About: the world this week, 4th July to 10th July 2021, a wonderful cocktail of coronavirus, happily married-ever-after, spelling, killing, political, death of a tragedy king; and ball game-football and tennis-stories.



It’s July and we have climbed over half the mountain height of 2021. Many had to use Oxygen Cylinders to breathe, to reach this top.

It seems like just the other day, in early 2020, when we first learnt to wear nose & mouth covering face masks-while some specialised in wearing stylish chin masks – wash our hands endlessly, and keep a measured physical distance from one another. The hugs and kisses shrank to ‘cave levels’. And we invented a new form of cave living called ‘Lockdown’.

We then quickly got our outstanding brains to collaborate and challenged the SARS-CoV-2 induced COVID-19 pandemic with brilliant Vaccines in double quick time. Pfizer, Moderna, Sinopharm, Astra Zeneca-Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V, Johnson & Johnson… became household names. And suddenly, we all became Google Doctors: never knew being a Medical Doctor was so easy!

When we thought it was almost over, there appeared fresh kids on the block: Waves-we called them. The first outbreak became the first Wave, then the Second Wave…and now we are living in various stages of Waves. Some just cannot figure out which Wave, though!

Then came the Coronavirus Variants furiously mutating to hijack the next available Greek Alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and now the Delta Variant is the most famous of them all, while other Alphabets are struggling on the sidelines to get noticed. The latest is that the Lambda Variant, at the WHO ‘Variant of Interest’ level, is ‘coming soon’. I hope we don’t run out of Alphabets…and Vaccines.

Never mind the Greeks, and the pandemic, I would love to move on to dance with former US President Jimmy Carter, 96, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 93 who ringed in 75 years of rock-solid marriage. Is peanut farming, and all that came with it, the root of their enduring marriage? When Jimmy Carter left the Presidential White House in 1981, he was 56 years old and deep in debt. Forced to sell his Peanut Farm Business, Carter started writing books to generate income. He has published more than 30 books from a children’s book to reflections on his presidency. Maybe a Titanic Jim-Rose love-story is in the works.

There is support coming for Jimmy Carter’s writing:Zaila Avant-garde, a teenage basketball prodigy has become the first African American to win the US Scripps National Spelling Bee. The 14 years old from New Orleans, Louisiana, spelled her way to victory with the word ‘murraya’, a type of tropical tree. To get to that stage she had to spell out ‘querimonious’ (given to complaint) and ‘solidungulate’ (having a single undivided hoof on each foot, as in a Horse). The home-schooled girl said, “For spelling, I usually try to do about 13,000 words, and that usually takes about seven hours”. Despite practising for so many hours a day, she describes spelling as a side hobby. Zaila’s main focus is on becoming a basketball pro. I’m sure she can spell basketball!

Assassinations are back with a bang. Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, who took office in 2017, was killed during an attack on his private residence early on Wednesday. The attackers, believed to be mercenaries, stormed Moise’s home at around midnight and fatally wounded him. The first lady, Martine Moise, was also shot and quickly evacuated to a hospital in Miami, USA, for treatment. Haitian Police have detained two suspects and killed four others-all foreigners-connected to the assassination. The country has been reeling from violence for weeks and the acting Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, declared a ‘state of siege’.

Haiti’s President of the Supreme Court would normally be next in line, but he recently died of Covid-19. The acting Prime Minister Joseph has to be approved by Haiti’s parliament for him to formally replace the slain President. But without recent elections, the Haitian Parliament is effectively defunct. Throughout his presidency, Moise had repeatedly failed to hold elections at local and national levels, leaving much of the country’s governing infrastructure empty. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. And natural disasters like the 2010 earthquake have only worsened the situation. An estimated 60% of Haiti’s eleven million citizens live below the poverty line.

In another assassination-an attempt-prominent Dutch Crime Reporter-Journalist, and TV Presenter, Peter R de Vries, 64, was shot up to five times in a Central Amsterdam street on Tuesday and is fighting for his life in Hospital. He is famous in the Netherlands for exposing notorious criminals and speaking on behalf of crime victims. The attack has sent shockwaves through Dutch society, which has for years watched De Vries on Television, handling-and solving-notable cases, including some of the most illustrious judicial errors in Dutch crime history.

Even before these assassinations, Hackers went on the prowl. And Russian-linked hackers, attacked software provider Kaseya, affecting thousands of businesses in at least 17 countries. They impacted everything from grocery stores to schools. It could be the biggest global ransomware attack ever recorded. The group, which goes by REvil, is known for hacking Brazil based, American meat processor JBS (Jose Batista Sobrinho) back in May- and bleeding the company of USD 11 million. Now, it’s demanding USD 70 million from Kaseya.

Meanwhile, faraway in Space, USA’s NASA, keep flying Ingenuity, which made its ninth successful flight on Mars on Monday, when it remained in the Martian air for about 166 seconds and flew as fast as 5 meters per second.

In another part of Space, nearer Earth, China started space-walking its Taikonauts, outside its work-in-progress Space Station.

Back on Earth, India’s Prime Minister decided that cooperation was lacking in the country and started a brand-new ministry called ‘Ministry of Cooperation’ primarily to kick-off the Cooperative sector, best exemplified by the ‘utterly, butterly, delicious’, taste of India, Amul kind. His Ministers called it visionary: on our part, we need to taste the results to decide. Having bought the butter, the PM went on to re-slice his Cabinet bringing-in fresh faces, rewarding performers with better ‘butter’ positions, and sacking those who slipped on the butter, through the past years. It was a massive shake-up, bold and beautiful, with old-on-old-heads, old-on-young heads, and brilliant degrees-graduate, masters, doctorates… making the grade. Stirred & shaken, India should do ‘butter-well’ in the upcoming days, weeks, months, and years.

Yesteryears ace Indian Actor, Dilip Kumar (born as Mohammed Yusuf Khan) – The ‘Tragedy King’ of Hindi Cinema- gave-up his last breath this Thursday at the ripe age of 98. He is best remembered for the epic roles in the dramatic Devdas (1955) and the historical Mughal-e-Azam (1960). Dilip Kumar is considered one of the greatest actors in the history of Hindi cinema, holding the Guinness World Record for winning the maximum number of awards by an Indian actor. In total, he acted in 65 films over a period of 50 years. With his low-key, naturalistic acting style, he excelled in a wide range of roles augmented by his good looks, deep voice, and superb accent.

Dilip Kumar was romantically linked with famous Indian actress, the Venus of Indian Cinema, Madhubala, for over seven years until they broke-up. Madhubala went on to marry playback singer and Actor Kishore Kumar until her death at age 36, when illness related to a congenital heart disease took her away too soon and broke many an Indian heart.

Dilip Kumar then fell deeply in love with Actress Saira Banu, who was 22 years younger than him, and married her in 1966. The couple did not have children. And lost what could have been a son, in the eight month of a pregnancy, in 1972. Dilip Kumar later married Hyderabad socialite Asma Sahiba, taking her as a second wife in 1981. That marriage ended in January 1983. But he always had Saira Banu with him… till the last.

Over the past weeks Dilip Kumar had been in and out of Hospitals, and he must have seen this coming. RIP Dilip Kumar.

Ball Games

The Sporting World was kicking-up to Open Stadiums without spectators or space-out ones. The Euro 2020 Football Tournament saw some real kicking around and Italy has reached the finals. England beat Denmark, also to reach the finals, which is their first major final in 55 years. It’s an Italy- England showdown on Sunday, 11 July 2021. Time to take sides and cheer your team.

The Wimbledon Tennis Tournament is coming to a close and Swiss Legend Roger Federer,39, got mauled by world No 18, the 24 years old Polish Hubert Hurkacz, who played fluent tennis to win 6-4, 7-6, 6-0 in the quarter-finals. Roger exited quickly and gracefully, waving to the crowd on his way out of the stage where he acted many a winning game – but not this time. Will we see him again at Wimbledon? Au revoir?

Later, Hurkacz was felled in the semi-finals by Italy’s Matteo Berretini who is the first to reach the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Finals. Berretini plays Serbia’s Novak Djokovic who on Friday funnelled-out Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in the other semi-finals. Djokovic remains on course for a sixth Wimbledon Crown, and a 20th Grand Slam Title to go level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Coincidentally, it’s Italy’s ‘ball-run of the year’ reaching the finals of major Tournaments in Tennis and Football, both of which are being played on Sunday, 11 July 2021. It’s going to be a hard-working Sunday for many of us fans. What with our legs on a football and the hands on a tennis racquet (and the TV remote, and a glass of…).

While the great oldies battled the grass to try to whack that ball consistently over the net, without forgetting the drawn boundaries, 18 years old Emma Raducanu who entered the Tournament on a wildcard saw the tennis balls as big as footballs, in a dream run.

Ranked 336th in the world, and rated only the 10th best female player in the country, Raducanu became the youngest British woman to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon in more than 50 years, after beating the experienced, in-form Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Emma Raducanu was born in Toronto and moved to the United Kingdom when she was two years old. Her parents are from Romania and China respectively. Two months ago, Raducanu was sitting her final A-levels, in economics and maths, at a grammar school in South London. She speaks Mandarin, but said in English, ‘I’m just trying to stay here as long as possible’.

The long was cut-short in the next match when Emma sadly lost the match to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, when she was forced to retire after suffering from breathing problems, while trailing 6-4, 3-0.

Ajla Tomljaovic went on to lose to fellow Australian Ashleigh Barty in the quarter-finals, who keep her own breath to meet Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova in the Finals clash, happening this Saturday.

Emma Raducanu has left us gasping for breath. Must have been a terrible time retiring hurt after getting this far. I hope she comes out stronger and ‘wilder’ in her next Tournament.

And, of course, I would love to see Roger Federer play again.

More stronger, breathing stories coming up in the weeks ahead.


One thought on “WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2021-28

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