Thursday, August 21, 2008

Citius Altius Fortius - Faster, Higher, Stronger

I’m not a sports person. My idea of a game involves cards and me winning a lot of money. So being brought up in an Indian family, where people including my grandmother yelled at Kapil Dev for a bad delivery, had an effect on me. I tried to lean away from any physical activity which was not part of my daily routine as much as possible. I wasn’t even deterred when my mother brought out her Table Tennis champion’s cup, or my dad his memories of heading the cricket team. I didn’t even cringe when my games teacher shook her head sadly, when I couldn’t even pick up the shot put, let alone throw it a couple of hundred meters, like my sister could. So it was a family joke, when I became captain of a house team in school and had to attend the early morning tryouts for basket ball or volleyball. Considering my height, I just stood around in the basket ball court waiting near the basket, till someone handed me the ball. Then I just reached up and threw it in. However my team mates had to position me on their side, or I might just have thrown in the other teams basket with no clue that I was in the wrong placement. When I met K, a cricket enthusiast who represented school and college and has a cupboard full of tournament cups and India blazers, my only question was if I could own the remote of the house, so ESPN will be played to the minimal. I think his agreement, was one of the reasons, I agreed to the marriage: D !
Whenever there was any kind of sports on TV, I would be the one with my nose buried in the latest novel or magazine. Of course, when computers and college entered my life, it became simpler to just ignore that part of life. But there has always been a weakness for one sport, that I harbor secretly -“Gymnastics”. My memories run back to the day, when USSR ruled the events. Long limbed graceful ladies, who could a somersault and look like a dainty princess doing it. The men on the rings, with their bulging muscles pretty much made up my picture of prince charming. Be it early morning or late nights, I would sit in front of the TV, gazing at the floor gymnast blending ballet and acrobatics to give us an awe inspiring performance. I have to confess, that I did try out for the gymnastics at the school gym. This was after I saw the Nadia Comaneci Story on TV , on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Her perfect 10 against all odds, made me think that I could do it too and I spent the rest of the afternoon, trying to stand upside down on my bed , and must say thats a bad idea after sunday lunch . But one look at the warm up process (running around the gym for 5 minutes) tired me out. That’s when I realized that sports required total dedication – heart, mind and soul. It did make me respect my parents more and I became cordial to my sister (for a week, till she told my mother I was reading novels hidden behind my science text ! ).
So coming back to the present, I have been stuck to the television the last week, looking for every event involved in gymnastics finals. China and USA dominating every event, I have however been cheering for the countries which made up the former USSR. May be it’s a pull back to my teenage days or a chance to remember my fantasy prince charming, whatever the reason, I was saddened by their dismal performance. China on the other hand, were scary to watch. Huang Yubin, the China Men’s head coach looked like Hitler watching his troops off for battle. If I had a coach like that, I’m sure I would shoot myself rather than meet him after loosing the event. So its not surprising, that the Chinese gymnasts had a gleam of steel in their eyes , when they attempted each event. Yang Wei, the all round men’s gold medalist looked more like one of warriors from the Great Wall than an athlete. He is someone, who I'm sure even Arnold Swarchenegger wouldn’t say “I’ll be back” to. The US Girls also showed same the steely resolve. Nastia Liukin , the womans overall Gold medalist from the US, could probably slay dragons with her gaze and her legs.But I’m sure her dad, the older Olympian would be there to give her tips to where the dragon had a week spot. I must say though Shawn Johnson, the silver medalist gave me hope. A stocky 16 year old, looked not like a typical gymnasts, but her routines were amazing. For all people who think that the gymnasts are long limbed wonders, this girl proved them wrong by coming in a shorter dynamite package.

I also did get hooked on the running and swimming part of the competition this time . The Jamaicans, especially Usain Bolt blew my mind. The best part is they look like they enjoy running , which in my mind is an oxymoron. Trying to get through 100 metres in 9 seconds, is crazy, but enjoying the run is even crazier. I hyperventilate in cold water , so Michael Phelps in the swimming events also took my breath away. That man has to searched for a pair of gills or he is testament to the fact that there has been a mixture of an amphibian with a homo sapien in some bloodlines. Let me not forget my country heroes, Abhinav Bhindra and Kumar Sushil.. way to go guys.!! I also have to take my hat off to the atheletes who are older like 33-year-old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina from Germany and 31 old hurdle bronze medalists Tasha Danvers from GBR . Those woman give the ones who like me are facing the big 30 hope in the next couple of years, hope that we can look perform and look good while doing it.

This year however I did notice ,that the competition had indeed turned global. We had Romanian immigrants in Gymnastics for USA , people of Asian decent playing for Brazil, Canada and west countries. In the 80's, you saw blond hair and blue eyes and assumed they were Russian or the western countries but now with the mix and movement of the people across the globe, this event has truly become a global showcase. It has a lot to do with national pride, but what comes across more is the hard work and dedication that these individuals have towards their chosen sport. Even if an athlete you don’t know , falls off the beam or had a bad landing, you cringe because you feel some of their pain. As a commentator described , these men and women, work in anonymity for 4 years, to showcase their talent across two weeks. Their work is a true testament to the spirit of human nature and endurance. I salute all these athletes and I think this statement by Pierre de Coubertin on the revival of Olympics games ( which I read in my 8th grade English lesson) sums it up not only for the Olympics but life as well

“The important thing in life is not victory but combat; it is not to have vanquished but to have fought well.”

For the smile from couple of the late night hosts !

"There's excitement in the air over the Olympics...also lead, arsenic, benzene." --David Letterman

"Beijing skies are so polluted that Chinese authorities are planning emergency measures for the Olympics. For example, protesters will now only be run over with hybrid tanks." --Jay Leno

"Now you think I'm exaggerating about pollution, but they had a practice today in Beijing for the Olympics and a javelin thrower threw the javelin up into the air and it stuck." --David Letterman
"China is upset because somebody leaked a video of the rehearsal for the Olympics Opening Ceremony on the Internet. I don't want to give away too much, but it ends with the lighting of a torch." --Conan O'Brien"

"President Bush will be in China for the Olympics. He's gonna be there for the opening ceremonies, and also, while he's there, he will be searching for 'Lo Mein of Mass Destruction.'" --David Letterman

"Yesterday, President Bush gave the U.S. Olympic team a rousing send-off to the Olympics. Again, I don't think President Bush is that up on geography. Like he told the athletes to get there a couple of days early to acclimate themselves to the fact that China is upside-down" --Jay Leno

"And China says it will ban entertainers they deem a threat to the government from taking part in any activities during the Olympics. You make fun of the government, you'll be banned from the Olympics, to which Bush said, "You can do that?" --Jay Leno

"And human rights activists have sent a letter to President Bush, asking him to raise human rights issues with the Chinese government during the Olympics. Unfortunately, they also sent a letter to the Chinese government asking them to bring up human rights issues with President Bush. So, it's pretty much a wash." --Jay Leno

Keep Smiling people

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Your “Kid”ding right?

Well, anyone who knows me in person , knows that I am either suffering through a migraine or in the process of getting one.. So with two coworkers off on vacation the last two weeks, I have been coupled with overwork and migraines.. related you say… I think so too! . I am back to the blogging circuit,.hopefully this time , I can post periodically and read my favorites blogs better.

Two articles really caught my eye, during the last week and funnily enough they related to the Indian laws and babies. Not really subjects that you would want to connect in any circumstance.

The first was the case of
Mehta abortion case. The basic question is does a woman have rights to terminate a fetus which is 25 weeks and has a congenital heart defect (CHD).The middle class parents would need to put the child on a pacemaker from birth and bear the costs of the hospitals throughout its life, the Indian courts determined that as the child might have a fair chance of living a normal life, the case was dismissed. Between the public hoopla on the rights of woman and the fetus and some religious associations willing to adopt the child once born, the human emotion was disregarded.
Did anyone even consider what Nikita Mehta was going through? The first child is something born out of the hopes and dreams. (Being a second born, I know I’m loved too :) ! ) . The news about the child having CHD and then the decision to terminate the pregnancy must be a painful and heart wrenching decision. Even with all the support pouring in, this mother might have to see their child grow up on painkillers, medicines and therapy. The Mehta’s could have taken the illegal route and got a “family physician” to terminate the pregnancy, but through a legal route, they have suffered more pain and accusations for what they considered was the right thing to do. I am also tired of the media, trying to pull as much coverage out of this on the woman’s rights issues. Whatever each of our thoughts are, on legal abortion , the final decision and its repercussions rests with the parents. This would be just a passing article and a discussion point over tea for the rest of us, but those parents, it involves a step which would now continue to haunt them the rest of their lives. So the next time media and the law decides purely on a statistical basis , what is right or wrong morally or legally, the emotional content needs to be first examined. The mother has made a decision regarding her child, shouldn’t that count before the “Powers” of legality and morality step in

As for the second news article, I found it surprising and very depressing. Along with the growing Call centers in India, we have also become the hub for surrogate mothers
. A Japanese baby born to a surrogate Indian mother and a Japanese couple , is now India’s first surrogate orphan, after the Japanese couple split before she was born. Now Maji, cannot be adopted by her father Ikufumi Yamada , a well known surgeon, because Indian laws prohibit infant girls being adopted by single man. I understand these laws are to protect young children from perverts , but considering that her grandmother and father are trying to move every stone to get to this child ,it would be a prudent decision to hand her over to the people who love her than into a orphanage with thousand other children waiting to be adopted. Its sad, that when Indian government is trying to reach out to the world, asking them to adopt children from our country, that bureaucracy seems to be our stumbling block. A child with a chance at a happy and normal childhood, is being kept in a hospital in Rajasthan to follow the law, other children on the streets of major metros who need protections from the scum of the city are allowed to roam and beg free in the streets.
Considering law is built around common sense and betterment of the society, isn’t it time for a change?. When do our lawmakers actually sit up and say this system has to be revamped . Atleast let them start with the mothers and children, who are the most vulnerable to their laws and its fallacies.

For the smile

It was the first day of school and a new student named Chandrasekhar Subrahmanyam entered the fourth grade. The teacher said, “Let’s begin by reviewing some American History.
Who said “Give me Liberty, or give me Death”? She saw a sea of blank faces, except for Chandrashekhar, who had his hand up: “Patrick Henry, 1775″ he said.“Very good!”

Who said “Government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the Earth?” Again, no response except from Chandrashekhar. “Abraham Lincoln, 1863″ said Chandrashekhar.

The teacher snapped at the class, “Class, you should be ashamed. Chandrashekhar, who is new to our country, knows more about its history than you do.”

She heard a loud whisper: “F**k the Indians, Who said that?” she demanded. Chandrasekhar put his hand up.. “General Custer, 1862.”

At that point, a student in the back said, “I’m gonna puke.”The teacher glares around and asks “All right! Now, who said that?”Again, Chandrasekhar says, “George Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991.”

Now furious, another student yells, “Oh yeah? S*ck this!”Chandrasekhar jumps out of his chair waving his hand and shouts to the teacher, ” Bill Clinton, to Monica Lewinsky, 1997!”

Now with almost mob hysteria someone said “You little shit. If you say anything else, I’ll kill you.”Chandrasekhar frantically yells at the top of his voice, “Gary Condit to Chandra Levy, 2001.”

The teacher fainted. And as the class gathered around the teacher on the floor, someone said, “Oh shit, we’re f**ked!”And Chandrasekhar said quietly, “George Bush, Iraq, 2005

Keep smiling