Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sports Ka Superstar

For the last two months, I have been hooked to a certain quiz show on Doordarshan channel - Sports ka Superstar. This is a sports quiz produced by BIG Synergy productions (Siddhartha Basu), anchored by Mini Mathur and Shera (the mascot for Delhi CWG 2010).

The sports quiz puts forth a great collection of questions, with multiple choice (4 choices) and buzzer, visual/direct (without choice/shootout) variants. Ten participants contest each time, with only 2 qualifying at the end of the show to the next round. The quiz show aired on DD on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10pm, has so far, handpicked 50 sports whizkids out of 25 episodes. The contest is now, on between these 50 players for selection to finals, with already 2 clearing the semi final hurdle on 30th Aug 2010.

The quiz is a must-watch as it is well anchored, the participants have immense knowledge of the subject and there is definitely lots to learn from the questions thrown. For long, I watched the show intently, answering questions along with the contestants, researching on unknown topics the next day. From now on, I intend to note down as many questions as possible and post it onto my blog for future reference.

I have jotted down some questions (see below) from the Aug 30, 2010 show (not all, some of them) and some questions from the previous episodes (some that I remember starkly) -

Set 1: (the answers to these questions will appear as a comment from me in the comments section)
1) Who said these words - It's hard to be humble, when you're as great as I am.
2) The name of the military leader who participated in the Stockholm Olympics 1912 modern pentathlon event.
3) Who is the only player to have scored a hat trick in FIFA finals?
4) Who is the first Indian member of the International Olympic Committee?
5) Which sport does the body FISA represent?
6) With which sport will you associate FIDE?
7) K.M Beenamol won gold in 800m track event in Busan 2002 Asian games. Her brother, KM Binu, won the silver medal in which sporting event the same year, same games?
8) Name this tennis player from Sweden who lost to Rafael Nadal in 2010 French Open.
9) Name the golfer who has the nick name – The Great White Shark
10) The 1934 CWG were held in London. Which was the initially proposed venue/city for the games?
11) The Merdaka tournament is associated with which game?
12) Name the game that was first introduced in Doha 2006 Asian Games.
13) Shaolin martial arts hail from this country.
14) Name the Olympian after whom a Cricket stadium is named in Gwalior.
15) This is a unit of measurement of length and is roughly equal to/little over 600 feet. Name this unit
16) Name the sport that is going to be demonstrated in Delhi CWG 2010.
17) With which sport will you associate the terms – glide and spin techniques?
18) Who is the only athlete to have won 4 consecutive Olympic golds in the same individual event and also bettered the record with every win?
19) With which sport will you associate the famous sportsperson – Jehangir Khan?
20) The book “From gloom to glory” is the story of which Indian coach?
21) Straight from the Heart is an autobiography of which sportsperson?
22) The Four Minute Mile is associated with which famous athlete?
23) Breaking the Surface is the story of which famous sportsperson?
24) Venus Rosewater Dish is presented to the winner of which tournament?
25) Which famous tournament in Tennis is named after a French Aviator?
26) It’s not about the bike is a book by a famous sportsperson. Name him
27) With whom will you associate the Rope a Dope technique in boxing?
28) With which sport will you associate terms like castling, the fortress, Alekhine’s gun?
29) Name the air pistol specialist who claimed 5 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze in 2006 Melbourne CWG.
30) Which country won the most number of golds in Beijing Olympics 2008 and which country won the maximum number of medals at the same event?

Set 2: (the answers to these questions will appear as a comment from me in the comments section)
After yesterday's episode (01/09/2010), here I update the post with another set of questions, as many as I could note down. Good to note that of the two selected to finals from this episode, one Mr. T.B. Srinath belongs to my school (PS Senior Secondary School) and college/graduated from BITS, Pilani.
Below are the questions:
1) Who is the only Indian prime minister to have received the Olympic Gold Order?
2) Who along with Sir Roger Bannister ran a mile under 4 minutes in the 1954 Common Wealth Games?
3) Name the S.African cricketer whose autobiography is known as “White Lightning”
4) Which other country apart from England, Wales, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand has attended every edition of the Common Wealth games?
5) Who was named the greatest female athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated for Women magazine?
6) Their national netball team features a silver fern for its symbol, name the country.
7) Which sport has a technique named after Mitsuo Tsukahara?
8) Name the chess grandmaster who is diagnosed with a kind of spondiloarthritis.
9) Which other nation, apart from China and Indonesia, has won the Thomas Cup since its inception from the year 1948?
10) Name the athlete, who in 1913, was stripped off his Olympic Gold medals on grounds of violating the amateur rules.
11) Which football club was sometimes known as Jubilee club, Hamidia club, Crescent club?
12) Name the first recipient of Arjuna Award for achievement in athletics.
13) Name the only player to have won twice, all the four grand slams singles title (each set of 4 grand slam titles was won in the same calendar year)
14) Which Ethiopian long distance runner is nicknamed Neftenga?
15) Name this athlete who four Olympic Gold medals in the year 1948, nicknamed “The Flying Housewife”
16) With whom will one associate the book “The good, the bad and the bubbly”?
17) Name the remarkable invention made by Mr. Stuart Robertson, the marketing manager of ECB.
18) With which sport will you associate the term small/little slam?
19) Which other city apart from Melbourne and Sydney has hosted both Common Wealth Games and Summer Olympics?
20) Question from one of the earlier episodes: What was awarded to the victor in Ancient Olympics?
Set 3: (the answers to these questions will appear as the third comment from me in the comments section)
Yesterday's episode (06/09/2010) was a very high scoring session. Questions were relatively easier - my personal opinion. My favorite contestant from prelims- Pradipta Chattopadhyay, qualified for the finals. He has tremendous knowledge of sports trivia and yesterday he scored a neat 100/100 in MCQ s rounds. Along with him qualified Mr.Anand from Mumbai, outsmarting fellow contestants - Kinshuk and Sairam by a very narrow margin.
Below are the set of questions from yesterday's show. I have added two (that came to my mind) from the prelims.
1) Name the grand slam tennis tournament held last in a calendar year.
2) Who received the Golden shoe award for the best athlete in the 1986 Asian Games held at Seoul?
3) Name the only sport in which women took part in the 1930 Commonwealth Games, its first edition.
4) An annual hockey tournament, Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is named after which country’s monarch?
5) With which Olympic sport will you associate the terms – Epee, Foil and Sabre?
6) Which sport was introduced in the year 1895 for those who found playing basketball very tiresome?
7) Which sport introduced in the year 1895 was known then as Mintonette and was initially designed to be played indoors?
8) Besides lawn tennis, which other sport’s name features/is associated with Wimbledon?
9) Who is the author of the book Letters to a Young Gymnast?
10) Which was Sania Mirza’s first grand slam win?
11) The first three editions of Cricket world cup were officially known by what name?
12) Which victory came first for India, the Cricket world cup victory or the Hockey world cup victory?
13) Which nation is hosting the 2014 FIFA world cup?
14) In which water based sport is the eggbeater technique used?
15) Name the British athlete who won 100m gold in 1924 Paris Olympics, the feat that was depicted in the movie “Chariots of Fire
16) What does the WADA monitor?
17) Which city hosted the equestrian events for 2008 Beijing Olympics?
18) What did the Czech athlete Jan Zelezny hurl for a distance of 98.48m at Jena, Germany in the year 1996?
19) What is the name provided to the four-year period between two Olympic Games?
20) Name the football tournament, introduced in 1888 to provide recreation for the British soldiers and Shimla secretariat personnel.
21) Which Indian tennis player’s mother played basketball for India?
22) In 1967, two warring factions in Nigerian civil war agreed for a 48-hour ceasefire to watch which player play?
23) Who announced retirement from hockey after 2010 hockey world cup?
24) With which sport will one associate the terms – Amar, Surjeevani and Gaminee?
25) With which sport was Leander Paes’ father Vece Paes associated?
On Friday, Sept 3rd 2010, Viswa and I went to Bangalore Cantonment station to see the Commonwealth Games exhibition train/CWG Express. The train arrived from Mysore and was scheduled to leave to Hubli on 3rd night. Open for public viewing from 10 am to 7 pm, the train in green color (the 2010 Delhi CWG is also known as the Green Commonwealth Games) had 5 coaches dedicated to information on Commonwealth Games and 6 other coaches for information on e-governance and Information technology.
The 5 coaches dedicated to CWG were laden with information on CWG, its birth, its history, its different venues/hosts, stadia/venues and their details for Delhi 2010 CWG, Indian sportstars, superstars in Indian sports who serve Indian Railways etc.
The mascot - Shera for 2010 CWG was completely adorable in the many cartoon strips displayed on information charts in train.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wish I were an alumnus of La Martiniere School, Kolkata

Last week, I happened to read the article (refer full text and link below) in a column by Mr. Jug Suraiya in Times of India newspaper. I could not help laughing at the shade of satire in it. Very good read and here I add it to my blog for all future references :)
Link - http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/jugglebandhi/entry/take-a-tip
Title of the article, details of publishing - Take a tip by Jug Suraiya, 12 August 2010, Times of India, Bangalore
Full text - (refer below)

Take a tip

Without referring the matter to me, the porter in the New York City hotel picked up my bag six inches and put it on a trolley. He wheeled the trolley five feet to the elevator, and pressed the button for the 5th floor. He wheeled the trolley 10 feet to my room, opened the door and pushed the trolley in. He held out his hand. Bowing to the inevitable, I put $5 — which i could ill afford — into it. My bag had travelled 10,000 miles with me free of cost, its conveyance covered by the price of my air ticket. However, its journey of less than 100 feet in a NYC hotel was not covered by the price of the hotel room and cost me an extra five bucks by way of a characteristically American institution known as the tip.

Though not unique to US culture, giving a tip for services rendered is the bedrock on which American capitalism is based. According to folklore, the word tip, as in gratuity or baksheesh, is said to be derived from the initial letters of the phrase 'to insure privilege'. To insure privilege, or good service, from a waiter in a restaurant, say, you gave the chap a tip over and above the price of the meal consumed. This custom was soon extended to other areas of daily commerce so that everyone, from taxi drivers to tour guides, hotel porters to Wall Street multinational bankers, expects a tip for services rendered — though in the case of the Wall Street bankers it's not called a tip but an incentive bonus, which is often in excess of a million dollars a year and which might well have helped to nudge the world into the global economic crisis.

Crisis or no crisis, almost everyone I encountered on a professional basis in America — cabbies, bartenders, the folks who served you fast food and the people who pointed out to you the local sights of interest on a hop-on, hop-off tourist bus — not just expected, but often demanded, a tip for doing whatever it was that they were supposed to be doing anyway, and for which presumably they were already being paid. And just in case you missed the point, sometimes they'd even do the arithmetic for you and tell you on a restaurant bill, for instance, exactly how much the tip worked out to if you left a 15 per cent tip, a 20 per cent tip or a 25 per cent tip. But 15 per cent was the absolute bottom line. If you tried to get away with anything less than that it was likely to be interpreted as an overt act of hostility liable to provoke an appropriately warlike response.
It got so much that whenever I found that once again I had lost my way — which I have a great knack of doing, in America or anywhere else; why is it that the place I'm looking for is never in the place that I'm looking for it but in a totally different place altogether? — I wouldn't ask passers-by for directions. What if the person I stopped turned out to be a professional, unionised directions-giver and demanded a tip for the benefit of telling me that where I wanted to be wasn't where I was, and where I was wasn't was where I wanted to be? Fifteen per cent, minimum, just to hear that? Get lost. Which is exactly what I did.

Going around in circles in America, I realised that we in India also have a long tradition of giving tips. Except we don't call them tips. We call them guru dakshina, or tatkal, or speed money, or ghoos. Or just plain bribes. Which we perforce pay to service providers like cops, and babus, and politicians, and the guy who replaces our empty LPG cylinders, to make sure that they do indeed provide the service that they are meant to provide to begin with. And because we think of these things as bribes, we beat up on ourselves, and the world beats up on us, for being corrupt. No one beats up on Americans for being corrupt, not even those Americans who happen to be Wall Street bankers. It's a question of vocabulary. Change the word 'bribe' into 'tip' and 'corruption' becomes 'capitalism'.

So next time you have to make a hand-out to the LPG delivery man, or to your friendly, neighbourhood CWG contractor, don't think of it as a bribe. Think of it as a tip. As in a 'totally innocent practice'.
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Jug Suraiya is an eminent journalist, a great satirist who features in the opinion editorial in Times of India newspaper. His column carries creative names like - jugular vein and juggle bandhi.
In the habit of reading Times of India for over 4 years now, watching Times now channel news debates; I have grown fond of Jug Suraiya and Swapan Dasgupta. While the former uses very simple, funny thought with many a pun at places, the latter is spotless clean on facts, facts on history and politics, highly verbose in nailing down the point. The fondness for both seems to only increase with time. They both are very noted journalists and are alumni of La Martiniere, Kolkata. Wish I were an alumnus of the same school, guess it is never late ... can learn so much from their blogs/posts/columns, would love to write like them someday.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dud...Dud...Dud to Melkote

Preface:

On Aug 7, Viswa and I made our first bike trip for the year 2010 to Melkote. Melkote, 137 km from Bangalore is a famous hill temple close to Mandya on Bangalore-Mysore highway (SH-17). Previously, weekend trips on Viswa’s Royal Enfield Thunderbird bike to places around Bangalore was an integral part of our routine. But this year, we had to wait until August to open the years’ travel account due to our new found, intense passion for swimming. We joined swimming classes in Feb 2010 at St.Joseph’s Indian High school, Mallaya Road, Bangalore and since then, have prioritized it over most other activities. Devoting an hour daily, from Mon – Fri for swimming (at times we swam on Saturdays too), left us with weekend to rest, do household chores, watch movies etc
There are 1001 blogs on Melkote, yet, this trip being the first one for year 2010, I too wanted to write a note on it. May be I will try giving a new layout to this travelogue entry.

About Melkote:

A sacred place for Iyengars, Melkote is a hill temple site in Mandya district in an area called Thirunarayanapuram. The hill is called Yadavagiri and overlooks the Cauvery valley. Melkote is a revered religious centre for the Vaishnavites as it served as the abode, for over a decade, for the famous saint Shri Ramanujacharya, who with his powers, healed Hoysala king Bittideva’s daughter’s disease, an act for which he sought Bittideva’s conversion from Jainism to Vaishnavism and acquisition of fertile land on banks of Cauvery for construction of Vaishnavite shrines. King Bittideva adopted Vaishnavism, became known as king Vishnuvaradana and Melkote, an important religious centre since 12th century with Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple located at the foothills and Yoganarasimha temple atop the hill.


The list of places to visit at Melkote looks like below –
1) Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple – this is at the foothills with the main sanctum dedicated to Lord Vishnu, there are shrines of Lakshmi, Hanuman and a statue of Shri Ramanujacharya. The pillared ranga mantapa in this temple is an example of fine craftsmanship.
2) Rayagopuram – Stepping out of Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple, taking the straight road on to one’s right leads to the Rayagopuram, an incomplete structure with 4 pillars. As every blog mentions, this is the site where Aishwarya Rai dances for Barso Re song in the movie Guru. This is also the site where super star Rajinikanth shakes his leg for Rakkama song of Dalapathi fame. Incomplete structures, in my opinion, have a strange element of beauty about them, like the incomplete kalyana mantapa in Lepakshi temple, Hindupur and the incomplete mausoleum of Adil Shah II – Barah Kamaan in Bijapur. One can climb to the top of Rayagopuram and catch a glimpse of Cauvery valley.
3) Akka-Thangi Kulam - Walking down the Rayagopuram leads us onto the Sanskrit research academy, taking the road as it curves leads us to Akka-Thangi kulam, the sister ponds/tanks. These tanks lie in front of a Kulashekaralwar temple and not missing out the important information, these tanks appear in Rakkama song from the movie Dalapathi.
4) Yoganarasimha temple - Now we head back to Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple, take the road away from it, a right turn as instructed by tourism dept. board to reach the steps leading to hill top – Yoganarasimha temple. The road is motorable up to the mobile phone towers and from this point; it is only a 5 minutes climb to the top. The view of the Cauvery valley from this temple at a height of 1777 m above sea level is awesome. Take time to relax, take in the fresh air, soak up the beauty of the valley far below, now filled to heart’s content, take the same road down, turn to the right to stop by the temple tank – Kalyani with pillared mantapa around it and a flight of stairs leading to clear water meant for bathing/religious rituals etc

Photos:
1) View of the Cauvery valley from atop Melkote hill/Yoganarasimha temple



2) View of temple tank/Kalyani from atop the hill


3) Akka-thangi kula (sister tanks/ponds)


4) The incomplete Rayagopuram that features in movies


5) Pillared ranga mantapa inside Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple


6) View of Melkote hill temple from a distance



Travel means loads of fun …

Bangalore-Mysore highway – State Highway 17 is a great road to travel on, a superb highway, full of life. The last time we traveled on this road was to Bandipur in the year 2008 and I must admit that there has been a whale of change on this road since then. This is a highway where you have vehicles zooming past all the time, many colleges, many hotels, shops and petrol pumps. Even when you are traveling with elders/family, there is absolutely no worry of food/water. The Mysore highway boasts of restaurants like Kadumane (before Wonder La, Bidadi), Kamat Lokaruchi (near Janapadha Loka), 4 Café Coffee day outlets between Ramanagara and Channapatna, 1 Barista and 1 McDonalds outlet, 2 Kamat Upachar hotels near Channapatna, 1 MTR outlet near Indradhanush Café coffee day, 1 Adigas restaurant after Maddur. That’s a long list and this apart the highway also has regular shops for tea break, dhabas etc. The highway is abuzz with activity therefore.

Away from all this hustle on SH-17, to reach Melkote, one takes the right turn, immediately after leaving Mandya town. This winsome journey stretching for about 37 kms winds through sugarcane and paddy fields. The road is in very good condition and carries the sweet scent of jaggery all along. When traveling on this stretch of 37 kms, one easily realizes a drop of 1-2’C in temperature, thanks to the number of trees, fields and water bodies around.

A road trip with good food is like a boon and Melkote trip scores a neat 100. Outside, Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple, there are many stalls which sell the famous Iyengar Puliyogare. We found one such uncle and aunty who offered us a big dhonai (Palm leaves cup) of hot Puliyogare and sweet pongal, each priced at Rs 15. This is what I call ambrosia (in my language – devaamrutham), we yummily dug into the contents and also bought Puliyogare powder prepared by them to recreate the magic in our kitchen :)

More insight into our trip:

We left home at 6.30 am, stopped at Kadumane, Bidadi for breakfast and tea. We also stopped at Kamat Upachar, Channapatna to have a look at the wooden toys they had on display. We stopped for a tea break at a small village on the road leading from Mandya to Melkote. We reached Melkote at 10am, completed our darshan and lunch, left at 2.30 pm. There was no wait/queue in either temple but a brief, strong spell of rain restricted our movement for about half an hour.

Saturday, the 7th of Aug 2010 was well spent, a nice bike trip to an important religious and historical centre filled with many gud (pun intended – gud in Hindi means jaggery) memories.