Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bahrain 2009
Qualifying


Amidst talks of the Ferrari head honchos to not to panic, it was another forgettable day for the Ferrari’s even after making a few changes in the car. The two Ferrari’s only managed to finish 8th and 10th respectively with Massa leading. For the first time ever the two Toyota’s would be starting at the pole. Jarno Trulli led his team mate Timo Glock to the pole. The winner of the Chinese Grand Prix and the new kid on the block Sebastian Vettel finished 3rd. The reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton managed to finish 5th.


The temperature shot to 40 plus degree Celsius at the track, one of Narayan Karthikeyan’s favorite tracks made it difficult for the drivers. The car tyres also proved to be a big challenge at this track in the Qualifying sessions.


Race Day



There was a stark contrast between the races held last Sunday at Shanghai and today at Bahrain. It was pouring last week end and this one would be a dry race. The Brawn GP and the Red Bull were lanes ahead of others last week and the question is, can they still put their stamp of authority at the Sakhir circuit as well? The Brawn and Red Bull cars for sure are the teams to watch out for this season as they have been consistently present on the podium in the first three races. The performances of these cars especially Brawn GP have proved that they are going to give the erstwhile champion a run for their money. The champions have thus known that only change is permanent and winning is not ephemeral.


In the opening lap itself Jenson Button managed to place himself to 3rd position from 5th and eventually got hold of another podium finish but he paid a price. The temperatures in his cockpit were so high that he burnt his left buttock. Nevertheless the sweet smell of success would have lessened the pain to a large extent. The bumptious Button said at the press conference that this was the best race of his career so far. It is still early to predict the top driver this season but the propinquity of Brawn GP to the crown looks interesting as the tumultuous crowd at Sakhir proved this when Button jumped on the podium. Button has a championship lead of 22 points.


Sebastian Vettel was unlucky to finish second and has the tyres to blame. The tyres degraded quickly and while he was in the pit, he lost some precious seconds. A nice show in the end though. Jarno Trulli managed to finish 3rd and was close to Vettel.


It was a good race for Mclaren who also have other worries off the field (their peccadilloes at the Australian grand prix and its hearing being scheduled this week). Hamilton however drove nicely and most of the time was 4th and managed to bring his car home on the same position.


There was good news for Ferrari as they finally managed to score some vital points this season. Kimi who at one point was leading the race finished 6th and scored 3 points. Massa had a disappointing race after he broke the front wing. On the other hand, Alonso was 8th most of the time and finished on that position.


Vijay Mallya the owner of the Force India car said before the start of the season that his team would look for points this year but they have appeared somnolent so far. They finished 15th and 16th in Bahrain and appeared feckless.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chinese Grand Prix’2009

Qualifying
Can it be a Déjà vu? It was once again Sebastian Vettel who took the pole position today. He took the pole in Monza last year and won. This time he is followed by none other than Fernando Alonso. Mark Webber and Rubbens Barichello were fraction of seconds away from Alonso and very close to challenge him. The poster boy of Formula One and the winner of two previous races Jenson Button was fifth.

Ferrari’s bad luck continued in spite of Kimi pulling out the best of the new car F60. Massa said that not having KERS would definitely be a handicap, however it seemed the current problems for Ferrari are more related to the diffusers and not KERS. Kimi was 8th on the grid with Hamilton behind him on 9th.

Race Day
While the IPL match between Delhi and Chandigarh started late in South Africa, the race in China started on time while it was still drizzling. For the first few laps behind the safety car it was very difficult for drivers to control the car as they kept spinning. After 8 laps the action started on a completely drenched track.

While Vettel continued to lead from the front, we saw a glimpse of excellent racing with Hamilton trying to overtake Raikkonen. He kept racing ahead before his car spun 360 degrees and he lost his place. The two Ferrari’s however had a forgettable day and yes, a forgettable season so far. Massa’s car came to a grinding halt while following the safety car while Kimi finished 10th. Force India’s Adrian Sutil aiming for points was in contention till the 6th lap from finish.
The day belonged to the pole position holder Sebastian Vettel who won the second race of his career while race leader Brawn GP was in for a pit stop. Team mate Mark Webber managed to bring home his Red Bull behind Vettel to finish 2nd. Button finished 3rd and thus managed to extend the championship lead from Barrichello by 6 points.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mushin-What is it?

Last week I went for a Bowling session with some friends. After a couple of chances, I was scoring well and was racing ahead. While I was getting ready for the next game one of my friends was in awe, and mentioned that I was the only best performer amongst all who were playing and he also said he was sure I am going to win. With a big smile on my face, I rolled the ball. But to everyone’s surprise the ball rolled into the next lane. The next two chances hardly fetched me any points while others did well. I finished second. I lost a game I was winning.

Yesterday, in one of my Karate sessions, Sensei Jayesh was talking about Mushin which in Japanese literally means ‘No Mind’. Joe Hyams the celebrated Writer and a student of the immortal Bruce Lee also mentions about it in his book - Zen in the Martial Arts. Sensei said there are certain things that we do in our daily life without thinking much about it, for example when a fly sits on the nose, the hand automatically moves in that direction. The actions that we perform unknowingly are handled by the sub-conscious mind. After the session, I asked him about the experience I had at bowling. He smiled and said that while I was performing well at bowling, Mushin was working well for me. After the compliments I received from my friends, negative thoughts crept in my mind and I failed. According to him, you should allow your mind to flow freely. Practice is the key to make Mushin work for you.

Joe Hyams says keep your training vigorous which would make you act self-consciously rather than intellectually. Then it is automatic-it is Mushin. Well, this can be summarized by the ancient Zen saying “When you seek it, you cannot find it”.

Wonderful Wai

After site-seeing in Mahabaleshwar, the cabbie enquired if we wanted to visit Wai which is situated about 35 kilometers from Mahabaleshwar. Post lunch we practically had nothing to do and therefore decided to visit the temple town. Wai is known for its ghats, especially the Ganapati Ghat at the banks of river Krishna. Perhaps, one of the attractions to visit Wai, was to visit this Ghat where movies like Swades and Gangajal were shot.

So, we were off to Wai, enjoying the strawberries available everywhere. Suddenly the air was cooler and dark clouds kept hovering over us. It was raining in short time. We were a bit tentative to move forward as it was raining and asked the cabbie if we can go back to Mahabaleshwar. He suggested that the highway was very good and there should not be any problem in driving the car on the Ghats even if it rained heavily. And thus we moved further exploring the postcard worthy landscapes.

The Sahyadri range looked beautiful amidst silky white clouds. The road was completely wet in a few minutes. The car kept speeding towards Wai as we kept exploring the brown mountains around the highway. The cabbie was a local and soon we found out that with him talk was never at a discount. He was a Maharastrian and just like others was proud heritage of the Sahyadri mountains which speaks volumes about the valor of the great Maratha ruler Shivaji.

Soon we reached Wai, while it was still drizzling. The Ganesh temple has a huge verandah and equally big and colorful is the idol of the Lord. The adjacent Shiva temple too has a beautiful architectural flourish and a mesmerizing charm. It seemed a visit back to time. After the darshan, we spent some time on the Ganpati Ghat and got a chance to relive the moments of the movie Swades where SRK performs a wrestling fight with the village postman who is a professional wrestler.

Wai is an ideal place for spiritual searchers who wish to step out of the fast life and share a few moments of calm. A visit to Wai - Always recommended.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Film Review-The Little Zizou


There was much anticipation about this film directed by Sooni Taraporevala who has been the screen-play writer of award winning movies such as Salaam Bombay and The Namesake. Secondly, the Hindi Film industry has too many talent Parsi actors and therefore this all Parsi film was expected to win hearts with its light humor. It does to a large extent.

The film is a story of a little boy Xerxes Khodaiji (Jahan Bativala) who is a motherless child and is called Zizou because of his admiration for the football star Zinedine Zidane who is nicknamed Zizou. Xerxes is the son of Cyrus Khodaiji (Sohrab Ardeshir) who calls himself the religious leader and healer of all sins of the Parsi community. Xerxes’s uncle Boman Presswalla (Boman Irani) is opposed to Cyrus Khodaiji and publicly announces his dislike. Xerxes has an elder brother Artaxerxes (Imaad Shah) finds peace in caricatures and love in Boman’s elder daughter Zenobia (Dilshad Patel) who however loves Arjun (John Abraham in a special appearance). Liana (Iyanah Bativala) the younger sister of Zenobia hates Xerxes as she thinks her own mom is fond of Xerxes than her.

Cyrus Khodaiji soon with the help of local politicians shuts down Boman’s press. Boman meanwhile suffers a heart attack and suddenly gets unexpected support from some of his community mates and Cyrus has to retreat.

The film takes a cue from whatever is happening in our country today and takes a pot shot at the religious fundamentalism in our society with the Parsi Community in the backdrop which gives the film an added dimension of depth. The mood of the film is lighthearted and subtle in approach. Boman Irani is superb and full of pep. The good humored and affable Cyrus Brocha and Kunal Vijaykar are amusing as well in their short appearances. Liana’s grandmother’s affection with her so-called Majestic hotel which actually is a dilipated sea-facing hotel is full of fun. As all the actors are Parsi’s, adapting the habits and mannerisms required in their roles comes easily. Always the name of the film is adopted from what the movie is based on. But amidst too much focus on the ways and behavior of the Parsi people, the focus on Zizou simply vanishes. The stunning Kamal Sidhu appears only at the end of the movie and doesn’t have much to do.

While Zizou visits neighboring Bangladesh and flies off to his own country without visiting India, Xerxes’s dream of meeting his hero doesn’t come true much to our disappointment. The audience expected much more from the director’s artistic touch but that was not to be.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Malaysia'2009

Qualifying

With the Brawn GP doing good last week end and Ferrari doing well on Friday, we thought the gates were wide open for a thoroughly entertaining 2009. But that was not to be. Saturday was another petty day for Ferrari after a remarkable practice session on Friday. Kimi said that the new F60 lacks only grip, but the ever optimistic fans know that the start itself is not satisfying. Kimi would start 7th on the grid and Felipe 16th.

Jenson Button led once again from the front to take pole position for the second consecutive week after a not so good practice session on Friday. His partner Barrichello encountered a gear box problem which needed a replacement and therefore lost 5 places on the grid to start 8th.

Jarno Trulli was sensational and clearly look inspired from the mid-week result ruling of the Australian GP in his favour. He was 2nd on the grid. Timo Glock was 3rd. Force India were not able to do a great deal except to meet the numbers. They would start 18th and 19th.


Race Day – April5’2009

I was in Mahabaleshwar today and thought I’d miss the action as the race was supposed to start at 3 PM IST and we started off from there at about 10 AM. I thought I’d try to catch some action on the way when the bus would halt for sometime midway but that was not to be as there was hardly anyone whom I met as desperate as me to catch the race. I reached Bombay by 430 and immediately switched on the television set only to realise that the race had been called off and Button yet again was the eventual winner. It seems Brawn GP has a brush with divinity. The top finishers were however awarded half the points because heavy showers made it impossible for the drivers to race even after the safety car. The rains however did not bring any rainbows for the two Ferrari’s as they once again let go Friday’s advantage.

By the time when half the race was over, Button was still leading having tasted the sweet smell of success at Melbourne, followed by Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli, and Rubens Barrichello challenging him. When the rain started coming down heavily, it was decided to call it off and since the race wasn’t 75% complete, the drivers were given only half the points.

As far as Ferrari is concerned, it seems that Brawn (previously Honda) has exchanged places with them. The new season has been a complete upside-down for the Ferrari team. They are simply unable to match up to the speed of the Brawn GP team. Even the Ferrari fans are superlative dreamers as they can dream of only podium finishes for the car. But Ferrari is currently not even able to match up the fundamental expectations of a superlative dreamer.

In the end, it was a disappointing race for the fans.