Jul 22, 2014

GOLF AND NATURE

The game of Golf brings you closer to nature. As already brought out in an older post, ‘’Let’s talk Golf’’, It is played in the open air on some of the best real estate in the world. In certain Golf courses you get to see a variety of  wildlife, flora and fauna which include deer parks, water bodies with ducks, fishes, crabs etc. At times one comes across reptiles like snakes both poisonous and non poisonous ones, molitors and other species of lizards. Recently i got to see(for the first time in my life) a dancing peacock. Here is the picture shot from my cell camera.

The acronym for GOLF :
G : Greenery
O:  Oxygen
L:  Leisure
F :  Friendship


‘’Happy Golfing’’

Nov 20, 2013

The LowlandThe Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spellbinding! In her characteristic scrupulous prose, particularly her lucid description of human emotions as they manifest in immigrant Indian Americans, Jhumpa takes us through the rise of Naxalite movement in West Bengal and how it affects the life of the Mitras through three generations, shuttling between Rhode Island in the US and Tollygunge Kolkata.

Much better than her earlier novel 'Namesake'.

Must read the 'Luminaries' to figure out why Jhumpa failed to win the Man Booker 2013.


View all my reviews

Apr 11, 2013

SHAMNATH VILLA


Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ― 
Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out

I consider myself most fortunate that I got the opportunity to stay at Shamnath Villa for four weeks recently. As it turned out this happened to be one of my most memorable stays outside of my own home ever. Wait..wait..wait, it’s not a holiday resort or a seven star luxury hotel ……….. It is a bed n breakfast hotel located in Civil lines Delhi, a place referred to me by my friend Sudhanshu, on whose recommendation I went through its reviews at www.tripadvisor.com and decided on giving the place a try. And what a decision it turned out to be.
The credit for my wonderful stay goes largely to the hosts, Mr Arun Shamnath & Mrs Shalini Shamnath, who have given hospitality a totally new dimension. Most other guests in the hotel were repeat visitors or those who chose the place through referrals.
I
Mrs Shalini Shamnath with other guests
Shamnath villa is located in Civil Lines, right next to the serene and picturesque North Ridge a.k.a Kamla Nehru Ridge, on Shamnath Marg, which is certain to be one of the finest localities in North Delhi. I had no clue that a place like this even existed in Old Delhi. Shamnath Marg itself is named after the erstwhile Mayor of Delhi who happened to be Mr Arun Shamnath’s father. The villa is replete with artefacts, paintings, marble statuettes and photos reminiscent of the bygone era. It also has a lot of history for the inquisitively inclined.
Mr & Mrs Shamnath
The warm welcome that I received from the hostess, the ever so graceful, polished, courteous, compassionate, knowledgeable and erudite and Mrs Shalini Shamnath(one of the most remarkable women that I have had the good fortune of meeting) set the pace for things to come. One cannot but be touched by her caring, thoughtfulness, warmth and spontaneity.  Mrs Shamnath thereafter, was to become a constant companion on the dining table, many a times along with other guests. The day, more often than not would begin with a stimulating breakfast table conversation with one or the other of the guests and would end with dinner table tete – a- tete with another……….. and each one of these guests more learned than the other in his or her chosen field.  So much so, that I would look forward to the next opportunity to meet and chat with these fine people .......... and of course one would never tire of talking to the hosts themselves. I got to meet and talk to Anthropologists, educationists, businessmen, tourists, historians and so on. It was amazing to see so many people from across the globe congregating in this awesome hotel, make it their temporary abode and mingle freely with other guests like family. It is this family atmosphere created by the hosts assisted by the most charming staff, that makes this place unique and sets it apart, as opposed to a regular hotel with their impersonal and businesslike demeanour.
Mr Arun Shamnath's mother(extreme right) and father(second from left) 

Thank you very much Mr & Mrs Shamnath, I hope I have made a friend for life and will always look forward to meeting you again and again and ……. again.


Eating, and hospitality in general, is a communion, and any meal worth attending by yourself is improved by the multiples of those with whom it is shared.” 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     ― Jesse Browner

Jun 6, 2012

FLIP SIDE OF GOLF



“Golf is a good  walk spoiled.”
-         Mark Twain
Golf is a time-consuming sport. Consider the average round of golf is four hours plus driving time which could be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, then add in some refreshments at the end of the round and you are now at the five or six hour mark. If there's a tournament, well then all the schedules are thrown out of the window, as some could take most of or even all of the day. Some people like me try to cheat time a little by teeing off around dawn on a Sunday morning and finishing in a little over three hours, be home by 9 or 10. One of my Golf buddies told me he is home before his wife even wakes up. This is clearly one way to manage it, but it is still is a great deal of time.
Then there is the aspect that golf is not a cheap hobby. A new driver(the longest golf club) with a hefty price tag of Ten to Twenty five thousand rupees, or even more is nothing to shake a stick (or a new putter) at. Walk into any golf store and the average price of new irons can easily approach seventy grand. Now you need to buy golf balls and pay an average of over hundred to two hundred bucks a day to get on the course. We have not even started to talk about lessons, training aids, gloves, a bag to put the clubs in and of course range balls. The only thing I can do for free at the golf course is take a walk. But the most expensive part could well be the club membership fees, which include club membership and the monthly subscription.
          Though its good exercise, if one is looking to burn calories, it is not by a long way commensurate with the time consumed. The same amount of time spent in the Gym or in a more taxing sport like Squash or Basketball would burn four times more in calories.
          But the most important of all is the massive infrastructural requirements for this game, which make it out of reach and elusive for most people.
          Look at a couple of Golf course pictures :






For me, the worst part of playing golf, by far, has always been hitting the ball.

Jun 3, 2012

LET'S TALK GOLF


Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with implements singularly ill-designed for the purpose.
-          Winston Churchill

It was not until I was in my late twenties that Golf caught my fancy. It appeared to be one hell of a boring game, tailor-made for the old and lazy…. not at all an appropriate sport for the young, healthy, agile and athletic.
A walk around one of the Golf courses, which happened to be located right beside the grass tennis courts where I was a regular, changed a little bit of that perception. The lush tree lined fairways, manicured greens, water bodies, chirping birds, flora and fauna .……… was a sight that would make most urbanites salivate. Sights and sounds that are seldom to be seen by non Golfers living in concrete jungles called cities.
I finally picked up the game in my mid thirties …… and have wondered ever since, why I did not start earlier.
On the face of it, there could be nothing simpler than hitting a Golf ball. Unlike most other games where one tries to make contact with a moving ball, the golf ball just sits idle on the turf asking to be hit ………. but to the agony and chagrin of most people one can seldom get it right. Yes, not even Tiger Woods can get it right all the time.
Here is why I think golf is such a great game:
  • Golf is unique, in that it has a handicap system that levels the playing field. It is you and your handicap versus the other guy and his handicap. On this basis you can theoretically beat the best player in the world. How’s that?
  • Your progress in the game is measureable and quantifiable (unlike almost any other game) in terms of number of strokes you take to finish a round. Handicap is a measure of a Golfer’s proficiency(lower the better)
  • Unlike other games where you play against opponents, Golf can be played alone and against oneself. In fact the physical part of Golf is played not against opponents but against the golf course and the elements.
  • It is played in the open air on some of the best real estate in the world. There is nothing quite so beautiful as walking the fairways of a well manicured golf course. Can you imagine playing at Augusta or at St. Andrews? An experience of a lifetime I would think. I have not had that experience yet!
  • There are rules - very strict rules - but no umpires or referees and normally you are expected to be your own referee.
  • You seldom meet a not so nice person on the golf course.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect round. It is the most challenging game I have played with a great round one day and an absolute disaster the next. This alone is one of the main reasons why golf is so popular - the continual drive to improve.
  • Life long friends are made in golf.
  • It is quite simply the best game in the world and if you aren't one of us it is time you started living!
  • Most importantly, it’s the ideal game to be taken into retirement. Age is hardly an issue.
 I suppose I could go on and on as to why golf is so popular but I am sure I would just bore you, so here is my suggestion: grab yourself a set of clubs (beg borrow or steal) and get someone to take you out and have a hit around.
The exhilarating feeling you get when you make solid connection with a golf ball while walking around in the fresh air with good friends cannot be described. You simply have to experience it!
My bet is it won't be long before you too are hooked.
However, there is a flip side too. Wait for it in the next post.
To begin on a lighter note here is a video, Happy Golfing :