Friday, June 11, 2010

‘King’ Nadal

Note : At a time when Nadal is celebrating his comeback with a grand Roland Garros title yet again marking his strength from personal setbacks and injury here is a tribute to the legend of clay. Wriiten a year ago for The Guindy Times the article is turning out to be timeless with Rafa's phenomenal achievements! ( The titles that he has in is kitty are bound to be more than that mentioned here).

Imagine a day in the distant future when you would be pointing your finger into the dark sky showing an asteroid whirring past- no ordinary asteroid that – that bears your name. Sounds hypothetical? Well, that could definitely be one of the rare moments in the life of a young man who has single-handedly shown the world what immense self-belief, extraordinary grit and strong will-power can do. That is none other than king of clay - Rafael Nadal.

Born on the 3rd of June, 1986, Nadal started training under his uncle and coach Toni Nadal from the tender age of 3. By the time he was 8, he emerged as a promising striker in a local football team. It was then that an important decision was to be made. Soccer or tennis? Sebastian Nadal, the father of the illustrious Rafael Nadal chose tennis over Nadal’s childhood love for soccer. The decision proved just too right and today Sebastian Nadal is a proud father. Never away from the watchful eyes of his uncle, Nadal’s persona has been well-tempered due to his attachment with the family.

He attended school but he trained for tennis as well. Also he regularly took part in contests and by the age of 16, Nadal was among the top 50 players of the world. Staying with family at an age when most tennis professionals live a hard life at academies has taught Nadal lot of things that has strengthened his mind.

Professionally, 2005 was Nadal’s breakthrough year. Reaching the 4th round at Australian Open and finals in Miami, his power play marked the arrival of a stalwart. He also won the French Open in his very first attempt. But Wimbledon showed him the hard way when exit came in the second round. In July at 19 years, 1 month and 22 days Nadal became the third teen in the history of tennis to reach world no 2. After this phenomenal year, as they say, everything is history.

The Nadal sensation continues, as this year he won back-to-back French Open and Wimbledon finals, playing with a strong two-handed backhand, well-angled top-spin heavy strokes, fast mobility, excellent defense and a preference to play from deep court. Nadal has emerged as one of the best ever players. The extraordinary energy source that Rafael is his astonishing speed, muscular strength, indomitable spirit coupled with a grounded to earth attitude makes him the winner that he is! His is an aggression that is devoid of hostility a power play that is worth celebration. Yet constant bickering and murmurs are not totally absent. Presently the focus has shifted to his lesser-known female friend Maria Francesca Perello, who is also a friend of his sister, Maria Isabel. With all the furore around him, Nadal seems interested about just one thing “To be happy and to be with my family”. Pocketing 5 slam titles and 15 ATP masters titles, Nadal’s game for more. Given past history, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be this way. Hail Nadal!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The plan of the master weaver

IHere is a poem that I found in the President's Cartan Room at UNB.

"The Plan of the Master Weaver"

My life is but a weaving

Between the Lord and me,

I may not choose the colors,

He knows what they should be;

For He can view the pattern

Upon the upper side

While I can see it only

On this, the under side.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow,

Which seemeth strange to me;

But I will trust His judgment,

And work on faithfully;

'Tis He who fills the shuttle,

And He knows what is best,

So I shall weave in earnest,

Leaving to Him the rest.

Not till the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why--

The Dark threads are as needed

In the Weaver's skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.

~Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Salty Chocolate

She was walking on the road. A casual, undisturbed walk with the usual spring in her step missing. She was deeply lost in thought. So much so she could not even acknowledge the fact that she had bumped into a friend. His yelling of her name shook her back to reality. She gave him a broad smile sans the warmth that spread to her eyes. She crossed him and walked on. The steady wind kept rustling her neatly layered hair. She took no notice of it. It was an all consuming thought that she had succumbed to. A draining feeling engulfed her. It didn't matter to her how her surroundings changed. The gray thunder clouds heralding rain were gathering in earnest above her head. But it was nothing compared to the grayness in her mind. As her habit would have it, she kicked her snicker worn feet into the hard marble of the sidewalk. It must have pained but the pain simply eluded her. She didn't know where she was going until she reached. It was then she realised that it was this place that she eventually drown her sorrows in. She had known it intuitively that her legs would carry her here as a simple reflex action. The air was laden with familiar and comforting smell of dark chocolate. She had always nurtured an unhealthy indulgence for chocolate. But today, the sweetness of the chocolate tasted mildly salty. Chocolate gave her the solace no living soul had ever offered. A small crease appeared at the end of her lips suggesting the lines of the dimple when she fully smiled. Funny, she should be reminded of her own theory, what she proudly called, The Chocolate Theory. The waft of thick chocolate smoking always seemed to arouse sanguine feelings in her. And it didn't fail this time too. A sense of calm pervaded her replacing her numbness. Morbid thoughts cleared giving way to clarity. With surgical precision, she dissected the situation at hand. As the skies above cleared, a single ray of bright sunshine hit her broad forehead, hope peered in her heart. She rose with a jolt and onward she marched, the spring in her step back.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ten things I wish I had done (a few of which I actually ended up doing!)

College is the best phase of one’s life or so everyone says. In my pre-final year of the four year Electrical Engineering degree program, I took some time to introspect on the stuff I had done or hadn’t. I was in the College of Engineering, Guindy (okay, the tense is wrong I AM still there) – a name that boasts of a rich tradition and a legacy which the illustrious alumni have left behind. A 200 odd year old institution, a Red building that inspires awe replete with a sun dial and a clock tower, a sprawling campus and a sea of opportunities – that is CEG for you. This post is a sample of what can be done here. It isn't exhaustive. And, it is a very subjective list based on my interests and preferences and limited exposure. So here it goes:

1. An integral part of an engineering graduate’s life is projects. All the theory taught in class can go to walls but the real fun begins only when you see your own hand wired bot trace a line shabbily or an ingeniously built Van de Graff generator that generates voltage in the order of mere millivolts. But whatever be it, there is nothing, I repeat, nothing that can replace this kick!

2. What are holidays for? Fun, relaxation and rejuvenation. Yes all of this and one more – internships. Not many may warm up to the idea of having to spend summer pursuing a project or working. More so in a college where 66.67% call hostel home. But picture this – you are given a phone, a monitor and a desk all to yourself. You also have the autonomy of choosing your work hours. And it gets better – the stories you write are published in a leading national daily’s supplement with your “name”. Now if that is what an internship offers, I am game.

3. CEG has enough of clubs and more. From the oldest club on campus Computer Society of Anna University (CSAU) to the Robotics Club to the newer Lit Club for English enthusiasts there is something on board for everyone. The campus newspaper The Guindy times fills the Journo Quotient. So, with all this it would be an understatement to say that you are flooded with opportunities.

4. Do what you want. Unrestrained and free, this kind of environment lets you do whatever you want. So, take the plunge and do it. You might experience a bout where you don’t get enough of movies, watch them like there’s no tomorrow. You feel like sleeping in class, well no one is stopping you. You wanna play or party, feel free to help yourself NOW. Roam around the city and explore. Chennai is one big basket of contradiction. From Zara’s and Pasha to Theosophical society and the AOL Centre, wander and explore.

5. Discover your passion and nurture it. It could be sketching, calligraphy, dance, writing, music, sport, quizzing or anything at all. You might have had a fledgling interest in quizzes in school. Just walk into Vivek Audi during a quiz (enough of it happen often) and you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. You’ll find a tribe of avid quizzers drawn to it like flies to a oily sheet. Be a fly! You’ll make new friends and end up loving the experience.

6. Don’t wait anymore to do stuff that you've always wanted to. There’s always a paucity of time and things will only get more hectic to say the least. Now is the time. You wanna try your hand at salsa or learn yoga, do it now. This is the time to stop making “to do” lists and start living it.

7. Interact with seniors. Seize every single opportunity to bug them. As far as I can recall, they will be more than willing to talk to you. Life is too short to make the same mistakes. Make new mistakes of your own but never what your peers did. Learn from it and add your own new lessons to it.

8. Kurukshetra – this is one mighty opportunity available. Jump at it. I walked into CTF by sheer accident. But such accidents don’t always happen. So, take the step, participate or organise but make sure you don’t let it pass.

9. Once in a while step out of your skin. Do something that’ll wake you from your sleep. Do what you fear most. For example, some people possess an unnatural fear of the stage. I had the fortune of meeting a senior who literally threw me out of my comfort zone. Not everyone has that luck. So when life gets too monotonous, make it a point to challenge yourself. It could be something as simple as solving a Metro Plus crossword or the more demanding Rubik’s Cube. But the confidence gained at the end of the exercise is a worthy prize.

10. The last one is obviously the most important too. All your life you’ll get one thing always unasked for and free. That is advice. It’s hard to resist giving and even harder to listen to it without straining a facial muscle. Listen to all of it but mentally know what to value and treasure and what to trash. And you can sharpen that skill starting with this post.

Four years here is an opportunity to learn, mould, hone, change, transform, adapt, evolve, rewrite records, create history, touch the sky and travel beyond. A friend of mine majoring in economics once said, “ So, what is it you engineers do? Everything but engineering!” Quite true. So, at the end of the day, follow your heart and do what you are naturally propelled to do. For engineering is not about induction motors and rectifier controlled drives. It’s about finding the drive to engineer our lives!