Robert Lewandowski resides in bite-sized moments of brilliance

Tottenham Hotspur v Bayern Muenchen: Group B - UEFA Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur v Bayern Muenchen: Group B – UEFA Champions League

Tottenham Hotspur v Bayern Muenchen: Group B - UEFA Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur v Bayern Muenchen: Group B – UEFA Champions League

Think of Bayern Munich and Robert Lewandowski’s name will automatically come to mind. It certainly would not be an overstatement to say that this star striker from Poland has been one of Bayern Munich’s most consistent performers in recent times. During the 2018-19 season of the Bundesliga, Lewandowski could be seen eating goals for breakfast. He finished as the season’s leading goal scorer (22 goals).

Lewandowski was bought by the Bavarian Giants in 2014 to bolster the club’s attacking lines. Since the Polish striker’s arrival, they have enjoyed a lot of success. Bayern Munich have been winning the German Bundesliga since 2012-13. In 262 matches for the German powerhouse (across competitions), the Polish star has scored 206 times. Wow, these are staggering numbers. Those following him closely would be aware of the difference he makes every single time he takes the field. He is expected to score the moment he takes control of the ball. No matter how formidable the opponent’s defence lines are, Lewandowski will decimate them within no time.

The moment he misses a scoring opportunity, several media outlets across Europe can be seen losing a lot of ink. Earlier this year, the Bayern Munich forward was criticised by Didi Hamann, an ex-Germany midfielder, for failing to score against Hertha Berlin in the DFB-Pokal round of 16. Lewandowski termed the criticism aimed at him as “flat-out stupid”.

 What does Lewandowski bring to the table?

He is the axis around which other rotate

It has to be said that Lewandowski’s scoring rate is phenomenal. Every time he comes out to play, he ends up making a difference. He spearheads the club’s attacking lines, sometimes almost single-handedly. Also, there is a circle of energy and enthusiasm that surrounds Lewandowski from all possible sides. He brings along a lot of energy and optimism into the side.

The go-getter

No matter how precarious the situation is, Lewandowski will find a way to tackle it. If Bayern Munich is in need of an equaliser, he will come out all guns blazing and score a goal for his side. The opposition’s defence lines can be seen running for cover if and when the Polish great is on song. He scored 14 goals in the first 10 matches of the 2019-20 season. After looking at his numbers, he can be easily counted as one of the contemporary greats.

His ability to soak all the pressure makes him an intangible asset. Bayern Munich have been winning the Bundesliga since 2012-13, all thanks to Robert Lewandowski and his on-field brilliance. He wants to score the moment makes his way out. He wants to win matches for his side.

The fighter

Just one or two bad games do not seem to have much of an impact on him. The moment you write him off, he tends to strike back. Criticism makes him stronger. He is not known for launching verbal attacks and lets his on-field brilliance do the talking. Different people have different ways to counter criticism, and his way is to come out all guns blazing.

The impact player

Robert Lewandowski happens to be the heart and soul of Bayern Munich’s attacking lines. He keeps on scoring consistently.  In numbers are phenomenal, but Lewandowski’s game has never revolved around numbers. He wants to help his side win matches. That is what makes him different from other strikers. His on-field persona happens to be his biggest strength.

To conclude the argument

He too feels bogged down and frustrated at times. He overreacts and makes silly mistakes. Well, he isn’t a wish-granting fairy. Lewandowski doesn’t really care much about being judged by others. This lad from Poland just goes about his business. Simply put, he resides within countless moments of brilliance.

The toothbrush story…

The last time I experienced a severe toothache
I was 16 years old
I had eaten shit loads of chocolate cake
And drank cola
Boy, it was too cold

Mornings were tough
Toothbrushes were rough
Life was a rush (it still is)
We made our way to school
Something without bath and brush

Brushing teeth was boring
But the toothpaste was not
One fine day, I ate an entire tube
In the act, I was caught

Brushing teeth was mundane
It was a pain
I would say to my mom:’brushing teeth isn’t cool’
She would say: ‘You’re a pretty big fool’ XD

Now that I am a grown up
I know that brushing teeth is important
While going out on a vacation
I always keep a toothbrush, a mouthwash, and a drinking cup

Colas and cakes are guilty pleasures
They’re priceless, just like treasure
But brushing teeth is still a boring exercise (very much)
But skipping it comes with a heavy price

 

 

 

Fatal Mist…

Sit in a closed room, close your eyes and imagine this: Salman Khan pulling a pack of Marlboro cigarettes out of his pocket and smoking a few of them before going all guns blazing against the bad guys. After that, think of Ranbir Kapoor smoking a cigarette while reliving the fond memories he spent with his beloved.

Now, think of a man sitting in a dark room. He is too weak to move. Imagine him smoking a pipe and coughing continuously. After that, imagine him lying still on his death-bed, vomiting blood. He’s dying a slow and painful death because of lung cancer. Does that sound ‘cool’?

Every day after having lunch, I have this habit of taking a stroll right outside the office area. It happens to be a great way of keeping yourself up and running. The moment I step outside the office, at least 10-15 people can be seen gossiping and smoking cigarettes with filters lying scattered all over the place.

There’s a young lady I used to work with. Back in 2016, she was in her late 20’s. I must confess I haven’t seen a writer as good as her. One fine day, while attending a client call, I saw her carrying a lighter. She held it firmly in her right hand and was on her way to the smoking zone (just outside the office). The very sight of her making her way to the smoking zone made my heart sink in an ocean of gloom. That’s because I had a crush on her. XD

I followed her while she was making her way to the smoking area. She had one cigarette, which she was sharing with one of her female colleagues. She took a few puffs and passed it to her colleague. I stood there motionless as I saw them smoking and giggling.

I wish I could barge into the smoking area and snatch that cigarette from her. I wanted to tell her that smoke wasn’t the only thing that was being blown away by her. Quite frankly, I didn’t utter a word, but the sight of those giggling faces kept flying through my mind for the rest of the day. Take a minute and look around yourself. You’ll see a lot of people smoking around us. From colleagues to friends to strangers outside Metro Stations, the list is never-ending.

A lot of people hesitate to admit that they smoke. Questions about smoking are often swept under the carpet. Some people might even go on to bully you, saying: ‘Man, grow up’ and ‘You haven’t lived your life’. Now, would someone be kind enough to tell me how on earth is smoking associated with growing up?

Smoking kills nearly eight million people globally. (That’s a huge number). College goers and young working professionals are falling prey to this menace. Earlier, cigarettes were cheaper, and people could light a cigarette almost anywhere. Cigarette manufacturers used to sponsor charity events, discussions and seminars. However, in those days, access to information was pretty much limited, and people weren’t ‘aware’ of the health risks associated with excessive tobacco use.

Today, the cost of cigarettes has skyrocketed, and people can no longer smoke as openly as they once could. Smoking is banned in public places. Furthermore, a warning sign pops up whenever a person lights a cigarette on the big screen.

Why do people smoke?

A common ‘reason’ they give is: ‘Zindagi mein Bahot tanaav hai’ (My life’s stressed-out). I quickly follow it up with another question: Would it fade away after you’ve smoked? What follows my question is indomitable silence.

As individuals, all of us need to decide how we want to live our lives. People need to understand that the real face of smoking isn’t glamorous, and neither is it cool. The real face of smoking is covered with misery and disease. It is a disease that intensifies every time you light a cigarette.

Empty spaces….

I used to remain extremely depressed when I was 18 years old. To be very honest, I was a loner. I felt lonely and tired in a crowded room filled with unknown people. I would go to my apartment and just sit there for hours doing nothing. Everything used to remain quiet, lonely and still. A few creaking sounds made by an old wooden door used to break the shackles of silence.

I used to leave the television on just to feel that somebody was there with me all the time. As many as seven years have rolled by, but my situation happens to be quite similar to what it was back then. The biggest irony in the world is to have 500 friends on Facebook and yet be so terribly depressed and lonely.

In all fairness, there is absolutely no pleasure in being lonely.  The trouble with me is not that I am depressed and likely to stay depressed, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely for the rest of my life. It seems as though there is a hole in this world, and I find myself walking around that hole constantly during the daytime. I tend to jump into that hole during wee hours of the night.

Moments before falling asleep, I tend to feel alive, with a thousand fragments of unspoken thoughts flying through my mind. I have this habit of bringing each moment into the bed with me much like a five-year-old brings pencils and pens. And then, I turn motionless and fall into the depths of sleep, just like a lump of sugar melts away in a child’s mouth.

Well, when I had a closer look at my plight, I realised that there is a huge difference between being lonely and being alone. I reach home at around 8 PM every night and start abusing my Netflix subscription. I also love to roam around aimlessly on a lazy Saturday evening. I have always had to struggle in order to keep myself away from being overwhelmed by people. Well, it is not the easiest thing to do, but you tend to get used to it as the years roll by. There are people who believe you’re ‘egoistic’ just because you don’t talk. Not everybody understands the meaning of silence.

art blog - Shin Kwang Ho - empty kingdom
Quite frankly, no price is too high to pay if you wish to experience the pleasure of ‘owning yourself’. At times, it becomes absolutely necessary for you to take out time for yourself. It provides you with an opportunity to rejuvenate yourself.

I must also admit that I was quite an annoying student and used to ask a lot of questions.  Not much of it changed after I graduated. I was quite an introvert when I started working as a copyeditor for one of the leading financial dailies. Back then, I was untouched by joy or sorrow and used to work tirelessly.

Just because I am an introvert, you’d be thinking that I don’t have friends. Well, that’s not true. I do have a small circle of good friends, and I must admit that I have been quite fortunate to have a bunch of jolly good friends. No matter how dire the circumstances are, they are always ready to help me out with things. I love indulging in constructive arguments with friends over a hearty cup of coffee, but I won’t jump into an argument just for the sake of gaining attention.

Complexity of human emotions, which is hard to be defined in one word, is left as momentary traces on the empty space, after the long agony of the artist’s inner side. The ?complexity‘ is a kind of action which is come by completely absorbing and assim…

To end it all on a positive note, I would like to say that I’ve seen great men being lonely. Ah, I am not saying I am a great man:). I am a lonely little chap who feels shy while eating in front of too many people. At times, people set up extremely high standards for themselves that they are bound to feel lonely. But at the same time, loneliness becomes an integral part of their ability to create something out of the extra-ordinary.

Picture courtesy: Pinterest

 

Is India Paying Attention To Medals Brought Home By Sportswomen?

It goes pretty much without saying that life isn’t a bed of roses for women athletes in India. Despite their best efforts, the gulf between male and female athletes in India keeps widening rampantly.

Take this for an example: The likes on Twitter and Facebook erupt like a volcano, the moment a male athlete wins a medal. Also, it is quite unsurprising to note that male athletes are paid way more than their female counterparts. Back in 2008, Abhinav Bindra turned into a national icon after becoming the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal (individual sport). On the other hand, countless women athletes are struggling to keep their bodies and souls together. Nobody talks about their achievements. Consequently, they end up fading away into the depths of oblivion.

Almost all of us know that R.S. Rathore won a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, but not many of us know that MC Mary Kom has won as many as six Boxing World Championships. Women athletes keep exceeding our expectations, but we hardly pay heed to all the good work done by them.

It is heartening to note that a considerable number of women athletes have made their presence felt in recent times. The likes of PV Sindhu and Hima Das have taken the sporting world by storm. Today, both these women have turned into role models and cultural icons.

Let us take a look at some of the rising women athletes who have made us proud in recent times:

PV Sindhu (Badminton)

She seems to have answered all her critics with her racquet. In the recently concluded Badminton World Championships, she decimated Nozomi Okuhara in straight sets to win her first gold medal. The world number 5 has won as many as five medals in six appearances at the world championships. Boy, that’s no mean feat.

Hima Das (Track and field)

They say the size of your success is always measured by the strength of your desire. Hima Das, the 19-year-old sprinter, broke quite a few records during the 2018 edition of the Asian Games held in Jakarta by covering 400 metres, in a fraction over 50 seconds. Also, she won a gold medal in a track event during the IAAF World U20 Championships. She is the first Indian athlete to bag four gold medals in 15 days. Wow, these are staggering numbers!

Dutee Chand (Track and field)

She made journalists lose a lot of ink, after winning a gold medal in the women’s 100-metre sprint at the World University Games (Napoli, 2019). The 23-year-old smashed quite a few records after clocking 11.32 seconds in the final and became the first Indian athlete to bag a gold medal at the event. One has to say that this lass from Odisha knows how to handle extreme pressure.

Mithali Raj (Cricket)

The seasoned and wise ‘yodha’ of the Indian Women’s cricket team became a household name after leading her team to the finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. In a career spanning over decades, she has scored more than 6,000 ODI runs. Also, she is the highest run-scorer for India in all three formats of the game.

Also read: How A Community Of Writers Showed Up To Bat For Our Women In Blue!

Sania Mirza (Lawn Tennis)

With three mixed doubles titles in her kitty, Sania Mirza is one of the finest female tennis players the country has ever produced. At the very height of her powers in 2015-16, she ranked number one in the WTA doubles rankings, becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat.

After going through all of the aforementioned examples, I believe, it certainly wouldn’t be wrong to say that women athletes in India are outplaying their male counterparts. For centuries, women are being told that they are, and will always remain, inferior to men. I, however, feel that women are way stronger than men (they have always been). Most of us find it hard to come to terms with this fact.

The piece was first published on Youth Ki Awaaz

Limerence? Not Quite…

A tale of trembling hearts
With words erupting like a volcano
Impudence isn’t there, just fragility of thoughts
I spend hours attempting to join the dots.

Can’t find words, they just erode
When you stare at me, with eyes heavy and broad
Half full or half empty, I don’t know
Are you hiding something similar beneath those eyelids?
Let me know

The moments we’ve spent together,
are both the serendipitous memory
As well as a perpetual sorrow
They were a harbinger of spring to this day
But might soon turn into a steady drizzle by tomorrow

It ain’t fragile, it never was
Neither is my love a gimmick
In fact, my love has reached a point
Where both you and I are synonymic

All my words are lying before me
Like dead weights
Soft sounds emerge from my lips
But perish before reaching your ears
Lips begin to ache
And all that remains at hand is a multitude of snowflakes…

Picture Courtesy: Pinterest

Of fake news, WhatsApp universities, and everything in between…

It is all-pervasive. It is growing at a rate of knots. It’s an indomitable force. Wonder what I am talking about? It’s WhatsApp.

The online messaging app has become so popular that it doesn’t need any kind of publicity. No advertising, no PR events, and no conferences. WhatsApp is installed on every smartphone these days. Gone are the days when people used to purchase message cards. I remember buying a new Airtel message card every second day as a 16-year-old back in 2010. Calling somebody was quite exhausting. Dropping a message was way too easy. Back then, nobody had predicted that the world of messaging would soon undergo a major transformation.

A farmer in southeast Punjab talks on his cellphone. (Photo: CIAT/Flickr)

Nine years down the line, WhatsApp is the undisputed king of the online messaging market. As far as the numbers are concerned, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market. In 2018, India was home to more than 200 million WhatsApp users (no prizes for guessing). Everybody is using WhatsApp – from a rickshaw puller to the CEO of a multi-billion MNC. Messages become viral within minutes.

Fresh and new memes are churned out every minute. Even our dear Prime Minister hasn’t remained untouched by a never-ending avalanche of memes.

There’s another thing that’s getting viral these days, but it’s not as cool as memes. Fake news seems to have found a perfect pairing alongside WhatsApp. No matter how fake or idiotic the story might sound, there would be people who will read it, believe it, and then share it. Every single time people get a link to a story on WhatsApp, they share it within seconds. Of late, WhatsApp has become a major avalanche in triggering an avalanche of fake news, giving rise to the term Ravish Kumar coined ‘WhatsApp Universities.’

 

According to a report published by the BBC, around 40% of the total messages sent and received on WhatsApp dealt with scams pertaining to conspiracies and technology. There were stories related to nationalism, such as culture and ‘common man’ stories. The researchers from the BBC interviewed as many as 80 people across three different countries, i.e. Nigeria, Kenya, and India.

Friends discuss their lives over their phones. (Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr)

The interviews were conducted over a period of seven days. Researchers analyzed the respondents’ ways of media consumption and the use of Facebook and WhatsApp for information sharing. They realized that respondents across all three countries did not make much effort to explore the original source of the information that was being shared.

Research conducted by the BBC has thrown light on the fact that more than 70% of the Indian population has not been able to differentiate between fake news and real news. To top it all, these results showcase the need to improve digital literacy among Indians.

Of late, several incidents of lynchings came to light owing to the dissemination of fake news over social media and messaging platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. The number of times a message can be forwarded on WhatsApp has now been limited to five (in one go). Well, never in my life have I seen the common man enjoying so much power. And that got me thinking.

Why Do People Forward Messages?

It goes without saying that people love to forward messages. Indians, in particular, love pressing the forward button the moment they receive a piece of information on WhatsApp. There are quite a few reasons behind this reckless forwarding spree.

Forwarding Is Easier Than Composing

In an age governed by the internet, nobody likes to compose an original piece of content. Everybody’s busy in copying and pasting the work done by others feat human nature and procrastination. Nobody wants to go through the long and tedious process of creating new content because one has to spend a good amount of time as well as energy to do that.

Nobody is ready to put in the hard yards. In such a ‘helpless’ situation, there’s nothing easier than getting to forward a “pakaa-pakaaya” (already in form) message.

Literally, Free Of Cost

Now, there’s nothing like it. Forwarding a message doesn’t cost you anything, maybe that’s why it’s so popular. If online messaging companies start charging people for forwarding messages, the number would certainly come down significantly. Messages are being forwarded recklessly because no one charges people for doing so, and no one cares.

Moreover, there’s nobody governing the outflow of messages. The credibility of the news sources is also not being checked. In such a situation, a person can forward whatever they want to, as anyway the person forwarding has nothing to lose.

We Love To Argue

Ah, all of us just love arguing, don’t we? Arguing happens to be a preferred pastime for many. Forget constructive arguments and discussions, there are some who keep on arguing just for the sake of killing time. Today, we just forward a message and wait for the person to reply with an emoji. As soon as the reply is received, begins a never-ending saga of arguments, most of which are redundant.

Drawing The Curtains

We are in dire need of constructive arguments, and not fake news. Having a communication channel as powerful as WhatsApp is undoubtedly a blessing, but it is not being used to the best of it’s potential. In fact, it is being misused to spread and share fake news.

Understand the responsibility that comes with disseminating information. All you have to do is check the credibility of the story you are planning to share before pressing the forward button.