Photo of sebastian-vettel

IN A LONELY PLACE

Is this a new low for Sebastian Vettel? After the recently concluded Japanese Grand Prix, it now requires a miracle to turn his fortunes around. Yes, he has done it in the past, remember 2010 or 2012 season? However, this time around, things are different and so do the opponent.

Talking about the opponent, I am not referring to Lewis Hamilton, the ghosts reside within Vettel and it is ambling its way out since the 2014 season. What we have witnessed this year is its acceleration. The highs of this season have come to terms with disappointments and it is not over.

What can go wrong? Another four no finishes in the remaining races?  Overtaken by Bottas and Max Verstappen in the points tally? Suddenly, the season looks ordinary. Mind you, this has nothing to do with the car’s performance in general.

The last time I saw Ferrari this dominant was in 2008, albeit 2010 comes close. The 2012 season went into the final race thanks to the impressive drives made by the Spaniard, Fernando Alonso.

The team Ferrari is mercurial and that’s the way they play the game. Most people fail to understand the DNA with which they are wired. People look for logical explanations, curated PR messages and expect Ferrari to appease the non-Italian journalists. If you are expecting them to behave like a well-oiled corporate entity, then forget it.

At the heart of its operations it is conducted as an extension of family business and to be honest, there is nothing wrong in it. They do as they wish and they are in the sport for the passion and not to forget money.

The former term ‘passion’ is what separates Ferrari from rest of the pack in Formula One. In the history of Formula One, there are enough examples that illustrate Ferrari is in it for the long haul whereas other competitors have been finicky.

For Ferrari, all is fair in love in the war of F1 business/politics.

It is in such a setup Vettel has re-discovered himself and in that process, he is letting the ghosts out within him. And, he must let them out to come back as a better driver both on and off the track.

Frustration, ego, anger have masked the fact that he is a four-time world champion. Currently, Vettel is in a lonely place.

And, with it, the time is ripe for introspection. He isn’t the same care-go-free Wunderkind as he used to be four years ago. Things have changed and the winless years have contributed to this mini-crisis.

Last time when Vettel won a driver’s world championship, Michael Schumacher was sound and healthy (2013). Unlike his formative years and his early days in F1, his mentor isn’t around for the past four years.

There would have been no better person than Michael Schumacher to talk about driving and his current ailments. The seven-time world champion went four seasons without a win with the Italian team before winning five consecutive titles between 2000 and 2004.

Not just winning, during those five years and up until his first retirement in 2006, we saw a different Schumacher. He had overcome the image of a ruthless, arrogant driver whose antics made headlines over his prime driving skills.

The accident at the 1999 British Grand Prix was the timeout Schumacher needed. Not just physically, he came back to the sport mentally tougher and stronger. That made a lot of difference during that winning streak, an ordinary 2005 season and a close 2006 season.

Vettel is no Schumacher; however, both have tasted success quite early in their careers. There comes a time in every person’s life when one should come to terms with who they are. An honest conversation within is a good starting point.

In the current case of Vettel, if Ferrari performs as well as they have this season, there is nothing he needs to worry from the machinery point of view. He must bring his new avatar onto the racing track sans excess negative emotion that’s in him currently. That’s something he must invest time before the start of the next season.

Until then, Vettel is in a lonely place and only he can turn his fortunes around.

 

Image – SkySports

Photo of Indian Women Cricket Team World Cup 2017

Remember the TITANS

A few days ago, while I was watching India vs. Australia, my eight-year-old niece joined me and asked, ‘what is the score’? I promptly replied what I saw on the screen.  Seconds later, her inquisitive mind asked, ‘is this India and Australia?’

I wasn’t surprised considering she has been asking me about cricket all these years. I looked at her and nodded and went back to watching. She grabbed a chair and sat next to me.

Now for the first time that evening her attention was completely on the cricket match. She is sharp and within no time she enquired, ‘are these girls who are playing cricket?’

She looked at me waiting for an answer and at the same time, she was surprised.

“Yes, Meghna, it’s the Women’s World Cup.”

‘Oh, I didn’t know women had a cricket World Cup’, she remarked.

Now, this was the time I turned towards her and explained, women do play cricket, but not as much as the men do.

Meghna turned her attention back to the screen and said, ‘even I want to play cricket.’

“You know, Switzerland has a women’s team now. And, I will take you to their training session. You can see it for yourself.”

She was excited and soon we saw the Indian women’s team taking the final wicket of the Australian team and thereby giving themselves a chance to win their maiden World Cup.

Meghna trains with her school friends in the local football team where she is an aspiring goalkeeper. She plays cricket occasionally with me and to boast, she shook hands with Rahul Dravid as a 3 and half-year-old (and aptly an autographed bat hangs on her room wall).

Today the women in blue came agonisingly close and there are reasons why they didn’t win, however, today or this article isn’t the right forum to dissect the performance.

Instead, I would remember this World Cup as a catalyst, and the large impact these Indian cricketers have had on many people living in India and abroad.

Cricket is a career option for Indian women and this message has come out loud and clear.

The performance of these cricketers in the past weeks has given a much-needed boost and only time will tell how India as a women’s cricketing nation will progress. It looks promising!

My gut feeling is that it has already inspired many young girls like Meghna, who can now seriously consider cricket as a career option or as an avenue to express themselves. Irrespective of whether they go on to play for the national team, a path has been carved.

I am disappointed like any other fan to see the team losing, however, looking at a broader picture, the year 2017 will be a defining year in the annals of Indian women’s cricket just like 1983 remains for Indian cricket in general.

Beyond Cricket!

Time has an interesting way to make us understand things in perspective. Two weeks ago, in our room in Salzburg, I saw India beat Pakistan. It was a great start to the tournament. Working in the sports industry and more so with cricket, one thing I have learned is to live the moment and just savior it. You know the age-old adage, this too shall pass.

Fast forward, two weeks later, the same two teams met and this time it was the finals. India were firm favourites and even the opposition knew it, and most of their countrymen on the media were marginally optimistic if not certain.

The finals happened to be among the best two teams in the tournament, sorry England, you were good, but I am sure you are on right track to winning your first ODI World Cup, which will take place on your home turf in 2019.

Before the day of the finals, I was asked what I felt about tomorrow’s match. To me, the memories of 1996 World Cup semi-finals and the 2003 World Cup finals came to my mind instantly. Don’t ask me why?

I had said, “India should stick to their strategy of batting first and score runs. In any case, the opposition would have done the same thing. I fear if they might opt to field first since Pakistan had chased down targets at ease in the lead-up to the finals.”

Hindsight is a great teacher and minutes into the game, one got a feeling, it will be a tough task for India. And the next few hours runs piled on and wickets came now and then. The Pakistan score should have been much higher if not for some inspired bowling by India in the final five overs.

Indians would have had to bat close to 50 overs to have a chance. It didn’t matter what the score was for the first ten overs. If you are in the game with wickets in hand, anything is possible. I believe that is today’s mantra in limited overs cricket.

A group of friends had gathered in a Zurich pub which is known to show cricket matches whenever it on live. The place was filled with Indian fans, optimistic at the start of the second innings. After all, we have seen the same team chase down targets at will in the past.

Though professionals, cricket is a game that is played by humans. In cricket, like any sport, there is always room for the opposition to play better than you. And, so it happened. Rohit Sharma got out, Kohli got a life and seconds later he perished. Then Dhawan, Yuvraj, Dhoni, and Jadhav. It was inspired bowling performance than poor batting.

There were no tears of 1996 nor the irritation of 2003. It didn’t matter how the opposition was, for I saw the Indian team overshadowed by a better prepared Pakistan team.

And, then I heard arguments like, India played poorly. Two weeks ago, Pakistan’s performance resembled India’s defeat in the finals. Wish there were trophies awarded for every match, would that have settled the argument?

It was heartening to see Kohli giving credit to the better team – it felt like you are having one of those bad days in life and it boils down to owning it up or blaming it on someone else. I am glad, the Indian captain chose the ‘right’ words on the occasion.

One of the ways to understand the meaning of ‘sport’ is to look beyond the team we support. Try working in the sports industry, live through the struggles, the pain, the agony and the successes that come with it. I promise you will cease to be a mere fan, in fact, I am still struggling to identify the right word for what I have become.

After the match, the cricket discussion spread to other fans who had come to watch the finals. Disappointed, yes, we all were. But we all agreed on one thing – the better team surely won, and it wasn’t our Indian team.

It took me a week to get over the shock of India’s 1996 loss, a couple of days after the 2003 defeat and yesterday, the disappointment was for mere moments.

The result didn’t cloud my judgment to appreciate the sport I love very much nor ignore to give credit where it was due. In fact, it gave me the clarity as to why I chose ‘sports’.

Marilyn Monroe, in her own words!!

Last year in the Fact Food section of Qwizzeria, I mentioned about the most famous ‘Happy Birthday’ song the history has ever witnessed. It was Marilyn’s rendition to President JFK.

That fact accompanied with the video (available on YT) on the FB page of Qwizzeria remains popular to this day, shared and commented by people from all over the world.

It tells me about the impact Marilyn Monroe continues to have even to this day and there is something magical about the Happy Birthday song, which happened to be her last public appearance.

The night of 19 May 1962 remains memorable even after fifty-five years. Among the large crowd that had gathered, with several artists, top brass politicians, and influential businessmen, Marilyn stood out the moment she entered the stage.

If JFK brought in flair, youth, and a fresh swagger into politics, Marilyn generated awe and had an aura that could not be fathomed.

Their union could have been the tale of the century, instead, it remained a fantasy that soon enveloped into tears as it was rumored the president overlooked Marilyn and passed her on to his younger brother Bobby.

In the TV series, MAD MEN, that chronicles the life of advertising and its personnel from the 1960s has quite a few episodes that showcased the impact of both JFK and Marilyn Monroe.

Leaving the drama aside, it is a well-known fact that Marilyn never forgave the Kennedy brothers for the way they treated her.

In the end, Marilyn remained a plaything for the rich Kennedy boys. There is nothing wrong in having dreams, and Marilyn’s heartbreak ensured the Cinderella dream is just for the storybooks. And, as quoted in the series Mad Men, the research showed, people preferred Jackie Kennedy as the ‘wife’ and not Marilyn.

I am not sure how the world has changed, however, women have greater rights and their voice is heard much better than in the 60’s. Nevertheless, when cornered to an emotional cage, you choose to fight or simply fade away from the limelight. The latter chose Marilyn or the other way?

Months before her untimely death, Marilyn Monroe gave one of her best interviews to George Barris, a photographer and a good friend of hers. She talked about her life, the time when she was smitten by the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ –

“I remember seeing Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. I sat there in a trance until my worried mother came to take me home. I asked her if there was another world out there or if it was just my imagination. Could dreams really come true? I wondered, Are the movies a make-believe land, just an illusion?”

And, if there was any truth to what happened to Owen Wilson in the movie ‘Midnight in Paris’, I would have loved to visit the Hollywood of the 50’s. A conversation with Marilyn would be a bargain I settle for.

Though the glamour made her iconic, Marilyn knew it was demanding and believed she was in the wrong era –

“I believe I am in the wrong era,” Marilyn was frank about the Hollywood she knew. “For example, many would pay me watch and for what? My body? Is that all I have got? I believe I have an excellent sense of humor and I am underutilised.”

So, what era would she have belonged to?

“I love the 30’s. The glamour, the attention, it was less complex, demanding,” she would go on talking about the leading ladies of that era. “Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford, Bette Davies, Greta Garbo, Mae West, Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Rosalind Russell, Loretta Young…. and they are just the handful of them, all were glamorous in their own way.”

Personally, I agree with what she quoted. I have watched hundreds of movies belonging to the 30’s and 40’s – there was a mystic to the way actors and actresses went about their skills. The fuss over glamour was less and the natural beauty came to the fore.

Should I blame on the gruesome war and the after-effects to the way people began defining ‘glamour’? After all, a natural brunette had to be a blonde to become popular and Marilyn was an example when she started out in the film industry –

“During my modelling days, I was a brunette. Miss Emmeline Snively, who then ran the largest model agency in Los Angeles kept insisting I become a blonde. But I refused, I didn’t want to bleach my hair. But she kept telling me, “Norma Jeane, if you expect to go places, you’ve got to be a blonde.””

And the name…… Norma Jeane didn’t appeal and Marilyn Monroe was born after a screen test with the Fox studios.

“I became Marilyn Monroe only after getting a contract from Fox Studios. Ben Lyon, who was the talent scout suggested the name ‘Marilyn’ and my legal guardian, Aunt Grace inspired me to choose my mother’s maiden’s name ‘Monroe’.”

The name has remained fresh and alive with memories, stories, quotes, and largely rumours as to who ‘Marilyn Monroe’ really was.

The interview with George Barris gives a sneak peek into her mind and her thought process devoid of the glamour.

And then within days after sharing parts of her life, she was gone…. this time forever. And I am not sure she completed the two books (Captain Newman and To Kill a Mockingbird) she was reading at the time of the interview.

In her own words, she said, “I’m thirty-six years old. I’m just getting started. I want to work. Acting is my life…. I’m not the girl next door, I’m not a goody-goody and I am not a victim of emotional conflicts. I am human.”

She would have been 91, had seen been alive! Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

 

 

 

(Quotes sourced from Marilyn’s interview with George Barris, Her Life In Her Own Words)

Why I Support Trump!

Read these few lines before concluding:

In 2002, I met this introvert with whom I shared an instant connection because of the ‘football’ club we support. On most occasions, it was ‘us’ versus ‘the other classmates’ and it was all fun.

He travelled close to 70 km each day (considering the Bangalore traffic) on public transport and never once complained about it. He went on to secure good grades, got campus placement and worked tenuously for eight years.

He loved life like anyone and his life changed two years ago, his juvenile diabetes triggered a reaction that has since resulted in problems in his kidney. He had to quit his job, undergo dialysis treatment (it is ongoing) and now he finds himself in a situation where kidney replacement is critical.

Luckily, a renowned hospital in Bangalore has found a kidney match for the transplant surgery.

His family and friends are doing their bit; however, it is the financial help along with the prayers that will help him recover and lead a life which we all deserve. The operation is due in less than a month.

His family has set up a contribution page through which you can contribute and give him the hope that is needed.

https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/multipleorgantransplant?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=fbpageshare&utm_campaign=multipleorgantransplant

Alternatively, you can deposit directly to his account here –

SBI Account details

A/c Name: Praveen Kumar matam

A/c no: 20085201868

IFSC code: SBIN0004456

ITPL Campus (Bangalore)

 

 

And, regarding Donald Trump.

 Forget about him and instead feel good by helping a fellow human.

A Decade To Remember

Today, I came across this comic by Gav, whom I regard as one of the creative artists of our era. His methods are simplistic and to the point. His illustrations drive towards a conclusion, that makes me think, introspect about my life and its choices.

This time, he features David Bowie, the late singer who departed in 2016 leaving behind hundreds of songs and in them, his memories.

In my lifetime, I have been surrounded by artists and been privy to some of their creative thinking methods.

There are few confident artists who can deliver the line, in a style Rhett Butler from Gone with The Wind would have whistled in approval.

At the same time,

Many artists have succumbed to the ‘pressure’ after smelling the sweetness of ‘success’. The pressure extended by others, who in a way are just being themselves or doing their job.

There is public, a gallery, who perceive, who decide, opine, and critic. We do not think about the handful of those who praise.

Why restrict to artists, it applies to all of us, isn’t it?

Let us dwell into some of the quotes that was recently featured in the comic:

“Never play to the Gallery.”

“Never work for other people at what you do.”

“Always remember that the reason you initially started working, was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of the society.”

“I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfil other people’s expectations. I think they produce their worst work when they do that.”

“Go a little bit out of your depth.”

 

These lines strike a chord to some of the unusual career choices (going by my peers) I have made in my life.

My path drifted a great deal from the norm (again, my peers being the yardstick) with the creation of a blog ten years ago. I wrote, despite my lack of skills as a writer.

For what I understood, ‘First, there are rules, then there is a room for amendments.’

We are humans, we cannot live by the commandments as we strive for better lives, evolve into something different from our previous generations.

That’s the order – we can get-in and create something wonderful or hold on to some of the antiquated rules sans adaptation.

Late 2006, I remember, my brother talked about ‘venting my feelings’ through a blog. I had a diary, a blog opened a world previously not seen.

Looking back, I might not yet have a best-seller, or a regular column in a top newspaper nor am I a celebrity blogger.

Instead, I have gotten to know myself better and that, trust me is a reward.

Happy Birthday Thatha

The tenth day of January remains a special day in my life. Since the late 1980s,  I was made aware about the dates and the use of it for occasions to wish, celebrate or remember.

My maternal grandfather’s birth date happens to be 10th January.

He had a liking to write – in his case, it was personalised letters, which he wrote frequently. My mother replied to all of them and my birthday wish to him began with a letter – “Happy birthday Thatha,” that’s how I called him or refer him to this day, ‘Thatha’.

And, in the 90s, it was our time to send him greeting cards. My sister and I used to write our unique messages. Wish, I had a way to scan those cards we sent.

He retired from his service and lived in rural Bangalore, and thereby much closer to us. We made those visits if his birthdays were on Sundays or else it was still the ‘greeting cards’.

Then came the telephone, he was just a dial away from receiving our wishes.

As I grew up, I fancied riding on a bike to wish him on occasions.

Few years later, we would drive with our family and celebrated with him or have him down to the city so that he could spend time with his children and grandchildren.

By this time, he had a mobile number.

Then it was 2009, the last time I wished him in person. Two weeks later, I left India and since then we kept in touch via a mobile device.

And, in 2014, just days before his birthday, Tripti and I visited him in January during our short stay in India. We wished him in advance and did call him on the 10th of January. Who knew what was to come?

He passed away few months later in May of 2014. I made that trip to the village, by then the final rites were complete. He was gone from our physical world. I didn’t know what to make of it. It took me some time to accept that he wasn’t there if I had to converse with him.

Three years on, the 10th of January remains special. I wish him from my heart, and remember for being such an influential figure in my development.

He was the first person to narrate me stories, the tales from mythology to his encounters with many interesting people he met in his lifetime. I learnt how to share one’s experiences listening to him, for he always crafted a story out of nothing.

My love for the movie classics stemming from the 30s were thanks to him. He loved his motorcycle, and was patient with a lot of people. There are many more incidents related to him that deserve a memoir, maybe one day I will pen those thoughts.

For now, I would say, happy birthday Thatha, I miss conversing with you.

To Click Or Not To Click

There are many reasons why I recommend the 2013 movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I will not go into the details. Instead, I will cut to the chase and share my favourite part of the movie.

It happens to be a conversation between Sean Penn (who plays the role of Sean O’Connell) and Ben Stiller (as Walter Mitty).

Walter had gone to great lengths to find O’Connell and after many adventure-filled incidents, he meets Sean at the top of Himalayas. During their conversation, Sean interrupts him as they encounter a snow leopard.

Much to his dismay, Walter Mitty was surprised to see Sean not fiddling with his camera and instead watching the movements of snow leopard. It is said, the sighting of the snow leopard is rare.

The bemused Mitty asks Sean, “When are you going to take it?”

“Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it,” was Sean’s reply.

“Stay in it?”

“Yeah. Right there. Right here.”

 

The last few days, I have woken up to some of the best white winter mornings I have witnessed thus far in my life. I was tempted and must admit I was sucked into using my camera, clicking away what I was witnessing.

And, then… I shut my camera and kept it aside.

There were no words or thoughts on my mind, just my eyes looking through the window and seconds later standing out in the balcony in the cold weather, I had forgotten for a brief time that I was recovering from a viral flu.

It was one such moment when I realised what a luxury it is at times to just look at the marvels of nature without the urge to sharing it to the world.

Clicking photos doesn’t cost a thing these days. It comes with our basic communication package – the smart phone. Therefore, it is not uncommon to snap the random moments we encounter without planning.

For the last few years, I have been introspecting over these questions – Why am I clicking a ‘moment’?

What separates a ‘photographic tale’ from a mere random shot?

When should I provide a narrative to my snaps and when to leave it to other’s interpretation?

I am still in the process of concluding or maybe I might never reach such a closure. That doesn’t bother me. However, what I have realised is that, I love to present a moment as I view it.

The colour, contrast, the hues, brightness, the ambience and warmth – all these aspects, I have learnt by making innumerable mistakes since the time my mother gifted me a digital SLR in 2004. The learning process is on-going. Looking back at those errors, some have presented a different take on my subjects.

I am yet to learn how to effectively photoshop and I believe it is a time-consuming process. Instead, the photos are resorted to minor image tuning whenever I feel there is a need for it.

The beauty seen through the occasional flawed eyes of mine can be open to interpretation – but that’s another story, a story nevertheless.

The technology of viewing has evolved over the centuries – we can look at farther objects and examine the tiniest. However, when it comes to capturing the ‘moments’ around us, there is no better substitute for a pair of eyes.

And, my camera – well it just helps me to recollect those moments I have captured whenever I feel the need to revisit them.

MEMORIES

Memories, ah!

They are wonderful and being aware of my feelings, tonight, for some time I have been reluctantly travelling down memory lane. Quite noticeably, I am recalling random conversations that are dear to me. I am not sure what to name ‘the state I am in’.

I wish to go back and relive those moments, rekindle many a conversation, replant the several pranks, re-taste the foods from different cuisines, retake the journeys to different cities, and reconnect with people who have and remain in my life.

Memories,

There are plenty that’s stored but none can come close to those real moments that formed these frames in my film of memories. Looking back, I would be prejudiced, for I seem to have known the outcome. Who cares!!

Memories,

It made me nostalgic, and I felt the world around me had stopped.

I ran as fast as I could to travel back in time, only to realise that I was merely a spectator and not an active participant.

I tried to put these thoughts aside and hit the bed, it didn’t work.

Minutes later, I decide to type, wondering if letting it out would offer me a meaning to what I was going through……

C’est la vie. That is time’s way of telling, “although there is a window to look back; there’s no living back.”

Memories…. beautiful memories… I am happy to have carried you all along.

Image – Wonder How To/Shutterstock

Photo Credit - Selina Man Karlsson

MINDFUL STORYTELLING

There comes a time when you are looking for avenues to stay motivated even for things you love doing.

To me, I was mentally stung by a phenomenon called ‘writer’s block’.

The word here is ‘zeal’ and that was missing since the beginning of August. I could not put words and form sentences for extended periods of time.

What could I have done?

Days became weeks and weeks stretched to months. I had to do something to get over this ‘hurdle’.

During this struggle, I came across a course called ‘Connect using Mindful Storytelling’ early November.

Now, here comes the interesting part.

I was hesitant to sign up for the course and I am not sure why. I looked at the course again after two days. And, this time I signed up. I was looking forward to the course, to become more aware as to why I write.

Will the course provide me with a solution to get over the wall? I certainly hoped so when I enrolled.

The words ‘mindful’ and ‘storytelling’ had a profound effect on my thinking. I took some time off from my daily chores and had a conversation with myself.

Long story short, I realised – “I was in the process of rediscovering my purpose to write again.”

Alas, last week, I found the ‘mojo’. In a matter of minutes, words came naturally and importantly, my voice was being documented.

It resulted in an article.

Few days later, out came another article and a short story. All this, a day before the course.

“Do I need to attend,”  was the question that occured to me.

I ruled in favour of the course. I sensed, I might learn something new, a different perspective, now that I have re-discovered my touch towards writing.

Yesterday, I attended the forum with an open mind. The only sure thing about the course was that, I would meet Caitlin Krause and hear her perspectives about storytelling.

Let me share what did I take away the most from the course –

“I remember every individual who attended the course. Nine names of the people whom I had not met before.”

And, not just that. I can tell you how they got their names, at least their first names.

How?

Storytelling is not about paying attention alone. It is about making a connection, to what’s happening around us.

Each of us introduced to the others in the room with a personalised etymology game – origin of our names, not just theoretically, but with a touch of personal element and the flavour of dramatic license.

Result – the names of the participants are etched in my memory.

There were many other interesting topics we covered in those 150 minutes, personally I came out of the room with renewed confidence.

I was lost only to rediscover myself.

Photo Credit – Selina Mal Karlsson