Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tennis Score: 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 : Clay

A three set match in good, not perfect, conditions for tennis with new tennis balls provided great enjoyment. The clay courts in winter have turned even slower than before due to the retention of a lot of water. This meant a paucity of winners and long extended rallies. So the emphasis was on patience to stay in the rallies enough to have a easy put away or until one makes a mistake. This is not easy for me as I normally get excited in any rally and try for a winner too soon. I had to play a bit out of character to make anything out of the match.

I was able to do this in the first set, but the beginning of the second set probably saw me quite tired and going for more than I would normally. The attitude was difficult to shake off and the second set was lost easily.

In the third set, I was determined to win it and started staying in the rallies more and we reached 4-3. At this point, a few ladies were scheduled to play on this court and started to hurry us up. This probably led my partner to play uncharacteristically and probably to give up the last two games. Though it was unsatisfying, it was a win nevertheless. The match took around two hours and left me quite tired and sore.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tennis Score: 7-5, 2-6, Clay

Clay courts in the autumn / winter absorb and retain huge amounts of water and never seem to dry. Playing on these courts makes the tennis balls wet, soggy and slow.

The first set saw tremendous fight by both of us. I was really tired from the previous few days of play and thought I wouldn't win a set today. But with will and determination, I found myself serving for the set at 6-5. I was determined to win the game and avoid a tiebreak given my poor record in those. A sloppy game from my partner game me the set.

The relief of winning the set led to a very casual attitude on my part in the second set. Suddenly I found myself unable to win a game at 0-4. With some fight it became 1-5. Since it is autumn, we have to play under lights these days. So, we had bought 1.5 hours of light time. A green light lights up when there is about five minutes to go. At 1-5, I kept glancing at this light to see if it had turned on so that we can stop playing. If we are at 1 set all, we normally play a "champions tiebreak" - a tiebreaker to 10. I wanted to avoid playing this at all costs. Hence at 1-5, I just willed myself to win the game. It was an extremely long game with numerous deuces. I was very relieved to win this game. In the middle of the next game, the light lighted up and I went on to lose the game.

I lost the set, but avoided the tiebreaker and hence losing it and the match.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tonight's dinner

Tennis scores.

Today - 6-7 (6-8), 4-4 A-40 - A titanic struggle with neither of us wanting to lose.

Last weeks scores.

3-6, 6-4, 10-6 (tiebreak)

6-3, 4-6, 6-10 (tiebreak)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tennis score - 3-6, 4-6: Clay

It was really good to play tennis after a long gap of about 2 weeks. The fact that I lost did not mar the delight I felt to play again.

The first set was abnormal in that it was decided by the solitary break of serve against me. Probably due to the new tennis balls, breaking serve was quite difficult. I did not serve particularly well and this reflected in the score and the loss of the set.

Normal service was resumed in the second set when almost every game was a break. I had the first hold to go up 4-3 and should have won the second set. That was not to be. He won the next three games to win the set 4-6.

But, it was good to play tennis again.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tonight's dinner

Photo how to: Palak Paneer.

1) Partial ingredients - Spinach(palak), tomatoes, onion, coriander leaves, garlic, green chillies, ginger.

2) Put palak, tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, garlic and coriander leaves into a blender.

3) Blend into an even paste.

4) Chop onions finely and the paneer into smallish cubes / cuboids.

5) Heat some oil and add mustard seeds and jeera. Leave for a few seconds.

6) Add the chopped onions into the oil.

7) Chop some palak.

8) Add the paneer and some spices (garam masala, coriander powder, etc).

9) Add the chopped Palak and the paste from step 3.

10) Add some salt and mix well.

11) Simmer for a few minutes and the Palak Paneer is ready.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tennis Score: 6-4, 6-3: Clay

After the string break on Sunday, my racket was strung by another member of our club. Though professionally a doctor, he prides himself in being a tennis player and a stringer. Admittedly, he is an excellent tennis player.

Anyways, surprisingly playing with the newly strung racket did not feel much different than the older ones. I do suspect that the tension is a bit too high as the pace on my shots seems to have dropped. It could also be due to the balls which went soggy very quickly due to courts exposed to the rain.

The rain exposed court was two sided. One side was perfect and the other was slippery and movement on this side was dangerous and led to tentativeness. This made winning games on the good side very very important. At the same time, games won on the bad side were worth their weight in gold. Come to think of it, games don't have weight.

In the first set I went up to 4-1 taking advantage of the good side. Then the lead was squandered to be level at 4-4. It was time to play safe and do anything to win the next two games. This was somehow achieved even with the double disadvantage of serving on the bad side.

The second set was close until it was 4-3 to me. I was at the bad side and thought that I need to win at least one game here so that I can win the game on the good side to win the set. I pushed hard to win my service game to go up 5-3. Since it was my partner's serve, I had a slight edge to win the last game, even if it was on the bad side. However, I managed to win the game and the set 6-3 and that was the end of the evening of tennis.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Tennis Score: 2-6, 3-4: Clay stopped due to string breakage.

We were playing after a break of five days, but I was pleasantly surprised that my shots during warmup were quite good. This did translate to the actual set itself, but my backhand gave up and a lot of errors were made from that wing. Also, there were several games when I should have won with me being game-point up in many of them. Those came and went and the set was lost.

The second set was similar, but I had somewhat better luck in converting the game points. I went up 3-2, but then lost the next two games to be 3-4 down. In the last point, I hit a forehand very hard and guess the factory strings that came with my now-not-so-new racket were not very good. They snapped and since I did not have a spare racket, we had to stop. Unfortunate that because it was perfect for tennis - cloudy-leading to great lighting, no rain or wind and nicely watered clay courts.

Couscous Upma

Thursday, September 27, 2007

On the Twenty20 World Cup.

Finally!! India have won a world cup. After a long wait of 24 years.

As many have pointed out, India very reluctantly sent a team. The reluctance is accorded to the fear that if we do well in the Twenty20 format, we may kill the cash cow that ODI cricket is.

This is very evident from the fact that the BCCI sent, what they considered, a second team. The team did not consist of the so called big stars. What we all heard was the stars opted out. But, not many have noticed that the BCCI did not try to persuade them. In addition, the selection process for the event seemed almost callous. Ironically, this resulted in a team that was perfectly suited to the game - a team that was fresh, eager, enthusiastic and fielded and ran between the wickets wonderfully. More ironic is the fact that a team that was, I think, secretly selected for failure did the unthinkable - played without the fear of failure, as a team, and won the world cup.

An interesting point made by Rashid Latif was that Twenty 20 was a natural format for them. I would suggest that it is similarly, if not more of, a native format for India. Every game that I have ever played has been a short form, a Six6, a Ten10, a Twenty20 or at most a Twenty Five-25. This form is ingrained in Indians from when they begin playing. I maybe wrong, but I think the only way you ever get to play a form of unlimited overs cricket is when you reach the club level(very few matches) or first class level.

Am I happy we won the cup? Absolutely. Am I ecstatic? Maybe not. Do I think this is the best thing the Indian cricket team have achieved, ever? Absolutely not. This year? No, I rank our test series victory against England way higher. In the same vein, I wouldn't really care if we lose all ODIs from now till eternity(well, maybe not eternity), if we win the test series in Australia. We came really close the last time we went there and I hope we edge ahead this time.

The Twenty20 world cup has unarguably been a huge success with the crowds, the critics, the TV viewers, everybody else and their dogs and cats. I really like the format, both that of a Twenty20 match by itself and of the world cup too. The shortened match duration removes the boring period of ODIs where seemingly nothing happens and is sleep inducing. This was when the part time bowlers came on and tried to contain the batsmen who needed no second invitation. The brief duration of the world cup is a direct result of the short duration of each match. This has left most people wishing for more rather than the never ending wait to crown Australia as the champions.

I predict that the Fifty50 format will slowly die a slow and painless death. With Twenty20's explosive beginning people would realize what a painful process ODIs are. Sport is supposed to be about entertainment, tension and drama, but a majority of Fifty50 games do not provide any of these. Contrarily, Twenty20 provides all these and more in a much shortened time.

On the other hand test matches will (at least I hope) always exist. It is where the full skill of the players are on display. There is no better joy than watching Laxman and Dravid batting for a full day under immense pressure against an inspired Gillespie and Mcgrath, than seeing an jelly-bean-offended Zaheer Khan dismantle the English, than Dravid bat painstakingly slowly at Headingley in 2002 on a cloudy morning to thwart an English attack that was supposed to run through the Indian batting (well, I could go on and on). The longer format, due to the unlimited nature provides a slow simmering tension and drama. It is a format where the leave outside the off can often be more valuable than a slogged six. As for entertainment, I don't think anyone will disagree that a Tendulkar cover drive or straight drive, or a Laxman on drive is more pleasing to the eye that Yuvraj's six sixes.

To conclude, I think it will be Twenty20 and Test matches that will be the predominant formats leaving Fifty50 to die.

Tennis Score: 6-4, 2-2 : Clay

.. play suspended due to darkness.

Started late and hence had to play under lights, for the first time after March(?). Was quite good. There was hardly any wind, but it was quite cold. My non active hand almost froze making it hard to toss the ball for the serve. Must wear gloves on my left hand the next time we play under lights.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tennis Score: 2-6, 0-6, 1-4 : Clay

Remember this post? Well, today I know what Roddick felt like.

Not much else to write.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tennis Score: 4-6, 6-2, 6-10 (Tiebreak) : Clay

Excuses: Very Windy, Wet and slippery court, Playing after a break.

The first set was the normal one, where we traded breaks and holds until 4-4. Instead of me making the move, it was my partner who went up 5-4. At this time, it almost felt inevitable that I would lose the next game to lose the set.

The next set was also very predictable. Either my partner's level dropped or mine went up or a bit of both happened simultaneously. Either way, the set was won 6-2.

Since we finished the two sets so quickly, about an hour and ten minutes, we decided to play a "champions tiebreak", a silly thing that is supposed to replace a set. In this, instead of the tiebreak being for seven, we play until a player reaches ten. In any case, my incompetence in negotiating tiebreaks meant that even before a point was played, I had almost resigned to the fact that I was going to lose it.

The autumn has set in in Swansea. Autumn, the wettest time in the wettest city in UK, is not a good time for tennis. The last week, we could only play two times because of the rain. Here's hoping that this week would be better for tennis than last week.

Tonight's dinner

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tennis Score: 6-4, 6-0, 6-2: Clay

The video shows Roger Federer beating Andy Roddick in the Australian Open semis. After todays tennis game, I know how he must have felt like. Strangely the score of that match is exactly the same as ours.

We had perfect conditions for tennis today. It had rained on and off for the last two days and this made the courts much better. A lot of the dusty clay had settled down and courts were not that slippery. In addition there was hardly any wind and to top it off we used a new can of tennis balls.

The first set started off in familiar fashion. A break for me in the first game. Surprisingly, I held in the next game to go up 2-0, but lost the next to be at 2-1. I played very well and a lot of shots that were going out the past few times we've played landed in today. In no time, I was up 5-2 and had three chances to seal the set. However my partner broke for the first time and held to be at 5-4. I had to hold to win the set and on normal days, I would have lost the game. But, today was not a normal day. I held and won the set 6-4. This was the first of seven continuous games that I managed to win.

The second set was over in a breeze with me hitting remarkable winners off the forehand side. After one of these winners, a forehand hit after running around the backhand, some school girls complimented that it was a "great shot". I think the next shot I hit, a forehand down the line as hard as I could, was the best shot of the evening.

Because the two sets were over so quickly, in around an hour, we decided to play another set. I thought today was my lucky day and swung hard at everything. Incredibly this worked and almost all my shots landed in. The set was won 6-2.

It was probably the best tennis I have played and it feels great. Maybe Roger Federer felt like this after the Roddick match.

Tonight's dinner

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Photo: The Sleeping Man

Tennis Score: 3-6, 6-7(2) : Clay

Quite frankly a horrible "performance" by me. It was a frustrating two hours. It was one of those days when nothing seems to be going your way.

The first set started off with jets flying in various patterns, the highlight being a heart shape, as part of the air show in Swansea. The jets made an awful racket and it was really difficult to concentrate on the tennis, especially when the partner kept gazing at it. The racket stopped but my poor play continued. The main tactic used today, as everyday, was going hard to my backhand. My backhand had given up for the past few days and today was no exception. I could not hit a backhand in, making innumerable unforced errors through that wing. The set was duly lost 3-6.

In the second set, he continued attacking my backhand, but I thought I was a bit better with it at that point in time. This did not reflect in the scoreline that read 2-5. This was probably the result of my weak forehand. I hardly recall having a forehand winner during the entire two sets. At 2-5 down, I resorted to the famous "will power/ I will not make errors" combine and somehow clawed back to 5-5 and even went up 6-5. All this only to lose the next game and the tiebreak. In the tiebreak, my backhand was constantly under pressure and ultimately gave up. The tiebreak was lost 2-7 to complete a horrible day of tennis.

If there is as much frustration due to a game of tennis, it is worth asking if I should be playing it. However, tennis provides immense satisfaction and joy. In order to make it more so, I need to resolve that I will not be frustrated on the tennis court ever again irrespective of my level of play.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tennis Score: 4-6, 6-2: Clay

The conditions for play were dusty. Swansea has been really good lately - it hasn't rained for more than three weeks now and if you know Swansea, you know that's unheard of here. Due to the unusual non rainy weather, the clay courts have a lot of loose fine clay that makes the court slippery. Though not an excuse, it did affect my play.

The first set was played in regular fashion. My partner was the only person to hold till we got to 3-4. Then I held to make it 4-4. This was supposed to be when I made my move and win the next two games to win the set. It was my partner who executed the plan to win the set 4-6.

The second set was quite easily won 6-2.

I have strange feeling that if my partner wins the first set, he throws the second set. Just a wild hypothesis seeing how many times I have won the second set easily after losing the first.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tennis Score: 7-5, 6-1 : Clay

It was good to have a day's break to recuperate tired muscles. First set was the same old story, a lead of 5-2 squandered to be 5-5. Somehow willed myself to win the next two games to take the set. The set was weird because we used new tennis balls. For the past few games, we had been using tennis balls made by IKEA, that bounced more than normal tennis balls. A return to Dunlops made the court and our shots seem so much slower and less bouncy and took some time to get adjusted to.

In the second set, to counter the slow feeling of the tennis balls, I decided to hit out and lots of my shots landed in. I hit a lot of winners in the set to win it quite easily 6-1.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fav picture of the day.

Worms head - Rhossili.

Tennis Score: 3-6, 4-3 : Clay

Lost the first set as is usual for me and I would like to believe that I would have won the second set if we had not stopped as my partner had to go to church.

Yesterday's tennis Score: 3-6, 6-4 : Clay

Not much to be said about this game other than that it included the rally that is, as far as I can remember, the longest one of my life. It lasted for about a 100 shots, or at least it felt like it. Can't go about counting shots when I am trying to win the point, can I?

Tonight's dinner

Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens
Settings - Aperture:2.8, Shutter:1/60, ISO:200, Exp Comp:0, With flash.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Tonight's dinner

Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens
Settings - Aperture:1.8, Shutter:1/15, ISO:450, Exp Comp:0, Color levels auto adjusted using

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fav photo of the day.

One of the photos that I took over the weekend.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tennis Score: 6-2, 6-2, 5-0 : Artificial Grass

Started playing early today - at 9 AM in the morning. Guess this suits me very well and does not suit my partner at all. My partner did not play upto his usual consistent standard and all I did was put the ball back into play. The score, 6-2, 6-2, 5-0, was achieved in 1 hr and 20 mins of play at which time, we had to stop as my partner had some other engagements.

Tonight's dinner

Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens
Settings - Aperture:1.8, Shutter:1/60, ISO:200, Exp Comp:-0.7

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tonight's dinner

AF-S Nikkor 18-135 mm 1:3.5-5.6G ED
Settings - Focal length:62 mm, Aperture:5.3, Shutter:1/60, ISO:200, Exposure Compensation: -0.7, with flash

Tennis Score: 6-2, 6-2 : Clay

I was determined to play better and win today so that a string of defeats can be stopped. That I was able to manage it so comprehensively was something that surprised even myself.

In the first set, I ran off to a 3-0 lead in no time only to panic and play the two worst games of the day to lose them. With the scores at 3-2, I calmed myself and determinedly won the next 6 games to win the set 6-2 and go up 3-0 in the second

The second set was an exact copy of the first in almost all ways with me losing the next two games to be at 3-2. However, the difference in this set was that I had opportunities to win these games. Since I did not play too badly in the two lost games, I did not panic and concentrated hard and took the next three games to win the set and the match 6-2.

Tennis Score: 2-6, 2-6 : Clay

Yesterday's score..
It seems like I was still not used to the new racket. The match was closer than the scores suggested with lots of game points like 40-15, 15-40, etc being squandered.

Note: He who wins the last point of a game wins the game.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tennis Score: 4-6, 2-6 : Clay

Playing after almost three weeks, with a new racket - a Head Microgel Extreme pro in windy conditions meant that I had lots of excuses for losing. However, the first set was reasonably close with me coming back from 0-3 down to 3-4. The momentum could not be maintained and I went on to lose the next two games and the set 4-6.

The second set was quite pathetic. I did not have any rhythm in my game and made way too many unforced errors trying to be aggressive. There was no chance and the set was easily lost 2-6 to end the session. Though I lost, it feels good to be back playing tennis. I am sure there will be a marked improvement in my game as the days go by.

Tonight's dinner

Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens
Settings - Aperture:1.8, Shutter:1/60, ISO:200

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Today's fav pic

My favorite picture of the day - taken yesterday with the 50 mm nikon..

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tonight's dinner

Tonight's dinner photo, taken with new camera - A Nikon D40 with a Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens. Settings - Aperture:1.8, Shutter:1/60, ISO:200

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tennis Score: 1-6, 3-6 : Clay

My partner played really well and I played very inconsistently. Other than that no other explanation needs to be made.

The first set was a bit closer than it seems with several game points for me in vain. Clinching the point at 40-0 or 40-15 makes all the difference to the score.

In the second set, I started the set trying to slow down the pace of the game. It was initially successful with me going up 2-0. Then I guess my partner figured out my strategy and countered it well winning the next 5 games to go up 5-2. I then started to swing freely to win another consolation game. The next game was won and the game was over.

Tonight's dinner

With flash, F/2.3, 1/400 sec, ISO-200

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tennis Score: 5-7, 1-2 : Indoor

Playing after a long time (a week and two days) due to US consulate's insistence of blister-free fingers. I expected myself to be a bit out of touch, but was pleasantly surprised at the non-rustiness(?!?). First set was quite tough with my partner just managing to win the game that mattered.

The second set is too short to comment upon. It was good return to tennis.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tonight's dinner

Lousy photo of tonight's dinner. Thought more light from the window would make for a better photo. Apparently not..

The view from the window..

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tonight's dinner

A new location for the plate, directly under the light. The light is still not enough.
Settings: A - F1.8, ISO 200, S - 1/13

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tonight's dinner

Auto setting with flash.
Realization: Photos of fruits taken close up are better with flash. There is no substitute for light.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tennis Score: 4-6, 6-3, 4-6 - Clay

A full match after a long time. Playing on clay, under the blazing sun, with relatively old tennis balls, and moderately windy conditions, produced a tennis match where long rallies were the norm. 29 long games with an average of at least 15 shots a point has left me exhausted.

The first set was a close one with my partner being up 5-4 and me serving to stay in the set. As expected, I served really poorly and lost the game pretty easily.

In the second set, I was up 5-3 and had to serve for the set. Surprisingly, I managed to hold and win the set.

In the third set, I started really well and was up 2-0 very quickly. But I lost the next 4 games to be down 2-4. I fought hard and had to put in a great deal to get even at 4-4. But then lost the next two games to loose the set and the match.

It is a shame that I had to loose, but it was great to play a full match after such a long time.

Things to improve: Serve, especially in the third set. Stop running around the backhand so much.

Time: 2 hours and 20 mins.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

International Students in UK can travel to Switzerland without a visa

According to this page and the link "Example of all accepted UK residence certificates", students with a multiple entry UK visa do not need a visa to Switzerland. It also looks like anybody who has a multiple entry UK visa is eligible for visa-less entry to Switzerland.
clipped from

Do I need a Visa to enter Switzerland?

Overview of ID and Visa provisions for entry into Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein

Example of all accepted UK residence certificates

Swiss visa regulations

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Deadliest air.

An article about pollution in China that states that we Indians are a close second to China even in the deaths caused due to pollution caused

Deadly Air

Damaging air pollutants include sulfur dioxide, particulate matter—a mixture of extremely small particles and water droplets—ozone, and nitrogen dioxide. China accounts for roughly one-third of the global total for these pollutants, according to Krzyzanowski. (See a map of China.)

In neighboring India, air pollution is believed to cause 527,700 fatalities a year. In the United States, premature deaths from toxic air pollutants are estimated at 41,200 annually.

The combustion of fossil fuels—whether to power China's many automobiles, its burgeoning factories, or its expanding megacities—is a primary source of outdoor air pollutants.

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