Alright. Thought I’d write a detailed blog on this fun-filled trip. But realized it was too much write. So decided to jot down the A-Z of our winter trip. Yes, a word from the trip for every alphabet.
A – Archana (Trip Organizer)
B – Buffalo Bills / Broncos
C – Check (The special power that comes with being a Big Blind in Poker. Which did not matter to C’appa and Siva, spoilsports!)
D – Dinosaur (the puny one Siva drew when we played pictionary)
E – Erie
F – Flush (Poker Flush / Toilet Flush in our first cabin)
G – Glenlivet / Grey Goose
H – How to train your dragon (Yes, Toothless Grins )
I – Iru Vizhi Unadhe (Sharanya’s favorite song from Minnale which we all sang)
J – Jills
K – Kolaveri Di
L – Levitation (Definitely the most difficult word that we played. And its no surprise that Team Awesome (Chithi, Arch & I) were the ones who got it right)
M – Maanga Ooruga (We used it as a spread on our toast and even made yummy pickle rice with basmati)
N – Niagara Falls
O – One. The number that fell the most when Team – C’appa, Viggy and Ranju (I forget what they were called) rolled the dice after guessing right.
P – Poker / Pictionary (Duh!)
Q – Queen (The one queen C’appa held when the remaining 3 were open for all. Thanks to his mysterious shuffling when we played poker)
R – Ranjan C’appa’s poker face!
S – Sexy and I know it (LMFAO video we watched, Viggy Viggy Wiggle )
T – Tebow Sucks!!
U – Upma / Khara Bhath.
V – Vadhyar (The one who gave us the go-ahead to open gifts on the eve of Christmas eve)
W – Water (Yes, at one stage we were running out of water. As compared to the other ‘beverages’ at home)
X – Xmas in the cabin
Y – Youth crowd (C’appa and chithi, you are included as well )
Z – Zzzzzz….. sleep….. (Does anybody have a suggestion for Z?)
It has been an eternity since I last blogged. That long, that I had forgotten my username and password but luckily I had the right e-mail address to recover my password and thus the blog. Alright, lets get started now!
For a background, today was an okay day, just okay. I was in a dazed state before and after class this noon. Thanks to the lack of good sleep and more importantly hunger. Got home after a reasonably productive meeting after class and feasted on a packet of our very own Maggi noodles. I finished eating by about 6pm, in the process managed to watch some highlights from yesterdays UEFA CL QF fixtures – Real vs Tottenham and Man U vs Chelsea. Well, the food and the associated sports distraction did little to revive my ‘blah’ mood.
At 7pm, MSISA had organized a presentation to be delivered by Srini Swaminathan, Teach for India (TFI) Fellow, as a part of the guest lecture series they diligently conduct. Hmmm.. it was interesting. Why? Because -
- This, to my knowledge is the first time we have someone not from the “industry” addressing us. Usually, such events are related to the curriculum or they serve as a networking event for potential recruiters.
- It was being delivered by an Indian, from India and about India. Now, does that call for added reasons to attend the session? NO!
The presentation started, after some technical glitches, with Srini introducing himself and giving reasons as to why he quit a well-paying job to take up teaching grade 2 kids in Dharavi, Mumbai. My oh my, the guy was plain simple and humble – something that you would not associate with today’s youth back home. Nudge nudge Virat Kohli He then went on to give statistics on how every third child that joins school in India dropped out before they reached grade 5 and about how his role as teacher was made difficult by kids with a very low attention span, who used school as an excuse to get away from the beatings at home. After giving us heads-up on the challenges of working with such kids, he went on to explain how as a teacher, he worked to get the students together by using creative learning techniques and motivations – for example, using himself as a blackboard / whiteboard on which students could write on, playing word games on the floor, inviting a cotton candy maker to explain the procedure for making candies and also the pictures he took of obedient students who serve as role models for the others. Through this entire conversation only one thought kept playing in my head – the fact that I was lucky enough to be blessed with good education without having to go through the struggles these innocent children were subject to, day in and day out. The session ended with a Q&A session where my fellow MSIS friends (Indians of course) asked questions on how we could be part of this movement from here (US), what the opportunities were at TFI on returning to India etc. Overall, it was good session to have been a part of.
Yeah, reading my session summary does not really convey much of the emotions. But it has helped me realize that, there is no bigger joy in life than the joy of giving and what better way to execute it than helping educate under privileged children?Yes, I would some day want to be a part of the TFI initiative or something similar and give something back to our society. Something that I value to someone who is not fortunate enough to be blessed with it.I really hope this realization stays in me forever and it is not another instance of where decisions are made to move mountains but not a pebble is touched! It is for this very reason that I decided to blog this so I can someday visit and see if I have been able to live up to today’s realization.
The last month or so has taken me to places I have never visited before. Starting off with Goa, Cochin and now Mumbai. Holidays during school were mostly spent visiting home and spending time with parents. If we ever planned to visit a place it would most definitely be Bangalore or Palakkad and yes it would mostly have some temple visits attached. My last visit to Mumbai was when I was two, to attend the first birthday (aandinaravu) celebrations of my cousin sister. Rightly so, all I remember from the trip was, I had been to Bombay and nothing more.
Thanks to running, the Standard Chartered Mumai Marathon (SCMM) 2010 gave me a chance to visit the city again and boy it was a wonderful trip! The SCMM is an IAAF recognized event and carries a ‘gold’ status, one of only 12 marathons to do so. My participation was confirmed only a month before the event when I got a Half Marathon (HM) slot through Dream a Dream (DaD). Running so far was giving me only selfish benefits, things only I experienced. It was now time that I made a difference to the others with my running and the HM gave me a perfect opportunity to raise some funds for vulnerable kids to improve their living. My aim was to raise Rs.500 for every km I run, i.e. 21*500 = Rs.10,500. I was able to exceed my target thanks to some excellent support from family, friends and colleagues. (There will be another post thanking all the people who made a difference)
The run was scheduled for Jan 17th, Sunday. I flew to Mumbai the previous day (Sat) in the company of Aswin, who has been my running mate at all events starting from KTM in Sep ’09. We flew Jet Konnect (budget airline) and Aswin felt so cheated when we were not served breakfast, so was I. Till the morning of the flight, I did not expect them to serve us food until Mr.Aswin with all his confidence gave me hope. His point being, he chose “Asian Vegetarian” while booking the ticket! The 7AM flight got us to Mumbai at 830AM. Aswin had done his homework and accordingly the next stop from the airport was Vile Parle, which was a 5-10min bus ride. We had breakfast there and moved on to take a train to Victoria Terminus (VT aka CST). I was a little excited about the train ride and the crowds, atleast from what I have seen on TV and heard from Mumbaikars and was not disappointed. The train was reasonably full though I managed to squeeze in a seat. Interestingly, the men who sat in front of me were Mallus and they were reading Malayala Manorama and in the row behind me I could hear a bunch of guys talking our very own சிங்கார சென்னை தமிழ். That was enough to define why in those days people flocked to Mumbai, India’s city of opportunity.
We reached VT and took a taxi (not the good old Fiat, though we were wanting to get into one) to the World Trade Center where Aswin picked up his running kit, bib etc. It was nearly noon by the time we were done with this and I had to reach my relatives place at Chembur for lunch. A less eventful, more spacious train ride from VT took me to Govandi and a quick auto ride took me home for lunch. Did you know the minimum fare the autoricks in Mumbai charge is Rs.9? These Bangalore auto drivers need to learn to stop complaining. Sumptuous lunch with rasmalai for dessert followed by a good 2 hour nap in an AC room kept me occupied till 530pm. It was my turn to use the train service again from home to VT and a taxi from there to Colaba. I had to go meet my DaD co-runners and collect my running kit, T Shirt etc. I did so and walked to the Taj, which was like 100mts from where the DaD volunteers were put up. The Taj (hotel) was majestic and architecture,brilliant. The magnitude of the terror attack and the fear it sent was there for all to see. It aint a joke to take guests of such a palacious hotel captive for nearly 2days! Once I was done admiring the Taj, I turned right to give the Gateway of India,its share. Yes, feels proud to be an Indian!
What followed next was Mumbai at its best, the train ride back home at 830pm on a Sat. It was effortless. All I did was put both my hands in my trouser pocket to safeguard my mobile and wallet and stand. They pushed me into the train and they duly pushed me out when my station came. Those crazy 40mins! Anyother day, if I was mobbed like that, I would be complaining but it was not to be so that evening. I kept smiling and was happy to have experienced ‘Mumbai’. I LOVED IT. Through the journey, I kept observing the people in the train and they were from all walks of life right from a daily wages worker, to a salesman, to a vegetable vendor, to a neatly dressed,executive looking middle aged man, to college students dressed in ragged jeans and pretty girls they were all there. Mumbai is definitely a common man’s city!
Raceday – I got dropped off at the HM starting point – Bandra (W), at 6 in the morning. It was super crowded, for a moment it seemed like whole Mumbai was running the HM. (I later realised I was wrong, when I saw 20,ooo odd people doing the 7km, Dream Run!) I was set for the run after some stretching and yawning. My target was to complete the distance in less than 2hours. The run was flagged off at 6:45am sharp and I crossed the start line some 6-7 mins after that. The early kms were a little difficult as I had to meander through traffic and overtaking was a little difficult till we reached the Bandra-Worli sea link. The next 6km was for me the best part of the race. Running over the sea, with the sun rising over the skyscrapers on the opp end was a sight to behold. It was a very pleasant distraction that eased my body into a good pace. I motored on till the 13km when my sun glasses came out, being cheered by the supportive Mumbaikars who were out on the street, lending a helping hand to all the runners with water, energy drinks, energy bars, chocolates, fruits etc. The next 3 kms (till the 16th) were a little tricky because of the alternating rise in gradient at some places. I made sure I dint push too much on the uphills because they are easy spots for cramping. My first water break was planned after the 16km mark but I egged on till the 18th when I had a couple of sips while on the run. The timing so far was looking good for a sub 2, infact it looked good for less than 1:55 but the sun came out hard near the finish and humidity was a killer and I managed to jog my way over the last 500mts to a 1:55:22. My personal best, thus far over 21km.
The best was yet to come. Nike Run Club had organized rented out a Barista for couple of hours and NRC members were given free entry to this place. We were welcomed with some nice food and cold coffee. A nice, free foot massage was also on offer. Most of Blores runners were there and it seemed more like a family party, the social benefits of running! :) Returned to my relatives place by train (last ride of the trip) happy and contended for having done a sub 2hr. Caught up on an hours sleep to shed off the tiredness. By then it was time to pack,get ready and fly back to Blore.
A memorable Mumbai trip that more than served its purpose. Thanks to all the kind hearted souls out there, Stan Chartered for organizing the run, Mumbaikars for your loud support and my relatives for their warm hospitality!
Sporadic updation of my blog is something I did foresee when it was kicked off. It is nearly 2 months since I lasted updated it. Here is a quick summary of some of the things that passed during this period –
- Urban Stampede – Participated in the Corporate 5km*4 = 20km relay. Our team from office finished 9th out of some 45 odd teams with a timing of 1hr:50min:13 sec. My personal timing for the 5km was 25min:12 sec. Great job guys!!
- First visit to my new home, Valparai. Also visited Tiruppur for the first time to attend my school friends sisters reception. It was great to catch up with some of my school (Ooty) friends after ages. Picked up 6 T Shirts from the garment town, each for Rs. 40!! Its TRUE!!! The same stuff in Bangalore would definitely by a heavy 3 figure number.
- Kaveri Trail Marathon – Ran my first half-marathon on the banks of river Cauvery, close to Ranganthittu bird sanctuary, Mysore. It was a scenic run except for the blistering Sun that came out of no where during the return lap (post 10.5km). Clocked a 2hr:16 min, not too bad consdiering it is my first run and the conditions were the toughest you could get. I had targetted somewhere below 2hr:10min. The event was an eye opener of sorts to the science in running because it exposed me to the finer details of the sport like the training methodologies,the kind of shoes that are required and how it varies from person to person etc.
- Pooja Holidays - The company requirement of using a min of 5 holiday per quarter coupled with well placed Pooja and Gandhi Jayanthi holidays (all u digas, read Pooja and Gandhi separately) gave me a good 9 days break from work and Bangalore. Went to Valparai and did nothing (absolutely nothing) but eat, sleep and watch TV and its associated permuations and combinations. The heavy rains made it a near house arrest. Amma’s visit to Palakkad also meant that I was alone at home most of the time. Bhima and Surya’s (school mates) visit was a welcome relief from the continuous boredom. The 3 of us went on an exciting, rain filled trip to the amazing Athirapally waterfalls. The trip was initially planned to Cochin but we cut it short and returned because we were too tired and sleepy. Got to see some wild animals during the ride like the sambhar deer, wild boar etc.
- Champions League T20; Opening ceremony and RCB vs Cape Cobras – With memories afresh of being part of the IPL season 1 opening ceremony, about 30 of us from my company decided to attend this years inaugural Champions League T20 match. The opening ceremony sucked, except for some stunning moves performed by 4 gymnasts on the cube. Guess, most of us preferred the ‘desi’ opening ceremony;one with a Katrina dance or Shankar Mahadevan song, to the one that involved some arbit Grammy award winning singer! The match was a good one though not an exciting one. It produced 360 odd runs in 40 overs with a lot of clean hitting. RCB were never in the game during CC’s successful run chase. My visit to the Chinnasway stadium reads -Watched – 3 RCB wins – 0 RCB losses – 3!
It is going to take a lot to convince me for another RCB game at the stadium, unless they are playing an in-form Chennai Super Kings!
- Office Diwali celeb – This years diwali celeb was a low key one thanks to this thing called ‘recession’. A trip to Confident Groups Casacade Resort on Banneghatta road was organized. Went in by noon for a buffet lunch. I have only this to say -
Koramangala 100ft Road,
Blore.Sir/ Ma’am, All this while I thought yours was the most overrated place for a stupid, sucky North Indian meal. I would like to bring to your attention that younow have stiff competition from the Casacade Resort. I am not sure this is any consolation to you.Keep up the great job!
Yes the food was worse than the one Shanthi Sagar serves.
The guys split after lunch to try their hands at a few games like cricket, tt, shuttle, billiards, tennis etc. Even here we had to pay extra to play tennis and billiards. I can understand billiards because the board / mat is costly etc but why tennis? And they were charging Rs.100 per head per hour, yes what better way to make a quick 400 bucks per hour! God save us all! At this moment all I can think of is, this song from the tamil movie ‘Alli thandha vaanam’ -
‘Chennai pattanam, ellam kattanaum. Kaiya neeteenal kaasu mazhai kottanam…. LKGo kaasu, MBBS kaasu….’
Pls change the Chennai in the song to Bangalore when you rehearse.
On the whole. I think the money could have been better spent, that too in times of recession!!
Hmmmm.. thats about it for the next 2 months??? ;) Nah,BSA Hercules Cyclothon updates will follow soon.
The Start - White Lightning vs The Wall :
It was 12 years back sometime in the Feb of 1997 that my parents decided to have my Upanayanam. I was about 10 then and it was deemed to be the right age to have my “poonal”. All that mattered to me was the 10 days of holidays this function fetched me. It gave me an opportunity to spend time with my parents, more importantly this was a way out (atleast for sometime) from the regularities of a residential school; I could sleep well beyond 530am, skip the usual jog and exercise routines in cold weather, take a break from studies, did not have to write half a page of text in my handwriting book, choke in food that I sometimes disliked and more importantly it gave me the interim luxury of watching cricket matches at peace, away from the hassles of watching it on a small TV crowded by more than 100 odd students.
It was the season when India toured South Africa, they had a drubbing in the test series and the ODI series was coming to a close. In fact the finals between Ind and SA was to be played the day I was to leave hostel for home. My parents came sometime after class hours and after completing all the formalities like the gate pass etc, we left to Palakkad with a stop over at Coimbatore for some purchases. The finals, being a day night affair started around 6pm IST and we were able to catch a glimpse of some action at a garment store. We spent about 30 odd mins at that shop and believe it or not, all through our time there, nothing was discussed or shown on TV except the controversial catch the great Mr. Jonty Rhodes took of f Sachin Tendulkar. It was a magnificent effort by JR though TV replays suggested he might have grounded the ball. Anyways, that (ST getting out) was an instant taste of melancholy that I deserved to calm my over enthused nerves.
We reached Palakkad some time around 10pm. On watching the news, I learnt that the match was abandoned due to rain and would be played again the next day. Yay! I could watch it fully, what more I would get to see ST bat again. Likewise, most of the next day went waiting for the match to begin. This time, India fielded first and bowled out SA for a reasonable score. India came in to bat and rain intervened for sometime. The game resumed past midnight IST, it was the longest I was ever wake those days. India did not bat too well, though they started off in good fashion. ST was cleverly setup, caught at leg slip off Alan Donald. Rahul Dravid, young then, was the man of the moment. He whacked a fiery Alan Donald for a boundary only to get an ear full from the tearing fast bowler, duly the next ball went for six and ho ho, I sensed this might be his day. Dravid played well for a fighting 90, as usual there was none to support him and India lost the match.
With a few days left to go for the function, the preparations hit full throttle. There was a lot of running around my parents did, these included meeting the caterers, the vadhyar’s, the mantap administration, lodges for the guests etc. I vaguely remember helping them with any of these,of course I was too small then.
Slowly, a number of my relatives started coming in. My grandparents from Blore were the first to arrive and hoy, keeping with tradition they bought me a gold bracelet for my Upanayam. I put it on, knowing it would not be long before I would have to remove it because we were not allowed to wear expensive stuff in school. The thought of a wearing a gold bracelet made me feel like a BIG guy who was responsible enough. The bracelet was the cynosure of a lot of my cousins eyes.
All the excitment of the bracelet came crashing down when I went to Manapulli Kaavu (temple) with my parents and grandparents. We went in auto, got down at the temple, prayed and came out when the (till now) BIG guy realized the bracelet was missing. This set my parents and grandparents on a major hunt. They back-tracked to every single place we had been to since the time we got into the auto, to see if they c0uld find the coveted bracelet. All their efforts went in vain and after some 3-4 hours of search at home it was declared lost. I was filled with guilt of losing it and was in tears for long periods. Weirdly enough, it was my cousins who were consoling me!
The disappointment of losing the bracelet did not stay for long because the next evening my grand parents took me to a local jeweler and got me another bracelet, of course the new one was hardly charismatic as the previous but I cant complain because I lost it.
I dont really remember much as to what happened on the day of the Upanayanam though I can clearly visualize a couple of incidents and people I met that day. I remember the Kumara-Bhojanam basically because it was the first meal of the day for me, my first Sandhyavandanam under the guidance of the famous Rose Vadhayar (wat a name!!), receiving couple of gifts which included some books, a wrist watch and of course some covers of the following value – Rs.51, 101 (lots of this) and 501 (very few of this ). Interestingly, I also remember collecting some telegrams from relatives wishing me on my Upanayanam. Gosh, do telegrams even exist these days? Even ‘India post’ would not give me an answer to that question. Of course, I do remember my mama (uncle) carrying me and walking door to door in the village – this apparently is some ritual and gladly for all the roaming, the women were kind enough to part with some change.
Thus ended an eventful poonal. I went back to school carrying a lot of sweets and savouries for some of my friends, staff and me. The excessive possessiveness over my share of sweets (laddoo especially) taught me a good lesson 2 weeks after I came back – they went rot with some fungi attack and all I could do was redirect them to the dustbin!!
Below are things that happened this month, alteast these are one’s that I remember -
Cousins wedding at Palakkad.
Visit to Palani topped with a mottai.
MR(<-) at home one Fri evening.
Parents move and settle at CBE.
Federer wins Wimbledon and hence breaks the record for most GS.
Frequent football and falls with office mates.
Eat outs visited – Kamat BugleRock with family, lunch at Maiyyas with juniors and buffet at Cafe Masala.
Running more frequently.
Registration for the Goa Bike trek.
Goodbye to colleagues – Vineeth Kashyap, the man who found time for every damn thing in this world, god knows how! and Basappa, GOD himself.. Thanks for the great, fun filled memories…
New look for the bike.
Mysore visit included lunch at a “cheap” place and a visit to KRS.