Monday, 30 January 2012

Of Har ek friend zaroori hota hai

The Nadal Nola match kept us spell-bound and for good reason the usual soaps on TV were avoided. I bunked the evening visit to Venkateswara temple. The planned visit to the Dargah during the day was also stymied due to unexpected guests. I will have to make up with the moulvi on my run today. Woke up on time, there was not much activity on Dailymile or Facebook during the night to hold me on to the desktop for long. I had a good spinning session on the charkha till Biscuit claimed me for his morning walk. His walk concluded uneventfully, he returned to base and I was able to hit the road at 05:53 AM.

My mind kept going back to the Nadal-Nola match and the unfairness of only one of them being a winner and the other being consigned to anonymity of the cruel system (I was reminded of Prof. Virus Buddhe’s  of 3-Idiot’s fames’ comment of nobody remembers who came second). Could Nola have played such exquisite tennis if Rafa did not raise his game? Can it not be remembered as Nola-Nadal encounter of 2012? Can we not remember the sportsman spirit behind the water bottle handed to Nadal by Nola while the long winded speeches were being made? I really dread if the Marks for Sports campaign comes through with sports being the rat-race it is now, we would encourage ratting in today’s students rather than bringing about sportsman spirit in students. Nadal won hearts and definitely some fans from Nola if not the Australian open cup yesterday!

I continue to build friendships through my morning runs. Today, I met Simon (the Carnatic vocalist) between KM 3 and 4. I stopped to ask more about him. He is a retired Railway workshop employee and is 63 years of age. Yesterday was his day of singing Lord’s praises in the church and not serenading nature as is his wont on other days. I exhorted him to keep singing.

There is one other person who zips past me every day with a mysterious smile, today I found him next to his bike parked near the petrol-bunk.  I named him the (K)night rider. He informed that he is a Union bank employee and comes riding to cool off after his run in the city. No response from Raghavendra today too, all not well yet, I suppose.

I reached Benkiya-Badariya point, the dog-duo had still not forgiven me. However, their master, the young boy was on my side. After pulling them back, he accompanied me till the canal for cleaning his break-fast plate. His name is Jenaab and he is from a nearby village (I didn’t get the name, but definitely beyond my 15K mark). He goes to school, he said. On my way back he wished me good morning, Sir and hoped to meet the next day.

There is lot of cotton bolls flying around and found stuck to grass on the side of the highway. I had picked up conversation with Shri. Mohan a farmer who grows chilli’s and cotton at KM 14 a few days back. He educated me that the cotton being grown was the notorious Bt, but, that it was good to farmers like him as it gave good price. He also said that there was no need to depend on multinationals for seeds as seeds from present crop can be used for planting next crop. He came to befriend me as his children had told him about this old man (yours truly) who runs every day, and he was keen to meet me. I told him of my interest in cotton as I spin my cotton yarn for giving it to a weaver. He promised to find out a good ginning and pressing factory in and around Hubli for me. I pick up cotton bolls as the fresh white cotton lying on the side looks like innocent children abandoned by the plants to the vagaries of nature. The state of sullied cotton of earlier days make you want to rescue the virgin bolls carried by the wind during the night. I have a decent collection at home of the cotton so collected (My timing is taking a hit because of this, what’s a few minutes when it comes to rescuing young ones!).

I did not meet the moulvi either on the way up or down today, I have one more day, maybe, to think of softening the blow on him for missing the appointment yesterday.

I was stopped by one elderly gentleman today near KM 5 (petrol bunk) to ask how far I ran too and if I run every day. My RAM being full and unable to remember any more names, I gave him my lap length and just found out that he was a retired businessman (do business men retire?) and of 64 years age and that he comes from Madhura Colony (near Anup’s house). I saved him for future friend list.

Finally I met the school children (C’mon Uncle fame) on my way back today. They had still not cracked my Birthday puzzle (I repeated the question today again). I found that their leader was Anuj and that he is on facebook. He took my user name and profile picture. I must befriend him.

I finished the run in 3 hours 15 minutes today, without making any adjustments. A satisfying run and importantly 8th consecutive daily run of 30K prompting my friend, Bala, to send a team of scientists to check my bones (or was it mind!).

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Story of the Sun and the Sunflower

Repost here so that it is all in one place.

Got up at 3 AM today, Skyped with daughter and left for Biscuit’s morning constitutional at 4 AM, I forgot the garbage bag. After leaving Biscuit (for the uninitiated, Biscuit is my 4 year old Labrador) at home, I started for the morning run at 05: 10 AM along with the garbage bag for disposing in the Municipal waste bin on the way. I forgot to get my watch for which I had to go back to the house. Biscuit came every time to ensure I was safely off before he would have gone for his second round of nap.
It was quite dark outside and moon shone its hooded torch to show me the way, I ran at a slow pace. After a few kilometers, my sights adjusted to the natural light and the moon receded to follow me sedately along. A group of street dogs were conferring about where to start their foraging for break-fast. One of the dogs barked at me, this was quite unusual; the street dogs know me and give me a wide berth. Looking closely, I found this dog new, and he had a worn out make-shift collar too. Maybe, he had come to his street friends for a sleep-over and didn’t want me to eavesdrop on their secret talks.
Further down, I found a Sow and squealing piglets examining the spillover from the garbage dump outside Madhura colony at KM 2. Maybe, they didn’t like what the residents left for them overnight or was it the piglets whining about their mother insisting on their finishing their greens.
I laboured over the steep climb from KM 3 to KM 4, taking my first few sips of water. I seem to be tiring easily today, usually my first sips of water are at KM 9. Few morning walkers came from the opposite side including my dairy man. We acknowledged each other. I crossed Sai Baba temple, wanted to seek his blessings for a fruitful trip to Delhi, but his lights were off, will catch him on the way back. At KM 7, my singer friend was doing vigorous exercises; he gave an enthusiastic wave to which I reciprocated. I must one day stop and get him to sing a song.
The run from now to KM 9 would be uneventful; I switched to Gayatri japa and plodded on. Between KM 10/11, met three ladies who are regular walkers, I will now narrate why I don’t write about them. Today the stray dog walking next to them growled at me. They felt responsible for the dog and me, maybe, because I looked city bred and needing protection. I jogged on and gave them a smile of thanks, ice thus broken; they will become part of my narrative from today. They complete the walk and exercise in the field and are there till I return.
The maize fields looked wizened and old, but, they seemed contented in having fully mature corn in their cobs. I reached the sunflower patch just before sunrise, the flowers were deep in slumber, or were they? They seemed to be avoiding me, what have I done? I crossed them in deep thought, have they known of my plan to take their photo and put it up or do they know that my brother has threatened to visit them on cycle? On the way back, I saw them standing in groups and giving me dirty looks, they looked betrayed, as if, I failed them in having purveyed our secret meetings on the net for feeding my vanity. I tried to explain, the Sun seemed like a father, who pushed me along saying that he would explain to them in his own way after they finish their breakfast. I am sure they would have forgiven me when I come their way next Wednesday after my trips to Delhi and Bangalore. Kids can hold their grudges for that long. On the way back saw the maize plants cut neatly strung and laid out like corpses. He farmer with a string in hand looked like Lord Yama and the tractor trailer his vehicle. He was preparing to take them to meet their maker. They looked composed in the thought of having done their bit and lived a full life.
I changed ‘Gandhigiri’ today, I didn’t initiate any wave from my side, I only watched for how many waves I got. Three truck drivers including the HP petroleum tanker waved to me, Yipee, Gandhigiri works! The sand Lorries would require more working on.
The return trip was uneventful, I finished the run 3 hrs 11 mts. I am now not so much bothered about pace, divine message in my forgetting my watch? I seem to run to gather a story.
Now, honest feedback please, or I will grow headstrong.
e Int� t o �� � � When he mentioned how we run for fun and how at the turning, the lady African runner pushed him. He mentioned that he caught up with her to discipline her. I should have asked him if he asked her ‘Why this Kolaveri Di…’
The aid stations were well laid out. The staff manning aid stations was very cheerful and polite. The ambulance with medical staff and traffic policemen were there in sufficient numbers. My wife tells me that the place for the cheering squads was also very comfortable. Organizers deserve Full marks for this.
The run for the next few laps was mechanical except for the regularity of high fives by the Chennai duo of Sundar and Nari. The crowd thinned out with the HM completing their bit and some unfortunate drop-outs. A word for the people who were cheering us, some of them had stayed back after completing their races. Their enthusiasm and the full moon, having shaken off the eclipse, must have been more than a match for the midnight sun. I tried to keep the drummers belting out Bhangra numbers from flagging by cheering them every time I approached them. The policemen had a smile for the runners whenever we crossed them. This event can easily match SCMM in its crowd response. Viva Bengaluru!
Now I started stopping at the turning at mid point and walking to change direction in addition to one drink stop in each loop. The weather still allowed me the luxury of running non-stop, but the gradient was starting to take its toll. I could see stragglers increasing in numbers. The answering smile was resigned and laboured. I must say the crowd at the start point did not thin and their enthusiasm and cheering volume kept rising with the night. They started calling out to me as soon as I was visible at the entry point and cheered me on till I was visible to them.
I had now reached my last lap, I offered each cheering person to accompany me on the ‘victory lap’. To my surprise one of the girls picked up her footwear and told me that she will accompany me barefoot on my last lap. She must have been my daughter’s age, and I was reminded of my daughter who had offered last year to run the last lap in the BU, which was sadly aborted because of time over-run. Her name she said was Veera (hope I got it right), she said she wanted to run a marathon and that she does 5K. She beautifully paced me on the last lap at 10kmph, and I could run the entire lap non-stop without even a drinks break. Thank you Veera, had I caught you earlier, maybe, I would have had a sub 4 finish. Wishing you your first Marathon soon. All in all I had a satisfied outing.

My experiences at the Bangalore International Midnight Marathon on 14.12.2011

Here's my report of the Bangalore Intn'l Midnight Marathon. I was low on motivation, having completed 100K at BU less than a month ago and SCMM less than a month away. Most of the runners had given it a miss. The thought of running on one side of a 2-lane in a busy neighbourhood was looming large. Having registered long back reached the venue or i thought so at 11:15PM. Seeing no notices or activity i panicked, more than me, my wife, whose motivation in accompanying me, i cannot fathom except to be of assistance to her mate. Last year she had the company of our daughter who is away in US currently. I rang up Mr Kadam, the only number i had, thanks to the slip on the part of BIMM is putting this in a newspaper note, though, i learnt from him that he was involved with this event last year. He was kind enough to guide me to the venue. I must digress here to sound a discordant note, the BIMM, organised in the heart of IT hub, with so many techies participating, i found the BIMM website as the most unfriendly. There are no contact numbers, and it is really unfriendly for an outstation runner. Thanks to Kadam, i made it to the venue at 11:30 PM. You think that was excitement enough for a night, you have more coming, my colleague at B'lore had got my bib collected which my office driver carried with him when he came to take me to the venue. My wife observed that the bib issued was for a HM and not the FM i had registered for. Imagine my disappointment, it was like serving limited meals to one used to an unlimited thali. Immediately on reaching the venue we rushed to the registration counter where two helpful ladies got into the act and i was given my bib no. 047. I rushed to the start line after putting on the timing chip just in time for the start. I couldn't see the race route and i couldn't take proper leave of my wife. We normally take a pre-race photo for the facebook. Oh yeah, i forgot, i found a young admirer who accosted me and said that he recognized from BU and that he had seen my photo of having finished the 100K. I thanked him and said that we will talk when we meet on the track, he was running an HM. I reached the start line just in time for the start. In all this I had completely missed, Pani Sir, whose number I had not taken and I was hoping to locate him with the aid of my having seen his profile photo on DM. Sorry, Pani Sir, hopefully better luck next time.
The race started and I found that the atmosphere got to me; I was running much faster than my usual slow start, which substitutes for my warm-up. The Bhangra music and the crowd were overpowering and I was reminded of the ADHM race and Delhi. I realized I had forgotten my head-band. I finished my first lap of 4.2 KM in less than 20 mts. I located my wife while entering the start point, and she was holding out my head-band to me. The section next to the start point was very enthusiastic and I struck a chord with them calling out the lap number to them.
Into my second lap, I consciously slowed down and tried concentrating on my breathing and my foot-strikes. I knew that, this, otherwise will hamper me later. Met Sundar Purush and Nari from Chennai and I felt at home. The affection and admiration of the Chennai runners for me is spontaneous and heart-warming. Thanks Sundar and Nari. Many people recognized and I gave an answering smile and the rhythm set in. The track had stretches of ups and downs but the top was very smooth and I was even tempted to go barefoot. I exhorted the runners whom I crossed on the way to cheer each other and smile.  I found that though Bangalore is not blessed with the midnight Sun, its audacity in holding a Midnight Marathon rivaling Norway, which is blessed by a Sun, by banking on the mass of youngsters’ smiles, was typical of the new found Indian confidence. Half-way into my second lap, the African express of the lead runners crossed me from behind. In this situation, I am normally torn between admiring the grace and beauty of their running and the envy deep inside me. The admiration won and I cheered them on, they ran on mechanically, maybe for them it was all in a day’s work and they could not realize what I was making so much fuss about. I caught up with a Chennai runner, sorry mate I forgot your name, with whom I had a good discussion about why we run and the relaxed approach we follow compared to these International Pros. When he mentioned how we run for fun and how at the turning, the lady African runner pushed him. He mentioned that he caught up with her to discipline her. I should have asked him if he asked her ‘Why this Kolaveri Di…’
The aid stations were well laid out. The staff manning aid stations was very cheerful and polite. The ambulance with medical staff and traffic policemen were there in sufficient numbers. My wife tells me that the place for the cheering squads was also very comfortable. Organizers deserve Full marks for this.
The run for the next few laps was mechanical except for the regularity of high fives by the Chennai duo of Sundar and Nari. The crowd thinned out with the HM completing their bit and some unfortunate drop-outs. A word for the people who were cheering us, some of them had stayed back after completing their races. Their enthusiasm and the full moon, having shaken off the eclipse, must have been more than a match for the midnight sun. I tried to keep the drummers belting out Bhangra numbers from flagging by cheering them every time I approached them. The policemen had a smile for the runners whenever we crossed them. This event can easily match SCMM in its crowd response. Viva Bengaluru!
Now I started stopping at the turning at mid point and walking to change direction in addition to one drink stop in each loop. The weather still allowed me the luxury of running non-stop, but the gradient was starting to take its toll. I could see stragglers increasing in numbers. The answering smile was resigned and laboured. I must say the crowd at the start point did not thin and their enthusiasm and cheering volume kept rising with the night. They started calling out to me as soon as I was visible at the entry point and cheered me on till I was visible to them.
I had now reached my last lap, I offered each cheering person to accompany me on the ‘victory lap’. To my surprise one of the girls picked up her footwear and told me that she will accompany me barefoot on my last lap. She must have been my daughter’s age, and I was reminded of my daughter who had offered last year to run the last lap in the BU, which was sadly aborted because of time over-run. Her name she said was Veera (hope I got it right), she said she wanted to run a marathon and that she does 5K. She beautifully paced me on the last lap at 10kmph, and I could run the entire lap non-stop without even a drinks break. Thank you Veera, had I caught you earlier, maybe, I would have had a sub 4 finish. Wishing you your first Marathon soon. All in all I had a satisfied outing.

Of life on KM 13-14

I had run 30 kilometers every day since Monday last. I was excited as the whole nation was in anticipation of Sachin’s one hundredth ton. My body felt good when I woke up at 03:30AM today. One corner of my mind was sulking like a Government servant called to work on a holiday. I avoided my wife’s stares (if looks could kill) daring me to go near my running shoes. She made an exception and gave me a lecture on how one day’s rest was mandatory in a week. I received the lecture with the same seriousness as an alcoholic does before pushing off to the Bar in the evening. My friend Bala’s call at 05:00 AM that he had completed 16K of his planned 33K run proved the last straw. I made up my mind to go for run today also. Biscuit could not appreciate the delay in decision making, his morning walk was getting overdue (he expects 7day service twice daily). He lingered over his morning walk and rounded it off with an attempted sprint to chase down my neighbour’s pussy.
My phone call to Raghavendra went unanswered. Maybe, he is from the weekly rest school of thought. Street lights and colony lights were off as if declaring their non-cooperation to my effort in sympathy with my wife’s boycott call. I was made of sterner stuff, making do with Moon’s feeble but unstinted support, I started my run. The time was 06:15 AM by my mobile. Themobile went into the pocket to silently keep time without putting me under pressure for performance. I silently prayed at the small Muslim prayer kiosk at Keshwapur cross (Today, har ek friend zaroori hoga!). Back of thigh on my left leg had a small twitching pain, not very painful, should get better as the old machinery warms up in the run. Milkman setting his shop was too absorbed to spare me a look (Had he also been recruited by my wife, uske aadmi chaaron tharaf faila hue hain lagta hai of Ajith’s fame!). Mr. Jayanthi bhai (I got his name last week, but he hasn’t been introduced yet because that episode has not been uploaded yet!), was not attending to the Self help group temple at KM2, and the idol was enjoying its well earned weekly rest (Was it a sign for me?). Reliance fresh was up bright and early proclaiming the industry or exploitation of the private sector. The road was dark and slog overs for the forces of darkness were on before Sun came and banished them.
Thinking of slog overs my thoughts wandered to cricket and Indian team’s dismal show Down Under. I realized with surprise that I had not watched cricket these last five days. If, Cricket is a Religion and Sachin God; and if Religion is the opium of the masses as per Karl Marx, by corollary, the God Sachin failing us may have cured the masses of an addiction (We should always look at the brighter side of things). Maybe, India would not be afflicted due to the Global meltdown and Sachin would have improved our Economic performance. With Bharat Ratna looming large, Sachin cannot be expected to take a narrow view of looking at his cricket scores only. Pup, Michael Clarke, is unnecessarily gloating over his team’s performance without realizing the grand patriotic action of Sachin. Captain cool banished for one match, the stars in separate groups in the sky in the weak light of the crescent, were looking like Indian players grouped together in separate camps in the presence of a stand in captain. Enough of the morbid thoughts, I switched channels, and started to look around for diversion. Soon I reached KM3, my first biological break station. My legs had nicely warmed up and the left thigh had resigned to the holiday booking.
Let me confess, I got the name of the Carnatic singer, Mr. Simon last week. I also got his permission to bring an end to his anonymity on my blog. Readers must be wondering why I am on a name calling spree. I have been influenced by Barkha Dutt’s interview of Oprah. I had then decided to make the first move, or, go the extra mile to know my customers (before SEBI legislate the same for blog characters). Mr. Simon, his cover blown, has not been seen thereafter. I hope all is well. No Anup either, he also after promising to send friend request on FB, when we parted last on 26th has done the vanishing act. Maybe, I bored him too much. I had set up an appointment with the Moulvi, Shri Mohammed Sheikh, for prayers for me and my wife later in the day on the occasion of our 21st marriage anniversary. He reminded me of the appointment after exchanging greetings, as he warmed himself by the fire.
I got a phone on my mobile, Raghavendra was calling, and will he meet me? I was very close to the point on the highway where his house was. He told me that he was a bit under the weather and promised to join me the next day.
While I was busy in all this, the Sun had surreptiously made his way and had turned the heater at full throttle to beat the cold. I reached my WSL (nee sunrise point) to the warm welcome of the Sun. I indulged in an uncharacteristic session of photography (the full blown sun against the mighty peepul tree was a sight to be captured, even if the crowning glory of a few white gulls were not present today).
I took a biological break, but, resisted the temptation to take a few swigs from my water bottle. I wanted to postpone my first water break to the mid-point. The harvester team of four who have been at the crop just off the KM 11 culvert, whom I had likened to the infantry support for the Aavarum Poo for breaching the KM11 culvert, had finished the balding of the crop and left. The Aavarum Poo had to fend for themselves for breaching the 11K mark.
Just beyond KM 13 (where the first gory scene of a dead cat was reported) there used to be a mother son pair industriously harvesting wheat. Yesterday, after a few days of smile exchanges, I had got to hand waving stage with the Son. Today I walked down the steep embankment and got talking to him, his name, he said was Gurusiddappa. I had earlier reported of the vanity of marigold flowers amidst the serious wheat and maize crops, I asked him about the flower plants in his wheat patch. He educated me that it was not marigold but ‘Kusubi’, an edible oilseed crop. Readers will excuse me the hasty judgment of vanity on the strategic oilseed crop, my vanity was only exceeded by my ignorance. My sincere apologies are due and given. I took a snap of the farmer against the offended Kusubi plant. I shall study more about the mysterious Kusubi (will ask Dr. Google of course!) and get back in future episodes.
I got back to the highway and enthusiastically got down to demolishing the last few KMs’ to the mid-point. The band of four harvesters (nee contract killers) crossed me from behind and one of them asked me why I was late today, I claimed the privilege of concession for working on a Sunday. They asked me if I work in an office, having become friends already, their demeanor didn’t change even when I told them that I worked for Railways. The last of the quartet informed that they were residents of Kusugal (our friend Raghavendra’s village) and went to near the Road over bridge beyond (there is one at KM 18, which I had crossed when I went to Yamanur last Thursday) for work. He also claimed affinity by telling me that earlier he used to walk/run to work, but, now because of age had shifted to bicycle (their hierarchy of transport was need based walk over cycle and not status based like us, thankfully!). I reached the mid-point at 07:45 AM (one and half hour, not bad Pani Sir, given the diversions).
I had also crossed a shepherd family (like our friend Kalappa of KM 7) beyond KM 14, nursing the patch next to the Sunflower for its next stage of bearing and rearing. This shepherd had two donkeys as beasts of burden to one Pony of Kalappa, the rest of the family composition was similar but for the heads of sheep (this man had smaller holding). Why this family entered the narration, however, the two small dogs (Venkia and Badra, the young boy of the farmer informed me after trying to shoo me off from danger). The dogs seemed to be a blow hot, blow cold pair (their names stood for Fire and Cloud) and were threatening to climb the embankment to charge me, I could not but shoot them down with my mobile camera (it being rendered cartridgeless (read memory less) after the shot) Their spunk was an inspiration for educating Biscuit, who I am sure would never think of coming anywhere near the highway with such heavy trucks (easy living and exercising in golf course takes its toll).
Only other item worth mentioning is the rich dividends my Gandhigiri with drivers has yielded. Today two NWKRTC drivers honked and called my attention and waved to me. The power of non-violence has been fully established with the conquest of the Road transport corporation drivers. I now qualify to lecture to the DTC drivers, is Shiela Dikshit listening.

I completed the run in 3 hours and 4 minutes today, I have logged 210 KM this week, the highest after the week with 231 KMs’ (the week of Bangalore Ultra 2011).

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Repost of my quitting smoking and discovery of running bug in me

A Brief History of my Smoking career:

I started smoking at the age of 22 years (too late to fall in the trap did you say!!). I wouldn`t have got introduced to Lady Nico but for one of my friends daring me to smoke one. 

I am told that people choke on their first drag, I think I was born with this talent, I took to smoke like fish to water (I am a Piscean!!).

I graduated to 3 packs of 10 cigarettes a day within a time of one year in what would be an Olympic record, if they decide to hold an event of this type.

I made my first quit attempt five years after commencing smoking in 1989. It was an unassisted attempt and I quit cold turkey. The ill fated quit lasted exactly 7 days. After this I rushed back into Lady Nico`s arms and started to smoke and reached my pre quit level very quickly.

In between, I used to keep thinking about quitting and continued to keep postponing the decision. I also realised that every failed attempt, puts lots of pressure on the subsequent quit. In 1997, my friend from USA sent me a few packets of Nicorette Chewing Gums. With these I was able to stay away from cigarettes for exactly one month. The moment I finished my Chewing Gum, I went back to smoke.

After this failed attempt, I had convinced myself, that I didn`t have enough WILL POWER and that WILL POWER is something you are born with and cannot be acquired ( What a fantastic rationalisation!!!).

By this time like all good smokers, I had built up a solid wall of rationalisations to counter every known argument against SMOKING.

All was hunky dory between me and Lady Nico thereafter. What triggered this latest attempt at quitting is very interesting. I was reading `RUNAWAY JURY` by John Grisham and was seriously affected by all the Anti Smoking evidence piled up in the book. For the first time I also realised why my previous attempts failed. I was up against an addiction and I was all along thinking it to be a case of WILL POWER (or the lack of it!!).

I then started to read all the material on the WEB on quitting smoking. It is then I bumped into, The success stories and the unique method of dealing with this vice attracted me.

I quit smoking on August 11th 2000. I quit cold turkey. I wanted to post after one month of Quit, But I feel confident of keeping this quit, and preponed my announcement.

I would be glad to be any assistance to any fellow quitter!!!

September 4th 2000

Into the fourth week of QUIT, the novelty seems to be wearing off. The physical part of fight with the nicodemon seems to have been won. Its the emptiness and the vacuum which is taking its toll. I have done little than crowing about my Quidventures (Quit Adventures, Are Quitsters allowed to coin new Qphrases!!!). People around seem to be sick of my counting Smoke free days. My daughter (8 years) and wife are being great supporters and believe that this QUIT is different. I share all that transpires on the QNET with my wife. I don`t know what I would do w`out you all out there. Come what may, I shall not blow this Q.

September 6th 2000
Well into the 26th day not yet entitled to even a mini ramble, But here goes:
I got back to jogging after about 20 years. I used to enjoy cross country running. I think I hung my boots after befriending Nicodemon because the breathlessness always scared me and threatened my smoking career. The increase in stamina over the last two weeks is phenomenal. For this reason alone the QUIT has paid me in full. I am looking forward to a long swimming and jogging time in future. Anyway I needed all the physical after having become a inveterate hogger. The consensus on the QNET seems to be to fight the `BATTLE OF THE BULGE` after vanquishing the `NICODEMON`.

I am trying to relearn the use of my hands, used to be a nervous wreck, ate my nails to the skin at every perceivable sign of tension. For the present punching on the keyboard seems to do the trick. More in my next qvisit.

September 7th 2000
I find lot of falls from one month to 3 months of quit. I think I have said this before, I think its because the novelty of quitting wears off and the endless counting of smoke-free days doesnt remain a strong enough deterrent to the ever strong Nicodemon.

I am reasonably forewarned of the Nicodemons ploys of `One wont kill`, `Try the strength of quit with one`, `Does the cigarette taste different` and `I can become a Casual/Social smoker and have best of both worlds` by my friends on the Q.

I have now found the courage to post replies to messages on the Q-forums. If I write too much now, I may not have enough for my one month ramble just 4 days away.

September 8th 2000:

Well Day 28, I will start with a small story credited to Mahatma Gandhi on the efficacy or potency of advice:

One day a young mother brought her five year old to Mahatma Gandhi and complained that her son was addicted to sweet-meats. Gandhiji listened to her and told her that she should come with her son after a fortnight. The mother returned with her son after a fortnight, Mahatma Gandhi called her son aside and whispered in his ears.She asked her son as to what was the advice given to him by Gandhiji, son said that Gandhiji advised him to keep off sweets. After a week the ecstatic mother came back to Gandhiji and said that her son was off sweets and she wanted to know why Gandhiji could not have given this very advice a fortnight ago. Gandhiji said that he could not do so because he himself was addicted to sweets then.

MORAL of the Story:
Substitute Sickarettes for Sweets and Gandhiji for Qgurus and you know why the rambles and advice on the QNET is so potent and effective for the people in their effort to Quit.
I thought of this yesterday when I read in somebody`s profile that he couldn`t relate to his therapist since his therapist giving him advice on quitting smoking did not and had not himself smoked.

I am getting overwhelmed by the responses I am receiving from Qbuddies. As somebody said the act of putting down our dilemmas and reading others success and failures is serving to Catharise us all of all the pent up stresses we have gathered over the years of smoking. Thank you friends.

September 11th 2000:

One month completed at last. It looked a faraway dream when I joined the Q. To be frank, it doesn`t give much satisfaction. I feel like Newton who at the FAG (sic!) end of his life said `I feel like a child trying to gather seashells on the sea shore` on his quest to learn about Science and Nature. The thought of being continously on guard for the NICODEMON rest of the life looks very daunting.

I have seriously thought about people losing their QUIT between one and three months of quitting. I think it has something to do with human mind not comprehending open ended time limits. I read somewhere that most of the damages of smoking are reversed after 15 years of QUIT. I have decided to make 15 years as my target. I shall continue to post every month in my first year and every year thereafter till the 15th year. I am not writing this to brag or show off. I think I need a quantified target to keep going. So friends wish me luck.

About Qbuddies:
I am a very introvert and shy person by nature. All that changed as soon as I joined the Q. The frankness, sincerity and affection of friends on the Q really opened me up. This has helped me being frank with myself. I feel all of you around me even when I am not logged in and feel a responsibility towards you all in my QUIT.

I wouldn`t want to name people here, all of you have been a great support to me in my QUIT. THANK YOU!!!

September 19th 2000
I am breaking my promise. I was consciously trying to avoid posting and also reducing my visits to the Q. I was starting to feel addicted to this place. I wanted to update my profile only once a month from now on. Anyway here goes:

Why do some people seem to be able to quit without effort and lesser mortals like us have to literally huff and puff(sic!!!) about it. This brings me to my original hypothesis that god hasn`t been even handed while doling out WILL POWER. What the heck, so is the case with intelligence,beauty, health, wealth, shape of the nose etc.... So what do we do, sit back and mope about the lack of WILL POWER, NO!!! we make up for lack of Will Power with more hard work. As Edison said SUCCESS is 99% perspiration and only 1% inspiration. 

I am now a convert and do believe that anybody can quit, what is required is meticulous preparation, arming oneself with the cold facts of smoking and persistence. BEST OF LUCK... KTQ.

Of Republic Day and run in the dark

I have fallen back on my blogging for more than a week now.  Now I realize how difficult it is to stage a comeback after a layoff, or, is it the writer’s block? I decided to start again on the auspicious occasion of Republic Day and try and catch up on old runs if time permits. As I could see from all fellow addicts of long runs, I also tried to work backward from the time of the function and time required for the run and Biscuit’s walk. The wake up time required was 02:00 AM; I quietly set the alarm and went off to sleep early after declining to attend a function the previous day evening. I quietly woke up at the appointed hour, completed hydration by 03:00 AM and looked at Biku for the walk, he obliged enthusiastically, a patriotic dog! Without realizing the pressure of time we were operating in, he decided to have his full quota of his stroll in the Golf course. The moonless night was daunting and a little scary, but, Biku with his keen sense of smell did not need any guidance in his familiar territory. It was 04:00 AM when we returned home.  Hurried change of clothes and a little delay in waking up the guard at the colony gate later, I was on the highway at 04:21 AM. I had to return at 07:30AM at the latest to make it to the RD function. It was going to be like a tight one-day match today.

Bright street-lights and a few stray dogs made it appear as if it was the usual run of every day, but, the eerie silence due to missing morning walkers and tuition going kids made it a little boring. The guard in the SBI-ATM was having his well earned sleep. Few dogs decided to challenge my encroaching on their early morning frolic. I disregarded them and hoped the problem would go away and thankfully, they retreated.

The majesty of the star spangled sky on a very clear morning was on show once I crossed the HDMC (Hubli Dharwad Municipal Corporation) limits (KM 3). It was as if the school kids had deserted their morning assembly to come out and cheer me on my die-hard attempt at the run come what may. The Head-master’s (read Moon’s) absence let them have it their way. Maybe, the view was exaggerated because of no other sights, except a few stray city-lights at a distance, to distract.

A vehicle pulled up next to me on the other side of the road after persistently honking for me to stop. The driver and the gentlemen were very arrogant and brash in their enquiry; they were trying to find the way to the Police station. The arrogance probably stemmed from their coming from a big city and their riding on a plush car. I was tempted to ask them to take a walk, but the atmosphere and the occasion of RD got the better of me and I guided them. They took it as their due and pushed off without even bothering to thank. I only wished them ‘Get Well Soon’ in the true munnabhai style and continued on my run.

I had to strain to catch the kilometer stones as I crossed them. I took my usual biological break at KM 4 after the climb. I decided to request the approaching truck drivers to move a bit to their right to let me maintain my course, luckily, most drivers obliged today. I was required to come back to the edge of the road only after I saw the danger mark of the white stripe of the middle of the road. I needed all my concentration to maintain my course. The persistent barking of our friend Kalappa’s (the shepherd of organic manuring fame for the uninitiated) dog told me that I had crossed KM 7 and Anup point. I couldn’t make out in the dark if the dog had been deserted, the barking sound got louder and closer. Without even the false security of the city lights, I jettisoned my Gandhian leanings in the face of grave personal threats and armed myself with a stone for defense. Luckily my faith was not tested and the dog gave up on me as having crossed his territorial boundary.

Due to the early hour of my run today, I had planned to call Raghavendra (my constable aspirant running mate of KM 9 for the novices) to join me on my way back. I didn’t want to add his parent’s curse to my wife’s on my morning run of today. Lights were on at the masjid at Kusugal in anticipation of the faithfuls arrival later. A few plastic pots had already taken their place at the culvert like reservation seekers outside PRS offices. To keep my motivation going for the run without the luxury of my friends of Kusugal village I set my mind on things people have been persistently asking of me on my motivation for my daily 30K runs.

I quit my smoking addiction on 10th August, 2000 at 08:00 PM, to cope with the emptiness and associated sleep disorder, I took to running. It was a struggle to reach the first 3K mark, thereafter, as in my smoking career, I needed a bigger fix every passing day (read longer run) to get my kick. I don’t know at what point this habit initially started to fill in my emptiness on quitting smoking became an end in itself. Subsequent interest in Gandhian way of life and attempt at spiritualism (I read somewhere that long distance running is like meditation), the addiction kept growing. Today I am at 30K per day. I have set my sights on 42K a day by end of this year and try and graduate to bare foot running. The recent affliction of the writers bug has also fed on the running in a mutually positively reinforcing way. Engrossed in these thoughts I had crossed the sunrise point (culvert at 11K, my Worli Sea Link). I took a few snaps to match Brojen’s night run pictures, not sure if my mobile camera is good enough to capture the images. I rang up Raghavendra sensing that I have 6 KM to go before I reach his house on the way back. I told him that I will meet him in another 35-40 minutes and that he could accompany me from KM9 to KM7 and a little beyond.

Nothing was visible of the desolate Sunflower patch. I was spared the agony of reliving the cruelty of the farmer (the knowledgeable agriculturists in the readers must excuse me if this is the normal method of extracting oil-seeds from sunflowers). It brings back painful memories of scenes of pig-rearers taking hair from the pigs napes by pulling them one by one off the squealing pig’s neck after few men have pinned it down. I was reminded also to quickly plant the seeds I had collected and bury the flower in the patch at home. I had reached the half-way mark at 06:51 AM, a satisfying time of one and half hour and not much sweat today.

I kept my eyes skinned at the road ahead to stay on the side of the road without veering off the road. I could make out the form of the cat which had died just after KM 13 (It seemed to lost all its nine lives just when it was about to cross over the unlucky KM 13). I hope it got another 9 lives in the next level like in a video game to march further in its progress to salvation. Suddenly, as I approached the culvert at KM 11, I could hear heavy breathing and loud thudding of feet. I was pleasantly surprised to see my ward who had reached KM 11 after starting at KM9. I congratulated him and gave him corrective tips on breathing style and landing lightly on the toes. He was enthusiastic and wanted to accompany me back upto his house, Will he do his 5K for the first time today. He struggled but in his absorption in the persistent chatter by me, we reached KM 9 and his house. We had done the distance in 18 minutes, very creditable considering the distance run by him in total. We met Shaheed dressed in his prayer gear going to the mosque, he was disappointed in having missed out on the run. Shaheed was mighty pleased at my greeting of ‘Salaam Valaikum’, to which I got a lesson in correct diction in his reply of ‘Valaikum Salaam’. My revised timings of earlier run after re-joining office have been clashing with his Morning Prayer time. I don’t know how we would be able to run together again. I must find out from Raghavendra if they have a break day for prayers!

I was having a good run today with having got company for the dreary stretch from KM 11 to KM9. With only my second water break at KM 8 I was within sights of Anup point. I saw Kalappa and his herd of Sheep still trying to nurture back the barren plot to health (the plot must be severely undernourished to require such prolonged treatment). There was no sight of the belligerent dog of the morning. I saw Anup running steadily from the opposite side towards KM 7. I called out to him to join me on the way back if he had done the distance and if I was not too slow for him. We ran from KM7 and I loved the company. I gave him my complete bio-data from place of origin to my career to date. He had lots of questions starting from the obvious one of whether we should breathe from nose or mouth. This must be the single most important concern for newbie runners. I don’t the final say of the pundits on this, I however, told him that I inhale from my nose and exhale from my mouth. I told him to take looong breaths and for effect repeated the story of human life being ordained in number of breaths allotted at birth. Shorter breathing leading to earlier demise (I have Baba Ramdev’s sanction on this). I also told him to go for toe strike and landing softly on his feet. I pulled off at KM 5 after I found him pulling me back from my 07:30 AM finish. We parted after exchanging our facebook names. So I have one more friend!

I met some school kids in NCC uniform rushing to be in time for the RD function. I wished them Happy RD and was enthusiastically responded to. I made it a point to greet all kids on the way. Such was my mood today that I stopped to take a picture of a Traffic policeman standing in front of the Flag hoisted on his station and wished him. Was I tring to insure against future traffic violation?

I finished strongly and reached my colony gate at 07:29 AM, a time of 3 hour 8 minutes, sure Pani Sir would be proud of me!

Friday, 20 January 2012

A Roman holiday

My body was still sore from the previous days cycling expedition. I used to think cross training with swimming or cycling was for the non-serious. I had a puritanical approach to running to all other means of exercise. To me, running was like classical music not to be lowered by other lower forms. My experience with cycling yesterday set me wise, it was serious business. I was aching at places which I didn’t seriously give a thought to.
But with a single minded devotion of an alcoholic I woke to my alarm at 03:30 AM, completed my unfinished account of my previous days visit to Yamanur half-heartedly. It was 05:30 AM by the time I finished my blog, Biscuit was straining for his leash and his morning’s pound of flesh. I sleep-walked through his morning walk. I came back with options of reduced mileage for the morning run. We came back at 06:30 AM, decided to take a small nap and go for a truncated run later. Next I knew was I woke up with Biku (short for Biscuit) curled up next to me on bed and clock showing 08:00AM. I was devastated and felt miserable. I announced on my status to my Dailymile peers, ‘Putting my feet up, pampering them and taking a break’, having committed in writing, felt better.
The whole day was spent in endless eating and dozing, felt bloated and guilty. Gave Biscuit a long walk in the Golf course in the evening and took an extra round with wife on the colony roads. Biscuit was grateful and thrilled.
I go on a cycling trip to the Venkateswara temple on the hill top most evenings (Hubli is a place with steep ups and downs), I don’t count this in mileage for the day. The time in the temple helps me train for the meditation. Today I decided to share my visit to Lord of the hill as my blog offering much as visiting teams play an unofficial match on a rain shortened day to reward the spectator’s persistence. Yesterday I could not go to the temple, as my bottoms refused to get on to the bike after the battering they got on the long ride to Yamanur. I delayed my departure for the temple so that I could stay for the evening Aarti at 08:30PM.
I met Raghavendra (my running mate who is training to run 5K in 25mts to qualify to become a constable in state police department) outside my colony gate, he enquired about my marathon performance and if I would come the next day for the morning run. The ride to the temple has steep climbs, when I see young children on their flashy bicycles effortlessly climb while I have to walk to negotiate the climb; I feel what Murakami felt about young girls in pony tails who overtook him on his evening run on the riverside.
I reached the temple at 08:15 PM, which gave me enough time for my prayers before they start the shutdown routine for the Lord. Two gentlemen were reciting the thousand names of the Lord (Sahasranama), today’s prayer was sponsored by a person (he footed the bill of Rs. 120/-) who had brought his young son of 5-6 years along (Manikantan). The child joined me in circumambulating the lord five times and falling at lord’s feet after each round. We sat down to wait for the Sahasranama to end and closing aarti to begin. Manikantan picked up the folder containing the text to read along and kept it down as he could not read; I took it triumphantly to impress him. I had to eat humble pie as the matter in Kannada which I did not know. United in ignorance both of us joined in the common refrain of ‘Govinda Govinda Venkatramana Govinda’ after each appellation was read out by the main singers. We formed a deeper bond by the time the prayer ended.
I felt like the Royal family of Travancore must have felt at the Aarti of the Lord Ananthapadmanabhaat Trivandrum. I was the only guest other than the sponsor to wintness the aarti. The sahasranama archana was followed by an Aarti with three different kinds of lamps with many wicks and offering of Prasad to the Lord. This was followed by the last item of the day of singing of lullaby (La-Li-2) to put the lord to sleep. We were offered Prasad of Bengal gram savoury, Kesari a sweet dish of broken wheat and a banana, which I brought back home. I met my cycle shop owner who repairs my cycle on the way back and informed him of the cycle’s adventure to Yamanur the previous day, he offered to give it an overhaul this weekend. The guard outside the colony gate was taking a walk to keep off the after dinner drowsiness; I pitied him his long vigil for the night in the cold. Biscuit eagerly awaits my return from the temple, waiting to get a small bit of the Prasad.
I am looking forward to my long run tomorrow.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

My tryst with Rajabaghsavar of Yamanur

It was time to keep my promise made to Yamanappa last Thursday. I was not sure when I promised that I would recover to make a 62K ride on bicycle within a few days of Marathon. For the uninitiated, I used to meet one Yamanappa on my morning runs, he walks to the temple at Yamanur every Thursday on foot, a distance of 32KM. We used to exchange greetings and last Thurday we joined the Mutual Admiration Society. I promised him to make a visit to the temple today.
The connection between mortification of flesh and spiritual progress is a recurrent theme in all religions. Be it fasting or walking long distances over inhospitable terrain, this has been the defining feature with all great religious leaders. Take Shankaracharya’s crossing of Vindhyas, or Guru Nanakdev’s trek to Mansarovar the physical stamina or endurance and spiritual growth are somehow interconnected.
Let me continue mortifying my flesh in the hope of ennobling my soul!
I was feeling good after coming up to date on my blogs yesterday night. I woke up early and after listening to Sai Aarti, took Biscuit for an early walk at 04:30 AM. Credit to Biscuit, he is really flexible about his walks, the sooner the better for him. He had an extended tour of the Golf course, plenty of sniffing and digging, but, he did not download, maybe, not enough time for his digestive system to produce results. He promptly went back to sleep still confused about the change in routine.
I grabbed two bananas, 500ml of water and dressed in jeans, slippers and normal T-shirt slowly unlocked the bicycle (it’s no Harry Potter firefox, it’s a humble ladybird of about 10 years vintage) and started after setting the stopwatch on, the time was 05:25 AM.
It was biting cold, the moon was competing with Kareena in a race to achieve size zero, but, the street lights kept the route illuminated till the HDMC limits at 3KM. The sudden darkness which engulfed me after the street lights deserted us was scary. I was reminded of a fellow DMer’s experience with dogs. I kept pedaling on saying my beads. The fog cover was very thick and the thought of a rash truck driver from behind was unnerving. The fields and the moon appeared to have gone into a soft quilt to protect them from the biting cold. I could barely make out the petrol pump at KM 5. Sai baba temple came and went and so did the Anup point. I was seriously hoping for some company, even a truck from the opposite side would be welcome. Sun may have a late start at work today.
Unexpectedly, I turned to a call of a child from the steps of the Urdu school after KM9, he must be one of my regular acquaintance from my morning run. I enthusiastically returned the greeting though I could not recognize him in the fog. Few intrepid persons with their coloured plastic pots were doing duty for collecting the precious fluid. No life in the mosque either. I did not hope to and neither found Raghavendra nor Shaheed. After crossing KM 15, I felt like what Murakami says about crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, unknown territory. I got down for a water and biological break. My limbs were stiff and back hurt a bit. I stretched and after a short break, resumed the ride. Having gotten used to running with the traffic approaching you, I was feeling exposed having to ride on the side of the traffic. Some of the drivers of the ‘Kolaveri’ variety took pleasure in getting me off the highway.
Time being past the usual sunrise hour, I was sure the Sun must be up and diligently melting away layers of fog, much as a family head unwillingly shovels away snow at the doorstep to clear the pathway for going to work. A student was walking with only a few books in hand, on enquiry he informed he was off for tuition. Some things never change. I stopped by to admire the cobs of corn neatly laid out to dry on one side of the road and shelled corn lying in wait for the unsuspecting Sun on the other side of the road. It was as if the village folks had done their bit to show the initial stages of the process of making cornflakes to yours truly. I took photographs on my mobile for record. I ate one banana and had a sip of water. I reached Hebsur a busy town at KM 20 and assured myself that I was indeed on the path to Yamanur. I tried to get the name of the temple by just sounding the initial ‘R’, it took me the printed word on the temple entrance in Hindi to finally clear the mystery of Rajabaghsavar (did the king really ride a tiger?)
Rest of the journey was the unchanging sight of hordes of plastic pots bearing men and women going about the task of fetching precious water. Any water body, mostly the canal feeding the fields was accosted to yield the liquid. Future generations would remember us for mismanaging water resource and it could well be cause of the fall of this civilization. The omnipresent telecom major’s billboards and paintings on walls of buildings and houses suggest a way that we may outsource this intractable problem to Mr. Sam Pitroda for resolution.
It was 07:42 AM and I entered the sleepy town of Yamanur, on enquiry I was directed to the source of the sound of mechanized drumbeats to be the temple of my seeking. It was quite grand and well maintained. I left the cycle, one banana, my slippers and my cap in the basket trusting the deity to take care of my belongings and proceeded to the temple. I met one muslim gentleman coming out and tried to introduce myself invoking the name of Yamanappa as the gentleman who walks every Thursday from Hubli. He acknowledged me and directed me to have darshan of the lord and also allowed me to take pictures of the temple and the deity. The main deity was of a man (must be the king), it also had a slab covered with green cloth and the bunch of peacock feathers used by the priest indicated that it was a fusion temple of Hindu and Muslim faith. I had more respect now for the king. A local was trying to get the priest to intervene with the deity for an audience; he was told the price was Rs. 51/-, he sought credit card payment saying that he will get it later. Some things never change. I allowed myself to be patted by the peacock feathers, praying for safe return and taking a few photographs of the sanctum sanctorum for proof of having visited started back for the return journey.
The sun was out but appeared very weak from the effort of cutting through the fog. He seemed to have run out of light and was looking like an overgrown moon; only the perfection of the circle and blemish less interior spilled the beans about the likely identity. I wished he would shine soon to warm up the chilled bones.
I saw a majestic patch of sunflowers in full bloom very close to the highway on the way back, I stopped to take pictures, and I must have missed this in my anxiety not to overshoot the temple town. I tried making small talk with people on the road; they were awed at my having cycled from Hubli. I could not get the name of the settlement in most places. There were the usual scatterings of school kids waiting for the town bus. The grind of water collection continued.
I now looked for Yamanappa to tell him of my successful trip, I found him (in fact he spotted me earlier) after I crossed Hebsur, between KM 20 and 19, the time was 08:45 AM. SO he must have been walking for close to 4 hours already, he looked overjoyed to see me. He asked me if saying his name opened the doors of the lord to me. He warmly shook my hand and gave me a few dried grapes, maybe advance payment from his offering to the lord, before proceeding on his onward journey. I realized that he was not carrying any water or eatables; you just cannot beat faith when it comes to providing endurance for effort. Here I was with the assistance of 2 bananas, 250ml of water and on my steed looking beat when he was fresh as a rose.
People were working in the fields, I spied an all women party sitting in a circle for their mid day meal in a chilli field. I was curious to see what they were eating, I could make out plain rice, but, the accompaniments were hidden from my view. Looks as if picking chillies requires nimble fingers. Pedaling furiously and with the warmth of the now widely awake sun, I crossed entered into within 15K of my destination. On another field I found a group of farmhands harvesting wheat. One of them called out to me asking why I had come on a bicycle, looking closer I could recognize him to be one of my contract killer character; his scant work clothes made it difficult for me to place him. I told him of my visit to the temple and promised him that I will back on my feet the next day.
Cycling and if the vehicle is not one of the fancy geared ones is not as easy as it appears, particularly, on gradients. I now looked at cyclists crossing me from the opposite side with more respect. More private mini buses loaded with students and people going to work to Hubli crossed me from behind.
I have always had a different take on the scare crows after i saw the movie, ‘The wizard of Oz’, I could sense the loneliness and fear in them standing alone in a field day and night. I was pleased to find a field manned by a scare crow couple; I was warmed to see the thoughtful gesture on the part of the kind farmer.
I realized that I was too late to meet any of my school kid friends. The mystery of if they cracked my birthday puzzle would have to wait another day. I reached home at 10:30 AM a little shy of 5 hours by my stop watch (4 hours 59 minutes and 25 seconds to be precise) with aching and sore body.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Return of the native

I had cut short my narrative of the Mumbai marathon run in my previous post at the point of reaching the rest house. I shall cover the rest of the day in Mumbai and the three days thereafter today to catch up with the backlog.
My wife’s reaction was quite down to earth; she had been following the elite runners on the Starplus channel. I didn’t look very tired or injured, that could have been one other way of getting a over the top reaction. We went back to Tamil channel belting out music maestro Illayaraja’s hits after briefly discussing the photo finish at the Men’s open section of SCMM. This time around we had planned unlimited Rajasthani Thali for lunch along with my colleague and his family. The hapless restaurant, who I am sure would exercise his right to admission after I am through with his restaurant today, was Hotel Chetana. I recommend it to health conscious marathon finishers instead of beer guzzling.
I was able to change my clothes and get myself a pail of hot water for immersing my tired feet on my own. I seemed to have finished the race with lots to spare. I reclined on the bed with feet in hot water munching the refreshment received to the last crumb. I had finished the water and Gatorade bottle on the way to the Rest house itself. I finished my bath and got ready for the lunch.
We planned to walk down to the restaurant on the Fort road, a distance of about 2 kilometers. Keeping my handicapped status in mind, we left with lots of time to spare. We left at 12:00 for the luncheon appointment fixed for 01:30 PM. I limped behind my wife; still we reached the restaurant by 12:45. There were lot of people wearing marathon colours, I itched to reveal my identity and speak to the runners. It was as if I did not want the experience to get over, the feeling to stay connected to SCMM runners was overwhelming.
We found that the restaurant has a spiritual books section within, a case of chicken soup for the soul while you wait for guests to arrive. I picked up a lot of religious volumes. Everytime the manager came to look at us, I picked up one more book to show him that we had not come to avoid the Sun. The last book was ‘Code Name God’ by one Mani Bhaumik. This was touted to be a book which would change one’s life by Sidney Sheldon. I am thankful for my friend for having got delayed, this book was worth every penny of its price of Rs. 199/-. The incident of author’s meeting my hero Mahatma Gandhi itself was worth the entire price and more. This is a book which made me cry after a long time, particularly the scenes of sacrifice by the author’s grandmother of starving herself to death to save him.
My guests arrived and we let ourselves loose on the food served. My treatment of the Gujarati food, would have gladdened the Gujarati pride of Narendra Modi and he would have presented me the keys to Gandhinagar for the effort. The bearers competed with one another to serve me, the scene must have been reminiscent of Bheem devouring cart load of food before going o to quell the demon. When the time came to remove the plate, the manager commented that it was rare that somebody polishes his plate so clean. I told him loftily that I never waste food. The other three at the table were like three dummies on the bridge table. The price of Rs. 275/- was fully stretched, I am sure there would be a revision when I see them after next Marathon, SCM 2013.
We walked back to the rest house, I was in a food induced stupor, I could have slept on the D.N. Road, it looked clean and neatly cobbled. I slept for two hours like a baby. Evening we visited some colleagues and after a light dinner we left for the station to catch our train to Hubli. I was able to carry the luggage myself over the stairs.
We reached home after a comfortable journey except for the loud snores of our co-passengers. I was dead to the world. We reached to an enthusiastic welcome by Biscuit. I cycled to the Balaji temple about 5K on a gradient to test my thighs and to offer thanks to the presiding deity. I checked my timing and was a little disappointed at having missed 4 hour mark so narrowly. The strong performance of Bangalore gang, Pani Sir, Suresh, Bobby and Sundar and Srini from Chennai and Gerald was heart-warming. It’s a privilege to know the best in business on a day to day and first name basis. Thanks, Dailymile.
I had a good darshan of Lord Venkateshwara and a good ride. I was looking forward to the morning run the next day.

Having retired early the previous night, I got up at 2 AM and was able to post my blog of the cycling trip of the day prior to leaving for the Marathon. Biscuit got his morning walk and he was very meticulous in inspecting the grounds after three days of absence. Despite the leisurely walk by Biscuit, I was able to start for the run at 05:30 AM.
My thighs and the calf were a bit tight and sore, but, my breathing was very effortless; maybe, the clean air of a small town as opposed to the big bad Mumbai. I planned to do the full course of 15K upto my sunflower patch.
Due to the early start, the severe cold by Hubli standards, the street was deserted and dark. I felt good about being able to run so soon after the Marathon. I was myself surprised at my quick recovery and the good speed of today. I did not meet any of the regulars, neither the carnatic singer, Anoop nor the Raghavendra-Shaheed duo. They couldn’t have been expecting me today. The Masjid was deserted. The eagle at KM 11 did a slow fly past over my head, maybe, supplementing my victory lap.
I reached the half way mark in one hour 30 minutes flat and my breathing was unusually calm today. The sunflower patch were as usual falling to their death, but, today they looked like presenting me a guard of honour. The return trip was steady and I was very early to reach the municipal limits at 3KM. Was I too early for my school friends also? I saw my friend of ‘Come on Uncle’ riding with his friends to school. He wanted to show off his acquaintance to me to his friends. He waved at me and asked me if we can talk. I was all too glad; I was anyway starving for any human contact today. He asked me how far I run and why do I run every day. I told him I practice for Marathon and Ultra marathons and I run 30K every day. He asked me if I ran the Mumbai marathon, Star Plus has done its bit to popularize long distance running in India. I told him I ran it in 4 hours and that my bib number was 217. He aked me my rank, I told him the rank does not matter, as in his school performance. At my age, I told him, one runs for enjoyment and that one competes against oneself. For a good measure I gave him a small pep talk on enjoying studies and not bothering too much about grades. My bit to de-stress school for kids. He asked me what my age was, I said I am going on 50 and my B’day is coming March. For the day I set them a puzzle after asking them if they liked science. I told them I shared my birthday with the great scientist Albert Einstein and asked them to find out my birthday and tell me by the next day same time.
I finished my stretch in 3 hours 5 minutes and 15 seconds. I was pleased as a punch.

If I was very early yesterday, today I got very late because of catching up with my blogging in the morning. I and Biscuit left for the morning walk at 06:00AM. Biscuit was considerate and did not disturb me. I set out for my run at 06:30 AM; the moon was looking like a hammock left swinging by an angel who has just got down for her morning sojourn among the earthlings.
Today I wanted to crystallize my thoughts on why I run long distances;
Initially I ran long distance to prove that I have restored my lung to its original capacity after almost 15 years of tobacco abuse. Later it started growing on me, maybe, it was my equivalent of mortification of flesh for ennobling of the soul. Much like my hero Gandhi’s fasting.
 As far, comparisons with Murakami go, he started running to stay in shape after taking on a sedentary life style of a writer. With me, I faced a crisis of retaining the running mojo after cracking the 100K last November, it was when I posted my first blog of sorts, the enthusiastic response of my friends was intoxicating and now I post every day. Now, I am not even sure if I run to get material for blog or blog because I run. So, I blogged to keep running while Murakami ran to keep physically fit for writing. So much for psychoanalysis.
I met Anoop at the petrol bunk at KM 5, and told him of the results of marathon and gleefully accepted his congratulations. No Raghavendra or Shaheed, maybe, too late for them. The eagle was conspicuous by absence, maybe, irked by not getting footage in my daily dispatches. The Reliance OFC marker which was bent backward due to information overload of New Year greetings, had finally breathed its last, the pollution along the highway compounding the stress of over work.
 I was too late on my return to catch the school kids today. They must have been disappointed if they had come with the answer to the puzzle of my birthday. Will carry lozenges I got with the marathon kit for them as prize tomorrow.
I completed the run in 3 hour 10 minutes and 15 seconds, the breaks have come down and breathing is more efficient. Hopefully the good form should continue till my Auroville marathon.
Tomorrow I need to visit the Yamanur temple. Look forward to my cycling expedition and the secrets of Yamanur!