One morning when I was a child, my father came our to the lawn where I was playing with my box of wooden bricks. He picked up one of the smaller bricks, a yellow one, and said, “This brick is the house in which we live”. He picked up another, a larger, a red one. “And this brick is the village out there”. Then he took the actual box in which the bricks had come and placed it on the grass, a long way from the others. “This box is Afghanistan”, he said. “Do you understand?”
“Are you quite sure that you understand?”
“Tahir Jan,” he said, “I am showing you this because it’s an important thing. I will explain it to you. If I go into the kitchen and take a dry sponge and put it in a bowl of water, it will suck up a lot of water, won’t it?”
“But if I take the same sponge and put it in a bowl of ice, it won’t suck up anything at all. That’s because the sponge isn’t designed to suck up ice. Its structure — lots of little holes — can’t take in ice, only water.”
He sat down beside me, motioning with his hands.
“Ice is water, but just in a different form,” he said. “To make it into water — so we can suck it up easily — we need to change its form. The water is knowledge, Tahir Jan, and the sponge is your mind. When we hear information, a lot of it,” he said, “sometimes it’s too hard for us to suck up. It’s like ice. We hear it in the same way that the sponge touches the bowl of ice, but it doesn’t get inside. But as soon as you melt the ice, the water penetrates deep into the middle of the sponge. And that’s what stories do.”
My father always spoke very carefully to children so that they understood. He would pause and study the feedback, making sure what he said was getting through. I wasn’t quite sure what he was aiming at, and was rather keen to get on playing with my bricks.
“Stories are a way of melting the ice,” he said gently, “turning it into water. They are like repackaging something — changing it’s form — so that the design of the sponge can accept it.”
An excerpt from In Arabian Nights- A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams.
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.
“Hey that’s Bob Marley”, I said to Frank on listening to the music. “I like him”, I continued. Frank replied, “I’m glad that I like him too”. I was intrigued by his reply. I asked, “Why do you say that?”. “Well it’s been more than 3 months since I have been listening to this one cassette of Bob Marley in my van”, Frank replied. Seeing the puzzled expression on my face, he pointed towards the cassette/radio player in his van. “You see there is no eject button here. 3 months back my kids were fighting here and in that they broke off the eject button. Since then the cassette has been inside and I’ve been listening to him daily”, Frank replied smiling. “May be I’ll get it fixed when I get bored or don’t like Bob Marley anymore”.
Frank is the transporter guy whom I met today. He was helping us with transporting and moving some stuffs for a friend of mine. I shared few rides with him in his van and he is an amazing person :).
Every day, every moment, every nanosecond the world changes Electrons bump into each other and react People collide and alter each other’s path Change isn’t easy More often it is wrenching and difficult But may be that’s a good thing Because it’s the change that makes us strong, keeps us resilient It teaches us to evolve…
Few beautiful lines from Touch (Season 1, Episode 12). This was accompanied by the following background score..
Rise up this morning Smile with the rising sun Three little birds On my doorstep Singin' sweet songs A melody that's pure and true Saying, this is my message to you So, don't you worry About a thing... 'Cause every little thing Is gonna be all right...
Hari and I were having dinner at the Everest restaurant this evening when an elderly gentleman came in and sat at the table next to us. Lucky “Singh”, as I like to call the person-in-charge of the place, somehow didn’t notice him and started taking orders from people who came after this gentleman. Hari felt concerned and he drew Lucky’s attention towards the gentleman.
While we were eating our food, we heard the gentleman calling Lucky and saying, “Please bring these two gentlemen drinks of their choice”, while pointing at us. We felt embarrassed and tried to change his mind. But we couldn’t. He said, “Please, I insist”. “You don’t have to do this”, we said him. “But I like it, so please order something”, he replied. “Thanks a lot for the drink. It is very nice of you”, we replied. We then hesitatingly ordered Coco Cola for ourselves. The gentleman also bought drinks for two other persons sitting on an another table.
This initiated a conversation between us. He was Paul. He worked as the head waiter on cruise ships before he retired. He has travelled widely and almost to all countries, except for India. Being in the hospitality business for his entire working career, he was a connoisseur of food and dining. He prefers eating what locals eat and in a way in which locals eat. “Once in China, I asked for Chinese beer. The waiter looked at me surprisingly and suspiciously asked if I didn’t want to have a Heineken beer”, he said. “For God sake, I don’t want to have Dutch beer in China. In China, I want to have something which is authentic Chinese”.
It is always interesting to converse with people like Paul who have travelled widely and have a rich experience. You may also pick up one or two nuggets of life. “If you have 20 dollars in your pocket, you should not go and demand and show-off your capability to pay. Instead, with folded hands humbly request, if you can have it. In my 60 years of life, I have always been treated with warmth and friendliness, whichever part of world I went. Moreover, 9 out of 10 times I wasn’t allowed to pay for my food”. Paul had ordered chicken noodles. He later asked us if that was an Indian dish. We told him that it wasn’t authentic Indian dish. Intrigued by our food, he asked if that was Indian. When we replied affirmatively, he requested if we could order the same for him. We did and Lucky “Singh” offered it as complimentary and on the house :).
Lucky also offered mango lassi as compliment to Paul. He took a sip of the lassi. He waited for a moment experiencing the taste of it. “It has mango and yogurt in it. But less of mango”, Paul said. “A bit of lemon, if added to it will enhance the taste of mango even more”, he remarked. “Lemon when added to fruits such as strawberry, mango, etc always makes it taste better”, he further added. He emphasized that it should be lemon and not lime.