Monday, September 20, 2021

Visit to a bank

Image courtesy: Pixabay

Recently I went to a bank to clarify some doubts regarding closing a second account I have with them.

It is a salary account, which was opened when I was working at a different office. That account is now practically inactive because there is no money coming into it now.

At the bank, I explained to the executive the doubts I had about closing that account. She didn't have all the answers and consulted one of her colleagues. 

Meanwhile, she had a look at my other account (not the one I wanted to close) and suggested that I open a fixed deposit. 

(Money in a fixed deposit account earns a slightly higher rate of interest, depending on the duration of the deposit, compared to the normal savings bank account.)

I was a bit taken aback by that suggestion since I was at the bank to resolve an issue and not to open a fixed deposit account.

I told her that there's not much money in that account to make opening a fixed deposit worthwhile. 

But her argument was: even if it is not much money, why do you want to let it just lie there? Why don't you move it to an account that will get you more interest?

I said I would think over it, and that if I needed to open one, I shall do that myself later at home, at my convenience, via internet banking. 

I also quickly reminded her if her colleague could make any progress with the doubts that I had. She said her colleague was busy and that I would have to wait for five minutes. 

I said that's fine, and that I am in no hurry.

Meanwhile, she broached the topic of the fixed deposit again. But this time, she was more upfront.

"I will get some points if I open a fixed deposit for a customer," she said with a smile.

What she was referring to was: every account she gets opened would fetch her a point, which might help her at the time of periodic performance assessment, and who knows, if she is really successful, she might even win an award!

I thought for a moment. Anyway, it wouldn't entail any loss for me. If at all, it would only be some small gain by way of interest for that pittance I have in that account.

She was evidently pleased with my acquiescence and enthusiastically went through the process of opening my fixed deposit.

So, what about closing that account, for which I come to the bank? 

Well, that didn't happen. Because I was told that I have to sort out some other related issues before I can close it. Maybe in a couple of weeks, it'll be done.

I exited the bank with a sort of satisfaction that it wasn't an altogether wasted effort. If not mine, someone else's work got done.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Djokovic's dream crumbles

Source: US Open/Twitter

(This is a continuation of yesterday's post)

As I had planned, yesterday I went to bed early, kept the alarm for 5 am, to catch the final moments of the Novak Djokovic - Daniiel Medvedev match.

My hope was it would be an intense battle between the two, which would stretch well beyond three hours.

When the alarm rang, I checked the BBC Sports app, to see how the match was progressing. 

The match was over! Medvedev, the new US Open Champion.

I went back to sleep. I only wanted to know how quickly Djokovic capitulated.

MEDVEDEV SHOW

I watched the highlights, first thing in the morning. 

The 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 match of the Grand Slam Final lasted a mere 2 hours 15 mins. That's just 24 minutes more than the two sets of the women's final yesterday! I couldn't believe that! 

It was a one-sided game - but for a change, it wasn't Novak who was hogging the limelight.

The Serbian -- who had said a few days ago that he would play the final as if it was the last match of his career in order to achieve the goal of the Calendar Slam -- was a pale shadow of his former self. His body language, for some reason, wasn't of one who was gunning for a historic title. 

It's quite possible that he got weighed down by his own expectations. Medvedev, who had nothing to lose, just let his game flow. And he was brilliant. He had the ball fully under his control. 

Especially when moved to the net, he clearly knew where to land the ball. Each of those passing shots and drop shots was exquisitely timed and placed. Djokovic looked simply stranded. 

The numbers bear out what played out. Novak had 38 unforced errors. Though Daniiel too was off the mark with 31 unforced errors, he had 38 winners in comparison to 27 of Novak. Russian sent down 16 aces, while the Serbian had just 6.

WHY MEDVEDEV HAD TO WIN THE CUP

If it was Calendar Slam that drove Djokovic, it was something else that motivated Medvedev. Watch the video below:

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The New York fairytale teen party

Emma Raducanu
Source: US Open/Twitter

I am glad I stayed up late in the night, till 4 am this early morning. It was a sheer joy to watch some high-class, scintillating tennis. 

The US Open Women's Singles final -- between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez -- was a class apart.

A straight-set victory needn't be a one-sided damp squib. The 6-4 6-3 scoreline doesn't say it all. Till the final moments of the second set, there was not more than a lead of 2 games for either of them. 

That just indicates how close the match progressed. No wonder these two sets took almost two hours, 1 hour 51 mins, to be precise.  

Leylah Fernandez
Source: US Open/Twitter

AN UNUSUAL FINAL 

When we think of the final of any tournament, what comes to mind are senior players. Because we think it's the seniors who are more experienced, and therefore they automatically have a higher level of skillsets.

Here we had two teenagers -- Emma Raducanu born on the 13th of November 2002, and Leylah Fernandez born on the 6th of September 2002. (Yesterday was 9/11, and when 9/11 happened they weren't even born.)

Both were born in Canada. Their mothers are both Asian.

Emma's parents are Ian from Romania and Renee from China. Leylah's father is Jorge from Ecuador and her mother is Irene from the Philippines.

Emma's family moved to England when she was two.

TENNIS AT ITS BEST

Yesterday was the culmination of the fairytale progress of two remarkable tennis players.

Leylah Fernandez's route to the final was probably more impressive. Among those she beat were Osaka, Kerber and Sabalenka. But there were many three-setters and tie-breaks. 

Contrast that with Emma Raducanu's route: Bencic and Sakkari were among the players she beat. But she didn't drop a set. All straight sets. No tiebreaks. 6-4 margin was the closest.

Yet, either of the two teenagers could have been holding the trophy, but Emma took her unbelievable dream run, which she has been having over the last three weeks, to its logical conclusion. 

Both rallied. Both held serves. Both broke as well. 

Neither gave the other the wide margin that would have made the match very predictable. 

Forehand and backhand crosscourt shots sent the opponent scurrying from one end to the other. Some were taken. The others ended up as top-class winners. 

Either way, it was tennis at its best.

ONE JARRING MOMENT THOUGH

The most crucial and exciting bit was at the end of the 2nd set, with Emma at 5-3 short of just a game to become the champion.

From 0-15 down, she moved up 30-30. She served. Leylah returned cross-court. Emma sent it back cross-cross again. 

Then, Leylah sent one down the line, forcing Emma to run to the left to take it. But she slid, legs bent.

She scraped her left knee on the ground but recovered quickly to rush to the other end and take the shot. But that went long, much to her disappointment. 

That got Leylah ahead, 30-40, just one point away from getting a breakpoint. 

Source: ABC (Australia)

Emma found that her knee was bleeding. She said later at the press conference that she wanted to play on lest it would break her rhythm. But the umpire, on probably seeing blood oozing, said the play had to stop.

As her team got to cleaning the wound and plastering the cut, at the other end, Leylah thought her rival was taking an unjustifiably long break. She complained to the umpire, and it went on for a while. 

Source: ABC (Australia)

Quite possible that Leylah didn't know the extent of injury that Emma had suffered. Rules are very clear that if a player has sustained a cut that is bleeding, the match has to be stopped. And the physio can request a medical timeout.

I am sure this would have been explained to Leylah, but she seemed to be persisting with her complaint. Probably in the heat of the moment. It looked like very poor sportsmanship. This is what she said later at the post-match presser.

"I honestly did not know what was happening with Emma ... I didn't know how serious her fall was, so that's why I went to see the official and ask her about it. ... It was just too bad that it happened in that specific moment with me with the momentum. But it's sports, it's tennis. Just got to move on." 

Emma got back on the court. She scored to make it 40-40. Then it went like this: 40-AD, 40-40, AD-40, and then an ace, the winner.

IT'S ALL FORGOTTEN

But at the end of it all, on the podium, it was all forgotten. Unlike some of the seniors, they didn't seem to be rivals. The body language was like that of friends -- the camera did catch them smiling at each other and chatting. 

Leylah Fernandez sounded naturally disappointed but she was absolutely gracious. She looked forward to more final matches with Emma. And she paid glowing tributes to the resilience of the people of New York during the past 20 years.

 
AMAZING RECOVERY

This was Emma Raducanu's just second Grand Slam tournament, after appearing in the Wimbledon. On the 6th of July, after playing for 1 hour 15 mins, and trailing Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 0-3, she retired. 

She was so overwhelmed by the expectations of a roaring home crowd that she apparently had breathing difficulty. Some said it was an anxiety attack. What a tearful exit from her first Grand Slam appearance it was.

There was no automatic entry for her to the US Open. She had to play qualifying matches. Not quite sure of her chances, she had apparently booked her flight ticket back to Britain.

I am sure she must have put her mind and body into getting out of such a low depth she had plunged into. And what better proof of her resilience than the victory yesterday.

THE FUTURE

It's not the first time youngsters have won a major cup after defeating experienced players. But that's one thing. What matters finally and defines true class is consistency.

Staying on top is far more difficult than reaching the top.

Both Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez will know that in the coming months and years. The world's focus will be on them once again coming January when they are at Melbourne for the Australian Open.

Wish both the very best, and hope they have a long and enjoyable career. And they continue to regale fans like me.

MEN'S FINAL

In a few hours, the men's final will begin. It will start at 1.30 in the night Indian Standard Time. I have decided not to sit through the night.

All eyes are on Novak. If he wins it would be the first time in 52 years, since any male player has won all four Grand Slams in one calendar year. 

If it's a one-sided damp squib, then it's a sheer waste. 

If it's a tough duel (what I would actually want to watch), then it's going to drag on till 5 o'clock or even 6 o'clock in the morning.

I am planning to go to bed early, and hope to get up early. So, maybe I will be able to catch the final thrilling moments.

Let's see how it goes.

(Next part of this post tomorrow)

Saturday, September 4, 2021

A welcome change

My brother-in-law and family had to travel out of Bengaluru for a few weeks. That would have meant my mother-in-law, who stays with them, would be alone at home. She asked us if it was okay for us to move in with her so that she would have company. We said yes, and moved in on Aug 19.

It's about 15 km from our home. But being here is a wholly different feeling altogether. Different locality; different surroundings; different routes for my morning/evening walks; different work-from-home settings ... It's not necessary to travel far away for a change!

Coincidentally, last week, my sister-in-law and family traveled down to Bengaluru from Bhopal on some work. They too joined us for a few days. It's been quite a few years since we met them. So, it was a good family time. 

How much ever video calls have succeeded in "reducing the distance" between people staying miles apart, nothing like being in the same room and talking to one another. 

After the short sojourn, we are returning home tomorrow.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

India in Olympics

Tokyo 2020 closing ceremony (Source: Olympics.com)

One of the reasons I didn't blog for almost a month was the Olympics. I wasn't checking blogs either during that time. 

I was totally engrossed in the live telecast of so many events, both in which India was participating and those in which India wasn't.

SIMULTANEOUS LIVE FEEDS  

Sony was the official broadcast partner for India, and they did a really good job. There were separate live feeds of almost all the events. There was a separate channel for events in which India was participating.

Every evening, I picked the events that I wanted to watch the next day and made sure I kept myself free, as far as possible. With so many events being telecast live simultaneously, I had to constantly toggle the channels!

The official Olympics website and app were also good with live updates of all the events. I used to keep a watch on that as well so I could switch when an event became interesting.

The only constraint was the timing. Japan is three and a half hours ahead of India. So on some days, it was a bit of a struggle to wake up early after a late night at work.

RISE AND FALL OF HOCKEY

The only game in which India was good at in the Olympics was field hockey. India won its first Olympic medal in 1928 when its hockey team won the gold. It remained unbeaten winning six gold medals consecutively till 1956.

Then it was silver in 1960, gold in 1964, bronze in 1968 and 1972, nil in 1976 and gold in 1980. All in hockey. Then onwards India hasn't done well in the game.

RISE OF OTHER SPORTS AND GAMES

India had to wait till 1996 when other sportspersons began making their presence felt and began picking up medals.

1996

Leander Paes - bronze - tennis

2000

Karnam Malleswari - bronze - weightlifting

2004

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore - silver - shooting

Abhinav Bindra. (Source: India Today)
2008 

Abhinav Bindra - gold - shooting

Vijendra Singh - bronze - boxing 

Sushil Kumar - bronze - wrestling

2012

Vijay Kumar - silver - shooting

Sushil Kumar - silver - wrestling

Gagan Narang - bronze - shooting

Saina Nehwal - bronze - badminton

Mary Kom - bronze - boxing

Yogeshwar Dutt - bronze - wrestling

2016 

P V Sindhu - silver - badminton

Sakshi Malik - bronze - wrestling

THE BEST SO FAR

Neeraj Chopra (Source: Sportstar)

This year was the best so far. Compared to all previous years, India competed in the most number of events (18), sent the most number athletes (70 men and 54 women), and got the most number of medals (7).

Neeraj Chopra - gold - javelin throw

Mirabai Chanu - silver - weightlifting

Lovlina Borgohain - bronze - boxing

P V Sindhu - bronze - badminton

Ravi Kumar Dahiya - silver - wrestling

Bajrang Punia - bronze - wrestling

Team - bronze - men's hockey 

NARROW MISSES

Two events in which India lost the bronze medal match but won the hearts were one, in bronze in which young Aditi Ashok finished fourth after staying tied in 2nd place for almost three days; and two, the women's hockey team that fought so hard in the bronze medal match but lost to Britain.

Besides these two:

Vinesh Phogat lost in the wrestling quarterfinals

Mary Kom lost in boxing pre-quarterfinal

Deepika Kumari (world No.1 in women's recurve category) lost in the quarterfinals

Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary lost in shooting 2nd qualification stage

BRIGHT PROSPECTS

There are many reasons why India hasn't generally done well. 

One is the lack of good global-level infrastructure for athletes to train; two, lack of resources for them to go and stay abroad for long durations to train; and the third is the traditional attitude among Indian parents putting more emphasis on their children's studies rather than in sports.

All of these have been changing in the past decade or so, and that's getting reflected in India's performance on the global stage, not just in the Olympics, but more importantly, in many other world championship events.

And I am sure the best is yet to come.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

From Feedburner to follow.it

Pic source: Pixabay

Finally, I made the transition. This has been pending since April when Google announced that they were winding up Feedburner's email subscription service for publishers.

I searched the web for options, and there are quite a few of them. Finally I chose follow.it as the alternative to Feedburner. I was also encouraged by this post of my blog pal Liz who too opted for follow.it. 

By the way, follow.it is spelt with the first letter 'f' in lower case and not capitals.

follow.it has a simple user interface; and, there are links to good explainers for people like me who are transitioning to a new service to offer feed subscriptions to readers.

The first step in the transition process was to download the list of my email subscribers from Feedburner. Not quite unexpected, only 15 out of 370 email IDs looked genuine! The rest seemed to be bot-triggered spam.

The readers who had subscribed via Feedburner have now been moved to follow.it. If I have missed anyone, please do re-subscribe to the feed via follow.it.

follow.it has a few additional features that I didn't find on Feedburner. One of them is that readers can set filters, like specific tags or keywords or even go by popularity to customise their experience. 

There are multiple ways in which the email subscriptions can be received, like single email, or multiple emails as and when new posts are published. There is an option to see these feeds on follow.it. One can also get the feeds on Telegram by linking it to follow.it. 

Apparently, more features like Chrome extension, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc are in the pipeline.

These are all available in the free plan. The paid option opens up a few more features like detailed analytics of subscriptions.

This is the link to follow my blog. Or you have the widget on top of the right panel on this page.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Le premier blog article en Français / First blog post in French

On April 14, last year, I said, "Maybe one day, there will be a blog post in French!" I thought I shouldn't delay that début any longer.

But before that, there was a problem. Though the English and French alphabets are the same, French has five types of accents. The pronunciation of a letter with and without an accent is different. 

The five are:

L'accent aigu (é)

L'accent grave (è)

L'accent circonflexe or "chapeau" (â)

La cédille (ç)

Le tréma (ë)

I needed French a keyboard or some method by which I could get these accents.

Windows 10 has an option to have keyboards of different languages. I enabled the one for French. 

But the problem with that was that the keys aren't the same. Like for example, where we have 'a', it's 'q'. So, if I type out femme on a French keyboard, it'll turn out to be: fe,,e.

I went to Youtube and searched how I could get French accents on Windows English keyboard. I found that there are so many methods one could do that. But the one I liked, the simplest one, was this.

This is the keyboard shortcut. 

é = Cntr ' e 

è = Cntr ` e

ê = Cntr Shift ^ 

ë = Cntr Shift ;

ç = Cntr ,

But it works only on MS Word; not on Blogger Draft or Notepad. 

So, here I go. Needless to say, I typed this out on MS Word and then pasted it here. The translation is below that:

*************

Bonjour! Comment ça va?

Je m’appelle Pradeep, et j’habite á Bengaluru en Inde.

J’apprends le Français alors j’essaye – pour la premier fois – écrire un article sur mon blog en Français.

S’il y a des erreurs, pardon, s’il vous plaît.

Aujourd’hui, c’est le premier jour d’août.

C’est dimanche.

C’est un jour férié donc je ne dois pas aller au bureau.

Hello! How are you?

My name is Pradeep, and I live in Bengaluru in India.

I am learning French, so I am trying -- for the first time -- to write a blog post in French.

Please excuse me if there are errors.

Today is the first day of August.

It's Sunday.

It's a public holiday and I don't have to go to office.

*************

I am sure to get some usages / prepositions wrong, which I guess will get better with more exposure to the language.