Saturday, January 31, 2009

They did it!!

I was pleasantly surprised today to find that Yuki Bhambri's Australian Open victory had stolen the front page of Times of India and taken precedence over India's victory over Sri Lanka in cricket. Bully for him! And Bhupati and Mirza won!!!! Its already turning out to be a great year for Indian Tennis, with Somdev Devvaraman winning the Chennai Open as well. Go India!
"We both know what memories can bring,
They bring Diamonds and Rust"

From Joan Baez's Diamonds and Rust. The truth so simply put in those evocative lines. I'm listening to this Joan Baez album I downloaded sometime back right now, she's quite amazing. Great lyrics and a lovely lovely voice. I think I've rediscovered female singers in a big way. From Duffy, to Dolly Parton, the Aretha Fraklin and Janis Joplin phase and now Joan Baez. If you're looking for simple yet beautiful lyrics with brilliant vocals then the last three mentioned in this list should certainly be listened to. I'm going to get hold of some Joni Mitchell next.

Another song from the Joan Baez repetoire called 'Love Song to a Stranger Part II'

They brought me a beautiful basket of fruit
And two finger bowls of glass
The couch is gold with a floral design
And the wine is Germany's best
And the wine is Germany's best
My thoughts drift ino the frozen night
Frankfurt is covered with snow
And numbly they ride on an icy wind
To places they're longing to go
To places they're longing to go
I remember the tall dark Irish rose
Who held me in my limousine
And slept with me under a burgundy quilt
With sheets of silk in between
Well, anyway, that's how it seemed
I thought I wanted to marry him
His face was sculpted by God
His words were gentle and ever so true
And soft as the Irish fog
And lost in the Irish fog
I remember the boy from the monastery
Who wanted to be a monk
But he brought flowers and wine to my room
And we both got happily drunk
And we both got perfectly drunk
He laughed like the chimes of a silver bell
His eyes were alexandrite blue
He danced the t'ai chi with the grace of a deer
And I wanted to marry him too
Yes I wanted to marry him too
There was that son of a dog from the Tennessee hills
Kept telling me I was still young
He spoke in pure southern and smoothed out the lines
Round my eyes saying I was the one
Forever that I'd be the one
He drank and he cussed and he wrote his own songs
He was very much on the go
We followed each other for over a year I
couldn't have married him though
So we just lived in sin on the road
There was that black eyed beauty from Boston town
Two days were never too long
He stood by the mirror and picked out a rose
But I already wrote him a song
Yes, I already wrote him a song
So here I sit with my basket of fruit
And two finger bowls of glass
I finished my bottle of Germany's best
And concluded my thoughts on the past
That love is a pain in the ass

Brokeback Melbourne Park?

Tough match it was but really?

I know a match report should ideally follow. But I didn't see the whole thing :(

Its all in your head

When I started playing in badminton tournaments, one of two most often repeated phrases were 'match mentality' and 'killer instinct'. Today I watched the woman's final and the normally fiery Dinara Safina lacked both. May be its because, as Vijay Amritraj said, she comes from the Safin family. They are prone to periods of high performace and equal periods of apathy. Safina undoubtedly wanted to equal her brother's performance of 2005 here, when he won the title. But today, as she herself said, she was more like a 'ballboy' on the court. Serena Williams was at her destructive best, keeping up a steady stream of winners and aces while Safina regularly served up double faults (3 in her opening service game). I was feeling terribly sorry for her and wondered what in the world had made her lose sight of her 'match mentality' that had allowed her to come through difficult matches such as against Dokic (with the crowd practically ignoring her winners) and Alizia Cornet. Even if Safina was meant to lose, the scoreline of 6-0, 6-3 doesn't even begin to speak of her actual abilities. I recalled the French Open final, where similary she had had a dream run only to throw it away against Anna Ivanovich, the scoreline once again not doing her justice.

And thats what made me realise what 'match mentality' really was. The ability to be in something as huge as a grand slam final and still have that determination to pull through. The ability to think and focus at that time, putting all mind-numbing thoughts of preparation, all previous matches, even if they were unenjoyable, the ability to play for that moment alone. Total concentration and focus. Safina has always carried baggage with her. Her comment in one of the press conferences about how 'someone screamed at her from the crowd but she ignored it' and her sullen expression while playing all indicate that she does not enjoy tennis or love the game like she should. May be its the pressure of her brother's unfinished legacy, may be its a maddening desire to establish her own legacy, 'match mentality' does not call for any of these thoughts. Its calls for thoughts about the match at hand alone.

I was quite upset by the way she had lost (I don't know why I supported her, especially against Serena, because of Safin I guess) and kept wondering aloud "But she was playing so well. What happened?". Mom as usual put my thinking right "Why do you get repeats then, even if you study? It all depends on how you perform at that moment right?" So true! And quite a comparable situation!

After her loss today, she finally eased up; she was laughing and chatting with Serena; it was a stark contrast to the way she looked daggers at Anna Ivanovich in that French Open final. May be she had finally learned to cope with her baggage, to let go and realise that sometimes circumstances just push things out of your hand. The initial tears and then the acceptance. Not that she shouldn't blame herself, those double faults were really uncalled for, that too in the first service game...but still she new there would be other chances, other attempts, other ways in which she could prove herself. And I think I have also reached that level of acceptance. I said this once before - some would call it being resigned to their fate. I would call it detachment, hopefully bringing you one step closer to that ever elusive 'match mentality'.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I just realized that my blog posts have crossed the 50 mark (55 posts right now, including this one) and it has been around for a whole year.

Yaay me!!


I guess I end up blogging about the Australian Open because its the one I get to watch most comprehensively. So here's the summary:

Venus : out
Jankovic : out
Ivanovic : out
Sharapova : not playing
Baghdatis : out
Djokovic : retired hurt (silly guy could've at least let Bagdhatis win if he was going to pull out of the next match anyway)
Tsonga : out (nooooooo!)
Murray : out
Hewitt : out (if anybody cares)
Simon : out (but he's hot, in that nice French way)
Henin : retired alltogether (how could she do this!?)

Aussi open is BIG for upsets. The draws point to a Fedrer - Nadal final. And its Fedrer and Roddick in the semis! Haven't seen one of those in a while, in a grand slam. The last time I think was in 2004 (?) when Fedrer and Roddick faced off in the Wimbledon finals. As for the women, Dokic made a big come back (again, if anybody cares), the Aussi audience was particularly vindictive in her match against Safina....full credits to Safina for coming through that. It pretty much looks like a Serena v. Safina match. Both big hitters, with the big serve, and very very determined. Should be interesting.

Well I have my favourites clear now, but the men's final is a bit disappointing. Anyways, let see if Fedrer can make that much needed comeback.

But most importantly...Go Mirza and Bhupati, make us proud!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eclipse: A Ritual for Assorted Tams

Being a Tam Bram, I witness several interesting and sometimes absurd rituals, all largely to do with Preserving Purity or Maintaining Culture and Ritualism and such things. One of the weirder rituals I have observed is the eclipse ritual. Basically, when an eclipse occurs, you are supposed to not touch any clothes or eat anything and just sit in one place. Once the eclipse gets over, you are supposed to put all the clothes you were wearing at that time for wash, including all other clothes that were outside and also take a hair bath. This is undoubtedly a rather irritating and taxing ritual to observe but I don't want to deride it completely due to the firm belief that my family has in it. On Monday, Republic Day, the solar eclipse occurred and the fasting began.

It was a rather entertaining afternoon. My sister and me kept groaning about how very hungry we were and why we had to follow such things and my Mom kept telling us to accept things as they were and shut up. It lead to some rather interesting ideological debates.

"Just be quiet and follow the system."

"But the system is man-made isn't it? It not a divine imposition. So we can always go back and unmake it."

"No you can't, just watch TV now."

The conversation at some point also went to starvation in prisons and my sister and me hastened to point out the similarity between the prisoners and our current state. We were told again to be quiet and resorted to incoherent muttering and grumbling, mainly to irritate our parents, since we'd been through this process too many times before for it to really get to us.

Finally, the golden hour arrived when we could cleanse ourselves of all the impurities acquired during the eclipse. This presented an interesting problem since us Impure Ones were not allowed to touch any clean clothes. My mother had thought I would go for bath first and had put my clothes in a plastic bag to take in. However, my father wanted to go first, being Man of the House and all. The question arose as to how to get his clothes into the bathroom. The problem was finally resolved using a badminton racket to place the clothes inside. My sister and me by this time were rolling on the floor with laughter to see our parents capering about like this. Then my turn came and I was still giggling and asked my Mom:

"But you won't really be able to see what I do inside the bathroom right. I could just go and touch the clean clothes without taking the bath first. Will the sun explode then or something?"

"No but we might. The sun is too powerful and we should not question or make fun of nature like that after all."

This sobered me up. They really do believe in this stuff. So I went in like a good girl, did everything in its right order and emerged Pure, once again.

Afterwords, I tried to google rituals + tamil brahmin + eclipse to find a rational reason for this procedure, since my Good Cultural Upbringing had told me never to make fun of rituals as they always had some important reason. I could not find and rationale but found that there was a fair degree of ritualism associated with solar and lunar eclipses within the Tam Bram community (as there is with most things) and that there were actually mantras for the same and so on. Quite fascinating, really.

But somehow, I don't think I'm going to continue with this particular ritual when I start my own family. But I shall at least break a coconut on the Lotus Feet of the Lord for Thinking such Thoughts and pray for Purity instead, a far simpler exercise!

PS: the title of this post is actually a contortion of "Eclipse: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics", which was supposed to be the title of Pink Floyd's excellent album, "Dark Side of the Moon"

PPS: I hope my Mom doesn't read this blog. Then I'm really screwed!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


"Got a feeling 21 is gonna be a good year" sang Roger Daltry. I should probably believe it. My sister's friend called me 'Aunty'today. Of course it was on the phone, and I do sound exactly like my Mom telephonically..but it was my first 'aunty' incident, made more freaky by the fact that I'm turning 21 tomorrow. Its a big age.....I guess I should finally get rid of that ridiculous habit of calling every woman who is older than me nad not my senior, aunty.
And those military pants...
And probably that 'Rebel Queen' T-shirt...
And all those old slam books which have questions like "My latest crush" and where people have written that their most memorable moment was when I became a good friend of theirs?
21 is the legal age for drinking in Delhi (or is it 25?). Its also the legal age for gambling in America. Its the age my Mom got married. And the age to be called 'aunty'?
21 better be a good year..

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Comments please?

Since no one has commented on my blog for like......ever, and also because I'm jobless, I conducted a general survey of the number of comments on my blog for posts classified into various broad categories. The following are my finding:

Emotional/ depressed/ whiny/ introspective posts
- 19
Music related - 4
Fiction and poetry (not my own) - 8
Humour/ Weird Theories/ Coolness Quotient Tags - 16
Travel and places - 9
Serious Theories/ y - 13
Opinions - 3
Sports - 6

From this I concluded that people are most likely to comment when they get a real insight into your nature, whether you convey it through whiny posts or through quirky opinions about subjects that are more philosophical and 'inward looking' such as relationships, weight loss or whatever. While music, travel, sports and fiction constitute opinions which I feel are equally if not more reflective of your interests and personality, I think humans are just looking for some sign of vulnerability or a true 'slice of yourself', not couched in an opinion about some third party subject to understand you. That's why I guess when you get to know someone also, you try to 'look deep' and 'soul search'. The ultimate conclusion of this is that most people are invariably looking to 'reach out' and convey it through all or most of their actions. Its such a pretty little theory :D

Getting to 'know' someone

So much fun isn't it? :)


I, like many others watched Obama's swearing in ceremony yesterday. I personally felt that it was the single most positive event I had witnessed on television (barring Abhinav Bindra's gold at the Olympics) in a long time. Somehow the fact that so many people had gathered in front of the Capitol and had their hopes pinned on him seemed reflective of the amount of hope still existent in these rather bleak times, where everyone is suspicious of everyone else. I also think USA citizens may have not realised the excellent political opportunity that Obama's election presents. By electing a friendly brown/ black face, USA has sent out an extremely optimistic message to the international community which has grown to resent USA. Obama seems to signify that miracles are possible, that USA is not about the 'white American dream' alone and that the world should give them one more chance, not to set things right like they usually try to do, but to become an important and positive force in international relations once again (not just because they happen to be powerful).

Lets just hope the Ku Klux Klan gives Obama a chance now!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

International Law II

A single line from Koskenniemi made it all worth it: The 'tyranny' of the Great Powers was overruled by the 'tyranny' of the majority.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

International Law

I am so bored and sleepy right now, even fantastic lines like 'the civilising force of hypocrisy' found if you look hard enough in (in other words study) international law articles are not inspiring me. Of course, it is 3:20 in the morning so I have a RIGHT to feel this way!

That's a really cool line though and deserves a blog entry to itself (one more of my contributions to the body of literature in IL), but this is not that because right now my brain is too clogged up to process anything much. I also had my IL viva the other day. My IL project is on Bosnia v. Serbia, basically dealing with alleged claims of genocide that Bosnia had against Serbia. As part of the Serbian counter submissions to Bosnia's submissions was this creepy poem found in a Boanian paper:
Dear Mother, I'm going to plant willows
We'll hang Serbs from them
Dear Mother I'm going to sharpen knives
We'll soon fill pits again

Its shocking that so much hatred can exist and for no real reason. As I was deeply moved by this poem (and also because I didn't really want to do my project), I googled Bosnia and Serbia for images of both. They happen to be stunningly pretty places with lovely, picturesque hamlets..almost honeymoon destination worthy (presumably these are not the war stricken zones). Its pretty sad that they don't like each other. May be they should appoint women presidents / prime ministers and then refer to my post on this to solve all their problems. Apparently these places have also been reduced to abject poverty due to this prolonged conflict. But do white people really know what poverty is? In Bill Bryson's book 'The Lost Continent" (really delighful read, highly reccomended if you are fascinated by small town America) he says that most of the 'white poor' in America own a car, and that too is usually bought first hand. Then how can they really be poor? I think these guys should coin a separate word to refer to their sense of poverty..something like Pobunolinththiwor (Poor-but-not-like-in-the-third-world) or Capoor (poor with a car). And then whether they have a car or not should be the starting point of their poverty line. By now you have probably concluded that I should make too many contributions to international policy..I have also conlcuded the same thing but I think the world could do with some humour and innovative solutions. But this is all just random theorising, its time to get back to the real (read boring) theories.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Its interesting how international law has so much scope for literature and more ways than one. We were discussing the Pinochet case and it struck me that Pinochet was a very feeble name for a dictator. It sounds so stupid...almost comical! Hitler still has a sinister ring to it..or something like Rasdislav Krstic (resposible for the Srebinican Massacre in Bosnia). But do these names bring about such an association merely because of of what we know the individual behind the name to be? Gandhi - for example sounds so peaceful and seemingly soothing. However, some villian of the independance movement like Rowlatt or General Dyer sounds pretty evil. Do names become the people or do people become their names?

I was watching 'Across the Universe' the other day and for all its mindlessness, it posed a very interesting question: is who you are defined by what you do or is what you do defined by who you are? When I asked this question with my initial thought process on names in mind, in morphed into whether your actions determine your personality, which define your name? I personally believe that only when your actions truly reflect your personality do you become your name or at least, the emotion associated your name when you say it out loud.

Then again, there's the question of how you do something and whether that defines who you are. But some actions can only be done in a particular way. It is the idea which merits the action, which is limited by the way we confine our idea. There are only so many ways to exterminate Jews (or Bosnians), no matter how you do it, it is the idea which determines your true personality and how you think.

So to sum up, who you are is what you do, provided you do what you really want to do..and thats when you become your name. This however, still doesn't exaplin the anomaly of Pinochet - a really shady name I say!


Ladies and Gentle-dudes..Yours truly has had a marvelous trimester where lots of things went wrong but a hell lot of stuff went right. I can definitely look back on with a sense of achievement (like I do look back on all screwed up periods of my life). The best bit about this trim though was I did what I loved doing, reasonably well....which made it all the more special. I wasn't involved in sorting out messes made by myself, I was involved in planning, executing and building from scratch. I've realised that I love creating stuff. This doesn't mean I have artistic or songwriting (though I try here) tendencies or anything, it just means that I love putting together something, thinking of ways to make it better, innovating, appealing to various audiences, watching all parts coming together to make a living, breathing, sucessful whole. And I love the role demanded of me..the master crasftwoman, quietly standing in the background and watching things smoothly fall into place. It was lovely!

May be that's why I like the idea of marketing so much. I like trying to figure people and their wants, keeping various parameters in mind while doing the same. I love selling a product..provided I believe in the philosophy and ideal behind the product. While I have my reservations about advertising and the fact that it might be conning the public, marketing to my mind is a more genuine exercise because it actually takes into account needs and wants of the people...actually trying to give it to them without solely relying on making them believe its something else. To get someone to appreciate anything for what it actually is would be the sweetest victory.

And this trim, the victory was sweet. Acads suffered, relationships were slightly above average but the work spoke for itself..weaving a spell, spreading good cheer, hopefully creating a revolution. And while I can't say that everything was rosy and I am incredibly happy at the end of this trim, I can say that one emotion which definitely stands out among the others is pride.

Exams are coming now. I don't know what I feel about them after last time's experience. For the past three occasions (trimesters that is) on which I've given exams, I have been highly stressed out. This time, I am scared and quite motivated but there is something missing. I wouldn't say I was disillusioned or anything...just detached I guess. The whole 'work should speak for itself' philosphy I think has penetrated that corner of my brain which always flared up in righteous anger everytime my results didn't seemingly reflect my 'preparation'. I am ready to take what comes..I am not going to make any positive or negative statements about the same. This doesn't mean that I won't be all messed up if my results are really bad, its just a more mature and calculated way of tackling things. (some might call it being resigned to their fate. I think its largely that as well!).

New Year was lovely this year, certainly one of the best I had. It was not spent in random dancing and drinking but in savouring simple pleasures in life...the company of close friends (if not family..sorry I love you guys!), a large cheese burst pizza and a feel good movie with great songs from one of my all time favourite artists (Mamma Mia)....and good liquor made into nice cocktails (by yours truly again!) was excellent. It signified a nice sober start to the year, symbolic of the fact that though you got really caught up with the frenetic pace of activity, you could always take some time off to relax and indulge. I am too lazy to upload the picture of our excellently stocked bar, but will do it someday.
As a conclusion...the trimester was pretty I can't wait for it to end!