‘Ridiculous’: Viswanathan Anand hits back at those gunning for his retirement

The former world champion, who recently finished joint-second in Isle of Man Championship, said the constant questions over retirement drive him crazy.

Viswanathan Anand is not a man of many words, but in a freewheeling interview with, the Indian great spoke about his celebrity status, how the constant question of retirement drives him crazy and how he stays focused despite all that.

Talking to Luis Fernández Siles from Spain, where he lived for almost 15 years, Anand was forthcoming about his storied career and how much he has learned from the game.

Unlike many athletes, Anand doesn’t mind being recognised on the streets of his country and stopped by fans. “Well, I am frequently recognized, but it doesn’t cause me any trouble, it doesn’t bother me or anything, I even think it’s flattering. It’s nice, I can’t say I don’t like it. If people know you and they appreciate what you do, it’s a good thing,” he said.

Talking about questions over his retirement, Anand, who recently finished joint-second in Isle of Man Championship, was bit more vociferous. Clarifying that his comment after a poor run was blown up, he said the contestant hounding was ridiculous.

“I’ve been getting that question for the last three or four years, and well, the first time they ask it’s legitimate, it’s a perfectly normal question, and I answered it. I was at a low moment then and I said something like ‘I don’t know... I have to think about it...’ Basically, I didn’t firmly reject it.

“But afterwards I started getting that question a thousand times, they haven’t read my answer to that question in the previous interview... And that starts bothering me and there’s a point in which it doesn’t even make sense to answer because the next question will be, again, ‘When will you retire?’, and it drives you crazy... And if they don’t listen to your answer that means it’s not a question, but rather they want to write their article and it’s an easy topic so they include it... something like that.

“And this time, at the World Cup, it clearly wasn’t my best result, but it’s not a reason to retire either. Also, I don’t see how it has anything to do with that... If I like playing, then I’ll play. What do my results have to do with my wish to play? So yes, it’s quite ridiculous,” the 47-year-old told

However, he insisted that there was no dip in motivation to play. “I try to evolve and learn from other people’s work methods, and I always try to learn new things. The brain switches off if it becomes too bored, that is the problem. You must always look for new things to learn,” the chess great said.

Talking about his personal favourite game from his glittering career, he picked a game from 2013. “The game that always comes to mind is a Slav I played against Aronian at Tata Steel in Wijk aan Zee in 2013. I have other good games but, if I had to choose one, it would be that one,” Anand was quoted as saying.

Read the full interview here

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.