Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fashion Shows & Formula 1 (part 1)

A very good friend of mine just shared with us his very interesting point of view on automobile racing. He says,

“Gallons of fuel is burnt during car and bike racing competitions, just to whet the egos of automobile majors.”

Being a huge fan and an arduous follower of both F1 and MotoGP, I couldn’t stop myself from pondering over the thought. For  a moment I thought, ‘Is it really so? The sport that I love so much is actually just about auto-companies throwing away millions of dollars to prove who’s the fastest? Is it just a showcase event where everyone gets to flex their muscle in front of a crowd and gather applause?’ But then, the true blue racing fan inside of me (remember I’m the Adrenaline Junkie) rises from the very depths of my heart and mind to quell any such sentiment that goes against my very identity. The racing fan says, ‘No, can’t be! The likes of Ferrari and Porsche, Mercedes and McLaren, Honda and Toyota, Yamaha and Suzuki, Audi and BMW, Ducati and Jaguar, Ford and Alfa Romeo, Renault and Aston Martin can’t be racing just to whet their egos. You name the best of the auto-companies in the world and chances are they are into some form of racing or the other (Lamborghini seems to be the lone exception, but that’s for completely different reasons). These auto-majors cannot be putting in the best of their engineering and technology and human resource apart from huge amounts of cash into something that trivial, can they? What is it then? I do seem to have an answer.

(You might be wondering what’s a fashion show got to do with racing. Don’t worry, I will come to that later in the article)

Formula One today stands at the pinnacle of all motorsport in every aspect, including technology, difficulty, budgets, competition level, viewership, global reach, and its been so for more than five decades. The world’s best drivers, racing engineers, car designers and engine makers dream of participating in this event. No wonder that F1 today commands a global audience of more than half a billion per race, exceeded only by the Football World Cup and the Olympics, both of which are not annual events unlike F1. Even India has almost 60-70 million dedicated viewers, and that’s when we don’t even have a racetrack or a driver featuring on the F1 calendar! Imagine a Karun Chandhok or an Armaan Ibrahim driving a Force India in the Indian GP, what sort of potential numbers are we looking at?

The eleven F1 teams’ combined budget in 2008 stood at more than $3 billion, a major portion of which is provided by the team sponsors who recognize the event’s advertising potential due to its immense global viewership. Which bring us to the debate – is there a point in spending so much money when it doesn’t concern the common man apart from providing a fun and glamour filled weekend? Does it directly affect us or our automobiles in any way? The answer is – yes, it does.

Formula One also stands at the pinnacle of innovation in automobile design. Technologies like disc brakes, aerodynamics, engine design efficiency, energy recovery systems, turbo/super chargers, all have their origins in racing. For example, Ferrari road cars are designed, manufactured and tested under the same conditions and in the same factory as their F1 cars. Their road cars derive their engines, transmissions, gearboxes, braking systems, suspensions, aerodynamics, wheels, traction control and even their paints directly from their F1 cars. After manufacturing, these road cars are tested by their best racing car drivers on the very same race track as their F1 cars. And its not just the high performance super sports cars for the uber-rich that get the best of the world. These technological breakthroughs eventually trickle down from racing cars to the very passenger cars that common people like you and me drive. And Formula One, apart from speed, also prioritizes safety, cost and energy efficiency. Currently the FIA and manufacturers are discussing adding bio-fuel engines and regenerative braking for the 2011 season. FIA believes F1 must focus on efficiency to stay technologically relevant in the automotive industry as well as keep the public excited about F1 technology. The energy recovery system, or KERS as it is popularly known in F1 (which denied Force India their first ever victory in an F1 race) is a recent example of a technology which I’m sure in few years time would be regularly seen in our road cars. Therefore, saying that all the money spent by F1 teams is just to be the fastest over a weekend race does sound quite unfair to me.

Also, going by the logic that money spent on F1 is a waste, what would you call the Olympics or any such worldwide sporting event where national governments spend billions of dollars to host a 15 day event that does not even provide guarantee that their investment would return? What would you call India’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games even though more than half it’s population lives below poverty line? The reason is that the Games provide a major opportunity for the host city and country to promote and showcase their culture, infrastructure and economic might to the world and hope that it would ultimately raise their own standards of living by luring huge foreign investments.

Besides, would you like to watch a sluggish 80bHP Maruti Wagon-R slugging it out at 80kmph against a sluggisher Hyundai Santro on a racetrack? No, right? You want a roaring 800bHP superfast, super agile Ferrari racing at 320kmph against a super noisy, super powerful McLaren, because that is what gives you the ultimate thrill and adrenaline rush. But all this does require money, millions of it!

The F1 part got a bit long, so I decided to give Fashion its own space…to be continued…

Saturday, October 3, 2009

CAT ke Side-Effects



Now that I've decided to take the plunge…

  1. Conversations I have with one and all somehow, in spite of my best efforts, tend to veer towards the dreaded ‘C’ word. This includes parents, relatives, friends, neighbors, family friends, friends’ friends, dad’s friends, mom’s friends, colleagues, colleagues’ friends, classmates at coaching and their friends, people at the gym (yes,them too!) and their friends, etc etc. Even the smirking stationary wale bhaiyya can’t stop himself from saying “CAT de rahe ho…badhia hai…lage raho…”
  2. Conversations at the dinner table usually begin and end with dad giving advice on how to prepare better. Undertones like “beta MBA bhi thik se nahi kiya to tera future dark hai” can be clearly picked up.
  3. I mostly prepare by giving computer based tests, since CAT has gone online. Which means, contrary to tradition, I spend lesser time with books as I do glued to my computer. This strange way of preparing does not go down well with mom who thinks I should spend more time “studying” rather than wasting my time on the computer.
  4. Mom thinks I ought to be studying and doing nothing else with the computer, which she constantly keeps reminding me of. She tends to forget that like any other normal 24 year old I do need to have my daily dose of Facebook/Orkut apart from checking mails, read news online, get updates on EPL and other sports, listen to music, an occasional game of Pool’emUp/Pocket Tanks, a few laps on MotoGP, a once-in-a-while chat with friends, and of course a movie at times. Its a multitasking computer for god’s sake, not an abacus!
  5. My TV time has drastically reduced from a few hours per week about 2 months back to a few minutes now, reserved mostly for EPL Super Sundays and F1 races.
  6. Believe it or not, I have dreams about ominous numbers with wings and pointy tails spinning over my head and me trying to run away from them. Seems a bit over the top, right?
  7. My head’s usually spinning when I wake up in the morning, mostly due to nightmares of not securing admission into a good college.
  8. All the tension seems to have caused some sort of hormonal imbalance within my body, leading to a teenager like unusually pimply face. The solution provided by mommy dear is a daily dose of Safi which, I can bet my ass on, tastes worse than horse-shit!

One more thing - my respect for the other 400,000 or so poor souls who appear for the CAT every year has gone up a few notches. God save their and my soul!


images courtesy: &

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Travelling singers in India (the ones who sing in trains as they ask for alms) should be delighted. Their messiah/Indian idol/biggest song contributor is back in a new/rediscovered avatar- a fresh crop of "hair", a slightly trimmed beard (could someone hand him a razor please!), a voice "he" thinks is not in the "teraaaan teraaaan teraaaaaaaan surrrooooorrrrr" mode, and as an "actor"(ouch, again??!!). Woefully enough, we humans/radio listeners are subjected to this soul-stirring (brrrr!!) rendition of MAAN KAAN RADION at least a couple of hundred times a day. HR "sings" his composition looking in a somber mood and with a straight/emotionless face (enhanced due to his acting "skills"). The lyrics of course are superlative and need special citation.

At some point HR seems to forget that he's just vowed to keep away from the SUROOOOOOR mode. In other words he really comes into his element.

(I just didn't think this post deserved blogging space, so i decided to put it up on Facebook instead. But as it turns out, Facebook doesn't allow such long status messages!

Besides, no one reads my blog anyway and I absolutely HAD to share this one!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Dude in the gym

I’ve been going to this gym for 3 weeks now. Its near my home, cheaper than other “high-society” gyms around, not much crowded, and has a good enough trainer. So its been well worth the money. I haven’t been to a gym in almost 2 years so I'm still getting “in the groove”.

Yesterday was just like another day. I entered the gym at around 7 pm, stretched a bit, sipped some water, plugged in the earphones with Rage Against the Machine going full blast, and was about to begin my workout starting with bench press. Another person was using the bench so I had to wait for my turn. I noticed another gentleman waiting there to use the bench as well. This gentleman (referred to as The Dude hereafter) looked like he was either in the police or some other security force. He was tall, dark, lean with a thinish moustache, and was wearing the track pants and canvas shoes that policemen usually wear off-duty. The person using the bench was done with his sets so I took over, loaded the usual 30kgs, and started my set. I did my 18 reps and moved over so The Dude could use the bench now. The Dude does not change any weights, slips on to the bench and starts doing his set. Now just out of instinct, I started counting how many reps he is doing. So, he does 10…15…20…25… and goes up to 30 before he puts the bar back. “Not bad”, i thought. It was my turn now, so I added another 5kgs and did my set of 15 reps. The Dude’s turn, and yet again he blows me off by not adding any more weight and pulling off another 30 reps. Well, I was obviously surprised as to why he was doing so many reps, and if he does have the stamina or strength to do so, why couldn’t he simply add more weight to the bar and do fewer reps? Wouldn’t that make more sense? It didn’t look like he was trying to reduce any excess flab, nor was it his last set so he was trying to burn it up. So why the hell was he was doing so many reps with less weight? My turn again, i don’t add any weight and do another 12 reps. His turn, and he goes on to do another 25 reps. And now, I was really pissed off! I mean, wouldn’t anyone be? Either he was doing this just to belittle me or he simply had no idea how he should go about doing his workout for maximum gain. So I move over and watch what he does next. And lo and behold, this time he does add another 5 kgs and does another 25. Gosh, is he the terminator or what?!

I move on to my next exercise, the inclined press, and The Dude follows me. I move on to my next exercise, the butterfly, and The Dude follows me. Different times, different places, same story. The Dude wrecks havoc again. By this time I'm barely able to concentrate. I complete the sets with much labour and decide I’ve had enough for the day and decided to skip the rest of my workout.

I know some might point out that I should take motivation from the incident and work harder. But it didn’t really turn out that way. Instead, thanks to The Dude, I’ve decided not to go to the gym in the evening anymore. Even though its tough getting up in the morning, i guess its better than having one’s self-esteem eroded.