As a player you want to challenge yourself all the time. The moment you reach a comfort zone you want to again try and raise the bar and push yourself. I have always believed that change is important. You need guts and conviction to change things. It’s a risk, and it could make you or break you.

I have been training in Pune for the last two years. I was training in Bangalore for five years before that. My sole purpose to come to Pune was to find a good trainer for my knee and also someone who I could afford. Also hemant hardikar (i work with him in pune) is the best man I know who understands me as a player and how my mind works. It did me good. I played my first ever Asian games, commonwealth games, a grand prix final in Lucknow, and became the national champion.

So when now I have been training in Lucknow with tom john the reason remains the same. To get an another perspective, to may be add a momentum to my game. To get out of the comfort zone of being home and being well taken care of. Of course when you make these changes it’s not because the people who trained you before have nothing more to offer. My coaches like prakash padukone,vimal kumar and hemant hardikar are an encyclopaedia of badminton which is still filling. If I can read the game half as well as they do I will be lucky. I have been lucky to have coaches who understood my decisions always. They supported it and showed faith. They have always wanted the best for me and they have always let me fly.I know I can always count on them. I thank god for that!

Tom John is life itself! He’s emotional, sensitive, selfish sometimes. He loves,hates,laughs and cries. He’s no saint or doesnt claim to be one. He loves women and likes to have them around. He can give you the soundest of advice about anything under the sun but he can also wear a Santa Claus costume and dance on jingle bell all around a packed Lucknow stadium. He is patient with his students but can be very impulsive. He cooks any cuisine to at most perfection. He loves to sing so he takes off his karaoke set every sunday morning. He’s a 60 year old man but his heart gets younger and younger day by day. He should be slowing down, but he still teaches a 100kids how to play with the same enthusiasm he had 30 years back. You love him,hate him but god knows that man deserves respect. There is no one like him. Oh yes I almost forgot hes also a kick ass coach! You see he can’t just be defined as a coach he is just so much more!

He has been training me in Lucknow for the last two months. Any one who has trained with him knows you have to kill yourself each and every day,every session. There is no way around. I have been doing three sessions every day. Day starts at 6 in the morning ends at 8 in the night. Sessions are not long. Every session lasts for an hour and a half. He makes sure you are working every minute of it. There’s running,circuits,weights, the god forsaken shadows,etc. After a week you feel you have trained for a month. It’s one long week.

I am dead every day and I am loving it. His style of coaching is very simple push the player a layer above his comfort zone. He knows your limit more than you. You have to just trust him and do the work. Its not easy to do that. If you do, you will see the results. It’s been tough two months. I have learned a lot and I would like to say I feel a positive change. Of course it remains to be seen how i use all that I have learnt and worked towards in the coming nationals. I hope to do well and really look forward to it!

As gautam buddha says, Change is the only constant! Don’t fight it, deal with it. it could do wonders!



Lucknow! I didn’t care much about the city. I had been here for one tournament in my life, the Lucknow grand prix(I had lost in the finals to saina). I had great memories on court but the city not really, I hardly noticed. Though this time round when I had two months to spend I kind of have got a pulse of it.

I have to start with the airport. It’s the smallest,the crappiest I have ever been to lately. We are now used these great airports in the metros Delhi,Bangalore,Mumbai, hyderabad etc. I agree Pune has a small airport too but it’s not as bad as lucknow. I think it has never been renovated from the first time it was built. (pune is atleast being renovated, its been 5 years but the effort is there 😉 )There is not much to eat,no wifi,not enough seats,the check in sucks. The toilets are small and scary. One woman was inside in the toilet and she had shut the main door. I knocked. She opened,but really didn’t. She started banging the door from inside real hard. First I thought it was some mental woman,but of course it wasn’t. The door had got stuck and she panicked and was crying for help. Then I started banging door,after 10mins of banging the door finally opened. The poor woman was from Austria, she was so glad when she came out. she said,”god! This is fucking scary,don’t go in,don’t go in!”. It was pretty funny.Of course I went in and did what I had to do laughing all the while.

As you come out of the airport there is almost the whole of Lucknow welcoming you. It’s so bloody crowded. The parking, actually there is no parking you can park in the middle of the road and nobody is bothered. Due to which getting out of the airport can take you half an hour minimum. When you finally get out of the airport there is mayawati smiling upon you. Shes everywhere, her hoardings are more than the bloody trees in Lucknow. Some bloody idiot is thanking her or congratulating her, etc. It’s really irritating to see her in every two minutes. She’s neither beautiful nor does she inspire.

On my way to the stadium I luckily got to see the famous or infamous gardens of lucknow built by her. With all due credit they are beautiful and humungous. They have used the most expensive marble for the whole thing. Its been made destroyed and made again some 3-4 times. There are still some changes being made here and there. I also got to see her statue, which has her trademark purse in hand. I was thinking arent statues to be made after you die,and that too definitely not by yourself. It’s shocking.

Lucknow has no signals. Can you like believe that? People drive like they are in the stone age. Nobody waits, one can go from one end of the street to the other whenever he wants. The vehicles hit and miss all the the time. I have hardly seen people get down and really fight when their car is hit. It’s routine almost habitual. Every car has a dent. If you don’t you will soon be obliged. You see one traffic police guy sometimes signalling away, though he is mostly ignored.

I have to write a little about the spitting in Lucknow. It has to be spoken about as it forms a very important part of the city. People are spitting everywhere. They colour the town red with it. It’s actually not spitting they vomit. It’s bloody disgusting. The lush green grass in our stadium is totally turning red. Some of the boys working there were having a spitting competition.the one who spits the longest wins. I had to go and stop them I couldn’t really sleep well that afternoon. I also almost died due to the spitting. I was been driven to the airport. My driver was spitting out in every 30 seconds. To do this he had to constantly take the alto window down and then up. Now on a Lucknow street if you lose sight of the road for a second you could die. He seemed to be a professional at spitting and driving so I didn’t say anything. I was stupid. In one of his spitting (I think he almost vomited that time) he took a little longer, a big truck was coming from the other side. I shouted the loudest ever and closed my eyes. We lived! He asked after a while, “kya hua memsahab?” I gave him a long stare and managed, “kuch nahi bhaiya aap bas Krupa karke baad mein thuk Lena abhi jara Gaddi chala lo?” I think he got the point, I guess he started swallowing the gutka right in, after that.

Lucknow according to me has only two things to offer. The chikan bazaar and food. The food in Lucknow is just really good. The punjabi here is pretty much the best I have ever had. The world famous tundey kababs deserve their billing. The tandoori chicken there again is the best I have ever had. you have to taste it to realise. It’s out of this world. It’s situated in the most shady areas but once you start eating you tend to forget that. The bazaars of Lucknow also have that old time feel to it. The chikan bazaar is the only one and the best in India. The kurtas,sarees,dress materials you get here are worth all the money. You get every colour you want in any style you want it, also in various money ranges.

Lucknow sadly disappointed me as a city. The government has done nothing for the capital. The gardens lie empty. They actually seem pointless and a desperate attempt to remain immortal. There is no infrastructure. No roads, no decent hospitals, poverty,unemployment. People living on the roads are more than anywhere I have lately seen. If only the government here could have spend all the money on things that really mattered may be Lucknow could have been one of the best cities in India. You feel really hopeless and sadly ashamed. People here seem so helpless. The most frightening part is they have got used to it with no attempt to change anything.

Lucknow has the rawness and innocence of a child. They almost live in a different world untouched by all the progress being made around them. It’s depressing to say the least they just deserve so much more. One of the richest cities in the Mughal era,once known as the city of nawabs has disappeared . What remains is one big garden, with only the thorns and just no roses to smell.