24 February, 2008

Indian Tennis: Split Wide Open

There are quite a few things in my mind that can be "blogged". But what, perhaps, could not stop me from signing in here is the latest news of Indian tennis going down the doldrums. Four Indian tennis stars, the most notable among them being the great Mahesh Bhupathi, have written to the All India Tennis Association (AITA), that they would not play in the next Davis Cup tie against Japan, if the team is continued to be led by Leander Peas.

This news, confirmed by all the players involved, has not only come as a huge shock but also as a big setback for the future of Indian tennis. Paes has been accused of being a poor leader and the players, including Prakash Amritraj, Karan Rastogi, Rohan Bopanna, apart from Bhupathi, have
objected to Paes' critical attitude towards them in the press and believe he does not fulfill the larger role of a captain -- not encouraging or communicating with the teammates enough outside the Davis Cup weeks.

The golden duo of Leander and Mahesh, dubbed the "Indian Express" and, perhaps, the best thing that ever happened to Indian sport, had, unfortunately, already split in 2000 and "are not on talking terms", according to Mahesh Bhupathi. The duo, however, have always put their differences in a corner when it came to playing for the country, be it in the Davis Cup or in the Olympics. The reason for their split is, perhaps, the biggest mystery of Indian or rather, world sport. Unless one of the two come out with a tell-all autobiography, this mystery will remain what it is right now - a mystery. Bhupathi and Paes were expected to play together for India in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They were, and always will be, India's best chance for a medal at the Olympics. What implications would the recent developments have, starting from whether they would even play together at the Olympics, is yet to be seen.

The widening split between Paes and Bhupathi is, according to me, bigger and nastier than the split between Ganguly - Chappell or for that matter even Fernanndo Alonso - MacLaren F1 team. Cricket and F1 are more of team sports and there are replacements available. But it is the Indian tennis, which is a more of a two-man show, will have to bear the brunt.

I am not a stupid news channel to conclude or speculate for any reason at all. Unless we know the reactions from both the parties involved, it is difficult to predict the future of Indian tennis. India need both, Leander and Mahesh, at this point of time. Not only because the Olympics is around the corner, but also for the fact that Rastogi, Bopanna and Amritraj are too raw and inexperienced to take over the responsibility on their young shoulders - a responsibility and the billion expectations that Bhupathi and Peas have so wonderfully handled on their mature shoulders for over a decade despite their differences.

This is not even the last thing that tennis fans, like me, would have wanted. India is already suffering from Sania Mirza's decision to pull out of the Bangalore Open in order to avoid any further controversies. The Indian star, the best that we have after Paes and Bhupathi, refused to play in India after being involved in numerous controversies, most of them having being created by publicity-hungry people and for no absolute fault of hers.

All that I, as a true Indian tennis fan, can hope for is that Bhupathi and Paes play together at the Olympics - because they are India's best chance for a sure-shot medal and that Sania decides to revoke her decision of not playing in India, as this would be her best chance of stepping up in the rankings. I also wish, but I know that this would never happen, that the Indian media, especially the Hindi news channels, let these players alone and not create controversies.

09 February, 2008

One Night @ The Call Center

Read Chetan Bhagat's second book, "One Night @ The Call Center" this week. I found it absolute crap. I chose the book from the library for two reasons:

  • Chetan Bhagat had spell-bounded me with his Five Point Someone
  • The back cover of the book read something like this - The writer, while on a train journey from Kanpur to Delhi, meets a girl who narrates him a story on the condition that the writer would make this story in a book. The story is about about 6 people, Shyam (the narrator), Vroom, Military Uncle, Radhika, Priyanka and Esha, who work for a call center. On a particular night, they get a call - from God.

Now, this was enough to simulate my curiosity.

As it turned out, this book was nowhere close to the genius of FPS. Although it is unfair to compare, ON@TCC is not up to the mark. A friend of mine, who has worked for a call center, said that the happenings, as mentioned in the book, are quite realistic and this is what happens at a call center. Though I really doubt whether the guys at a call center can do everything, but work, while at work!

The problems with the book:

  • It is a bit slow. Though it is expected as it is just a 6-hour story in a 280-paged book. But, it needed to spend some more time on the editing table.
  • The much hyped character in the book - the God, and the call from God, was just a 2-paged affair. And, he appears during the climax of the story, although he was projected to be one of its main characters. The writer goes over-board with the fiction part of the book...what with Shyam's mobile displaying, "God calling". All the little fun and faith generated at the beginning evaporates in thin air.
  • And, to make a crap book crappier, it turns out that the girl, whom the writer had met in the train, was not after all, a girl! She was God! Hell!

I guess, had I read this book before reading FPS, it would not have made an anti-ON@TCC. I, however, still like the writing style of Chetan Bhagat. After all, ek galti sabko maaf hoti hai.

03 February, 2008

Five Point Someone

Read this book recently. Ok, don't give me that, "What! You had not read this book earlier?" look. Have had enough of those already. And, I need no more. Probably, I am the last person on earth to have read this book. Everybody seems to have read it.

Anyway, my point is, this is easily one of the most interesting books that I have read. This book gave me several of my firsts. It was the first book:
  • that I finished reading in three days flat. Its quite an achievement, I tell you. Though I must admit that the small size of the book and the large fonts did help my cause.
  • for which I never turned back to check where I had left off. I remembered exactly which page I was on when I last read it, and what had happened in the story till then. Have to commend the writer for this. Its a simple story told simply.
  • for which I did not open the dictionary even once. I hate it when I have to refer to a dictionary whenever I read a book. I am not very fond of expanding my vocabulary, coz I feel that its useless. Why do we have synonyms in any language? Its truly useless I tell you. Also, there should be no place for "degrees of comparison" in any language. Instead of using, "good, better, best", why cant we just use "good, very good, very very good"? The message conveyed is the same. If we do away with synonyms and "degrees of comparison", every dictionary in this world would truly become a "pocket dictionary".
This book is racy, intriguing and realistic, and anybody can identify himself with one of the three protagonists (I found myself closest to Hari and sometimes with Ryan.). However, Sudeep (he is a Nine Point Something, I tell you!) said, "It describes bad things that can (and do) happen here at IIT. But it is highly unlikely that more than one of those bad things will happen to anyone. The book describes an "all things gone wrong" situation." True, and who better than Sudeep to know about it. It, however, is still a must read. (Assuming there are people who have not read the book yet. I know none of these rare breed of people.)

I was so amazed with the writing style of Chetan Bhagat, that I couldn't resist myself from bringing home his "One Night @ the Call Center". I hope it it turns out as good as, if not better than, Five Point Someone.

These (and it includes "The Kite Runner") are the kind of books I like. No 'boy wizard with a magic wand' stuff for me.

P.S. No matter how much a guy would hate to listen to this from girls, it is true that all guys ARE THE SAME. They all think alike and this book just strengthens my belief.