Why I felt like Tendulkar on Marathon Day

23 Jan

Mumbai MarathonThe Mumbai Marathon is the most important day for the city of Mumbai. Mumbaikars put their best foot forward on this day, and the City with Heart looks its best with bobbing heads and thumping feet against a lovely skyline.

Here is an attempt at capturing the Mumbai Half-Marathon experience as Guest-Blogger on mumbaimag.com, a site that highlights everything Mumbaiya. Read on, if you will: http://bit.ly/Ws6011

(Image: PTI Photo/by Shashank Parade)


Look, I’m running!

15 Jan

ImageAre you a morning person? Well, I seem to have become one what with the Mumbai Marathon just round the corner. But the alarm clock has become my biggest enemy. I’ve just about slept that it begins to ring. At least it feels that way, and there is nothing you can do about it, because you’ve filled up the marathon application form, paid the money, got your running bib, and have tom-tommed about your ‘big half-marathon plan’ to one and all – including the chai-wala in office, who ensures you get a nice hot cup of tea simply because ‘Madam bhaagne wali hai’* – ever since Registration Day.

But once up, it’s easy to be about. And once out of the door, you think it’s going to be a breeze. Seriously. You begin your day by appreciating the finer things of life: the sea, the birds, the fresh morning air, the rising sun. Yes, you are on your way to a healthier you: You walk with your shoulders back, back straight, tummy in, and make it to an imaginary starting-line with a spring in your step and a song on your lips.

Never mind the regularity or irregularity of your running/training sessions , the inventory will be well in place – state-of-the-art shoes, running shorts, running socks, a pro-clima top, knee-support, a wrist band in case you sweat too much, a mobile phone arm-band, a bottle of energy sports drink… In short, the works.

You’re halfway to the starting-point and your imagination begins to run wild. You imagine that you’ve already crossed the finish-line, and you’ve already begun to receive well-deserved congratulatory remarks on a race well-finished, and are just short of being interviewed by the press when you say under your breath, ‘C’mon that’s taking it a bit too far’.

Now you’ve reached the point where you intend to begin running. Stretch. You feel that all eyes are upon you, because it’s not every day that one sees a champ do what he or she does best – Run! Mind you, this is Day One, and every day after that, it’s the same story, in this exact sequence.

Workout started. The first twenty seconds feel like heaven, and you are running smiling, and looking around and nodding at many that pass you by. You may even excitedly shout out a ‘Good morning’ here and a ‘Good Morning’ there. What the ‘Good Mornings’ really mean is –Hey look, I’m running! But after those precious twenty – that could well extend to thirty if the wind is on your side – life is hell, and the sinking in of that fact is the most tormenting experience. You’re not sure if you’re going to be able to run for the next ten seconds. You are now striding with much effort, employing every ounce of strength, and breathing so heavily that the person who is just a meter ahead of you is coerced into looking back, and may even then not make way for you. Silly bloke.

The gradual physical exertion and obvious incapacity has now worsened the mental state. All that seemed sublime once has lost character. The smile is gone, beads of sweat have begun to appear, and you don’t care to be nice to anybody anymore. ‘Good mornings’ are a thing of the past, and the only words you know and could care about are – Please God, please, just a little more…  The mood is foul, and nobody or nothing seems pleasant: The drivers don’t know how to drive, the pedestrians don’t know how to walk, the cyclists are way too free-spirited, the school-buses run way too fast and way too much to the left, the school-children are fidgety, the dogs poop too much, the garbage vans stink and pollute the fresh air you were so happy breathing in a few minutes ago, cabbies have blinkers on, and people who are out on a stroll will never use the footpath or make way for the ‘runners’.

By now the knees are shaking and the feet aren’t landing with precision, the ankles hurt and the need to relax one’s hands once in a while seems paramount. You realize you have not made use of the wrist-band that you have so enthusiastically bought and so you raise your hand and use it to use it. You feel you have been running for hours, but the watch tells a different story. Time usually runs, but when you decide to run, it decides to walk and sometimes even stands still.

And you tend to make note of the expressions on fellow-runners’ faces just to make sure that you’re not alone in this battle, and you are almost glad that they, too, seem grumpy and unhappy, most probably because their untold story is just like this one, and sometimes in the exact sequence.

** THE END **

*Madame is going to run (the half-marathon)

Check your list, Mate!

10 Jan

Stop rape now

The ears are ringing with news about rape, mutilation, hate speeches, and everything ugly, and what some seemingly illiterate people think about women and other religious sects. Print space and air-time is pregnant with ignorant bores suggesting that girls ought to go out only with their relatives, not use mobile phones, be home before sunset; Others take us back to the days of the Ramayana and suggest that we should not cross the Laxman Rekha; A few others urge us to refrain from being influenced by Western culture, while a concerned few make the useless effort of explaining the kind of clothes we women ought to wear.

Just two words to all these self-proclaimed intellects: Zip up! – We are not listening. For the fault, my dear regressive darlings, lies in your thought process, and not in our hemlines.

A politician has actually gone on record to say that the number of rape cases is far less in the rural villages of India, and the reason for this, he claims, is the way the lady-villagers dress. No Sir, the incident of rape cases must be far larger, but it’s the ‘voicelessness’ and lack of awareness of the female rural population in a male-dominated and chauvinistic society that may cause the ‘registered’ number of rape cases to be lower. The men, we are sure, are as hands on – if not even more-so – in a rustic ambiance.

It’s all so confusing – a section of these opinion-conferrers seem to be philanderers and another section misogynist. This makes the ‘problem of the girl child’ manifold. We are either so loved that the men can’t keep their hands off us, or we are so hated that the men can’t keep their hands off us. Also, now we are utterly confused about where we live – do we live in India, or do we live in Bharat? Are we Indian women or Bharatiya naris? I can’t tell the difference.

It’s impressive to see how so many bigot politicians are making check-lists of what Indian women should and shouldn’t do to avoid rape, when actually all they need is a four-line checklist that reads:

  • I need to get an education. Literacy is just not enough.
  • I should speak a language people understand. Ridiculous is not a language everybody gets.
  • Please beat my head flat. I need a broad mind.

2013: A Tad too Late or Just in Time?

2 Jan

Happy-New-Year-2013An entire year has passed us by, and the second day of the New Year has already dawned. It was just day before yesterday that we were celebrating the beginning of ‘something’ that has already begun; we are already into Day 2 of 2013. Time is already running, and we are hardly even ready that so many ‘alreadies’ have already taken over so much of that something we were celebrating just the day before yesterday. And honestly, this is not something we don’t get!

It’s another year, an opportunity to begin life afresh; To promise that we are going to make better men and women of ourselves this coming year: I promise to exercise more and eat less, I promise to reach work on time; I shall do mornings and fewer late nights; I shall be more organized and disciplined; I will save more, spend less; I hope to travel, I shall not complain; I shall count my blessings, read more, banter less, make better, informed decisions and not behave like a Dodo  when one is spoken to about Saint Kitts and Nevis – a Caribbean country that sounds more like a ‘religious holiday’ than a destination.

I shall spend more time with family, make more friends, be kind and gentle and good; I shall keep my accounts in order, file my documents, watch movies, listen to music, read world news, learn a language, follow the stock market, hope that no country finds itself in yet another economic crisis, not be judgmental – of course only if you tell me that you have actually attempted to read a book like Fifty Shades of Grey, and worse still, liked it.

I shall groom myself into a terrific lady driver – do I sound like the Mayans now? – and learn to parallel park among other things like swimming, cycling, riding, flying… and yes, I plan to comb my hair more often. Well, this is the way many of us must think as we sit and ponder about how much better we can be, and how much better life can become, when the bus driver suddenly breaks because some rash motorist has already probably broken his New Year resolution of riding safely. And you are jerked back into reality, and you realize that it’s already 10 a.m. and that you are going to be late to work again. And that it’s just the second day of 2013. And that some things just don’t change: For example, the beer in the left hand, and the pen in the right.

Happy New Year guys!

Then we came to the end…

5 Oct

… A fabulous book by Joshua Ferris, but none of this has anything to do with that.

‘Then we came to the end’ just seems to be the mantra of the Sports World these days that has left many, I am sure, distraught, disappointed and utterly dismayed.

Stalwarts whom we looked up to – those who hit the ball very hard, those who drove cars really fast, and some wonderful defenders and centre backs (never mind their off-centre views on a myriad other things off the field) – have forewarned that they may be calling it a day in the world of sport anytime soon!

Now with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Schumacher and John Terry having announced their retirement (or on the verge thereof), there seems to be a dullness in the air – the grass on the cricket field seems to have withered at the news; the race tracks seem to have gone dry (for a second time); and the hysteria in the football stadiums has probably died down a bit. The class acts of these men will never be forgotten, and will often be referred to – just like classics in a library. We’ll see them around – sometimes in the commentator’s box, sometimes as spectators, sometimes supporting a cause or then promoting the sport they belonged to, or even – hold your breath – in Parliament (Why Sachin, why?).  But we won’t see them doing what they did best!  Score!

When athletes retire they make their ardent followers feel old. And that’s the one thing that hits us women the most! It makes us realize that we are a part not of Gen Next but Ex-Gen. It’s time to wear the sunscreen more regularly, maybe dye the grey, and time to accept that the men we shall now ogle at on the TV screens are going to be way younger than us – that would put us in the category of …  well, whatever!

It’s a changing world, and the process has already begun. The damage is done. Yes, Virat Kohli is hot, Messi bends it like Beckham and Sebastian Vettel seems to be steering right.  But Sachin, Schumi and gang – Nah, He just don’t make it like ‘em anymore!

Yes, my heart is broken. But it shall be completely shattered the day Roger Federer keeps his racquet aside, and when Usain Bolt hangs up his running shoes. Until then I’m running, baby! I’m running… 34!

The Queen of all Opening Ceremonies

31 Jul

Her Majesty and her little pink dress were show-stealers at the London Olympics opening ceremony.

Queen Elizabeth II, James Bond, Daniel Craig, London olympics, Olympics 2012, Olympics opening Ceremony I ought to begin this post with a curtsey.

Now to get on with it…

Yeah, so our eyes were glued to the TV set. We were all watching the opening ceremony of the London Olympics 2012, waiting eagerly for something grand to happen. And then it did: Her Majesty the Queen, dressed in a pink salmon dress jumped off a chopper, flipped like a coin tossed into the air, and thankfully didn’t land on her head. This tale, I tell you, is true!

Okay, so what if it was actually cross-dressed stuntman Gary Connery pretending to be the Queen who parachuted out of the flying machine? The act at least made all the Britons gape in shock with their stiff upper lips well parted before they realized that if their Queen could have a sense of humour, they could too. After the earth shook beneath their feet, it took all of five-minutes to get things back to normal – the Brits straightened up, adjusted their folds – stiff upper lip back in place – and clapped in perfect rhythm – 1-2-1-2 – as Queen Elizabeth II made her way to her seat with Prince Philip in tow.

While a few in the United Kingdom are amused, a few others have taken offence to this non-decorum of Her Majesty and have, as an act of revolt, dumped English tea-sets right into the Thames*. Although I would like to confess that it was much more fun to see Her Majesty loosen up and drop straight into the Olympic arena than be party to the same old clichéd Royalty hand-in-glove wave that royalty is so wont to do.

It’s wondersome how Queen Elizabeth agreed to all that unconventional dramatics. Danny Boyle, besides his Oscars and Globes, seems to have earned a Masters in Convincing, too! I believe he tricked the Queen by playing on the idiom – building castles in the air – all too literally. “Ma’am we’re building castles in the air, and you’re invited!” or better still “Ma’am don’t you think Kate Middleton has lapped up enough and more newsprint? Before the media gets ecstatic about her in her Christopher Kane ensemble, let’s show the world that we are able too!”

Queen Elizabeth is known to have nodded a vigorous yes to that one and chanced her leap of faith. Now never mind that it’s summer in the UK, after the Olympic opening ceremony, Londoners are celebrating ‘The Fall’. That too quite enthusiastically.

*Just like Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman narrated in Good Omens. Don’t believe them. Or me.

Related posts by other bloggers:

Royalty at the Opening of the 2012 Olympic Games
7 young athletes light Olympic cauldron
The Queen, Bond bring Skyfall to the Olympic Games
London 2012 Olympics opening Ceremony
Who had most tweets? The Queen or Beckham?

The name is Holmes, James Holmes

26 Jul

Joker, Batman, Dark KnightNow what would I have thought of a man named James Holmes if one were to come up and introduce himself to me before that ‘dark night’.

“Hi, I’m James, James Holmes,” he may have said.

And I may have been delighted. A James (Bond) plus a (Sherlock) Holmes hardly leaves you asking for more. He would’ve been street smart, would’ve possessed the perfect mix of brawn and brain; would’ve been a top FBI agent, solving crimes and bringing to book all the bad men of the world. That would’ve been so cool. He would’ve worn a stunning woman on his arm, and would’ve left all the hot actresses of Hollywood begging for the part next.

Actually, he could’ve been a Batman-like character in his own right. Sadly, the infamous James Holmes chose to be the Joker instead, and nothing of what he did on the night of July 19 was amusing. It would’ve been had he entered the Aurora theatre in Colorado with a toy gun that sprayed water instead of ammo that actually worked. Now something like that would’ve surely earned the guy some Facebook friends, if nothing else. Instead he killed 12 and wounded 58! Mean kid. Bad seed. Hurt people.

A lowdown on what is known to have happened at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora theatre, Denver: James Holmes got himself a ticket for this much-awaited event. Saw the first-half of the film. Went to his car during the interval. Returned with guns. Began shooting. Killed some. Hurt many. Eventually gave himself up to the cops in the car-park area.

James now finds himself in solitary confinement, and has made even the Arapahoe Detention Centre a three-ring circus. The Batman nemesis is working hard at being the ‘spitting image’ of Jack. Yes, he has been spitting on prison guards. Nay, not cool at all. So now he has on himself a face mask, ankle shackles, and Holmes is particularly happy with the green bullet-proof vest given to him. It fits in well with the Joker’s palette of colours. Purple. Orange. Green.

Our red-haired James Holmes is not compos mentis. He continues to believe that he is shooting for a movie, and that he is simply enacting his part. Try telling him he is insane and he’d probably turn around, laugh that laugh and tell you that he thought he is Pisces. He may then just gun you down, marvel at the deep red of your blood, and feel liberated. Shot well taken.

I feel sorry for the guy. He has made life into a motion picture and isn’t getting good reviews for it. Whom is he considering director by the way? And how many million dollars is he – the actor – getting paid? Well, it was never about the money, for the Joker.  It was always about sending a message. But James Holmes doesn’t even have a message. As far as he is concerned, he’s just acting in a film, or is trying to act like he is acting in one. Phew! Over to you Psychiatrist!

The Dark Knight massacre has left filmmakers the world over accused of inspiring violence. Not fair at all. For out of a million, there’s just one that set out to be the Joker. The rest are inspired to be Batmen. Also, James Holmes, who apparently saw the first half of The Dark Knight Rises is curious to know what happens in the end in the film. He’s been asking around. Well, try asking that again pretty boy, and the cat may just get your tongue.

P.S.: Deepest condolences to the families who lost their dear and near ones in this horrific episode that shouldn’t have ever happened.

Photo Credit: Orlando Aquije, Deviantart