Wednesday 13 January 2010

Notes on the Chennai Open 2010 visit

(Yes, most of these are sweeping generalisations from a limited set of data points. Sue me.)

  • The impossibly obtuse, grumpy and obnoxious folks over at the Hotel New Woodlands had 'lost' our reservation. This meant heading towards the extortionate "deluxe" rooms of Hotel Palm Grove, where the 'bellhops' expect to be tipped for any number of activities ranging from acknowledging your existence, looking at you, and horror of horrors, even smiling at you! One of them who accompanied us till our room after forcibly yanking the Strolley out of my hands refused to leave till explicitly asked to GTFO. Later, yet another helpful soul would expect a palm-greasing for having performed the incredibly complicated and delicate manoeuvre of folding the hotel bill receipt and handing it over from across the counter. Steadfast resoluteness in not responding to such evolved signalling mechanisms would result in a stream of glares and dirty looks from bellchaps unfamiliar with the "Sticks and stones..." axiom.
  • The most benevolent auto-rickshaw drivers felt that the 1.5 jiggabillion light years (JBLY) of distance between Palm Grove and the SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam could be, with some effort, traversed for a measly 40 cowrie shells (CS), down from 60 CS for us unwashed masses. After marvelling at the generosity that enabled such fantastic discounts, said unwashed masses (who hailed from lands where rates on lowly clones of similar vehicles ranged from 5 to 7 CS per JBLY) undertook the decidedly arduous journey on foot, which took an excruciatingly long 8-10 hojillion millenia (HJM). (Pedants who insist on standardised measures can refer to end of the post for a conversion table.)
  • Nothing can quite rival the resolution of the human eye. No amount of pictures or videos or HDTV viewing will quite match up to the awesomeness of watching a game court-side. Also, no Charu Sharma. Almost. He did some post-game chats which were thankfully barely audible due to the spectators.
  • Indian tennis spectators are hooligans in general, and downright boorish when Indians are playing. The number of kids squawking and random dudes hollering mid-rally and at the ball-toss was staggering. Seldom have I wanted to strangle children so much.
  • The ballboys (some of them qualified as ball-mamajis - absolutely no trace of ballgirls) were singularly the least enthusiastic people around the stadium. Easily the laziest ever set of ballfolk in the ATP tour, they waited for the players to knock over the stray balls to them! The listless shuffling around was embarassing - I have seen (and been) bored backrow students during "Thought For The Day" and "Param Pita Ko Karo Pranam" recitals in school morning assembly sessions more alert than this bunch of stragglers.
  • The linespeople had collectively decided to share about 40% of their workload with the Chair Umpire, who had a LOT of over-ruling and covering up for late calls to do.
  • I am not too sure what happens at other ATP events, but the scheduling for this one was beyond terrible. The entire stadium, including television and media crews, seemed to wrap up and go home after the Devvarman-Sanam Singh duo were ousted in the first doubles semi-final (which itself saw - surprisingly - poorer attendance than the singles semis), resulting in an eeriely deserted atmosphere for the second semi. Much pomp and circumstance marked Marin Cilic prevailing over Stanislas Wawrinka in the final, following which Granollers-Ventura were left to savour their victory over Lu-Tipsarevic in relative anonymity. Santiago Ventura sent down a couple of unreturnable serves. Ace Ventura jokes were made. Loudly.
  • Dudi Sela - Best. Name. Evar. For cheering, that is. What A Dudi, Sindbad the Sela, international best-Sela, four of us yelling out a syllable at a time, Sela Sela How You Said It To Me, Pothy's Pattu Sela, Kannagi Sela. All this and more.
  • Janko Tipsarevic seems to be the new most popular tennis chap in Chennai, going by the number of yells of "Come On Janko!" and "Go Tipsy!". Helps that he is tres cool.
  • Sanam Singh might be next in line for Great Indian Tennis Hope.
  • Cricket-type armchair criticism in tennis matches trumps bawling babies as single biggest annoyance.
  • Players' Box seats are next best seat in the house, after Chair Umpire Chair.
  • Limiting daily ticket sales to one per head to folks spending upwards of two hours in queues, after doling out truckloads of donor/sponsor/corporate passes that never get used, is Not Cool™. Claiming a sell-out crowd then, with swathes of empty seats starkly visible, is just plain disingenuous and dishonest.
  • Pondicherry is great this time of year. French Quarter - good. Beaches - better. Dolphins - best!

** Conversion Table for Units **
1 JBLY = 1 kilometre
1 HJM = 1 minute
1 CS = 1 INR or Re.1


Nethra said...

pardon my ignorance but dolphins in pondi?!

Unknown said...

We saw them while sitting on the main corniche! Life was just so awesome for those 3 or so minutes. And we strained our eyes to hard trying to spot them in the distance after then, that we ended up with dolphin-shaped spots in front of our eyes!