Monday, February 16, 2015

35th National Games- My most memorable tournament!

As I watched the closing ceremony of the 35th National Games in Kerala on DD Sports from home, nostalgia hit my head. Just a week back I was there, in Kochi, where the Table Tennis event was held from 1-5th Feb, where I had the bestest time of my life, and now the games have ended already. Labelled as the “Mini Olympics of India”, the National Games is one such event which brings the best of the sportspersons in the country at one place to witness the best of what India has to offer. The games were very well organised, especially the Games Village at Thiruvananthapuram. Missing out on the last two editions of the National Games, I am glad that I was a part of these games, winning a Gold Medal in Women Doubles and a Bronze in the Women Teams. It was one of the most memorable tournaments for me.
Here’s why
Delhi has always been a pro-academic state; parents don’t encourage their kids to be a professional sportsperson, apart from only golf and tennis. Amidst that, in a Bengal-Tamil Nadu-Maharashtra dominated game of table tennis, nobody ever expected ‘Delhi’ to ever win a ‘Gold Medal’ at the National Games- a tournament where all the players give in their best, purely because of the money incentive. 2, 3 and 5 (lakh) were the only numbers ringing bells in each ones head. There were also a few who just wanted to show that they are still the best, which they did, towards the end. But for me, the motive was just to enjoy table tennis. Not a very usual mindset I for me, because until now, in my entire career I have been playing under the pressure of my own expectations- from self. Also I paired up with Manika Batra for the first time in the women doubles (which I whole heartedly enjoy) so I was only there to have some fun and give my best. And boom, strike GOLD! Winners in the Women Doubles! Indeed, it’s true, that when you go out there on the court to just give in your best and enjoy and just enjoy, think nothing else but the strategies of the game, you do well. Ask yourself, when was the last time you played with a free mind, you ll find yourself doing brilliant on the court. That’s what I exactly did.
I thank god for giving this to me.
Winners in the Women Doubles.

And there are some more memories from the National Games which I would cherish all my life.
Just two days before I was scheduled to leave I got a call from Dr.Sudarshan Pathak from Delhi Olympic Association – “Neha we have chosen you to be the flag bearer for Delhi in the opening ceremony”. I danced. Literally. I danced. As my mother wondered what was wrong with me, I continued to dance.  As I marched in the Greenfield Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram, carrying the flag for Delhi, with the entire contingent following me, my heart danced. Yes, I was on cloud nine, because I did feel on top of—uumm—Delhi!  Kejriwal-like feeling. Maybe. Wondering how Mr.Rathod, or Mr.Bindra or Mr.Sushil Kumar must have felt when they carried India’s flag at the Olympics and the CWG.

A happy moment!

And then I met one of the most handsome men in Indian Politics – Mr.Shashi Tharoor. Having told him that I am a Stephanian and an Olympian, he sounded more excited than me! The flattering voice and the ever charming smile left me mesmerized. Next day I found him tweeting the picture we took the previous night.

 And then again I danced. During the entire tournament we exchanged a series of tweets, of him wishing me good luck and me updating my results. Mr.Tharoor did prove to be lucky, here’s what he tweeted before the finals of the women doubles:

Apart from this, what I loved the most during the games was the team spirit Delhi displayed. I cannot compare it with that of team Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, but a huge hug to my entire team for the wonderful support we gave to each other throughout the tournament. It’s beautiful to see such togetherness in an individual sport of table tennis. And teams and doubles have always been my favourite even more than singles. We managed a Bronze medal in the teams, which itself gave the entire team a huge moral boost!

Happy with the Bronze- Team Delhi!

I wish table tennis was in Thiruvananthapuram, where the games village was, Table Tennis players missed that fun!
But otherwise the 35th National Games 2015 in Kerala will always be very close to my heart!
For some it was money, for some a point to prove, but for me, it was pure happiness and fun and quality Table Tennis all 5 days which I already miss!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

We first met at high school. It was definitely not love at first sight. In a casual chat one fine day at the start of the new session, we felt we shared similar views, and somehow we knew that we could be friends. We were in the same class, same section. We would sit together during classes, study, take notes, discuss politics, sports, cinema and life. We would share our Tiffin boxes with each others during the break, not bothering about the rest of the students in our class. I was a bit irregular at attending school, due to my table tennis commitments. But we made sure it didn’t hamper our relationship with each other. By the time school ended, we knew that this is one relationship we would like to continue further. At the farewell, when everyone exchanged hugs and final glances, not knowing when they would see those people next, we were quiet sure that we would be friends even after school, no matter what.
We eventually landed up in different colleges, but with time our friendship only strengthened further. My travelling increased, but I guess the distance bought us closer. I don’t know, really, when we fell in love with each other. The chemistry we shared was envied by others and we loved flaunting each other to the entire world. I guess by the time we graduated from college, we knew we were in love. Deep down in our hearts, we knew that this is one relationship we want to have until the rest of our lives.
Our parents were quiet happy with the bond we share, they respect it a lot. I am glad that meeting each other over the weekends and endless talking over the phone has never been a problem at our place.
It’s a perfect relationship. We are with each other in good and bad times. We are quite honest, and there is never a dull moment when we are together. Above all, our love is pure, without any expectations. We never judge each other, rather we give out our true opinion. We highly respect each other in our individual decisions and in the choices we make in our respective lives.
It’s been a decade now since we first met, we are not married yet.
We now live in different cities.
Its valentine’s day today and we are not together, but the spirit of love and friendship is very much alive.
Its one of those days when I hate being alone, I wish there was someone who would love me, make me feel like a princess. I see young couples on the streets, walking hand in hand, with red roses, box of chocolates, and love and passion in their eyes. These days, even the older ones don’t hesitate. It’s beautiful when love is in the air.
But who needs a guy, when you have girl friends like them: Nishtha and Shruti. Yes, they are the ones whom I first met at high school. With whom I share the deepest of my secrets and some of the happiest moments in life until now. They are my strength. My soulmates. My soulsisters. My love.
Men come, and leave, but girlfriends stay. They are my Valentine, every single day.
Candace Bushnell said rightly in Sex and the City- Maybe are girlfriends are our soulmates, and guys are just people to have fun with.