Monday, June 22, 2009

My Blog is now an iLog... !!!

Author's note: You can read about my earlier causes of happiness: here.

Now for the rest.......

The other day I was reading a post by Kokonad titled: My story published! :) His story - We are family - was published in Chowk.

My curiosity piqued, I decided to check out this site. This is what I found... Chowk is a progressive website with a focus on India and Pakistan, and was launched in 1997 on the 50th Independence anniversary of both these nations. Chowk is updated daily with new original articles, opinions, and commentary on current affairs. In addition Chowk also publishes reviews, short stories, and poetry by new writers of South Asian origin. Chowk also features services like blogs, gallery and discussion forums for its community where vibrant desi voices express their opinions, musings and experiences. Chowk content is regularly republished by news sites and discussion groups. Almost all of Chowk content is contributed by its members... the content is selected on its merit of thought provoking ideas rather than any ideology. By the way, in Hindi-Urdu, a "chowk" is a place where paths intersect.

I was hooked and decided to give it a go... signed up and "published" my first iLog... on friday, June 19th, 2009... !!! 

I came across yet another site, which may be of some interest to you. It is: This is a citizen journalism outlet offering a platform for writers to write articles on topics about which they are knowledgeable. In other words... Helium is a site designed and directed at freelance writers and you get paid to write articles. Helium is worth your time if you like writing and enjoy sharing your knowledge with other people around the world. Your work is immediately published and is automatically ranked... but Helium is for you only if you have a real passion for writing. So... all you worthy word smiths, word wizards, word warriors.... as well as closet poets, budding poets or blooming poets...out there, this IS your destination, this is THE place for you... to showcase your talent, and mesmerize your readers with your words and writing. This is your big opportunity to fascinate and enchant your readers so that they fall under your spell for as long as it takes them to read your work! To bring out/publish your very first novella (who said only Napoleon could write one... ??) or your very first anthology of poems... !!!

... Even as I write this, the Alexa Traffic Rank (for my blog) has gone up... to 239,671... !!! Yayyyyyyy!!! I am delighted!

And to top it all... an Indian teenager answering to the name of Saina Nehwal, scaled an unconquered summit by becoming the first Indian to win a Super Series title on Sunday, June 21, 2009. The (current) World No. 8 won the Indonesia Open, beating China's (World No. 3) Lin Wang 12-21, 21-18, 21-9 in an edge-of-the-seat thriller that lasted 49 minutes. Saina's win could propel her to a world ranking of No. 6 - the highest ever for an Indian woman shuttler. Super Saina!!! This win marks the finest moment for Indian badminton since Pullela Gopichand's All England Open triumph in 2001 (he now coaches Saina apart from being a National coach). Her triumph is the best-ever performance by any Indian woman shuttler and at par with the All England Championship titles won by the great Prakash Padukone and her current coach Pullela Gopichand. She is also being coached by the Indonesian badminton legend Atik Jauhari since August 2008, though.

The Super Series (SS) is the highest category event in badminton. The SS circuit consists of 12 elite tournaments (including the All England championship) across the world; a Super Series title is second only to an Olympics or World Championships gold in terms of prestige. With this win, Saina stormed into the elite league. Her other major titles being: the World Junior Badminton Championships in 2008, the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix Gold/Yonex Chinese Taipei Open (2008), a gold medal at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, the Philippines Open (badminton) Gold Grand Prix (2006)... and of course the bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. In addition to making the quarter finals/semifinals consistently in the other events, that is. Hats off! At such a young age, Saina has achieved soooo much more than her near/almost namesake!

In 2006, Saina appeared on the global scene when she became the first Indian woman to win a 4-star tournament, the Philippines Open. Entering the tournament as the 86th seed, Saina went on to stun several top seeded players including World No. 4 and top seed Xu Huaiwen before defeating Julia Xian Pei Wong of Malaysia for the title. Xu was also the European Championships winner.

I am a major badminton fan... a game requiring incredible athleticism, reflex, speed and high power. I used to play regularly while at school and well... less regularly while at college. Watched a lot of matches, too. Those were the days of the iconic Indonesian pair of Susi Susanti and Alan Budikusuma. Also Hermawan Susanto and Sarwendah Kusumawardhani (they are now married to each other). Heryanto Arbi, Joko Suprianto, Eddy Hartono and one of the leading men's doubles pair of the time Bambang Suprianto and Rudy Gunawan. And Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subagja who became the decade's most successful (doubles) pair. The 'Sidek Brothers' of Malaysia... the world-class singles player Rashid Sidek and his brothers Razif Sidek and Jalani Sidek; the latter two won the Olympic Games bronze medal in the men's doubles in 1992. The early and mid 1990s, a period during which Indonesia was especially deep in top tier singles players, winning many of the world's major events. Nowadays, the Chinese reign supreme... (inspite of players like: the former Olympic Champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia and the Danish trick master Peter Gade). Infact, at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain the Men's Singles and Women's Singles (badminton) champions were Alan Budikusuma and Susi Susanti... and they are now married to each other. A fairy tale ending... na??? Years later, another iconic pair emerged... in tennis... Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi. Hmmm... nice!

Therefore Saina's title is a defining moment in many ways. She beat two top Chinese players - Lu Lan and Lin Wang - in the semifinal and final, breaking her jinx against them... finally! Barring a win over World Champion Zhu Lin last year, she has always faltered against them in top tournaments... perhaps due to being short of confidence. But the script in the final turned out differently... and Saina turned "Dragon Slayer"! This win also pits her as the one big threat to the Chinese monopoly. A "Lost Art" found a saviour in the Hyderabadi heroine as Saina Nehwal highlighted India's "Net Worth"! Saina's brilliant run and scintillating performance at the Indonesia Open is an outstanding example of how a typical Indian strength can be used to move mountains. Widely taught but grossly misunderstood by the practitioners of the sport, the "net dribble" is an art that has foxed shuttlers worldwide right from the time of the iconic Rudy Hartono and Prakash Padukone. The "dribble", or "the tumble at the net"... doesn't require too much of strength. It is a delicate shot which requires a lot of technique and can be perfected with practice... and should be used sparingly. Else deceptive shots, if used extensively, loses its 'shock value'.

The Chinese hordes, a veritable army of them that arrived at every tournament, always got her. But... this time, the adjustments had been made, the barriers in the mind had been scaled. At the Stadium Istora in Jakarta, Saina gave the "classic" display, one that moved the pioneer of the "Indian style" of playing, Prakash Padukone, to remark that it would serve as a "model" to young players. Coming from a man who beat a Chinese opponent 15-0, 18-16 in the final of the World Cup in 1981, there couldn't have been a better endorsement! What... ?!!

Mental toughness, physical fitness and a brilliant mix of attack and defence is what separates the Chinese from the rest, and Saina accounted for two of their best (former World No. 2 Lu Lan and current World No. 3 Lin Wang) in as many days. Such is the Chinese dominance that Danish World No. 2 Tine Rasmussen is the only non-Chinese in the top 10... apart from Saina. In effect, therefore, this Shuttle Champ - Saina Nehwal - is not only the one who will spearhead the world's resistance to China (in women's badminton) but the only one who's likely to do it over the next decade! I can't wait to see all those matches...!

After the historic victory, Saina admitted that avenging last week's quarter-final loss to the former world junior champion Wang at the Singapore Super Series was uppermost in her mind. "She beat me 21-14 in the decider in Singapore City. The only thing I told myself before the final game was that I have to beat her under 10. And it was unbelievably satisfying to achieve that against the world's third ranked player," she laughed. Thats the spirit and killer instinct... of a champion!!! With a Super Series title in her kitty, Saina can afford to relax and savour the moment. But not for long... as the Malaysia Open GP Gold begins this week and she will have to get battle-ready all over again...!

With two wins over the Chinese in two days, Saina Nehwal has arrived where few Indians have tread. She is now in a league of her own! Coming as it did on "Father's Day" (21st June), Dr. Harvir Singh must be one proud papa!

"I am aiming to crack the top five by the year-end"... she signs off. Way to go, girl!!! More power to you!

There is a saying... "Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude." How very apt!!!

... And so, my cup of happiness runneth over...! No wonder... I am wearing a wide grin these days... !!!!!

Note: Saina was previously coached by S. M. Arif, a Dronacharya Award winner, who was infact her childhood coach and gave her first lessons when she was just seven. Saina is also the reigning Indian National Junior Champion (Indian National Badminton Championships).

Her foray into the world of badminton was influenced by her father Dr. Harvir Singh, a scientist at the Directorate of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad and her mother Usha Nehwal, both of whom were former badminton champions in Haryana.

When Saina was all of eight, her father took her to meet coach Nani Prasad at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad. Seeing potential in the little girl, Prasad asked her father to enroll Saina as a summer trainee. Thereafter, Saina would travel 20 km to the stadium every morning before heading for school. Her parents dipped into their savings to keep her coaching going before she started winning state-level matches and received sponsorships, such as the one from sports brand - Yonex - which funded her kit. In 2004, BPCL, signed the rising star onto their payroll, and in 2005 she was spotted by the 'Mittal Champions Trust', a trust for promising young athletes run by the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal's family.

Some info gathered, courtesy: Wikipedia, TOI and DNA. Photograph: Courtesy flickr.


A cup filled with strawberries aka My Cup of Happiness... runneth over... ! Even a cup of coffee shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent. What... ?!!


  1. Thanks for writing about chowk, I'll certainly try it and I knew about Helium but was not having anything to write there.
    Thanks for the detailed info about Saina Nehwal

  2. uh oh, why did the topic shift from iLogs to badminton? that is one sport i don't fancy much ... anyways, i'm really liking your writing style, and your ability to make long posts pretty magnetic ...

  3. @ Dhiman: Try it... its quite cool!

    Jokhoni Helium-e lekhar moto kichu pabe... likhe dio... :)

    And yes, Saina rocks!!!

  4. @ Subhayan: Thanks... am flattered! :)

    Of late... My cup of happiness runneth over. In this post I was listing down the reasons: publishing my iLog, a jump in my blog's Alexa Traffic Rank and Saina Nehwal's triumph at the Indonesia Open... for her maiden Super Series title.

    I am passionate about badminton! It is a fantastic and riveting sport... with a mix of excitement, adrenalin rush, power, speed, resilience, athleticism, reflex, mental toughness and physical fitness. Requires excellent hand-eye co-ordination, as well.

    If you play this sport a few times... you'll be hooked!

  5. hey Roshmi, nice informative blog. Nice place to keep in touch with interesting titbits from around the country.

  6. Thanks for linking me, Roshmi! :)
    Chowk definitely has a lot more activity than it used to! Actually, coming to think of it, you do write a lot of India-centric articles... it's nice!
    Loved the write-up on Saina... I think she truly is a great asset to a dying sport in India!

  7. I have been an ardent sports follower all my life. And it was wonderful to remember all those names which you mentioned in your post.

    Susi Susanti, Alan Budikusuma, Heryanto Arbi, Joko Suprianto, Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subagja, Rashid Sidek, etc. (Even more delighted to find someone spelling the names correctly...) :)

    I'm surely going to dive into my archives of 'The Sportstar' magazine to relive those past memories after reading your post. Thanks a lot for bringing back those memories.

    As for Saina, I hope and feel that she will certainly go much further and bring more laurels for our country. :)

  8. @ Abhijeet: Thanks and welcome to my blog!

    You must be having an adventurous life... in the Antarctic!

  9. @ Kokonad: You are welcome! :)

    I completely agree with your views on Saina... badminton is an exciting sport. More power to her!

  10. Thanks Shobhit... and welcome to my blog!

    I have a passion for badminton... its such an exciting sport. Sadly it is a dying sport... in our country. Hopefully, Saina can breathe some life into it.

    Ahh... the good old days of 'the Sportstar'... now even I am getting nostalgic!

  11. Hey, I am no longer in Antarctica. I am now back to Delhi. I returned on 4th feb 09 after 15 months in Antarctica.

  12. @ Abhijeet: I see. But, given the salubrious climate Delhi is blessed with... I am sure you would have preferred being in Antarctica instead... !!! :)

    It must have been quite an experience... right?!!