Sunday, September 13, 2009

Long time no see!!

Hey everyone. Its been a long time since I wrote, sorry for that. Anyway I thought from now on I will make a conscious effort to write very regularly. It is something I always want to do actually. I am right now in Germany and will live here on-and- off next 6 months along with playing many International events during this time. I will travel to India also for the new year obviously. My brother is coming to Bangalore this year end ( He lives in US) and I hope to have a wonderful time then.

Its much colder than same time last year. Already people are grumbling that they had only one month of good summer and are covering themselves up in anicipation of colder evenings. But days are still longer though. It gets dark only at 8 and that feels a little different coming from a place where sunlight and darkness are fighting with each other for that extra half an hour throughout the year.

Yesterday Pallavi told me about the Serena-Clijsters match where the last couple of points lost by Serena was very unfortunate. I immediately remembered my last match in Taiwan that I played 3 weeks ago where I lost due to some biased Umpiring. And the story goes like this:

I was up against a Chinese Taipei player first round and it should have been smooth sailing for me or thats what I had thought!

I enter the court and I could not help but notice the Chair Umpire and the service Umpire were both from Taiwan, same nationality as the player. Normally this happen as the tournament committee uses local umpire.

Must be part of cutting costs I thought. Din't think much of it though.

I am doing quite well in the match with a healthy lead of 6-1 or something. At this point the chair umpire gives me a Reciever fault where the server made a high serve!! I was like, What!!

A reciever fault is given if the reciever of the serve moves before the server has excecuted his shot. Normally in badminton I have seen reciever fault given in situation where the service has been a low serve, seldom when it is high. I think the last time a player got reciever fault for high serve was before the war!!!

I was so surprised with this decision, I laughed the matter off and went on with the game. Dint raise even a question at all.

Again at 10-6 I get a receiver fault. This time i ask the umpire and he says I am moving before the service. Again I get the same fault 14-11. here I am a bit angry and call for the chief referee. He tells me "Ok Arvind I will watch from outside the court and make sure the call are not dubious" .

But I think by then I had irked the umpire a little bit because I started to yell at him things like he is unfair and he should be eating groundsnuts at cubbon park instead of being on the chair.

The match goes on to be 16 all or something like that and here the service umpire decides to come into the action. She gives me a service fault and I am livid at everyone now.Losing my temper I then lost the first game 21-16 or 17 I think.

second game I am comfortably perched at 13-9. Here again I get a reciever fault and then after one point, a service fault. At this juncture I was feeling completely victimised and was finding hard to focus. But I had no other choice but to fight on couragiously. Which I can proudly say I did. It was again 18-17 in my favour and here I lost 21-18. And believe it or not last 3 points of the match the line umpire gave all decision in favour of my opponent even though I had got them all right and rightfully I should won those 3 points. Our coach Atik Jauhari also felt sorry for me. I had lost a match which I should have won hands down.

This incident shows how much stress we players are in during a match. Sometimes the crowd can trouble you by jeering and laughing at you. Sometimes the umpires can turn hostile. Whatever happen from outside source a player will triumph only when he can take his mind off these incidents at that very moment and get along with the match by refocusing and getting back the lost concentration. I have never been under such stress by an umpire in my whole career and this has been a learning experience for me, even though it was a very costly one.

I have not watched the Serena-Clijsters match, but I am definitely with Serena on this one. In the heat of the moment she must have said some harsh, but surely not meant it. Hard luck girl!!

Signing off...bounce, bounce.

Friday, June 12, 2009

India enters group 2!! News paper’s carried this article after India beat Bulgaria in the final of Group III of Sudirman Cup World team Championships. But according to me we should have done this in 2005, where we lost to Poland in the final or at least in 2007 where we lost to France. But as luck would have it, we never achieved it. This time around we were very confident since we had a complete team with strengths coming from the doubles events. In fact I almost told our coaches that if we don’t win this year, India might as well quit playing Badminton in team events!!!

Fortunately for me and my soothsayer-ial skills( if there is a word like that) it happened. Right now we are one of the Top 16 teams in India. I think we can be Top 8 in the next 5 to 10 years. We have to really work hard as a team in order to achieve this.

We arrived in Guangzhao, China on 8th May 2009. China always amazes me. As usual Guangzhao did the same. Unbelievable infrastructure is in place. Lots of huge buildings, lots of big roads…All empty, waiting to be used. Probably they have thought well ahead in the future. Also some say that this will woo foreign investors come, by seeing all this infrastructure in place.

The tournament was conducted in immaculate fashion. No dearth of workforce and no shortcomings in anything. So many volunteers in place, that if any participant needed any help we could ask any one of them and they would definitely help us.

Firstly let me first explain how Sudirman Cup works.

The Top 8 countries in World Ranking play in Group I. The countries ranked from 9 to 16 i.e. the next 8 teams will play in Group II. Group III will have countries ranked between 17- 24 and finally group IV, 25 to 32. Nothing is below. So basically only the Group I winners can take home Sudirman Cup.

And the format is, it’s a mixed event. One tie between 2 countries consists of all 5 events of badminton i.e. one Men singles, One Women Singles, One Men Doubles, One Women Doubles and One Mixed. A particular country has to win at least 3 of this to win the tie. Since this is a mixed event, the strengths in all departments is crucial. If the men of the team are not strong or for example if the paired event is weak, then there is a shortfall. This was the case with India last many years, as our paired events were not that strong. But this time around was different as I had mentioned earlier.

India was in group IIIA. In our group we had Australia, Scotland and Ukraine. In Group III B there was USA, Czech, Bulgaria and Sweden. This stage was league. Then winner of Group III A will play Winner of III B. This winner will be crowned Group III winner and in the next edition of Sudirman Cup in 2011, the winner would play in Group II. Apparently, in 2011 there is a change in format which we heard only recently after the tournament which makes our victory a bit of a no-issue

In the league matches, India beat Australia 4-1, Scotland 5-0 and Ukraine 5-0. I played singles against Scotland and Ukraine where I won my matches easy. Chetan played vs Australia.

As I was in really good shape and very fit, I was the automatic choice for the final. In the final we played Bulgaria as they were Top in Group III B.

We beat them 3-2. Men doubles won in straight sets and next Saina won in 2 games too. Leading 2-0 in the tie, the third match was mine. I had a bit of a shaky start. Losing the first set, but played a steady game to win in 3 close games. It was supposed to be an easy match as I was pitted against a relatively low ranked player. Played quite bad that day because of some circumstances during the day, but was finally happy to pullout the match and the much awaited victory for India. After leading 3-0, Indian team conceded the next 2 as it was inconsequential. Team celebrated the win that night with dinner together.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

National Champion finally!!!

Let me start from where I had stopped earlier. I was in Korea for the Super series event. First round I played Chetan Anand from India. I won in 2 games. Was quite easy. 21-12, 21-11.Next I was playing Premislav Wacha from Poland. I had beaten him earlier in another SS event. But I could not repeat the same as I felt my fitness was not up to the mark. All the marriage running around took its toll I guess.

After Korea we came straight to Pune for our Petroleum Inter Unit Tournament. Here as all might be aware, all the Top National Badminton players come. This tournament is normally taken very seriously as the prestige of the company is on the line.
In Team championships our team BPCL lost to ONGC. leading from the front was Chetan Anand. We lost mainly because our doubles was not strong.

In the individuals most of the Top players played and I won there.I beat the young Guru sai Dutt in 2 games in the finals.

After this I headed back to Bangalore to prepare for the National Champoionships. The NAtionals was held in Indore, Madhya Pradesh this time. My preparation was quite good and it turned out to be a perfect tournament. Our Petroleum team won the team championships and I won the single event in the individuals. I won all matches in 2 straight games. My quarters was probably the toughest. It was against Sachin Ratti and I felt he was in top form.

In fact it was a long wait for me to win the NAtional Championships as I had once even served Championship point in 2002 NAtional Championships final against Abhinn Shaym Gupta. When I lost that Championship I had felt that, ah... next year surely I 'll win. But dint happen.

every year I would head to the Nationals thinking I would win. Always coming back heart broken. I reached the finals again in 2004. Lost to Chetan Anand( who claimed his first title there, HE went on win 3 NAtional titles in the subsequent years).

Next year in 2005 I was the Top seed in Jamshedpur. Lost in the quarter finals to Thomas Kurien, who surprised me with his percentage game there.

In 2006 again finals. This was at Bangalore and two locals boys were competing. Anup was my opponent there, but could not get the measure of him. I was really heartbroken there because majority of the crowd probably wanted me to win and I felt I let them down.

In 2007 I was injured and was not even sure of a comeback in Badminton.

In 2008, I was in the finals again surprising many people as it was my comeback year. here I lost to Chetan Anand when I was in a winning position in the second game after losing the first. After this loss, I starting doubting whether I would win at all. But I told myself that Nationals is not everything and starting looking to concentrate on bigger tournaments win in International Arena.

Finally 2009 was the year. So frankly I dont know what I did different other than getting married. So I guess thats it!! Lady Luck helped me probably. Pallavi is definitely Lucky and her prayers works like magic.

But frankly, my family have been a great support. Dad and Mom would always say positive things even after losing so many finals. Avinash my brother who is the US has always motivated me with the right words everytime. Anu my sister would always do her bit to get me out of the dumps. And of course Pallavi and her parents.

I defintely cant forget or rather I have no words to explain the tireless work done by Prakash Sir, Vimal Sir, Vinod Kumar and my trainer in Academy Vinod.

Thanks to all including my BPCL boss Mr. Padmakar who would always trust me and had full faith in my abilities.

And finally a big Thanks to all my Academy mates and support staff at the academy and Karnataka Badminton players and office bearers.

So thats about it regarding NAtionals.

Right now I am in europe playing at the German Open. Next up will be All england and Swiss Super Series. Hope to continue the good work.

Monday, January 12, 2009

No more Single and ready to Mingle

Hi guys... its been some time since I blogged. Must say, it was a hectic last 6, weeks.

First of all, your's truly got married. It was really one of my best time in life. I througly enjoyed. MAinly because my sisters family and brother's family came down from US and it had been years since we spent such quality time together.

My marriage was on 8th Dec. It was in Kolkata as Pallavi is from the city of Joy, as we all call it. For sure I can vouch for that tag.

I had a reception party on 14th in Bangalore in which all my close family and friends were in attendance. We had close to a thousand people for it.

Both the functions went on very well and I ate lots of food without any guilt( because eating sweetes and fried items is a complete no-no for us sportsmen)

after a tiring 2 weeks of celebrations, Pallavi and me took off to Srilanka. we visited 4 cities in 5 days and we tarvelled a lot in the counrty side. It was fun.

Sri Lanka is pretty much like Kerela... filled with Tamil people.Some area are breath taking... especially the Tea plantation areas.

After Srilanka I immediately got back to work. As I was plaaning to play Malaysia Open and Korea Open Super series in Jan 2nd and 3rd week meant I could not take further break from Baddy.

So I started full fledged training on 22st Dec itself.( In infact I did some weight training and running sessions in Sri lanka every morning as I wanted to keep in shape)

Now presently in Korea for the Super series. I already finished Malaysia Super series, lost in the first round to the present world number 11 Simon Santoso from Indonesia.

Hope to do well here in Korea.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

China Super series and Gopi Challenge

I am writing this post from Shanghai, China. I am here for the China Super series. This is a big event in World Badminton and also the first event where all the top players are participating after the break from Olympics '08.

I was in the quarter finals, my first Super series Quarters. I benefitted from a top player pullout in the prequarters. I lost in the quarters to a young Chinese who outpaced me.

Shanghai is a world class city, no doubt about that. The Chinese are trying to prove a point to people who visit, I think. Why I am saying this... is because the technology used in my hotel room is beyond what I imagined China might be. Everything happens with a push of buttons. The room is filled with gadgets and even the good old salt and pepper are dispensed with a push of button!!

Man what will they invent next? If I am to run my imagination wild, then it would be something like this.
Morning you get up from you bed, push a button and bathroom comes to you. push another button and a it will wash your face I guess... hahahahaha...

Also the hospitality around is swell. Makes you feel important.
But really have'nt been around the city, not visited rural areas and villages. Might be different huh...
I have heard from some reliable sources that at the cost of showcasing big cities in China to the world, the smaller cities and villages have been overlooked and not taken care off.

I am no one to comment, but Shanghai is amazing.Big roads and huge, tall buildings with lines of Apartments.

I am having a nice time here. Gopichand is my roomie and loomie...

Having some nice discussions as to how to tame these Chinese players.
Today a very funny incident happened. Makes a great story actually.
Saina is here too and regularly Saina and Gopi take small challenges and bets. They play each other singles with Saina taking 8-0 handicap and they play lunch/dinner bets.

Today they took thier challenge to another level. We had jus finished a big lunch and all three of us were famished. On the way back to the room we pass a pastry shop. We always see it, feel lured by the inviting pastries, but pass it without uttering a word( As it is almost a sin eating high fat, high sugar filled pastries for us sportsmen)

But today Gopi said
'come Bhatta, lets see if we find something good here'
We entered, saw some really colourful one's.

Saina had to say something right...

'Bhayya if you eat this big pastry I'll buy you a video camera'
Gopi said ' Great!! our new academy needs a camera!!!'

The pastry was close to one Kilo in weight, 750 grams to be precise.

Gopi took the challenge...I took the cake in hand. Went to the room.
Gopi started eating...He finished it you know!! Can you believe it!!
Even I could not believe it because for a guy who follows strict diet regime( even after stopping competetive Badminton), its a tough challenge.

As I write this blog, Gopi is in the gym burning off the thousands of Calories stored in him. Good Luck on it Gopi!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Danish Open 2008

I am back in saarbrucken from Danish Open. Also played the Dutch Open last week and lost in second round to Carl Baxster.

In Danish I was up against Hafiz Hashim from Malaysia. Since he was the former All England Champ I was really excited to play him cause I knew I had a chance against him. I lost very closely though, 18-21, 21-15, 21-19.

But it was a very eventful trip actually.

Went in train. It was typically like our Indian trains. I had booked myself in a 3 tier AC compartment. And got to sleep very well. Why eventfull many might ask.

Thats because normally whenever I travel in train nothing fun happens. I meet no one exciting at all. I am basically on my owm, listening to my ipod or watching one of my favourite movies on my DVD player.

Not this time!! Had 2 incident which was quite interesting.

While going to Denmark. I had to take a fast train to a station called Mannhiem.That was a transit. It was an hour and half journey. A guy with long hairs tied like a Sadhu came in and sat next to me. And my nose could imediately tell me that this guy had'nt had a bath for ages. Nontheless who am I to question. He sat and started off almost immediately

'Are you from India'


'Oh, one of my girlfriends is an Indian'

In my mind I was like 'one of your girlfriends??Dude have you checked yourself in the mirror?One of your girlfriends? How many do you have? And a guys smelling like a walking trash can like you?I am afraid you might not even have one'

I said 'Oh, great'

And then we went on and on for 30 min about our culture and heritage.

He was a mexican and was on a backpack tour of Europe. He told all his incidents in the trip.

Ticket collector came and asked for our tickets. I showed mine.

Now you won't believe it. Our man did'nt have one. I dont know what happened. He said he seems to have misplaced it somewhere. But the TC did not fall for it. She quickly called the cops and had him out of the train.

Then I walked out of the cabin as I wanted to change my place because by then it smelt like a sewerage. Collected all my bags, checked down to see if I had left something. I find a green Mexican passport. Inside which had the train ticket of the poor guys. I ran to the door, as the train was about to leave. Showed it to the TC and gave it back to the poor guy. But the train Authorities would not let him in because they said he was too smelly. They wanted him to first shower and then come back.

Thoughts about him was in my mind the whole journey.

Next incident that happened was while I boarded the train back to Saarbrucken from Denmark yesterday.

It was a chilly Friday night. My bones were feeling cold in the dark waiting for the train to arrive. The City Night Line, CNL its called is a fantastic train.

I boarded the train at 2023 from Odense, Denmark to Mannhiem. The journey takes almost 12 hours.

So I entered my cabin, 3 tier AC. Already the other 5 were there. 3 Germans, one Swedish and one dark guy.

Wished all of them.

The dark guys was Sri Lankan. I realised it immediately from his accent.

His story is unbelievable. He is a refugee from Jaffna. He flew from his motherland in '92 due to the turmoil in Jaffna with LTTE and all.

Someone told him back then that he could seek asylum in Denmark. He boared a flight to denmark via Russia. The Danish authorities heard his story, kept him in a Refugee camp for 3 years and now he is a citizen of Denmark. Works as a labourer in a Pork processing factory.

The other thing is, the bloke has not seen his parents last 16 years ever since he left Srilanka. He is scared that if he visits Sri Lanka, they might detain him there. So he plans to visit them next year in Chennai maybe.

Imagine what must be going on in his head. Have not seen his family for 16 years. refugee in a foriegn country. Doing some cheap labour. Not married. Afraid about his identity. crazy man!!

Thougts about him are still lingering in my mind.

I must say we as Indian as truly blessed to live here. I am not sure about all Indian but at least me and the bulk of my friends fall in the 'truly blessed' category. Living in a democracy, can do what you want. Pursue various things and likings. Have your own identity and space to live. And still sometime we crib.

Facts and stories like the above should change many peoples perspectives about life I hope.

In Denmark I visited the zoo. It was an amazing place as you could see many animals very very close. It was quite interactive.

All in all a wonderful trip with a lot a knowledge sessions.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

League match and party at Munich

Last week I visited Munich. Its where I played last six years in 2nd league. I stayed as usual at the Hauber's. The room in cellar had been mine whenever I visited last six years. So I straight away gatecrashed into that room. It is mine, it will be mine forever. I trained for 2 days with my former team mates and Julia had a party in my name because I reached the finals of Bitburger Open.

The champagne bottle you can see was a gift I got for Runner Up in Bitburger Open. I had taken it to Munich and we uncorked it there.

The party was fun. We had wiener Snitzels and fries. Dessert was Ice cream and Yogurt.

Hilde had as usual made a huge Cake for me and I enjoyed every bit of it.

On Saturday we had a league match in Munich against a club called Regenburg. I won my singles and team won 7-1.

Saturday we drove back to Saarbrucken.

Sunday we played at home vs Langenfeld. Team had a draw 4-4. I lost my singles to Premyslaw Wacha. He is world 12 right now. I had beaten him 3 months ago in Singapore Open but could not repeat the performance.

The other pic is from the 2 nd class compartment of Die Bahn (The Railways). I travelled from Saarbrucken to Munich in this and it is even better that an airline seat. Great comfort. The train sometimes hits 350 KMPH. It has a restaurant attached in the train and every seat had a power supply to run your DVD or Computer.

So... fun time in Munich over. Now I need to focus on Dutch Open starting on wednesday.