Monday, March 28, 2011

It will be a Wednesday to remember.

This is a post inspired by this youtube video that I saw on facebook a little while ago. It captured the feelings of two nations beautifully, I felt. And raised goosebumps for a lot of people, certainly mine.

We may not see a lot of things in this match that we have had the privilege of seeing in a lot of past India Pakistan matches – the classic images that have made some past India Pakistan matches so legendary.

We will not see Aamer Sohail telling Venkatesh Prasad to go fetch the ball from the cover boundary after thrashing him for a boundary. We will not see a soft spoken, baby faced South India medium pacer (calling him a fast bowler would be a travesty to even Anil Kumble) invoking the female relatives of Aamer Sohail giving him a royal sendoff to the pavilion after bowling him with a magnificent leg cutter.

We will not see Ajay Jadeja carting one of the (then) fastest bowlers in the world effortlessly over extra cover for six, or the same bowler, his confidence and bowling figures shattered, come back in his last over to get Jadeja out.

We will not see a belligerent Saeed Anwar, carting the Indian bowlers to all parts of Chepauk on the way to the highest ODI score at that time, or a futile Rahul Dravid special in reply to that.

We will not see Hrishikesh Kanitkar sweeping Saqlain for four to midwicket, to clinch a nail biter and bring up the highest second innings winning total in ODI’s.

We will not see Saqlain Mushtaq, with his mesmerizing off spinners, drawing batsmen forward only to deceive them in flight and in turn, and get them to spoon a catch. We will not see Virender Sehwag mauling Saqlain, like he did in Multan, carting him to all parts of Mohali, effectively making a mockery of his much admired skills.

We will not see Misbah five runs, as he came to be known then, try to kill Joginder Sharma’s career by carting him for one of the most monstrous sixes seen in the game, and then try to play an audacious scoop shot over the head of short fine leg and gift India the World Cup.

We will not see Bhajji hoist Mohammad Amir into the stands for a six, a la Javed Miandad and Chetan Sharma to win India the match.

We will not see a warrior of a bowler, running through the Pakistani line up, taking all ten wickets on the way to an India victory in Delhi. We will not see another Sachin Tendulkar epic, like in Chennai, painfully keeping the rampant Pakistanis at bay with a gritty, courageous, though ultimately futile 136.

We may not see Shoaib Akhtar running in at full steam, unleashing thunderbolts designed to dislodge the stumps and bring them to rest a good 10 yards behind the wicket, like he did to Dravid and Sachin in a test match at Kolkata. We may not see the Little Genius rising up to the challenge thrown up by Shoaib, upper cutting a 95 mph delivery for an unbelievable six over third man.

What we will see, though, in another two days, is two champion teams, one mercurially talented, young and fearless, rebuilding after a difficult phase; one a little more settled, unbelievably experienced, overcoming dramatic collapses to claim stake to the tag of the best team in the world, play each other to get a chance to go for the ultimate prize in ODI Cricket. One of the most dangerous batting lineups in the world will face one of the most effective bowling lineups in the world. One champion will be aiming to get to his 100th international century, with a team determined to back him up in one of the most important games they have played, and other team equally determined to stop him from doing so, and win their first World Cup game against the opposition.

What we will see is two nations come to a standstill two days from now, office and schools being closed early, with a billion and a half people, including the highest leaders of the two countries, watching, praying, hoping and egging their teams on to win.

What we will see is something that people have been salivating about ever since India and Pakistan were drawn into separate groups in this World Cup, and has had people on tenterhooks ever since Pakistan routed the Windies, and India knocked the reigning world champs out of the tournament – India versus Pakistan in a World Cup knockout game.

It will be a Wednesday to remember.

Let the game begin.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm. Not. Dead. Yet.

Its been a long time since I last got down to putting what I'm thinking into words.

I keep wondering why, at times. Its not for lack of things to put down. I keep feeling - I should blog about this, I should blog about this, and then keep postponing it. This procrastination lasted a day, a week, a month, and voila, over a year now. Sheesh.

Lots of things have changed since my last post out here - which, by itself, was after a gap of a year. So I guess you can say its been two years. Or more. So since my last proper post, its been what, three years?

In the past three years, things have... been sorta happening. I've been to BSkool, got an MBA, got a job, changed a job, traveled around India, traveled abroad, come back, been heartbroken, gotten over it, done some stuff I'm proud of, done some stuff which has made me hate myself, found new people, lost old people. I ache at times for the boy I was a few years ago, and at the same time look forward to whatever's coming. Contradictions, of course, are plenty in number.

All in all, life seems to be going on normally. Or with a semblance of whatever people call normality. And as I said, I'm not dead yet.

So I'll make a new resolve, which I hope will last longer than the last new resolve I made, and will continue posting. You can safely say that I'm back.

For now.

I hope.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Australia, the arrogant?

People wonder… what has happened to the Australian Team? Isn’t this the same team which so comprehensively thrashed South Africa at home not so long ago? Just looking into the reasons for that… my point of view, obviously.

I’ve always felt that the Australians had a major sense of arrogant complacency in their approach towards games. Until the 2003 – 04 Border Gavaskar Trophy, no side had managed to even come close to scaring the Australians in their own backyard. They were complacent in the knowledge that no side had the batting firepower to combat their bowlers at a place like the WACA, and that no bowler could have the bag of tricks that would better an Australian batsman at home. They lived and played under this comforting knowledge.

In that series, they realized that Indian batsmen had developed the discipline that batsmen need to combat Australian bowlers at home – albeit, a weakened attack having only Dizzy as a regular bowler – but even he couldn’t make much of an impression on Dravid, Sachin, Laxman and Ganguly – and that the Indian bowlers (ducky boy Agarkar, of all people) had learnt how to tame the Australian batsmen at home.

That hit them hard, and they realized that they couldn’t be complacent with their current knowledge, because other teams were catching up. Hence they worked on playing spin, learnt a few new tricks themselves, and thrashed the Indians at home the next year – something they’d never done before.

But that series had given hope to the English, who developed some new tricks – the best they could do wrt conditions at home – conventional and reverse swing – and again the Australians found that they couldn’t handle it, and lost the Ashes in 2005. Again, it was due to complacency – expecting that the Poms would wilt under tried and tested Aussie firepower, and were incapable of coming up with something up their sleeves as well. They underestimated the intelligence of Vaughan and the intensity of Freddie, and paid the price.

However, for some reason, they refuse to learn. Talk about the series where the South Africans comprehensively screwed the Aussies at home. Or the current Ashes without Stuart Clark. They seem to go in with the mindset that the opposition is not good enough to face our firepower, too dumb to learn anything new to deal with the fact that they cannot combat our firepower under normal circumstances, and they don’t react fast enough to come up with new tricks to combat an opposition who’s learnt to deal with Australian tricks as well as come up with something new up its sleeves as well.

Hence, they were outswung by Anderson in the first innings at Lord’s, outthought and outbowled by Freddie in the second innings at Lord’s, and once again, outswung by Onions and Anderson at Edgbaston. And until they learn to treat their opponents with a little bit of respect, this is not going to change. The results of treating their opponents with some respect are clear – beating India in India in 2004 – 05, and South Africa in South Africa in 2008 – 09. I guess the fact that the repeat leg of the series (Australia coming to tour India after India had toured Australia, and same with South Africa) was played immediately after the home leg also has something to do with the steep jump in the Australian learning curve.

Somehow, it may take one more Ashes defeat to England, it seems, before the Aussies learn the lesson they learnt in 2003 -04 with India and South Africa in 2007 – 08.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Njaan Malayalee...

Have you ever noticed how people are very protective of their culture and language and all that? How they feel a sense of belonging to a certain place – the place where they have been born and brought up? You see it often – specially in WIMWI, when we have city versus city fights, its usually no holds barred. You hear such a lot of that… amchi Mumbai, amaar Kolkata, ente Keralam, apna Bihar… so on.

Now, being the product of two utterly different cultures – Bihari and Malayali, I didn’t really know which sector I belonged to. But normally, I’ve noticed that Keralites are much more possessive of the language, customs, overall culture – no matter where they are, whether in Kerala or not. I respect that. I guess I could be wrong, coz I haven’t seen much of other cultures as well.

Anyways, lemee tell you about this thing which happened last week.

I was supposed to be going home in the afternoon. I’d asked a friend to book tickets for me on a bus back home today, but there were no tickets available when he went yesterday. I was in Chennai, which is why I could not go myself to book my tickets. Not that I would have gotten tickets if I’d gone myself

Anyways, since he didn’t get tickets, I had to find out some other way of getting back home. Eventually, I managed to fix up a us from Bangalore (where I am right now) to Trichur (where I go when I need mommy’s food) via Coimbatore leaving here at 1:30 in the afternoon. So eventually, I was supposed to go to office in the morning, leave in the afternoon, and go home. And yes, book tickets before reaching office in the morning, if I wanted to go back home.
So when I trudged up to the travel agent’s place in the morning, having somehow managed to pull myself outta bed and gotten into a rick, planning to book a ticket to CBE, I somehow managed to get into a travel agency, where the gent sitting at the desk was speaking on the phone. I waited, and obviously heard a little of the conversation. He was speaking in Malayalam.

I debated whether to speak in Malayalam or Hindi. Hindi would make it difficult to converse – there are plenty of Mallus in Bangalore, but most I know are much more comfy with Mallu than with Hindi or English. Besides, Malayalam would actually get me to seem like a kindred spirit, and he may take pity on me, and gimme a non existent seat which he would then fix up somehow.

So, thinking all this, I somehow managed to forget myself enough to ask him… with a smile, signifying friendliness… and co regionalism… “Cheta, innu raathri Thrissur vandi ondo? (Is there a bus to Thrissur tonight?)”

Before I could rectify my faux pas (not that he knew it was a faux pas) and tell him CBE instead of TCR, he nodded… I was left like… “..ayyo, Thrissur alla… eh, ondo? (…no, not Thrissur… what, there is?)”

Looking at me incredulously, he was like “Evide povandathaado? (Where in the blooming world do you wanna get your ass to, you fool)” – okay, that’s what it sounded like, not what he said – so, looking pretty *sheepish*, I was like “Thrissur”. Now I was left wondering what would the response have been if I’d spoken in Hindi… “Err… haan shaab, hai shaab… kahan jaane ko maangta hai? Kab, kithar?” Anwyays, too late.

“Oru special vandi ondu – innu raathri 8pm – book cheyyano? (There’s a special vehince – tonight 8pm – you wanna book a seat?)”

“Athey… AC vandi aano? (Yes, is it an AC vehicle?)”

He looked at me like my nose had just transformed into an elephant’s trunk right on my face. I took that to mean that he thought I was an utter imbecile to ask such stupid questions specially when I didn’t even have a seat in the last unbooked bus to Timbuktoo where I had to get to in order to save myself from a life of utter mediocrity. Not that I still knew if this was an AC bus or not.

“Entha, AC illangil povulle? (Why, you won’t travel unless there’s an AC?)”

“Alla, angane onnum illa… (No, nothing like that…)”

“Appol book cheyyate? (Then shall I book?)”

“Athey, please… (Yes, please)”

I thought the please would soften him. He smirked like he knew my desperation. Was it that obvious? Hey, when did I get desperate even? I could go to CBE and take a different bus from there, na… only a matter of traveling about 100 more km, and three more hours. I wasn’t desperate. No, siree.

“Sheri… ethra aalkaar ondu? (Okay, how many people?)”

“Njaan maathram (Only yours truly)”

“Peru (Name)”

So I duly told him my name.

“Phone Number”

I told him that too, and added that this was an out of state number. He looked at me like I’d wasted his precious money yet again (yet again?) by making him call me. I wonder what he’d have said if I told him I was from Ahmedabad. Probably what kind of a Mallu I was, living in Ahmedabad, and booking a bus ticket from Bangalore to Thrissur, on the same day that I was to travel, and having the cheek to ask if it had an AC. He probably concluded I was a fraud who didn’t know much about Kerala and its natives. Not an altogether bad conclusion, I’d say.
Anyways, I was to report at 8pm. It turned out that this was a bus from Hosur, not Bangalore. They would arrange for transport from Bangalore to Hosur via another bus.

“Athu normal bus aanu, okay? (That’s a normal bus, okay?)” *smirking*

“Sheri, kozhappamilla (Sure, no issues)”

He sent me off smiling away to glory, as if highly amused by the fact that he’d managed to put down a desperate arrogant fraud pretending to be a Mallu. Some Mallus get a kick out of that.
I guess I WAS desperate.

Anyways, its raining now, and its 7pm and I’m sitting in Barista, and writing this. I hope it stops soon, else he’ll think that I was too proud to have come sat in his non AC bus. And he’ll smirk a lot about that too, specially while he gives my seat to another desperate guy. “Hah! Paid the money, but couldn’t bring himself down to sitting with other common people. High class bastard.”

As of now, I’m not keen for it to be an AC bus. I’ll probably freeze to death with this rain and all.

25 things about me...

1. Many people call me a workaholic. I don’t know how justified that is, but I’m guessing its because I don’t like to sit idle and do nothing, or just chill out not doing much in terms of work. I get horribly restless at these times. I also think sleeping more than necessary is a waste of time, which a lot of my friends, who would love to sleep 12 – 15 hours a day given the chance, just cannot understand. I don’t understand how people can sleep for so long.

2. In general, I find it difficult to sleep for more than 6 - 7 hours at a stretch. I wake up after 6 – 7 hours unless the previous night has been a night out or something like that. This is a habit which stems right from the time I was at school, when I used to stay up late for some arbit reason or the other. Then at college, I used to get my time alone to do stuff only at night. IIMA, with all the opportunities it provides to do so much, made sure that I got used to sleeping in minimal quantities – on an average, I would have slept for 4 – 5 hours a night for the two years I was in IIMA. Now that I’m working, I try to get a good night’s sleep, but its still not really easy :P

3. My inspiration to study for my boards in twelfth was a neighbour who used to live in the same colony. She was a brilliant student, and used to study late into the night. I could see the light on in her room from my window when I used to go to bed, and that used to shame me into getting back to studying. I generally used to try and study until I was too sleepy, or until the light in her room was switched off. It didn’t really help, she still outscored me (by a fair distance) in the boards.

Incidentally, though I knew that this girl stayed in my colony… the first time I met her (in person) was 5 years after I shifted there. We hit it off really great, and are still very good friends. I wonder why we didn’t talk all those years.

4. My first crush was on Juhi Chawla. I remember myself as a twelve year old boy, gazing at a full page picture of hers in The Week, which had done a cover story on her. Sadly, I lost that copy of The Week.

The last time I had a crush on someone was in the 9th standard – on a girl I knew for 6 years before that, and who was one year my senior, but studied in a different school. It lasted almost a year and a half. She shifted to my school in her 11th, and my batchmates and seniors got to know about my crush on her, and used to take my case royally. It eventually developed into a rumour that I had proposed to her, and she had slapped me. She didn’t really help by not denying it :P I got over my crush on her, yes, but she’s still someone who’s a good friend, and I look up to. My close friends call her my everlasting crush.

5. I was known as Qwiky in IIMA. I’m not allowed to tell you why. If you go to a batchmate of mine and ask him/her who Nikhil is, chances are they won’t know. Qwiky was my identity in IIMA.

I was called Speed in college (undergraduation) coz I was really into sports, specially athletics and swimming. One of my close friends, who I met in the final year of college, when we were both giving IIM interviews (she eventually went to IIMB), translated it into a performance appraisal of some sort. By chance, the name Qwiky also came by in IIMA, and stuck. Ah, well.

6. I was a very shy, introverted guy till I was in the 10th. In 11th and 12th, I grew out of my shell. I never knew I was good at sports until my closest friend from school (one of the school’s best athletes) pushed me into the athletics trials for my house in school. The two of us grew to become a potent team, taking our house to two consecutive championships, and setting up the platform for a hat trick.

In our final year at school, he was the house captain, and I was the house torch bearer. We came from behind to win the championship by 2 points, including smashing the meet record in the final race of the championships (the 4x100m relay) by a whopping 5.3 seconds. I ran my fastest 100m in that race – timed (unofficially) at 11.69 seconds.

Right now, both of us have become fat, and can’t really run that fast anymore. But we still discuss that day whenever we meet. It gives me goosebumps every time I think about it.

7. People have called me over practical and cynical. Cynical I am. I’m not sure about the over practical part. I’ve done my share of stupid things, including falling asleep on a bike during a late night bike ride to nowhere after a couple of drinks and almost crashing, to going trekking to five and a half thousand metres above sea level with a couple of pairs of jeans, a few teeshirts, a jacket, and virtually no preparation. I’ve learnt from each of those instances.

8. I’m a big fan of adventure sports, or anything which involves a lot of physical activity. I’m a great believer of the fact that no matter how you are in front of people, in a corporate atmosphere, presenting something, the real person that you are, will come out only when you’re put under pressure both physically and mentally – something like lost in the wilderness with a deadline to meet. I’ve seen it happen with people. I love the challenge that adventure sports present you with.

I’m an avid trekker – I’ve been trekking to Sikkim three times, and trekked as much as could be possible in Kerala and Jamshedpur, and as many other opportunities I have got. I’ve done scuba diving and snorkeling in Lakshadweep, parasailing in Pattaya, rappelling, valley crossing (hanging off a rope stretched across a valley and crossing it) in a remote place near Goa (we were taken for an outbound program there) and swum across my share of rivers. I want to go to the Kashmir Valley sometime, explore the entire North East on foot (if possible, or on a bike), go sky diving, windsurfing, bungee jumping… and so many more things.

9. I love biking. I’m much much more at home on two wheels than on four wheels or two legs. I’ve done about two and a half thousand kilometres on a bike between engineering and my MBA, which still, is pretty miniscule compared to a few other bikers on campus. IIMA used to be mainly overnight trips to all over Gujarat, including some in the biting winter cold of Ahmedabad. Or if I was just generally irritated, I used to just take off on a bike to wherever I felt like going, and that used to be one of the best ways to calm myself down.

I remember one trip which started at 2am in mid November, and had us reaching our destination at 7am, almost frozen. A friend put a cigarette in his mouth, and ended up almost chewing off the filter coz his teeth were chattering so much. I was so tired fighting the cold that I ended up dozing off sitting on a chair with a cup of tea in my hand, and dropped it all over myself.

I will always believe… Nothing like being a free rider, the wind in your hair, destination immaterial, time immaterial, and the horizon beckoning.

10. The first time I had a drinking binge was in engineering, with a few friends from there. I soon discovered in IIMA that I could hold my alcohol pretty well. I’ve always been a whiskey guy, and I like my whiskey on the rocks. I believe it stems from my grandad, who’s again, always been a whiskey guy, and loves his drink. I don’t drink apart from at parties, but I enjoy my drink. There have only been four or five times in my life that I’ve gotten so sloshed that I couldn’t walk straight, and never badly enough to pass out.

Once I ended up getting sloshed at a party in IIMA, and then joined a bunch of equally drunk guys for a game of rugby. It resulted in me getting a bloody nose when someone crashed into me. I missed the rest of the party.

11. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been deep into music. I started off with training for Carnatic Vocal Music when I was five, and this went on for eight years. Then I did Hindustani Music for two years before my voice broke. Then I took up the keyboard, and trained for two years there. I taught myself the harmonica and the drums, and was part of a band in engineering, and the Music Club at IIMA, where I was part of four different three hour concerts that we put up, and a whole lot of other official and unofficial musical events.

I am proficient in giving background vocals – what people call seconds – and I was the only person at IIMA in three years for whom it would come very naturally. Thanks to my background in Carnatic Music, as of now, there are few genres of music which are difficult for me.

The Music Club @ IIMA was the best bunch of concentrated talent that I had ever come together in my life. I loved performing with them. It was such that when all of us got the time and decided to perform this song, we could pick it up in fifteen minutes.

12. I have about 20 different teeshirts which have the IIMA logo on them, or have something to do with IIMA. The batch teeshirt, my dorm teeshirts, the Frisbee teeshirts, Sangharsh teeshirts, the Shodh Yatra teeshirt, the Confluence and Chaos teeshirts, the IIMACTS teeshirts… and many more. Quite a few of these are personalized with my name – Qwiky. Some of them are old, and faded and should be discarded, but I can’t bring myself to throw them away. So I carry them around whenever I have to move around from place to place, with the hope that someday I'll ge back into shape enough to fit into all of them again, and not look obscene :P

13. I was one of the placement team members at IIMA. It’s the best and the worst job you can have. It’s said that if you can work under that kind of pressure, you can handle anything. There I was part of a team which, over a year, became my closest friends at IIMA. To this day, I know I can depend on them to bail me out in case I’m in some trouble. And I also know that if the team lead ever happens to call me for some work, I’ll drop everything and go along for that. That’s the kind of bonding we had.

14. I come from a family of over achievers. My mom has three siblings, a brother in Brunei, a sister in the States, and another sister in the UK. One of my cousins is doing her undergraduation in Harvard, one in Princeton, and another one in Cambridge. Another one almost made it to Cambridge, and is destined to make it big. My brother scored 95% in his tenth boards, and has never really come below the top five in his class ever – he’s in 12th now. I was the oldest cousin on my mom’s side, and I made it to IIMA, but I still end up getting a little bit of an inferiority complex at times.

15. One of my passions at IIMA was the game of Frisbee. It was started off in earnest by the people of my batch, and I was one of the starting pioneers. As of now, Ultimate Frisbee is called the official sport of IIMA. We used to play every day at midnight, and a reasonable number of enthusiastic people who used to turn up regularly. The tradition of Frisbee at midnight followed by nimbu paani at the cafeteria whenever we get done is something that was started off by our batch and is being carried on now. It was such a craze in my time, that for months after I left IIMA, at midnight, I used to get restless knowing that Frisbee was being played. I still catch a game of Frisbee whenever I can, and definitely whenever I go back to IIMA.

16. I used to be an avid reader when I was younger. That habit seems to have been lost somewhere once I got through IIMA. I guess it was because whenever I tried to read, I used to fall asleep :P A few of my favourite books are Illusions – The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, The Godfather and Atlas Shrugged. I can’t say I associate with these books deeply and they’ve made an indelible impact on my personality, but they get me thinking every time I read them.

17. I suffer a connection OCD. I don’t like being disconnected from what’s happening around me. I cannot do without a phone, even if I don’t call anyone much. You will find me on GTalk, DBab, and Skype almost all the time when I’ve got access to a connection. I can access the internet on my phone, and constantly keep checking email. That’s also another reason for my long signatures – they give you all the details you should know to get in touch with me if you need to.

It’s not like I can’t disconnect – there are times I voluntarily disconnect for a few days and just take off somewhere. But I prefer to stay connected.

18. The three things I cannot do without are my wallet, my phone, and my laptop. You could actually put that as the only three things I will need to survive. I guess this again stems from the previous point about always wanting to be connected.

19. I used to love watching the WWE. I always had my doubts that it was real, but I used to get a kick out of watching a face like the Undertaker or a rebel like Stone Cold Steve Austin kick the sh*t out of a heel like Randy Orton or a loudmouth like JBL. I still follow it on the internet whenever I can, just for the entertainment that the various twists and turns provide. And well, there are other advantages too… Torrie Wilson’s legs, or John Cena’s rapping.

20. I have a head for cricket trivia. I’m not a cricket nut, but I love watching cricket, and more than that, I love going through cricket statistics and facts. Me and a friend from college still keep exchanging different trivia whenever we catch each other online on GTalk. Trivia could range from who are the people who have a best one day score which is higher than their best test score, to how many boundaries did Wasim Jaffer hit in his 212 at the ARG against the Windies when we scored 500+ in the second innings of a test match for only the 12th or 13th time, I think.

I love reading Wisden Almanacs, and I think Wikipedia and the Cricinfo Statsguru are the most useful websites ever built. I can spend hours just reading up stuff on either site.

21. I get horribly conscious while dancing. For a long time I believed that I had two left feet, and used to envy people who could dance freely, uninhibited. That’s something which has come along with me since my school days. This, despite having been part of a couple of paandi dances in college – on stage :P (for the uninitiated, something like appidi pode is called a paandi dance) If you teach me how to dance, then I can do a good job – I have an awesome sense of rhythm. However, if you leave me loose on stage, I will be totally lost. I have loved all dance movies (Shall We Dance, Dance With Me, Step Up and others) and I hope, sometime, to learn ballroom dancing, salsa, and everything else.

22. I have very rough palms. People have gone so far as to say that I have a daily labourer’s hands. I didn’t ask for it, I was always this way. And no, I have not done a so much physical labour that my hands became rough. But yes, I love them this way. For some reason, I keep associating rough hands with someone who has come up the hard way… and I’m proud of that :)

23. I always end up supporting the underdog. Specially talented, rough and tough guys who came up the hard way, and have to work hard to stay there. Hence, I admire people like Rafa Nadal a lot. I could never have the same kind of respect for Federer – he has a game which is a treat to watch, but he’s not had to fight his way up like Rafa did. But yes, if he somehow manages to beat Rafa at his own game in the French Open, he will have my everlasting respect. Similarly, I never really liked Michael Schumacher that much, or possibly the Ferrari Team. I also respect Dravid a lot more than Sachin.

24. I have always had more girls as close friends than guys. I’ve never understood the reason. But yes, the guys who are close friends stay that way for the long haul.

25. I flirt a lot. People have called me a lot of names, including a compulsive flirt, an outrageous flirt, and a lot of other things. I enjoy it. And I daresay, so do most of the girls I end up flirting with. I cannot flirt with a girl I am not comfortable with, and if I am comfortable with her, she usually knows I’m a harmless flirt :)