Sunday, November 22, 2009

Drenched - Part 2

There she stood again, at her favourite spot on one of the most beautiful beaches of the country. On her four sides, stood the four things that she loved the most: the sea, the rocks, the tall, wonderful coconut trees and ... HIM. Yes, he was there, beside her, admiring her beauty.
Two years ago, on a beautiful Saturday evening, she had met him for the first time. She was busy making a lovely hut from the wet sand at the beach just when a huge wave came from nowhere and threatened to take away her favourite old pair of sandals. He was stealthily watching her amateur sand creation when his eyes saw the wave take away her sandals. Purely out of instinct, he dived into the sea with a mission not meant to fail. She was startled at the THUD sound and turned back, unaware of what was goign to happen next. Fighting the waves, he finally succeeded and managed to grab her sandals and waved them at her. She was speechless and looked down as if searching for his feet and then HE noticed it. His chappals were gone! The expression on her face was a mixture of "Thanks" and "Sorry" but she couldn't find words to say it.
Not worrying about his lost chappals, he came out of the sea and came and stood in front of her. There they were, staring into each other's eyes, with the house right in between them, as if it was destined to be their own. They didn't speak a word for an hour, they didn't have to, as their eyes were doing most of the talking.
Sometimes in life, one wishes to say so many things but alas, doesn’t find the right words. In those moments, silence speaks a lot – more than any literature can comprehend. Heart’s emotions are too many and words are too few. These are the vibes which keep life running, new, vibrant and interesting.
She never saw him after that day, but used to go there every saturday evening and wait at the same spot, which had by now become her favourite spot. Days, months, years passed by but the routine continued.
And then, one fine day, her prayers were answered, when he appeared out of nowhere and stood in front of her at the very same spot. She didn't have the courage to ask him where he was all this while, but the lost connection between the eyes was restored and that made her forget everything. They had spoken for the first time today. The sun was setting and it had started drizzling a bit. He told her to go home but she was in no mood to. Everyone else on the beach had gone back home and there they stood, just both of them, hand in hand, eyes locked. It was as if the things started where it was left five years ago. The sun had bid good bye for the day and it was starting to get dark. And then it started to rain all of a sudden. But still they didn't feel like going anywhere. It surely was the best day of her life, of their life. There were even ready to breathe their last at that very place. Her chunni had become completely wet by now and so was his shirt. But neither of them cared, for it had never felt better before. She was feeling a little cold now and she knew there was one only 1 thing out there to keep her warm. She didn't have to wait long for him to do it, he pulled her close to himself, close to his heart, and there she stood in his arms... drenched.....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Table Tennis Tournament in Honeywell

On Monday, 22nd September 2008, began the first ever open Table Tennis tournament within HTS. With a lot of good players in HTS, the sports management decided to conduct a tournament open for all employees with an aim to encourage maximum participation. In all, we had 4 different categories of tournaments, viz. Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles played over a period of 6 days. The total number of entries for the events was over a whopping 150 and was well supported by large number of spectators.

The first tournament - Men’s Singles, having more than 110 entries, started on Monday with a big bang with almost 50 matches played on the first day itself. After a couple of early upsets, the Men’s singles event saw several nerve-wracking matches spread over 3 days. The tournament witnessed some great turnarounds, some of them mentioned below. A well-fought 5-set quarter final match was played between Sudhanshu Jain and Ganesh Hegde in which Sudhanshu emerged victorious after losing the first games. Another fantastic match was a quarter-final match played between Hemant Joshi and Parashuram Osekar. Hemant won the first two games 14-12 and 11-9 but Parashu fought back to take the next two games 11-7 and 11-8. However, Hemant used all his experience to take the fifth game 11-7 and move into the semi-final.
Probably, the match of the tournament was a grueling 5-set semi-final match between Shashank Okhde and Hemant Joshi. Hemant won the first game 11-8. Shashank fought back to take the second game 11-7. Hemant again took the third game 11-7. From then on, it was Shashank who handled the pressure much better, getting a fantastic support from the 75+ enthusiastic audience who stayed back till almost 10:30 PM. Shashank eventually won the last two games 11-7 and 11-8 to advance into the final. Guruprasad Krishnamurthy was the other finalist beating Sudhanshu Jain in straight sets in the semi-final.
In the final, it was Shashank Okhde right from the beginning as he took control of the match early and never let Guruprasad come back into the match winning the Championship convincingly 11-7, 11-8, 12-10. The third place was awarded to Sudhanshu Jain.

The next event was the women’s singles. Crowd’s favourite Nitha P C won the tournament beating Sudha V. in straight sets (12-10, 11-6, 11-4) in the final. Earlier, Sudha got a tough fight from Nagasree Poluri in the Semi final but eventually won 5-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8. Nagasree was awarded the bronze.

In the Mixed Doubles event, after holding their nerves to beat Vishnu & Aparajita Singh 3 games to 1 in a fabulous semi-final match, Shashank Okhde and Nitha PC went on to win the championship match. They defeated Mallesh Kavuluri and Sudha V. in straight sets in the final to claim the title.

Finally, the Men’s doubles event having over 60 teams which started on Friday also saw some fabulous matches. With several well-balanced teams, this tournament promised some nerve-breaking games. However, right from the beginning, it was two teams who dominated, Manish & Shashank from the top half and Parashuram & Guru from the bottom half winning each of their rounds till the quarter finals comfortably. In the Semi-finals, Manish & Shashank were hardly troubled by Ganesh & Amod whereas Parashu & Guru were given a tough fight by Mallesh & Ravi but eventually won 4-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4. The final was also a close one. Parashu & Guru got the early advantage by winning the first two games 11-4, 11-9. Manish & Shashank came back in the third game winning it 11-8. However, both Parashu & Guru served brilliantly to take the fourth game 11-9 and thus win the Men’s Doubles Championship.

Overall, it was a great tournament with a huge participation and great enthusiasm and fighting spirit shown by all players.

Results Summary:
Men’s Singles:
Winner: Shashank Okhde
Runner Up: Guruprasad Krishnamurthy

Women’s Singles:
Winner: Nitha P C
Runner Up: Sudha V

Men’s Doubles:
Winners: Parashuram Osekar & Guruprasad Krishnamurthy
Runners Up: Manish Jethwani & Shashank Okhde

Mixed Doubles:
Winner: Shashank Okhde & Nitha P C
Runner Up: Mallesh Kavuluri & Sudha V

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My First International Travel


They say, "Life mein bohut saari cheezen pehli baar hoti hain". One such experience was my first international travel to Phoenix, Arizona, USA. It was a new experience for me and I thought of penning it down and sharing it with you. In general, I was feeling very happy about getting a chance to travel abroad. However, half of my happiness was being marred by the fact that I was travelling during World Cup time and going to a country jaha pe cricket ko koi "Ghas bhi nahi daalta". And what was making it worse was the fact that I could not even check online scores for India's first match (as I would be travelling).

The route I was supposed to take was Bangalore -> Paris -> Atlanta -> Phoenix. The total journey time: 32hrs 50 mins (including all flight times and stoppages).

My First flight was from Bangalore at 2:20 am from Bangalore International Airport. I had a really nice farewell and a few happy and senti moments at my PG (Paying Guest). There were as many as 7 people (Shivang, Nilesh, Amitesh, Gaurav, Anurag, Yadavendra and Amit) who were all around me helping me with around and giving me some travel tips (including : Do not take your hand out of the airplane :) , try to find a girl at-least in US ;) etc. etc.). Taxi came at around 10 PM to a landmark near my house from where my roommate Shivang got the taxi to my room. After all the packing was done, me, along with Shivang and Gaurav left for the airport. For international departures, we are supposed to reach the airport at least 3 hrs before departure. So, maintaining my childhood habit of never reaching the destination before time, we reached the airport at 11:20 PM. My friends helped me with my luggage and it was a mix of sad and happy moments (as always while bidding good-bye).


The Flight, operated by Air France, was Huge. It had a nice in-flight entertainment system. By entertainment, I mean television :) . Of course there were a couple of not-so-appealing air hostesses. The seating arrangement was 2-4-2. Push-back was only as much as domestic flight. It was a 10 hr 40 min flight. The take-off was smooth. After 15 mins, we got something to eat (sandwiches and salad). After the meals, we dozed off. The smell of the breakfast was what woke us up at around 8:00 AM Paris time. I ate some portions of whatever they gave, had some fruit juice and then we got down at Paris airport.


My flight was supposed to depart from Paris Airport at 1 50 PM (Good that it actually did, as I didn't have much back-up time at the next airport - Atlanta. Paris airport was wonderful. It was indeed a very big airport. My flight arrived at terminal 2-F. I don't know how many terminals are there in all at Paris airport. One good thing at Paris was that there was no need for me to collect the luggage. It would automatically be moved to my connecting flight to Atlanta. So, there was a security check, few minutes of walking and finally I reached the next flight boarding area. The boarding area was huge. Almost 10 times the area of Bangalore International departure. I had plenty of time there. So, I thought of completing my morning routine job there ;) . After I was done, I looked for a tap or at least a spray. All I could find was a huge roll of tissue paper. And for the first time in my life, I had to be content with just that and I said to myself - This is just the beginning, Shashank. No wonder, my friends who have travelled earlier told me to buy a Mug first when I start shopping. Well, after the not-so-pleasant experience, I found a phone booth. It was around 4 PM in India that time and I decided to call up mom with an international calling card I'd purchased in Bangalore. She was delighted to receive my call. And so was I to hear her happy voice. After that, I just took out my laptop and started writing about this journey. I had some biscuits which I was eating occasionally.


The second flight wasn't very different from the first one, apart from the fact that it was daytime. It was a similar aircraft, similar food and similar air-hostesses. On this flight, I got to eat some rice, dry palak paneer and rajma. My stomach was happy. This flight also had an in-flight entertainment system. This time I utilized it better. I played lots of games too. Watched the James Bond movie Casino-Royale and also slept for 4-5 hrs. This flight was for a total of 9 hours. I also made friends with an American guy who was sitting next to me. He was a 12th standard student. He was telling a few things about his school, the sports that are played here and some other gup-shup. In this flight we were required to fill a form for Immigration and customs while entering into US. This flight landed at Atlanta airport at around 7 30 PM. The next flight I had to catch from Atlanta to Paris was at 9 25 PM. So, I had two hours at Atlanta airport.


Atlanta was the port of the entry for me. Port of entry is defined as the place in a country where you first land. Well, what to say about this Airport. It was HUGE! Got down from the aircraft, then there was a small (1 question) interview and then went to the baggage section. Yes, we are required to collect our baggage at the port of entry and re-check in. For quite some time my baggage did not come. I thought it might have got lost somewhere in transit. But luckily, after some time all 3 bags arrived one after another. Took the suitcases, put them on a trolley and straightaway headed for the customs check. Nobody there was really interested in checking if I was carrying spices and masalas for cooking or bombs. I directly went to the next check in counter and checked in my suitcases. Then I had to board the next flight which was supposed to take off from B-27 terminal. My flight had landed at E terminal. In Atlanta, they have separate sections of airport called Concourse A, Concourse B and so on. So from Concourse E I had to go to Concourse B. Some time back, in the second flight, I had asked my American friends whether there were trains in US or only flights and cars. And here, on Atlanta airport, I discovered that they have an underground railway station at the airport itself!! Amazing! The trains were somewhat like Calcutta Metro railway, having faster acceleration and lesser stoppage time than Mumbai locals. Within 2 mins I travelled from Concourse E to B. Might be around 2-3 kms or so. Had to walk a few hundred metres and climb a few escalators before I finally reached B-27 terminal. Then started a big confusion between the airport officials if the Atlanta-Phoenix flight would fly from B-27, B-07 or B-05 terminal. They were announcing a different terminal every 2 mins. I was cool. When they stressed and made final announcement that finally flight would take off from B-07, I went there and boarded the flight.


The last flight, being a domestic flight was like our Indian domestic flights. By this time, I was pretty tired and yearning for a bed somewhere. But I knew I had to wait a few more hours before I can enter the world of Sweet Dreams! The seats were little better than KSRTC/DTC/BEST. No meals, no in-flight entertainment. This was a 4 hr flight. Got 4 biscuits and some water. That’s all. The flight landed in Phoenix at 10 45 PM.


Thanks to the pilot, a safe landing brought me to the Phoenix airport. This airport was by no means small, much bigger than Delhi or Bangalore. Nowhere compared to Atlanta of course. No baggage or customs check took place here. Just got down and straightaway went to the baggage section (not very far). Got my baggage and waited for my friend (Sharath) who had volunteered to come to the airport to receive. He found me after around 10-15 mins. We went to the car parking area and then off on the streets of Phoenix in his Pontiac G6. My hotel was around 15 miles from the Airport. First we came to our hotel. Thoda fresh ho ke we went to Sharath's room (around 2 miles from my hotel). He had prepared lovely Vegetable Rice. Pate bhar khaaya. It tasted soooo nice after all the junk food I'd been eating all through my journey. Then I chatted with mom on Yahoo!. She was waiting online to see me reach safely. Chatted for sometime and then came back to my room at around 1:30 AM. And then !! Slept! :)

If you are reading this line.... Thanks for your patience :)

शशांक ओखदे

Couple of Snaps of My First Hotel : La Quinta Inn