A few lessons from this summer..

Okay. I had 11 weeks off from college this summer. 8 of those involved an internship. Needless to say my summer was wrecked. And hectic.

With my internship taking up more than half of my days from Monday to Saturday ( yes a 6-day week ! ) I never actually had time to catch up on all those carefully crafted plans and indulgent lists made before the internship, during the first week or so. Those lists and plans got flagged down or ended up as botched attempts as soon as I realized I travelled 2 hours to my place of work, each way.

During this unappreciated preview of my adult life, I found some treasures and realized quite a few epiphanies.

1. Pink Floyd (esp The Dark Side of the Moon) still heals the day. The psychedelic experience, besides still being shockingly relevant –

“..And you run and you run

To catch up with the sun

But it’s sinking

Racing around

To come up behind you again

The sun is the same

In a relative way

But you’re older

Shorter of breath

And one day closer to death..”

-Time, Pink Floyd ( Dark Side of the Moon )

just puts you in a completely different mood, soothing your mind; warm, caressing, trance-like music that fills out the voids with its queer and unimaginatively complex harmonies.

 

2. Life without the web, the internet can be shockingly painful. For me, at least, not having an internet connection when I’m at my laptop or the iPad can be very, very dull and painfully restrained. The very immediateness of subjects, to be looked up without a  moments notice has gotten addictive. Because I recently shifted over to Open Source and I’m constantly learning new things on the web through forums and courses, not having an internet connection was, to repeat again, restrained.

Believe me, I’m the kind of guy who collects and reads a lot of books, a huge music collection to listen to, a more than acceptable social life, is a sports fanatic and its not like I was craving for the web while on the Metro back home. But if my laptop has some issue (usually some linux device driver problem in the beginning) the instant craving, shamefully, takes control.

3. Spain still beats the heck out of any footballing nation. Not even Germany, the Netherlands or her Royal Blunder – England could do anything about that this Euro. Although I’m all for the competitiveness of the English side of football, the Spanish side pretty much ruled every base in football, except for that freak of nature – Chelsea – winning the Champions League. But more on that later.

4. Roger Federer still rules the grass season. Though at the time of writing, he lost to Murray horribly in the Olympic finals. But the way he’s holding and smiling at his silver, me thinks he might just be trolling Andy Murray and the entire British nation. Oh and yeah, Nadal is still the King of Clay.

5. Delhi University cut-offs remain ridiculous, mocking and laughable and I just pity those looking for seats there this summer. The JEE is a mess too.

6. You can probably earn a college degree online (at least a Computer Science one ), what with all the free courses shrooming up on the web. Don’t believe me ? Check out this link and then talk.

7. To drive is to attain nirvana. Having got a little more than 600-odd km on the road under 4 months, I believe I was destined to drive (stick that is). My dad being my role model here though, I have come to hate most of the traffic in Delhi with their retarded sense of traffic rules and self-righteousness.

Nonetheless be it a hatch-back or an SUV, I can probably drive the wheels off it, given enough time and asphalt. And costly, precious Petrol.

8. John Mayer’s “Born and Raised” is the perfect album to drive to. (You know, apart from Sabbath, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Maiden and Metallica, Alter Bridge, Audioslave, Floyd, Hendrix, Foo Fighters and probably Coldplay) With its soft sounds humming you to peace, not even the most retarded of drivers can shake your composure. His previous works were good enough with him hitting a low point with Battle Studies but I believe he’s really come back with this one.

9. You can probably spend an entire day browsing through Hacker News, and still not get to the bottom of all the cool links and knowledge of the users and commenters. It boasts of a user base of people genuinely passionate about topics they post, and almost all links, questions, projects and topics to be found here, from economics through math, science, tech, startups, to astronomy, are assured to be deep and insightful.

Regular visits, probably once or twice a day can be enlightening on many different levels.

10. I think I probably need to write and post more often. Hope to do that during this half of the year.

How was your summer ?

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Roger Federer – An obituary due??

As I sit typing, drowning my sorrow with RHCP, the last few shots of the Federer vs Djokovic match flash by. The loss confirmed a fact long since avoided by his greatest and most devoted of followers and thought about, albeit secretly, and whispered quietly at the end of each damned match, all the while trying to run from something unstoppable, hoping against hope that the next match would save them and prove them wrong – the fall of Roger Federer.

I remember when I first saw Federer somewhere in 2004 in the US open – around the time when he first started building his legend, his dominance – though I was already two or three Grand Slams late – he had this long lock of hair and seemed to a very rough personality off court. That’s when he had that fierce but graceful spirit which would grow on to dominate the world for another 5 years. Though the hair got short, the elegance rose.

His style was is characterized by a wonderful versatility, brisk, elegant and impeccable, precise shots and a fluid whip-like forehand which according to McEnroe is “the greatest shot in our sport”. He is an expert volleyer and has a variety of shots at his disposal and his extreme fitness level rivals only that of fellow player Nadal. My favorite – the slice – which, whenever employed, feels as if its going to hit the net, but is still able to spin like crazy, is still one of his greatest shots. His one handed cross-court backhand and flicks of wrists are not to be forgotten.

And I bet others can point a lot more about him.

I remember the time when no one would doubt the outcome of a match when Federer stepped out into the court. It was as if applying an axiom to the match, a law which was set in the tennis universe. None but Nadal would break that rule and that too in the greatest of endeavors, in the 2006-08 Roland Garros and the Wimbledon of 2008, tennis’s greatest exhibition of art, power, heart and spirit. Ever.

But ever since 2009 , even though the year was not bad at all, a doubt has crept in the mind of his greatest followers – will this slice actually hit the net?why was that forehand too long? It was during this time when Federer would exult at the end of a difficult shot with a “come on!” as if requiring the extra boost – a fact never observed before, the past being a collection of calm brooding over each faulty shot, calculating the error – behaving as mortals would on the battlefield of the court. The number of faults increased, the net points converted slowly dropped and the break-point conversion was abysmal. Some few godly shots remained to appear – the winner between the legs- the “tweener”, the net pass and the improved footwork. And all the while I cringed and winced at each fault- trying to reprimand each break point lost, each seemingly callous error.

And as time progressed, more and more players sought out that gap in Federer’s armor; the right which had Nadal had earned by right of skill, endeavor and spirit was now being openly shared by each to his own end. The Portos, Nalbandians, Hewitts, Djokers, Roddicks, Murrays- each had his own share of the legend. Beware – I’m not disregarding their skill nor am i discrediting their victories – I am merely suggesting that other players had their victories only when Federer finally appeared mortal , in their sight. Their victories were completely earned to the ends of the best within them and but most importantly, not at the cost of Federer’s. And all the time my frustration grew, not knowing what was wrong.

And the road has been downhill since 2009 Us Open. It seems that the fierce spirit has now been doused – he never seems to be trying- trying to deliberately break serve, trying to hold onto those break points long enough to win. Although a few of the glimmers of his skill still remain, the man is but a pale shadow of his former self. I cringe at each slice now,every single-handed back hand, watching whether every other forehand isn’t too long, whether he is tired or not.

The preciseness seems to be lost, the courage no longer visible, the skills faltering, the elegance gone roguish – but it seems the mind still remains somewhat sharp.I have no idea why this decline happened – that time when he was without coach? Growing family (no hard feelings)?

Regardless, in any match, as always, I shall stand by him.