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.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bitburger Open

Bitburger Open finished on sunday and your's truly was in the finals. Lost to Chetan Anand in a very very close match. It was fun because I was playing very well and top form. Making to finals was quite good.

Only thing I miss is the flat screen TV the winner got. GOD!!!

Anyway, this week is no tournament for me. I play next week in the Ducth Open. Hope to repeat the same or go one step further.

Also this week I am visiting Munich. Going there cause I make my custom made insoles there. the doctor knows all my foot movements and shape etc... so that he can make the one which fits me very well. Actually finding the right insole is very difficult. Some of my Badminton friends have gone to as many as 5 different places and still have not found the right one. I luckyly hit the bulls eye first shot itself.

So I leave on wednesday and come back Monday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

German culture of time management and precision

This would be my first serious post on a topic. Its on my second favourite country after India... Deutschland...aka Germany.

As many might not be aware, German language has its roots to Sanskrit and that makes it even more special for me. When I came up on this information in 2002 the first thing I did was go to German language class. I tried my best to learn but due to time constraints I could not do it fully. I can speak in bits and pieces and I feel I have the foundation to master it. Will do it in the coming years.

It is a country which has very little Indian population...Thats not special though.

I am very proud to say I am associated with this country because I like the way things function here. I like the language because it sounds so powerful when you speak. I like the way people think here and more importantly the precision.

We have heard a lot on german precision. I want to just give a brief examples about this which I personally encountered.

This was when I arrived here in Saarbrucken. The previous day when I left India I had told my team mate that I would arrive in Frankfurt airport around 8 AM, then take a train which leave's at 9.24 AM and reach Saarbruken main station at 11.54 AM. This, mind you I had to change a train at some station, which I forgot now at around 10 am.The connecting train from that particular station was after 4 min!!!

I did all this and was in Saarbrucken station around 11.56. I waited until 12 and then I thought

'Shit Aravind you should at least sent him an sms that you would reach ontime after catching the connecting train, stupid of you, now wait!!'

Then I thought I should call him, so went to a booth nearby, picked up the phone, shoved some coins in, and rang. Thomas picked up.

I said ' Thomas Aravind here, will you be late?'
'I'm there in 2 seconds R-vin'
Hung up the phone and saw Thomas there.

Got into the car, looked in my watch...12.03.

3 minutes late..Ah!! thats ok man, India ho tha to, bloke would surely be at least 15 mins late and the whole journey he would try to cover it up by saying how much traffic he had go through, almost making you feel guilty of giving him all the trouble.

But wait the story does not end here.

The watch on Thomas' dash board said 12.01!! What!! 12.01?? Then I remembered I always keep my watch about 2 to 3 min fast!!! German precision for you.

Thank you.


One week gone and definitely having a wonderful time here in Saarbrucken. Been cooking quite and bit and training very hard too. The best part is I straight away save up 0ne and a half hour of travel time here compared to Bangalore. This Sunday I have a league match in Saarbrucken itself. first home match for the season.

Missing Munich a bit actually. Last five year when I was in Munich, during this time of the year used to be Octoberfest. It's a festival where millions of people around the world come there and drink beer!! The atmosphere and festivity is electric. This year I am missing it though.

The Octoberfest is celebrated in numerous places around the world, including namma Bengalooru. But the HQ is obviously Munich. And imagine I was living in this city whenever I came to Europe. Hey guys dont be so envious man, I am blessed :-). But then no prizes for guessing why my performance would slump during these 2 weeks ...just joking. I have quit Alcohol for the last 3 years and feelin good about it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Belgium Open done!!

I am back from Belgium. Was not particularly a great outing as I lost in the quarters to Dieter Domke from Germany. But wasn't too bad either. Lots to learn though. In my blogs here I will not write too much about my wins or loss, maybe wins but definitely nothing much about losing.I will try to write about some funny incidents, or views about something...things like that, you know.

My base is Saarbrucken in Germany and I have a small room at the National training centre here. It has an attached bath with kitchen. So the plan is, I participate in the Bundesliga matches here and train with the German team. And then I will also participate in lots of what we call 'EBU 's' ( European Badminton Union) tournaments.

By playing International tournament my world Ranking will improve and since I have a place of my own in Europe it helps. Meaning, the burden monetarily or travel wise is less.

Basically almost all European countries have thier open tournaments and the following months we have Bitburger Open in Saarbrucken, Germany., Dutch Open in Almere, Holland., Danish Open in Odense, Denmark and French open in Paris, France. I will participate in these.

I am enjoying my stay here. team members are nice and I am looking forward for some Bundesliga which will happen in the coming weekend. We travel to Hamburg by road ( 6 hrs on the autobahn) and play them at thier home. It should be fun.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Blog world entry

So the blog mania has bitten me too. Let me clarify though that I am not writing this blog because I am angry with critics and I want a forum to express my views. Nor am I doing this because I find solace in writing. Not because lots of sportsmen are doing it... not because of this… not because of that… nothing.

I am doing it just for TP….time pass. Right now I just came from India to Europe. I will be here for 10 weeks and I have lots of free time. So thought that I might as well amuse myself.

Don’t know if I will continue this once I am in India, because there I don’t have time even to scratch my back.

But I must say Dev Sukumar; one of our great Badminton columnists inspired me for sure.

I arrived here on Monday. I am based at a place called Saarbruken in Germany, about 2 hrs away from Frankfurt. It’s definitely a very peaceful place. Like in the middle of nothing. You can say this place is something like our SAI but in practicality far away from it. Basically it’s the German National training centre for a few sports like Badminton and some athletics discipline. Amazing facilities here.

Off course they have other sports here too. Handball, tennis, gymnastics, swimming...etc happens. I am in the midst of professional sportsmen here with a room of mine fitted with bathroom and kitchen. Being independent is the order of the day. Have to do my own laundry and groceries. And as you must have noticed, Conditions are obviously the best.

Breakfast and lunch happens at the cafeteria and dinner happens at my room. So I am a part time cook also. Which is quite good cause we Bhat’s are supposed to be great cooks.
Haven’t you heard “Bhattre, ond masale…yenne kammi”.

This is the 6th year I am here in Germany. I come here every year to play the Bundesliga competition between Sep and March. Last 5 years I was based at Munich (now don’t start thinking about Oktoberfest). I played in the second division. But this year I had this opportunity to play in the first league and who better than to play for the defending champions.

I am the number one singles player for Bishmishiem. They have won the German Championships 3 times already and have some of the top players. Let me remind you that Germany has one of the best Badminton league in the world. Lot of top players in the world has participated time and again. This year the star attraction is obviously the Malaysian south paw, Wong. Wong Choon Hann was former World No.1 and presently top 15 in World Rankings. It would be fun playing against him in this league.

It’s wonderful to be in Germany actually. I really like the way the country is run. Hence I choose to come here every year.
Also another reason is it’s a good base for me as at this time of the year, every year, many International tournaments happen in Europe. So it’s not feasible to go to India and come back for tournaments. Making a base in Europe during this year is critical and many will agree that Germany, which is in the middle of Europe, is the best choice.

Germans are warm and fun loving people I must say. Never once have they made me feel left out or bad here.

Last 5 years as I mentioned I played for this club in Munich called TSV Neubeberg. I would stay at the club’s manager’s place, the Haubers. Hubert and Hilde treated me like their son. Maybe that’s another reason why I like Germany. Always made me feel special and is a very loving family. Julia is their daughter and Mike, their son always helpful.

Our team in Munich played in the second league and our captain Sebastian was always spirited (pun intented). We had the tall lanky Felix, very talented. Timo, Benny, Thomas, Toby all fun.

Anyway, don’t let me bore you. I am in a new place now with a new team. I will surely visit Munich though.

This weekend I go to Belgium for the Open there. All the best for me!!!!

Hey forgot to mention. I am getting married this December to a girl I have known for the last 6 years. Pallavi Sengupta is an HR professional and a former Bengal state player. She is based in Mumbai now. Please come… you guys are invited!!!

Watch Rock On!!! It rocks.