Thundering Typhoons and Asteroid Armageddons

by sidin in

 Hello all. All good with all of you today? You Mumbaikars voted for your corporators? Very nice.

I've been piqued by a few stories in the media these last few days. One way or the other they have all grabbed my fancy. (Yes yes 'grabbing my fancy'... ha ha... I know... it occurred to me too... ha ha...)

The first one was in the revered Hindu newspaper about Roger Federer's thumping victory over Andy Roddick in the Australian Open. (I understand Federer, who is making up adequately for decades of much maligned Swiss neutrality, also subsequently went on to steamroll all over that Gonzalez fellow.) This story was remarkable not for its reportage but rather for its rather extravagant tone and voice.

At this point I must say that I am not a complete dud when it comes to tennis. Few in Abu Dhabi Indian School will forget that unforgettable (duh) match in 1993. It was a keenly contested match between Anthony D'Souza, that terrible server from 9-B, and this handsome, funny, erudite and popular South Indian kid from 9-A.

I was the ball boy.

There was a serve. There was a mis-hit return that imparted too much reverse spin on the ball. The ball bounced in front of an unsuspecting ballboy. He lunged forward. The ball bounced and rebounded backward. Ballboy's torso followed the ball but his feet had given up hope months ago. There was a 'tender just-pubert face smashing into a unrelenting asphalt surface' situation.

I was that ballboy. Sigh. Wince.

But that is beside the point. I draw your attention to this story from the pages of the Hindu dated 26th January 2007. The story title is fiendishly seductive:

'Roger Federer functions in a parallel universe, outplays Roddick'

Now, as mentioned before, I am not a tennis type of guy. I am too delicate for it. But I am sure that tennis has nothing to do with parallel universes, quantum mechanics, Einstein and that sort of thing. Perhaps it is a literary device, I console myself. The news story itself will surely not continue in this fashion. The hyperbole should be momentary no?

So I read on:

‘Trying to solve the Roger Federer puzzle on a tennis court is a bit like trying to master the String Theory in Quantum Physics. The closer you think you are to a solution, the farther you are from it. As a great scientist said, if you think you have understood string theory, you have not understood string theory.’

This guy was persistent with his physics wasn’t he? Or as a great satire blogger, both tall and handsome and a rage with the ladies, once said, ‘I struggle with a freelance writing career and you get paid to write that??!!!’ No matter. One must not take matters of the media too personally. I bit down on the welling pools of sarcasm and read on. A paragraph later:

‘Trying to get too close to the great man can be an experience ranging from anything between the mere unpleasant to the downright fatal.’

This made Roger Federer sound remarkably like an old hostel roommate of mine especially after a nice Mysore Masala Dosa breakfast in the mess on the weekends. I am sure you know people like that too. They are all over the place. Especially in elevators and packed conference rooms.

Onward ho and... bang into another parallel universe analogy:

'The man functions in a parallel universe that is somehow visible to us against all laws of physics. Only, a twisted many-worlds interpretation can help us make some sense of the man's genius and where it has left men's tennis.'

WTF? The article was increasingly beginning to sound like something Stephen Hawking or Carl Sagan would write when fortified with a little LSD.

So in many ways it was a relief when I came to this:

'Stripped of his sense of self-worth, shaking his head in disbelief in a state of near-delirium, Roddick merely went through the motions like a stone-age warrior fighting a jet age soldier.

Sport is often unfair; but it has never been quite as unfair to quite as many as in the Roger Federer era. This is cruelty. But, then, without the cruelty where would the beauty be?

Not one but two paragraphs free of any reference to physics whatsoever. And to top that was an absolutely brilliant soldier-warrior analogy. (And by brilliant I mean in the context "Jaani Dushman was absolutely brilliant".)

And indeed I ask you where WOULD cruelty be without beauty? Or, to give it an alternate perspective, beauty without cruelty? Or, one might further wonder, solidarity without elasticity? Or, coming to think of it, epistemology without viscosity?

And to close was this magnum opus:

'I would call it the Perfect Match. But that is risky. For, this man has it in him to make perfection look that much more perfect the next time around!'

And I would call it the most OTT tennis story I have ever read. But of course I could not, as just a day or two later the same author came up with a take on the final match between Fed and Gonzalez. A gem from that similarly, if less extravagantly, esteemed piece:

'But, modern sport's most celebrated journey towards immortality will resume in the poetic environs of Parisian springtime — with chirpy little birds joining the chorus of adulation from chestnut trees in full bloom — later this year. Around that time, too, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg (11 titles) will prepare to welcome His Royal Highness to their elite company.

Barring an asteroid Armageddon, by year's end, only one man in the game's pantheon — Pete Sampras, winner of 14 major titles — will be able to look over his shoulder, rather than in front of him, to spot the Swiss summiteer.'

'Blooming Chestnut Trees! Barring Asteroid Armageddons! Spotted Swiss Summiteers!' emoted Captain Haddock desperately trying to come up with lines for a latter day Tintin Reunion Movie which is seriously beginning to sound like a really bad idea.

And to close off a colourful media review this little bit from a BBC story on Shilpa Shetty:

'The 31-year-old was first noticed in 1993 when she starred in a supporting actress role opposite super star Shah Rukh Khan in the hit film Baazigar (Player).

She then went on to play lead roles in films such as Main Khiladi Tu Anari (Me Player, You Buffoon) and Dhadkan (Heartbeat), most of which were moderate successes but never really runaway hits.'

Like most people I am a huge fan of the Beeb and all their websites and things. But seriously. Me Player, You Buffoon. Hehehehehe. I sense much bollywood mirth here. On to you greatbong!

Cheers all.


p.s. The wife says hi!