Thursday, July 29, 2010

One-way traffic, or is it one-way ticket to eternity?

How many times do you change traffic rules! Saturday onwards, motorists will have to follow new rules around the Ashok Pillar junction. Only recently, after much debate and a series of resident association meetings, one-way rules were reversed to go back to the simple rules of old. Now it appears, the one-way lobby has won or is it due to the work on the Metro rail?

You hardly know and who cares anyway. So once again, it will be a nightmare for pedestrians, I’m sure, although the new rules come into force only from Saturday 7am. I can picture old men and women, or mothers with children, waiting to find some means to cross, impatience and anxiety writ large on their faces.

It will now be like trying to cross Nungamabakkam High Road (who says we’ve forgotten old names?) or the area around the Raj Bhavan where speeding vehicles put the fear of death into you and make your bones numb at times. I have experienced it while driving; so I can imagine what pedestrians must be feeling.

One-way traffic down a stretch and around a curve and again down a stretch and a curve is just the perfect recipe for accidents. Especially considering the kind of roads we have. And when night falls the situation can only get worse. With Chennai being favoured with evening rains the past month and monsoon days ahead, a puddle here and a mucky stretch there can be a daunting ask for even the most intrepid driver. I haven’t mentioned gross indiscipline on the city roads. Together, it is a heady cocktail.

For motorcyclists, the danger sign be better out: Beware!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Madras Week ahead: A great grandfather rediscovered

One of the very special things you feel while doing your bit for Madras Day and Madras Week is the warmth you receive from people and their willingness to cooperate to make the celebrations a success. Most people are keen to offer space, be it a gallery or home or terrace, to contribute and do something. There is no commercial aspect here, no talk of money really. Even those who conduct programmes for children willingly spend their own money for travel and purchase of necessary material. Of course, in case it is a craft or painting workshop, I always tell the person conducting it that he or she can ask the children to bring the basic stuff, so that one person need not spend all the money.

Nobody has asked me all these years: What is the benefit we get? That is the question we normally expect when people are called to do something. So, in a sense, Madras Day and Madras Week are different. It is the love for a city that brings people together. There are so many interesting people you meet, and so many interesting things you learn about the city during the week, which is fast extending into a fortnight.

What is also heartening is the fact that many people I have met or spoken to this year are already looking forward to attending Madras Week events; evidently, the August celebrations have registered in many minds. The other day, I bumped into a person who lives a few blocks away. He came running up to me wanting to know what were the events lined up at Hotel Green Park this year.

Well, I get a hunch that one of the talking points this year is certainly going to be an exhibition planned at Studio Palazzo in Alwarpet. Chitra, president of the Zonta Club in Chennai, who runs the gallery, recently made some discoveries about her great grandfather, a man who quietly assisted in the furnishing and completion of Senate House, between 1869 and 1873.

M Guruswamy Mudaliar worked as supervisor in the Public Works Department, and Chitra now tells me that he was the “right-hand man” of none other than famed architect Robert Chisholm who pioneered the Indo-Saracenic style. What’s more, Chitra’s great grandfather was presented a silver watch by the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII. And it is some of the letters exchanged during the period between Chisholm and her great grandfather and others, as well as pictures, that Chitra will display at her gallery.

So, this is a must-visit venue. Although the exhibits may not number many, it will certainly, I’m sure, open up yet another interesting facet of the city from the past.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Countdown begins for Madras Day/Madras Week: Was it fancy for a woman that drew the English agent?

Among a few of us, the catalysts, the Madras Week or Madras Day fever sets in early June. This year was no different with a meeting at Mr Muthiah’s home to discuss a broad outline of possible programmes. The small core group of catalysts hasn’t grown too much over the years we’ve been celebrating the founding of the city – Madras that is Chennai. So, within manageable confines, we together try our best to organise various programmes in the city, progarmmes that have to do with creating an awareness about the city’s heritage.

As usual, first off the blocks in my list was Suma Padmanabhan, principal of Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School. When I called her mid-June, she had already had a first meeting with the school heads to decide what to do this year. And it is Madras as a Coromandel trading post they chose as the subject. There will also be an exhibition on traditional occupations of Madras and its trade.

The subject was probably easy to choose, but to work out the theme in detail and decide how to go about, Suma sought my help and I in turn suggested she or her team meet Mr Muthiah. So, over a cup of milky tea at the historian’s home, three Asan Memorial School teachers and I listened to stories of old being recounted even as two students tried their best to keep pace with what was being said.

I may not be a storyteller but as much as I love reading stories of old, I love to hear them being told. It was therefore an afternoon well spent, listening to how Madras was in many ways instrumental in building today’s India, the “first city of modern India” as Mr Muthiah calls it always.

The English came initially to trade, and colonizing the country was the last thing on their minds then. It was only after trade and consolidation that around 1857 or so, after the Sepoy Mutiny, that the concept of Empire dawned. So, the British ruled India only for about a century, not from 1639 when the city was born after Francis Day and Andrew Cogan of the East India Company sank roots on “no man’s sand” thanks to Beri Thimmappa (Thimmanna), the Dubash who acted as an honest broker. The British rulers overseas were not too happy with the choice of land for a trading post, but they let go and that was how Madras came about.

Some of us still float in that spicy rumour of old – that Day had a mistress in these parts and it was the young lady who must have prompted him to choose the Madras sands. So, probably it was a woman after all who was instrumental in founding the city. One will never know for sure. But there’s no harm fantasising on a romance of old – some romance it must have been!

For more information about Madras Day and Madras Week, please log on to www.themadrasday.in

Monday, July 19, 2010

For excellence to manifest, human thought has to reach a certain level of sublimity and grace

Talk about inspiring speeches, perhaps there is no one better than Swami Vivekananda who not only united many of his followers but also got them to develop fire in their bellies. Just reading Swami Vivekananda’s books is said to inspire and help troubled souls. I remember my mother mentioning a relative of mine who in her days of anguish years ago (ill-treatment by her husband) was advised to read a book on Swami Vivekananda’s life and work and how she developed courage and fortitude after doing so and wended her way through the journey called life. Today, she is a happy grandmother busy with her grandchildren and proud, I’m sure, to have her sons and daughters-in-law loving her and taking good care of her. But perhaps if it were not for that book she had read, her life might have been different.

I remembered about this instance when I was listening to a tape that had a youngster dwell with great authority on the aspect of human excellence. Vijay Menon, who calls himself an academician and competency enabler, started his talk by giving the audience (at the Confederation of Indian Industry TIDES Summit in Coimbatore) the example of a conversation between a disciple and his guru, with the disciple asking the guru what the difference was between success and failure and happiness and sorrow.

The guru replied that as far as happiness and sorrow was concerned, the difference was only one second; and that between success and failure, one step. The guru’s reply reflected the “profundity” of Indian culture and the depth in terms of conceptualisation and thinking, Menon said, adding, “The human body is an amazing thing. The flow of blood happens at a sub-consciousness level; one second of impediment in the flow of blood can be disastrous.”

Menon provided the example of Hitler conquering nine countries in less than three years, countries such as France, Poland and Czechoslovakia that tottered under his might, finally ending in Nazi Germany’s invasion of Russia and Operation Barbarossa, which signaled his death-knell. The invasion of Russia made all the difference – it was a single step that led to failure, he said.

Menon gave yet another example – of two children in hospital, one critically ill. The one that was reasonably well was none too happy though. When asked the reason for the “bleak countenance”, the child said: “In my case there is a postponement of the inevitable. I’m not showing my happiness because my happiness at this point of time is acceptable but not justified.” “Excellence dawns the moment thought reaches that level of sublimity and grace,” the speaker said, “This is the tradition of our country. We never looked at outer personification alone. It has always valued, respected and acknowledged the quality of thought.”

Urging the audience to look at the life of Swami Vivekananda with dispassion, Menon spoke about the young monk in a robe with only five dollars to spare, who “goes all the way from Bengal to Chicago to participate in the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893, who represents India that was not known, an India that was misunderstood, misconstrued, an India that was looked upon with tremendous amount of disdain, contempt and skepticism.”

Menon went on about the “penniless wanderer who has come to represent the cause of India in Chicago” meeting a young woman, Katherine Abbot Sanborn, on a train to Boston (Chicago, Swamiji found too expensive to stay) and her inviting him home after being impressed by his noble bearing and charming conversation. There Swamiji meets Prof John Henry Wright, a professor of Greek at Harvard University, supposed to represent the mighty American intellect. Eventually, the professor saw in the mendicant a lot of originality, a person of candour and honesty, and they ended talking for about four hours. So impressed was the professor that he took it upon himself to arrange for Swami Vivekananda’s admittance to the Parliament of Religions. When Swamiji said he had no credentials to cite, the professor said: “To ask you, Swami, for credentials, is like asking the sun to state its reason to shine.” Writing to the chairman of the committee for selection of delegates, the Prof Wright wrote: “Here is a man who is more learned than all our professors put together.”

“We are so obsessed with the Western world, we have neglected, abused, and undermined the great heritage of this country. Go back to the Puranas, scriptures, epics, itihasas, we find people who stand head and shoulders above the rest – because of nobility and sacrifices. Our small acts of kindness radiate the person we are,” Menon said, giving the example of Jamsetji Tata for whom success was laced with purpose.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lifetime Lessons: Are you there for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime?

Received an email today from a friend, a 'forward' which I liked. Many of the words ring true. Gently, it explains what life is all about. Felt quite humbled after reading it. I've decided to call it Lifetime Lessons. Here goes:

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that
Person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need
You have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with
Guidance and support,
To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.

They may seem like a godsend and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
This person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an
End.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire
Fulfilled, their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.


Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has
Come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.


LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons,
Things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional
Foundation.

Your job is to accept the lesson,
Love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other
Relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life,
Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You can't compete against China without focusing on education and reforms in agriculture and industry, says Venu Srinivasan

I have listened to many, many speeches ever since I decided to become a journalist years ago and began covering events for newspapers and magazines. Therefore, it doesn’t take you very long to gather how good or bad a speaker is. I am able to judge in a matter of minutes, perhaps even before the speaker has been able to string four or five lines together. Interesting speeches, like interesting made-of-stuff people, are rarities in today’s world. Most speakers once on stage think they have 'arrived' and go on endlessly bragging about themselves or the institutions they head, or spend endless minutes thanking the others on stage and of it, or have nothing interesting to say.

Having said that, there are some speakers I’d pay money to hear. One was, of course, Dr K.K. Misra, now somewhere in Orissa perhaps, but during his time in Chennai a most sought-after speaker. As a journalist, I do not suffer fools gladly and once in a way when there is an interesting speech I perk up my ears and listen. Recently, while doing some work for the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Southern Region, I listened to Venu Srinivasan, Past President, CII, and Chairman & Managing Director, TVS Motor Company Ltd, make some pertinent points.

It was the Chinese example Srinivasan used to drive home the point about competition and the need for India to buck up. Setting the tone at the inaugural of the TIDES Leadership Summit in Coimbatore recently, he said: “China is desperate to catch up and there are more students learning English in China than we have in India today. The number of people who go for secondary and tertiary education is larger in China.” According to him, the Chinese had set up a new technical university that catered to more than 25000 students, more than all the IITs put together, and had professors from Columbia University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology teaching.

“We cannot ignore in the long-term that every society is competing with another society,” Srinivasan said, giving the example of India and China presently and Rome and Europe in the past. He stressed that India would have to jockey for space in an economic war and create its own space. “Today, China occupies the manufacturing space in the world. If India has to create greater employment and 100 million jobs, we need to focus on how do we build a competitive society, where we get a greater share of the global trade.”

Srinivasan pointed to two areas that have remained neglected since the economic reforms (early 1990s) – agriculture and factory reforms. “For whatever jingoistic political reason”, agriculture retail was not open to international investment, he said, adding, “We are not exporting high-value crops; there is no extension service.” Ruing the lack of proper storage, procurement and quality checks, he was convinced that all that would happen only if foreign food processors and retailers were allowed to operate. He was for getting the mandis (wholesale markets) opened up so that people could buy directly without going to wholesalers who controlled the markets and gave the farmers a raw deal. He reminded the audience that 60 percent of the work force in India was still directly or indirectly dependent on the rural economy.

Regarding factory reforms, Srinivasan said no reforms were initiated since the liberalisation of the economy in the early 1990s, which allowed foreign direct investment (FDI) and removed industrial licensing, allowing people to make what they wanted and to compete in the market place. “India can grow to 12, 13 or 14 percent if factories are managed in a rational manner,” he said, and referred to the Factories and Establishment Act of 1900 vintage. “We don’t need so many acts; no need for multiple inspectors. There has to be some flexibility for labour; not large-scale hire and fire,” he added. If 100 million jobs were to be created in the coming five years, he was in no doubt that it could be done only by providing inclusive growth and equitable opportunity.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Launch of Rupika Chawla's book on Raja Ravi Varma: Taj Coromandel pulls out all stops to make it an evening to remember

'Experience the life and times of Raja Ravi Varma', read the invite to the launch in Chennai of a grand book about him. Well, it was quite an extraordinary event really, or built up to be one. Many in the audience were all praise for the efforts put in by the Taj Coromandel GM, Prakash, and his team. And no wonder! The ambience in the hotel’s main ballroom was striking - a throwback to the Raja Ravi Varma era. There were his larger than life paintings on its pillars and walls aglow against the backlights. The main lights were dimmed for effect. Waiters wore dresses and headgear to pass off as belonging to an era long forgotten. There were cocktails, of course. And that was how the show began.

There was in attendance the Who’s Who of Chennai. For a moment I surprised myself standing within handshaking distance of Vyjayanthimala Bali, Dr Pratap Reddy, Anand Amritraj and others even as I was trying to chat up Sunita Shahaney. I had brought as guests a German couple – senior doctors both. Dr Omana Trentz and her husband Dr Otmar now work at Miot Hosiptals after having spending a lifetime working in Germany. Post-retirement, they are now based in Zurich and spend half the year in Chennai. More about them later – a love story that blossomed in the early 1960s.

Going on, to top it all, the spread was first rate. Chefs were flown in from God’s Own Country to provide the original touch and make the Kerala Bhojanam a winner from the start. After a long time, I freaked out on the food.

Titled Raja Ravi Varma: Painter of Colonial India, the book is no ordinary one. The 360-page coffee-table tome authored by Rupika Chawla is rich in content – perhaps more than 100,000 words; it is embellished with 450-odd pictures of the painter extraordinaire, his family, his life and his original works. What’s more, the book comes in two jackets – one with the picture of a man, and the other of a woman. You can have your choice, but as noted historian S. Muthiah suggested at the launch, you can buy two – one for your library and the other to cut pictures from and have them framed to adorn the walls of your home.

Muthiah’s suggestion is probably a good one, considering that you cannot expect to buy even one original Ravi Varma painting for less than Rs 5,000. So, by paying Rs 7,000 (the book was being sold at the launch for Rs 3,500), you get the best of two worlds. After the launch of the book in India it is rumoured that each of his paintings could fetch lakhs of rupees.

Raja Ravi Varma is known to many Indians, and not necessarily to those in South India alone. At some time or the other, many of us would have seen his paintings, as wall hangings or on calendars or just as copies of the original for sale in shops. His paintings (reflective of what is called 'western academic realism') mostly adorn the walls of palaces and there are several forming part of private collections. Those who are not so fortunate have seen his oleographs. Whatever it is, they have all brought delight to those who have evinced interest to see them. Even filmmakers such as Raj Kapoor were deeply influenced by the women he painted.

That Ravi Varma was a controversial figure there is no doubt. Some considered him an anti-nationalist, thanks to his hybrid style. Sri Aurobindo and Ananda Coomaraswamy, for instance, were clear in their dislike for him. He was referred to by some as a "calendar artist". Yet, the painter extraordinaire survived and thrived. It's amazing in a sense to learn that his paintings are much sought after even today, in the New Millennium that is altogether a different age.

Born in Killimanoor where deer and parrots played, it was an uncle who spotted his talent and introduced him to Alagiri Naidu and Ramaswami Naicker, foremost artists of the time, who in turn introduced the young Ravi to the Travancore court. For nine years, he remained a self-taught artist, working on oil and canvas, and eventually got to work on the portraits of the Maharaja and Maharani of Travancore. Between 1872 and 1876, Ravi Varma’s works were exhibited three times in Madras. According to Muthiah, the artist travelled widely in India, much of it with his brother Raja Raja. It was in 1899 in Bombay that a printing press was set up in collaboration with German technicians to reproduce Ravi Varma’s paintings.

Referring to the book as “a major undertaking in terms of research work”, N. Ram, editor-in-chief, The Hindu, said Ravi Varma was a man who breathed life into mythology-based paintings. During a productive 36 years (he died young at 59), he is said to have painted about 2,000 pictures. Lauding Rupika for a “fine work of scholarship” and for putting “gossip in its place”, Ram added that the book contained a great deal of material that was historical.

Indeed, for Rupika, the first painting she restored in her won studio was a Ravi Varma piece of work. It was his paintings she first set her sights on when she joined the National Gallery of Modern Art as a conservation student years ago. Gradually, the man who created such evocative images intrigued her and she decided to delve deeper and find the mysteries behind the painter. The result is this magnificent book, which will sadly remain out of reach of the common man.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Rekindling a special Bond - with books

For Chennai residents, June has been a benevolent month this year. Temperatures have hardly soared and there have been several days when the sun has hardly been seen. Today was one such day. And like a young doctor said, just the kind of day you’d love to snuggle in bed with a book you want to read, interspersed with regular cups of hot tea. Well, I’ve been doing some reading lately; no, not of newspapers and magazines. I’ve had enough of newspapers and could do without reading them if given a choice. But being in the news publishing business, you are supposed to keep abreast of what’s happening.

So, the kind of reading I’ve been doing lately is, of course, books. What can ever be a better friend than a book! I recently had a look at my small library at home and found to my utter surprise that there are in fact many books I haven’t read at all – from biographies to Mughal-era fiction to pure history. Some of them I had bought myself, with my own money; others have been added over weeks and months by my daughter who simply devours books. I wish now I had her ability. Not having time to read good books is just no excuse. How does she mange to read as much as she does, with all her studying and exams and dissertation etc?

It’s just that I’ve chosen to leave my old reading habit behind, hoping to play ‘catch up’ in retirement. Then suddenly, like a bolt from the blue I realised that it’s foolish to wait till retirement. What if there isn’t one? Or what if you didn’t last till then? And that is how I got back to my reading habit, albeit slowly, but surely. I am hoping it will mark the rekindling of a beautiful old relationship.

I decided to start with Ruskin Bond. I have always found him to be a delightful author. A Town Called Dehra charmed me beyond words. Quickly I lapped up A Bond with the Mountains and An Island of Trees. I continued with his Children’s Omnibus and am now in the midst of his Treasury of Stories for Children. I have already added Room on the Roof and Vagrants in the Valley to my long, long list of must-buys.

Wondering how in the wide world I’m finding all the time to read Bond’s stories when I should be out working! Well, I am now on what you might call a sabbatical. Of course not like a teacher taking time off to study or travel, but just a writer-editor taking life a little easy and finding time to snuggle in bed at times and read Bond. When pressures of money and stomach get hard, this cozy routine is bound to change. But I am proud to be one of those brave ones, living life the way I want sometimes.

Which brings me back to the young charming doctor who desperately wanted to spend the day with a book, but who couldn’t. Her patients did not allow her to do that, and she isn’t the sort who can disappoint patients easily. Once at her clinic I’m sure she must have forgotten all about books and bed and tea, what with all the phone calls to handle too. She would dream, however, she said. Dream about all the things she wanted to do. I didn’t dare ask her what it was all about, but that set me thinking of some of my own dreams… dreams when I was not even in my teens and how my friend’s elder sister next door got me hooked to her lovely long tresses… in my dreams, of course! Hah! More of that later.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

German whitewash of Maradona's men, victory and defeat bring memories of Borg-Connors-Mcenroe rivalry

What a fall for Argentina! And what an exit for Maradona! Will we ever see him as Argentinean coach again? How many Argentinean and other fans would have expected such a result – a drubbing as it were. ESPN Commentators John Helm and Gary Bloom have always pointed out how awesome the Germans are, with one of the youngest teams in the World Cup, and for sure we are likely to see a lot more of Thomas Mueller and co, but nobody would have quite imagined them destroying Argentina.

Miroslav Klose with 14 goals has bettered Pele’s record in the World Cup and equaled Geoff Hurst’s if I am not mistaken. All said and done, the exit of Brazil and Argentina have taken the flair out of the tournament. The European heavyweights may have the clinical precision and technical finesse but there’s nothing to beat South American flair. So, the 2010 World Cup football tournament is heading towards its final stages and football fans around the world have been robbed of a lot of sparkle. We might have a Germany-Spain semi-final, and possibly a Germany-Holland final. Two matches to look forward to.

I had a couple of drinks tonight as I watched Klose and co blank out Argentina; I felt sorry for the great Maradona as he watched helplessly from the sidelines. Well that’s the way of the world – you win some and you lose some, and you lose some badly.

Somehow, the World Cup football ignites in me all those boyhood passions for sport. Cricket never really has in recent years. I think the passion for cricket in me died after the halcyon days of Richards, Lloyd, Frederick, Greenidge, Roberts, Holding, Craft, Garner and Marshall, and Thomson and Lillee. And of course players like Imran Khan, Majid Khan, and our own Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Bedi, Chandra, Prasanna and Durrani, and Tony Greig and Alan Knott. Tennis has never failed to charm me, although despite Sampras and Agassi and now Federer and Nadal, it has never quite been like the 1970s when players like Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors got me hooked to the game.

I still remember that match of 1976 in the Wimbledon final, when Borg defeated the flamboyant and mercurial Romanian Illie Nastase, the world’s top ranked player in 1973-74, who went on to win more than 100 ATP titles. I was listening to the commentary on BBC radio, straining my ears to catch the flow of the match as the shortwave frequency played truant at regular intervals. Sometimes, out of sheer desperation, I would go to my neighbour’s to borrow his transistor and place it on the balcony ledge, easing it this way and that, as I tried to catch the frequency as best as I could.

It was Ice Man Borg who drew me inexorably into the mysteries of tennis. His three-in-a row wins at Wimbledon made him an all-time great and he instantly became my hero. In 1977 at Wimbledon, he beat Connors in five sets and followed it up the following year, routing the same opponent in three. Borg made it five-in-a-row at Wimbledon and probably would have gone on if it were not for his personal problems. He had an unhappy marriage with Mariana Simionescu. Images of her sitting below the royal box at Centre Court in Wimbledon or at other majors, participating in every moment of Borg’s triumphs and defeats, cheering or waving her hands, are still vivid in my mind. And to think they had to divorce! Well, that’s what many fairy-tale marriages are made of.

That five-setter with John Mcenroe in 1980 is considered an epic final. Mcenroe had a head start, winning the first set 6-1. Borg came back to win the next two sets. The fourth went into a tie-breaker, eventually ending at 18-16 in favour of the American. By the time Borg came back to win the fifth set and the match, he had fallen to his knees in disbelief and relief. Mariana was in the stand then, waving wildly, cherishing every moment of his epic triumph. Mcenroe was downcast, as was to be expected, but they both knew they had played a match of a lifetime, perhaps of a century.

There have been no rivalries to really match the Borg-Connors and Borg-Mcenroe rivalries. The one between Sampras and Agassi somehow pales in comparison. It was not only the number of sets or games they played but also the kind of personalities they were. Borg had an invincible aura about him and Mcenroe was the super brat out to destroy him, while Connors, with a reputation of holding the top rank for 160 consecutive weeks in the mid-1970s, won Wimbledon for a second time at age 29, beating Mcenroe, and then at age 39, entered the quarters of the US Open. There have been none after Connors with the kind of fire-in-the-belly he had, and perhaps none before either. Some champion indeed.

Well, I could go on and on and on… but this is just another window to a world that made for the heady Seventies I always talk about and love.