Sunday, July 29, 2012

The best Olympic games opening ceremony of all time!

As the clock struck ten in the night, me and my friends sat down in front of the laptop with dinner to watch the Opening Ceremony of The London Olympics. Ever since I remember, the Olympics was a big event for my family and we always made it a point to watch the opening ceremony in it's full glamour. For me it all began with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics ceremony which I saw waking up early in the morning. Since then I have seen all of them and I made sure that the trend was not going to be broken this time.

This year's ceremony was remarkably different and refreshing! No flashy displays of power or technology! The ceremony was very educative and helped me learn quite a lot about British culture. It was not an overt display of British dominance, but a rather subtle exhibition of all things British! The British are not known for a staunchly proud nationalist culture, like the French or even the Germans are known for. Surprisingly, even I did not know quite a lot about the British despite my country having shared a particularly long colonial relationship with them. If I think what the British have given to the world, at the top of my mind comes the English language! Add to that cricket (and also host of other sports like football and hockey), rock music (everything from Beatles to Queen and Iron Maiden) and Keira Knightley (not a cultural thing! but nevertheless ;) ) and you will realise that even though the sun finally set on the British Empire, the sun of British influence still continues to shine brightly. These things I just mentioned have become so globalized that it is difficult to imagine them as originally British. Uncovering the hidden Britishness of those symbols without a hint of arrogance was an infinitely difficult task and the organisers managed to do it perfectly. What cast this ceremony apart from all the others was that it gave a billion plus viewers a chance to bask in this shining sun of British culture and to realise the footsteps left by it in the sands of time. Ironically, that would be the only sun you can bask in once you are in England because the real sun is very miserly in the British Isles. It was probably the best ambassador for the British culture ever.

The ceremony had a distinctive human touch. Village life was on display with folks farming, playing cricket, sheep grazing! Children were jumping on trampolines disguised as beds! The lack of synchronisation among those children made the performance more believable and it seemed as if the children made no effort to hide their excitement! I had a very high opinion of Danny Boyle after watching two of his movies, namely Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire. But I would say and many other would agree with me that this ceremony was his best work till date! The idea to get Rowan Atkinson to do a live performance was the best ever! The British are definitely lucky to have a basket full of talented performers and entertainers and the best of them were hand picked and put on display for the ceremony! When Paul McCartney transformed the stadium packed with countless thousands of fans and around 16 thousand athletes into a live concert and got them crooning to Hey Jude, I could not stop feeling jealous of the people who got a chance to enjoy the glorious moment in its present!

The part where this edition of the Olympic Opening ceremony won hands down was that it made all of the billion plus people watching it feel as if they were part of a truly unique sporting extravaganza. It went where no ceremony had gone before by making all of us realise that the gifted sports-persons who participate in the greatest sporting event on the earth come from amongst us. I would say that it drilled home the point that with hard work, dedication and the motivation to be more faster, stronger and higher than we already are, we can too become as accomplished in our lives as these athletes! Apart from representing the British culture, This ceremony was also the best ambassador the Olympic games could have had in a long long time. Full marks to everyone involved! I will never forget the time when everyone (including my friends who were watching it with me) went Na Na Na to Hey Jude!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Olympic Hockey

The London Olympics begins in about two weeks time and I cannot stop thinking about the Indian hockey team. Recently, I came across these set of articles about the Indian hockey team. It was nice for someone of my age to know about the great hockey culture we had spawned. The first thing I noticed was that we are not new to politics and nepotism in team selection. But those things apart, the articles shed a nice light on the glorious period of Indian Hockey.
I am now in Dutch country, in Delft and I feel thrilled when I see young Dutch boys and girls cycle to the nearest astro turf in their shorts and skirts with hockey sticks in their hand. Every time I see it, I pause and remember about my country's rich hockey history. Ask any Indian to talk about the hockey history of India and you will notice one name coming up frequently - that of Major Dhyan Chand. He was to hockey what Pele was to football. Seeing him in action at the 1982 Amsterdam Olympics, a Dutch journalist had written, "The Indian ball seems ignorant of law of gravity. One of those tanned, diabolical jugglers stares at the ball intently; it gets upright and remains suspended in the air. It only proceeds on its way when the player has bestowed an approval nod on it." Although it is blatantly racist, I cannot help but admire the sorcery Major Dhyan Chand and his boys managed (at that time, Dhyan Chand was not the captain and just a young member). Apparently he had marvelled the audiences so much that there are anecdotes about him. No wonder his birthday is celebrated as National Sports Day in India and the National Stadium in the capital is named after him.
Reading all those articles wakes up the passionate Indian inside me, whose national sport is hockey. I am planning to cheer no holds barred for the Indian team this coming Olympics!
Best of luck to them!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

HW-SW co-design brings people together..!

Prof Michael Hübner of The Ruhr-Universität Bochum gave a lecture on evolution of embedded systems today in TU Delft. Apart from many experiences he recounted of working in the industry, he mentioned about a certain tech-company where the hardware designers and software designers did not talk to each other and were often at loggerheads. After the company forayed into hardware-software co-design, the warring designers had no option but to work together as a team and thus had to talk to each other. These days, says the Professor, they sit at one table and chat during lunch. An achievement he attributes to HW-SW co design working to bring different people closer to each other!