Monday, February 2, 2009

Federer: The demise of an emperor??

“Rog, sorry for today,” said Nadal, turning to his friend with genuine compassion in his voice. “I really know how you feel right now. Remember that you are a great champion and you are one of the best in history and you will beat Pete Sampras’ 14 titles for sure.”

These were the words of consolation of the ecstatic Spaniard Rafael Nadal, after winning the Australian open and thus preventing Federer to equal Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams. Federer’s answer to this was a weak smile but signs of pain in his generally emotionless face were clearly visible. No doubt the champion was deeply hurt and the testimonial to it was the trembling of his lips when the trophy was awarded to Nadal. He must have tried his best not to take the limelight away from Nadal at the moment when the Spaniard had his first Australian Open title, but his post match performance was the show stealer this time, he cried like a child and I am sure the world must have cried with the champion.

After a sublime forth set, something wrong did happen. The great man's elegant timing was less certain, his ground strokes were less pure, his first serve was far harder to find, and his presence was flat and hackneyed. Most noticeable of all was that he went to defeat with just a couple of small disagreements with the umpire, almost without a whimper. "It's all a blur right now". It seemed like the champ had given up and hence the result: a 6-2 defeat in the fifth set and a lost final.

The man who at one point of time seemed invincible and had a dream run of winning around 50 matches most of them without even losing a set, is defeated from Rafa for the fifth time. After ruling the ATP rankings for a record 237 weeks, Federer lost the numero uno position in Aug 2008 after getting defeated in Wimbledon 08, which he hoped to win for the 6th consecutive time. There came the point of inflection I guess, because after that Federer, the emperor had a number of defeats most notably the first round defeat in three sets by Giles Simon in Canadian Masters in Toronto and third round defeat by the Croatian Ivo Karlovic at the Cincinnati Masters.
The point to ponder over now is what went wrong. Federer no doubt is one of the best players of tennis the world has ever seen, his strong forehands, virtually flawless backhands and ability to handle speed as well as dexterity with the volleys is undoubtedly unmatchable. Above all, he is a great human being and his ability in not showing any emotions and staying away from the controversies has made him the favorite across the world. But I guess his dream run of not getting defeated in a single match has created a monster: a monster of expectations which puts constant pressure on him to perform in every single stroke he plays, every single set he wins. So the man, who does not have any vulnerabilities technically created one himself. So any opponent with a strong mind set and who is not afraid of the Juggernaut Federer would be able to defeat him if he can exert pressure from the starting, as Nadal always does.

So, the ultimate question that stands at this point of time is “is it the end of the Federer Legacy”. Well I think the answer is an optimistic “No”. the defeats have definitely made him stronger and the champion will definitely re-invent himself and come out with a vengeance next time, am sure next Grand slam, the win will be his. Finally I would like to end this by quoting Oasis song Chumbawamba which says “I got knocked down, but I get up again n u r never gonna hit me down”.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Matheran: A Travelogue

Matheran

Location: Matheran is located 100 kms from Mumbai.

Route:

By Air: The nearest airport is the Chatrapati Shivaji airport of Mumbai. Interested people can either board a bus or taxi from the airport for getting to the place. Taxis are typically available from Mumbai to Matheran costing around Rs 2000.

By Train: From the cities of Mumbai and Pune quite a number of express and local trains are available till Neral, which is in outskirts of Mumbai. From Neral, passengers can board the Narrow gauge toy-train that ascends towards Matheran, traveling a distance of 21 km in approximately 2hrs. Taxis are available from Neral to Matheran costing around Rs 400.

By Road: It is the most convenient and quickest way of reaching Matheran. A 24 hr taxi service operates between Neral and Matheran, and it takes only twenty minutes from Neral to reach Matheran by road. Many tourist deluxe buses from Mumbai and Pune to a nearest point of Matheran, nearly 3 km away, are available.

Trekking: Trekkers can also cover the distance between Neral and Matheran on foot. The trek is indeed exciting but quite tiresome so only expert trekkers are advised to do that.

Best Time to Visit: There are two best times to visit Matheran

1. During the winters in November to February

2. After the monsoons – This is a good time to visit as the landscape turns into shades of beautiful green and gives breathtaking sights to look at,

Summary:

Matheran is a quiet hill station located on the Sahyadri range covered with green Jambol forest, at an altitude of 803 meters(2,636 feet). Meaning 'forest on top', Matheran has been listed by the Union Environment Ministry as an eco-sensitive region.it conatins about 8 square kms of green forest, the true beauty of which can be observed during rainy seasons. As no vehicles are allowed in Matheran, one has to drive up to Dasturi Point, 11kms ahead of Matheran, from where you could reach the main bazaar either by foot or on pony.A foot trek is advised for a adventuresome trek. It is a popular destination for people seeking break from their routine life from both Mumbai and Pune. There are more than 30 points like the famous Echo point, Monkey Point & Sunset Point which enhances the beauty of the place and are must- see places.

Other places to look at:

Alexander Point
this point is located 1 km towards the north of the main market & provides excellent views of the Garbut Point, the Chowk valley and the Ulhas River and is a favorite among the sightseers.
Charlotte Lake
Located at a distance of only 1 km from the main market this provides water to the whole place and looks idyllic during the monsoons, but dries up during the summers. It’s a must watch during the heavy monsoons in June & July.

Louisa Point
This point is located on the plateau and offers a panoramic view of the forts of Prabalgarh and Vishalgarh. The famous "Lion's Head" is also nearby.

King George Point
This is the point that beautifully captures the seasonal waterfalls which arise during monsoons from the nearby Charlotte Lake. A highly recommended place to visit during the monsoons.

Caution and things to carry along with:

1. While trekking, don’t smoke as there are many beehives.

2. Carry water/juices/energy drinks to avoid dehydration while trekking

3. During rainy season, there are chances of land slides which can even damage the toy-train route. So patrons are advised to collect all the information before coming.

Travelogue:

“When there is a will(and money off course), there is a way”. Soum sir and me proved this when we arranged a bus in a very short duration despite half of the project mates saying “bahut kaam hai,delivery hai” etc etc and everybody had their own choice of place. But finally somehow we zeroed down on this small and quite hill station Matheran. Initially it was supposed to be a stag affair because of the trek plan, but the brave girls of our team also joined. So there is this team of 15 odd people who decided to ignore the request (order) of their Project Manager to work on the Saturday and let the Matheran saga happen.


The matheran journey started one quite morning on a mini bus which started from Aundh, Pune. The journey took approximately two and a half hours amid the greenery of the Sahyadris with cameras clicking each possible scenery though the vehicle windows. After having a sumptuous breakfast at one of the nearby hotels, we reached the Dastur Point after which no vehicles were allowed; we decided to trek instead of taking the ponies that were available. That journey was really adventurous and a real memorable one primarily because we chose to trek through shortcuts rather than taking the main road which was supposed to take us circularly upwards. There were narrow allies with slope upwards of 60 degrees full of rocks but we marched on. The scenic view was good, and outside temperature was also low, adding to our energy levels. The walk was alongside the toy-train route which was damaged by land slides because of the heavy monsoons. Upon reaching the main market, we decided to have lunch at one of the hotels. There we saw the miracle of nature, clouds formed in front of us and within minutes heavy rains started. So the rest of the journey continued with the rains, the cameras were packed in safe places but without rain gears, the clouds along with the heavy fogs had reduced the visibility to less than 10 meters. We saw the Parsi cemetery, the “Bhutia Bangla” on the way which looked really scary amongst the fog, reminding us about Hollywood flicks. The echo point and sunset points were excellent though because of the clouds sunset could not be seen. We decided to go back at around 5.30 because the visibility was dropping continuously and descended back to our vehicle.


Overall the visit was excellent, the excellent beauty of the place mesmerized us, and the strenuous trek compelled everyone to take a whole day’s sleep.

Some of the contents of this post are taken from “Thrillophillia” an upcoming company providing excellent opportunities for the wanderlust.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Capitalism Paralyzed: Will India Remain Immune??

“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.” – John Maynard Keynes, Economist and founding father of IMF and World Bank.

 

The Texan cowboy George Bush, who I bet cant score any better than an F in “Financial Management” rightly said, “Wall Street got drunk”. But the million dollar question is how big the hangover is & how long does this hangover going to last. Nowadays when you open a newspaper or a magazine, u read about bankruptcies, scams, scandals, meltdowns, bailouts. And this is not limited only to the land of the “Greenback”; it has affected the whole world including the prosperous EU, Japan & the new kid in block “Asia”. The recent poster boy of world economy “Chindia” is showing signs of cracks after performing consistently for the past few years. Until quite recently, the world’s fastest-growing big economies both felt themselves largely immune from the contagion afflicting the rich world. Optimists even hoped that these huge emerging markets might provide the engines that could pull the world out of recession. Now some fear the reverse: that the global downturn is going to drag China and India down with it, bringing massive unemployment to two countries that are, for all their success, still poor.65% of the Indian population still depend on Agriculture which accounts for a measly 18% of the GDP and is growing only at 2%.India which has been consistently growing at 6-8 percent over the last 5 years, the stock markets got inflated like hell due to the inflow of FDI money. Now as the money is retreating & the global credit market drying up, the markets shrunk back to 7k level, one third of what it was at the pick. No doubt the per capita income has increased in the past 5 years & the Indian middle class has become a global force to reckon with, but India is still home to some two-fifths of the world’s malnourished children. The GDP growth which was basically propelled by the services sector is badly hit because it was coupled with the global markets. the government is unable to come out with a bigger stimulus because of the deficit it already has (around 8% of the GDP) To make thing worse, there are terrorist attacks which may bring political instability & there is a huge chance that the Three Musketeers of Indian Finance i.e. Manmohan Singh, Ahluwalia & Chidambaram would not be there any more to control the stakes of the country.

 

Well, the pessimism may be overdone. China, with an economy of 4 trillion $ & huge cash reserves, obviously wears a huge pair of trousers with deeper pockets, but India’s export dependence in only 21% as compared to 37% than that of China. India’s job creation has doubled in last 5 years & will hopefully continue with the same speed. The Indian stock markets have started to show resilience & have bounced back to 10k levels with the help of Desi players like cash rich LIC etc. With a more capable leader like Barack Obama leading the State of Liberty now & the new stimulus of 850 billion $ which targets all the fundamental aspects like building schools & other infrastructure, is also a good news for the IT & ITES industry. I hope the next stimulus by the government would be in the similar lines, targeting the more fundamental aspects of improving the rotten state of infrastructure rather than giving mere tax rebates.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Moment: The Memory Remains...

Sitting alone in the bus..headed back home from Atur Center..headphones in the

ears with the "Metallicas" playing..over n over again..and like all the other

Metallica numbers you feel you connect to this one as well..

And then she flashes in front of your eyes n stays....Stays so firmly that you

can take in all the exact details...The exact tilt of your head, the small smile

on your face that is about to turn to a laughter, the glint in your eyes, and the

affection in hers...

Somehow you remeber wht she was wearing that day, 2 yrs back and what she was

smelling like.. u remmeber the touch ...you can remeber how it felt then and you

feel exacty the same now..this very moment..

And this moment reminds of what you had....what you felt..n what you lost...and

how you long to feel the same now..

Your mind says, "Forget it dude,she was just another girl..aur mil jayegi...",

you reasoned "It was just another relationship", you reasoned "Naah..She was not

good for me...we had compatibility problems.." and then this moment crushes all

the logic in you..simply kills all the practicality and asks you very innocently

"ARE YOU ABLE TO FORGET HER AFTER 9 LONG MONTHS??". And you have no answer..just

a drop of tear about to roll down your eyes that answers the question for you in

its own silent way.

Then it goes away..just like it came...The moment...All your sense is back..you

are back to being mature..knowing what is good for you and what is not..
Now you know the answers...U suddenly convince yourslef that it WAS worth it...

And then its your bus stop...Hinjewadi Chowk..time to get down and head back to

hostel..Moment gone: but not lost..

cause you know it will be back..back when you would be alone...

THE MEMORY REMAINS.....