes. We surely got our freedom in 1947 Colonial British and it took us almost three years to come up as One Nation. During this time period, great leaders like Sardar Patel and V.K. Krishna Menon were instrumental in bringing the small kingdoms and provinces together under the one caption of INDIA. It was an arduous task but the monarchy didn't end there. It just started taking a new face for itself.

Look at today's scenario of Indian Politics. Monarchy isn't visible but hierarchy definitely is. We have Gandhis, Abdullahs, Karunanidhis, Scindias and the list goes on. How the Nehrus turned into "Gandhi" family is a story of its own and it still perplexes foreigners interested in Indian History post-independence! After all, Gandhiji's kin were never into politics just like our Father of Nation. Talking of indiscreet hierarchy as it is, even Bollywood isn't untouched by this rampant nepotism and favoritism of the highest level.

Anyways, things will go on. Years will lap up. Changes will creep in, slow and steady. Long Live Democracy. Till then, Happy Republic.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Remember Me

[I just watched this movie "Venus" which had my all-time favorite actor, Peter O'Toole and while watching, these lines sprang into my empty mind.....]

When the darkness falls on your brow,
and you don't see nor you know,
just remember me, my love
for I loved you, more than I can ever show.
I cried every time I saw you disappear
and I kept your memories close to my eyes
closer to my dreams and closest to my mind
these words can never fathom
the kind of feel
I have for your gaze
your rising image and my falling knees,
the depth of your blessing rays on me
you were to go sooner or later,
you had to leave;
It just happened well before you go,
before loneliness struck my life
and killed its glow
but remember me, my love
for I loved you, more I can ever show.

Crowded death

Mumbai is one of those cities where life moves faster than excuses. Every one is in a hurry. Here, we don’t have time for rationality about speed and deadline. We just work. We just do our jobs and move on to our houses for a good night sleep. That’s pretty much the case in almost every other metropolitan city, which is fueled by dreams and ambitions of gigantic proportion.

Mumbai is fast thanks to two reasons. One is it’s local trains and other is the people traveling in it. They both complement each other pretty perfectly. The crowd and hustle-bustle that comes with these trains in Mumbai is a legend of sorts that can’t be ignored. People literally breathe into each other’s lungs with hardly the space to share fresh air. According to Wikipedia, more than 5,000 passengers are packed into a 9-car rake during peak hours, as against the rated carrying capacity of 1,700. Literally, that means, 14 to 16 passengers are standing on each square meter of floor space.

Now, imagine you are one of those 14 to 16 passengers stacked in that bogey and the train stops in middle of track. How do you feel? The answer is simple. You are utterly frustrated, distressed and would want to break free. There could be hundreds of reasons for that train to stop there. It could be failure of signal or could be overlapping of time schedule thus creating a case of traffic. It could be anything but we forget a more occurring possibility there.

It could be due to a passenger who was hanging on the foot-board a while ago but accidentally bumped into the passing steel structures or it could be someone who just slipped off the least of support he had. It’s a mere coincidence that in a city of 14 million people, around 4000 people die due to accidents related to trains every single year.

I came across such incident just two days ago when the train stopped abruptly on the 8-km distance track (which is the longest distance between two stations in whole of Mumbai) creating a flutter of anxiety. As I was hanging on the foot-board like ‘Tarzans of Bombay’ do, I could see it quiet clearly why the train pulled the brake. It was a bloodied man lying on the side of the track. The man was in severe pain and was lifted by 3 men from Railways into the furthest bogey that the motorman occupies.

I’m glad I witnessed this but I’m sad too as I know it could be me or you the next time we hang onto the overcrowded train to fight time and deadline!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Motorcycles Diary Kaleidoscope

Beautiful road ahead!
Tushar, the mastermind behind this trip, busy mapping out!
The true heroes.
Tushar's bike and his photography genius!
3 Idiots!
Tushar and I, with bikes and house with Manglorean titles in the background
Camera-shy Parrot we captured on the side of the road!
Scenic sky1
Scenic sky2
Busy capturing the moments!
Lawry doing what he does best...packing!
I & Lawry in Solapur, staying in a Dev D style lodge!
A dog whispering sweet nothing to a bewildered Sheeps!
Hitting bed in Goa after long drive!
Camel riding along wid Lawrence of Scarabia!!!
Gleaming Sun!
Panjim City clean at even 7:00am
Om Beach.
Niligiri Hills. Tough Uphill. Smoother downhill.
A beautiful mosque.
Smoky captured by our genius Tushar Shetty!
Break of sunlight.
Embedded huge water pots in village.
Don't name the name but free.
Favorite shot.
Timid Green Bird.
Morning dew.
Lawrence's companion during the short stay at village.
Cute child.
Stones and rocks.
Mynas enjoying the height.
Tushar behind, I on mirror.
Dog suprised at green-chameleon just like us.
Historical passage.
Reflective mood.
Waving farmer.
Another capturing view in Bijapur.
Roads can be cruel.
Fellow bike-riders from foreign land.
Chulah or traditional stove.
Chamundi Hill road.
Goa's colonial feel.
That's Lawry's helmet.
Cute kid.
The Great Gomateshwara.
A stupid try at excellence.
Tenzing Norgay, an Indian-Tibetan we met at Ooty, speaks Tamil better than my amma.
Shimoga's spectacular skyline.
Tipu Sultan's resting place.
Chamundi Hill Heights.
Mysore's opulence!
Tushar got his shoes wet, jeans wet and didn't even spare his helmet for snaps.
My fave pic from the whole journey. Dead Butterfly on Shimoga Highway.
Even mannequins have moustache in South India.
India's highest waterfall, Jog Falls, falling dry.
Met a lot of these open museums on our way.
Resting place for birds.
Plastics invading beach.
Another sculpting marvel.
Squat. Waves. Shoot.
That's my second best shot on trip.
This was at a lodge we stayed and that's Tush's.
Some greenery we passed.
Minor canal.
Someone's cooking.
This was taken while on bike and its a bit smeared yet I loved it.
Scenic Sun.
Discrimination against foreigners or is it tourism!
Sharp leaves.
Happy Feet.
Multi-faith temple in Mangalore.
My try at ART!
Another stupid attempt at ART!
Happy Feet, again.
City passing by.
Welcome to the land of palms, Kerala.
Chuddie-Buddies posing wrong!
Nature's call by Lawry.
Sheep blocking road.
Cattles, the traffic stopper.
Chuddie-Buddies relaxing

That's what happens after a long day on bike without proper CARE!
Me busy with my ART!
Really bad road.
Amma at her native house.
Lawrence (Lawry) and Tushar (Tush)
That's amma serving typical food.
Thankless job.
Lawry with his I-won't-die-today-smile.
How about TENDER COCONUT eh?
Guys, that's Paan tree!
stroll through history
Satchel and Helmet.
Lawry entering Badami caves.
Looking at the beautiful lake in Badami.
That's me...
Biking night-time!
Ancestral look.
Bats meditating.
Foam of Kasaragod.
Earthern pots are passe, time for plastic now!
Cute kids at a temple
Farmer and his way of life.
If u look carefully to the left, you'll see a flying crow too.
view from the top.
age old inscriptions.
A rare bird.
look carefully, there's a squirrel.
Flashing bright, my heroes!
Bahamani queen used to have bath here centuries ago.
Mirrors here and reflections there
Sinking in time..
Reaching back HOME.