India’s best supported English football club

I had been thinking of doing this poll for quite some time. Here’s my motivation behind it. India, with its massive population power (~1.2 billion) is a largely untapped market when it comes to European football. Only perhaps German side Bayern Munich have played a few games in India, and they have always been watched by audiences in excess of a 100,000 at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata. Sadly, one of the biggest reason of this absence is the lack of quality in the Indian local sides, and hence the inability to provide reasonable pre-season fixtures. This though, doesn’t in any way imply a lack of fan-following for the major European sides. On the contrary, there are huge fan groups for almost all top English clubs.

The percentages might comparatively come out smaller when compared to the support for say, the national cricket side or any of the IPL sides, but it should be noticed here that even small percentage numbers mean huge real population numbers with a market of the size of India. So is it your club that stands to gain the largest from this untapped market? Lets find out who you support –

Multiple votes don’t work 🙂

Football on Tele tonight


Not much to scribble on here tonight. The thing about major tournaments, and I will include –
1. FIFA World Cup
2. European Championships
3. Cricket World Cup
4. T20 World Cup
5. Indian Premier League
is that once they are underway, they do make for excellent entertainment for the evenings. The even better thing about them is that they all generally show up in successive years (of course the IPL is an annual competition). Hence, the European Championships in Poland & Ukraine have been occupying most of my evenings lately. I’m backing the fantastic German team to go on and win it, although defending champions Spain and France will surely have different ideas. Who are you supporting ?

Says Yoda, he does – With you, the force shall be

Bring to you news, I do tonight. Not any exciting news, that is. About my tiring day, this news is. Just getting better from a flu, I was, when as usual, to office, I had to venture. Decided for a team lunch today, my boss had. Traditional, the food at this restaurant called ‘The Village’ was.

Back to the office it was then, an hour later. Free lunch in the tummy, loaded with work I was. Won’t let me keep my eyes open, the food inside of me; but on my head all the time, the boss was. Slogging for hours, then I was, when eventually finished the all that work was. Looked up and 10 on the clock it was. Skipped the dinner was. Tonight, the lunch it shall be, happy that keeps the tummy.

Finally, home I was. Had decided to study, I had; but taken its toll, the day had. On the tele, played football they did; and rather gave up studying to watch I did. Time to write the blog it was then, when Master Yoda, came to me he did. Said to me he did – Enjoy life shall you, you geezer. Share my message, you will. With you, the force shall be then.

Not bash me for this post, you shall. Came out of a tired mind, it did. Make more sense, I shall tomorrow.

Welcome home Robbie !

Roberto de Matteo has been appointed the permanent manager of Chelsea in a 2 year deal. Finally, common sense has prevailed. The guy won both the trophies that he could have with us during his short 11 week role last season; and it was outrageous that the club were considering the out-going manager of one of those he had defeated during the Champions League run – Guardiola, for the full-time job.

Robbie, as he’s fondly called by the fans, may not have a glorious history in football management, but he’s a Chelsea man through & through, having played for the club for more that  seasons before eventually retiring. In those five seasons, he was part of a team which sowed seeds for the unparalleled success of the next generation. He won 2 FA Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and a League Cup as a player, to add to his recent FA Cup & Champions League triumph. On twitter, I came across this very interesting tweet –

On a personal note, the thing I like best about Di Matteo is that he gets it. He understands Chelsea Football Club, the players, the fans.

This is exactly how I felt about Robbie too. Yes, we could have landed another high-profile, supposedly world-beating manager from across the continent, but no one could have had that link with Chelsea as Robbie has. He is a fan himself, has spent long hours in that Stamford Bridge dressing room, knows about the pressures of facing each different opposition and how much more the fans want triumph on a particular day than another (not to say we don’t want victory everyday). But most importantly, he is connected to those players, because he was once one of them. Of course, only probably JT was around when he was a player, but over the course of years, he’s got to know most of them pretty well.

His critics have pointed to his mediocre league form towards the end of the season. But its important to remember here, that of his 3 league defeats, the 2 against City (away) & Liverpool (away) were largely inconsequential since the team were heavily involved in its Cup double winning run. The only game where we probably should have played better was against Newcastle at home, when Papiss Cisse’s 2 moments of brilliance won the game for the visitors. But, then again, a victory on that night, with the results that followed, would have still only meant a 5th place finish, meaning Europa League football next season. Robbie, by winning the Champions League, ensured we play in the competition next season. If you had asked me, I would have happily taken that Premier League run-in to the end, knowing we were going to do the FA Cup & CL double.

We started the 2011-12 season with a new, young manager who had been appointed on the back of his Europa League and Portuguese League success, with an aim to build a new generation of players at the club. We all know how that worked out, but in 2012, we will start with another new, young manager appointed on the back of his Champions League success, only this time one who had won it for us !

Welcome home Robbie.

Sickly

I think I’ve caught a bug tonight (I hope it means no office tomorrow). Not much to put on here tonight, so I’ll just try catching some sleep.

Good night readers 

Looking beyond the AIEEE

Tonight I share an article where my father expresses his views on a situation many Indian parents end up facing  –
9th June, 2012 11:44pm
 
I was half sleep when a text message woke me up. It read – ‘AIEEE 4111′. It was from one of my ex-colleagues whose son was aspiring for an admission to one of the top engineering institutes in the country. The rank, 4111, was a really excellent one  in the AIEEE exam, considering especially that more than a million candidates appeared for the exam in May. In fact, what makes this rank even more remarkable is the fact that the first 3000 – 3500 students may not even join any of the institutes available through the exam as they would be most probably be joining one of the IITs or dropping an year to improve their JEE ranks the next year.
 
The message made me wonder about 2 other students, whose parents I knew.  I informed them immediately that the AIEEE results were out. On calling them the next day, I found out that one of them had secured a rank of 45,000 while other had ranked around 2,35,000. Creditable as they were, such is the cut-throat level of competition for the limited number of seats, that they would normally not be enough to make it to one of the  nationally reputed top engineering colleges.
 
The first question that came to my mind was – What should be the next step for these two students ? What if one of them was my own son or daughter? Would I consider this a failure on my child’s part? Sadly, in India, most parents do. What they need to realize is that this is definitely not the end of the road; but rather a great chance to explore other exciting education and career opportunities. We have, over the years ended up building a regime of expectations from our children, where the two most direct routes are –
 
Engineer -> MBA
 or
Doctor
 
In my view, only if a student is really interested in the various engineering courses offered, has appeared for other entrance exams like the BITSAT or State entrance exams and scored well, should he/she opt for pursuing the engineering route. To me, it makes no sense what so ever, in both settling for a mediocre institute or in bluntly keeping on banging for an engineering birth by dropping an year (and possibly more). I would rather sit with my son; discuss our options; take a hard, long look at his interests; and pursue a field that would play to his confidence.
 
I would not really go into great detail, but here are some of the opportunities (assuming a science background in the +2 years of school) you might want to explore if you find yourself in a similar situation –
 
-A direct officer level entry to the Indian Navy (Logistics Branch) or a Marine engineering degree through the navy or otherwise.
-Look for an esteemed career with the Indian Army beginning at the NDA
-If you have a penchant to sketching or design, try for an admission to one of the top architecture or fashion design institutes.
-Take up an under-graduate course in Hotel Management or Business.
-Take up a course in sciences if your child has a dream for it. Remember, there are always excellent opportunities available in R&D, especially in bio-sciences, pharmaceuticals, space, etc.
-There are several courses very similar in structure and opportunities to engineering like BSc (IT), BSc (Computer Sciences). One could always pursue them even whilst preparing for another attempt at the engineering exams, instead of entirely wasting an year.
The list is of course long, and great success always follows wherever passion and hard-work are. I can only advise and eventual success depends upon the individual’s drive. In the end, it is of utmost importance to understand the psyche of each individual student and providing the right counsel.
– Sudhir Kumar Pant
With over 30 years of experience in IT & Telecommunication, Sudhir is one of the founder members of the safalmantra initiative and the prime visionary behind the idea. Over the years, his counsel and initiative has been helpful to many young students looking for the best career option.

Apologies ‘Mr. Minister’

First of all, I’m not yet ready with the promised piece on architecture as a career option. However, in building the work, I have compiled a basic set of questions which I shall be covering –

1. Why should you choose architecture ?

2. How do you prepare for the various architecture exams during the formative (+2) years ?

3. What exams can you give for admission to the best colleges ?

4. What colleges can you choose, by cut-offs ?

5. And finally, which are the best rated architecture colleges in the country, according to both, students and employers ?

I hope it makes informative reading. I should confess, at this point, that I haven’t been able to go too far in my research as yet.

Now over to the day’s review. The highlight has to be Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai. I went into this movie with high expectations, but somehow it never really clicked with me.

Not for a moment, would I blame it on the performances by the cast. I thought Emraan (sir) was once again excellent, and Abhay Deol was a perfectionist as ever. Kalki Koechlin was once again on her ‘wacky’ act (which, although strong, has now started becoming repetitive and irritating). There was that imaginative camerawork and story-telling, but then it all just didn’t click. Why ? Because it was all just once too much. It was all that modern cinema in a story told too many times – about corrupt politicians, innocent rebels becoming victims, protagonists fighting for their rights and so on. Shanghai is slow-paced, and grows up on you so much so that by the end you just want it to end. I am a fan of this brand of movie-making, but I don’t accept redundancy easily, unless it has a spark about it.

I’d go for a 2/5 for Shanghai. I do recommend it as a one-time watch, especially for the great Farooq Sheikh

The evening ends here with a very well-deserved win for Croatia over Northern Ireland in the group C game of Euro 2012 at Poznan. The entire Croat squad really impressed me tonight, and with Spain’s draw against Italy earlier, I would really fancy them to make it to the quarter-finals.

Have a safe night everyone.

A miss and an eventful day

After a run of 20 straight nights of posting on the blog, I missed the one on Friday. I still intend to have 31 new posts in a month since that memorable night in Munich as a tribute to my European Champions Chelsea.

Today was another day of studying for the GMAT ( although as it turned out once again, only for a couple of hours ), some intense hours of tennis, and the Hell in the Cell UNO night. That last part might seem weird but we have a very competitive ( full of frequent scuffles ) UNO  battle going on in the house. Tonight’s epic battle ended in an unbelievable 4 way tie, with the defending champion DK retaining his title, after creating some of the most dramatic moments in the final games (yes, I was this (.) close ).

Confession Time – It has also been a  couple of days when I was successfully played by a girl after a long, very long time. Gracious in defeat. Payback awaits 😀

Tomorrow, I plan to do a piece on Architecture as a career option in India. I’ll try to keep it as informative as possible. Happy reading !

Ted Mosby – Architect !

Captain Planet

Captain Planet, He’s our hero; Gonna take pollution down to zero

 Watching Captain Planet team up with the Planeteers, fight against the perpetrators of environment crimes, is one of my most cherished childhood memories. Sadly, as it later dawned, Captain Planet existed only in the cartoons.

Now I’m not claiming to be an environmentalist here. In fact my habits would show I’m quite far from being one. But why I refer to this iconic planet-protecting superhero of my childhood this World Environment Day because he had a simple message for all of us – “When our powers combine, we can save the planet.” It is with this spirit that I can look into myself and realize I can make a difference.

Image

Saving the planet should not necessarily have to be about fighting pollution crimes. It begins with me – I can start with the basics, for eg. by using the air-conditioning judiciously; by applying proper waste disposal by using the correct bins for plastics and organics; by not letting the water run incessantly in the washroom. Its little things like these that will help bring about a larger change. We may not realize it yet, but the biggest challenges that lie ahead of us ( and in very near future ) are going to be those of sustainment and replenishing energy. Is it so difficult ?

It might be very little, but I convinced my flat-mates to keep the air-conditioning off tonight. In fact, its been a wonderful wind circulating through the house all evening.

Lets do our bit – Reduce, Replenish, Recycle. The power is yours.

(Picture courtsey Benprice )