What it takes to be Number One..

19 06 2013

I read this today and I want to tuck this forever. Below speech by Vince Lombardi is what I exactly would wish to hear if I am facing a football match. πŸ™‚

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“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.

Every time a football player goes to ply his trade he’s got to play from the ground up – from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s O.K. You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.

Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization – an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win – to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is.

It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there – to compete. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules – but to win.

And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.

I don’t say these things because I believe in the β€˜brute’ nature of men or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour — his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear — is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”





Things Fall Apart

19 08 2008

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things Fall Apart ; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

β€”W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”

“Things Fall Apart” novel is a widely acclaimed African novel in English, and often considered as a magnum opus in Chinua Achube’s literary history. Having throughly enjoyed ‘Things Fall Apart’, I could see the why. It acted as an eye opener for me, and made me discover the African cultural fabric in a much more wholesome way.

This book protagonist Okonkwo, is a self made warrior, driven by the fear of failure and the zeal to overcome weakness. In his passion to succeed against all odds, Okonkwo led his life and family with a iron hand, never giving away his affection or emotion. From rags, Okonkwo raises to fame as one of the reputed warriors in Umuofia by sheer hard work. Under the pretense of strength, he even survives the sacrifice of his adopted son’s sacrifice and endures severe hardships to earn his way as one of the most powerful men in the clan. Yet, inadvertently he commits a mistake and had to leave the clan for a period of seven years.

Here is the novel takes an interesting turn where we are introduced to the silently creeping change in the Igbo culture due to introduction of Christianity, missionaries and modern education. Rooted in the ancestral beliefs, Okonkwo finds it difficult to accept the shifting norms of the village under the colonial rule that altered many deep seated cultural customs of the village. With a dignified grace, Achebe narrates the cultural change that happened in the history to highlight how certain things would be so difficult to mend once broken. Things fall apart. Agreed and that could be a powerful perspective to explore the sweeping change in a cultural or a historical context. I loved the way Achube brought forth the complex norms of the African culture and dispelled the stereotypical imagery of the primitive Africa.

Here are some of the quotes from the book that moved me immensely.

“Why should a man suffer so grievously for an offense he had committed inadvertently? But although he thought for a long time he found no answer. He was merely led into greater complexities.

Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow. The pot fell and broke in the sand. He heard Ikemefuna cry, ‘My father, they have killed me!’ as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his matchet and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak.”





How I Wish This To Be True…

8 07 2008

[W]hen the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl. ~James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan

For all I need to make this true is only to believe it to be true.. Guess I am caught in the beauty of this thought. πŸ™‚





What I Am Reading Now – Tag

17 06 2008

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”
“That’s some catch, that catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

I just loved this book and there is no exaggeration here.

Raji has tagged me with “what I am reading now” tag sometime back, and since then I have been caught between work and home and those moments with Books and Blog have become rare. Now that am back from the hiatus, I got a reason to get this posted. πŸ™‚

The rules to be followed for this tag are:

1) Pick up the nearest book
2) Open to page 123
3) Find the fifth sentence
4) Post the next three sentences
5) Tag five people, and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

Page 123 in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 talks about Captain Black, one of my favorite sections in this book that evokes a wicked grin in an instant. The six to eight sentences in that page are posted below.

“When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that β€˜The Star-Spangled Banner,’ one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again.”

Now for the people to tag, (its kind of easy to spot fellow bookworms πŸ™‚ )

1) Lasya

2) Reema

3) Sai

4) Hrish

5) Salz

Go ahead and take this up. I hope it would wake many of you from that cozy slumber in blogosphere. πŸ™‚





Never Let Me Go..

6 06 2008

What would you do if you find out that you are brought into this world for a special purpose? A purpose of brightening somebody’s life at the expense of yourself. What if you are made to live in an artificial world with sole purpose to unzip your organs when needed?What would you feel if someone walks up to you one day to announce that, “You were brought into this world for a purpose, and your futures, all of them, have been decided.”

A thought so chilling to even to think about, finds life and voice in ‘Never Let Me Go’.

This novel is set in a school by name ‘Hailsham’ where cloned children are reared in an artificial establishment to be the donors of future. A world completely devoid of moral implications and incredibly insensitive to the sensitivity of human emotions. A world of three kids: Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, filled with what seems like a benign bliss of childhood unravels into a great sham of artificiality, where simple words like ‘donations’, ‘complete’ assume grotesque ramifications.

Kathy’s observation about Madame’s revulsion: “Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn’t been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders.”

Or the silent acceptance of donations reflected thus: “All the same, some of it must go in somewhere. It must go in, because by the time a moment like that comes along, there’s a part of you that’s been waiting. Maybe from as early as when you’re five or six, there’s been a whisper going at the back of your head, saying: “One day, maybe not so long from now, you’ll get to know how it feels.” So you’re waiting, even if you don’t quite know it, waiting for the moment when you realise that you really are different to them; that there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you–of how you were brought into this world and why–and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. The first time you glimpse yourself through the eyes of a person like that, it’s a cold moment. It’s like walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange.”

Subtly dark and infinitely sad, this book casts a fatalistic note on human lives that are led in a cloak of artificiality. Probably, thats why my heart didn’t ache for the characters, though it bled for the sheer helplessness of the situation. A deep seated loathness for a place from which there is no escape, rather than to await the dead end that is reserved by the time one is born. This book sets itself not to explore the technicalities of cloning or the perils of being a clone, but rather captures the fine nuances of humanity in minute detail and makes one wonder about the core definition of it. The context of the book feels artificial, the tone has a note of fatality, yet the people feel awfully natural. Albeit, cast in a cloud of cold desolateness. This book is not for those who are on look out for heroes. For all the characters are patient victims in waiting for their end, leading a life as if its on loan, with an air of detachment around them which they flaunt mercilessly, accepting in silence the grim fatality of the life that they are leading.

How glad I was that this story is still a piece of fiction and not a disgusting manifestation of the modern day genetic experiments that intend to deliver greater good to greater lot at the cost of assured unhappiness for some.





The Bridge Of San Luis Rey

2 06 2008

In early 18th century in Peru, a famous suspension footbridge over a deep gorge broke and took the lives of five people into the gulf below. After this unfortunate accident, Brother Juniper is haunted by the question: “Why did this happen to those five?” As quoted in the book: If there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pattern in a human life, surely it could be discovered mysteriously latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan. Pondering over the cosmic order, Brother Juniper investigates the secret lives of those five people in rich detail in an attempt to discover the reason behind their demise.

Here is when Thornton Wilder excels in introducing us to the intimate details of those five people who seem to be united only in their longing for acceptance, and love. There is a rich, aristocratic and elderly Marquesa suffering from unrequited maternal love and pangs of loneliness, spends her time composing brilliant and elaborate letters to her cold hearted daughter Clara in Spain. Accompanying her is little Pepita, an bewildered and distressed teenage orphan girl trying to live up to the high expectations of an Abbesses who is grooming her as a successor. There is Esteban, the poor twin who is left alone and bereft in an uncomprehending world after his twin brother dies. Uncle Pio is a wise wanderer, a man of exceptional talent who has devoted the best part of his life for the flourishing career of actress Camila Perichole. He becomes disappointed when actress Camila Perichole renounces her stage career for becoming a Lady and shuns herself from the world when she contracts small pox. Uncle Pio requests Camila Perichole to send her youngest sickly son Jamie with him to Lima so that he could educate the boy into a gentleman. Little Jaime joins his Uncle Pio only to loose his life on the fated bridge.

The relationship between the identical twin brothers Manuel and Esteban, when Manuel falls in love with actress Camila Perichole is beautifully highlighted here. “Now he discovered that secret from which one never quite recovers, that even in the most perfect love one person loves less profoundly than the other. There may be two equally good, equally gifted, equally beautiful, but there may never be two that love one another equally well.”

The beauty of this book lies in the description of these five characters. Thornton puts to use all the finery of the English language to delicately highlight the nuances of these five central characters. Sample these observations on Marquesa’s Son-in-Law. “the Conde delighted in her letters, but he thought that when he had enjoyed the style he had extracted all their richness and intention, missing (as most readers do) the whole purport of literature, which is the notation of the heart.”

Though we still are not sure whether the loss of these five people is by accident or by divine intention, this final words from Abbess sums up the meaning of love in life: “But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”





A Handful Of Dust

27 05 2008

… I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
THE WASTELAND

‘A Handful Of Dust’ from Evelyn Waugh is one of the first and finest satirical fiction that I read since a long time. With an intriguing title lifted from ‘The Wasteland’, Waugh indeed paints a satirical stylish picture of the society through the breakup of the marriage of Brenda and Tony Last. Laced with wry wit, sarcastic humor and subtle irony, Waugh elegantly draws out the superficiality of the upper class.

The novel begins with one of the friend’s of Tony quoting, β€œI often think Tony Last’s one of the happiest men I know. He’s got just enough money, loves the place, one son he’s crazy about, devoted wife, not a worry in the world.”

Tony is happily married to Brenda and to his Victorian Gothic country home. In love with the happenings around London and bored by the country lifestyle, Brenda fancies herself in love with an opportunistic and worthless social climber Mr. Beaver. When Tony’s Son is killed in an accident, Brenda reveals her affair to Tony and requests for a hefty divorce settlement that forces Tony to sell his home. Betrayed by his wife, Tony embarks on a harebrained expedition to discover a lost city deep in jungles, only to find himself as a prisoner to a Mr.Todd. The novel signs itself with Tony resigning himself to read Charles Dickens’s works to Mr.Todd in jungles for eternity, and Brenda marrying one of the obliging Tony’s friends as her lover Mr. Beaver leaves her for New York, whilst the house went to Tony’s distant relatives.

The novel is filled with impersonal and often cruel satire. Sample this musing of Tony towards the end: “He had always rather enjoyed reading aloud and in the first year of marriage had shared several books in this way with Brenda, until one day, in a moment of frankness, she remarked that it was torture to her.”

The casual tone in which Brenda’s betrayal of Tony is handled and the social sanction it received makes one wonder at the moral corruption of the society. Being Amusing, melodramatic, tragic and cold, Waugh brings out the phoniness of the aristocratic society in a subtle sarcastic fashion that’s beautifully supported by a vividly descriptive style. A great example of dark humor that presents a scathing commentary on the society and the phony relationships.