Friday, February 8, 2013

The Coronaviruses, Table Tennis and Michael Jordan

The common cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza, or a cold) is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract which affects primarily the nose. Symptoms include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and fever which usually resolve in seven to ten days, with some symptoms lasting up to three weeks. Well over 200 viruses are implicated in the cause of the common cold; the rhinoviruses are the most common. Other viruses that could possibly cause such infections are the coronaviruses. Well, yes! I am suffering from common cold.

I have taken an off from work as I wouldn't be able to do the darning. I spent most of my day doing something really productive - Sleeping. Most part of the sleep cycle was with eye movements. When I woke up I realized that I was dreaming about competing in a table-tennis championship. Actually, I have indeed participated in one. Not exactly a championship. It was a tournament conducted by my employer at the Bangalore delivery center level. 

I vividly remember how I was feeling the night before the match. It was way back in August 2012. I was suffering from viral fever. No. Not the corona viruses. I did not Google about the virus back then. Let us say it is 'a viral fever' for this context. 

I was at Ooty and one of my colleagues called me up and said that the tournament begins the next day and that it begins with my match. I thought it was an honor in disguise. That is one of the ironic situations people whose name starts with 'A' face day-to-day. So, it failed to shock me. I booked my ticket to Bangalore for that night in spite of my illness. I was tight packed, wearing a woollen sweater and a woollen cap for the journey in the air-conditioned bus. It was 1 am, exactly 2 hours and 25 minutes from the commencement of the journey, I start sweating ferociously and shivering at the same time. On my mind, I started playing with my opponent, hitting smash after smash like a pro. Considering the fact that I got my hands on a Table Tennis bat for the first time in June 2012, it was very obvious to imagine being a pro. Well, I would imagine being a pro of any game even without playing or even knowing the intricacies of the game.

With that sweat and shiver I managed to reach Bangalore the next morning. I had a quick nap and the dream of hitting smash after smash and yet not managing to get a point made me flabbergasted and I eventually got rid of my nap. I got up and went towards the mirror and I sought Mr. Conscience’s advice:

You must at least score one point. Do not lose the match without scoring, Ok?
Yes. I must!
If you manage to score one point, you are definitely capable of scoring more. Do not lose in straight sets, Ok?
Well, Ok.
Be persistent. Do not give up no matter what!

You know what? Just play your game!

It was a Monday and so I got dressed up in formals and packed my bag with a Sports T Shirt, lowers and sports shoes. I suppose dressing up for the occasion is in my genes. I got it from my father. He insists on proper dress code and I have never seen him violate the same. I reached office and directly went to the TT room. Only the organizers were there and informed me that the match will commence once the opponent arrives. I started sweating again. This time it was because of nervousness. I changed to my sportswear and had a few knocks with the organizers. The opponent arrived about twenty minutes later. He was in so-called-formal clothing (he had ‘folded’ the sleeves of his shirt). At that moment I wished the organizers would send back my opponent for improper clothing and qualify me for the second round. Apparently, they did not. I and my ‘forgotten-name’ opponent had a few knocks and then we were all set for the Game.

It was a eleven – point -3 - set game. Each of the players gets to serve for two points alternately. My opponent won the toss and chose to serve first. He tossed the orange ball with his left hand and served with his right. The ball spun and had a good pace. I returned and then it hit the net. One love – said the referee. I did not know the technique to handle spin, then. I failed his next service too.  Then it was my turn to serve. I am a left hander and that played a crucial role in making the next two points in my favour. The game continued and we netted a few serves until it reached seven all. By now, we were accustomed to each of our serves and return techniques. It was my turn to serve and in two knocks he was able smash it away for another point. At this juncture, I was sweating profusely… aftermaths of gulping a paracetamol earlier that morning. I waited a while with my hands on my hip and wiped of my sweat. I made my next serve. Earning this point was not easy for both of us. The knock was going on and on. None of us wanted to give up. He tempted me with a slow return, went a few yards behind the table, imagining that I would smash it outside, I gave another slow return. It was so slow that the second bounce of the ball was so close to the net. I won that point. The fact is that I had never succeeded in smashing ever in those two months. So, I didn’t take a chance. It was eight, all. With that fascinating victory, I managed to take three points in a row and won the set 11 – 8.

We changed sides. I served him. Given the fact that he understood all the little techniques that I learned in the last two months, I lost point after point. I took occasional twenty second breaks between the services. My opponent won the set and the game’s score was 11 – 8; 4 – 11. The next and final set to decide the winner was to commence and while changing the sides I was thinking that I had done a more-than-expected performance in the game. I wanted to win but somewhere deep inside I wanted this game to end as early as possible, no matter what the outcome is.

The third set was quite tight with 4 – 6, then 6 – 6 and then 8 – 6. I was leading the set. I was totally exhausted. But then, I really wanted to win. It was 10 – 9. One point and I will be the winner. Apparently, my opponent too wanted one point that could be a game changer. By now, my colleagues and the other team players were at the court. The room seemed full. Everybody’s eyes were on the movements of the orange ball.  And… my opponent gets his point!


He served me. I didn’t know what happened. The referee says:

Advantage Forgotten-name!

Now, it was my chance to serve. And I netted the ball.

I lost. But I wasn’t sad. I was wearing a Ram-Smile. I saw the scores and I was extremely elated.

11 – 8; 4-11; 10 -12!

Definitely not bad when compared to what I thought. I almost forgot to shake hands with the winner. After congratulating the winner I went and hugged my colleagues. Some of the TT pros gathered there told me that it was a good game and my performance was really good considering my experience with the game.

Later that evening, I happened to see a poster of Michael Jordan in the Internet that says:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.

I’ve lost almost 300 Games.

26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.

I’ve failed over and over again in my life.

And that is why I succeed!”

I still have 299 Games and 25 shots to be missed, I thought.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

How to become a Rocket Scientist?

There is this website called That's the place where I was stuck all these days, not finding time to post anything on this space. I'm not complaining. Facebook is really a very good concept. It's a phenomenon. I had the opportunity to get in touch with almost all the long gone friends. Last week, I received a friend request from one of my school friends who was studying with me from first standard till 8th Standard. Well, till the end of first term in 9th standard, to be precise.

I do not know when we actually started speaking to each other at school. But then, when we were in 4th or 5th Standard we were close buddies because of one thing that we had in common - WWF.

Every Friday, the talk in the class would be about the main event in WWF that we watched last evening. No matter we had Mid-Term Tests (It was called Unit Test, for us) or exams, we still watched it, never missing a single episode. While I was a big fan of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Sharath was that of The Rock. We used to do this "If you smelllllll.... What the Rock is Cooking!" standing on the bench and holding a 'virtual' microphone on the hand, in the classroom.

Then we entered the Teens.

VIII B, first Row (First Column, actually. They called it Row back then) Second Bench,  English Period.

There was a Poetry Recitation going on. Yes, you are right! Recited by the class Princess who is the pet to every teacher. So, obviously we tried to play the spoilsport. Sharath started making this Buzzing sound with his mouth closed. I started Buzzing too. Then we waited for a second, looked at each other, nodded our heads and started playing our composition together. When the teacher had a doubt, we cut the noise abruptly. This was going on as a cycle for three times. The fourth time, the teacher caught me giggling and I was sent out of the class!

We were a notorious gang back then. We had done enough mischief to cherish for a lifetime. Right from playing cricket to breaking the windows of a house, just for the sake of a small bet, everything was so much fun! Sharath was this perfect teen boy who breaks the street lamps with just one attempt with great accuracy. He rarely misses his target.

I remember an incident that happened during the first term in 9th standard. It was a free period. For those of you who do not know what a free period is, it is a classroom session where the teacher comes to the class and sits without doing any work. There are different types of free periods. Oh wait! This is out of our syllabus. Let me get back to the incident!

I and Sharath were sitting together in the last bench. My friend created paper rockets and we were discussing upon the targets. We chose the boys in the first bench as our target. My friend, known for his accuracy flew the rocket to each one of the boys, one after the other. It landed on their heads, as planned. The first bench boys threw the rocket back to us. To my bad luck, all of them landed on me. I got furious and threw one of the rockets back to them.

But... it landed on on our teacher's well made hair bun!

Today I spoke to Sharath:

"Hey dude.. How are you man?"
"I'm fine da. How about you?"
"I'm good. Very long time isn't it? What do you do these days? Where and what did you study?"
"I graduated with Masters degree in Physics. Currently I'm a research fellow in ISRO... Rocket Science!"

And... we both laughed!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Money Does Matter

Disclaimer: This story is original and purely a work of my imagination. Resemblance to any person, name, location or personal experience is purely coincidental. No content of this story is intended to hurt anyone’s beliefs or emotions.

“Appa… I’m going to the RTO office to apply for LLR.”
“ Dae… Take some extra cash with you. You’ll need it.”
“ It’s okay pa. Doesn’t matter. I have 200. More than enough.”

Ashok left to the bus stop to board a bus to the transport office. He just wrote his 12th standard examination and was waiting for the results. Instead of dying out of boredom at home, he thought of practicing driving and obtain a driving license before he joins college. It was a busy Monday morning in the Regional Transport Office. There were people queuing up the stall to buy various application forms. After a long wait, Ashok finally bought the LLR application form and went near the lawn so that he could sit comfortably and fill the form.

He carefully filled in the application form. He took his old bus pass from his wallet to verify if he’d written the appropriate address. He verified it twice and was almost done with the application form. He took his eyes off the paper and his gaze fell on a girl…the girl…the girl of his dreams. Slim, fair, beautiful! She had sparkling eyes that could make him write a million poems. Ashok was looking at her with awe.

She was sitting on the lawn. She wore a black trouser and a white kurti. The neck of the kurti was meticulously embellished with beautiful craft work, adding beauty to beauty. Her soft slender neck was carrying a thin gold chain, which she would caress with her lips then and there. She kept her montex ball-pen on her lips after filling up each blank on the application form. Ashok wished he were that pen. On every single move of her pink lips, Ashok experienced a cool breeze on his face. A strand of her hair kept falling on her face and she would slowly place them behind her ear. Ashok never believed in ‘love at first sight’ until he saw her.

 “I’m on Earth just to lead the rest of my life with this angel” thought Ashok.

Ashok closed his eyes and started praying.

Dear Mr. Pillayar,
I haven’t prayed anything sincerely since childhood. Nor have I offered anything to you for lighting my life with success and happiness. I’m so obsessed with this girl since the moment I saw her. She is the best girl you’ve ever sent to Earth. She is so beautiful.
Today, I have a sincere prayer for the first time in my life. I want that girl to come to me and talk. Just for a moment, today. If this happens, I would dedicate 108 coconuts to you, tomorrow. Promise!”

He opened his eyes. The girl was walking towards him. He couldn’t believe that it was happening. He pinched himself…yes it was happening in real.

“Yes!! She is walking towards me. This is going to be the happiest moment in my life!” Ashok said to himself.

“Perfect for my height.” He thought.

“Thank you Pillayarappa!”

 She came close to him.

“Excuse me?”
“Anna! Ainooru(500) roobaiku change irukuma?”