Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The evening I landed in Barcelona.

Oh Barcelona. My 2nd trip to Europe and I landed in Barcelona on 4th September.  My connection with Barcelona started even before I had landed.  I had met this lovely and vibrant person Gemma in Ahmedabad who belongs to Barcelona and she had already told me that I'm going to love it.  Also during my layover in Istanbul I met these 2 ladies from Barcelona, Rachel and her friend who were returning after their travels in India.  I had some very interesting conversations with them at the airport waiting for my flight to Barcelona.  I reached Barcelona in the evening and as my CouchSurfing friend and host Silvia's instructions, I boarded the airport transfer bus to another terminal and from there reached the metro station.  It was the cheapest option.

Against my expectations, the weather was quiet hot and trust me on this coz I was literally sweating as if I was in Ahmedabad.  Next to me was this spanish guy who had arrived from Denmark.  He too was feeling the heat.  I asked him for some directions and came to know that we both were headed to Passage de Gracia station.  He even helped me to get the metro ticket.  Choosing the best ticket while traveling in European cities is always a tricky thing, since you don't know how many trips you shall be making by the public transport and also when you are on an extremely tight budget.  Also when your country's currency gets depreciated by almost 20% just when your traveling days are near. Damn, it's always frustrating.

So I got down at 'Passeig de Gr├ácia' and as explained by my friend started looking for the street that would lead me to Plaza Catalunya.  I was going round and round looking for directions, asking people and finally I got the directions.  But than another problem, which bus stop I should go? Silvia had told me to look for a building named Bankia.  I just couldn't find it.  I called Silvia and she told me the same, to find the building Bankia. So now I asked a woman at a street side stall, where to catch bus no.68? The lady didn't speak English and I didn't understand her Spanish. :p Ooops. But she asked me with finger signs and I confirmed. She gave me the directions in Spanish and showed me the directions using her hands which I think I understood some 60% ? Well I followed what I understood and voila I was at the bus stop where bus no.68 stopped.  I waited for few minutes and bus no.67 arrived.  In few minutes bus no.68 also arrived.  I greeted the bus driver and asked him I want to go to 'Santal├│ 11'.  Surprisingly the the drivers of both the bus started discussing and what I understood from their conversation was they were discussing in which bus this foreigner should be made to sit.  Interesting, and I got little bit anxious now.  Finally they put me in bus no.67, which made me nervous as I was not following Silvia's advice, but still I was like I'm sure I'll make it.

As the bus started in few min. I got a SMS from Silvia, 'Where are you? Did you board the bus coz bus no.68 just passed from Santalo? Finally I got that I won't be getting down close to where Silvia had told me. After almost 30 min. the bus driver signaled me from his rear view mirror to get down at the stop called Fransesc Marcia.  Now I was kind of completely lost.  So I called Silvia and told her my location and she immediately understood where I was.  In 10 min. she was there to receive me and wow it was great to meet her after almost 8 months when she first surfed my couch in Ahmedabad just after the Kite Flying festival.  

She was renting a big house in a nice quiet neighborhood.  After dinner, the evening was spend chit-chatting about how we both have been doing all these months and to my big surprise the book she had just completed, got an award even before it was published.  I felt like wooow.  This is what meeting new people gives you in life.  Big surprises and the opportunity to meet amazing people like Silvia.  While she was in Ahmedabad we had very little time to know about each other.  But now here I was having like almost 5 days to know more about this wonderful lady.

Friday, 18 October 2013

'God' has announced his retirement.

Sounds very unusual or filmy, isn't it?  But its true.  Yes 'God' recently announced his retirement.  If you still haven't got any clue, let me clear the air.  The 'God' of cricket - Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on 10th Oct. 2013. He still has 2 test matches to play against the West Indies. First one in Kolkatta and the second one in his home Mumbai which will be his 200th test match. A great achievement in itself and which shows the level of fitness he still has.  Starting to play international cricket at the age of 16 and than never look back.  He has remained the backbone of Team India's batting line up whether it's a one-day team of a test team.

Sachin when he made his debut
Wonder why he is referred as 'The God of Cricket'?  Well playing international cricket for almost a quarter of a century, carrying the pressure of a cricket crazy nation with more than a billion people, breaking most of the batting records, playing the game with utmost honesty & cricketing spirit, getting the respect of people across the entire cricketing world and still being one of the most humble sportsperson is definitely something that makes him the messiah of the game. 

I think I was just in primary school when Sachin made his debut in test and one-day international cricket against Pakistan in Karachi & Gujranwala.  The way he played in that series made even the best of the Pakistani fast bowlers to recognize his courage and commitment as a teenager to play them.  It was very soon known that the little prodigy is going to make big waves in world cricket. And here he is after 24 years of playing international cricket, just the thought that he won't be around with Team India anymore is just unbelievable.

He has played with and against 2 generations of cricketers from world over including some of the best fast bowlers, best batsmen and all-rounders like Waqar Yunis, Wasim Akram, Glenn Mcgrath, Courtney Walsh, Allan Donald, Kapil Dev, Craig Mcdermott, Steve Waugh, Gary Kirsten, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara, Shaun Pollock, Saurav Ganguly, Jacque Kallis and few others. But ask anyone and they'll be all praise for him and his ability.  I still remember the year when India and Australia test series and the triangular series in Sharjah were played and how Shane Warne the best leg spinner till date was plundered for runs all over the grounds.

The hammering Sachin gave to Shane Warne
Still remember Shane's statement how he had nightmare's of Sachin hammering him for runs.  None batsmen in the world has hammered Warne like Sachin did, which shows his class and why he is and probably will remain the best.

Growing up as a teenager I still remember how Team India's batting revolved all around Sachin. The moment Sachin got out I used to switch off my television in despair almost as if no other batsmen are going to play well.  If anyone did it was just a miracle.  The moment when Sachin used to walk up to the pitch and take his guard, spectators would expect miracles from him.  To score nothing less than a century was always expected from him.  And statistics say when he scored a century most of the time India had won the match.  Not only he shattered records with batting but in the prime of his career he even bowled and has combined test and one day tally of 199 wickets which is not a small number.

Carrying the huge expectations of a cricket frenzy nation of more than a billion people and playing in front of a home crowd whose cheering can almost make you go deaf and than shattering most of the batting records and creating some which I don't think no one in the near future might break it, definitely puts him in the league of the greatest of greats of all time in cricketing world.

The respect he has garnered from some of the greatest bowlers like Allan Donald, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram and few others just shows how desperately they wanted to get his wicket while he was at the crease. And getting his priced wicket was something they would cherish for the entire series.  The 'Little Master' as he is called is a perfect example of all round technique and stroke play.  His hunger to better himself every time he goes out there to bat and to score runs is still seen on his face.
Sachin being carried all over the ground
after India won the 2011 WC

As every player goes through his ups and downs Sachin too went through them, only to come back more and more stronger.  The talks of his retirement time and again were always proved wrong by the master blaster and he showed his critics that only he and no one else will decide when he shall hang his boots.  He made his bat do the talking and that too in an emphatic way which every time silenced his critics.  Over the span of his career he was part of Team India that rose to No. 1 position in test match cricket and even won the world cup cricket.  His dream of winning the world cup for India was fulfilled in 2011 and in which he played a pivotal role at the top.  His greatness can be just imagined when his fellow team mates just with his presence in the dressing room were inspired to play to their full potential.

Today when he is just 2 test matches away from saying good bye to playing cricket, it seems as if an era of cricket for Team India will be closed.  Of course a new one has already begun.  But to see the dressing room without the 'God' will be very strange.  I'm sure he would want to stay attached with cricket in some way or the other, but only he knows what's coming next for him.

Sachin with one of the Great's
Sir Donald Bradman
To see him bat in the last 2 matches is going to be simply awesome.  His 200th test match and than the farewell that he is going to get is simply unimaginable. Of course when the 'God' retires, the farewell shall be even more glorious than the welcomes he used to get when he used to walk out in the middle as an opening batsmen or when he was batting at no. 4 in test matches.  The whole nation is going to miss him when Team India shall go out to play any test matches after he retires.  For one last time when the 'God' will be out there in front of his home crowd, Wankhede stadium, Mumbai is going to erupt shouting Sachinnnnnnnnnnnnnnn Sachinnnnnnnnn.

100 facts about Sachin Tendulkar