Tuesday, 29 March 2011

India vs. Pakistan: More than just cricket match…

When you read words like ‘Bring It On…’, ‘Frenzy peaks’ and  ‘More than a game..’,  in bold headlines, you can be sure it is the run-in towards one of sport’s greatest and most intense rivalries. A rivalry so huge, that other famous sport rivalries like those between Manchester United and Manchester City or Barcelona and Real Madrid feel like mere playground squabbles. A cricket match between India and Pakistan.

the greatest sporting rivalry...
Unlike other matches where the players have to deal with the people’s passion for cricket, in these matches they have to deal with the passion, the pride of their nation and an almost unbearable burden of the people’s expectations. Such is the pressure under which the players have to play a cricket match and every one of the 180 matches played between these countries which include Tests, ODIs and T20s has managed to maintain the same amount of intensity.

In the run up to the game there is an almost visible shift in the wind and the effect is felt in so many spheres of life. The tension in the air is palpable, people wait impatiently for the match day to come, and the streets are filled with people showing their support for their teams. Temples and other places of worship see a sudden increase in attendance. TV broadcast channels run continuous analysis, expert’s views and endless reruns of their team’s past victories while newspapers and magazines extend their sports sections to accommodate the various articles. The political system too is not spared as all the unresolved agendas between the two countries are suddenly put into spotlight and the politicians run for cover to avoid talking about ‘Peace Talks’ between the two countries. It has also been observed that both countries suffer a considerable drop in production on the day. But my favourite would have to be how people get busy thinking about unique excuses to skip office or college on the day. I can sympathise with them, as I too have been thinking for a good excuse since last week!

Since India and Pakistan won their respective quarterfinal matches last week, the subcontinent is buzzing with nationalistic sentiments. I might even be bold enough to say that people in both the countries seem to be making preparations for a war rather than a cricket match, such is the intensity. The world seems to have totally forgotten about the other semi-final match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

The captains leading by an example
In terms of statistics when both the countries are compared, Pakistan is ahead of India in the number of wins in Tests and ODIs. But when it comes to the day of the match, predicting a winner is near to impossible as both the teams are quite similar and the pressure and intensity bring the best out of both sets of players. When it comes to World Cups though, India holds a clean record against Pakistan; 4-0.

But when the players take field tomorrow, all statistics, expert views and analysis and history between the two will be forgotten. All that will matter is how well the teams perform and who wins. For a moment the World Cup itself will be forgotten and only this match will matter. Whatever happens, it is surely going to be a cracker of a semi-final at Mohali tomorrow.

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Tale of Two Cities - Mumbai & London…

Mumbai at its full glory

Having lived in Mumbai all my life, it is quite natural that I feel attached to the city. But in my case there has always been more to this attachment. I have been in love with Mumbai since the day I lay my eyes on her. My love reached another level when I was allowed to go out on my own. Since that day I have been exploring and in the process discovering something new about Mumbai every time I go out.

I have loved everything about Mumbai, her glorious past, her architecture, the people, the glamour and most importantly the feeling of being at home. Like most Mumbaikars I complain about the state of roads, the pollution, the noise, the traffic, etc. But if you were to ask me to name a place that is as close to being a paradise as can be, I would immediately say Mumbai. I will even go on record to say that if ever there is a city where I would wish to settle down and eventually die, it is Mumbai.

When I left home last year, apart from feeling sad about leaving my family and friends, I was sad because I was also leaving Mumbai. Unlike those times when it used to be for short vacations, this time I knew I would be leaving her for good. All the memories came flooding back to me in the short time between the plane taxing to the runway and the take-off. The times on local-trains and the black and yellow taxis, eating at road-side stalls, sitting and staring out at the sea on Marine Drive, wading through knee-deep water during one particular monsoon and so much more. The montage of pictures, videos and sounds was simply mind-numbing.

Life at Sheffield has been good and slowly but steadily I have settled in quite well. I like Sheffield for its beauty, peace and I like how life moves about at its own pace here. But this is not a place which I would call home. I always get a feeling that I am living at a holiday resort. There has always been something amiss which I couldn’t put a finger on until 4 days ago.

A class trip presented me with the opportunity to finally visit London. From everything that I had heard, seen and read about London, I had always thought of it to be the Mumbai of UK. What I had not realised was just how right I was in my imagination. As I stepped onto the streets of London, I immediately felt as if I was home. Somehow having left Sheffield that morning I had landed in Mumbai. I was back among the crowds, the hustle-bustle of the city and I loved every tiny bit of it.

The city was buzzing with life. The traffic was endless. There was a purpose in the steps of each person either going to work or going back home after a hard day’s work at office. The buildings were a beautiful blend of ancient gothic and modern architecture. There was a sense of power in the air and authority to the place as if the entire country depended upon this place and it does. The rides on the Underground tube were reminiscent to the countless hours I had spent on the Mumbai local trains. I felt so much at home that for the first hour or so I was busy soaking it all in. Every step that I took reminded me of Mumbai.

The three days that I spent in London flew by at lightning speed. But it has left a lasting impression on me. I have finally found a home away from home. I do not know what the future holds for me and I cannot predict if I will get to live and work at London. All I know is until the day I return to Mumbai, if there is a place where I would love to live and call it my home, it is London. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

Tablet Wars…

Gone are the days when a person was stuck in his house, office or a shady cyber-café to be able to access the internet. In the age where being connected to the internet means being connected to the world, technology has to ascertain that a person no matter where should stay connected. Laptops and smartphones have had a big role in making this a reality, but a recent trend in the market is all set to try and make them obsolete.

Apple ipad the trend setter
Apple’s iPad, much like many of Apple’s other products, set a new trend in the market for Tablet Pcs. A tablet personal computer (tablet PC) is a portable personal computer equipped with a touch screen as a primary input device and designed to be operated and owned by an individual. The term was made popular as a concept presented by Microsoft in 2001.

A person can use a tablet as a miniature version of laptop or a larger version of a smartphone. You can surf the internet, listen to music, watch videos, use the office tools or just play games on it. Being connected to either the Android store or the Apple store, gives you options to customise your tablet according to your need. Tablets use 3G or Wi-Fi to stay connected and boast of decent battery power and thus are the ideal device to carry with you when travelling.

Though not the perfect piece of hardware by any standards, iPad still was a huge success selling 3 million in just 80 days. It has since then sold more than 14 million devices and this is largely because of the absence of any kind of competition. Though in 2010 other tablets were introduced, iPad still managed to garner 75 percent of the market share in the tablet market.

The competition though has just got tougher with the introduction of two heavyweights; iPad’s successor the Apple iPad2 and Motorola Xoom.  Both incredibly powerful and boasting configurations which are way ahead of the rest of the pack, they are two of the most-awaited gadgets. With other options becoming available like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series, HTC’s Flyer, BlackBerry’s PlayBook, Viewsonic’s ViewPad 7 and Olivetti’s Olipad among others, this is surely a very exciting time.

There is certainly a buzz going on in the market and companies are eager to cash in on this changing trend in computing. But only time will tell if tablets prove to be a technological revolution or merely a ripple-effect in the ever-changing world of computing technology.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

When the Belly Rules the Mind...

As far as I can remember the one question that I have always pestered my mother with is: “What’s there to eat?” No matter how much I have eaten or how stuffed I am, just before the next meal time I would find myself standing at the entrance of the kitchen looking at my mother cooking and then finally asking the question. I have asked her the question so many times that if I were to die before a meal time, my tombstone would read, ‘Passed away without knowing what was being cooked.” In order to avoid such a scenario I am trying to do certain good deeds which will come in use when it is my time to go. I would love to go on a full stomach.

George Bernard Shaw once said that there is no love sincerer than the love of food and I absolutely agree with him. I have always loved food. I mean who doesn’t? I come from a country where the easiest way to make a person happy is to serve him a scrumptious meal. Once he is done eating, he won’t ask you for anything else. I’m no different, as I love everything about food. I love the smell of it which incidentally I find better than the fragrance of any perfume in the world, I love the way it satisfies you, I love the fact that a person is always spoilt for choice when he has to choose what to eat and obviously I love to eat. It is my parent’s genes and God’s grace that have kept me slim (if not fit) no matter how much I eat.

 But what has actually surprised me is just how much I love to cook. Being the epitome of laziness, I am surprised just how much I am willing to persevere to in order make that perfect dish. I am not saying I am a great cook, good maybe, but not great. I have never learnt to cook and the only knowledge I had of cooking was when I was getting certain basic lessons from my mother before coming to the UK. But I guess all those years of standing at the entrance of the kitchen and peeking at mother cooking must have ingrained these cooking skills into me at some subconscious level.

I still remember the first meal that I cooked after coming to the UK. When I began to cook, somehow I just knew what to do next and ended up cooking a meal that even my flatmates loved. That just spurred me on. I love to try new dishes, be it eating or trying to make them. I scour the net in search of new dishes to make or just add ingredients to make certain dishes taste a tad different. I have come to love cooking so much that it has become a way of unwinding after a long day. Cooking and then eating a meal that has been well made just takes away all the tiredness and then I go back to being at my best; lazy. The one thing that I hate about cooking though is cleaning afterwards. I just hate doing the dishes and after cooking every meal I wish that we had a dishwasher in our flat. Oh well, I guess one cannot get everything one wishes for in life.

Below are the pictures of the dishes that I have cooked so far. It is not much, but when you look at them and then at me, you will wonder where it all goes. Please don't mind the quality of the photos, most of the times I am just so hungry to sit still and click a good photo. Enjoy!!

Pasta with Meat

Veg Fajitas with Cheese

Cholle with Roti & Raita

Spaghetti & Meatballs!

Aalu ke Paronthe

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Vegetable Pulau with Chicken Gravy

Chicken Dopiaza and Roti