Monday, November 26, 2007

All Hail Roger Federer - The Tennis Genius

I was lucky to watch the finals of the Shanghai Masters Cup, last Sunday, between Roger Federed and the surprise finalist, David Ferrer. David was on a hot streak entering into the finals, while people has started wondering if Roger is not the same player he once was. However, it tooks just a few minutes for Roger to show David and the world who the boss is.

Words fail me to describe the game of Roger Federer. His ability to execute one stunning shot after another, consistently over a 5 set match, is unlike anyones' I have ever seen. And I have been watching tennis regularly for the past 18 years now. Coming to this specific match, I believe it was one stunning shot that turned the match around, in Rogers' favour. He was facing break point in his first service game, which he managed to save. In the next game, with Ferrer serving, he hit a brilliant backhand slice on a powerful Ferrer inside out forehand. David managed to hit it back, which Roger lobbed back. David Ferrer showed great strength to chase the ball and keep it play, but Roger Federer was at the net for an easy put away. That point visibly took the winds out of David Ferrer; his spirit was broken, and the rest of the match was a pure exhibition of Roger Federers' incredible genius.

I have watched some great tennis players - Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and I firmly believe that when it comes to tennis skills, Roger Federer stands head and shoulders above all these great players. Sure, Stefan had the finest serve and volley game, and Boris and Andre had phenomenal charisma, Pete could possibly be the toughest player mentally, but Roger brings it all together in a manner that makes watching him play sheer pleasure.

Rogers' game is a work of art. It touches you emotionally in a way good music, good movies do. It is no longer a game, where winning and losing matters. Sure, it helps that Roger wins most of his games, but I would gladly watch him lose, if he continues to give me the same pleasure of his game as he does today.

My only regret is that tennis will be an infinitely poorer game once he decides to call it quits. But till then, whenever he is playing, stop whatever it is you are doing, and just enjoy the spectacle of the greatest tennis player in action.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

English football - A reality check

Finally, the English football players have been shown to what they actually are - well below International class. The Premier League organisers can shout from the top of their lungs that they have the best league in the world, but you just have to watch the action from leagues such as Germany to realize the huge difference in class. The play is much faster, more open and result oriented, as opposed to the dour football that the EPL offers.

It is worth thinking over why very few extremely talented football players from other countries either do not play in the EPL, or play well below their par. The English game just does not allow individual flair and creativity. Sure, football is a team game, but you need the creative players to flourish for the game to evolve and continue to be attractive to the millions of fans who pay good money to watch the game.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thomas Friedman on the state of public transport in India

With Tata making progress towards launching the Rs. 1 lac (Rs. 100,000) car in India soon, the question many of us who drive in peak hour Mumbai traffic are asking is - Where will the buyers of this car drive, and park their new cars?

I am not trying to be elitist here - it's great that more and more people can afford to travel in the greater comfort and safety that a four wheeler provides, as opposed to a two wheeler. My concern is that our administrators seem to have their priorities wrong. Shouldn't we be investing more in building comfortable, mass public transport systems, rather than trying to improve on road infrastructure?

This is the question that Thomas Friedman has raised in his article.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Does Anybody Really Care?

This is a thought that has been worrying me for a few days now. Read any newspaper, watch any TV channel, hear any conversation, and the talk is all around the Stock Exchange, monies being made, etc. Great that the economy is booming, and a lot of people are making a lot of money. But what about the condition of our country and a majority of its citizens who are not positively affected by these developments?

I get the sense that 'we - the English speaking, urban Indian' feels that when it comes to equitable distribution of wealth, it is the governments / societys job. But when it comes to personal wealth creation, the government should not interfere. I agree, we should be in control of creating our wealth, but shouldn't we also take the lead in ensuring that the lives of our countrymen are also improved? How can we wash off our responsibility towards this crucial aspect?

And I say crucial, because we are sitting on top of a ticking time bomb. How many of us pay attention to the increasing restlessness of our less empowered countrymen? Naxalism is on the increase in over 20 % of our countrys' districts, fueled by the apathy shown by everyone concerned to the plight of the rural poor. On top of that, we go on stealing the only asset the rural poor have, in the guise of 'development (SEZ)'? What kind of development is this where we steal land from the poor and give it to the rich?

How many of us know that there was a march from Gwalior to Delhi where this silent, suffering majority decided to finally express itself? Thankfully, this was a peaceful protest. But as Nandigram continues to tell us, it can quickly cascade into a violent inferno, charring anyone in its path, and singing those who chose to stay on the sidelines. It is time we put away our blinkers, and face the harsh reality out there. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye / ear for much longer. 'Bharat' will awake, and India better watch out.