Category: Mixed bag


Al Fatah!


Those words will stick to me for a long time, like a chewing gum to the sole of a shoe. Annoying and difficult to pick off. That by the way also happened to be the answer to the final question at a quiz contest I participated on at school. What was the name of the party founded by Yasser Arafat, the Palestine leader? As I strained hard, I was miffed that the question could have been around a dozen other things that I knew about Arafat. Not many would know that Arafat was born Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini. Or that he was born inCairo.

As I mulled afterwards on the irony, Al Fatah or Victory was what did me in on that last question. Also it didn’t fail to dawn on me that my name translates to invincible. This somewhat grounding experience has stuck with me ever since.

As I grew up watching sport of all sorts, I realized it was one thing to be victorious but it was more important to be hungry no matter what the result is. Now there’s a fine line between that wont and being a fine sport. This edict has been instrumental in me picking my favorite players. I don’t go by the rankings or the number of wins, but will root for someone with a big ticker and a never say never attitude even in the face of defeat.

Below are three of my favorite picks from tennis that I keep revisiting often to find some inspiration for my own Tuesday night hits.

1)      Pistol Pete battles an old nemesis in Jim Courier and doesn’t belie emotions on the court as his coach and good mate Tim Gulkinson was diagnosed with cancer.

Pete Sampras Vs Jim Courier

2)      Another ageing warhorse Andre Agassi in his swansong year comes up against a young portly happy go lucky Cypriot that answered to the name of Marcos Baghdatis. Full marks to both the players for giving it their all even when it looked like the wheels had come off.

Andre Agassi Vs Marcos Baghdatis

3)      Rafael Nadal came up against his good friend and fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco at the 2009 Australian Open Semi Finals. Rafa was expected to make short work of Verdasco and all eyes were already trained on his final showdown with Roger Federer, but Verdasco had other plans. Staring down the barrel at the end of the third set, Nadal knew it wouldn’t be an early night and he was locked into a mortal combat. All credit to Verdasco for going full tilt for five sets. At the end the only thing that separated the two was the will to hang in – barely.

Rafael Nadal Vs Fernando Verdasco

PS : I cleaned up a few quiz contests post the ‘Al Fatah’ episode and never did I rue a loss to a good opponent since.

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My Red M&Ms Turn 3!


There are a few things that are dear to me, and I choose to refer to them with a moniker – ‘Red M&Ms’. Sport, Photography, Ria, Writing, Baking, April sit pretty on top of the list, not necessarily in that order of preference. Whilst Ria happens to a friends bub and the most amazing kid, April is my sweetheart, mobile boom box, adrenaline dose all rolled into one – My ride, a Mazda SP23.

Coming up to a friends kid’s third birthday and racking my brains for what would be an appropriate thing to take to the party, it dawned on me. April and Ria were Three too now! And the one thing that tied all of em’ together was the fact that they were all indeed my Red M&Ms. That was it. It had to be something to do with Red M&Ms! A party teeming with kids, Red M&M’s, I racked my brains some more.

Finally I was reminded of a colleagues suggestion for sweet treats for kiddies. Choc cars, with lil teddies on top decked with proper wheels and a steering wheel to boot. Now what kid wouldn’t want one of those? (Big ones like me included.)

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Ingredients (serves 18)

  • 100g milk chocolate, melted
  • 1 bag Milky Way bars (usually 18 in a bag)
  • 1 box Tiny Teddy biscuits, honey flavour
  • 1 bag M&Ms (340g)

Method

  • Set out a tray or serving plate for the Teddies.
  • Sort the M&Ms into colours and cut 9 M&Ms in half with a sharp knife to use for steering wheels (keep in mind steering wheel colours need to match with wheel colours).
  • Remove the wrappers from the Milky Way bars.
  • Cut 18 Tiny Teddies in half at the belly button using a sharp knife.
  • Place the melted chocolate into a resealable bag and snip a tiny corner off. Squeeze out a few drops of chocolate to ‘glue’ 4 M&Ms ‘wheels’ on each car then place on the serving tray.
  • Place a few drops of chocolate on the top of each ‘car’ and sit the Teddy’s on. Place a drop of chocolate on the ‘car’ in the front of each Teddy and ‘glue’ on steering wheels.

My sporting elixir.


I’ve owed this post to nobody more than myself for a long time. The only thing that has kept me from penning this post down is the feeling that I’d be doing injustice to the magnanimity of the setting. It is absolutely impossible to capture the myriad of emotions and the subtle details that littered the grand day. I almost fear, I’ve seen the best day in my life and just to prove myself wrong, I’ve tried to go back to the same place year after year three years in a row hoping all the pieces to the puzzle fall in place yet again and the magic recreates itself. Alas! I have been disappointed each time.  I have now almost come to grips that, forget an upstage, it’d be difficult to even close to matching the events that unfolded on the magical day.

All Federer fans may now stop reading the post and make a dash to the nearest exit. There is nothing in this post for you. All Rafael Nadal fans may now stand up, take a bow and bring down the roof with some tumultuous applause.

I take you back in time a few years ago to Feb 1, 2009. At dawn break there was promise of an epic battle. Battle between an unstoppable force Federer, gunning for a place in history, aiming to match Sampras’ tally of 14 Grand Slam wins and the man in his way a mongrel of a fighter Rafael Nadal, that lives and breathes the saying never say never. This match made in heaven actually turned out to be a bit of a mismatch given the context of previous rounds. Whilst Federer breezed into the finals, Rafa had to pull out all stops to barely make it against another revelation at the tournament, fellow countryman Verdasco. Watching that semi finals would have left many an ardent Rafa fan emotionally sapped and with little hope that he’d have any gas left in the tank for the finals.

As fate would have it, I managed to score a couple of prized tickets to the finals, late into the tournament. How those tickets were still available beats me to this day. After asking a fellow tennis nut and also importantly a non-Federer-fan, to join me, I mused, what are the chances of being at the finals of a grand slam that you have grown up watching over the years on tele?   I let my thoughts trail away, as we made it to Rod Laver arena, firstly to see Mahesh Bhupati and Sania Mirza lift the coveted mixed doubles trophies in the other match of the day. I told myself that this would serve as some consolation if the Men’s finals went pear shape. A quick dash outside for some face paint in Spanish colors and spawning a Spanish army, we got into our designated seats, buzzing with anticipation. Anybody that knows me well, will tell you that I get very talkative when I am nervous or excited. So as my friend sat in her seat half looking at the pre match preparations and half nodding away listening to me, I chattered away nonstop.

When it all began I hoped the end be quick if the result didn’t go my way. The first game of the match suggested anything but an early finish. The two pros started big, each not wanting to give an inch away. The edge of the seat see-saw battle took just under an hour at 58 minutes for Rafa to nudge ahead and take the first set 7-5. By this time the adrenalin had kicked in and it was difficult for me to muzzle down my spray of ‘VAMOS!’ every few points. There were far too few Rafa supporters in our stand and I felt obligated to make up for the lack of support by being my vociferous best, at times embarrassing my friend.

What followed over the next couple of hours is sure to have given the weak hearted palpitations. The match ebbed and flowed in one direction then the other. The bookies would have had a tough time fixing the odds. Nobody seemed to stamp his authority over the match. Whilst Federer kept coming up with silky smooth passing shots, Rafa kept chasing down everything that was thrown at him. The second set went to Federer at 3-6 and one could sense a shift in momentum. It is just a matter of time now,  I said to myself. And how wrong I was! Rafa hung in like a fighter and pipped Federer for the third set in the tie break, taking the set 7-6 (3) against the flow. The only chance that Rafa has is to close the match out now, I thought. But stranger things have happened. Federer stormed back to claim the fourth set  3-6. Unable to take the tension any more, me and the friend stepped out for some big gasps of fresh air and walked around the stadium getting rid of some nervous energy. As we got back into the seats, Rafa had rocketed out of the blocks. It seemed that he had discovered some fresh wind in his sails. For the first time Federer looked jaded in the match. As we kept our fingers crossed, Rafa inched closer to that magical moment. And when it was all over on the last point, me and my friend looked at each other in utter disbelief before breaking into hoarse cries. This had to be the best sporting moment in my life. As we stood around gamely cheering every minute of the presentation ceremony, you could not miss the feeling of David having slain Goliath yet again. As the crowds started to make a beeline to the exits, only then did we realize that the roller coaster ride had taken us into the wee hours. It was about 3 AM when we left the courts. As you might guess, I didn’t get much sleep that night, or the next for the rest of the week.  It was as if a fairytale had unfolded in real life.

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Today, every now and again, I jog my memory to the eventful day and bask in the warmth of the afterglow. Thank you Rafa for a lifetime of memories and thank you my friend for being there and sharing the day with me.

Rise Phoenix, Rise.


Phoenix - The Hope.

Phoenix - The Hope.

Every time I’m back home to Bangalore, I feel special. Every time the tyres of the plane hit the tarmac at the Bangalore airport, it gives me goose-bumps. It’s the same feeling of that of a reunion of two love birds, separated by a long distance relationship. Immediately feeling warm, fuzzy somewhere deep down, I wish the time slows down a fraction, that I be able to romance my lover that extra longer. The first few days are spent in the nervous tango working out how each of us has grown since the last rendezvous, the next few, catching up on good old times, and it is somewhere at this point that I feel a twinge. Almost hoping it weren’t rue. I realize, as much as my love has new things to offer, I fear she is slowly losing her soul, her identity. I silently pray that I am wrong, that she is self healing, that she is still the innocent, unassuming girl, peeping cherubically from around the doorway.

Each time I am in Bangalore, there is a newer, bigger Mall than the last time. Newer, bigger diasporas than the last time. People suddenly seem to have a surplus of money to spend. Fine wine isn’t anymore elitist. World cuisine seems to have come to the doorsteps of Bangalore. The sight of Metro trains suddenly gives me hope that the traffic travails will finally be addressed. The bus services impress me. The city seems to be doing just fine. In fact I am chuffed to see the city taking strides towards being a hip modern metropolis.

Around here is when I move my attentive gaze from the grand splendor of the inanimate, to the heart and soul of the city – its people. I’ve been a part of the city for a long time and although I don’t claim to have a scholarly command on the shifting ethos of the society, I clearly notice a pattern of tectonic shift each time. What concerns and affects me more is when I see those subtle shifts in people around me, people that I have grown up with, and people that I love and as much as it is none of my business, I feel a sharp jab somewhere in the chest area. People suddenly do not seem to have time anymore. Friends only ever catch up rarely, citing the daemons of wading through the traffic for the lack of appetite to socialize with each other. Patience seems to be as rare as truffles. Almost nobody seems to have a plan, as if moving in the general direction of the flow like zombies. Relationships seem frayed and tested due to a combination of the above. People seem to have pushed the boundaries of their conscience to far flung corners that you did not know exist. Suddenly everybody seems to be living in their own little universe, where they have become so comfortable, that any mention of change brings deep gasps and raised eyebrows.

I hope for the greater good, that people stop, sit back and evaluate things that need to be fixed, before it is too late, before my beloved city loses her soul and morphs into a completely different person. That day a part of me will die, and being the selfish man I am, I hope I don’t live to see the day.

Why I bake.


I’ve been asked for a while now by various people I meet, friends, family, acquaintances, on what got me started on my baking journey and why do I do it. I have a simple answer and then there is the more complex yet truer reason. The simple answer is of course that I love to bake. period.


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The more complex answer and the one closer to my heart, is a combination of my beliefs, events and my general take on life.

There are a few movies that leave a lasting impression on you. A few years ago, I watched this movie – The Waitress. Keri Russell plays Jenna, a waitress living in the American South. She works in Joe’s Pie Diner, where her job includes creating inventive pies with unusual titles inspired by her life, such as the “Bad Baby Pie” she invents after her unwanted pregnancy is confirmed. She comes up with new recipes for her pies based on how she is feeling. She bakes when she is happy, she bakes when she is sad, she bakes for friends to make them happy and she bakes some more, because she has this dream of winning the pie contest in a nearby town, which offers a $25,000 grand prize and a chance to start her life over again. The central character’s love for baking pies no matter what the situation in her life was, was inspiring indeed.

Now here’s another part of the complex answer. This one is all about selfish gains from all my baking. I strongly believe in Karma. I believe in ‘what goes around, comes around’. Every time I bake something for someone, I see my selves collecting a few brownie points. I’m sure over time, they will all add up and I’ll be able to exchange it all for something nice and special. The other way to look at it is, I’m sure I’ve been a bad boy at times, and the little good deeds will hopefully, be enough to keep me on Santa’s ‘Good Kid list’.

Most of all, I’ve come to learn (thanks are due to my mum and dad), you are only as happy as the people around you. I know different people have different outlooks to life. For some, the amount of money they make is a measure of happiness index, some thrive on human relationships and some others get a kick out of doing the best at what they do. I remember the times as a kid how excited I’d be around my birthday. The thought of friends coming over, the delicious birthday cake and the fun times. I wonder why as we grow up, we give away little things that bring us joy. In this effort, I try and bake a cake for my friends to bring back the good old childhood days.

Another part of the answer is relationships. They are a bit like the grass at MCG. Put in some time and effort and they will stand you in good stead. I hardly ever bake at home. I have been notoriously known to walk into kitchens, set camp and open up a conversation as I go about whipping up a treat. For me it is not as much, what comes out of the oven, as it is to open up communication lines and more often than not have a heart to heart.

Well there you go! The next time someone asks me THAT question, I have something to point them to :).

Ashwatthama Hataha! nara kunjaraha.


Background – As the war raged between the Pandavas and Kauravas in what has now been widely documented as the Mahabharata, A war of attrition over who should ascend the throne of Hastinapur, the battle has reached a stage where the Kaurava army is holding steady and slowly gaining ground against the Pandavas under the able leadership of its commander-in-chief Acharya Drona, who despite being the teacher of the Padavas has chosen to fight in the ranks of the Kauravas to fulfill his moral obligations to the king that gave him umbrage. Drona well versed with the nuances of warfare, is infallible and slowly making a dent into the Pandava army. Krsna, the counsellor to the Pandavas, comes up with an act of deception to kill Drona. The only weakness that Drona has is his warrior son – Ashwatthama. Very well aware of this and the fact that Drona would renounce his weapons if Ashwatthama were killed in the battle, Krsna draws up a scheme. He advises Bhima, a Pandava brother, to kill a male elephant also named Ashwatthama. As Bhima plays out the script and goes over to joyously celebrates in front of Drona, who is fighting at another part of the battle field, Drona refuses to buy into Bhima’s proclamation – “Ashwatthama, your son is dead”. He demands that Dharamaraja Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, front up and make the same proclamation, for Yudhishtira is seen as truthful and a man of his words. A half hesitant Yudhishthira fronts up to his revered teacher Drona and announces – Ashwatthama is dead! the male elephant. The latter half barely audible. Distraught at this revelation, Drona gives up his weapons and is ultimately slayed by Drishtadyumna from the Pandava camp.   

As those immortal words uttered by Dharamaraja Yudhishtira rent the air, the latter half masked by deafening sounds of celebratory bugles and drums, something dramatic happened on the battlefield. The Dharmaraja’s chariot that till now rode four inches off the ground, sank and touched the earth.

Known for his just and righteous acts, Yudhishthira heeding to Krsna’s counsel – “Under such circumstances, falsehood is preferable to truth”, strayed from his chosen path of being truthful and partook ultimately in the slaying of his acharya – guru Drona.

Half truths, white lies, fibs, deception, call it what you may and rank it in order of your choice, at the end of the day only do damage. Damage undoubtedly to the person at the receiving end of it, but spare a thought for the many Yudhishthiras. He undoubtedly gained from his act, which was well packaged and sold to him by Krsna. A war that could have raged for a lot longer and lead to the culling of a lot more soldiers, was cut short. But what about the Dharmaraja? Taking a peek into his camp after the close of the day’s war, I am sure he wouldn’t have had a restful sleep. His conscience gnawing away at his character. A raging fire of self-pity and helplessness consuming his insides. What was meant as a simple white lie, would now alter the course of the mankind.

The one thing that serves as a litmus test of our deeds – our conscience can be a cruel friend. Abide by it, and you shall be served well. Disregard it for trivial gains and it comes back to leach away at your moral fragments. That day, not only did Yudhishthira loose his revered guru, not only did his claim to being a Dharamaraja receive a blow, more importantly, he fell. Fell in his own eyes – the harshest punishment one could seek.

The fine line between being truthful to oneself and bending the rules ‘just this once’, comes at a cost. A cost of having your soul eaten away one bit at a time. Is it really worth it?

It is said that even the great Dharmaraja Yudhishthira after his death, had to spend a moment in hell for his white lie, before stepping into heaven for his just deeds.

Pandora – The all endowed


Pandora: The name never fails to evoke emotions within me. According to several versions of Greek Mythology, Pandora is supposed to be the first woman. The Greek gods, along with other seductive gifts, gave Pandora a chest and ordered her never to open it, come what may. After enjoying her other gifts for a while, curiosity got the better of Pandora and she against the warning of the gods, chose to open the chest. When she opened it, all of the evils, ills, diseases, and burdensome labor that mankind had not known previously, escaped from the chest, but it is said, that at the very bottom of the chest, there lay hope. 

There are people you know for a lifetime from whom you aspire to imbibe good qualities, then there are others, that come for a fleeting visit and leave a deep impression. But there are a few that burn an image into your mind and you have not even met them. Pandora is one such.

Pandora

Pandora the little battler.

Blue eyed blondes always do it for me! One April morning after knocking off from a ‘graveyard’ shift, I headed off for my usual coffee and some news. I dug deep into the pockets for small change for that badly needed sugar fix to jumpstart the mind, which tends to slip into a trance like state after an eight hour shift. As I was tramming it home with the coffee, the front page of the daily newspaper caught my eye. Splashed across the front page was the cutest little bub I had seen and you guessed it!, she was blue eyed and blonde to boot.

Pandora1

Pandora the toddler.

As I settled down in a seat and took a closer look, the cute smile on the angelic face belied something grave. Pandora Humphries was just weeks old when her immune system failed and she needed lengthy treatment, including a bone marrow transplant. Saved by the bone marrow transplant in 2006, she continued to need oxygen from a cylinder in case she stopped breathing. For many months the hospital was a second home to Pandora. The gritty bub beat the odds, surprised a few doctors along the way and is today a healthy young toddler. All this thanks to the Good Friday Appeal, run by the Royal Childrens Hospital. Ever since, I’ve always been a donor to the Good Fiday Appeal. My heart goes out to all those parents that have to deal with the unwanted blow dealt to them. All those endless hours doing the rounds of hospitals, watching their little bundle of joy hooked up to drips and a myriad of medical gadgets, which would send a shudder even down my spine. Pandora has returned back this year to Royal Childrens Hospital, as the face of the appeal which is run every April. Pandora’s mum in thanking the RCH said, watching Pandora race down the corridors she once waited in, as her baby underwent surgery was exhilarating.

Procrastination is a tough mistress to loose, I have always wanted to get involved with the Royal Childrens Hospital. Given my affinity towards bubs, and the sudden boom in friends having bubs around me, has given me the ideal prod. I have enrolled to actively volunteer with the Royal Childrens Hospital and perhaps make a small difference to the families of hundreds of children that go through a roller coaster ride every day at the hospital. I’d like to use this forum to extend a personal invite to all, that would wish to make a difference to the bubs and spread the good word on. The Royal Childrens Hospital, run numerous initiatives under the banner of Good Friday Appeal, including selling merchandise, organising events and activities along with accepting generous donations. Do visit http://www.goodfridayappeal.com.au to see how you could add smiles.

Down the memory lane.


Time flies, and how! Five years to this day, on a typically cold and blustery winter morning, I set foot in Melbourne, Australia. Defying advice from friends, and coming off a warm summer in Bangalore, I was comfortably dressed in nothing more than a T-shirt and a pair of cargoes. Typical Don-Quixote, some of my friends that know me well would brush it off as. What I wasn’t prepared for in the least, is the constant shudders the chill kept sending down my spine. With all the bag and baggage that had arrived with me and a sense of numbness created by the myriad of thoughts running in my head, I didn’t even dare to go searching for warm clothes. Thankfully a couple of friends had come over to the airport to pick me up. Once inside the warm confines of their house, I quickly took a liking to the seat closest to the heater. To this day, my friends rib me about how I would sit all day long next to the heater ‘toasting’ my limbs!

    The first month was nothing short of pure culture shock. Although there was no doubt in my mind of battling out the sea change from the comfy environs of home, the first thing that would get to me was the sparse spread of humanity around. Everybody mindful of their own business, shops downing their shutters by 5 in the evening in contrast with the hustle and bustle that would just start to build up in the bazaars back home. What perhaps helped was this layer of insulation I had built around myself, driven by one motive alone. To get to the light at the end of the tunnel and hop onto the first flight back home there after. In hindsight, I rue this possessed state of drivenness. If there was one thing I’d like to have done differently, is perhaps to have enjoyed more of my uni life. I had my reasons to be blinker eyed though.

 Destiny seems to have had its own plans for me. Two years into my Melbourne stint and frantically doing the rounds of all the touristy places around the city before booking my tickets to fly home, a surprisingly pleasant door opened up, that tempted me to stick around for a while. One thing led to another and before long as much as I craved home, Melbourne had grown on me! As much as I whinge to this day about the bite of the winters in Melbourne, there is something mysterious about the city, that ties me down. Then again I tell myself, after living in Chennai and cursing it for an year and a half, I shed a silent tear when I moved back home. Having seen bits and pieces of cities around the world, I am sure I wouldn’t be completely misplaced in calling Melbourne a truly multicultural city.

Five years on, and many an ups and downs along the way, I look back at the journey and a pleasant smile spreads across my face. Melbourne has well and truly grown into a second home! BTW, this day shall be hard to forget, as it also happens to be the birthday of my ‘little’ brother. Wish you a very happy birthday bro! 🙂


 The one thing in the world that would get me to wake up at the stroke of seven in the morning every single day, growing up, didn’t have anything to do with an alarm by the bedside. That’s precisely when the newspaper boy did his rounds of my house. Five minutes late and the ‘Castle’ would be stormed. And once taken, I would have to patiently wait till mum had strained out every single ounce of news and worse still, just to tick me off, every now and again read out the news loud. By the time I got handed the paper, All I eneded up with was ‘stale’ news. To ward off crying foul at every such instance, I would wake up just in the nick of time to beat mum to the post, literally! This definitely calls for a mention of my wise dad. Wise, simply because he’d let me and mum tear into each other over the newspaper every morning, and quite simply indulge in the news tidbits at leisure late in the evening. There was no such thing as stale news for him. I’ve put that down in my ‘Smart Dad’ checklist for future use.

While mum would do the ‘right thing’ and read the newspaper from cover to cover from the first page on, I was the deviant. It had to be whats unravelled in the sports world first for me. I couldn’t be bothered about the overnight developments in the Kaveri water dispute or less still, India frowning at the parleys U.S was making with China.

The punch line of the sports page of a popular news daily read thus : ‘Sport does not build character, It reveals it’. I’ve mulled over this line, revisiting it many times over the years, and each time I end up endorsing it stronger than ever. In the same breath though I’d perhaps moot the cause of Sports being a big influence in the personality development, in the formative years of a child. But once past a certain age, All that sport does is serve as a mirror of the individual. By this right, I fall in the worst offenders rap sheet. I could come across as the most amicable, affable, happy go lucky bloke in most walks of life. Put me in a sporting arena, and the Hulk takes over. Steve Waughs best sledges fall pale in fornt of my chatter, and this when I am just starting to warm up. At this point, let it be made as clear as the daylight that I don’t make it to any list of prominence in any form of sport. I’d at best slot into the also rans category. But for a good fight, and a large ticker, look no further. One sportsman that I relate to, like for like on many levels is Roelof Van Der Merve the maverick T20 specialist for South Africa, or VAN THE MAN as I fondly call him. Van Der Merve isn’t someone in the league of the Tendulkars, Warnes or Laras. Much less he is a mixed bag on antics. Watching him bat at the crease would send a purist into an endless convulsion, ball after ball. His bowling likewise is pedestrian. He more than makes up for it with his, ‘never say never’ attitude and a bigger than Goliath presence on the field.

I was out last week for a hit at the badminton court and pretty much made a hash of a doubles game. In hindsight the things that were missing in the game, is what perhaps what blights many a relationships. I have always been big on communication and trust. These two words each by themselves would perhaps mean little but in conjunction are more than the sum of their parts. Have a look around at your work place, couples amongst your friends, the best doubles players in any form of the sport, and what immediately stands out is that, success comes much easily to those that imbue trust and communication in what they do best.

We all love an upright prim and proper sportsman like Sachin and then there are other indisputable greats like the Louisville lip – Muhammad Ali. You’d have to wonder what he would be if he had to muzzle down his spray of words. I wrap up this post, with a devastating blow that Ali landed on Geogre foreman, long before he even stepped into the ring and the gong went off. He let a jibe fly at Foreman with his ‘I have seen George Foreman shadow boxing, and the shadow won’. What ensued is anybodies guess.  Tell me if that isn’t just as good as a killer left hook?


Today was a beautiful morning. A morning you’d rather spend on a park bench than behind an office desk. As the mercury hovered around the early twenties, the anticipation of the weekend ahead hung heavy in the air. As I made my way religiously to my favourite cafe near my work for my sugar-fix for the day, one thought tickled me pink. With half a dozen Cafes at a stones throw away from my weekday perch,why do I choose to walk a couple of blocks to get my caffeine hit?

Although I am not much of a coffee drinker, I must admit I am very fussy about my coffee. No Starbucks or Gloria Jeans for me. It has to be  just the right brew made from freshly ground beans at a proper cafe. I’ve also noticed that it is sometimes the brewer that makes a world of difference.

Coming back to the point, the girl behind the espresso machine – Leena, at my local cafe is as much a reason as the coffee itself that I make a beeline every morning for. She has one of the most charming smiles and that definitely is a big tick in the box for me. This morning as I stood in a 7 deep queue trying to read her face, I wondered, Is there a story behind this disarming smile? there must be? who in their right mind would smile through the day, day after day working at a maniacal pace and still make those lovely coffees. She definitely is faking the smile was one thought, the other said she just must enjoy her job as much. I peered harder to pick some telling signs but could find nothing beyond a content person. After getting my daily dose of the drug that instantly seemed to make the day that much more livelier and brighter, I trudged back to my lair.

Somewhere along rose a million dollar question. Apart from the natal relationship of a mother and child and to some extent father and a child, is every other relation that we make along the way when stripped bare boil down to simple economics of IRR, NPV, EVA, tangible and intangible benefits?? Ones pickiness about the place they get their coffee from, the Ed hardy shirt that you bought after musing if it was worth the money, the furtive glance across the bar to the blue eyed blonde.

I always try and tend to set some time aside every week to take a step back and evaluate things from a third person perspective. Some weeks I seem to do well and others I seem to be driven by plain old economics. Every relationship is in some ways about give and take. Brothers / sisters, friends, a boyfriend / girlfriend, Husband/wife. The question is, what drives forming a relationship. what makes that special friend of yours special? what makes that boyfirend or girlfriend a keeper? What is it that finally makes you say “I do”. What drives one to pick one footy team over the other, or brand of toothpaste ?

The alter ego in me shouts – Economics, plain economics. How I hope, I am wrong. Terribly wrong.