Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chennai RTI

A plug for some pals of a buddy for an initiative noble in its intent.

Chennai Runners

We had the good fortune of running a 10 km race with that crazy set of runners in Chennai one of whom is this one I mean - it is bad enough to wake up early in the morning on a weekend to run, but 5 am!

Boy! And we did enjoy the first run with a group of about 5, including ourselves, in our adopted city. Actually it was meant to be a 20 km run and we were managing easily since the pace was abt a km less than our 1st hr pace, but then the early start had its toll. We had to retire gracefully halfway, to attend to some pressing needs as they are referred to! And to add to our merriment, one of the dudes offered some tips on what not to do next time!

Lovely route and all - Besant Nagar beach, Taramani etc. More when we do the next run.

Viva Chennai!

Happy Ugadi

to you all and thanks to god for a wonderful life and an awesome set of parents :)

These guys did a slick job






Look closely and you will realize that you are looking at carved vegetables. The maroonish-red flowers are actually beetroots!

What were they thinking?!


This one is from Pondy. So much for Confused Desis and USPs!




And this one is from a 'cool' eatery in Madras. I guess they wanted to say "Please don't dirty this place with colours, etc" but somewhere along the line, you know ...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

RFL completes a year

My club RFL completed a year recently. We had our 13th race around Ulsoor Lake for 5 laps of 3.3 km plus a 100 m extra for a race of 16.6 km. Sadly due to the quizzes mentioned in the previous lap, I had to miss the breakfast treat from RFL. The run ended around 8:15 and I had to go home, clean up, rush to Malleshwaram for the 1st quiz at Canara Union and then the 2nd at Daly Hall. Too much to do, too little time!

I came 3rd in 1 hr 20 min and a few secs. Actually I could have come 2nd as the guy who beat me was ahead by about 20 secs and I saw him pass me by and did not realize that he was in the same lap :)

When I saw the time sheet and saw his name, I realized who he was and that he has a better record anyways at distances over 15 km and is more consistent with his lap times than I am. So coming 3rd is not so bad.

I also changed my running strategy this time, not running the fastest 1st lap and took 15 mins+ instead to conserve energy. Not that it helped so much since I did not have a partner for the later laps. Thomas did help me in the 3rd lap when I managed to complete 10 km in about 47 mins, my target for the peer-pressure group, but then running a lap is nowhere close to finishing the race.

By the next race, I expect to be fitter and stronger than I am currently and perhaps to better. Till then, keep running.

The Joy of quizzing in Bangalore

This could have been titled as the joy of quizzing as well, but there is something about quizzing in Bangalore. For one, you get free coffee ;)
But seriously, the fun of quizzing is derived from the fact that the quizmaster has great fun setting the questions, the teams out there are all out there spending the best part of their weekends generally chilling out and having fun racking their brains (a la the Spiderman style) and getting some book coupons when they win. And there are super-enthu guys like Anil R, who come all the way from another state just to subscribe to their interests.

Last Sunday witnessed two fine quizzes, the 1st one being the better one (of course, I am prejudiced, but the 2nd one was a little more esoteric in my opinion, which comes from setting questions you know a lot about). Everyone who was lucky enough to be in it, was laughing their heart out, at some point in the quiz or the other - not to forget one set of questions on Sesadhri Library, Kumara Park and whatever else was related to Seshadri! Since Arul set a rule that only COMPLETE answers get any points, there were such comic attempts to get a combination of the answers of other teams to get to the right answer.

The 1st quiz was also in memory of WingCo and hence I did not want to miss it. That also meant that I saw my parents just once on Sunday. Surprisingly my mom did not crib about me not being at home! Either she has finally given up or she had a bout of "encourage the kid's hobbies" hitting her before she knew it! And by the way, I got to team up with the MetaQuizziks for the 1st time in about 13 yrs of quizzing! Yippie :)

The Prophecy of One Across

Amongst the several things that I have picked up in life for no apparent reason, this is one of those things that I actually believe in. On the day that I solve the 1 Across (or the 1st across) clue in the ET crossword, my day will be magnificent. This is simply a gut feel device that I have developed over the years and has been mostly accurate.

The last time this worked was on March 6th, the day of the Brand Equity Quiz in Madras. I solved the 1st across clue as I sat finishing my coffee at Meenakshi Bhavan (which has superseded Sangeetha for my choice of breakfast joint) on Santhome High Road. Another surreal experience which I shared with a few close friends also happened right after this. But then this blog is about the prophecy.
I went to work and after almost about 3/4th of a day of work, left for the BEQ along with my partner, who was also very keen on the event. All we wanted to do was qualify, so that the company would pay the entry fee for future events, based on our performance!

The prelims were mostly easy and we missed hardly anything in the 1st 10. We got the 1st 7 right! We were praying that we don’t hit a bad patch which quizzers frequently hit after a good run. We did one patch where we got 4 wrong, but then recovered towards the end where we got about 6 right. Overall, we got 22 on 30. Not bad. Then the wait for the results. There was coffee being served outside to calm our nerves. Derek usually runs thru the scores of all teams that participated. This time, he started with the teams that did not make it. But then there was a catch. Teams 6 to 10 had to face off in a tie-break for 1 place! I was hoping that we were not one of them. I have a lousy record with tie-breaks. We weren’t.

We started off well and after 24 questions, there was a buzzer round. We stayed inactive for the most part since we were well placed to be in the 1st 4 teams. We had a mostly unillustrious next set of questions, when we barely answered anything. However I got a good one which went right round the stage before it came to our team (Ustad Bismillah Khan has one vice, What and Which brand? Wills Navy Cut Cigarettes. This drew applause from Derek and the audience, after Derek had made remarks about me being better dressed, but my partner doing all the answering! To be fair, my partner was rocking, but more on that later). I got another nice one, which again went right round the stage before it came to our team - The Academy Awards are known by these 5 words – “And the Oscar goes to…” And got some applause again for this. When the time came for 2 teams to remain on stage, me and my partner were keeping scores (mostly our own) and thought that we must be 4th or joint 3rd and hence need to get off stage, according to the rules of the quiz. We got up to leave and then sat down as the scores had not been announced. We even told each other that 3rd place was not a bad finish for our 1st outing as a team! But then lady luck was grinning! Citibank and us were tied on the same score and Irevna was leading. And since we had topped the prelims, Citibank got eliminated!

Now, there was only a buzzer round of 8 questions. The leading team took no chances as they were ahead. We took about 5 or 6 of the questions, got 2 wrong and 3 right including the last one! Derek started, “The Air India plane of the Prime Minister of India …” My partner hit the buzzer and said “AI 001.” Till then, I had no idea that there was such a thing! Apparently Derek's full question was "The Air India plane of the Prime Minister of India has the 1st 2 digits as?"

As all of Derek’s quizzes go, he said that one team had answered and that there was a clear winner. Then he ran through the list of prizes and their net worth. He called the chief guest on stage and introduced him. Then he asked for the prizes for the runners-up and said that it would go to Irevna! Boy, we had won!
I am just happy to have been there and answered when needed to ensure my team was in the running and in the prelims when there were lots that I knew. Now, we are off to Amby Valley for the All India finals. Winners get a Ford Flair each!
Hope I solve the 1 across clue on the day of the finals!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Marina Beach Express

After spending close to 2 weeks in Madras and doing pretentious runs in the gym, I finally managed to do my first run on the Marina Beach like I had been planning for quite some time.

Started off at 6:30 am walking down from my street to the beach! (Yesss! As a correction to what I had said earlier, my house is not about 5 mins from Marina, its about a minute and half! So that actually puts us at some risk if the tsunamis revisit us, as my mother asked when I told her about the house near the beach and I had just brushed her aside as insane!)

Took off running on sand at as reasonable a pace as can be managed while you evade maidan jalebis (!), 'Indian Style' toilets on the beach, boats, kids, dogs which are half immersed in the sand, etc.

Finally reached a section that is relatively cleaner and picked up some pace. But then, one has to mention the several happenings that dot the Marina landscape on a Sunday morning, lest you think we are insane to be running in the sun, alone. There are revellers from the previous night, complete with playing cards and mineral water bottles, there are the volleyball players, there are the early morning lovebirds with no worms, the families which are out for a walk with the younger members clutching beachballs, footballs, etc, fishermen adjusting the nets, fisherwomen cleaning the nets with any remaining collections from the previous sorties, about a hundred cricket matches - incl. some with complete pitches, the mandatory children building sandhills (I think that this particular kid might become an architect! Such propensity to construct on a Sunday morning betrays a focus at an early age) and sundry others.

Several popular buildings that I cannot recognize are on my left as I run towards a distant line of shops that have virtually blocked the beach. Actually there is little of the beach beyond them as it seems to have been developed for cultivation and hence has grass growing all over it! Anyways, I turn back here. I pause for a moment to reflect on the distance. I see that the floodlights from Chepauk are just behind me. So that must be about 4 km from Santhome and I have been running for about 30 mins. The return is a little faster as I now know which sections to run on, closer to the water and in which sections to choose a line away from the water.

Some canines suddenly decide to run after me. Some fisherman throws a stone in their general direction and they abandon plans! Some kids watching me run, wave at me and are kicked that I return their gesture. Don't know whether they were more thrilled than I was :)

By now, I am having salty sweat, an indication that most of my water is gone, thanks to the sun and humidity. But home is near, or so I think! I take a turn off the beach and have been running for an hr and after getting into a street realize that it is not mine!

Jump over a few compound walls to get into Leith Castle Street which is near mine and get back to Santhome High Road. Feel a little silly at having overshot my own starting point. But then, what fun is a good run, if you don't go beyond you expectations! I blame the previous night's revelries which started off at Minar (the rooftop restaurant in Savera) and ended at Paprika (the coffee shop) with Apple Pie Frangipani & IceCream and Hot Coffee at 1:30 am, not forgetting the beer which is giving us our proteins as one of our bondhu housemates put it long ago!