Saturday, July 23, 2005

Sports literature

Sports books is a genre of literature that isn't very popular among people. Or at least among the people I know. Even die-hard sport fanatics would not have read sports literature beyond some magazine or the daily columns on some website. The main reason for this, I suppose is that people expect sports books to be some sort of a boring almanac, with details about games a particular player or team has played.

Even though my foray into sports literature has been limited to cricket, I have found cricket books a real fun to read. I have read autobiographies of players like Ian Chappel, Imran Khan, Sunil Gavaskar, Dennis Lillie and biographies of other greats like Viv Richards and Don Bradman. These books are refreshingly less about the matches played and the centuries scored and more about the person behind the name and what it took for them to reach the dizzy heights of stardom. These books are inspirational, entertaining and at the same time talk about something you really love.

Even more interesting reads are books which have cricket or sports as their main theme, but in reality tell us about the socio-political impact of the game during the era. Especially worth mentioning is 'The Corner of a Foriegn Field' by Ramachandra Guha, which takes us through the origins of cricket in India, to its impact on the entire social and political fabric of the nation in the suceeding years. Amazing read for anyone interested in knowing India as it was a century ago, even if you aren't a cricket fan. Another book along similar lines is 'Beyond the Boundary' by C.L.R. James which talks about cricket and its impact on the people of the Caribbean.


Some amazing clips you must check out:

Friday, July 15, 2005

Vegas and So Cal

(LA & SD pics uploaded. Sorry for the delay. 3 sets in all: LA&SD, Universal, Vegas)

I was at Las Vegas for a couple of days last week. Temperatures were freaking hot, with highs of 46 C (115 F) in the day and lows of 31 C (87 F) in the night. Thats hotter than New Delhi or Nagpur, and with the hot desert winds blowing you couldn't remain outside for more than 5 minutes.

There are a number of hotels/casinos on "The Strip", with each one based on a different theme. Thus Excalibur is based on the Medieval Knights, Luxor on Ancient Egypt, Treasure Island on Pirates and seas, New York New York on well... uh, New York city. It is fun going to different hotels and checking them out. Check my pics here.

One thing I still don't understand why people are attracted to slots. The card games like poker and blackjack atleast have some (debatable) element of skill and fun, but slots??? All you do is pull the lever & hope that some combination of symbols appear in a line. Just pure luck, no spirit of competition, still we find most of the people playing it. Very odd!!!!!!

Also visited Los Angeles and San Diego (pics). Worth mentioning are the Universal Studios theme park (pics) and Hollywood in LA. Los Angeles is a crowded, dirty city, while San Diego in contrast in a nice, clean, sleepy place. Still the year-long moderate temperatures make Southern California the perfect place to live all year long.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

Mount Washington is, at 6,288 feet the highest peak in the northeastern US. It is also known to be the windiest place in the US with winds upto 231 mph (372 km/h) recorded here. Mount Washington is also the peak which I climbed on Sunday, the 3rd, on the Independence day weekend. Here are the pics.

We took the Tuckerman Ravine Path while climbing up and the Lions Head path while climbing down, both of which are 4.2 miles long and have an elevation gain of 4300 feet. The trail started off being pretty easy with a gentle but steady upslope. Midway through the trail at the Tuckerman Ravine, there were pathes where there was snow even now (July), with some people getting their kicks skiing on it. Check out this clip for one of the skiers in action. The last one thirds of the hike was mostly a steep climb on rocky terrain. Of course there was an amazing panorama which we could view from the top. On a clear day, it is said that views extend beyond New Hampshire as far as 130 miles to Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The sad part is that they have a cog-railway and road which goes to the summit. The cog railway runs along a steep, 3.1 mile long trestle whose maximum gradient is over 37%, making it the second steepest mountain climbing train in the world, second only to the Pilatus Bahn in Switzerland. While being a wonder on its own, the existence of a railway and a road results in thousands of vistors coming to the summit and spoiling the ambience of the place. Typical American commercialization of a natural wonder....

It was a memorable experience since it was the first time I had climbed such an arduos trail. A definite must-do for people interested in a challenging hike.