To Cancer With Love

Dear Cancer,

To be honest, this is not something I thought I’d be writing today. Or for a lot of days to come. I have thought of writing something of this kind before, and even more so in the past few months and I have put it off for quite some time now, I guess because not many know you were once part of my life and I’m afraid to open myself up to the world like this.

You came to me when I was quite young. You were pretty smart in the beginning, giving the wrong signals to the doctors. But I guess you weren’t smart enough in the end.

I was too young to know what you were, what you meant, what you could and would do to me. But I could feel it all right. All those tests, those hideously bitter medicines, those endless rides to the hospital, back home and back to the hospital again, those painfully embarrassing butt injections, laying still for hours on end just to get a picture of my brain or something, that operation I underwent to get the catheter in my arm (if I think hard, I can still remember the sights and sounds of that whole thing, the blood over my arm and chest)  and waiting in the OPD for hours and hours for a visit to the doctor. Oh, and those awful spinal injections you threw at me? In the beginning I just pretended the pain wasn’t bad, but later those injections actually didn’t feel all that bad. So, Mr. Cancer, try harder.

I think it is evident that I was too much for you, since you no longer plague my body, but I think I gained more than I lost in the time I spent with you. I couldn’t have been the man I am today, had it not been for you. I’m being totally serious right now. I’m pretty sure there’s an alternate universe somewhere out there in which you didn’t introduce yourself to me and I’m a completely different person. And that may not be in a good way. I wouldn’t have met all those nice doctors and nurses, many of which I’m still in touch with, had it not been for you. I wouldn’t have met all those nice fellow-patients at the hospital had it not been for you. It may not have been fun to stay home when others go to school and run and jump and play about, but it made me who I am. So thank you for that.

You know, my mom always says that I am a very positive person. Whenever she tells anybody about you and me, she always lays a lot of emphasis on how positive I was through it all and how it was instrumental in steering me through those times. And I am positive. I look for the positives when people think there are none. Sometimes there really may not be any realistic positives, but then optimism can’t be classified as being realistic. I believe realism may get you far, but you need some optimism to get over the line. Optimism is a human trait, but ironically, not all humans possess it. I doubt I’d have been such an unabashed optimist had it not been for you. So thank you for that.

Its been close to ten years since you first stepped into my life. The first three of those were largely spent at the hospital and at home. You were like my second home during those years. School is supposed to be a second home for kids of that age but school was relegated to a distant third or maybe even fourth for me. I can’t really say whether I regret it or not since it wasn’t my choice in the first place, but I can say that if I was given the chance to change it, I would keep things the way they are. I don’t care that I spent two to three years of my seventeen and a half year old life in a hospital. I didn’t think that what I had was a big deal then and I didn’t care about it much. Once I was told I had “a disease”, the natural reaction for me was, “Okay, well, let’s get rid of it,” and that’s what I spent the next few years of my life on. I guess that was just ’cause I was too young to know better, and a part of me knew that “what I had” wasn’t strictly normal, but I just went with it, and I can say that I wouldn’t label that part of my life as a fall in my graph, so to say. If anything, its half of my life’s highlights reel. So thank you for filling the highlights reel of a guy whose remaining life events surely pale in comparison to the memorable experiences that you’ve given me.

I don’t regret having met you, but we should probably stay out of each others’ paths for the foreseeable future.

Yours,

Jai.

Manchester United – 2015/16 Season Preview

https%3A%2F%2F40.media.tumblr.com%2F8f711bfbd4256466fc51a0e45aef7b87%2Ftumblr_nqgeljWcJJ1s925xlo2_1280 Pre-season is over, new players have come in, old ones have left, and the League is back in business with Manchester United, just like last year, playing the first match of the season, this time against Tottenham Hotspur at the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. So let’s have a long, hard look at Manchester United, and assess how good they truly are in this season preview. The last time Manchester United met Tottenham Hotspur, United ran out 3-0 winners, with all three goals coming in the first half itself, owing to some shambolic defending from the Spurs. Michael Carrick set up the first goal for Marouane Fellaini to score, Fellaini set up the second goal for Carrick to score, and for the third, Wayne Rooney pounced on a defensive error and ran through the middle of the park to slot one past a helpless Hugo Lloris. That victory set in motion two more hugely morale-boosting victories against Liverpool away and Manchester City in the derby after which United ended the season in 4th place, a bare necessity after ‘that season’. A few months on, many players have left the club and many have come in. Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmian and Sergio Romero are the biggest names to have come in, and it looks like United are not quite done in the transfer window just yet with just a little less than a month to go till it shuts for the summer. Moving on to that assessment I talked about earlier.

Transfers (In)

Let’s start by looking at the players who have come in and lets see how good they are, how good they can be and what can we expect of them this season.

Memphis Depay

3324698B56AB4D389D706D67C6182784United announced the signing of Memphis Depay much before the transfer window had opened, and understandably so. There were a lot of clubs vying for Depay’s signature because of the immense talent that he has. Depay is a very versatile Dutch player who can play as a left winger, central attacking midfielder and even a striker. I reckon he has the skillset to play on the right wing as well but since he hasn’t played there much before, it would be wise to keep him where he’s best. Memphis, as he likes to be called (even his jersey says Memphis and not Depay), had a prolific campaign with his former club PSV Eindhoven last season where he scored 28 goals in 40 appearances. This is even more astounding when you learn that Depay was only 20 then. So immense is his talent, that he has been compared to the likes of Arjen Robben and Cristiano Ronaldo. In his unveiling as a Manchester United player, he said he sees himself as a striker. That is one position United definitely need some backup for Wayne Rooney. Having said that, I believe Wayne Rooney can go on to have a great season as a goalscorer this time around. In Javier Hernandez we have a fairly good backup, who, with the right push can be good for us when called upon. In James Wilson we have a potentially world-class talent and he needs game time and confidence with him and he can be a great striker too. Memphis Depay would definitely be a better goalscorer if placed up front, but at PSV he was used as an inverted left winger of sorts who cut in through the left wing, onto his right foot on which he is strong, and scored goals, and that is what he can be used as at United as well. Louis van Gaal tried that for a bit with Angel Di Maria last season but it didn’t work because Di Maria didn’t have the strength to cut in to the middle and dance past the tough English defenders, but Memphis is strong enough for it. Coming onto expectations, I think we can expect Memphis to settle into life at United well, and I can see him getting quite a few goals and assists for us even though its only his first season here.

Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 17:  Bastian Schweinsteiger of Manchester United during the International Champions Cup 2015 match between Club America and Manchester United  at CenturyLink Field on July 17, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA – JULY 17: Bastian Schweinsteiger of Manchester United during the International Champions Cup 2015 match between Club America and Manchester United at CenturyLink Field on July 17, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

IMG-20150718-WA0011United desperately needed a balanced defensive midfielder like Carrick, somebody who is reliable defensively and can create chances on the attack. Carrick’s age is showing now and he is increasingly growing injury-prone. Whenever Carrick was out last season, United didn’t do very well. With Carrick in the playing XI, United had a 72% win ratio and without him it was down to 35%. I bet that 35% percent would have been even lower had David De Gea not been there. The point is that an attacking side like United usually use only one primarily defensive minded defensive midfielder like Carrick and the other two in the 4-3-3 midfield were box to box midfielders. This facilitates a better defense to attack transition, but the problem was that other than Carrick we didn’t have anybody who was natural in that role. Yes, we had Daley Blind, but he showed that he wasn’t up to the challenge, and even if he was, he was pushed to the left defensive position due to the perpetual absence of Luke Shaw due to injury, and kudos to Blind because he actually did very well as left back. To solve our problem, Louis van Gaal brought in not one but two defensive midfielders in the form of highly rated Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin and world class German Bastian Schweinsteiger. I was honestly applauding this piece of business because after a long time, United actually have a formidable midfield. I think we can expect great things from Morgan Schneiderlin for sure. Bastian Schweinsteiger is going to have a tough time settling in I feel, not just because he is on the wrong side of 30 but also because fitness has been a concern for him over the last three years or so, but overall, I feel these two transfers are absolutely world class because of the kind of ability we have captured considering the fee we have paid for the same.

Matteo Darmian and Sergio Romero
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Sergio Romero of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Aon Training Complex on August 5, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 05: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Sergio Romero of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Aon Training Complex (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)
Matteo Darmian
Matteo Darmian

Who is Matteo Darmian? That was what everybody was asking when United had announced his transfer from Italian club Torino. Darmian is a very talented young right full back who largely passed under the radar for some reason, even though he has played for the national team. I totally appreciate this transfer because Antonio Valencia isn’t a permanent choice for right back although I am sad to see Rafael leave as a result. He was a fierce warrior, maybe sometimes too fierce, but I kinda liked him. Darmian showed in the friendlies that is an able right back. He has pace to burn and isn’t completely hapless going forward as well, a little like Rafael in that regard. I think he comes in to the starting XI directly and will stay there barring some really big errors. Sergio Romero was a bit of an odd one I feel. His form has been up and down and his ability doesn’t stand out to me either. Don’t get me wrong, he is definitely a good second choice option (if you exclude Victor Valdes) but we definitely need more between the sticks especially if David De Gea is leaving before the transfer window comes to a close. Romero may be a bit like Victor Valdes was at the end of last season, but if our defence is not as shaky as it was then, hopefully he won’t be called upon as much.

Potential Formations

Louis van Gaal was presumably wedded to the 3-4-3 he used for Netherlands in the World Cup prior to last season because that’s what he used initially last season with United as well, only to learn very fast that it didn’t work in England. He experimented with a lot of formation thereafter but finally settled for a 4-3-3 of sorts which seemed to be bringing the results. With David De Gea perpetually between the sticks, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as the two central defenders and Valencia and Blind as full backs, Herrera was picked as the attacking midfielder, Michael Carrick as the defensive minded one and Marouane Fellaini’s afro could be seen running around from the top of defence to the attack as he was given a fairly free role and he made a difference almost everywhere, thanks to his physicality. Young occupied the left winger role and Mata cut in regularly from the right wing in what was described as a false right winger role by the manager, one that suited Mata well, since he didn’t have a lot of physicality or pace for the wider role and his creativity supplemented the attack well. If we assume that LVG will go with a 4-3-3 this season, and there have been very few indications toward it since he played with a 4-2-3-1 in the friendlies, but if we assume that he will go ahead with a 4-3-3 then this is what we can expect: 1If, however, Van Gaal decides to persist with the 4-2-3-1 that he used in the pre-season friendlies, and the evidence says he might be inclined to do so since today’s confirmed lineup to face the season opener versus Tottenham Hotspur says United may use this formation, then this is something like what we may see: 2

Season Expectations

https%3A%2F%2F40.media.tumblr.com%2F50c7f9b26b197f89f8300cf6b28f995a%2Ftumblr_nqgeljWcJJ1s925xlo6_1280 I think this is a huge, huge season for Manchester United. Arguable one of the biggest of my generation and we are all looking forward to it. The buildup has been excellent, the players that have come in have brought some top-class quality and everybody looks raring to go. I expect Manchester United to do much better than they did last season, overall. I think they’re going to be more injury-free, squad depth is better this time around, the players, well most of them at least, are quite familiar with what the manager wants and his much talked about philosophy and the squad has a much, much better balance to it. Getting to the gist of the matter, I expect United to finish at least 2nd in the league, win at least one cup out of the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup and reach at least the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Champions League and hopefully a friendly draw could grant us a journey to the semis.


We all have our fingers crossed for this season and at the same time there’s some immense excitement and expectation for the same. Join me and everybody else today in the opening of the 24th Premier League season as all eyes are on Old Trafford for the draw against Spurs as we get ready to watch a cracker of a season!

A Rare Breed

During the latter stages of school and for most of college, complaining how bad your teachers are, is pretty commonplace among student circles. At least that’s the way it is here. And its no different with my friends, and friends of friends, and the friends-so-distant-you-don’t-even-know-they’re-the-least-bit-related, and the people I overhear complaining about the teachers. But occasionally, that too if you’re lucky, there comes a teacher who you just cannot nitpick about. And its not just the teaching part that she’s so good at, but also the being-a-likeable-human-being part. Remember how I said ‘if you’re lucky’?

Well, here’s what happened. I switched subjects this year (I’m in the 12th Grade, or the second year of Junior College), from Mathematics to Philosophy. I had taken Math in the 11th owing to some general advice of a school teacher and also an administrative misdirection by a college official, and Math didn’t work out for me. In the meantime I had also decided that I wanted to pursue Psychology as a career (still working out the details, doing some research). Since I didn’t want to continue with Math, the obvious choice was Philosophy as opposed to the third option of History, since not only is Philosophy an immensely interesting subject to me, personally, but it is also a good subject to have a background in if you want to pursue Psychology.

Now, the procedure for switching subjects like this was no doubt a lengthy one. I started inquiring about it towards the end of my 11th and the process dragged on all through my pre-12th vacations and well into the second month of 12th until any official announcement came from the college. So right until it got wrapped up, from my point of view I had a very realistic chance of 50-50 of having Philosophy as a subject to study. When it did get wrapped up, it was a relief like no other I’ve felt in recent times. But that’s not the point of this post.

The teacher I’ve got for Philosophy is, in short, pretty much awesome. There’s different kinds of awesome when it comes to teachers, and it depends on what kind of student you are. If you’re the kind that likes the subject to be stimulating, something that makes you think, genuinely be drawn to the subject in a natural, progressive way, then awesome would mean a teacher that explains the subject very well, makes lectures not seem like lectures, makes them interactive, doesn’t stick to the text, and does not give you everything on a silver platter. That’s the kind of teacher I’ve got. Not only that, but she also takes interest in every student, she knows a lot of our names, and comes off to me as a very pragmatic but passionate person.

About a week or so back I had to go pay a small amount of money to the college as administrative fees for carrying out the whole subject change process. But the time they’d allotted for us to pay the money fell smack in between our Philosophy lecture of the day so I missed about half an hour of it. I thought I’d still go and try to explain why I was late. When I got there, to my surprise, the classroom was completely empty and our teacher was sitting by the table on the podium, reading something. She was still expecting people to turn up, because as soon as I walked in she asked me if I knew where the others were. These kind of things happen sometimes, everybody decides to bunk the lecture on the same day, knowingly or otherwise is something I won’t comment on ;).

Anyhoo, since I was there, she asked me whether my subject change process had come to a close so I could finally concentrate on Philosophy, and I told her that it was done now that I had paid the money. She looked genuinely relieved, and for a second, almost as much as I was. I’m usually a talkative person if I feel comfortable in the company I am and such teachers usually are that way, so we talked about this and that for a few minutes. Naturally, as a teacher she asked me what my plans were, academically, after I passed the 12th Grade. I told her I was pretty dead set on Psychology but was still considering the exact options I had in that field and had it narrowed down to Counselling, Sports and Criminal Psychology. She expressed surprise at the fact that I was so sure ‘so early’. The fact that I have a blog also came up. She was even more surprised, in a good way. During her lecture a couple of days back she had told us she was quite into fiction, especially the Agatha Christie kind, so there was more surprise for store in her when I told her I had started the blog primarily for the purpose of fiction, the Agatha Christie kind. She told me she was very impressed, and that made me feel really good. Like I was on the right track, more or less. The fact that I was from a reputed school and a reputed education Board, and had done well there, made her even more impressed. Then I realised I may have set the bar too high for my own sake because she told me she expected me to score at least a 95% in my 12th Board exam. sigh

Guess I’ll just have to get down to the books now.

See on the other side, folks!

A Tale of a House of Cards

House of Cards. What a show. Completely. Mind-blowing. Oh, Kevin Spacey you glorious creature.

I was recommended House of Cards by a friend recently. In fact, I had seen the pilot episode a couple of months back after seeing some awesome reviews, but somehow that episode didn’t really interest me at that moment, so I didn’t watch it any further, which I think was unfair and premature judgment on my part. However, after my friend’s recommendation, I decided to give it another try and I did, and now, well, I’m hooked. I just got done with the first season a couple of hours back and its just amazing. I can only imagine how much better it gets in the second and third seasons.

The characters, all the facets of their personalities, the direction, screenplay, story, and dialogues are top-notch. This is one of the best dramas I’ve ever seen, and there are very few that I rate so highly. Very few.

Francis Underwood being Francis Underwood.
Francis Underwood being Francis Underwood.

And you know what the icing on the cake is? That deadpan, piercing monologue that Spacey’s character Francis Underwood gives every now and then, looking right at you, breaking the fourth wall so often they don’t even bother to put it back anymore. Ever seen Deadpool break the fourth wall? Its beautiful isn’t it? Underwood is the only other character I’ve seen who is as good at it, if not better.

A political drama, the show is basically about the life of the protagonist, Francis Underwood, a United States Congressman. He constructs a plan to destroy the President Garrett Walker and his allies, after he denied Underwood the post of Secretary of State in a last-minute decision. This plan, being so elaborate, is understandably fragile and one mistake could potentially topple the entire ‘house of cards’ so to say. Hence, the name.

If you haven’t watched House of Cards yet, then you should. Give it some time, let it get its engine revved up and it will grow on you, slowly. Once it has, you won’t get over it, ever. Promise. I’ll write a public apology post here if despite liking this genre, you don’t like House of Cards. Promise.

Hope you guys like it, and if you do, please let me know!

Until next time! 😀

Jai Vyas Writes, A Year On

Its been a year on WordPress and Jai Vyas Writes. More than a year actually. It was a year on the 3rd of May.

Wow.

Seriously, it feels surreal to have actually made it through the first year and have actually done pretty well, I suppose. Let’s have a look back shall we, since that’s what these posts are more or less meant for?

I’ve written 77 posts in the past year, 78 counting this one as well. Thats like 6 and a half posts every month. I’ve had 112 comments on all my posts combined and I’ve had a pretty staggering 1,891 views on my blog. That’s outrageous! The real bomb, though, is that I got 923 of those in the 8 months of 2014 after the creation of this blog in early May, and the remaining 968 have come in 2015 so far. I know, right?!

Enough with the stats, though. This blog has been so much more than the numbers for me. Its been a process of discovery, really. A sort of education. I’ve grown as a writer, an entertainer to those who read what I write. I feel an identity to my writing, and though it’s not perfectly moulded yet, it’s getting there. I’ve learnt so much more about blogging and writing from the various courses I’ve taken up on WordPress (at The Daily Post, which I have to say, is a wonderful place for writers and bloggers, and the minds behind it are wonderful people and great writers, and have been a huge help) and elsewhere.

6-Things-We-Can-All-Learn-From-SuperheroesI have discovered so many other bloggers from around the world, with similar interests as mine, with amazing blogs and each with an individual style of writing, each of which are equally attractive. Not only have I learnt a lot from them and had a lot of fun reading what they write, but I’ve made friends, which I think is the best part about blogging. Funny thing is, I never thought it was a possibility when I started out. We’re all like a humongous family, us bloggers.

I never thought I’d get this far. There was no plan, really. I guess I’ll have to make one now. I look forward to a second year here, a little older, having made a few mistakes, but a little wiser, I believe.