Fifteen with love

                 

Sampras’ seemingly unbeatable record of 15 grand slams has been overhauled. All 4 majors have been won. The no.1 ranking has been reclaimed and all the while grace, poise and elegance has been maintained. Thats Roger Federer for you. peRFect.

If someone had told you about 10 years ago, that a Swiss would become the greatest player of all time, you would probably have laughed, and so would I. But it has happened. Not only has Roger Federer become the most successful player player in Grand Slam history, but has also done it by playing a brand of tennis that can only be described as, well, magical.

When he first burst onto the scene, it was all guns blazing. A victory over the mighty Pete Sampras at Wimbledon ( which ironically became Sampras’ last match on the lawns of SW19 ). He had arrived on the scene.

The years that followed can only be described as ‘The Federer Era’ and there was hardly a hiccup( except in the clay of Paris, which a certain matador from Spain called his own ). Major after major came his way, and world #1 was a given.

Then came 2008. The year, I am sure that tennis fans will remember for a long long while to come. It was when Federer was dethroned as the king of England( well, of Wimbledon at least). In what was the longest final in Wimbledon history and perhaps, the greatest final ever, Rafael Nadal prevailed over Federer to add insult to the injury blows that he inflicted on Federer in the final of the French hardly a month before. And now doubts arose.

Naturally, whispers started of Federer losing it and not having anything left in him. These soon turned into full blown shouts when he lost his world #1 ranking to Nadal later that year. But just as great champions do, Federer won the US Open, albeit not playing the best tennis that he is capable of.

And this vulnerability was yet again exposed by Nadal when he beat Federer in the final of the Australian open. The scenes that ensued will certainly be fresh in the minds of all tennis fans. Federer breaking down and sobbing hysterically with Nadal, in what can only be described as one of the greatest shows of sportsmanship that the sport has ever seen, consoling him. This was probably a bit too much for Roger and soon enough, the axe was wielded and the guillotine lowered.

Yet again, as only great champions can, he rose from the ashes, to claim the one major trophy to elude him. He won the French open in some style and thus joined the pantheon of greats like Don Budge, Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and others, to be only one of a select few to hold all 4 major trophies. He had indeed come a full circle.

Then came Wimbledon and another epic final. Andy Roddick gave as good as he got and a bit more but in the end, Roger Federer had done it. He had eclipsed Pete Sampras to become THE HISTORY MAN ! The Undisputed king. Whats more, he’s got his #1 ranking back.

His critics will always say that he never had the competition that other great players like Sampras or Borg had. You know what? It only seems that way because he was head and shoulders above the rest. The competition that Borg had can very well be equated to the competition that Federer had without any disrespect to the players of either eras. The difference was that while Borg and Sampras were ahead of the competition, Federer was well ahead and well, as they say, it gets quite lonely at the top.

He does not have the biggest serve; Roddick does. He does not have the best forehand; Djokovic probably does. He does not have the best backhand; Richard Gasquet does. he does not have the best physique or legs; Nadal does. But you know what? He has what it takes to be a champion, and a great one at that; probably the greatest.

 Kudos to the great man.

Cheers

That boy Ronaldo !!!

6 seasons. 292 appearances. 118 goals. 49 assists. Now he’s gone, and United are richer by 80 million pounds. Thats Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United career at Old Trafford. He came in as a “phenomenal talent” and left as a “superstar”, probably the biggest of ‘em all. A stepover here, a nudge there. A dive here and a fantastic strike there. This was pretty much what he was about.

When he was bought for 12 million pounds six years ago, quite a few eyebrows werre raised as he was quite an unknown identity. No sooner than he had made his sparkling debut, than people realised that the unknown ‘X’ was quite simply the ‘X-Factor’. His first couple of seasons, or the first three even, were quite inconsistent peppered with flashes of brilliance. He was still growing.

Then came the first of three brilliant seasons in which he so famously won the wager with Sir Alex when he scored more than 20 that season. The season started off on a sour note with the Rooney red card incident at the world cup. He was getting stick wherever he played( Well, except OT of course !!). But then he won over the fans with a series of stunning displays. He was developing his game and with it learning to deal with superstardom too. He was still growing.

Then came the season to end all seasons. 42 goals in 49 appearances to go with a Premiership medal and a champs league medal. He simply decimated all and was crowned both the European and World Footballer of the year. He was quite simply on another planet and well, vini vidi vici. Inevitably Real Madrid came calling and quite frankly, United were lucky to hold on to him for another season. But the signs were ominous and it was only a question of when rather than if he would leave. He had grown.

Then was his last season at OT. His supposed “not so good” season. Yeah, it produced only 26 goals. Not so good indeed. Well, the season started off badly as he had a surgeory on his ankle and was out of the game for the start of the season and when he got back, he did look more than a little jaded. Worst of all, he looked as if his heart was quite simply not in it. His attitude did improve as the season progressed and so did his form. Another premier league medal and a Champs league runners up medal. Towards the end of the season, the signs were ominous. The pure petulence on being substituted was well, inexcusible. But then the second half against Tottenham showed us the boy’s class and well, it was one last swansong.

Then came the inevitable. Manchester United had accepted a world record 80 million dollar bid from Real Madrid for the the services of a certain Cristaino Ronaldo, and just like that, he was off. The worst part of it was the reaction of all the United fans all over the world. A “we dont need him” attitude. I’m sorry guys, have a li’l respect for the guy and for all that he gave us.

He was brilliant. He was infuriating. He was arrogant. He was pure genius. He was quite simply the guy you would just love to hate. He may well be a whigner. He may well be a spoilt rich brat. He may not have defended or worked hard enough for the team. He may have thrown tantrums and dived on the slightest contact but you know what?? All we can do is look back and say…”That boy!Ronaldo !!”

Adios amigo. Its been a good six years. Thank you for the memories and… Godspeed
Cheers

Crossie part 3

And we’re back …

Now onto #4 …

4. Workable clues

These are perhaps the most advanced of all the types of clues. These are the ones that get you to use your(and my) grey cells that lay dormant most of the time :)…
These are the clues in which, almost every single word in the clue has some part to play in the formation of the final answer.
The clue usually has the defenition of the answer in it, and the rest of the clue has hints to form the entire word.
Here’s an example :

                        Beloved one shows courage, sheltering a liberal(7)
                        The answer: Darling 

Lets break it down, shall we ?
one shows courage : daring.
liberal : L.
so daring sheltering l is l in daring goves darling.
And of course, beloved one : darling !!

Another one:

                    Well mannered, but showing anger about penalty(7)
                    The Answer: Refined 
anger in crossie terminology is red ( as in red with anger)
penalty is fine.
red and fine together make refined …

Well these clues are perhaps the most difficut to crack at first attempt but as you keep solving, you’ll get better at them and in time understand the beauty of these clues.

5. Hybrid clues

These are just as the name suggests, mix and match of any of the above 4 types of clues. There maybe workable clues in which there are anagrams that are parts of the answer.

So thats a basic wrap of the different types of clues found in crosswords.
SO the next time you come across these grids in the newspapers, go ahead, give ‘em a try … You never know, you could just end up becoming an addict.
But a word of caution, like most other things, you have to be patient … Dont expect to complete the crossword, the first time you try it …
I would suggest THE HINDU CROSSWORD as it’s undoubtedly THE BEST one there is out there. The crossies on the other newspapers are just simple trivia type in which you dont actually get to appreciate the wordplay and the skill of the cruci ..

Cheers

p.s Check out the blog called http://www.crosswordunclued.com/
Absolutely brilliant and a much much more in-depth tutorial ..

Crossie part 2

Right, so lets begin..
There are basically 5 kinds of clues :

1. Straight clues
2. Double defenitions
3. Anagrams
4. Workable clues
5. Hybrid clues

1. Straight clues

Very simple. Direct defenitions of the answers form the clue.
For eg. :

They show up the player’s(or umpire’s) skills in retrospect (6,7)
Answer: Action Replays
Easy enough, eh? Well the thing is that sometime the most apparent of answers don’t strike you and so more often than not, you’ll find that these direct clues are the ones filled up towards the end, once you’ve got letters of the answer from the solutions of different clues.

Another one ….
One like Mao? (8)
Answer : Chairman

2. Double Defenitions
These clues generally are very short. These clues can be decomposed into two distinct parts, each a different meaning of the answer to the clue.

For eg. :
The Language of the Britisher(7)

Now break it down into 2 parts:
The Language
Britisher

The answer to this is “ English
English is obviously a language and a Britisher is English ….

Another example :

Apply the sqeeze on the print media(5)
Answer : Press … pretty straightforward ….

3. Anagrams
Now, we come to the more challenging clues.

An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once. (Read the wiki article for more)

Right, so coming to the clues with anagrams, here’s one :

Fish, an amber sort (5)
The answer : Bream ( an anagram of Amber )

Now, how do you discern that the clue is an anagram?
Look for words that indicate that the answer is an anagram of a part of the clue. In the above clue, the hint is the word “sort”. From this you can decide that it is an anagram, and since the answer is 5 letters and the only 5 letter word in the clue is “amber”, its quite simple, isn’t it? Well then again, figuring out the word to be anagrammed is the easy part. Figuring the actual
answer is the more hard part…

Here’s another :

A disturbed sister has the power to oppose (6)
Answer : Resist ( Anagram of “sister” )
The tell-tale word here is “disturbed”

And another :

A conifer from a cadre altered (5)
Answer : Cedar ( anagram of “cadre”)

So look for these words to check if the clues are anagrams.Also, these clues will be complete, as in, apart from the anagram part of it, the rest of the clue will also be an indication to the answer. Like, in the above clues, a cedar is a conifer and to resist is to oppose.

Some of the words that usually indicate anagrams are:
Altered
Disturbed
Mixed
A sort of
Concocted
Stirred

More to come …

Cheers

Of roommates and mess food

My last night in the Hostel in SASTRA Univ and a good time to reflect or rather look back on the four years in ” a home away from home I guess !”

To begin with, before I can even begin in fact, I wanna thank my roommates …
Suresh, Mouli and Suresh in the first year,
Santosh in the second year
and lastly and most importantly Jaga, who has put up with me for 2 years .. Thanks a bunch mates …

“Sandipani Sadan” ..
no no .. this aint no sanskrit sloka to start off .. this is the name of my first year hostel…

Right … the first year … first time away from home .. everyone startin on an even keel … No one knows too many ppl … We were lucky actually .. A whole bunch of us from the same school .. Yet, like a gazillion others in the hostel, from all parts of the country …

All the first week talk was obviously about who were gettin ragged and how .. Quite funny when we look back actually… Once the ragging phase died down, all the talk everywhere was about, you guessed it, Gals !! Oh come on.. dont act surprised .. It’s a Boys’ hostel for cryin out loud !!! And once the dust settled, there were the fights with the warden about permission to go home( yeah, you read right, we had to get permission to visit home !!)..Then came the tv fights, and boy were they the best .. We basically had only one tv in the hostel( for about 700 ppl) and were only allowed to watch on weekends… Tamils, Golts, Northies … you get the point :)..And then there were the cricket tournaments, the cricket in the hallways, the football in the corridors, the UNO games, and of course, the studies !!!

The Holi bash(quite literally), and last, but certainly not the least, the fight with the warden which saw a guy actually pour piping hot milk on the warden’s head !!!
At the end of it all, I ( I speak purely for myself here) was quite pleased to leave that hostel and get into a “senior” hostel, ’cause quite frankly, I had had enough…

I came about three days after the 3rd sem started and my friends had already picked out a room for me. There I was, standing in front of this wooden door early in the mornin, when the hostel was asleep. I opened the door and before me was this hole in the wall, a small space,7 foot by 10 foot, that was room no. 299, Ananda Vihar(AV) ! My first reaction :” Where’s the rest of the room??” … Well soon enough the morning bathroom rush started and then it was time for college. So anyway, I came back to the room in the evening and I met one of my seniors from school and he said, ” You’ll get an affinity towards AV.” These exact same words, I can remember clearly. And of course, I remember thinking tht 3 years in this
place had finally gotten to him and tht he was all up there in his head !!! But guess what, he was right and I’m still here, almost 3 years later, sittin in AV, only in a different hole in the wall :)

Now, the third sem passed without much of an incident and then came the fourth sem, and that brought with it, the one thing that changed hostel life forever .. THE COMPUTER !!! And boy, what a change in hostel habits it brought about !! Time previously spent chatting and gossipping was now replaced by movies and of course FIFA !!! Hardly any work to do, the computer at our mercy .. need I say more !!!

Another year gone, and another hole in the wall.. room 378 this time and Jaga, my roomie … Again, the computer, more ovies, more gaming and a whole lot more fun. This was also the time when our gang expanded from 3 rooms to a whole, round 6 !! Oh the good times… Another feature of the third year was the terrace. We were on the top floor and the staircase to the terrace was a stone’s throw away from our room… Naturally, a lot of late night talks and star gazing followed… Thus passed the third year with yet more movies and games, and hardly anything productive done.

The final year.. By this time, AV was well and truly our domain, and being final years’, naturally, the rule of the land came to us… THE GROUND FLOOR !! No more climbing stairs during tea time or in the mornin .. That was for “the juniors” to do :). AV 178 was my room this year and technically, it remained a single room almost all through the year. Jaga was offered an internship in Germany in the seventh sem and I had the room to myself. In the eighth sem, I was offered an internship in Mysore, and he had the room to himself.

The seventh sem was in many ways, the one semester that I would most remember my hostel life by. Apart from being in a single room for the first time in my life, and apart from the fact that I was, ahem, preparing for CAT, lots of things happened that changed a lot of things. I cant really explain cause I just cant really explain it. But the undoubted highlight of the sem was towards the end when the rain started… Just like the expression, when it rained, it poured !!! But unlike the expression, it didnt just pour, it poured and poured, and then poured some more. And just when we thought that it was over, it poured again !!! The common area in the center got flooded and the water threatened to overflow into our rooms. Add to this, power cuts of about 4 hours a day( close to 7 in the early part of the sem) and just like the rhyme ” water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink”, only, in our case, there was not a drop to use. It was raining cats and dogs but there was absolutely no water whatsoever in the taps in the bathrooms. As a result, we didnt have a bath when we wanted to, we had a bath when water came( and conveniently, lots of people didnt :) ). We didnt go when ‘it’ came. We went when water came. It was well, an experience, to say the least.

A quick word on the mess food. It was pretty much bearabl eapart form a few days when, well, I think that my shoe would’ve tasted better. Insects and flies were quite common in the sabzis and the kurmas. what did we do when we found insects in our food? Why, throw a tantrum and alert the warden of course. NOT ! We just picked it up, put it on the table and continued eating :) Shit happens !!

Now, I sit here, after 3 years 10 months and 15 days after my first night in hostel, and I’m wondering where these 3 years 10 and a half months have gone. Its been a learning experience to say the least and a wonderful one at that. But as with everything else in life, all good things must come to an end, and today or rather tonight marks the end of this chapter.

Goodnight. Godspeed and adios AV. Its been a pleasure.

P.S I have left out India’s T20 world Cup win and the two editions of the IPL quite delibrately cause if I had indeed included the details of those, you would probably have to keep readin this post for a very very long time indeed. Maybe another post on them, who knows !!

Cheers