… there are couple of kinds of car people, some people have to have lot of cars and they buy and sell. … I’m a very old kind, I came across that car in late 80′s and early 90′s and it’s just one of those soulmate types of cars, the more I’ve improved on it, the more I’ve driven it, the more it just become a part of my life I can’t seeing getting rid of it. – Bob Gough (owner of 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S)
Norway… With only five million people, it has won 303 Winter Olympic medals, far more than any other country on the planet.
…many experts think the answer lies in the culture and lifestyle of the country, where an extraordinary egalitarianism runs through youth sports. Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports, and before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize.
Norway’s cities are relatively close to the wilderness, and children are encouraged to play outdoors even on the coldest days.
Neighboring Sweden, by contrast, has its major population centers farther from the wilderness, and the Swedes are more inclined to play indoor sports in the winter, such as tennis or hockey, rather than bundle up and go skiing.
Norway remains a largely agrarian society that places a large premium on being outside. A Norwegian concept called friluftsliv—enjoying outdoor life—has been studied in books and represents whole areas of study at universities.
How Norway Scores So Much Olympic Gold - An interesting article from The Wall Street Journal, which gives an insight into the Norwegian culture and approach that shapes it’s phenomenal success in winter sports
Legendary Formula 1 driver and multiple champion Michael Schumacher is in coma after a ski accident. The 44-year-old German suffered a blow to the head … Full Article
One can get a sense of Schumacher’s legend in Formula One racing from the words of Damon Hill (former Formula One champion and ex-rival of Schumacher) -
“He is incredibly professional. If you had to go for a heart operation you’d want somebody who was the Schumacher of the heart surgery world to do the job, because you can rely on him…. He laughs as he considers the dominance of his old enemy. Fortunately Michael wasn’t like that in 1996! The fact he is still winning makes me feel a lot better. It’s not so bad to be beaten by the best driver who’s ever lived. Nobody really knew that then. I was first into the arena, the first Christian thrown to the lions…”
My only personal connection with him is the sketch below, which I drew more than a decade ago and which remains one of my favorites till date. To an extent he is also one of the inspirations behind my passion for driving.
I hope he comes out of his coma, like a champion, which he has always been. A few of his quotes which I like:
“In sport there is never any moment that is the same as the other. I have been in Formula One for 12 years, and out of that I had one year with the perfect car. .”
“Never think that success is down to your own performance alone. If you start listening only to yourself you take the first step back towards the bottom. The flowers of victory belong in many vases.”
One of his famous taxi stories [Source]:
Seven-time formula one world champion Michael Schumacher shocked a cab driver by taking over the wheel in order to be on time for a flight.
Schumacher flew into the aerodrome at the Bavarian town of Coburg on Saturday and took a taxi to the village of Gehuelz, 30km away, to pick up a new puppy – an Australian Shepherd dog called “Ed”.
But when the 38-year-old, plus his wife and two children, caught a taxi back to the airport they were short on time and, after a polite request, cab driver Tuncer Yilmaz watched in wonder as Schumacher took the wheel.
“I found myself in the passenger seat, which was strange enough, but to have “Schumi” behind the wheel of my cab was incredible,” Mr Yilmaz told the Muenchner Abendzeitung.
“He drove at full throttle around the corners and overtook in some unbelievable places.”
Mr Yilmaz was well rewarded for the unusual journey – on top of the 60 euro ($100) fare, he was also given a 100 euro ($167) tip.
Five boys were sitting at the far end of the bench. They were dressed in weatherworn clothes, all caked in mud. Their leader said something fast. The others groped through their pockets and pooled their funds: six marbles, four bottle tops, a painted twig, a blunt penknife, and a few coins. The money was separated out. Three of the boys started arguing, shouting at one another. Their argument broke into a scrap. One of the older boys suddenly turned on the smallest. They fell into the dirt, punches flying. The leader pulled them apart. He handled all the coins to the youngest boy, whose shirt had been ripped in the fight, and sent him off toward the cinema.
The others began playing marbles.
I asked why only one of them was going to the cinema. The leader glanced up, his sienna eyes catching the light.
“We only have the money for one to see the matinee, Monsieur”, he said. “So we send Ahmed. We always send Ahmed.”
The leader flicked a marble into the dirt. “Because Ahmed has the best memory,” he said.
An excerpt from In Arabian Nights- A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams.
It’s the fifth Christmas for me away from my home country, India. I often think about how can I describe these five years in Belgium. I could never think of an elegant way to describe them. I’m currently reading the book “In Arabian Nights – A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams“. It is about a British man, married to an Indian woman and their life in Morocco. Tahir, the main protagonist of the book, describes his experience of settling down in Morocco. He says -
Settling into a new country is like getting used to a pair of shoes. At first they pinch a little, but you like the way they look, so you carry on. The longer you have them, the more comfortable they become. Until one day without realizing it you reach a glorious plateau. Wearing those shoes is like wearing no shoes at all. The more scuffed they get, the more you love them, and the more you can’t imagine life without them.
Probably, I can say the same for my years in Belgium, and I guess you too.
“No,” I said, shaking my head.
“Once…there was a sparrow who was very ill. He could not go south with the rest of his family and so he sent them along, saying that he would find shelter for the winter and meet them in the spring. The sparrow looked his son in the eye and said, ‘I will see you again.’ And the son believed him.”
“The sparrow went to an oak tree and asked if he could hide in his leaves and branches for the winter to keep warm, but the oak refused. My grandmother used to say that the oak trees were cold, hard trees with tiny hearts. My grandmother…”
“Sorry,” he said. “Well, after this the sparrow went to a maple tree and asked the same question. The maple tree was kinder than the oak tree but it also refused to shelter the bird. The sparrow asked every tree he came to if they might house him from the deadly weather: the beech, the aspen, the willow, the elm. The all said no. Can you believe this?”
“Well, the first snow came,” he said. “And the sparrow was deperate. Finally he flew over to the pine tree. ‘Will you house me for the winter?’ the sparrow asked. ‘But I can’t offer you much protection,’the pine said. ‘I only have needles that let in the wind and cold.’ It is all right,’ said the sparrow, shivering. And so the pine agreed. Finally! And do you know what?”
“With the tree’s protection, the sparrow survived the long winter. When the spring came and the wildflowers bloomed in the hills, he was rejoined by his family. The son was overjoyed. He never thought he would see his father again. When the Creator heard this story, he was angry with the trees. ‘You did not shelter a tiny sparrow in need,’ He said. ‘We are sorry,’ said the trees. ‘You will never forget this sparrow,’ the Creator said. And after that, He caused all of the trees to lose their leaves each fall…well, almost all of the trees. Because it was kind to the poor bird, the pine got to keep its short little needles all winter long.”
With autumn around, it is at a perfect time when I came across this little story. Perhaps it is also one of the native American legend stories, but I’m not sure. I wait the entire year for this season to come. My heart is filled with anticipation for it. Now when it is finally here, I am filled with mixed feelings. On one hand, there is joy and fascination to see nature’s art all around me. On the other hand, there is apprehension of this being a very short lived happiness and the onset of the winters, when trees will loose their leaves and nature it’s colors.