Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hope and Wisdom

The world is an unexplored place, an unseen, un-experienced place for most of us. We have seen, read and heard many things, understood many facts, accepted many truths, but due to many physical, personal, social limitations and constraints we haven't been able to see them or verify them for ourselves.

I haven't seen how deep Marina Trench in the Pacific Ocean is, I haven't seen Viruses or Cells that are factually the most basic elements that make up living matter, I haven't experienced the height of Mount Everest, nor have I seen the largest man-made structure in the world- The Great Wall of China. And when I think of doing these myself, I feel a certain rush. I feel a certain desire, a desire to go out & achieve it, to experience it, feel it, see it and do it for myself. Of course it has all been done before and is verified & tested by various scientists and researchers numerous times, but what good is a fact if you can't prove it (by "you", I mean people like you & me, who haven't done it ourselves but are aware and known to the facts). Of course, we still believe they are true, proven but it is the certain feeling of doing it for yourself that makes it really worth doing..

But keeping to what I want to express through this piece of text, let me put focus on the very first line starting the post- "The world is an un-explored territory."

And indeed it is. There are many things which we haven't seen, but not just those things that we haven't seen, but there are many things which we know to be true but things which we don't anticipate, don't prepare each other for. And it's not just limited to various things outside our control, but it is very true for things and creatures to know about and in understanding whom we have made significant and complementary progress. 

There are many things that happen, many actions taken by our known ones or by the people or individuals who we think we understand, that baffle us, that make us doubtful and lead to many scenarios that we don't generally prepare ourselves for. People do things you never think they would do, things that you never think they could do. But in this way life teaches you in something, something worth learning. Whenever such things happen, It gives you a lesson; you have to learn and understand it and use it to be wiser in the new tomorrow.

Some of such people who have surprised me and many others, are the Major Tennis Stalwarts of India- Mahesh Bhupati, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes. They are mentioned in that order because of the timings of their actions in that order. 

Firstly, Mahesh Bhupati surprised (rather, perplexed and startled) the nation by announcing that he would not pair up with Leander Paes, India's highest ranked professional Tennis Player in Men's Doubles and his usual men's doubles partner, for this year's London Olympics. Paes & Bhupati  have been India's most successful pair in the Doubles category of Men's Tennis and have been very successful in all the events they have participated in throughout. Together, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati  have won 26 titles together, including 3 Grand Slams. Their Career record is 303-103, and they share the longest winning streak in Doubles in the Davis Cup, that of 23 consecutive matches. Also, they have been known to be very close friends and partners, even though their friendship has seen it's bad times in the past. 

The decision came at a time when the All India Tennis Association (AITA) was announcing the teams to be sent to the London Olympics. Refusing to the AITA's decision, Bhupati openly declared his feelings towards playing with Leander Paes, and refused to be teamed up with him for the Olympics, and in the forseeable future. He chose Rohan Bopanna, to be his partner. 

This was a very selfish decision by Bhupati, beacuse by this decison, he was putting his own ego in front of his country. He was choosing not to play with Leander due to his own personal problems, and denying the country it's chance of bagging a Medal in the London Olympics. 

Later, Rohan Bopanna supported Bhupati and agreed to partner only him, for the event, escalating the problem further

However, any problem rises only when there is a failure of the parties involved to work out a compromise, and it can only happen when both or all the parties involved are adamant on their own stands. 

A few days later, Leander Paes broke his silence and hit out at Mahesh Bhupati & Rohan Bopanna by saying that there should be an adequate punishment for players who refuse to comply with the decisions of the highest authority of the Sport (here AITA) and stating that it would be unfair if the AITA gave in to their demands. He also said that it was wrong that due to the dirty politics of the two players, his dream of  performing well in the Olympics would be put on stake (since he would be paired with a much lower ranked player in the event). Above all, he threatened to pull out from the Olympics Team if such unfair and unjust treatment was meted out. 

In my opinion, It is really sad to see India's Medal hopes being put at stake by the icons of Indian Tennis by putting their egos in front and not thinking about the country above themselves. Both Bhupati & Bopanna are really unprofessional and immature not to think of their country first, and being adamant on their decision to dictate terms to the AITA and the entire nation. Leander Paes also, is wrong to threaten to withdraw from the Olympics if his choice of a partner is not met. This is due to his ego, that refuses to accept being paired with a lower-ranked player for the Olympics. This is really wrong. He should remember that he was once a rookie himself, and if he would not have been trained and taught in the proper way, he would not have been able to do what he has today. 

Paes, Bhupati & Bopanna need to accept the AITA's decision in the best interests of the nation and play with all their commitment and effort to ensure that India gets a medal in this category of the Games. It is very wrong for the players, who have been able to reach these heights only because of the love & support of the nation and it's people to let them down, they should put their best foot forward in the best interests of the nation and give in their bet to win a medal for the country and make everyone proud. 

Another important event that has caught the attention of all is the impertinent refusal of the BCCI to allow DRS (Decison Review Sysem) to be implemented in all the series that are played between various teams in the sport of cricket. 

While the BCCI has been stubborn in it's refusal to allow the implementation of the DRS, many other nations have given support to it and the ICC has many times put the forward the proposal to allow it's usage in many international tournaments and series. 

The stand of the Indian Board on DRS is really baffling. They continue to say that the use of DRS should not be made since it's not foolproof. But going by that logic, they should also not have various cameras during the match present to allow better decisions such as Run-outs and catches since there have been instances where the video or sound images have been ineffective and inconclusive to prove a decison. Many other reforms and advancements that are used today would not be present in the world of cricket if the BCCI's logic had it's way. 

What the BCCI needs to understand is also that any technological advancement or development is not error-free especially in the initial stages, but it is only due to subsequent and continuous testing and experimentation that we obtain a better product and help develop the sport better. 

It is true that the BCCI enjoys a financial clout in the ICC, with the majority of revenue of the international body being supplied by the Indian Association. But that is no fair way or right reason for it to exercise it's power for getting things done according to it's own selfish interests and objectives. It is wrong of the BCCI to arm-twist the ICC into get it's proposals done. Yes, It is no hidden fact that the BCCI holds a lot of influence in the ICC due to it's monetary power, and this has also been the bane of many other  countries who have felt disadvantaged due to the many unfair practises of the Indian Cricket Board. 

The BCCI must remember the times of the CA (Cricket Australia)- ECB (England Cricket Board) domination and how wrong it felt to have them all powerful and influential in the ICC, and heed to their lessons in the past.

 Any sport can only progress when the members co-operate and harmonically work together to ensure that fair treatment is given to all, and fair objectives of all member countries are met.  

Now, These days, The biggest football tournament of two years is going on. The UEFA Euro 2012, being hosted by Poland and Ukraine.With a tournament so big and so highly reputed, there are many special situations that are bound to happen. Whether they are about a team losing earlier than expected or a dark horse arising above all to suddenly take the stage, you can find all types of stories and happenings in the world of sports and football. This Euro also has it's own share of such news, which are being discussed universally by all football enthusiasts.

 There have been many instances worth chatting about but I feel the most prominent one is that of team England and their performance in this year's event. Also, their subsequent elimination from the tournament in the quarter-finals. 

The England team started off their campaign with a Hard-fought draw against France. They went on to win their encounters against Ukraine and Sweden. However, it wasn't the results of Team England that came into focus, but their style of play.

 Teams like Spain, France & Italy, had noticed that England were playing very defensively throughout the tournament. Before the arrival of Wayne Rooney (vs Sweden) after his 2-match suspension, England had only Danny Welback as a goal-scoring opportunity in the front. There was also substitute Theo Walcott and the inspirational captain Steven Gerrard, but apart from that there was no other striker or attacking player in the field. England were not passing enough, not obtaining any possessions and were only fixed on one single department. England seemed to be playing with a defensive approach, trying to frustrate opponents in all their attempts and then hoping to score something in their own counter-attack. 

Many said that with their manager changed just two months back, quite close to the start of the tournament (Roy Hodgson) they were little prepared for some major strategic transformation than their usual style of play. That could have been an excuse, but it seemed to be something else when England mid-fielder Scott Parker (EPL club Tottenham Hotspurs) went ahead and said that it did not matter if the England Team were playing ordinary or Ugly Football, as long as they kept beating opponents and winning. Sure they had been lucky at times (John Terry kicked the ball out of the goal when the ball had crossed the line vs. Ukraine or the goals that was given off-sides vs. Sweden) they were winning and that only mattered. That statement from the England Mid-fielder showed that the defensive Approach of England was not just a backup plan but a full-pronged strategy charted for success for the team in the Tournament. He even went on quote the name of the Team from where this approach has been inspired- Chelsea. But while Chelsea rode on pure luck and unbeatable chance to somehow get the Champions League Trophy this season, England could do no such thing. After all, till when could this faulty and incomplete strategy work? 

Sadly for them, The English team had to learn this lesson the hard way, when they were knocked out in their own game by Italy, who themselves are masters of defense. It is hard to see that such talented players, of the quality of Steven Gerrad, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welback that have never won a major tournament for their country so far but it will not happen unless England get their act together and play with a better plan and objective in the coming tournaments of FIFA World Cup 2014, Brazil and the next Euro.

Another instance of an unfortunate or wrong event happened in India when Mahi, a 4-year old girl lost her life after she fell into an open borewell in Manesar, Haryana. 

The Haryana Govt. initially shocked all by stating that there was nothing new in Mahi's death and that such instances happened everywhere. However, after the huge media outcry and public pressure, they were coaxed to act. The little girl, who fell into the open borewell repotedly either while playing or while looking for water joined some other known children who have given up their lives due to the negligence and inaction of the bureaucrats. The borewell, which was nearly 70 feet deep was uncovered and unprotected against such happenings. 

After the 85-hour ordeal when she was pulled up by the rescuers, Mahi had already died. A twitter user summed up the feelings of one and all by saying that, "It is not that sad that Mahi, another kid in India has lost her life due to bureaucratic shamelesness, but it is very sad that she might not be the last one.."   

It is very sad to hear to some of the news but it is also important to note that there is always a lesson in all these happenings. Tennis ego clashes teach us humility, and being devoted to make the nation proud, BCCI stand-off teaches us not to be a bully when we are in power but being fair and equal to all, England's one-sided approach shows that no mission is ever complete without a proper plan and the unfortunate event of Mahi's event teached us to be careful always, and that a little carelessness can sometimes prove lethal.

It is for us to learn these lessons, and understand them to ensure that such events and incidents do not happen again. After all, a great man has said, "Making a mistake is human, learning from it is wisdom and repeating it is stupidity."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Summer Sports Blast!!

I love Sports!!

That first line says a lot...  I'm not just any ordinary fan of sports, but a wild, massive and die-hard fan of many players and teams competing against each other in many great tournaments for the ultimate prize, in their battle for victory, glory and respect. The winner sees all, and the others only fancy another chance.

And for any sports fan like me, it is really the ultimate pleasurable activity to sit back and absorb themselves in the fast, passionate, thrilling and entertaining life of sports. For a avid fan, boundaries don't matter, time isn't a constraint and resources comes together to offer a complete package of total bliss and contentment.

This summer is expected to be the best for all the sports enthusiasts and game followers. The summer season can be conveniently stated as the months between April and October (at least in this part of the globe). It features a hoard of events from all genres of sports and games, including the club and international fixtures. While there are some which are a regular and happen every year, there are those that comes once every 4 years also that are happening this summer. Considering the fact that they include events and sports tournaments of global following an importance (Olympics & Euros), their is bound to be lot of interest in these sports. There is thus bound to be a lot of trips and visits in these countries where the events are being hosted and the rest of the people are going to be glued to the television sets for a long time.

You can like a variety of sports, different types of sports. There can be international sports, club events, teams games or individual matches, professional championships and racing series, and many others. No matter which of them captures your fantasy, you can easily enjoy yourself this summer by following them on your boxes & screens (TVs, PCs & Mobiles).

Many events in the sporting arena are annual in nature, they happen once every year. While this helps in keeping the audience occupied, the interest can and following can vary a lot since it isn't possible for players and teams to keep up the same level of performance year after year in each and every tournament. Football Tournaments like the English Premier League or Formula One Racing Championships produce varied and different results nearly every time (of course, there being some exceptions).
This year, there are expected to be many sporting games and events. Some of my favourite ones are:-

Starting from April 7, the world's biggest cricketing carnival begins in India with the Fifth season of the hugely popular Indian Premier League (April 7- May 27). Relying on the sports plus entertainment format, the tournament is a successful place to perform for many unknown players. Active participation of players from all around the world means that most o the cricketing fans in most of the nations don't afford to give it a miss.  

There are also some tournaments that happen during late April & Early May like the Final Matches of all the Football Leagues in Europe and the Champions League. The fact that there have been competitive games and unputdownable results, fans are surely in for a great time! 

Moving a little further in the timeline, we come across The French Open (May 22-June 10). Even though, the interest in such a tournament might be limited to tennis fans, people are well-aware of the legends and rivalries of great players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, etc. these players are on the verge of many milestones, and each success ensures their names in the list of tennis greats in the world. 

The Eurozone Crisis has been the talking point of the entire summer. However, one place where members of all European Nations meet to cheer for each other is at a Football Event! It is the year that we get to see the European nations slug it out in the Football Field with UEFA Euro Championships 2012 (6 June to 1 July) being carried out in Ukraine-Poland. All nations are hungry for their teams to bring some joy by winning the European cup, and uplift the mood caused because of the depression faced by the European Economies. It is also a very competitive tournament, and fans are sure to have the bets time of their lives watching and cheering their teams.

The Championships- Wimbledon (25 June- 8 July) are sure to mention in the calender of every individual-sports' fan. With top quality players slugging it out on the grass courts of the All England Tennis & Croquet association, London is a treat for everyone to watch. With the ultimate prize in the game on stake, every challenger and every admirer is sure to stick to this one.

The mega event of sports is also happening this year. The Olympics Games (July 25 to Aug 12) will be held in London and all nations are excitedly waiting for the tournament to start, and all athletes are aiming for nothing less than a Gold, the most prestigious prize in the history of all Sports.    

The US Open, happens somewhere in September every year and is the last of all four Grand Slams to happen in Tennis every year. Doubtlessly, all players look to make amends for any issues of the past, and all champions look to end the year on a high, in this highly vigorous and fast tournament held annually in New York, US. 

The world of Formula One is a fantasical for all of us. Fast cars, beautiful girls, drivers driving at the top-most speeds without any restrictions sounds straight out of any action movie. We simply cannot stop being happy about the fact that F1 has finally come to India and a race on the Buddha International Circuit (BIC) is a part of the F1 calender. The Indian GP is held in the opening week of October every year and it is a thrill for all of us, and with 2 Indian Drivers (Karun Chandhok and Narain Kartikeyan) and an Indian Team participating in the events, there is no lack of cheering by us to be done.

Any calender is incomplete without any event in the field of cricket. With nearly one-sixth of the entire world following the game (including Entire India with a population of 1.2 billion, other 10 Test Playing Nations and other Associate Nations), cricket is a huge attraction to any sports fan. Falling this year are the ultimate international competitions in the most exciting version of the sport- The ICC World T20 Championships (Sept 18- Oct 7) being hosted by Sri Lanka. All the sub-continent teams including India & Pakistan (both former World T20 Champions) and Home team Sri Lanka are keen to make the most of their known conditions and the other sides such as England (T20 World Champions 2010) & Australia will look to better their records in the shortest formats of the game.

There are many other great events happening in the world. The Nokia Champions League T20, Cricketing Series, the Football Leagues, London ATP Tour Finals, etc are all part of an exciting sports festival for the entire year. However, what makes a year or a season special is heavy competition, huge support and grand scales of the tournaments. With many events happening that happen only after a long time or those that are really exciting and hugely followed in this part of the world taking place this year, it for sure is gonna be a lot of fun!

So for now, rush and go watch your favourite sports tournaments without missing a moment. Simply sit back, relax and enjoy them happening for such great events rarely ever happen so close to each other.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Bourne Appraisal!

The best experiences in life, can be different and differently originating for different people. It can be through making music for some, through dancing for a few, via diving (Scuba-diving) for further more, and many more things for other people. There can be times when one wonders if that's the most wonderful thing one does, or the most pleasing time that one spends throughout one's days. (People remember and say adventure sports was by biggest experience, or deep-sea diving was my most memorable activity..)
While people have different pleasures, passions & leisure activities they also spend a considerable part of their times, and opportunities in doing them. Musicians compose, artists paint, drivers race, etc

I, on these lines love reading.
Whether it is the day or the night, summer or the winter, blissful or desolate, or any other mood or situation, I find absolute pleasure in reading. It is the most joyous time of my day (or night) when I open up a book to read on what's happening with the characters, or and what is going to turn up next. It is the most superb feeling/experience to discover the true plot of a novel or a book as you reach it's most important phase of the plot- the core of the story.

One such book collection I read and appreciated was- The Bourne Series by Robert Ludlum.

The Bourne Series is based on a man, who is suffering from amnesia. He finds himself washed on a shore, full of bullets, and suffering deep arsenic wounds. Trying to decipher the riddle regarding his identity, finding out who he is, he undertakes a dangerous journey across different locations and cities located all across Europe and America. Revealing such facts would only be easier for our guy, if it weren't for the International Police, and a highly Reputed and Renowned-Worldwide Assassin chasing him..

The Bourne Series is a collection of 3 books- The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne
Ultimatum, respectively.

  The Bourne Identity demonstrates the struggle of our central character, known to the world as as Jason Bourne, to find his identity, and uncover his past (to know) as to why the International police and all major international intelligence Agencies across Europe & America are chasing him, and alongwith that the reason as to why the World's Most Reputed Poltical Assassin is also hunting him down. Along the path to this discovery, Bourne finds Ms. Marie St. Jacques, a Canadian Economist (hailing from France) working for the External Affairs of the Canadian Govt. as his only confidante and helper. Together, they undertake the long, dangerous & uncertain journey of the Identity of Jason Bourne, and uncovering his reality and him being a name and it's history, so dreaded in the international world.

The Bourne Supremacy starts a few years after it's predecessor, The Bourne Identity. The Bourne Supremacy involves the story of the international intelligence professional- Jason Bourne, after he has laid low for a while, avoiding combat & other altercations in an effort to lead a quiet and peaceful life with his wife, Mrs. Marie Webb in the a University in United States. The story starts off revealing the fact that another international hire, by the name of Jason Bourne has taken our character's place, and is killing political & elite leaders in the Middle-East & China. Pushed to the scene of violence and danger once again, Jason Bourne is forced to fight for his identity, for his innocence, for all his cherished achievements and most importantly, for the woman he love the most, in his life.

The third installment- The Bourne Ultimatum, (story) picks up nearly a decade after the issue of the previous title. It stars Jason Bourne, now officially retired from the work and post of combat & counter-assassination from the Govt. and is living peacefully in his house, spending his pleasure days with his wife & family (2 kids) in ease. However, things suddenly take change for the worse, when Jason's most dreaded and renowned enemy resurfaces, and in a last ditch-attempt to re-take his title, wants to eliminate the man who took away most of his reputation and pride on an international level. So, Bourne must not only find him, (and protect his family), but end the story of his most celebrated and hated rival and enemy, once and for all.

By reading this, and not having any other knowledge about the above-mentioned topics will make you think as to why these have been mentioned here. They could have been easily mentioned in a place meant to review books or encourage forumns about the book. So, What is so important or special about these books to find a discussion about them here?

Then again, as they say, never judge a book or a person (by it's cover) or too soon..

 The highlight, of reading or going through this book did not lie in the story and actions of this extraordinary man only, but also in the beautiful portrayal of the characters of Jason Bourne and Marie St. Jacques. Known to the world as the most dangerous professional and warrior around, Jason Bourne is always found in the middle of all problems that happen everywhere. Unaware of the situation and the reasons of his fight or escaping, Jason must manage to outdo every intelligence & security personnel and eliminating international criminals and assassins to protect his most cherished causes. Without any prior information or sources, Jason relies only on his instinct, the instinct of a man trained to kill, to do the right things always, even in the toughest of situations. He does only what he knows how to do, and knows he can still do it. Every such moment or incident of  violence or a fight could be his last, yet Jason doesn't and can't care about himself, but only for the cause he fights, only for the girl he loves, and only for the rules he will always keep, no matter what. He only thinks of the innocent, of the people who deserve more from him, and the acts he has to undertake to ensure there is justice and fairness in this world.

 Marie (Jason's Wife) plays a very important part in the story too. Without her, Jason would probably not have wanted to live in the world itself. She is the reason for his unending inspiration to uphold the right things, to fight for the right causes, to ensure justice to all at all times. In moments of despair she is his only hope, in times of disappointment, she is his only encouragement, and in days of frustration, she is his only support. Marie is to David what a kid is to a teacher, full  of energy and complete, but without a cause or direction to go ahead in. She supports him, helps him, aids him, completes him and loves him.

Jason Bourne, is a man trained & licensed to kill, but one who chooses the right path, no matter what because he believes in upholding the righteous always, protecting the innocent at all times and helping the aggrieved as possible. He kills, but does so for a cause, for a reason, for a motive, and for the right activity, that he knows, must happen.

When you think that something is impossible, just open the Jason Bourne Series, and you'll be astonished to fin out and know what all a man can actually do, if he believes in himself, if he is willing to sacrifice everything in this world for his cause, and if he is willing to go all the way, without any issues!

If you want to read the Jason Bourne Novels, buy the Bourne Series by Robert Ludlum.
Also note that after Robert Ludlum's death, his close friend Eric Van Lustvader continued the practie of intoducing Jason Bourne to the word in his new adventures. These books are- The Bourne Legacy, The Bourne Betrayal, The Bourne Saction, The Bourne Deception, The Bourne Objective, The Bourne Dominion & The Bourne Imperative respectively. Since I haven't read about these books, so I cannot express my views on them.