Sunday, 20 July 2008

The clock ticks life away..

75 minutes to go...

Wikipedia tells me that I'll now be in the exalted company of Ana Ivanovic, Nicklas Bendtner, Anderson, Aaron Carter and Bow Wow, to name a few. The list goes on to list a thousand other names ranging from the strangely familiar (Michael Cera, Cybil..) to the completely unknown (Beg├╝m Dalgalar?). As I went through it, I found myself wondering, not for the first time, whether I even deserved to be in that list, albeit with a million other losers for company. At times I wonder, is it just me or do all twenty-year olds love watching Tom and Jerry? Does Bendtner still wear a helmet and pretend to be Darth Vader? Does Anderson still spend hours playing with his Hot Wheels collection, painstakingly collected over 17 years of haggles and bargains? Life has been a blur. Age has come about far sooner than I would have liked it to, and sadly, maturity seems to taking its own jolly time to set in, leaving me stuck between a world where I don't belong and another where I shouldn't.

My melancholic reverie, sadly, was cut dismally short by the Envious Samaritan's remark, made more than half seriously, that I'm fast turning into a far gloomier version of the Decayed Canine. Scary thought that.

P.S: Contrary to what the title might suggest, I still loathe Linkin Park.

Footnote (courtesy Lefty): In a curious coincidence, HHH turned 18 this 18th, I turn 20 this 20th and Lefty 21 on the 21st.

Kaka, unfortunately, doesn't turn 24 this Thursday.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Five and out

Most forms of art have always been well beyond my modest comprehension capacity. The Guernica, to me, is no more than a bouillabaisse of weird shapes and even weirder-looking people. To the best of my sensibilities, the melting clocks in The Persistence of Memory are as profound as a Britney Spears solo. I firmly believe that, given the chance, my brother could easily better van Gogh’s wilting Sunflowers. The only strokes I found even remotely artistic are those off the willow of Sachin Tendulkar. There isn’t a masterpiece more beautiful than the one-handed backhand that won Federer the second set against the consistently erratic Safin. Maradona’s sixty yard run in that historic World Cup semifinal that led to Argentina’s second goal is more graceful than even the most stunning of ballet renditions. My indisposition towards all forms of art and dance notwithstanding, my loyalties in all sports have tilted towards the more artistic and graceful (with the notable exception of F1 where I have suffered from an inexplicable and often unreasonable predilection for McLaren right from the days when the penultimate page of The Khaleej Times was my sole link with the world of Ecclestones, Hakkinens and Schumachers).

The sad thing about sport, though, is that there is a lot more to it than mere grace. Resilience, strength and some luck is often all it takes to excel. Then again, success is one thing and greatness quite another. For all their talent, Johan Cryuff and his legendary Clockwork Oranje never won a major tournament. Despite being the more elegant and technically sound of the two, Mark Waugh could not compeer his prolific twin. More recently, Chelsea were inches away from lifting the Champions League earlier this summer. Indeed, a certain Geenius and a Kangaroo Cub would even argue, not entirely without reason, that they were the more deserving of the two sides. Yet, even if John Terry not succumbed to that historic (and hilarious) slip, a United fan would still have gone home proud of the many moments of genius displayed by his side. I could spend all day describing Scholes’ thunderbolt at Camp Nou. I could write pages and pages on Rooney’s inch-perfect thirty yard pass that nearly led to United’s second goal at Moscow. What memories would have Chelsea carried home from the tournament? Those of the two million own goals that the opposition defenders chose to score for them, realizing that such feats were well beyond the modest capabilities of Drogba and Sheva? Or those of the three million deflections that led to the few goals that Chelsea players scored for themselves?

Though it did in Moscow, fortune doesn’t always favour the worthy. Case in point: the Wimbledon finals. Though out-of-sorts initially, Federer’s game was as imperial as ever by the third set. He seemed to have clawed his way back into the game from two sets down, and with the third set in a row entering tie-breakers, I had a hunch that Federer was well on course to breaking Borg’s record. History, sadly, chose to repeat itself, with Rafa replacing McEnroe in the encore. To his credit, Rafa has come a long way from the brash teenager whose resilience was his sole weapon who made it to the finals two years ago. And yet, even the most loyal of the Spaniard’s supporters wouldn’t declare him a better player than the Swiss Master.

Claude Makelele can get away with a thousand more fouls and he can still not hope to equal Zidane even in his wildest dreams. MS Dhoni can endorse a zillion more products and he still won’t get any closer to the iconic status enjoyed by Sachin. Rafa’s energy and baseliners may win him ten more Wimbledon titles in the years to come, and yet, he’ll still be second best to Federer.

A year ago, 2008 seemed to be year that would be remembered in the history books as the one when Federer scaled Mount Sampras and Mount Borg. Sadly, nothing has gone his way and his grand slam tally has all but stagnated at 12. Mount Sampras seems to be slipping away with each passing tournament and Mount Borg now an impossibility. And yet, despite the prospects of retirement looming large at the mature age of 26, Federer can still walk into the sunset with his chest held high. "I'm happy the way I fought", said the great man after the epic battle, "that's all I could really do."