Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Blog: 2011 - Flop show, 2012 - Better, hope so!

My last good run is about 15 days ago.  The quarter end pressures are eating into my early morning plans and late evenings.   I reach home tired, and sleep it off.  Between a run and sleep, sleep wins hands down.   Well, it is an excuse for not running.  

Auroville 2011 was my
only race
My cycle idles, dusty at the corner of the car- park.  I was planning to be a tri-athlete.   About 1000 miles of cycling and 1000 miles of running come to just 500 km of running.  I would end up 50% of my planned mileage this year.

Has my running appetite dropped?  No.   I enjoy whenever I am out there.  Just that it is not happening.   My mileage over the last three weeks have been in single digits.  Shame, disgusting.

My only race for the year was the Auroville 2011 Half.   After that, I just vanished of the running map.   Like I said, I whittle the distances to single digits.   Bad habits crept in.  Well, yes.

And somehow this is reflecting in this year's performance.    I seem to whittle away tiny crumbs of success at work and at the miles on the road.   No major success this year.   Is running reflecting life?

The midnight with the Mumbai
Elite gave some hope towards the year end
From September to November, it was a bottomless pit.
Towards end of November and beginning of December, things started looking up.   Better results at work ( not sure if it is a mirage yet) and two near-half marathon distances.

2012 is going to be a tough year.  I am not a doomsayer, but market and the effects of this year's performance would reflect.   As you sow, so you reap, right? 

My resolution is going to be simple and am going to measure running mileage every week.  1000 km of running and 500 km of cycling.  It will be pure mileage and some key races. 

I may run the Mumbai Marathon thanks to a friend and have registered for the Auroville.  And take it from there.

Thanks everyone for the support during this flop show of 2011 - the toughest in my life.   Atleast, let me mentally prepared for another tough 2012 ahead.  Who knows, right?

- The One

( Pic Courtesy The One)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The keystrokes follow the footsteps... the story of the runner-writer...

Actually difficult.   To run an esoteric runner blog - musings, huh!

One has to rely on borrowed experiences, the reason d'etre, the accessories, the sky and the moon to write.   Actually, the quality of writing dips and deteriorates, as one has to find a topic and dig dirt around it.   The topic itself can be as abstract as it can get.   The writing can be from ramble to research.  

The best writings, I have seen, are from friends who have run their first races or who have rich experience, running across cities, countries and even continents.  

Blogs can be about experiences, expertise,
injuries, training, technique, diets...
 Most runners want to just run.   Few of them love to write - narrating such rich experiences, which takes the reader on a vicarious experience along with the runner - to share the difficult, pain, agony and ecstasy of the journey towards the finish line.

The lines about the preparation, the host city and community, fellow runners, the crowds, the course, weather, the ceremonies... all add pepper and salt to the narrative.  Add pics and videos to that, it is the recording of one's achievement of a lifetime.

Amit Sheth's dare to run
is rich in content and eloquent in narration
 My first 10K in Bangalore World 10k- 2008, and my first half marathon in Chennai -2010 were awesome experiences to write and share.

Further, couple of great runner blogs - Trails of passion by Navin Sadarangani and It's all on top by Naresh Kumar, both ex-Chennai runners, but moved to the west.  They are taking down each milestone, brick and brick and it is so inspiring to follow their story.

To enjoy the real 360` experience in running, read my dear friend Amit Sheth's dare to run... one race to run, a lifetime experience to tell.

I have also been reading the first marathon / half marathon experiences in the Chennai Runner group website, such rich content, nicely delivered - reflects the conviction of the maiden writer.  Each one  is so unique.   One such narrative really dipped into the running quotes and matched experiences against it.  An awesome piece.

The journey writers - who grow from the 10k to an ultra marathon.  The travelogues - from the traveller-runners who criss-cross continents to run marathon in every corner of the world.

Some people are just number people - who discuss cadence, elevation, speed, pace, time, personal bests, distance, innumberable derivatives of calories, BMI's ...

Boston calling:  The best narratives are first hand experiences
Then the pros.   The people who can talk about the do's and don'ts with authority, and the experts who can dwelve on the training plans and the techniques.   The toe vs heel landing, the barefoot vs shoe running, the trail vs road running, running in the cold vs the humid weather, interval training, hill training.

Another set of writers do write about diets, carb-loading, race preps,  breathing techniques, stretching techniques,  how to improve speed, core exercises and post-race recoveries.

Another specific area of interest is about injury prevention and recovery.   Situations that can cause an injury and how to recuperate.

The midnight run: One run, and a lifetime story to tell
For me, running is about lot of things.  A catharsis, a remedy, an identity, an achievement.   All the above variations and specialities make one richer in knowledge and experience.  

But nothing like experiencing oneself.  Without the actual event, the typical narrative becomes fiction.   The conviction to write is that bit lesser.   The effort is more.  

So much for this blog.   Just run, and you can write better about running.   The keystrokes follow the footsteps...

- The One

Pics courtesy The One, Internet...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mid-week blog : Running - the only reality in the illusion called life...

Caught in space-time warp,
life is an illusion
At mid-thirties,  there is enough of ups, downs, drowns to b*t(h about...  you think that this is gonna be your worst day, but the next day can be worse than that.   You pass through blinding sunlight and temporary shades,  blue skies that remind you of the desert and the depressing gray some other day.   Life is an illusion that plays hide and seek in the space-time warp. 

The finish line and the next toe landing
in running is reality
What you think is reality is an illusion another day.   One event somewhere in the world is a statistic or a news-bite for most others living far from the event - lost in the back pages of a newspaper or a snippet in a prime time show on telly.  That is because we ourselves are immersed in the clear and present issues that confront our fickle lives, and we have fickle memories.
Such is the illusion of life.  

Running, a basic act of alternate steps and flailing arms - also gets into the same illusive bandwagon - you measure time, and you measure distance.  

As they say, past is history and future is mystery; the present is here and now. But unlike life, in running, the end is known - the finish line is the future.   Knowledge of the finish line, is therefore reality and the present - the step that you take, is clear, present and real.  

In our lingo they say - 'sab mayaa hai, (everything is an illusion)'.   Well, except running. 

-The One

(Pics Courtesy Internet)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Running - simple complications, simplified...

Lol!  How come running became complicated?  Roll back to the first year of your child, or if you are yet to have one, to your own childhood or your nephew's or niece's.  How excited one was, to see the little kid crawl, stutter into a walk and after sometime break into a run! 

Running brings joy to the kid, the parent and the on-looker.   Running, to a child is akin to flying,  a means of reaching the impossibility, an outburst of joy.   A simple movement of legs, and flailing arms makes up the innocuous action of running.  

Any outdoor sport involves running - from hide and seek to cricket, football to hockey. Every field and every street in the neighbourhood is taken over by kids who play, and therefore run.  

Years pass.   Suddenly, we become office goers, professionals and so forth.  Tired minds and souls, after a tired day, navigating traffic, reach homes late in the night.   Many worries in the mind, so add sleepless nights to that.   Again, get up just in time to start another day.

Running suddenly means business.   Serious business, and that thing we call  'life'.   Breathless cacophony from dawn to dusk.   Loss of sleep, pot bellies, obesity, diabetes, stress, lack of fitness and form are by-products.

Doctors exhort us to exercise.  Somebody suggests, 'why don't you run?'.   That sounds unfamiliar!   Or distantly familiar?

How did running become complicated? Two decades later,  running is reborn. But one needs reasons to run!  And NOT to run!  Huh?!! 

Reasons make running complicated.    It was complicated to start.   Getting to the shoe rack was complicated.   Getting up early in the morning, finding time was complicated.

Once the reasons are removed, it is simple, like our childhood days!

Just run - so simple, no more complicated!!!

-The One

Pics courtesy Internet

Saturday, November 26, 2011


This evening was different.    I had increased my chance to run in Mumbai Marathon, courtesy a good soul.   I was feeling happy that I reached home early.   I was hungry.  Post some snacks and tea, the hunger contained, I planned to hit the asphalt.   Was feeling powerful and eager for a run.

I looked around my stable- there were the good old Nike - Blue ones.  I call them the Old-man-blue.  Old-man-blue came to me from a Nike store in Bangalore in May 2009, and was the right partner for me to tackle my over-pronation - I had suffered bone contusions and was out of action for about 2 months.  

He have served me for more than 1100 km so far.    We ran together in the Chennai Marathons, ECR marathon, Auroville marathon, Bangalore Ultra, Sunfeast 10K's between 2009-2011.

He become ugly, soaked in the red dusts of the Bangalore Ultra trail, and never recovered his charming white and blue again.

About 2 months back, the ol' folks of my stable - both pair of nikes had lost their soles ( souls?)... The black cushion at the palm of the right shoe peeled out (for old-man-blue during a run), the red one ( who I call lady-in-red) during my travel to Chennai.

The lady-in-red stayed back in Chennai, and is currently in my brother's custody.   Old-man-blue  lay in the dark recesses of my shoe rack.  I was trying to visit a Nike store to repair for more than a month, but could not.  I went to Reliance footprint instead and ended up buying a pair of Asics (which I call the new-kid).  

And suddenly, it dawned, that our good old cobbler in the neighbourhood could fix.  I took old-man-blue to this shanty of a shoe-garage, and Missus-Cobbler, pursed her mouth and said, it would cost 70 Rs.   She said, the black cushion will be pasted and she will stitch them to be stronger.   I was skeptical, but nevertheless, put the old-man-blue on the operation table.   The lady, chewing paan all the while, said - come back in half an hour.  

 After the new-kid took me round for a 30 minute run, I visited the shanty again.   Missus-Cobbler asked me to wait for another 15.   I was waiting like a worried relative outside the op-theater.  

10 minutes passed.   Missus-Cobbler called out - and showed her works-woman(!)ship to me.   Old-man-blue was looking good - pasted and sewed up with black thread.   Ugly, but he could walk or run with me after all.

And today he joined me for the 5k.   We both exploded into a good start, slow middle part and a classic finish.  

As I write, old-man-blue smiles from his place in the shoe rack - always on the top - ' I am still around for many more miles'.   I wink at him with tears in my eyes.  Old-man-blue!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The midnight run...the invaluable teacher (aka) lessons learnt...

I called my wife on Friday evening, and told her that I had decided to take the midnight run - anchored by Raj Vadgama, the elite Ultra Distance runner.   It was an impromptu decision, considering that I had nil mileage during the last month and about 18 km last week.

Second thoughts crept in during Saturday.   I had a half a day at office, but anyway I let the feeling seep in my mind that I was going to run beyond my Lokhandwala trainings of 10-14k runs.   Vacillation- Should I or Should I not?    The Saturday movie and the Sunday Night sleep beckoned.  I had worked 15 straight days, putting in 4 sleepless nights.   This option look tempting.  

I called Raj and asked what speed they would run - they said 7-7.5 km per hour. I was still skeptical.

Post lunch, I slept for an hour.   Sun went down.  My new Asics were out of the shoe rack, ready to hug my feet after a month of idling.   I went out shopping for a pain-cream, tapes and energy drink.   I tried to sleep the Saturday night movie off, but could not.  My family had an early dinner and were off to sleep.  

I applied vaseline, taped my middle toes.  I pushed a sense of dilemma again crept in.  Silence at home, Tom Cruise was delivering his dialogues in the 'Days of Thunder'.  When I was about to leave, the feeling continued. I asked my wife, should I ?  She laughed and pushed me out of the door.

On the way to the rendevous point, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, dressed in the Bangalore Ultra Marathon which has the phrase-'It is tough, or you'... When I wore that, I sneered with cockiness... 'I have seen that distance'.    

At the point, one by one, people assembled.   Each runner had a feat to talk about.  NDTV Greenathon - which is a 550 km - 11 day run between Ahmedabad and Mumbai,  Bati Lakes - 100km... I felt inspired and humbled.  We clicked pictures.   The fact that I was running with India's best runners still did not occur in mind.  That was to be my nemesis during this run.

With Piyush Shah
We did the routines, and started.  Feet hit the asphalt... about 1 km in the race, I was behind.   Raj was shuttling back and forth;   The assist-car, Raj's own, shuttled between the lead runners and the laggards.   Into the 5 km, there was already half a km gap.

I decided to sprint and catch up, and then realized that I should run within my limitations.   Around the 10k mark, nearing the Jogeshwari- Vikhroli Link - the gap between elites and me was almost a km.   The poor driver asked whether I needed a lift !!!  I told him that I am taking it slow and easy, and waved them off.   A costly mistake. 

With the runners, the assist car disappeared.   I soldiered on till the 16k - when my left ITB started talking.   I responded by walking.   With dehydration kicking in,  I switched to walking breaks for about 20-30 meters.  Had a cup of tea.   The chai-wala gave me some coins and they started clinkering in my pocket.

Couple of dogs were interested.  One dog growled, but was shooed by a inquisitive cop.  Some youngsters said - saaheb, kuch race hai kya?   I said  'it is a practice run'.   They responded by wishing me well.  Every now and then,  seeing me running alone, the regular tramp who inevitably occupies the bench of every bus-stop, laughed, sneered and waved.

I crossed the Vile parle crossing, Santa Cruz, Kalina and was reaching Vakola, when the ITB screamed.   I realized, that I should be near Bandra.   But few other factors weighed in - the next stretch would be without assistance - only the side rails of the express way or a parked taxi - with its driver snoozing would be company till the finish - it is a lovely stretch to drive your Etios, but not for running alone.   Calling the assist car would leave the elite runner group alone for atleast 20 minutes, as they should be about 2-3 km ahead.   I was beginning to feel cold because of my walking routines.  

The night view near Santacruz
And the temptation... hindsight, may be I should have resisted.  An autowala trailing, said - 'saaheb, jaana hai kya?...' I said ' YES'!!!   I texted Raj that I was quitting ( it is so shameful, while typing this bit, I admit) and then off took the autowala!  I reached home in 35 minutes.

Raj, in between called and said they had just reached Bandra.   I was indeed 2-2.5 km behind.   I said the cramps were bad, and so I had called it off.   I wished him well and he thanked for joining the run.

How great and humble, he and others were!  I will surely run alongside them whenever I can - well, atleast in the starting line !  :)

While, at home, I showered, stretched and slept, Raj and co were on their way to another glorious run in South Mumbai.

I woke up, today morning with the sun beating down from the french window.   As I had breakfast, I recounted the last night events - and made a mental list of lessons learnt.
  1. Put in enough miles per week, else Auroville is going to be tough
  2. In group runs, plan better.   You should find runners of your kind, speed and limitation.   Else, you will bring the better ones down.
  3. Hydrate, Hydrate.   More you hydrate, better you deal with cramps.
  4. Avoid the vices of life - spicy food and sundowners - they can add up and act up.   A vow to watch was made.  
All said,  the last run was the best in a long time, almost a year.   Just run! Each run is a teacher.

-The One

Pics Courtesy The One...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

From Auroville to Auroville...a racing sabbatical...

The last time, I ran past a racing flag, was in Auroville- Feb 13th this year.  I ran a half.   2010-11 represented stability - I could plan a trip and execute it.   During this period I ran 5 half marathons.  

From April aka the 2011-12 season, I have been this ship in the tempestous sea, with a broken sail.   My quest for growth led me to Mumbai.  Mumbai is a great place to run, there are more than 15 local races - and to cap it all, the Mumbai Marathon, the only Indian event on the World Marathon Calendar.

My appetite to run a race simply died.  It has taken a long sabbatical.    Why?  Lack of planning.   I cannot get up at 5 am any more - that is the time I feel most tired.  The alarm snooze button has become the most regularly used device, apart from my blackberry and toothbrush.   My shoes started unusual about it and finally gave up on me.  Both my pairs of Nikes tanked.

The distances to travel to meet customers are too much in Mumbai.  So you end up reaching home late, and tired.  The motivation to put on the shoe is difficult.   Add to that,  the kid wants this, and the wife wants that.   The evening sundowners add to the woe.   Finally, the virus found a temporary home in my bronchi.   Alas,   I run only about 20 km a week, and about 60 km a month.   I am not my type.  

I need to run a half during training, and then do regular 30's.  My plan is to run only full's next season.   No races this year.   Well - may be I will end my racing sabbatical in Auroville?!!!

-The One

Pic courtesy Auroville website

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ask the Toenail...

Well,  it is late into the night, and have a short week ahead.  But can't resist finishing this.

Got a black toe after today's 10K.  Reason - my Asics, as I find, is one size less.  My Nikes were one size large, and were bliss- no black toes.

Ain't the shoes mistake.  Well, it is mine.  A black toenail can tell stories. 

I lost three of my toe nails when I started running about three years ago.   First reaction, pain and panic. 

Most people ( including me :) ) don't bother about their feet, till the first black toenail appears.  Feet are to walk, but when they are used to run - black toenails are almost always the first incident.  It is like the first dent in your new car.   Your feet were looking beautiful, and suddenly running spoilt the looks. 

You consult your seniors in running - they laugh it off.   Well, I get it.   For a runner, feet is utility material and not the jewels in the box.   They are to be used - to RUN!   Blacktoes are sign of USE.   SCARS of the RUN.   I was proud - after losing three black toes, and collected them as medallions.

Once you become more experienced, you understand the fundamentals or Common Sense, as they call it. 

WEAR happens because of FRICTION.  To reduce friction, either reduce contact or lubricate.   So, you buy one size larger shoes, and take care to apply vaseline.   Result - no black toe.

When beginners talk to me about chafing or black toes, I tell them it aint a medallion, but it is plain wear and tear.   Reduce contact or lubricate.  

My black toe laughs at me.  

Says, I will wither away.   Where was your COMMON SENSE? 

I say, you are my fourth medallion. Each run is new, and a learning.  So I hide behind the beginner's bliss. 

COMMON SENSE - Not applicable... Toe Nail - RIP...


Pictures Courtesy Internet

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Bakri-Eid 10k- One step at a time...

More liters in the belly than the kilometers on the road.   Life is listless when it lacks purpose. 

Movies?  Facebook?   Shopping with family?  The only thing exciting is playing cricket with the kid these days.  Others are miserly distractions.   

Add a 30 day back-breaking cough and lung-choking cold... hit by financial and work related challenges...

From boring to suffering...

Sometimes the objective is to just sail through the storm... one needs lot of grit and gumption to dig deep down to win the battle, ride the wave.   One after another.   Take it one at a time.   We don't know when the war would end, or when the shore is in sight.  

Hey, this sounds very familiar - if you are a long distance runner.  A step at a time.  Break the course into shorter objectives.  Achieve one, and then another, and then another.  Each step, relentlessly put ahead, is closer to victory.  The finish line is far away, but the hope is that each step puts one closer to the finishing line.

The run becomes more challenging when you are denied.   Like today's Bakri-Eid's run.  

High humidity.   I decided to do a 10K - not a long distance by most of our standards, but well - considering this is a comeback phase after the bout of cold, was a reasonable objective.  

The denial objective - no water, and no stop.   Well, the run was lot easier.   Strategy - run slow first, pick up speed - but always breath through the nose.  The first 5k was whirlwind - done in 32 minutes.  Around the 7k point, had to slow a bit and breath through my nose.  

Reminder  -  No stop.  No water.  Around 8k - sweat started tasting sweet,  slight cramp developed below the ribs. 

Breath deep, run slow.  

Around the 8.5k mark, felt easy - but had slow down to almost 10 minutes per km. 

Easy, buddy?   Nope.   Can you?  Yes.  

No water.  No stop.   Uphill finish for about 800m.   Voila,  suddenly breathing was easy,   no more thinking of water, only the finish line.  Finished the last 1k in 5:50.  10k in 67 minutes.

Finally the first sip of water is the reward.    Neither it is great, nor is that bad. 

What is special about a training run?   Nothing.  Just that it reminds you of the basics

One step at a time. 

- The One

Pictures courtesy Internet

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ship breaking screws running...

About 15 days ago, I had some sneeze.. A little bit of throat congestion... then a small pricking in my throat - I know, I was on my way to a season change phenomenon - allergic bronchi.  

I have had allergic bronchi since when I was kid.   It stopped for the last 6-7 years, when I had a car, and also when I used to run.   Key factor was the allergy did not appear - it did not matter when I ran or where. I somehow, attributed the allergen silence to my car.  

Last one month, has been trouble - the allergens are awake and active.  One afternoon,  I was sleeping through a cab ride - through Mazagon dock.   I woke up in some dust and sweat, the cabbie said'this is a shorter way'... I look out of the cab window - it was a SHIP BREAKING YARD...

That psyched me out, and all those visions of the leukemia and allergic diseases arose in my mind.  The place was deserted and dusty... I could feel the allergens - my nemesis waking up... 'dude, here am I'... and one thing to another, and occupied my breathing canal.

Blong - there went my running.  I tried all medicine I could lay hands on, some vapor inhalation, some herbal stuff.  Finally visited a doc, was slapped a prescription of a heavy dose anti-biotic and was walking around as a zombie all of last weekend.

So, I was waddling in the bed and the couch, and my shoes in the dark recesses of my shoe-rack.  I did not even bother to look at them in their eye (!).   

Feeling better, feeling better... my wife advises to take it slow... fearing another bout of wheeze and cough... I am itching to run... but actually would during the coming weekend.

Whoever thought that Ship Breaking will screw running...?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Doc Holliday - Part 2 - Life is a game, play it!

Doc Holliday - The name gives a feeling of work and play.   For a short 36 year longlife, it was a quite an eventful journey. 

Doc Holliday, Original
A doctor by profession, Doc tried his hand in practice.  Hitch - he was suffering from a perennial liver and lung infection - mostly by tubercolosis.  Treatment didn't fly, and he practically carried the disease to his grave.   His patients would turn away quickly, not being able to cope with his perennial cough.  

For a person full of life, Doc did not give up. He took to gambling.   He was reasonably good at it.   Still the good name 'Doc' stuck for life.  

He was born with a cleft lip and cleft brow - both on the right side, and they say, it made him only more handsome.  But he cared less for his looks - but he dressed well.  

He was a good gun-shot- probably the best in the Wild Western during that period.  A constantly edgy feeling seemed to have come into his life, as he grew up it become worse, with his disease eating him inside out.   

In each of his encounters ( as illustrated in Tombstone - the movie and the wealth of data available on Internet),  this edgy feeling seemed to have pushed him for a quick-draw-shoot or die solution to all arguments or meeting with his adversaries;   He always succeeded because of his natural ability of being the quickest draw.  

This temperamental talent became the friend of the Law Dog Wyatt Earp, who was considered a perfect foil - older, mature and polished to Doc Holliday.  As his friend-for-life, Wyatt seemed to bring the best out of Doc, and it also served him the '30 minute gun fight of OK Corral' and the historic duel with the best shot among the Cowboys- Johnny Ringo.

He personified confidence, that bordered arrogance.   When Johnny Ringo meets him in a bar - he says '"All I want of you is ten paces out in the street.".  The movie shows the encounter in a different circumstance - the dialogue below is self explanatory. 

Ringo: You must be Doc Holliday.                 
Doc : That's the rumor.                
Ringo: You retired too?                  
Doc : Not me.I'm in my prime.

A clear illustration of Doc's cockiness facing his much-reputed adversary.

Alcohol was his constant companion, and he was with one woman through his life - big nose Kate.   But this seems to have been more of a functional relationship than a relationship of the heart. 

When he sees Wyatt one last time, he says ' he loved a girl when he was young, and when she got away, he carried his memories for life - and advises Wyatt - ' My friend, there is no 'normal life', just life.  Live it. Grab the moment, and marry that actress you want to live with'.   

Finally, when he becomes too sick, he dies in his bed- after 36 years of zestful life.  

By that time, he had become one of the most enduring characters of the Wild Western Folklore - a gambler, a hot headed hunk, a gunshot-par-excellence, Earp's best friend and the hero of the 'greatest gunfight' of the Wild West.  For Doc Holliday - life was a gamble, and he played it!

-The One

Next - Doc Holliday -3 - 'Wyatt Earp is my friend, I dont have many'

Source - Tombstone, the movie, and Wickipedia on Doc Holliday.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Doc Holliday - Part 1... Inspiration from Tombstone - the movie

This is one blog, I have very less to say - but want to say more.  

The usual events late evening - entry into house at 9, dinner with wife and kid.  Channel surf,  vacating the news turf - watching India being 'anna'hiliated within and annihiliated out on the ground - and the cursory glance at the movie titles for the 11 pm slot.

Tombstone - Zee studio... ahem.. an inconspicuous stay... 5 seconds - more and more... saw Kurt Russell, but stayed more for Val Kilmer.   

 I did not know then that I was watching a legendary event of the wild western.    Earps vs the Cowboys...  Wyatt Earp - the Law Dog and Doc Holliday - the dying gunslinger... the most proficient of them all...

Consumed by tubercolosis, but not letting the spirit of death consume him... standing by his friend, holding his own against a calmer Wyatt Earp, and nixing the sharpest gunshot of his time Johnny Ringo is a character that the reader should enjoy.

The way the movie panned out - is for every one to watch.   I intend to write more about Doc Holliday, the more I read about him,  the more interesting his character becomes. 

Val Kilmer's rendition as the dying, hot blooded, risk taking, talented gun slinging and gambling role of Doc is one of his best ever performances - I liked his 'Templar - Saint among of Thieves' as well.  

A meagre collection of the dialogues of Wyatt Earp ( Kurt Russell) and Doc Holliday ( Val Kilmer) , in no necessary order.  I will share the savoring moments - in the next few days... 

Tell 'em I'm comin' and Hells comin' with me...

It appears that Mr. Ringo is an educated man, now I really hate him. Doc

Why Johnny Tyler, mad cap, where ya goin' with that shot gun?

stick wid me il make ya famous

i havnt even begun to defile myself

Wyatt, I am rolling!!

Billy: You are so drunk yo're seeing double! Doc:  Well i got one gun each for both of ya

Doc!? I didn't know you was back in town.

Wyatt-' doc why or what drives ringos anger'.Doc' he's mad at life for being born'

 "you aint a daisy! you aint a daisy at all!"

poker just aint your game! i know. lets have a spelling contest

 i told u keep that damn cigar outta my face!!!!

"Why Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked across your grave"

"I already got a guilty conscience...I might as well have the money too."

ENJOY THE MOVIE, while I am back in the town...

-The One...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A distant canary...

One day, near the window sill of my bedroom, I saw this yellow canary chirping tentatively.  A small young one, seemed to be lost.   I opened the window, and it flew in.  It build a nice little nest - warm and cozy, against the winter rains and cool during the summer.  

Everyday, it would chirp, bringing hope to a routine human life - joy of freedom,  wantonly ecstatic, bundle of vivaciousness.   It become part of my life- small, but significant.  

One morning, it had flown out of the open window as usual.   It did not come back ever again. One week later, the empty nest remained, at that.  The nest remained as long as I was there.

I moved out of this city and the nest, mostly removed, by the new occupiers of my older abode.

Then while ago, I watched this movie - The Canary ( 2010)...a story of an emotional roller coaster of an young, deaf girl living in the Scottish wilderness shaken by the arrival of an unexpected stranger...a small blip appeared on my rear view mirror- of the yellow and black canary and the nest.

One of my friends, a colleague - lives in this desert city - now consumed by cement and its wilderness replaced by urban chaos, sent me a photograph of his pet, almost incidentally at the same time. 

He is moving back to pursue his passion in photography - will fly past me to the Indian capital for a brief while.  He said he intends to give up his pet - donate it to a bird park in this desert-city before he leaves.  Another story of a canary becoming distant...

So,thinking as I drive, down another bend of the road, the rear view mirror throws up a different scene, and the canary becomes a distant view - smaller as ever.   May be I will see the canary again... on my window sill..

Monday, August 15, 2011

The curious case of Arowana... ' the blackfish is missing'

Life is a rat race these days... 730 - hit the dirt, 2200 back at home.  Most of it goes in travel.   Can't remember much so different between each of these days.  

One of these mornings, last week, my friend and I  landed up in a small restaurant.  An aquarium tank - was usual. Fish inside it -was usual.  Arowana - now that was unusual.

Arowana are bony fish found in the tropics.  Look deadly, that people sell it as the evil-eye fish, vaasthu fish.   Guys are fierce ones,  adults are 2-3 feet long, so only one fits in a medium size aquarium.   Some of the smaller fish could co-exist,  but Arowana decides the fate.

On that morning, cutting chai and a small vada- pav was consumed at leisurely pace, watching the Arowana swim around. He swam contented, but we always felt something was about to happen.  There were couple of fish - one, a type of frog fish, and another black - angel fish types, can't place it.

The frog fish, clutching the sand below, lied low, and the black fish could not swim freely - whenever the Arowana turned in its direction, this guy ducked to hide - under the air feeder or dove to depth.

Suddenly, in one turn, the Arowana spewed a few fins out - remnants of a digested fish, perhaps.   We asked the hotel employee - he said that there were about 20 live fish in its tank, three mornings ago. 
'Arowana ate only live fish' he said.   'The black-fish was the last of the lot.  The frog fish was from an earlier group, but still has managed to survive.'

We were, somewhere inside, shaken. My friend, too confirmed that.  Did not have a good feeling.   We went after our morning office chores.  

About 2 pm, I had lunch and started to work on something else.  Arowana, blackfish all forgotten.   Then a short-text popped in my blackberry- from my friend, saying  'the blackfish is missing'.   I could not recollect, and responded later ' what the heck are you talking about'; he messaged me back - ' the aquarium'.  

The same chill, we had felt in the morning,  returned.   I was silent.  Thinking more about it, I felt that the situation threw up life in its different perspectives.

The hotelier - probably fed live fish to Arowana - and more than, kept that fish - more to get some customers, than to ward off evil.    Making life by taking lives?  Or was it making business sense?

The customer - comes and returns again to watch the fun - feeding the crass curiosity of  the prey-predator duel?  

The Arowana - becomes a show, while living its natural life and character?  Wrong place? 

The black-fish - did it have better chances of survival in an ocean than it had to lead a life of fear and struggle to die?  

The frog-fish - still clutching the floor, lying low - escaping the eyes of Arowana... he survived beyond the Arowana's lunch...
Who is right and who is wrong?   What is right and what is wrong?  Or is it the way life is?  Well... life goes on... the Arowana still swims, the frog-fish is still on the floor,  the customers come, the hoteliers make the money, but the blackfish is missing!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Corruption- our bit...

Corruption - our bit ...

by Ashok Subramanian on Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 1:39pm

A small spark started by Anna Hazare becomes a thousand... thousands become thousand small actions... when these actions become consistent- a way of life. This way of life becomes a culture...a culture against corruption.

Three things that you can do from now:

1. Vote and vote for a corrupt free and criminal free representation in the assembly and parliament. This is where you can cut the umbilical cord of corruption.

2. Think hard before you participate in the next opportunity to be corrupt - be individually. Deny that other person of that opportunity. Be patient and dont jump queues.
The last time, when I was stopped by a cop, I paid 1500 for multiple traffic offenses, and got a receipt. I had an alternate way - pay 200 Rs as a cut and get away. I DID NOT.   I did feel about needing to  pay more, but I am now proud about that action today.

3. Teach your kids to obey rules - beating the rules, beating the system creates opportunities for paying the cut- starting from carrying papers, following traffic rules... deny that traffic cop an opportunity to make money. 
More can be told, but these are simple but difficult things that can be followed.  I do have flaws, but as they say, a small spark...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Crabs and Cricket...

Somebody told me that we, Indians, have crab mentality.   Crabs, if left in a bucket, pull another down, when one tries to climb out of the bucket.

As a community we feel guilty about being passionate about anything.   We are too self critical.   Why cant we just let our emotions and belief go the full distance?

Like some countries like football, we like cricket. We have a history, and so be it!  After all, we are passionate people about sports... let us not be defensive about it!

People say cricket is a lazy support. Well, try playing a 5 day match - you will realize that this is tougher than an ultra marathon.   That is 35 hours of baking in the sun!   If you take half of it- for one team - 17 hours of standing idle, then running, thinking, hitting, being hit, diving etc., make the sport even tougher to play.

Imagine sprinting behind a ball or running in short burst in those 22 yards!  With all those protective gear ! With heightened competition, one has to sprint and dive to save runs and take catches.

Imagine being nerve-wrecked for almost 7 hours in an one-day international, or for 3 hours for a twenty-20.  
To excel in one subject, they say is specialization.    After the 2007 world cup debacle, this team has become worked hard and smart, to become No 1 in tests, won away-victories, defended at home successfully, won the Twenty-20 world cup, and is the finals of the ODI world cup again.  This is a phenomenal achievement of a specialization - of a generation that has feared nothing, but enjoys the sport it plays.

As a nation, we should be proud of it.  We have reached the  near-summit, the glory is in the wings!  This calls for celebration - the spirits shall flow!

But for those nay-sayers, if -of all people, Indians dont wish for India's victory, who else will!!! We believe that Dhoni, Tendi and co are as committed as any other sportsperson.

Our wishes and prayers for the Indian cricket team! Nothing else matters!  We want them give 100% and we BELIEVE them!!! Go-India-Go!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

At the cross roads...

I read in a calendar today ' If you cant run ahead of someone, run in a different direction'.  Well, it kind of means what I am going through these days.   That someone sometimes is myself.

At the cross roads, looking for a new direction, I scan the horizon for answers.  The decision to take a road will have implications of the new and far future. 

When one looks back at the cross roads he/she has crossed and the directions have been taken,  a realization sometimes a twinge of guilt, and a can-I-bring-that-decision-back or If-I-were-to-decide-again-can-I-change feeling happens - a lump in our throat, and a deep sigh follows.  

From my school days to where I am now, my journey has taken twists and turns that I have not entirely expected.   To the chance to board a plane to US vs to manage a project in the North-East in 1998,  or to settle in South-East Asia vs back to Chennai in 2005, the decisions on job roles or the places to live have had a 'comfort' factor established at that point in time.

I sometimes feel that I should have decided otherwise.  As more years pass, and the journey of life covers more miles, the child in me-the one who wishes to explore and advent different peoples, places, cuisine and culture is becoming more forceful than mellowing down to adulthood.

My significant other may feel that this man is crazy, but one realizes the beauty of the journey called life through experience.  So, why not explore, till one can.   Run the unexplored roads, visit new places.

Here is the tougher part - but I will answer first before I throw the question.  

A 55 year old runner took his 87-old father to run an iron-man.  His father said ' son, for you, I will'.  Both completed.   The passers-by and the onlookers applauded for hours with tears in their eyes.   Why? 

The father was a quadriplegic and had to have neck support and was in a wheel chair. The son took his father in a life raft for the swimming part,  then on a specially designed cycle for the cycling bit and a wheel chair for the marathon.

Sometimes goals, challenges are very personal.   If your near and dear realize the dream that you see and the direction you take, when you are at the cross roads - they will definitely run along, won't they?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

At the starting line of life again - 2009...

Well, I discovered few things in this one year.  And oh boy, what a journey it has been in the last 18 months.

Some background before what changed my life.  

I had thrown my entire weight around my job and career.   I am not a natually aggressive person.  

But since 2002, when I made my move from being an engineer to sales and pre-sales, thought I would really leverage on my three assets - a flair for quick learning and  understanding, ability to connect with people, and the gift of the gab, to be successful.

Since 2002 till 2009,  I had given everything, I mean, everything to the work I performed at office.  I admit, I liked fancy titles, travelling, and meeting people.   The journey was exciting, and heady- the higher I went, the more intoxicated I became.

What suffered - my fitness, my focus on personal finance and family.  

I will touch upon each of these in separate detail in subsequent blogs.   But net-net, it was something I discovered when my all-or-nothing approach in Jan-March quarter of 2009, succeeded partially and  inevitably, as I realized in hindset, there were fallouts.   

Numbers done, but behind me were burnt bridges, heavy heart.   I sunk within the immense feelings of despair and loneliness.  Victory was forgotten, only bitter taste remained.

In toto, the fallout meant that I had to restart again.   New role, new outlook.  In 2009, at 34 years, I was born - again.

Few things I realized, I would correct forever -
  1. Never take a business decision alone.  Remember, you are working for others, when you are in a job.   There exists a larger organization.  You have to take that organization along.
  2. Never trust verbal approvals, take them in writing.   Sometimes, they become legal material.
  3. Over aggression in sales leads to overzealous commitments - you think you are right at the moment, but that is a castle in air.   Build deals with strong business fundamentals.  What organizations need are health business, not quick deals.
  4. All-or-nothing is like a sprint.  If you win, it is great and heady; if you lose, it can sink you.  It is better to run a slow marathon, and finish.  
  5. Learn to accept failure.   Success at all costs is not worth it.  Be practical. 
  6. Life is much more than work.    Life, like business has multiple pillars.  Each of these pillar has to be built strongly.  Otherwise, it will be a one-trick pony.
  7. Sometimes, you think that you can always count on your boss, but it is always better to have a larger organization into confidence.
  8. It is good to have Plan B's.  It goes back to the adage ' dont put all eggs in one basket'.
  9. Personal finance, fitness and family, the three 'F's are the other pillars of life.  Focus in equality.
  10. Give it back to your team - spend time with them apart from discussing business affairs.  Build friendships.Your experience and perspective, without sounding as advice, is a key input their decisions.
These realizations, and a few other threads, led me to my midlife birth again.
  • I needed to connect back to people - outside work.  For example, I could not connect with a person outside work when I visit a city.  
  • I needed my great family back;  they had been waiting for the last 7 years.  I gave family 'time windows', but did not realize that I became an outsider, a paying guest at my won house.
  • After all my focus on career, it was sad to note that my personal investments were next to nothing; and I was chasing credit card bills.   I still do, but have improved in the last two years.
Wow, wow... that is a lot of time to be lost in life.   Never can it be gained back.   But the realization was hard earned.  Could not lose it, never.   So, two steps. Self- pardon and plan.  

Connect the dots.   Make the list.   Dwelve into the details.   Make the beginning, the first step.   The journey starts.   I am born again.   At 34, after so many years, another Ashok is born.
  1. Fitness - start doing things you like.   Be fit.   Stress free.  Do something with passion, vengeance.  Need a sink to empty emotions. So was born, RUNNING.  
  2. Finance - Save, Invest, Track.   Plan your retirement, and child's future - education!  Invest your life to work for 20 years. Quit at 55.  Be happy with this plan.  More you need, it becomes greed. 
  3. Family - Spend time, explore, argue,  play - enjoy time. 
I called this 20 year plan as 35-55.  There could be additions, reviews, changes, but the base of the rest of my life is now planned. 

Now, a few other points -
  • I always liked chat and blogs - the 90's tools for people to communicate over the Internet.   This last one year, after a long break since 2008, I entered the world of Internet.  Socially active, if that is what it is on FACEBOOK.
  • I took to sporadic running since 2008, and it is 3 years now. But during the last one year,  have run more than my entire life, and felt fit and confident.   Now belong to 900 or lesser crowd in a population of 6 million, called CHENNAI RUNNERS.
  • Also was born my social work-out relationships through DAILYMILE.
  • Taking my family along during my fitness journey is also key.
  • My tummy has been popping after lot of culinary and spirited endeavors; now guy prefers less spicy and craves for a flater disposition than it was.
  • Planning of finance, have completed for my kid's edu plan and retirement, has been completed.   Still trailing on few counts, but should close all outstandings this year.
  • Holidays - holidays - spend time with family , twice a year.   More time with parents.  
Well,  this is a journey, and it has began. Here was a starting line to run the marathon called the 'rest of my life.  'As I look back, as I keep running,  it is the most cherished part of my life - post my childhood and college years.

I have discovered passion and purpose in my life.   It can go only positive from here... and therefore I continue to run.