Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Double Helix

Very rarely does a book go beyond offering just the delight of enjoying a good read.
It does make a difference to your spirits at the time as well as improve your confidence about facing up to the world bringing general cheer into your life.

I am positively delighted to recommend The Double Helix by James Watson, as a work of simplicity and intellectual honesty, presenting as it does, a first hand account of the discovery of the structure of the DNA.

What stays with the reader is the charm of the youngish Watson who by virtue of perseverance and broad interests, while engaged in the race for the glory of the Nobel Prize matched wits with his older colleague, Crick, who was an acknowledged & intimidating intellectual giant.

Will try to make a longer post when I find time.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

The last time I read a work of such overhanging sadness filled with such beauty, I read two books - The Line of Beauty is full of descriptions of art, architecture, furniture and so on while The Remains of the Day overflows with tragic romance. And I loved the latter and liked the latter, only till a point (to borrow a Wodehousian tool!).
Strongly recommend reading this book by Waugh which I started reading expecting a rollicking comedy after having read his The Scoop and parts of Vile Bodies,

Heartwarming reading. Will perhaps make a longer post when I am less overwhelmed by the novel.

Feeling all woozy, like after a nice whisky.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mumbai Marathon 2008

I tell people who ask me that my annual visit to Bombay holds as much significance a visit to Tirupati or Vaishno Devi would hold in the lives of most Indians. The memory of the marathon in Bombay works wonders for my mind, right thru the year.

I was looking forward to the marathon, especially after 2 poor long runs (Kaveri Trail Marathon and then the Ultra). However as luck would have it, I developed a violent stomach infection and hence high fever on Thursday and had to come home early since I was flying on Friday. I visited my doc, who said I could run if I didn’t have fever. So then, goals got rapidly revised. On Sunday,
I wanted to be fever-free and just complete the race. Hence, for the 2nd humiliating time in less than 6 months, I was consuming pills : (

I reached Bombay on Friday and had a nice time despite my stupid flight being over 5 hours late. Compensation arrived in the form of accommodation at my pal’s place in Cuffe Parade. Saturday morning, I woke up to find my fever subsided and my stomach a little sore, but feeling good enough to run.

I couldn’t sleep much before race day and woke at 4:30 am or so. Despite my best attempts the previous night, I had not managed to get the microwave to work and had decided to have breakfast at the Taj, which is right next to my pal’s place. So for the first time in my life, I had a toast and filter coffee at the Taj for breakfast at 5 am! I met this runner who was doing the half marathon and didn’t know which way to go. I accompanied him to the venue and realized I was over an hour early for my own race.

The organizers had set a maximum target of 5 hours for full marathon finishers who started an hour after the half marathon runners (must be the silliest decision in marathons worldwide) and hence I did want to go under 5 hours (usually doable on current form, but then you never know when and whether that abdominal muscle pull wants to make itself felt!)

I ran with Manoj and Ms. Pai and we stuck together from the start till about the 32 km mark. We stuck to a 9 min/mile pace till we parted. Bombay seemed to be largely subdued unlike previous years although the dandiya after Mahim still plays. Manoj provided some light entertainment with his antics. At the 32 km mark, Ms. Pai enquired how I was feeling, adding she felt horrible herself. And then with no warning, she just took off!!! (This was reminiscent of Hari on his last lap in the ultra) Manoj kept me company for another kilometer, by which time, the weakness due to fever from 2 days ago dug its teeth in. I really had no strength to pull. I had no water issues or any other problems. My legs just did not have enough strength to pull. So I did some sorry shuffle sort of a run till about the 38 km mark. I had to walk for about a km before I regained more strength to run faster than I was walking. The timing sheet tells me that as long as we ran in a pack of 3, we were placed in the 1st 150 runners or so at each checkpoint. I eventually finished 192nd overall, although the cert says 189th. So I know what I lost in the last 2 hours.

Considering this was the race for which I had piled miles like nobody’s business, except for the last 4 weeks, since I had done 2 more marathons, it capped a hat-trick of poor races by end of 2007. Hopefully 2008 will be better.

Notes to myself: Must do something about the muscle weakness in the shoulders and forearms which now hurt more frequently than needed. Get back to the gym.
I did not meet my goal of beating last year’s timing set after last year’s race. My weight pre-race was 3 kg more than I had planned to be when I had started preparing. So there are enough things which need attention and improvement.

But, I am alive. And after reading Dan’s post on his run (He’s nearly 50 and did a sub 4 hour), I think I have time on my side. Someday, I will kick this too. In the meanwhile, I must atleast look like him by the time I am 50. He looks sculpted. Maybe I will start by buying shades like his ; ) And all said and done, I did complete my 7th marathon (counting the ultra as a marathon), 3 of which were run in the last 90 days or so. Not bad, I guess.

The finish was super. I sprinted to the line and my run ended in 4:43. I had my 2 dear pals wait at the finish line and who waited patiently till I had collected my medal and spoke to all the RFLers who had finished. God bless good friends. And then I went to my pal’s in-laws and had some superlative food, including half a litre of curd! And then there was the cute Labrador who made me feel better for the rest of the day. It is never a bad day when a dog kisses you, wags her tail and so on, after you have run a marathon for breakfast.

Until next year, adios to Bombay.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What a Coffee costs...

Went to Indian Coffee House to bid farewell to St Paul aka my quiz mate for years now and ended up buying books, my first set for the new year

Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton
The Double Helix by James Watson
Right Brain Teasers by Allen Bragdon and Marsha Monbleau
The Devil's Cup (Coffee, The Driving Force in History) by Stewart Lee Allen
The Rolling Stones Illustrated History of Rock and Roll

Am particularly pleased with the last two above :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog and others as well :)
Have a healthy and a very happy new year ahead

I wanted to join the bandwagon Down Under, but Roebuck made my task simpler.
As I was telling H, for once, Roebuck has written like a true cricket lover without letting his country of residence over-rule his sense of judgement.

There are also 2 new members on my blogroll - both people I admire, one who serves as my investment guru and another who is currently leading a life I would have fun leading

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman

My first book for the new year was The Golden Compass, the first part of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman.

Elegantly written, with adequate creative content to keep the reader enthused.
If you are enamoured by worlds with strange creatures and monsters, great combats, magical objects and the protagonists in great peril, this book is for you