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As someone who has seen a good part of the great Australian dominance in world cricket, I found it a little anti-climatic when England drubbed Aussies in the fifth test at Oval to regain the Ashes trophy. England bowling has been good and occasionally brilliant, but I would rather put my weights on the lack of batsmanship from Australia for this defeat. Australia has been a touch unlucky in the first test as well, but will be a mean thing to hold as an excuse for not not giving credits to the English victory. For Australia, the absence of Langer, Hayden and Gilchrist made a mountainous difference. Ponting is not the old score machine anymore. Hussey is not the reincarnation of Bradman as he used to be in the initial few tests in terms of scoring, Clark has been brilliant, but his failure in few crucial innings didn’t help. And, England got the luxury of facing an Aussie attack without Warne and Mcgrath. If only Shane Warne had played this series (even at this age, post retirement) the Ashes owner would have been different. Looking at the way, the Oval pitch turned, I hasten to think that Warne would have ran over the 11 chaps in the England team. It is not realistic, I agree, but such is the nostalgia associated with the domianant Australia in the 1990s with Warne,Mcgrath,Waughs, Hayden, Ponting,Gilchirst, Langer etc.
To be fair, England under the low profile Andy Flower simply capitalized the Aussie weakness in bowling and to some extend on their batting. The over hyped Peterson didn’t make any significant contribution and considering that, it is an incredible achievement to the team coached by Flower. The English press must be over the moon with encomium showered on the cricketers and system around it.
The other big event came down with the Ashes 2009 curtain was the retirement of Andrew Flintoff from test cricket. A fascinating cricketer, an enthralling breed at times will be missed in tests. His gesture as a gentleman when his team is in the loosing side has been something worth recalling. I would like to think that he under achieved, but his commitment as a cricketer (in the playing arena) is largely unquestionable. He is not the best all rounder, as many calls, especially in the English press, but in my book he was a fine cricketing all rounder that England had over the last 10 years or so.
A pretty cool handwritten tex symbol identifier software is unleased and it is known as Detexify. I thought this is such a handy piece of online suit for the TeX community. One can try to write symbol and it simply display a list of nearest matching symbols. There is no absolute guarantee that it display the intended latex symbol immediately, but it does the job pretty well on most occasions.
Usain Bolt got it bettered. The man who had a difficult preparation after a minor car accident in Jamaica a few months ago, now came up with another thriller. He is unstoppable now. A mere 9.58 seconds to cross 100 meters! Phew! Tyson Gay did his best to better his own best, but Bolt had pinned other ideas for Berlin. Amazing Bolt. Taking a bow Mr fastest! The cricket lover and a fan of Tendulkar, this lighning champion is a darling. I love his typical West Indian style celebration! I am sure Tendulkar will be cherishing his fast paced fan having a dream run!
After a long gap (over six months or so), I finally played some tennis again. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t all that rusty in spite of the long layoff from any major sporting (barring some recent treks and once in a while cricket) activities during this period. After a few hits, my serves started holding and I slowly felt the rhythm. I started enjoying this beautiful game once again! In the Swiss heat, it was almost unbearable at times to absorb the hot air from the synthetic surface. On Friday and Saturday’s I played for two hours each until late evening. Yesterday, after the game we took dip in the Lake Geneva near the UNIL sports center arena at St.Sulpice. I never felt a better swim than this before. Such was the feeling of taking a clean water swimming after a good game of sports. It was getting darker and a swim between 2100 to 2200 on the fading summer light in the foothills of the Alps was simply amazing. I just cant compare a place to this amazing Lake Geneva region. Quite a place this is. After the swimming I seemed to have regained all vigour to play a few more games. Had there been floodlights, we were on for a few more perhaps! They say winning is an elixir for eternal youthfulness, but did I feel that swimming in lake Geneva comes close to that?
While, standing in the lake with chest level water and overlooking the Alps mountains, it reminded me of the photos of saints in olden days taking a morning yama’s in the Ganges overlooking the Himalayas. I’ve never been to Ganges, but for once I could perhaps feel a sense of their state of mind. I felt like singing one of those Yesudas classical songs, standing with half immersed body. I don’t quite remember whether I did one. I was in a state of fulfilment sort to say!
Have you ever imagined, a helicopter lifting a big catamaran? I for sure didn’t harness such hopes. Hence, it came as a jerk when I received some Emails from EPFL colleagues showing photos of the Alinghi-5 being lifted from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean cost Genoa (Italy). The photographs are stunning and it undermines the power of these modern warfare choppers. The helicopter used is apparently a Russian Super Puma breed.
I just finished listening/watching a very nice conversation between Harry Kreisler and Kenzaburo Oe. I remember how much I had enjoyed his very touching style of story telling and how soon I had become a fan of Oe after reading his remarkable book “A personal matter”. Oe’s “A personal matter” depicted an amazing journey of a father through the cultutal walls, creativity, honesty and responsibility. Since then, I have almost forgotten about him (and my reading has come down drastically, after I started working in industry). I think he is one of the finest writers of this century, perhaps not known outside Japan as much as he should be. I really enjoyed this conversation. It is quite touching, the way, he and his wife learned to react to his brain damaged child converse with them, for the firstime when their son was five years old or something. Incredibly human!
It has been raining since evening here in Lausanne. It was about 19.50 when I came back home for dinner. The light was getting dimmer and the sign of rain was there very much looming. Almost when I romped home, the rain started. My windows shutter seems to love this rain drops falling tirelessly onto them. They make a pretty nice chitter chatter sound which I just cant stop cherishing. Tired to do anything else today, but the rain is still there and the aluminium shutter still make that rhythmic reaction to the rain drops. It is only a moderate rain, but the sound of the water droplets when it embrace the tree leaves and this window is a lovely one. I have been an avid rain fan since childhood. The tiled house of my parents in Kerala in monsoon come close to this. I am ecstatic and now just want to wait longer to enjoy this beauty. Sleep can wait for a while, cant it? Let me stop everything now and just embrace this rain music. How beautiful this Suisse rain?
After a long thought and a near decision call against it, I eventually succumbed to the temptation of going to the best firework show in Europe. The finale of Fêtes de Genève 2009 was today! We took the 20.45 train from Lausanne and reached just in time for the festive event. It was a bit of struggle initially to find a place, when folks were moving and parading across the streets in all possible directions. We walked and walked and finally stopped when the fireworks started. A good way to decide when to stop moving, huh!
The musical fireworks show was awesome. That is an understatement. It was a not to miss event. A touch overcrowded Geneva was, but that was to be expected off an event of this magnitude. I didn’t take any photos. It wouldn’t have come nicer anyway with my outdated camera. Not to be disappointed nevertheless. Here is a link (Note: This is not my photo. The copyrights stays with the owner of the link and its sources). I hope to post some more, depending on the photo availability from friends who may have taken a few snaps.
The fire show was coupled with traditional music (and hence it was more of a musical fireworks) and rhythmic tunes. It simply drew admiration from everyone present there, which in number was anything more than a 10000. Even though it was not that Sth clear, it appeared to me that, music from all over the world were played. A Hindi (India rather) one from the movie Lagaan too was played (I guess it was this). In a way, this presented the crowd a journey around the world of music, a little lip service, but nevertheless highly enjoyable experience. The stupendous thing is the setting of the Lake in a moonlit night, with remarkable display of colourful magic in the air.
As they say, the fireworks outshine the stars, the sky bursts with colour and the lake reflects it all. It was well and truly that. Every year a different theme is chosen for the show. The theme gives meaning and rhythm and grandour to the event. This year, a pyrotechnic vision of one thousand and one nights (Arabian nights as we know in English) was chosen and it simply rocked the Geneva crowd for about 1 hour from 2200 hrs on a rather pleasant day (The afternoon rain infact cleared things a bit). From East to West, through the Tropics, three acts presented amazing visual displays cast by music from the local area and elsewhere selected by the pyrotechnics’s themselves.
The show opened with traditional Arabian music, apparently chosen because the guest of honour presented was the Sultanate of Oman. It was marvellous to say the least. It sounded a little like Punabi to me, but then as you would guess, there are many similarities of music from the east (and partly because of my lack of knowledge in vividly distinguishing musical style). The first scene reflected the thousand and one eastern nights, from Arabia to Asia. The initial act evoked the shimmering splendour of the East with a superb golden rain. Yes, it was a fabulous scene where it appeared as though there was a drizzle of gold in the air. So charming it was. A superb oriental music tuned to its rhythm made it even more stunning.
The second scene reflected tropics, apparently conceived by some famous Argentine from in Buenos Aires (They mentioned the name during commentary, but I failed to pick the name). With south American (Latin American to be exact) music in the background, it was indeed a magical display of colours depicting the thousand and one tropical nights.
The third and final reflected Western nights. It was a mix of slow and fast notes of western music. I was wondering why such a mix, but I was told later that, it was deliberately chosen to depict the surprise effect. Some people liked it, but it sounded a bit too noisy for me at times. Some french (European!) and north American music were played. The firework was big and loud this time, needless to say it was great, barring the excessive sound. The sound however shook the crowd and made them heavenly alert and cheerful. It was a fabulous scene, to the eyes, but not so soothing to my ears (I would have preferred more to see and lesser burden on ears; But largely people wouldnt have complained!).
The famous fountain of Geneva (Jet d’Eau) was switched off during the fire show. In the end it appeared to be on, but the smoke around didnt make it so visible from the bridge where I was standing. I had to catch up a train to Lausanne and hence didn’t spend too much time in Geneva after that.
In the end, my last minute decision to take a train to Geneva paid off. It was worth it. I was initially pondering on whether this is better than the firworks in New York during the July 4 independence day. Or for that matter, a Trichur Pooram fireworks in India. Those have their charm, but Fêtes de Genève has a charm of her own. It is definitely a beautiful event.
The one hour pyrotechnic in the air resulted in quite a bit of smithereens of paper and powder floating in the air. A fair share of it came to my body as well. A hot shampoo shower at midnight cleaned up a bit of it. The Geneva river looked more like a polluted river in the end, but the civic authorities will hopefully clean it tomorrow. The river is so beautiful to be dirtied! What is to be a good city if not there a clean river flowing through her heart?
Update [2009, Aug 10]:
Here is a video sample I found in youtube. It spans just over a minute only, but the (video) quality is pretty good.
and another one here (You can check the Youtube follow up links for more).