Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fed's still got it.

It is the end of the 2nd set. And what a set that was. I promised myself I will blog if Fed wins. I know the match isn't over yet, but I can't help myself. Lets be honest, Fed hasn't played inspiring tennis a lot this year. A set like this just proves everyone wrong. He's still got all the things that made me fall in love with his game. Serve, volley, drop, running across the court, placement and the list goes on.
Just like so many others, I started loving tennis after playing it myself. Sampras -> Roddick -> Federer.

He is the oldest man in the eight man field and he is playing the youngest.

Fed was broken and down 1-3 in the set. He managed to break back to 3-3 and then went on to win the tie breaker in such emphatic fashion, you wouldn't believe its the guy who lost his first service game of the match!

I admit I have been watching more of Federer, after college. Partly because there is more free time around midnight and because of a better internet connection. In college, I had to restrict myself to Grand Slam radio and IBM Slamtracker. Believe me, there is still charm in that. It transports you to 1990. You can only hear the shoes skidding off the court, the balls bouncing on the ground and the racket and the grunts. ATP competitions were just about checking the result of the match. But now, I am setting alarms for 7.30PM to stream matches.

In the 2nd set, he didnt get a single backhand wrong. His service games lasted 2 minutes on average (one lasted a mere 60 seconds), compared to DelPo's hard fought 4 minutes. He won almost all the points at the net, and at one point made DelPo almost slam his racket on the ground.

Now, he's in the 3rd set. Broken already. Just like the previous 2 sets. But what's striking about this match is that it looks like Fed is playing to win, he's hitting winners and as a result, hitting errors too. DelPo is hanging in there, and picking up where Fed is dropping concentration. If DelPo wins this, it'd not be on his winners. It'd be on Fed's momentary blips.

Fed is now 0-3 down in the 3rd set. DelPo has broken him yet again and Fed is rattled. The blip has returned.

While in the 2nd set, Fed was on song and Potro was rattled. In the break, I took this snapshot.

Can you feel the steely resolve in Fed's eyes? Champions are so, not because they don't face difficult situations thanks to their awesome gameplay, but because of their innate ability to dig deep to lift themselves up. Djoko does this, almost every time.

Fed wins another service game 40-0. Set is still 1-3 and chances are bleak.

Before the match, Fed said he was happy he has defeated two Top 10 players recently. Gasquet in ATP World Tour and DelPo in Paris. Yup, very important, considering he has been losing to players ranked around 100. Is Fed's fan following decreasing? May be, I don't know and frankly, I don't care. Following Federer is simple. Almost like following Man United. He is all over the papers, magazines, internet and all the commentators love him. His matches draw the most crazy of crowds and if anyone knows about Tennis, even a bit, he/she knows about Federer. No wonder he won the Sportsmanship and Fan's Favourite awards AGAIN.

Fed just won a 27 shot rally to bring up break point! *falls to the ground in prayer* Another one to get advantage and closes it! 2-3 baby! :D

This is just like the 2nd set. Federer hasn't lost it yet. DelPo is still playing the same game he has been playing since the beginning. No versatility at the net, no amazing serves and a bit of frustration always around the corner. I'm a fanatic and I will wish the most amazing things for Federer. He might just win this. And it will probably the best match of the year, considering the pressure. Better than the one against DelPo in Paris last weekend. Better than the win against Tommy Haas  at Halle.
He goes on to complete it to 3-3 after a tough deuce, which saw him hit the three consecutive backhands, arguably the best of the match.

Ha! That was a superb rally. DelPo hits a tweener above Fed's head and Fed is forced to turn around, run to the corner and return with no eyes on the court. He manages to, and wins the rally later. This is Youtube material.

It is now 5-5. Tiebreaker? Not a fan, the nerve of loosing with just a few err points gets to me.

Fed has broken and will serve for the set and match! You can feel the power. The hunger in Fed to win against DelPo and go into the semis, to win one last tournament of 2013 and to disprove the naysayers, who have written him off. Laver says he is the best. Pat Cash disagrees. We will never know who is the greatest player. But the most loved, the most gracious, the most charismatic, the most versatile? No doubts about that.

Potro has break point now. Fed needs to close this match out at deuce. DelPo has his footing wrong and movement locked. The crowd isn't helping either. In fact, rarely, do you see the crowd in a Fed match cheering louder for the opponent. Even if its Nadal or Djoko. No home advantage for any player is louder than the cheer for Fed, any where in the world.

I have been troubled, much by Tikona's pathetic internet and the portuguese commentary. But, its all worth it. The best player has won. Faith has been restored. And Fed's still got it.

Ace. Game. Set. Match. Roger Federer.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I'd love to stay and chat but I'm having a friend for dinner. Bye.

There are a few movies which stay with us, because of the stories portrayed, the performances, the laughs or maybe even just the hype. But, there are some which you remember only for endings. I am not talking about the climax or the last 15 minutes where it all comes together.

Not 15. Just the last 5 minutes.

Here is my top 5, in no particular order:

1. Tarzan

CGI better than hand drawn animation? Well, I won't completely agree. Its amazing to see Kate get off the boat and become one with Tarzan's family, while her father jumps off the boat too! Notice, when Tarzan lifts Kate up to sling on vines, Kate's dress changes from Yellow to the brown jungle coat in one swift motion! Also, notice how Tarzan's feet move between the branches. I bet that took some major effort in hand drawing! But, the icing on the cake is the angle of the camera moving from behind Tarzan to in front and then moving away, so smooth, possibly impossible with a real life camera. All this complemented with Phil Collins' amazing song and Tarzan's manly yell makes this ending astounding!

2. A Bit of Fry and Laurie
Season 4 Episode 7
Aah where to begin. The entire show across the 4 seasons has revolved often around Britain, its virtues and vices, Margaret Thatcher, old English detectives and the modern day London problems. At the end of every episode, Stephen Fry makes a cocktail, with Gin, Brandy, Vodka, Rum and the most absurd ingredients. Sample this list:
A shoe. Testicles. Fried water. Rice crispies. The opening paragraph of Silas Marner. Two and half litres of air. A closeup shot of a glass.

They chose to end it by calling the last cocktail - Modern Britain. I can't describe in words, but this dialogue should give you some idea:
"Your Modern Britain should have, ideally by now, lost all color, flavor and fizz. And it should be then divided against itself and left in shoddy disrepair for a number of years, until it rots before being sold to the highest bidder."

3.  Ratatouille

I am referring to Anton Ego's review of the restaurant. Peter O'Toole, having previously played Lawrence of Arabia and Sherlock Holmes, lends his most credible voice as a critic, and in all honesty, gives a review which can be pertinent in a lot of fields, not just food.

4. The Devil Wears Prada

Theodore Shapiro's music. Anne Hathaway's confidence. Meryl Streep's defiance for extravagant fashion, with a hint of appreciation for simplicity.

From hesitation to hope, longing to love, everything is captured in the last 4 minutes.

5. The Dark Knight

And you thought, "Why is he not talking about Dark Knight?"

Oh! The batcycle, the swivle from left to right, the underpass, the breaking of the bat signal, Fox's smile, the black cape flying while he runs away, having become the hero Gotham needed. Ek number.

Nolan gets it 90%. Hans Zimmer makes it a 110% perfect.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I have to confess. Touch Of The Sun from 127 Hours has always made me think about writing something. I listen to it almost every day and I wish to write every time I do too. But, I don't always end up writing. Mostly because I am at work. Sometimes, because  I just don't know what to write about.

But, for the past few days, every time I saw my cupboard, my thoughts fixated on one thing - Secrets.

Imagine a life without secrets.
Imagine yourself opening your cupboard and not needing to remind yourself that no one should ever look in the drawer. That, you will always lock your cupboard before leaving your house. That there is nothing behind the innerwear in your cupboard that you can't tell anyone about.

Imagine a life without secret notebooks and notes. A life where you can leave your bag in the drawing room and know that even if someone goes through its contents, they won't find anything questionable.

Imagine a life where you don't need to keep extra chewing gums or Pass Pass in your pocket, just in case.

Imagine a life where you don't have an unlock pin on your cellphone. If you already don't, imagine never deleting your sent messages and keeping your inbox with all messages that you receive from anyone.

Imagine a life where you don't need to be invisible or even immediately go offline as soon as you sign in into GMail or Facebook. Where you are available to everyone's pings all the time.

Imagine a life where you don't need to hide your plans from anyone, and risk having to invite someone. A life without having to lie to your seniors at work for where you're going, why you need a leave or why you didn't show up for work some day.

Imagine a life where you don't need to ask for extra money from your parents and later lie that the movie cost more than you thought. Imagine a life where you don't need to buy an extra sim card and change it every night to talk to someone. A life where your mom can ask you what you spent your money on and you can reply in complete truth.

Imagine a life where you don't need to keep an extra pair of clothes at your friend's home in case you consider not going home after a scuffle or some altercation on the road. A life where you can actually talk about what you did in the day with your parents or siblings.

Imagine a life where your mom knows everything.

Now, imagine your mom.

And understand that the only secrets mom keeps are the ones that can hurt her children.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

For Arnav, coz everything is about him!

Date: August 18th, 2013



For the times, when you come with a key to fix it in a lock,

For the times, when you get on your knees, to race with me through the house on our 4 'paws',

For the times, when you copy me with all those funny gestures,

For the times, when you'd give a naughty grin when too much of ketchup spills in the plate,

For the times, when you bring a spoon every time I'd have tea,

For the times, when you look like a sensible human being right away, 

For the times, you call everything and everyone- Adi,and how I felt I was blessed to hear that from you,

For the times,when i shall be your very cool chacha when you grow up, to the fact that, i want you to be like this forever.

For the times, that are yet to come, that shall make you a wonderful man!

Yours always,
Oh Goggy

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A song to remember people with - Part 2

Right then, lets get back on the road with a song to remember people with.
Just an FYI, I rarely write and I only do when two things are happening:
1. I am inspired by extreme sadness/pity or happiness
2. A brilliant piece of music plays in the background that spurs me to write.

Today, I am neither sad nor happy. But, the music is driving me to write. This particular piece by A R Rahman for 127 Hours called Touch Of The Sun is a masterpiece, almost as good as Dhobhi Ghat's soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla and the music in the background of Farhan Akhtar's poetry in ZNMD. Check it out.

6. What Sarah Said by Death Cab For Cutie (And the entire album called Plans for that matter) & Wires by Athlete

Ok, the band sounds weird if you're hearing it for the first time. Prachi Sibal - My only senior from any school I have ever been to (5 schools to be precise) who I am still in contact with suggested this song. I was in 11th/12th Grade back then and preparing for AIEEE like an overzealous student of Arun Roy Coaching Classes. She had this list of bands that I had never heard of and that genre was completely new to me. But, these are some of the songs that have stayed with me.
I used to have the 1st Generation iPod Nano- beautifully black, slim and tall - it worked like a charm. I am gonna be cocky and go on to say that there weren't a lot of people out there with it at that time. Now, everyone has one and I am the only guy without one! Death Cab For Cutie and Athlete was NEVER deleted from the iPod. Everything else was removed and added at some point, but these two never got erased. Its funny because at a point of time, the iPod was filled with Metallica, Maiden, Slipknot, Pantera and AND the slow and steady Death Cab for Cutie!

7. Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe by Rafi and Mere Paas Aao by Amitabh Bacchan

A break from English music. These were both suggested when I was a kid by my brother, Ankur. I feel odd to not include any Kishore Kumar song. But, Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe is just so brilliant, I have to include it. We used to sing it along when he used to come home for holidays from college. We had an old Sanyo tape recorder and we have connected all lengths and sorts of wires on it to catch the FM signal. At one time, we realised keeping the heavy steel scissor, that mom used for  knitting, near the wire boosted the signal too! But, the day used to start with this song. We didn't have internet back then so we asked Dad for the next song to sing and Mom joined in from the kitchen and before you know it, the entire house is singing Aaiiyee Meherbaan, Baithiye Jaane jaan...

Why did I leave out Mere Paas Aao? You have to listen to the song and you'll get what I am trying to say. Imagine two brothers sitting in front of a tape recorder, listening to a song about a hunter and a lion and looking at each other and laughing and gasping!

8. Set Fire To The Rain and the rest of Adele's songs.

I caught on to the hype pretty late, but it was Utsav's room in 4th year, 8th sem. Mystique the treasure hunt was live on the internet and our 53 hour marathon had just begun. We were sharing the internet through a wifi hotspot and sitting in that room for 3 days almost without stop. We stepped out briefly to eat and to grab a Veg Grill at HnC Cafe at the canteen. This was, by far, the most amazing 3 days of my life. There is nothing better than seeing your 3 year old dream come alive with so many people playing and loving it with your best friend in college! And our playlist? Just two songs. One was Set Fire To The Third Bar by Snow Patrol, and Set Fire To The Rain by Adele. Seems odd? Well, we searched for "Set Fire in iTunes. Two songs turned up. And that was that. For the next 3 days. On loop.

To be contd...

Monday, June 10, 2013

A song to remember people with.

Second post, again on Music. Is this my escape route from blogging about my life? Possibly. Maybe even an escape in real life.

I have already listed some awesome songs. But, this one is not about the best. This one is about how I relate situations and people to songs. I am sure everyone does. There are some that bring back memories of stuff that happened, people they met or a place they've been to.

So often, in office, I open Youtube but I have no idea what I want to listen to. I get clueless and scroll through the homepage and NEVER find anything worthwile. Somehow, whatever is trending on Youtube is crap. I, invariably, start thinking of school, then college, then home and I land up on one of these:

1. Nobody's Listening by Linkin Park

Keertan's Ford Ikon. Parked outside some Malayali Community Event in Baroda. 2002. He said he had a cassette of the latest album of LP. I had no clue what LP is. Hell, I hadn't even heard English songs till then. (Well, you can't really count Vengaboys and Brazil in this.) He slotted the cassette in, fast forwarded, then realised it was the 2nd last song on Side B, reversed the cassette and played. The sudden bass hit me and instantly caught my attention. I was rapt, trying to fathom what Mike Shinoda was rapping about. Who cared. It was SUPER! And thus began my tryst with songs in the English language. Life was changing so fast. My language changed, my taste along with it. We had to dance on a Backstreet Boys song on Sports Day, and I knew the song!

2. People = Shit by Slipknot, Dance of Death by Iron Maiden, Ruby by Kaiser Chiefs

The first two were a suggestion from Gaurav and the last by Mihir, in 2006. 11th Std, new city, new school, new friends. I did not listen to rock, metal, and any combination of those. But these songs captivated me! And how! I learnt how to play Dance of Death on a recorder! It sounded like a love song, but it worked! Mom finally started letting me close the door at night before sleeping. I got internet, found websites with free mp3s, understood what a bitrate was and downloaded the latest version of iTunes like clockwork to keep my iPod in sync! Life was good.

3. Absolutely Everybody by Vanessa Amorosi

Yes Yes, the Star World song. This one reminds me of dad coz this is THE ONLY ENGLISH SONG TILL DATE HE REMEMBERS AND HUMS! Haha! I don't know how. I was just playing this song one day on my desktop speakers and he caught the tune from his room, got up with his daily Sudoku in hand and asked me to replay the song. I was too amazed with the request and I didn't understand which song he was referring to. So, he hummed "hmm hmm hmmm hmm hmm boodyyyy". I looked up at heavens and said Thank You God! I now have approval!

4. Precious, Stripped, Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode

Again, 2006-2007. Dragonball Z. Back to back. Every night. Used it to pump my own motivation to study for JEE and AIEEE. And I really think it worked.

5. Jamaica Farewell by Harry Belafonte

2nd year I think. 2009. Probably the first of many recommendations by Aditi. I was addicted to this song for a looooong time. I realised there were too many songs I missed in my childhood that Aditi somehow caught hold of. This, and the Carpenter song. Her suggestions are easy to sing, easy to catch hold of, stick in your head and never leave you. This song is so soothing, I listen to when I am alone and cleaning my room or trying to work.

To be contd....

Friday, March 22, 2013

Blog On The Road

Haha! One blog post after a year and I am thinking of becoming a habitual blogger who posts about how there was too much salt in his rassgulla. But, I'll still post coz I am stuck in this cab on the expressway to Mumbai. I don't know what it is about the road but it makes you want to immerse yourself in deep contemplation of the reason of your existence. Ok. Exaggeration. Taken back. It makes you sit on one side of the backseat, rest your head on the window while frantically trying to divert the flow of cold air from the vent above you and look at cars speed past against a backdrop of some illuminated trees and absolutely nothing beyond that. Somehow, after a super busy week in office, I get this 3 hour journey to think of everything I have had in the back of my head. It gives me time to procrastinate in my head, to reflect back on what I  could've done, should'nt have done and the likes.

How did I get into this cab? I don't  generally travel to Mumbai by a cab. Infact, this is the first time I am. Lets wind back a few hours, to 4.45PM. I finished forgettable pastries and went back to my cubicle to pack up things when I realized it was a friend's last day at work. I tried searching for him but couldn't find him. Looking around, I found a tissue paper (wait, now that I think of it, why was there a tissue paper in my cubical?). I grabbed the red marker, scribbled a goodbye message, stapled his visiting card that had "Real Man" written in place of his position under his name and gave it to someone to deliver it. Why? I don't know!

I then got a cab from the transport desk and got in it and left at 5PM. Its fairly easy to get a cab for the railway station on Friday evening. There are always a group of 4-6 guys with a heavier bag than usual ready to leave for Mumbai at 5, when on Thursday, they had left at 1AM.  Enter Bobby/Bob (Name changed for some reason). He got in the cab last, sat next to me in the backseat, turned towards me and said "Tu bhi Mumbai jaa raha hai?" in a tone that sounded like he knew me. I certainly did not know him! I could only give an awkward one eyebrow raised reaction.

2 minutes later, we find out BobJackassKumar has left his laptop charger behind. Now, I have lost my charger behind too. But, this guy was irritating. He turns to me, and asks another weird question. "Does your roommate have a charger?". Like, what?! Seriously? You know my roommate now?
I shake my head and he goes back to saying "Shit, shit shit" like a new age Gayatri Mantra. He again turns to me and says "Can we go back? I am going to Delhi for a week. Or, can you give me your charger?"
Ok, wearing a jacket in 35 degrees is stupid enough. Forgetting your charger when we have 45 minutes to go is just plain sad. BUT! BUT!! The kind and understanding soul inside me woke up and said to him, "You go Bob! Go! Get your charger!... Jee le apni Zindagi Simran!".
So, after the 10 minute delay, we're back on the road again and before I know it, we're stuck at a railway crossing.

Here is where I notice the 1st thing I wanted to tell you:
How does driving in the lane incoming traffic going to get anyone through a jam? How have we not understood that clogging up the other lane will just make matters worse?

While I am crying my heart out over the pathetic state of our country, our dude Bob is listening away to some hip hop on his 2 kg Sony headphones, remorseless.

20 minutes later, we get out of the jam and good guy driver is beating each signal to get us to the station. Train departure time: 17:55PM. Current time: 17:50PM. Distance left: 2 KM
But, Bob is hopeful. Moron.

Now, time is 17:54PM. Scene: Bob, another guy and myself are running towards the station, dodge a few autos, dodge another trolley, some cab dudes, up the bridge, past an old women with an even older husband, mouth starting to dry up, stomach ache coming in now, the bag is getting heavier and swinging wildly, now down the bridge, two steps at a time, now three, last 4 steps we jump and what do we find?
Intercity Express making its way out, so gracefully, without a song, the engineer in the last coach waving his green flag.
There you go Bob. Happy?

So, this is why I am in a cab and now at a Toll Booth. Event number 2 - A Swift Dezire cuts us from left and the guy in the backseat pokes his head out of the window, turns back towards us and probably mouths his entire mother tongue.

At the next toll booth, the same guy comes and stands in front of our cab and screams his heart out in Marathi. I honestly didn't understand anything except the last part. And this is the 2nd thing I wanted to tell you:

A state/central government employee on the expressway feels the road, the vehicles, the paint, hell even the air above the highway is his. Somehow, flashing his ID Card will make us cower into agreeing with him and kissing his feet for his own mistake.

I do reach home in the end, but not as angry as I thought I'd be, thanks to a Veggie Delight sub at a rest stop on the express way. Yeshvant Roa Chavan Sir, thank you for letting a Subway open on our road. After all, you own it.