Of wins and losses !

It meant a year of practice. In the thick of Mumbai’s summer time. In the middle of monsoon shower time. Waking up at hours that invite the best of slumber and watching food intake like a hawk hunting for prey. . . Running. In groups. Alone. Sunday. Monday. Wednesday. Friday. Week on week. Month on month.

Striders armed with a group of dedicated coaches, and a ‘crazy bunch’ of fellow runners that inspires this commitment with a commitment that makes my commitment seem like a piece of cake. Speaking of cakes, that was avoided too. Sigh.

With all of the above, and last years 2 hours and 14 minutes finish, plus some 30 + KM runs that were done this year, the 21 KM was all and truly under the belt. Or so was the thought.

No story goes without a twist.

The day before D-day, the body quivered to a strange ‘shivering’ that blossomed into a full fledged fever. If you had to talk about Murphy and timing at any forum, this will fit the bill. Purrfect !! There was no choice but to rest the fever through.

The D-day arrived. The first five kilometers were a breeze. On time ! And then, the fever just returned with a vengeance that befits an untamed stallion running amok. Only now, embellished with cramps on the shin and calf.

Every step a pain, a searing headache to compliment the body pain and a soaring temperature within that seemed to keep pace with global warming, this marathon was well on course to become an unmentionable washout!

A new goal emerged. To finish. Medical help. Walking. Limping. Running. Meandering along. With fleeting thoughts of how ever distant the finish line seemed and if I would finish at all. Truly well meaning friends had suggested, ‘dropping out is better than dropping down’. Somehow, both options weren’t alluring.

That’s the sordid part of the story. Perhaps sounding like a ‘heroic’ spin to a rather pedestrian timing. Which today was 2 hours and 45 minutes or so, by which time, the body was fairly disoriented and feeble. But satisfied that finish line had indeed been crossed. Yes. I finished.

Yes. That’s the sordid part of the tale.

If that seemed like a huge solo effort, well, there cant be a falsehood further from the truth. The crowds that cheered on. The children that distributed bananas and sweets. The men and women that kept waving with some variation of a ‘you can do it’ chant. Not to forget the Striders teams of coaches that were ever present. While running buddies kept pushing.

Speaking of them, a certain lady who is part of our crazy bunch deserves more credit than what this paragraph gives. Running alongside for the last 8 KMs or so, sacrificing her pace and timing with words that will resonate for a long time and serve as proof for ‘true spirit of sport and friendship’….“ Am not letting you run alone in this shape”!

Several friends finished well and truly ahead. There is a true delight to see their timings. Its such a fulfilling feeling to see that all of us finished. Many on their own. Others as groups and yet others like me with SOME help !

Thank you everybody for all the support and cheer right through the preparation. The family was festive and supportive! Several bloggers texted. Others called. Friends cheered on, many times using ISD calls ! Sending supplements and such else, woven with wishes and prayers !

If wishes were horses, things could have been different with the body today. But then, wishes are never horses and the running has to be done by every person who chooses to. The low feeling that clouds me will go away. Eventually.

And I know of only one way that this feeling can slowly evaporate : Practice starts Monday next.

Collateral Damage

You have been reading the papers too. In the hurry of the morning minute. Somethings register. Many things dont. But today you are in the market. The missus has brought you here. By force. It doesnt take long for you to realise whats been lurking in the dark corridors of the mind.

That you are far removed from the reality of the real world.

You wonder if you are part of the burgeoning numbers of escapists. Not for long. For you know. Educated. Desk worker. Working out of cubicles cleaned by contracted organisations to the sound of noiseless air conditioners.

Lost in a mirage filled canopy of busy ness. In perpetual quest of aggrandisement of self-importance. All under the garb of work !! Attending meetings, making presentations, sending mail, seeking approvals and giving feedback ! ofcourse, all over many cups of tea.

Today, you hear the missus bargain with the vegetable vendor. In marathi. For obvious reasons, you feel safe in her company. You hold the bag. She bargains. Brinjal. Cauliflower. Onions. You hear the prices. And baulk.

You remember reading in the papers about inflation and such else. But arent quite prepared for this.

You remember going to the market as a young boy. Shopping for the family. At these prices, you think you could have bought out every chap out there. You are still reeling from the surprise. Of the prices.

And, you realise, what irks you more is how distant you are from the masses.You follow the missus. Shop after shop. Carrying that bag. Wondering, how people make a living at these prices.

The security gaurd who perhaps would make as much as your monthly grocery bill. The chap who cleans the car who perhaps would make half of that. The maid who mops the floor. The shop boy who fetches the product. You wonder.

The weight of the bag of vegetables isnt as heavy as the thoughts that run past you. You wince.

That night, long after your trip to the market, you are in bed. A book in hand. Reading lamp on. The book that usually sets some thoughts afire is miles away from a strand of a spark. Restless thoughts still roam the market that you went to.

You realise how fortunate and cocooned you are. You make resolutions about sharing. About awareness. About staying light. You feel better. Slightly.

The missus senses something amiss. You sense she has sensed something too. The air stays quiet. Interrupted by honks and wailing sirens faded by the distance. This city isnt called maximum city for nothing. Making a living despite all odds is what gets you by.

She clears her throat. And says, ‘you know in some time we can apply for a new loan’. You sit up. Half in trepidation. For you dont know where this is headed. ‘I have the collaterals ready’.

Your ears perk up. Like a deer who hears the rustle of dead leaves as the cheetah gallops towards it. “In some time the collateral will have enough value to make the bank chap sit up” …..

In the silence. You sit up. Half a tremor seeps through as you mutter ‘and what is that’

‘Two bags of cauliflowers. At current prices….’. Her voice trails.

You smile. Close the book. Say your prayer to the lord up there. And thank him for his large mercies.

Pedal Strength – Part 1

Atlas. Hercules.

The first one walked around with heaven on his back. And the other destroyed dangerous monsters. Both popular for strength and valour.

Greek mythology is as far away from me, as far as nation development in a politician’s agenda. Ok. Perhaps not that far. I know who Atlas and Hercules are.

But hey this post is not about politics. Or mythology. But of bicycles ! If you are from India, chances that you are aware of Atlas and Hercules as bicycle brands are far higher than knowing them as mythological strong men.

The Atlases and Hercules es doing the rounds on Indian roads are a sight to see. Mythological strong men would arch their eyebrows in respect ! For the Atlases & Hercules of today carry everything from Crackers to Pappad to Milk to anything that you name.

In the slightest of possible spaces they make their way, in the busiest of roads. These are not fancy cycles used by people with ‘environmental friendship’ as a credo. ‘Saying save the world’ that with a fancy helmet and a T-Shirt to that effect.

No. This is part of everyday mainstream living ! That these wheels will have to be pedalled so that the wicker at home is lit. That a kid goes to school. That there is roti to eat. (Ok. Rice too).

To see an Atlas or a Hercules pass by with all their load is often a salute to ingenuity. To innovation. To the spirit of labour. And of course, to the reality balancing a life on two wheels.

Atlas may or may not have shrugged. But he sure does balance life on a pedal ! God knows for how long !

Not nought !

My mind hasn’t moved from the Kala Ghoda festival. Here are two pictures. The first one of an old man. And the other of a set of young men and women ! They spoke to whoever who cared to listen. I did.

The first gentleman, recited a poem. About politics, and how corruption is fuelling a rot of everything. And he recited it with no microphone in hand. No set audience to watch his recital. No arc light to focus on him. And no expectation from anybody around. He just stood in middle of a busy section of the festival, and read his poem.

People walked by. With insensitive disdain. Worse still, not caring to notice what was happening just as they milled around. Some stopped for a second, with ‘whatever is this man saying ?’ look. And moved on. This gentleman continued his recitation.

I counted four people, who stood there and listened. A powerful poem, i thought.

The gentleman though, didn’t seem to think much of the four people who stood or the four hundred people who walked around. He completed. And walked away.

The power of poetry and the passion in the recital http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/propecia_generic.html kept me awake that night.

At another location, there was street theatre, happening. In full swing. A small crowd had gathered. There were a set of young men and women performing. Urging people to stay awake and vote the right kind of people.

Again, no microphone, no fixed audience, no arc lights, no rosepowder. But just humans and powerful performances.

Coming in the backdrop of noises and sounds of various decibel intensity, this indeed was some performance ! To keep an audience who were just walking by, glued to what was happening there was no small task.

And as i left that place, i shook my head in wonder. There after all were people who did things, because it was the right thing to do and that it needed to be done.

Not for appreciation. Not for praise. Not for money. Not for themselves. Not for their loved one. Not for 5 minutes of fame. Not for today.

But just to ensure, that everything doesn’t come to nought !

Long after they stopped speaking, their words and their spirit continues to echo in me. I wonder why !

We Will Get You

So you had another swipe at us again. Like you did some months ago. And some years ago. Like you did at some other place. Ok.

But lest you rejoice that you won, i just wanted to write and say, we’ll get you. I may be a little perturbed today. My fingers sport a slight tremor as i type this. & the soul reeks of anger like a broken perfume battle. Images on TV are indeed depressing. But make no mistake, we’ll get you.

Three police officers & many innocents lost their lives. They fought you & in their life time, got many of you. And there are many others who still will fight on. The might of our nation resides in the glory of our history and the possibilities for our future. We will not let those possibilities be still born. Mark my words, we’ll get you.

Our politicians are infirm. They are out to exploit every crevice to establish a valley. And you have thrived by opening new crevices and fronts. But for the man on the street, the one who gives a day long toil a hard sinew, these crevices dont matter. And with the strength of that twisting sinew & noble thought of the men, women and children on the street, i promise you : we’ll get you.

For long now, we have remained silent. Our ministers spoke the same speeches with different suits. Enough. Enough. Its time to stop all of this. And dont even hesitate to think, ‘if’ we will get you. We sure will.

You may wonder where i get such confidence from, when you have struck with impunity.

My confidence stems from what we have inside us. The strength of our spirit, the resilience of our soul, the grit of our grip and of course, the blood that has dripped by on the floor, all far easily outweigh the combined might of all strings of bullets and the stream of bombs that you can muster.

We will get you.

PS : I have been dwarfed by the depth of concern and voices of support from the world over. Friends, relatives, people who just passed by this blog and of course fellow bloggers, who i havent met at all. The phone has been constantly ringing or beeping. The mail box shows ‘new mail’ almost as a permanent addition. Thank You !

For an inconsequential chap like me, this is overwhelming enough. It seems to me that the weight of the world, measured in gold backs us up. That to me is the strength of the spirit.

I can almost hear the keyboard cringe in pain, as i key in each alphabet with emphasis and force :

‘We Will Get You’.