Golf

Tough test for defending champion Aditi Ashok ahead of Hero Indian Open

The 19-year-old will have to fight her way through one of the strongest fields comprising 114 players from over 25 countries.

Brimming with confidence after claiming her third title on the Ladies European Tour last week, defending champion Aditi Ashok will now look to retain the Hero Women’s Indian Open which tees off at the DLF Golf course in Delhi on Thursday.

Aditi, who had won the Hero Indian Open and Qatar Ladies Open last year, clinched the Fatima Bin Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi last week but the 19-year-old from Bangalore will have to fight her way through one of the strongest fields comprising 114 players from over 25 countries.

Among the other Indians in fray, there will be considerable focus on Sharmila Nicollet, who is back after spending three months in the US. From the domestic pool, Gaurika Bishnoi, leader on Hero Order of Merit on domestic Tour, will hope to translate her success onto the HWIO.

Vani Kapoor, Amandeep Drall, Neha Tripathi and Smriti Mehra, who have been playing quite a few events on the Ladies European Tour, as also in Asia, will be watched closely.

For Vani, this is her home course and armed with the confidence and experience of playing a lot outside India in the past 12 months, she will be hoping to do well this week.

The strength of the field has been bolstered by the presence of four of the Top-5 from the LET’s 2016 Order of Merit.

Beth Allen, who topped the Money List last year; Aditi, who was second overall and also the Rookie of the Year, and Florentyna Parker were the top-3 and No. 5 Isabelle Boineau has also made the trip to India.

Carlota Ciganda, who has been to India before, divides her time between the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA these days, and is back to India for this year’s HWIO.

The highest world ranked player in this field at No. 20, Ciganda is a former Order of Merit winner in 2012, which was also her Rookie year on LET.

Aditi’s win last week in Abu Dhabi catapulted her from just around 100 to a 81st and that should be a big boost. There are six players from the Top-20 of the latest Order of Merit, and that includes Ciganda (6th), Klara Spilkova (9th); Florentyna Parker (12th); Aditi (13th); Anne Van Dam (16th) and Ana Menedez (19th).

The 2016 edition was highlighted by a tight battle involving Aditi, Beth Allen and Belen Mozo in the closing stages and all three will be back to renew their rivalry at the Gary Player layout.

“The win last year set the bar for me and then I won two in a row. Qualifying for the LPGA was good. The first half of the year was a struggle as I didn’t know if I would be playing that week or not as I had a conditional status,” Aditi said.

“I played a lot of LPGA event. I also got to play all five majors this which was a great experience as a rookie. I didn’t play as well as I hoped in LPGA. But last week was better and I am happy to be here this week.

“I hit 88% cent of greens last week and with the putting if I can do that then it would be a very good score. I think that was the key. I like this golf course but my chances will be just all everybody else and I would need three good days to win this title again,” she added.

The biggest contingent from outside India is from Thailand. They have won the HWIO four times, of which Phatlum Pornanong won three times.

She is not here this time, but the 2013 Hero Women’s Indian Open winner Thidapa Suwannapura is in fine form, having finished T-sixth in Abu Dhabi.

Another player to watch out for will be Patcharajutar Kongkraphon, who would be looking to emulate Phatlum and Thidapa.

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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.

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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.