Sunday, June 29, 2008

Euro 2008: Pre-Finals

A good tournament after a long time. Has to be the best Euro in a long time. Tonights 08'final is between the European football giants and 3 time champions, GERMANY and the most under acheivers in the International Football, Spain.
In one of my blogs,I mentioned that Spain have historicaly started off well in most championships and could never make it til the end. I just hope that they break the jinx this time around. What quality they have.. Villa(not playing), Silva, Ramos, Senna(had an amazing tournament). Then there is the ever so reliable Casillas and Carlos Puyol. Iniesta played well in patches and so did Torres. I think Fabregas should have been playing full 90 minutes before. You cant see the talent like him on the bench. With Villa gone, he should be in for sure. Talking about Germany, I think this match should be difficult for them if Spain get the maximum ball possession. Again start is important. The Germans have always been slow starters. Bastien, Lahm, Bearded defender(cant recollect his name) and Podolski have had a good tournament so far. Then you have Mr. Lehman who cant keep his tempers low and keeping quality high. He is the current "Barthez" of International Football.. lol. I strongly suspect that Ballack is not 100% fit. If I am wrong then he no longer is a 90-minute man. Any plans of retirement from Internation scence looks very likely.

Spain is my favorite tonight and I am looking forward to some high quality action and a tense encounter.. All the best folks!

The Great Indian Laughter Challenge 4

The fourth series of the Super Hit TV show The Great Indian Laughter Challenege is as expected NO GOOD. Looks like the producers have lost the wining formula.
The first one was the best TV show I had seen till date. The 2nd good, 3rd... decent and 4th... ordinary. Reasons, its the same stuff now. Audience now want a change. Secondly, no Perizaad :( (this should be the first reason.. ha ha). Thirdly, Shatru Bhaiyya. What is he doing with Sidhu?? Who made the most boring man, after Manoj Kumar, as a judge and that too on a Comedy Show. What were the producers thinking? Also, I see there is hardly any originality in the contestants. Most of the jokes are old and so are the participants trying their luck.... again. I strongly suspect that the producers fell short of their decided numbers and thus, called on some of the participants from the previous editions. This time too they sucked. And for heavens sake, no jokes on Sukhwinder plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sukhwinder ne yeh kiya, woh kiya, nahaaya, dhoya....

Lux, Junoon Kuch kar dikhane ka

This is another reality tv music show aired on NDTV imagine, Fri-Sat . I dont know when it started airing but tell you people what.. they have roped in an amazing pool of talent. The concept is different and I am happy to see that the producers have not roped in Jatin & Lalit Pandit and that Abhijeet Bhattacharya.... and that the music director from Allahabad Aadesh Srivastava. Abhijeet and Aadesh are a pain in the ass. There are 3 new faces as judges... Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ila Arun and Anand Raaj Anand(who is he ??) representating different genres viz.. Sufi, Folk and Filmi... Hmmm as I said different concept and conceived by none other than Gajendra Singh who is regarded as the "mai-baap" of Indian TV relaity scene.
The highlight of the show is not the singers or the set up or the host but it is one of the judges.. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Oh My God! what a golden voice he has guys.. he usually sings one line and thats it.. the show is a HIT. he sings and your body hair stand at their ends.. for sure. I remember in one of the episodes he sang a few lines of Naina from Omkara and it just swept me off my feet. WAH USTAD WAH! Banda GENIUS che..
Talking about singers.. well you have participants from across the border as well and again amazing singers. I like Ustads camp minus that punju chick and then there is Sharib from Filmi who is the younger brother of Toshi the most popular face on music shows on television. I would rate this show above others simply because there is less of drama and only because you dont have those two assholes.. Abhijit & Aadesh. Though the TRPs would not say so but then this show may is aired on a "baby"... NDTV Imagine.
Watch this show for that Sufi Singers and none other than USTAD bhai! If you are lucky then you ears will be treated to some great singing by USTAD.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Euro 2008: Spain Vs Italy, Quarterfinal

Tired players and a boring game of football thats how I describe the match between Italy and Spain. The most hyped match was one of the most boring one of this tournament. Let me comment on some of the players from both sides,
Ambrosini- Looked like he needed a good night sleep. Was too lazy... particularly his clearance
Luca Toni- My 5 yr old nephew falls less often than him
Perrotta- Playing hide and seek with the ball
Zambrotta- He looked tired after only few minutes on ground
Buffon- Should have concentrated more on ball than kissing players. The only good performance was from Chenialli. His marking was simply too good for Spanish forwards.

Iniesta- Looked like he was playing for himself
Senna & Silva- Forgot where the goal is
Villa- Upset about every dam thing

Both sides played negatively from the first minute. Spain deserved victory only because they worked hard to get there. The overall quality of football was no less than pathethic despite the fact that both teams had great players. The tactics were defensive and passing poor. The goalies were hardly bothered.
Staying awake till 3am in the morning for such a dull match, was a very bad decision.

Cecil Hotel, Matheran

Okay let me not talk about how to reach Matheran from Mumbai and all. Instead, let me talk about this wonderful hotel located just ahead of Monkey Point at Matheran. The hotel is Cecil Hotel, owned and run by a Parsi Couple, The Iranis. There is not much on the internet about this hotel. So, a liitel help from my side to all fellow travellers.

We headed to this place only because most other Hotels were booked and there were many rooms available here. The month was December 2007.. supposed to be a peak season and rooms available. Hmmmmmm.. So, as we started on a cold Staurday morning from Mumbai, we had our doubts and plenty of them about this hotel and that it may be "chalta nahi hai". How else would you explain the availability of rooms and of choice in a peak season?

But all our doubts were laid to rest the moment we stepped inside the Hotel. We reached at 9:30 AM and the very friendly staff advised us to have our breakfast first before we actually "check-in". The breakfast was amazing and delicious. Like most Parsi hotels, this one too is well maintained and has a unique old world charm and set up. The rooms in large row houses are scattered throughout the huge estate. We were a group of 18 and so we booked 5 rooms with very basic amenities.

The rooms were clean and very well maintained and huge in size. A standard room with four beds will cost you 800 bucks per person per night inclusive of food and taxes and 1000 bucks for a room with A.c and T.V. per person. The Bathroom is as big as a room. The rooms are not apartment style but row houses type. The space outside rooms is also decent and you can spend time reading your favorite books or playing chess.

The food is pure vegetarian and delicious but for the sweet gujrati dal. Non-veg is not allowed. Food is served in a huge dining hall and in a fixed time slot. So, people are invited by the staff by ringing a bell(not door bell.. temple wali ghanti).... loudly from the dining hall and you know that food is served. I must rate 9/10 for food. The food is somewhat Gujju style thali but not entirely and the variety is pretty good.

Ideal for travellers who are not looking at modern and five star comfort. There is no swimming pool, no gym and other frills but it does have a huge lawn and plenty of open spaces. There is a TT table, carrom board and such other games. Then there is a full size badminton court as well. You can play cricket... lot of space for it. There is a disco too but it is opened only by request. Generator facility is there since the power supply is very erratic in Matheran. The cellphone coverage is also poor here.

If you need anything from the staff at any point then all you have to do is ring a bell(temple wali ghanti) which is placed on the table inside the room and the staff will come running at your door step. There is no hot shower and they provide hot water once during the day, in the morning. So, when u ready to take a bath, ring the bell and a person will bring a bucket full of Hot water in no time and place it in the bathroom from the back door. And if you have any doubts(i am sure you will), he cannot enter from the backdoor. You have to open the backdoor from inside, he enters places two buckets of hot water and you take a bath.

It is an ideal hotel for people who want to spend quality time with loved ones or by themselves.. totally isolated. You can start a bonfire at night... thats what we did and got lost in our own world. You stay here and you will surely feel in a different world. That said, this set up may not appeal every traveller but i enjoyed every moment there since it was a different experience all together. It was like going back in time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Euro 2008: Germany Vs Portugal, 1st Quarterfinal

A great match between two of the European footballing giants and pre-tournament favorites. Fanatastic performance by Bastien and Deco.. great passing and a good tempo brought out one of the best matches of the tournament. Ballack, looking tired after EPL, had the last laugh with the 3rd goal for the Germans. Ronaldo was ineffective and looked like he was caged, struggling to find space from the clutches of his markers. His silence worked in the Germans favor and a well deserved victory for the "underdogs."

Euro 2008: Russia Vs Sweden

Spirited performances by the Russians. They steam rolled the Swedes and should have scored more but for their finishing skills. Again, a lacklustre performance by the Swedes. Though Ibrahimovic scored two goals in the tournament, he was always struggling. Larsson, who was playing in his 6th international tournament was better off. The Swedish mid-field never really existed and were easily swallowed by the Russians who played in the Swedish half mostly. A lone Melberg at the centre of Swedish defence looked tired and helpless. The Russians looked fresh, since their domestic football season is not over yet, which made a huge difference. The 2nd goal was mind boggling. Zhyrkov, a right back sprinted towards the left and fed the boal in the Swedish box to be put in the nets by Arshavin, the Russian player of the year.
So, Mr. Hiddink any more surprises up your sleeve. You simply cant ignore this man..

Euro 2008: France Vs Italy

Aint surprised at all by the outcome of this one. France never really looked up to the challenge and avenge the loss to the Azzuris 2 years back. Even though they lost this do or die battle with Italy, one positive that came out was an inspirational performance by Karim Benzema. The loss of Frank Ribery in the first quarter sealed the fate of the French. They never deserved to be in the competition in the first place. And they surely missed their ageing warhorse Lilian Thurram, who along with Makelele have hung their boots after the loss... finally!
Italy too deserves no place in the quarter finals. Luca Toni, I believe has got more chances than any striker in this tournament yet he failed to score even once. Their midfield is no good either. Pirlo played in patches not quite the Pirlo of World Cup 2006.
Overall, an average match by two of my old time favorites.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Euro 2008- France, End of a Golden Age

End of a Golden Age.. I said the same thing when Great Zidane quit. But after watching Ribery last world cup I somehow felt that there is still some firepower in the French arsenal. But watching them being butchered by the Dutch I felt the same.. again this time. Wish I could bring Zizou back from retirement. The french team has still not come out of his hangover. Even in the last world cup, it was Zizou that brought them to the finals. They were pathetic even then but for Zizou. Ribery is only the saving grace. Henry plays only for his club , not and never for his country. Thurram is ageing and so is Sagnol and Gallas. Feel sad for Thurram. He is old and vulnerable in the defence. And rightly so.. this is fifth international tournament. I am seeing him since I was a kid. 12 years is a verrrrrry long time Thurram. Get some young blood and you already have a few on your bench... Samir nasri, Benzema.
They desparately need some fresh legs like the Spanish. Ramos, Villa, Silva, Torres, Fabregas.. all in the right side of 25 and boy what game they had against the swedes. Mind boggling performance by the yound spades. However, the same cannot be said about the Italians. Most of the team members are on the wrong side of 30.. even older than the French squad but high on morale. They lost the cup when they lost Cannavaro.... the pliar of Italian defence. Zambrotta and Del Piero should quit now. Villa is the man to watch out for and Spain, the team. Sheer class.
That said, I am impressed by the quality of matches as well. This tournament has been better than Euro'04 and even the World Cup to some extent. Some terrific performances by Russia, Romania, Spain, Netherlands. Spain is my favorite. But history says that Spain have always fared poorly in the knock out stages.
Keeping my fingers crossed.