Comfortably Numb...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My 'Sporty' life- part II

I worshipped Ayrton Senna. To say that he was a genius would be like saying that a nuclear bomb causes a mild explosion! He was god's tacit means of wrenching my allegiance from cricket, a genius who could drive his car on water if he wanted to. His death in 1994 would leave me heart-broken and in tears, an emotion that completely flummoxed my mom. The poor soul had only seen her pesky little brat reduced to such a wretched state under extremely tenuous circumstances like:
- severe and sustained admonition for underperformance in the academic or the social domain
- the abject denial of a new sporting equipment or denial of permission to partake in a sporting event

‘Magic’ Senna's death will always remain one of the darkest memories in my life. But life had to go on or atleast that's what Schumacher seemed to be telling me. I followed his fledgling season in Jordan before he jumped ship to Benetton. The one thing that made me switch allegiance was his sublime wet-weather driving skills. That was a skill that distinguished Magic Senna from mere mortals; he could drive through pouring rain with far better precision than I could swallow a gulab jamun! Senna was God, nothing less and now so seemed Schumi (notice my tactical shift to his more alluring nickname, rather than referencing his complete surname? yeah, I had just crowned a new emperor for my throne!).

Thus, followed two years of sublime magic by the 'Rainmeister' in his sub par Benetton. Many experts have since claimed that his equipment was far more inferior to the other lead-runners and that it was his sheer genius that powered his mastery over his rivals! So, who was I but just an innocent 14-year to question the claims of all those commentators/experts right? Couple of driver’s championships later, Schumi was bored with the success. He had to entertain himself with a unique challenge and thus came about the most spectacular marriages in the history of Mankind, Michael Schumacher and Scuderia Ferrari (Diana-Prince Charles, Monroe-DiMaggio, Lombardi-Packers can all take a bow! You were all nice contenders, but the sheer magnitude of success n excellence that ensued from this wedlock will be carved amongst the highest echelons of sport for ages to come.) The most promising driver on track was moving onto the most flamboyant race team ever!

No wonder this marriage had completely won over legions of fans. Ferrari was the epitome of sporting icons, Michael was the heir-apparent to emperor Senna. What probably went unheralded amongst the festivities was the stragetic installation of the most brilliant generals that Formula1 would ever encounter: Team Manager, Jean Todt; Race Engineer, Ross Brawn and Design engineer, Rory Byrne. While this marriage went through the initial jitters, my support for Ferrari/Schumi was unwavering! I was willing to live or die with Ferrari/Schumi. While Hills, Villenueves and Hakkinens seemed to be winning their championships, there is one thing that is still etched deep in my heart: The sublime drive that Schumi showcased in the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix through torrential rain in his sub par Benetton Renault. Legend goes that while Gerhard Berger was struggling through the treacherous 'Eau Rogue' corner in his wet weather tires, Schumi not only drove past him nonchalantly but managed to peek a glance at Berger's tires to see if wet-weather tires were developing blisters. Needless to say, he drove on with his intermediate tires and won the race 19.5 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Damon hill. Ah! The sheer audacity of his talent!

I can never root against such talent; he was non-pareil when it came to driving! There are no two ways to it. To ice the cake, his resplendent brilliance was captured quite frequently by one of my favorite sports reporters: Nirmal Shekar of the Hindu. Reading Nirmal Shekar's articles on Schumacher and Tendulkar are like listening to Pink Floyd while smoking pot; it is tough to describe which pleasure enhances the other! Devouring the Saturday sports special supplement of the Hindu was my most anticipated event of any upcoming week. A convenient half-day school, followed by a sumptuous mom’s lunch was the ritual that preceded my 3 hours of nirvana every week. Perhaps the only joy that could match this surreal experience would be a sumptuous feast of Hindu’s sister publication, The Sportstar. The fortnightly magazine with unforeseen vision and uncanny insights into the sporting world. It was my vicarious tête-à-tête with gurus like Peter Roebuck, Nirmal Shekar and R.Mohan.

It is through Sportstar that I would develop my new-found appreciation for the English premier league and European soccer in general. There happened to be this juggernaut of a team called Manchester United that stomped through the field and gathered trophies. It seemed like Man Utd (yes, the usage of the abbreviation is quite immediate because there were no prior infatuations, just plain love at first sight!) While my prior devotion to soccer was via legendary Indian clubs like Mohan bagan and Mohd sporting, this seemed to a be whole other galaxy all together. I.M.Vijayans and Chima okeries couldn’t hold a candle to the resplendence of David beckhams and Peter Schmeichels…a new era was dawning in my sporting universe now. A new age being crafted on lazy english afternoons and irreverent british soccer demi-gods! Ballhandling geniuses holding aloft silverware were sights that held me breathless.


  • Gud one sandy!! It wud have been bit gud if u had covered da belgian gp wid his pitstop strategy, coz i really enjoyed that race, senna another magician on da track, a salute 2 da legend on my behalf.
    Comin to epl n european soccer i want to know more abt southamerican soccer more on bocojrs. n co..., carry on man am reliving my sportylife thru you :)

    P.S. 1st to comment on yer 2nd part :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:47 AM, September 25, 2006  

  • Man U are doing better this season. Scholesy is back and firing. And the Aberdeen Angus is hungry again. Only Chelsea are better.

    By Blogger Alcuin Bramerton, at 12:39 PM, October 25, 2006  

  • hello boss,
    this blog has started looking like a 'abandoned abode'..
    when is part three coming?...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:05 AM, October 26, 2006  

  • @ Alcuin: Yea, ManU are on fire right now and the young guns Ronaldo and Rooney are leading the charge! Chelsea are goin to keep up their performance. So we better sustain our electric intensity to take the fight to them!

    @ Anonymous: I apologize for the extended leave of absence! Life has been a blur lately and pressing commitments do not afford me the luxury of blogging. I am stealing some time to finish the next two-three episodes and post them real soon! Do keep dropping by...

    By Blogger Sandeep M, at 10:10 AM, October 30, 2006  

  • an absolute cracker...keep 'em rolling dude...

    very difficult to compare two genuises...senna and schumi...both had the aggression and ability to bring out their best performances under pressure and ruled the tracks in their era...

    seems like y'day...but have to go back in time to recollect the prost-senna and hakki-schumi tussles...awesome period they were...ones i loved the most...memories still afresh...and never can i forget the fastest lap that schumi clocked in his penultimate lap at brazil...

    sure thing...sports is something that unites ppl...a common topic we used to i am sitting and collecting my thoughts at the moment to the write an article in blog on tiger woods - my all time fav sporting icon, whoz back in the beckoning after a few lull seasons...

    and dude herez something interesting for taking part with a couple of my office colleagues here in mumbai half-marathon in jan...

    By Blogger mckinseymind, at 10:01 PM, November 26, 2006  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:28 PM, November 08, 2009  

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