Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are the 3 Olympic Medals Enough Inspiration for India?

India's three Olympic medals (it's first ever gold and 2 bronzes) are
seen as an inspiration to the youth of this country. A country of 1
billion people wit little or no governmental emphasis on sports, like
China or the others.

The 3 medalists however are seen as those who provide a glimpse of the
new India, "One is the son of a prosperous businessman with an
Olympic-size shooting range in his backyard. Another grew up in a
dusty village, sparring with his brother for use of a shared family
bicycle. A third spent most of his youth in a musty, mouse-infested
room at a wrestling camp here in the capital," says the New York

The New York Times also reports that, "India's three winners have shot
from obscurity to sudden fame. Abhinav Bindra, 25, from the
northwestern city of Chandigarh, won a gold in the 10-meter air rifle
competition. Vijender Kumar, 23, a bus driver's son from a village
about 80 miles from here, won a bronze in boxing. And Sushil Kumar,
24, who learned to wrestle in the dirt on the outskirts of Delhi, also
won a bronze. The Indian Express this week called it a reflection of
"India's grassroots aspirations."

Let us hope and pray that this gives the Indian government renewed
impetus to focus on some of these athletes who can easily become world
class players, with the right kind of training and support.

Read the full article at --

Sunday, August 24, 2008

An Essay on Language Aptly Titled "Namaste"

"'At the beginning of class, we stood at the front of our mats and let
out a long, dirgelike moan," the first-time yoga student recollected.
"Then the teacher yelled, 'Chili-pepper pasta,' and everyone hit the
floor." Sanskrit, the language of yoga, is said to unite sound and
meaning; that is, saying the word gives the experience of its meaning.
But for the novice yogi (the word for male as well as female
practitioners), whose ears need to be tuned to a new frequency, that
experience can be as elusive as an overnight parking spot in
Manhattan. Thus, chaturanga dandasana (four-legged staff pose, which
looks like the bottom of a pushup, your body hovering inches above the
floor) might become "chili-pepper pasta" if you've got dinner
reservations at the latest outpost of the latest fusion craze. And the
ear-twisters don't end there. So let's do some untwisting," reads the
first paragraph of an essay titled "Namaste" in the New York Times.

This fascinating essay, which is primarily about language uses Yoga as
away to delve into Sanskrit word usage. "First off, that "moan" at the
beginning of class was the mantra Om. It's the vibration that existed
at the birth of the universe and is all-pervading still and is chanted
as a reminder of the interconnectedness of all life — human, animal,
plant, insect, mineral, etc. A mantra is a word or phrase that
protects the mind. From what? Well, from itself, because a mind has .
. . a mind of its own. A mantra keeps it from wandering ("Oy, I forgot
to call my mother back"; "Is it really verboten to date your yoga
teacher?") during meditation by giving it something to focus on. Not
that it still won't wander — that's the nature of the mind — so don't
get your chakras in knots when it happens. (Chakras are energy
vortexes, and meditate on "chocolate," not "shock," when you say the
word.) Meditation, the practice of stillness, might be a moment (or
more) of silence at the beginning or end of class or not a part of
class at all, but do try this at home or even (especially) on the
subway at rush hour.

Most of the yoga on the menu at your local studio or gym is a form of
hatha ("ha" = sun, "tha" = moon) yoga, whose goal is to harmonize and
channel opposing forces — positive/negative, yin/yang, male/female —
in the body in order to achieve yoga, union of the self with the
divine (supreme consciousness), otherwise known as enlightenment. The
word hatha (pronounced "ha," as in "that's funny," and "ta," as in
"see ya"; "see you later" would be "taaa") is often employed to denote
"gentle" when in fact it is a vigorous physical practice and means
"the path of force": its present-day roots go back to the Nathas, an
Orc-like breed of mercenaries in medieval India who resurrected the
methods of hatha yoga in the hope of developing the supernatural
powers, like invisibility, associated with it, which could come in
mighty handy on the battlefield; in the process, the Nathas became so
enlightened that they didn't wanna go to war no more. (Hmmm, I know a
head of state or two who could take a page from the Nathas.)"

Read the full piece at--

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Indian Players Master Chaturanga

For those of you, who like me were not aware of this, here is a piece
of Chess trivia, from the New York Times, "Nobody knows with certainty
where and when chess was invented. A widely accepted theory is that it
developed out of an Indian game called chaturanga that was created in
the sixth century."

"Yet India was not among the world's chess powers until Viswanathan
Anand, the current world champion, appeared on the scene in the late
1980s. His success started a chess revolution in India, which now
produces great players with regularity," reports the Times, "In
addition to Anand, India has two other players, Krishnan Sasikiran and
Pentala Harikrishna, ranked among the top 55 in the world, and a
third, Humpy Koneru, is No. 2 on the list of female players. She could
soon become the second woman to break into the world's top 100."

"India's growing influence was on display at the World Junior Chess
Championship, which ended last weekend in Turkey. Three Indians did
well: Abhijeet Gupta captured the title, Harika Dronavalli won the
women's title, and Parimarjan Negi, the second-youngest grandmaster in
history, was a half point behind Gupta. (Negi also tied for first last
month at the World Open in Philadelphia.)," reports the Times.

Read the full article at--

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Flush With Cash, Bollywood Glows"

An interesting article titled, "Flush With Cash, Bollywood Glows," in
the New York Times, by writer Anupama Chopra, who is also the author
of the much publicised book on Shah Rukh Khan, says, "Five men
dominate the business in Bollywood: Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman
Khan (the Khans are not related), Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan.
Each of these stars function almost as a one-man studio, with an
in-house production company. Two of the most successful films in 2007
— "Om Shanti Om" and "Tare Zameen Par" ("Stars on Earth") — were
produced by the companies of Shahrukh Khan ("Om") and Aamir Khan
("Tare"). The last holdout to the production game, Mr. Kumar,
co-produced his latest release, "Singh Is Kinng," which set a
Bollywood record by making $15 million in its opening weekend earlier
this month. Revolving around these stars are favored directors,
producers, writers and stylists. And if their films aren't playing in
cinemas, the actors are on television selling products or presenting
shows. (Mr. Kumar, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan are among India's
highest-paid television hosts.)"

""A star guarantees the first weekend box office, and it is this
business which decides all the other revenue streams," said Kishore
Lulla, chief executive of Eros International, Bollywood's largest
overseas distributor. "Without a star it's too risky." Eros plans to
produce and finance 50 films over the next year. The company raised
$100 million from the Alternative Investment Market on the London
Stock Exchange and another $100 million from Citibank and is
redirecting substantial funds into several star-led "business
adventures," to use Mr. Kumar's expression," writes Chopra.

Read the full article at --