Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The first few hours

Nine months of waiting and all I could think of then was the moment when I would hear the child's cry. So, as is natural, everybody wants to hear how I felt when I finally heard the baby's cry for the first time, how I felt when I first held her in my arms.

I wish I could give you flowery details like how I burst into tears when I heard her cry, and how all kinds of philosophical thoughts were evoked in my mind when I held her in my arms - but unfortunately, nothing that dramatic happened. It was all quite ordinary, almost non-interesting, even frighteningly boring. Sigh!

Anyway, what did I feel like when I heard the baby's cry? The first feeling was that of surprise - is that it? Is the baby already out? The second feeling was that of relief - Yes, the ordeal is over.

After that, I almost dozed off. It was a kind of floating state - probably the high of suddenly feeling no pain after all that intense pain. It was like I was hallucinating everything - everything was unreal.

I could just hear the baby crying in the background, and even this I heard with a kind of dispassionate detachment. S, who was with me throughout, left my side for the first time in hours and went to check on the baby. He came back smiling and glowing and kept saying, "Relax, its over, everything is fine". In spite of all this, I felt no dramatic realization that the baby is finally here. In spite of nine months of wondering if the baby is a boy or a girl, it never occurred to me for an entire five minutes to ask and find out the sex of the baby. The doc didn't tell me coz she said (later) that she wanted S to tell me. S didn't tell me coz he wanted me to ask him first. Finally realization dawned upon me, and when S came back to me after watching the baby being washed, I asked him, Is it a boy or a girl? A girl, he said, grinning... its a girl.

Now I didn't have any particular preferences, but S had a leaning towards a daughter. As for me, each time I peeked into the baby clothes section in the shops and saw all those lovely frocks with ribbons and lace and flowers, I felt, "It would be nice if I had a girl" - Shallow, I know... but well, that's me :)

But I had a very strong feeling that it would be a boy, for no reason at all, and I had adjusted to the thought that it would be a boy. So I had a lot of readjustment to do. (In fact, the next day when the paediatrician came to check on me, I was telling her, "Yeah he slept well, yeah he had his bowel movements"..... she almost asked me, "Do you know you had a daughter?" :)

Now back to when baby was born. I was tremendously surprised to hear that it is a girl. And insanely thrilled. Finally, the baby was wrapped up and brought to me, still lying there. I just had the little pink thing in my arms for a couple of minutes - not really in my arms, but by my side - it was cradled by an unknown hand. I could just see a pink puckered-up face before it was whisked away, and given to my mom and aunt who were waiting outside. After a bit, I also went back to my room to my baby.

I was thrilled with the baby, I carried her for a while... but no way could I associate her with the tumbling, kicking being that was inside me for all those months. I felt no profound feelings or anything of that sort. It is not that I didn't have any feelings at all. The love and fascination was overwhelming, but it was still very unreal and hazy. Though a hundred people told me, "You need rest, go to sleep", I got no sleep for the rest of the night. Over-exhaustion and over-excitement does that to me - and this was a combination of both!

It was only after about 36 hours, after I had finally managed to catch about 4-5 hours of sleep, did I finally sense an emotional attachment to her... and then started all the emotions.... "Oh my god, she is mine!" "Ohmigosh, she is an actual tiny human being!" "Good heavens, she is perfect!" "Oh man the responsibility of this tiny person is upon us!".....

S and I can't seem to get enough of her.

Thanks to everybody for all the wishes!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

It's a girl!

And so... in the wee hours of May 23rd, right on the day she was expected, our little 3-kg delight stepped out into the world!

Even as I am going through a rollercoaster ride, experiencing the thrills and travails of motherhood, I couldn't resist dropping by and telling you the news myself.

Now if you will excuse me, I will go and catch up on some sleep.... (grabbing the opportunity while my lovely little girl is sleeping).... I will be back again as soon as possible, with more stories.


Monday, May 14, 2007

The state of Indian Badminton

A couple of weeks ago, I heard from Nikhil Kanetkar, the Badminton player, who is a friend of mine, as I have told you elsewhere. He talked about not being allowed to participate in International Tournaments by the Badminton Association of India (BAI). When I pressed for details, he sent me some mails, and links explaining what is happening. Here are excerpts from a news item.

What caused the heartburn was BAI’s directive in March that the Indian team should attend a two-month camp at Hyderabad instead of two Super Series events in Singapore and Indonesia. The Super Series, which consists of a circuit of elite tournaments open only to a draw of 32 players, is what every player aspires for. Even the All England has been made into a Super Series event. The big attractions of the Super Series are its prize money and ranking points. .......

Several players — primarily Chetan Anand (World No 30), Anup Sridhar (No 34), Saina Nehwal (No 22), Trupti Murgunde (No 50) and the doubles teams of Sanave Thomas/ Rupesh Kumar (No 36) and Jwala Gutta/ Shruti Kurien (No 25) — were affected because their rankings will slide down and this would make it difficult to qualify for other Super Series events. This, after a long hard slog last year to gain enough points to remain in contention. Besides, this is an Olympic qualification year, and it is critical to gain as many ranking points as possible. Missing two Super Series events will help other contenders gain rankings ahead of the Indians, who might have to go back to the grind of trying to qualify. Gopi(Pullela Gopichand) has countered protests by stating that there are enough tournaments left in the year to help players regain their rankings. But what he has tactfully left unsaid is that, when the players’ rankings drop 20 places or so, they will needlessly have to play the torturous qualifying rounds. Only four slots are available for 64 players, and a player will have to win four matches in a single day to qualify for the main draw.

The other decision which has hurt players is BAI’s insistence that only those who attend the national camp will be allowed to play the international circuit. This means that players not selected to the national camp cannot play international tournaments even if they are eligible and willing to foot the bill. Nikhil Kanetkar (World No 48), for instance, has been doing the international circuit at his own expense over the last three years. Kanetkar has been spending around Rs 6 lakh a year funding his international campaigns. The BAI decree means that he cannot play on the circuit despite being among the top 50 players in the world!

Read the whole story here.

Here are also excerpts of a mail that Nikhil Kanetkar wrote to Rajyavardhan Rathore (the Olympic medalwinning shooter)

Last year when Gopi became national coach I was not included in the list of 32 players for camp.He called me and said that the reason was because I am 27 years of age and they are planning for 2010 Commonwealth Games.I said nothing but told him that I have nothing against his plans but that I should not be stopped if I want to play on my own expense.He assured me that would not happen.Just to let you know the entries for international tournaments have to go through BAI.

I travelled all over the world using my own money and from 163 in May 2006 I came upto 41 in April 2007 in the world rankings.I had no support from BAI but I never complained.Even for Athens in 2004 I qualified on my own with my own money.I was not sent anywhere even though I was the highest ranked Indian the world rankings during that period.

Now coming back to the point last year Chetan Anand,Jwala Gutta and Shruti Kurien(my wife) were selected for the camp but they did not attend and were travelling on their own expense and now Chetan is ranked 30 in the World and Jwala-Shruti are ranked 23 in the world.

Now from April 21st 2007 for two months they have a camp for the forthcoming Sudirman Cup which is in June.Also right now in the 1st and 2nd week of may are two Super Series tournaments in Indonesia and Sigapore where top 32 players are invited.The above mentioned 3 players along with a few others wanted to play in these SUper Series tournaments as non participation will lower their rankings upto 20 places each and being the Olympic qualification year you know very well how strong the competition level is in any sport.Going down 20 places means everyone goes back to square one and has to play in the qualifying rounds.The BAI refused to send any entries for the tournaments citing reason that they are not fit and they should attend camp.The players did not attend camp as their entries for the two tournaments were not sent.

Now I was not involved with this as I was sidelined anyway and was travelling on my own expense.But when I sent my entries for 3 tournaments which are also during this month I was refused reasons being given that if I am allowed to go others will opt out of camp and go on their own.So no one in India is allowed to play till June end which is disastrous as maybe now no Indian might qualify for the Olmpics when few players would have easily qualified.

The BAI officials say things like what is the use of playing Olympics or what is the use of just being ranked in top 40 in the World.How can they say that?In that case apart from you and some shooters no one should be sent for the Olympics.Qualifying for the Olympics is a dream for so many.It was for me too and I reached the last 16 stage in my event in Athens.

We have 8 Indians in the top 50 in Badminton in different events and they have done it on their own not due to BAI programmes.

We are not fighting for being in the Indian team.They can select who they want.All we want is to have the freedom to train and play as we want that to at our own expense.We are not even asking for government funds.Badminton is an individual sport and it is the fundamental right for any top ranked player to have the freedom to play for our country.

You can feel the pain and the frustration in this mail.

We ask what ails Indian sports - here you have one example of what ails it.

Politics, mismanagement, pure idiocy. Players like Nikhil, who are ranked in the top 50 in the world, pay out of their own pockets to participate in International Tournaments. I have no words.

I am itching to compare the Indian badminton scene and the Indian cricket scene - but I don't want to get my blood pressure up. I am sure you can connect the dots yourself.

What do you think?

Monday, May 07, 2007


I know, I know... I haven't posted in a long time.... and I don't see much posting in the horizon either! I am extremely preoccupied with pressing matters (sounds very important without sounding like a lie). Posting will be light for quite a while, maybe even non-existent for some time.

Thanks for your concern, yes, everything is absolutely fine... I will be back in (blogging) action in no time at all.

Meanwhile, if you have time to kill, you can check out the categories I created about a month ago - I organized all my posts within these categories - it is on the sidebar.

I have been reading your blogs, but haven't been able to comment. I have been slow in responding to comments on this blog too. I will make an attempt to remedy that, but again, no guarantee. :(

Very soon, I'll be back - and how!
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