Thursday, August 20, 2009

EPL Midweek: Testimony of things to come

The Premier league is less then week old, and clearly there were a lot of unpredictable results already. Most notable may be the triumph of the newly promoted Burnley, over Manchester United, a remarkable achievement for a club who has not been in the top flight since 1976. Things are not looking too good for Man U though, after the narrow win in the first match, the loss here clearly shows that they have lost their most lethal weapon in attack, their cutting edge by not having Ronaldo.

Second was the 4-0 Liverpool win over Stoke, to come here after the loss in the first match and put a performance of this magnitude takes some doing, highlighting the quality of the team and at the same time the unpredictability.

Most positive result was that of Tottenham’s 5-1 victory over Hull City, what a start to the season for the Tottenham, although it is too early to say, we might just see them giving fight to the last four, as they say well begun is half done.

One predictable result was that of the Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Sunderland, and more importantly showing that there are possibilities of succeeding with the Diamond formation. It was the best we have seen of Deco for sometime and probably this is the best place, top of the diamond, where he can do his bit. The bonus of course was getting Ballack on the scoring sheet, a few more goals and we may see a completely different Ballack, hopefully doing justice to his potential.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bhimbetka and Bhojpur

Day 6: 30th January 2005 Bhopal, Bhimbetka and Bhojpur

The travel to Bhimbetka situated about 45 kms from Bhopal was quite an experience, buses to this place is rare (or atleast was in 2005), it is almost like MTDC wants to hide this place a little longer. We had to take a mini bus, which never maintained anything like timing, the state of the mini bus is so disappointing that it is better not to detail, so much so it was a relief get off and reassuring we did so in one piece.

We got down in a place called Abdulla Kanj, at a distance of about 3.5 kms from the destination, we inquired with a few people and realized to our horror that there was no scheduled transportation to the caves, and so we walked the narrow tarred and almost completely isolated road to the acclaimed cave shelters. The place is spread across a few kilometers and we had to avail the services of a guide to ensure that we did not get lost and covered all the important points.

Bhimbetka, is a cluster of more than 700 rock shelters with stone age paintings, some of which are more then 9000 years old. The word Bhimbetka is said to be derived from Bhimbaithka, meaning sitting place of Bhima, a very popular character from the Mahabharata, one of the Panadavas who was renowned for his immense strength. The rock shelters and caves of Bhimbetka have a number of interesting paintings which depict the lives and times of the people who lived in the caves

Executed mainly in red and white with the occasional use of green and yellow with themes taken from the everyday events of the past, the scenes usually depict hunting, dancing, music, horse and elephant riders animal fighting, honey collection decoration of bodies, disguises, masking and household scenes. One rock, popularly referred to as “Zoo Rock”, depicts elephants, sambar, bison and deer.

A strange thing is that the rocks here have a smooth shape with stunning hues and textures, which looks like the ones formed because of erosion by flowing water. There are a quite a few who believe this place once upon a time was in water, which is hard to believe seeing the surrounding and not so hard to believe when you see the patterns on the rock

We did not find any bus or for that matter any other means on transport for going to Abdulla Kanj, and hence decided to walk the 3.5 kms stretch again (we knew it was not going to be easy this time after exhausting our energy walking around the cave shelters). I kept on telling my friends how lucky we would be if we were to get lift in one of the returning cars. We decided to try our luck and started signaling for a lift to passing cars, and to our great surprise one wonderful couple stopped and we got in, when we started talking they realized we were also going to Bhopal and offered to drop us all the way till there.

We could not believe our ears when they gave us the next pleasant surprise, that they were planning to see the famous Bhojpur temple on the way and that we could join them if we liked. We had actually planned to see the Bhojpur temple but had given up because of the poor transport system and lack of time. So this was actually the best surprise they could give us and we all gave thanks to the God for our great luck. We still admire the couple for their courage and helping nature, of giving lift to three men who were total strangers. The couple also had a very cute son, who took a liking to me, and so I had the privilege of carrying him in and around the temple.

Bhojeshwar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, located on top of a hill is the most important place in Bhojpur. The temple was built sometime around 11th century. The structure towers to a height of 66 feet, with a central linga and an attractive dome covering it. The dome although incomplete, is beautiful and captivating. The dome is supported by four richly carved pillars. The architecture is fantastic and the carvings on the inner walls of the dome are extraordinary. The place is filled with monkeys eagerly waiting to snatch the eatables from the hand of the visitors.

We returned to our hotel by around 7:30 PM, and took part in the late night wedding ceremony and reception. It was really a new experience to see the bridegroom coming in riding a horse amidst the sound of crackers, people singing, shouting and dancing. The wedding I believe went on till the dawn of the next day; we though excused ourselves after midnight, and went to our rooms and slept. The following day we started the long 30 + hour journey back to Bangalore by Train, concluding our week long adventure, with beautiful memories etched in our minds to be remembered and cherished.

Day 1: 25th January 2005 - Introduction
Day 2: 26th January 2005 - Hyderabad (Charminar, Golconda fort, Birla mandir)
Day 3: 27th January 2005 - Aurangabad (Ellora, Daulatabad Fort, Biwi ka Maqbara)
Day 4: 28th January 2005 - Ajanta Caves
Day 5: 29th January 2005 - Bhopal and Sanchi

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chelsea bring down the hulks of Hull city

I may not be the only one, after seeing the Hull City team, who needed to confirm that their team name was Hull City and not Hulk City, with the current set of players the latter name actually suits them better.

Chelsea definitely had more possession of the ball, but found it really difficult to break down the City defense; they also had a little difficulty in dealing with set pieces largely due to height advantage of the Hull City players. It looks to me that the diamond may not always be the right approach to bring out the best from Chelsea players. Yesterday the Diamond was not very effective as there was no width and midfield was crowded to say the least. It was not a great game to watch for the Chelsea fans, as they would believe the team is capable of much more.

Two players who did not play to the potential was Mikel and Anelka, Mikel was steady but definitely lacked the pace and Anelka never looked like he was going to score and was more effective when he strayed away from the box.

The man who made the difference was definitely Drogba, his first goal was excellent from a superbly taken free kick. The second goal needed a little bit of luck, but no surprise it was with, arguably the best player of the day to give Chelsea 2-1 lead and the match in the 90th minute of the game. Carlo has got the first taste of the pressure being a Chelsea coach and if he doesn’t change things soon, there may be more such experiences to follow.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chelsea Bags the Community Shield

It was a great match for a friendly cup, and I feel the better team won. Manchester United never looked the same side which won the premier league last season and it was quite evident that they missed the cutting edge of Ronaldo. The dominance shown by Chelsea in the second half will surely give something to think about for SAF, even when Chelsea was leading 2 goals to 1, it was Chelsea who was playing the more attacking football, and it never looked like Manchester United will score. They did score though thanks to brilliance of Rooney and for someone who watched second half it was a surprise they did. The penalties also showed the strength and experience of the Chelsea squad as they never missed a penalty and Manchester United could convert only one from their 3.

This Man U side looks the weakest I have see in the last few years, and gives a lot of promise for Chelsea and Liverpool and their title hopes. It is too early to say though and Man U is famous for springing in surprises most often then not, but if Sunday’s match was testimony of things to come then I would not feel too comfortable, if I was a Man U fan.

As they say well begun is half done, Chelsea has begun well but they have miles and miles to travel this season.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Manchester City on Target?

Manchester City’s leviathan spending spree this year will not ensure that they are contenders for the Premier League title but then I do not feel that it is their target too. Their only aim this year is a Champions League birth, anything more is a bonus.

Let us be realistic they have enough and more money to buy the best, but how will you attract the best without the incentive playing in the champions league. If premier league was their objective than they would have surely replaced the coach, Mark Hughes, who was a great player but his status as a coach is still questionable. Is this the foundation for much more and better things to come, may be, as a matter of fact I strongly feel so. They have spent 200+ million dollars now and I understand that it is not even in the club’s balance book, it was just a gift from the owners, that’s right, a small gift. They were ready to pay John Terry 250000 pounds a week, almost twice the money he was getting which was 135000 pounds a week in Chelsea which has now been increased to 150000 as per the new contract. (It is different matter that John Terry did not take the bait and preferred to stay at Chelsea).

What I am pondering though is will the likes of Christiano Ronaldo and John Terry among others be able to resist a move for almost double their weekly wages if Manchester City had a coach the caliber of the Special One (Jose Mourinho), or SAF or Gus Hiddink and if they were playing in the champions league next year and with the prospect of buying more best players. I do not think anyone, remotely human can resist it. So if you see in reality when money flow is infinite then only thing they are aiming for this year is first 4 finishes in the premier league which will enable them to play in the Champions league next year. I believe with the current purchases of Tevez, Cruz, Adebayor, Gareth Barry, and the two defenders along with Robinho they have enough strength to fight for a first 4 finish, looks like it will a close though with Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal being the favorites to be the best four. It will be battle between City and Arsenal for the fourth place.

If they qualify for the Champions League then the next year transfers will be even more maddening, easily humbling the extravagant spending of Real Madrid this year, probably starting with a new manager with an unimaginable pay. So do you think they are on target? Your suggestions are welcome.