Sunday, March 14, 2010

Athens Beckons!

I would be lying if I say I ‘always’ wanted to run the Athens Marathon (Greece), because until a few months back I didn’t even know it existed.

But the fact is, once I heard about it I knew I wanted to be there (Thanks to my friend Srini, who brought it to my notice). It’s going to be the mother of all marathons and I am sure running in Athens will be an experience of a lifetime! (I know..I know..I had said the same thing about my Europe backpacking trip). But, there are lots of things in this world which can be an ‘experience of a lifetime’.

A Marathon for me is not just a sport. It’s a test. It’s a way I can consistently prove to myself that I have the will power to take on everything in this world. Believe me when I say it’s not just about stamina and fitness, especially for someone who doesn’t train for it. It’s a major test of resilience and a huge factor in running marathons is the ‘will’ to finish it. I am really passionate about it!

If we look at all the major Olympic events, the Marathon Race stands out because it was born by a real historic and heroic event. The Athens Marathon itself has a lot of history to it. The history dates back to 2500 years. This year they will be celebrating the 2500th anniversary of the “Battle of Marathon”. The battle was fought between the invading Persians and the Greeks (490BC). The Greeks sought the help of the Spartans by sending a foot soldier (Pheidippides) to Sparta. He ran 240 km (150 miles) in two days but was told they will not be able to help due to some superstitious reason (Remember the movie ‘300’? :)). He then ran back to convey the bad news. He again ran 42.195 Km (that’s how the ‘Full Marathon’ got its distance), from the battlefield near the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia, when the Battle of Marathon was won with the word "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won') and collapsed and died on the spot because of exhaustion. Apparently the Greeks would have burnt their city if they hadn’t won within the deadline and hence it was necessary for Pheidippides to run back and convey the good news (Otherwise they would have assumed they had lost and burnt the city).

There goes the story of the origin of ‘Marathon’, though don’t ask me why they didn’t send multiple soldiers or soldiers on horse back etc. I don’t want to add speculation to the story…:)

Anyway coming back to my participation, I am glad to say I already have company for this race. My friends Srini (a marathon freak who introduced me to Athens Marathon and also booked on my behalf) and Karthik (another marathon freak..;) from US who booked after hearing from me) will be there. It will be a great experience for sure. The course is challenging and notoriously hilly. The entire race is through historic sites of the historic country. And the finish is in the beautiful Olympic Stadium, the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games. The event is scheduled to be held on Oct 31st 2010 and we have enough time to plan. Thankfully Athens/Greece was one place I hadn’t visited on my last European trip and hopefully we will be able to cover one more country.

Finally I will leave you guys with these words, which I found on the net (Sorry, no source as I don’t remember where I had found this)…

“For the first ten miles, a marathon runner runs on his training. For the second ten, he survives on his stamina. For the last six, his body metabolizes his very sinews: it’s an onslaught of pain but he runs on his spirit. That’s what courage is…that’s what makes a champion.”

PS: If you are inspired by this post and want to donate some money or even provide me with sponsorship money please drop in a comment/mail. I will be wearing your name on my jersey so that you can become a part of this historic moment. A better deal can be negotiated and am open to suggestions.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chirpy Tweety

All along it longed for its ‘freedom’, caught in a cage,
Craving to be free and the desire to consistently script a new page,
All along it felt itself caught in a maze,
Unable to explore and free itself from this phase.

Chirpy tweety, had nothing but its ambition,

A dream driven by desire and the spirit to make it happen,

But the cage was sturdy and strong,

Making its attempts seem all wasted and wrong.

Chirpy tweety remained bubbly,

Making attempts in full earnest and plucky,

The nights were short and the days lengthy,

Setting placeholders and sacrificing many.

With a sense of urgency and ardor,

It started tweeting less and biting more,

But destiny had different plans each time,

Punishing it, as if its efforts were a crime.

Strange are the ways of life,

One doesn’t know when one crashes or flies,

And for Chirpy Tweety, as the days go by,

It will be a question of ‘when’ it can truly fly.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


The concept of a sport riding on an individual seems very strange, but it does happen. Not that the sport ceases to exist if the individual retires, but then there will be a dent or a void which will take some years and some new individuals to fill. And sadly, a generation of fans idolizing on that single individual would no longer have the same interest in that sport.

I saw this happening to me when Michael Schumacher retired in 2006. I was an ardent fan of F1 and Michael, and never missed a race. But after he retired I hardly watched couple of races. Somehow the track never seemed the same without him. The max I would do, is follow the sport through newspaper and websites. Many people I talked to reflected the same feeling.

I fear my love for cricket would die the same death. I have idolized and admired Sachin Tendulkar for more than a decade now. Not only for his antics on the cricket field but also the way has he handled himself off it. I don’t see any sportsman who carries a billion expectations and has such huge popularity and fan following, not making any errors off the field. He has been an inspiration and a role-model like no other. He deserves to be called “the greatest sportsperson the world has ever seen” for the sole reason that he has handled himself beautifully despite everything. I dread the moment he calls it a day and I dread having to switch on the TV and watch another opener instead of Sachin. But again life goes on and cricket will search for another hero. But the generation who has followed Sachin would feel an emptiness which will be difficult to fill. Already I don’t watch cricket when he is not playing and many times I stop watching when he gets out, and I can only imagine how it will be when he retires for good.

These were heroes of the sport who have made the sport famous across the globe, and without whom the sport will take a beating. It might take another lifetime to find such heroes and during that time the administrators can only pray for mitigating the impact.

PS: This post was inspired by the return of Michael Schumacher to F1 and I am already looking forward to the first F1 race of the season at Bahrain on March 14th. A lot of rules have changed, the car is different and it may take him another year to bring the car and the team up to speed to the Ferrari’s and McLaren’s. I don’t think he can win the championship, but who cares? :) I know he will give one heck of a fight!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Gym, Guitar and beyond…

Yep! Gym days are back…After a hiatus of almost 5 months I have hit the gym again. Earlier it was so easy to go to gym (I used to go between 3-4 in the afternoon @office), but now after my office got shifted it’s become a pain. So after convincing myself I needed the exercise and after finding jogging these days to be highly boring, I have joined a gym near to my place where I spend an hour and a half in the evening after office.
The Result -: Last few days has been amazing. The feeling that comes with running on the treadmill and doing weights has no parallels.

The gym I currently go to is so much better than my office gym in terms of the equipment. But in terms of the diversity of people both are equally and highly varied. For me, it has become a habit to study the people who visit these places. I mean here you can find so many specimens within the homo-sapiens species that you never get bored. It’s just plain amusing. Maybe more on each of these specimens in some other post…

A thing that’s common between all of them is the way they look at the mirrors after every 2 minutes of workout. Their expectations are always never met and you can see the disappointment on their faces but there is determination to reach there, even though it might take a lifetime for most of them. One annoying thing that I observe is the way they adjust their dress and ‘other-things’ in front of the mirror. In an earlier gym it was even worse as the mirror was a one-way mirror. One of those things that would behave like a mirror from inside but people outside could peek into the room and see exactly what you are upto. Maybe the idea was to motivate the ‘outsiders’ to join, but it really was more like entertainment to them. I don’t know from where people get these ideas. The current gym is even better. It has been designed in such a way that people from the road can see what is happening inside even though its on the second floor. Further people in the opposite buildings, have balcony seats - I am sure they would have stopped going to multiplexes and enjoy the activities that happen here, with a popcorn and Pepsi, sitting on their comfortable bean-bags.

On another front, I have removed my Guitar from the closet. I hope to spend few hours every week to get back to hitting the right chords and notes. Let’s see how many days I will need to relearn the basics. It will be a battle of my patience verses its reluctance to play the way I want it to play!!

Monday, March 01, 2010


I came to know about Fireflies through my office colleagues and it was a breathtaking experience. It was something that I had never experienced before. I have not attended many orchestras or musical events but this one I am sure takes the cake.

Imagine a big banyan tree and a stage setup at the bottom of it. Add rows of stones in a semi-circular fashion around the tree. Fill it with loads of enthusiastic people. Add high quality music to it from various musicians and bands of all varieties from classical, fusion, Jazz,, Kabir, Kerala folk to hip-hop. Imagine this for the whole of the night. And that’s my friends is “Fireflies” for you.

We were about 8 of us in our group and we landed there (it’s about 30KM from Bangalore) more than an hour earlier. We were the first ones to reach there but we did this because my friends knew from last year’s experience that early bird gets the best seats. We also made a pit stop at Metro for all the groceries that we will need for the night.:) By 5.30PM we were all set for the event. It started with “Bramhasthra” – a new fusion band which performed to cheer up the crowd. And the performances went uphill from there. From Esperanto, Shabnam Virmani to Qawali, everything was a treat to watch and listen.

This was my first experience in an event like this and I am sure for the sheer ambience and the variety of music I will never forget it. By 8PM the whole place was brimming with people and the crowd was having a gala time. There were approximately 4000 people in that small place but thanks to our location we were pretty well seated for the night. There was free flow of unmentionable items (:)) among the crowd and it was tough to get up and even go to the rest room.

In one place and in one sitting I had never experienced such various kinds of music. There was fusion, classical, Jazz, Kabir chants, Hindustani, Qawali, Kerala folk music, Hip-hop and even our very own huli-vesha. The entire night passed in an instant and in no time it was 7 in the morning and the time had come to take leave. Words just cannot explain the ambience and the experience. One has to really witness it to appreciate it.

All I can is I will be there next year!!

The snaps are thanks to my friend Anand...

Some pics of the event can be found here...