All posts by Bhrigu Mohanty

Loves to Write. Loves Technology, Ex Software Engineer. Ex Professional Game Tester. Traveller. Metal Addict. Movie Buff.

Senna: Remembering The Legend

It’s been 20 Years. I have have some hazy recollections of a 5 year old me watching the Evening News on ‘Doordarshan 1’ (Probably the only TV Channel in India back then).  I can still remember the visuals of a man being carried off in a stretcher.  And my Mom explaining to me in a faint sigh of disappointment that a famous Racing Driver had died in an accident. I wouldn’t understand the significance of that 2 minutes news report back then. Not until years later, I would come to know that that was one of the darkest moments in Formula 1 History.  In a country which followed no other sports back then except Cricket and Hockey, such a news making it to the Only National TV News Segment, is a sign of how much ‘That Man’  was revered.  A couple of years Later, with the coming of ESPN, The Indian Viewer would be introduced to Spanish Football and Formula 1.  Apart from being awed by the new phenomenon Michael ‘Shoe-Maker’, the new Indian F1 fans, after watching famous races’ reruns would be warming up to The Legend called  Aryton Senna. The Legend we could never witness racing.

 

 “And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further.With your mind power,your determination,your instinct,and the experience as well,you can fly very high.”– Aryton Senna 

French driver Erik Comas had a particularly nasty crash during the qualifying sessions for the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix. In a sport where every man is literally out for himself, it was expected that the drivers would just swerve around Comas’ wrecked Renault and continue their attempts at laying down a fast qualifying time. But not Senna.

Senna, not far behind Comas, was the first to arrive to the scene of Comas’ crash and, out of concern for his fellow driver, parked his McLaren and ran out onto the hot track, dodging other F1 cars. While this may seem like a odd entry for a number one position on a list like this — especially given Senna’s racing legacy — we feel that this small gesture shows that, while Senna was a great driver, he was an even better man.

Senna showed great concern for his fellow drivers right up to his final race. The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was particularly tragic: When friend and fellow driver Rubens Barrichello was involved in a horrific crash during qualifying, Senna disregarded official Formula 1 orders to stay away from Barrichello and “broke into” the hospital to remain by his friend’s side.

Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger was killed during the following day’s qualifying session, prompting Senna to rally his fellow drivers to push Formula 1 officials to increase driver safety, a move which, video shows, irritated the F1 brass. On race day, Senna carried an Austrian flag in his Williams, planning to fly it in honor of the fallen Ratzenberger. Unfortunately, this would be the race where Senna himself would have his fatal accident.

 

May 1st 1994. 20 years ago, Formula 1 saw it’s last death on the circuit. Sadly it’s a tragic irony that the man who led the crusade for driver safety and rights in F1 had to die for his goals to be met. Meet the 3 times world champion, excluding the once when he was stripped off his championship in favor of the other drivers who were closer to the all powerful F1 bosses. Who knows what would have been if not for that fateful weekend. The 1994 season could have season could have seen a full year of Schumacher vs Senna! I was just 5 years old during that day which created shock-waves all over the world due to Senna’s death. Even India, which had got nothing to do with F1, Senna’s death was reported in the Doordarshan telecast. Such was the power and impact of Aryton Senna. I have very vague recollections of my mom explaining what has happened. Maybe that small 5 minutes conversation had a lasting impact on me. growing up I came across many news reports, articles and even some TV documentaries on the life and death of Senna. I am listing down some of the greatest senna moments.

Senna’s Win in Brazil.

Despite Senna’s numerous successes in Formula 1, it was years before he would win an F1 race in his home country of Brazil. Already a hero at home for proudly acting as a cultural ambassador for the then-troubled country, a win for Senna in Brazil was a dream for both the man and nation. And at the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix, with two world championships then under his belt, Senna was poised to make a nation’s dreams come true.

Senna’s Revenge

Prost’s little hissy fit in Suzuka obliterated the already-strained relationship between himself, Senna and the McLaren team, so he left for Ferrari for the 1990 season. Senna remained on McLaren. In a repeat of the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix, the outcome of the 1990 race in Suzuka would determine whether Prost or Senna would take home the driver’s championship that year.

A non-finish by Prost at Suzuka would give the driver’s championship to Senna. Senna managed to qualify on the pole position, with Prost qualifying second. But likely due to politics, Prost got the better starting position, putting Senna at a severe disadvantage. However, just as with every other race, Senna would take his line, regardless of where the other drivers were.

Prost got a slight advantage off the start, but in the very first corner of the race, Senna took what he felt was his line, and both cars wrecked and flew into the kitty litter, shattered beyond repair. Prost walked away disgusted with Senna, and Senna walked away with his second world championship.

Senna’s Monaco Debut

Senna’s first year in Formula 1 should not have been a competitive one. Signed to the uncompetitive Toleman team, Senna’s car was considered by many to be second-rate. Senna’s first few races with Toleman were uneventful, but it was the race in Monaco where Senna became a star.

Qualifying at a dismal 13th, Senna should not have had any chance to win on the tight and technical Monaco track, and his chances should have disappeared as soon as the first drops of rain started to hit the tarmac. But Senna thrived in these conditions, revealing his superhuman car-control skills by passing cars in impossible conditions, even gaining an unbelievable three seconds per lap on race leader Alain Prost. Right as Senna was about to take the lead, race officials decided to cancel the race — officially due to safety concerns, though it was probably because they didn’t want Prost to lose. Senna did get his first F1 podium, though — the first of 81 over his 10-year career.

Legacy…

The legacy of Senna has stayed on all these years. In case you haven’t seen this amazing documentary by Asif Kapadia and Manish Pandey, do watch it.  Amazing Racer. Amazing Winner. Amazing Human Being.

“Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose.”- Aryton Senna 

Originally posted in http://www.vrigu.in on 5/1/2013

Feel The Force : Memoirs of a Force India Fan

Sergio Perez. The Dawn of a New Hero.

April 6 2014. When half of India was glued to their TV sets, Cricinfo’s live scorecard or any of the dozens of websites live-streaming the World Twenty20 final between India and Sri Lanka, quite a sizable chunk of us were frantically catching up with the updates from another sport. Partly to escape the cacophony of the overdose of the political advertisements between the overs and partly to witness  history bring made in the Bahrain GP. Force India had arrived. Continue reading Feel The Force : Memoirs of a Force India Fan

Tour de Ladakh : Prologue

There is something about Ladakh; The beautiful lands of Kashmir where Hell and Heaven come together. Isolated from the rest of the rest of the country for 6 months a year, the only two roads connecting Leh with Srinagar and Manali open up in May/June after the BRO (Border Roads Organization) clears the roads. hundreds of miles of difficult terrain, treacherous weather, Bad or No roads replete with Black Ice, Slush, Glacial Melts, etc make the Manali-Leh ‘Highway’ one of the toughest roads of the world. Needless to say, the challenges offered by Ladakh, makes it a Mecca for the bikers of the world. As soon as the roads are declared open hundreds of bikers from all over the world assemble at Delhi/Manali/Srinagar, start their engines and turn their throttle to set off on what can be aptly called as The Ultimate Motorcycle Pilgrimage. 

THE FLASHBACK

It was a frightfully cold night in 2011. Maybe the coldest, me and my friends have experienced.  After hours of fighting the deadly Rohtang La (Literal Meaning: The Pass of the Pile of Corpses) braving the and the landslides that happened a couple of days ago, we had finally holed up in this small idyllic village called Khoksar. Drenched, hungry and tired, we had lost contact with half of our team. They were supposed to catch up with us almost half a day ago. With no mobile connectivity in that area and the sub-zero temperature outside coupled with the pitch black dark of the night, we had no option other than to wind up for the night and backtrack to Rohtang the next day. At the break of dawn, we started our two bikes and fought arguably one the toughest roads of the world for the second time in 24 hours to get back to Rohtang La where our team split the previous day. After 3 hours of riding in the horrible slush there was a rendezvous with the rest of our team. Turns out that they were having a much harder time than us. They along with two bikes and our backup vehicle, a pick-up truck, were stuck all night in the freezing weather of Rohtang. Badly hit by AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness. Happens in high altitudes due to the lack of oxygen supply to the brain.) and battered by the weather, our morale was down; Our trip had to be cut short. Out first attempt to Get Leh’D had failed. 

PRESENT DAY

Two years later. We are reattempting to get Leh’D. This time with a much smaller team; Me and two of my buddies, Sukesh and Rahul. We have ironed out a majority of our last time’s rookie mistakes. This time we had a better planned itinerary courtesy BCM Touring, better know-how of the trip, Better motorcycles, Riding through the summer to avoid the freezing rains and lots of informational and mechanical support from Rajpath KTM, Bhubaneswar. All locked and Loaded,  I’m starting tomorrow. Will group up with my friends in New Delhi and commence this Himalayan Odyssey. Juley 😉

THE BOYS

I, Vrigu Mohanty was doing my SIP at Bhubaneswar. I would be taking my bike with me via train to New Delhi. Reach on 28th. Have fun for a couple of days and start on 31st for Leh! Sukesh Dash who is working at Chennai will be flying down to New Delhi on 30th and will be riding pillion with me. And Rahul Pant who was doing his SIP at New Delhi would be playing host and will be starting with us!

AND THEIR TOYS

My gleaming new orange monster, The Duke 200 will be my ride. All checked and decked up with Ceat Vertigo Rage to conquer the toughest terrain on Earth. Rahul Pant will be riding his seasoned Pulsar 150, also all decked up for the challenge.

Me and my Machine!

THE ITINERARY

DAY # DATE DAY ORIGIN DESTINATION NOTES
Day 0 May-30 Thursday New Delhi Reach Delhi
Day 1 May-31 Friday New Delhi Manali Phase 1: Delhi to Manali
Day 2 Jun-01 Saturday Manali Jispa Phase 2: Manali to Leh
Day 3 Jun-02 Sunday Jispa Sarchu
Day 4 Jun-03 Monday Sarchu Leh
Day 5 Jun-04 Tuesday Leh (Acclimatization) Phase 3: Leh
Day 6 Jun-05 Wednesday Leh Nubra Valley (Turtuk)
Day 7 Jun-06 Thursday Nubra Valley (Turtuk) Nubra Valley (Sumur)
Day 8 Jun-07 Friday Nubra Valley (Sumur) Pangong Lake
Day 9 Jun-08 Saturday Pangong Lake Leh
Day 10 Jun-09 Sunday Leh (Reserve Day)
Day 11 Jun-10 Monday Leh Kargil Phase 4: Leh to Srinagar
Day 12 Jun-11 Tuesday Kargil Srinagar
Day 13 Jun-12 Wednesday Srinagar Pathankot Phase 5: Srinagar to Delhi
Day 14 Jun-13 Thursday Pathankot New Delhi
Day 15 Jun-14 Friday Reserve Day
Day 16 Jun-15 Saturday New Delhi Bhopal Phase 6: Delhi to Nagpur
Day 17 Jun-16 Sunday Bhopal Nagpur
Rest of the Travelogue will be posted on my other blog http://www.TourDeLadakh.wordpress.com
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Crouching Tiger, Bullying Dragon

Picture this. You are like any normal 5th grader going to school. And there is this big bully twice your size who steals your pencils. And there’s this obnoxious guy half your size who steals your lunch. What do you do? It’s obvious in the case of the small guy; You shove him around, show him his place, take your lunch back. But what to do with the big bully? Do you go try punch him in his face but instead you yourself return home crying with two blackened eyes and a broken wrist? Or do you complain about it to the teacher and make sure you get back your stolen pencils? Or do you gang up with your own well built friends and scare/beat the shit out of the big bully? And additionally scare him that you would take his pants the next time if he dares mess with you again and strut around the school with your newly formed league of strong schoolboys with whom no one will mess up ever again?

Now replace yourself as India, the obnoxious weed as Pakistan, The Big Bully as China. Your league of   strong schoolboys as The USA, Russia, UK, Israel, Japan, etc. and your stuff that gets stolen is India’s border/LOC. Putting these in context of the current Indo-Chinese border crisis. We have been seeing our Facebook Walls, Twitter Timelines and New Channels with angry war cries. But do we realize that when it comes to China, The Big Bully things get a little complicated. The war isn’t a feasible option against an enemy whose Army is twice the size of us, whose weapons are superior than us and whose logistical know-how and infrastructure near the border is ‘God-knows-how-many-times’ stronger than us. In our sudden bursts of Patriotic jingoism we fail to look at the sad but true facts. We have already lost a war against the dragon state. Can we afford to go heads on with them again, especially when we haven’t learnt much from the past defeat? Continue reading Crouching Tiger, Bullying Dragon

Tomb Raider 2013: Sexist or Feminist?

Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider franchise is by far the most recognizable and the most bankable character from the post-90s video games era. With 10 games and two motion pictures starring Angelina Jolie spanning over almost two decades, Lara Croft has been one of the most iconic characters in the History of Video games.

The first Tomb Raider game came out in 1996 which set the benchmark for for all future 3D games to come. The video games industry back then catered mostly to the male audience. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when Lara Croft was modelled something like this over the years until today.

The portrayal and imagery of Lara Croft has always been controversial. A 17 year debate has been raging on whether the Tomb Raider Games are sexist or feminist. Well, to be honest, it’s a bit of both. On one hand she is busty and unnaturally voluptuous in the most inappropriate attire for …um Tomb Raiding.  But on the other hand she breaks the ‘Damsel in Distress’ stereotype. She is a strong character, a master of Butt Kicking, performing death defying stunts, finding lost civilizations, killing T-Rexes riding her Ducati Monster on rooftops, snowy valleys, deserts, not thinking twice before emptying an entire magazine of bullets on villains and what not! The game was rebooted once in 2006 as Tomb Raider: Legend. The graphics became more realistic but all the core elements, gameplay and Lara Croft’s character remained the same. Such has been the impact of Lara Croft that another similar game for the PS3 Uncharted’s lead character Drake was nicknamed as ‘Dude Raider’ by the gaming community.

Enter 2013. The ‘Gamer’ demographic has changed from the predominantly teenage boys to a more diverse consumer base of mean average age 35 consisting of 47% Female gamers. The gaming ecosystem has changed. More strong female characters like ‘Faith’ from EA’s Mirror’s Edge was introduced. Big and  historically sexist franchises like Duke Nukem failed both commercially and critically. Simultaneously a long overdue reboot of Tomb Raider was echoed across the gaming community. Crystal Dynamics studio came up with a master reboot of Tomb Raider last March.

This is of just a graphics and story overhaul. In fact this game completely revisited the character, back story, origins and gameplay characteristics of Lara Croft. Tomb Raider 2013 feather a younger, more realistic and natural Lara Croft. Now she is not a out-and-out Tomb Raider but more of an academic and a wannabe adventurer. She is now an archaeology student whose biggest tryst with adventure till now has been  a backpacking trip across Bulgaria and a trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro with her best friend Sam. She is just like any average tween; insecure, ambitious, scared and unsure. The game begins with an amazing cinematic sequence in which Lara Croft along with Sam, her godfather Roth and a few other friends sets out on her first big adventure to find the lost Japanese civilization on a ship named Endurance. Things get wrong when they are shipwrecked in the ‘Devil’s Triangle’ and stowed away on a mysterious island.

Lara, isolated from her group trying to regroup with her friend behaves like a real human being in a similar situation instead of a digitized game character. She is scared, she is shaken, she is tired and vulnerable  The Lost-esque island throws up horrifying secrets in regular intervals. The way she is confronted by the Island’s hostile residents is beautifully directed. Cornered, abused by the hostiles, she is forced to kill for the first time in her life. Powerful scene. Alone in the jungle, hungry and scared the way she kills deer for food and says sorry to the carcass shows the new human Lara Croft. In the initial action sequences, hiding behind cover with a new characteristics bow and arrow she pleads with her enemies that she doesn’t want to kill them. One of the best voice acting in recent memory. One of the very few games in which the facial emotions and full body movements are captured realistically. Slowly over the game battered by the situation and hardened by the hostile island her survival instincts kick in and she gradually turns into the Badass-in-Chief, Lara Croft is known for being. She turns from the cornered prey to the rescuer. By the end of the game her kill count is an amazing 443!

The game is painstakingly and beautifully directed. One scene where she has to climb a communication tower is tense and particularly intense. Tomb Raider 2013 likes to stay in the heat of action all the time; Is more shooter less platformer unlike the previous Tomb Raider titles. Even though a lot of puzzle elements have been replaced with action sequences, the game still feels richer than the previous titles. The story though is a done and dusted ‘seen it before’ kind of story, is presented beautifully. The game passes the Bechdel Test. It’s a test to identify gender bias in movies and games. Any game has to pass three criteria to pass this test.It as a pretty simple criteria. Two named female character converse with each other on a topic other than men. A surprisingly large number of movies fail this test including Avatar, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2! Also the Comic Con would be cut down to 45 mins from 5 days if passing the Bechdel Test was made a criteria to be eligible for the mega comics, game and movies gala event!

 Finally Crystal Dynamics manages to reinvent Lara Croft with Tomb Raider 2013 without unnecessarily sexing her up. Definitely the best Tomb Raider game till date.

Originally Posted in http://www.vrigu.in on 4/13/13.