Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And the nominees are...

The Oscar list is out. BBC has a nice section here

And no, Paheli is not there.

Monday, January 30, 2006


On the occasion of the anniversary of the assassination of someone I began liking after I grew up, here is a great piece

Also, if you could read this you could have some hope for our country. Thanks to Gman for this

The Crying Roger, a birthday party and the weekend that was

Roger rocks. The man who cried like a baby at the acceptance ceremony was the victor yet again, but for the first two sets, it looked like someone had finally figured out how the Fedex could be stopped. More here

Usually I watch acceptance speeches if I have seen the entire match as I did, if only to derive some inspiration, as some of the most memorable moments in human history are sporting ones. This one was no different. The fragility of a 23 yr old world champion was on show and the genius did acknowledge how important his fans were. I thought Marcos could have wise cracked that if he knew how much Roger would cry after the match, he would not have delayed it. And Marcos is still 20. In addition to Marcos' injury, some of the story is evident here Federer went up a notch in the 3rd and 4th sets, when it became obvious that Marcos was beginning to lose. Like Armstrong says in his 2 books, the moment to strike is when you know your opponents are hurting and then pull up your own performance.

After the 3 movies on Saturday, had a calmer Sunday with a run in the morning at Lalbagh. Did a lap with a friend at a slower pace and then did 2 laps at a pace I was surprised with! I usually take 16 min for 1 lap inside Lalbagh. I did 1.5 laps in 21 mins! If I manage to repeat this, my 14 kmph target for the year is well within reach.

The evening or rather the night was punctuated with a birthday party and was good fun especially due to the cauliflowers! And hey there was basil with the cauliflowers, but don't tell anyone.

Am now onto Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, which shall be finished soon, as promised elsewhere.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Rang De Basanti

You could skip ahead to the 2nd paragraph if you want to read about the movie alone. But if you are like what I expect you to be, you could read this paragraph too. As one of my intelligent friends pointed out, never see 2 movies both of which have been winners at Cannes, before you go to see a new movie. Your frame of reference is skewed. But then I already like Aamir Khan and had hoped that Rang De Basanti (RDB) would be great. Read on.

Rang De uses the story of a Brit soldier in the pre Independence era and his notes on the famous quartet of Azad, Rajguru, Asfaqullah Khan & Bismi. These notes are discovered by his daughter Sue played by Alice Payton(daughter of British diplomat Chris Patten) who comes over to India to shoot a movie called Young Guns of India. How the tale unfolds when she meets the friends of Sonia (Soha Ali Khan), DJ aka Daljit (Aamir Khan), Sukhi (Sharmaan Joshi), Karan (Siddharth) more famous for his role in Boys, Aslam (Kunal Kapoor) and a local hothead, Laxman Pandey (Atul Kulkarni) is what the movie is all about.

The music from AR Rahman, which I had raved about earlier is fantastic. It is refreshing, sounds like something that should be in a movie, parts of which are set in Punjab and is uncluttered. You could play the music on a long drive, from say, Bangalore to Bombay and not get bored once. Each track is different and spans genres as disparate as rap, bhangra, poetry set to music (I cannot think of a label for Ru Ba Ru), pop, etc including one religious track which plays during the visit to the Golden temple. My favourite is obviously the Daler Mehendi title track, which has enough energy for an entire train of Punjabis from Ambala to New Delhi !

Aamir is his disciplined self, with dance moves that would make any Punjabi proud. He plays the role of the DJ portraying the intense character, who is witty, brooding at times, with a flourish that none else in Bollywood brings to the job. That said, he now needs to start looking for special roles which can bring out the best in him, rather than try and act like a college goer. He has weight which comes with age, very visible and I guess, we now know what to expect from Aamir. You can t forever be just the angry young man. And Aamir is way too talented to be doing the same stuff.

It is difficult to speak Hindi without sounding odd if it isn’t your native tongue and Alice manages to pull her role off, bringing some freshness to the screen. Soha Ali Khan needs to watch her acting and realize that there is some distance to be covered in the acting department. She is great in just one moment in the movie, when Madhavan who plays her fiancé, Ajay Rathod, proposes to her. There are these dialogueless few moments, which are her best moments. And Madhavan looks fairly casual in his role and a tad overweight for an Air Force Officer. Mohan Agashe plays yet another politician role. I think he should stick to roles like the one in Apaharan. Sidhharth too has some way to go in the acting department when he does some intense scenes like the one with his father, played by Anupam Kher (portraying a corrupt businessman) and yet another with Aamir towards the end of the movie. But he is young and refreshing in other moments when he is playing his character as the son of a rich businessman in college, forever with a cigarette in hand. Anupam Kher is wasted in the role of a corrupt businessman, reminiscent of his role in HUM. He was actually better in that role.

The movie is good as long as it sticks to the college scene. It excels at recreating the atmosphere of a college, the borrowing of money by students, strapped for cash, the TV in the canteen, the going to dhabas, etc. The moment it tries to juxtapose the freedom fighter s lives with that of the youngsters, it goes all over the place. Atul Kulkarni is symptomatic of what is right with the movie and what is wrong. His character is a hothead extremist culture vulture initially and then joins the student group. The transition is really mixed up. I think that the MIG issue was perhaps unnecessary, as there is mixing of facts with unproven fiction. It is difficult to sit in the theatre and believe that there was a scriptwriter on the job. Like another friend put it, if you come out of the theatre and try to recall some moment from the movie as the defining moment, there is none!

Anyways, you go watch the movie and Paint It Yellow (The English version which was abandoned)!



The movie details the eventual overthrowing of the government of Greece after a series of events that follow the public assassination of a prominent leader, who is anti war. Although the movie itself never mentions this explicitly, it is widely known that is tells the tale of an actual political assassination. Thanks to IMDB for some background in addition to my DVD. I have left the names of the characters and starcast out of my review below, since I am largely unfamiliar with their names and I guess, most of my readers will be too,

The entire movie is tautly done and is an example of deft scriptwriting. The movie won the award for the best foreign film at the Academy Awards in 1969 and was nominated for the Palm d'Or. It won the jury prize at Cannes.

The entire star cast is convincing in their roles. Yago & Vago, the two right wingers, who have a role to play in the sequence of events, are particularly impressive, as is the character who plays the judge, who knits together the entire movie. The tension in the movie in the leadup to the assassination is palpable, while the Bolshoi ballet performs in the same city at the same time as the broadcast planned by the leader. The movie has several moments of satire when someone in the starcast is thumbing their nose at the establishment. The portrayal of the establishment is amusingly colorful. One particular set of scenes, which stays with the viewer is the indictment of the several officials in a virtual parade and then their comic fumbling in their attempts to make a hurried exit. The wife of the murdered leader essays a mostly silent but expressive role. The interplay amongst the other members in the aftermath of the assassination is realistic, while they debate various actions, some of which aren’t in line with their ideology of being legal always. This review is short in line with the movie's story telling style itself and if the movie could be summed up by one sentence, it would the dialogue of the emotionless, committed judge who keeps asking, Nom, Prenom, Profession!

The movie has a simple story and is almost thrilling in every reel, including in the hospital. The background score supports the script well, while one is taken on a roller coaster of a plot.

Must see.


All About My Mother

Occasionally one sees a movie one wishes one could direct if one were a film director. This is one of those.

The movie is a great example of story telling. It tells the story of a woman, Manuela and her experiences with her 17 yr old son named Esteban, the transvestite father of her son named Lola and then an infant also named Esteban, also fathered by Lola. The movie is knit together remarkably by the play, A Streetcar named Desire and is chilling & poignant in its realistic portrayal of the lives of the characters that constitute the story.

There is the brief but sweet role of Esteban which would be the heartbreaker for any romantic, who sets out to pen down the story of his mother, from which we get the movie's title. There is Agrado, another transvestite who tries to makes life agreeable for everyone and hence gets her name. She is downright fantastic in one scene, when she takes over the audience and tells them her life story, when the screening of the play has to be cancelled. Then there is Rosa, played by Penelope Cruz as the young nun, who wants to go to El Salvador, whose life altered by Lola, the father of the Manuela's son, Esteban. There are other characters including the actress, Huma who plays the main role in the play, the mother of Rosa, Huma's lover & co actress, Nina, etc all of whom make the movie an absolutely riveting story. My particular favourite is Rosa's father, who asks Rosa & then Manuela, their age and height and nods as if everything was in order and walks off, silently.

Frequently movies which handle issues of sex & sexuality, either go overboard or only make subtle references to it, while skirting the issue of acknowledging such a thing. All About My Mother strikes a bold note. There are multiple references to the alternate sexuality as well as the sexual behaviour of the characters, but all of it is handled deftly by the director without for a moment making the viewer, shift in his seat.

Must See, if only to learn to tell a story.

Haven’t you already run to your DVD store yet?!


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Odyssey Complete & Truncated!

Yesterday was the popular Odyssey quiz in Madras. My regular team mate and myself went to Madras by Lalbagh for the quiz, where we were joined by another alumnus who lives in Madras.

The train journey as most train journeys of mine go, was eventful. First I went and sat in the row behind that I was supposed to. Lalbagh express does not have nos on the walls of the train so that you can readily identify where your seat is. The nos are behind the seat. Since I had a window seat, I asked this uncle about his no, thinking he may be sitting in mine! He replied rather grumpily, as if I had asked for his daughter's hand in marriage! Anyways correction happened. I did go and sit in the right place. Later I heard the man expound at length on Indian philosophy and Tamil literature. His son was an M.tech.... blah blah blah! He also mentioned that he had about 100,000 books and that his son was not very keen on them. Maybe, I would have asked for his daughter's hand in marriage if he had had one! Our uncle was reciting verses in Sanskrit & Tamil impromptu on various topics.

I began reading The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, which I had bought almost 2 years ago, in Mumbai on the footpath. It is a roaring read. I could barely keep myself from laughing every once in a while. And although my fellow passengers could see I was reading a book, they were still intrigued by my guffawing all through. How can you control yourself when you read a book which starts off with why there is no expression such as As beautiful as an airport, simply because airports are as ugly as they can get? They are full of frustrated people who have missed flights, have been waiting, lost baggage, etc... I have not read the other Dirk Gently work which is the The Holistic Detective Agency, but now shall definitely read that.

And oh, now for the quiz for which I went to Madras! Sorry Affair! We made 18 on 35, which was 4 short of the qualification for the finals. Our grief was shared by him and a few others. And to add to our misery we negated 2 answers of our own, I forgot a repeat and we chose a wrong answer when we had 2 to pick from, for one of the answers! Not a good start to the year. But what the hell! I met another friend of mine from Infosys days after nearly 5 years. I had some splendid filter coffee at Saravanas and then spent some of my evening in the company of a lovely lady. To top it off, I met another old friend from Bangalore and his friends at a restuarant called Karaikudi in Besant Nagar, which was having an off day on service. Not recommended if you are a vegetarian. But then an old friend & a member of the team which were the eventual runners up in the quiz also caught up with us at the station and we had a lovely chat till we discovered that our bloody bogie was at one end of the platform and that end was away from us!

So much for having a nice time!

Among other things, we saw the new Sportstar in tabloid format and it sucks on content, but looks great. Also costs Rs.8. Definitely not worth my money. But the issue I bought had an ad for BSNL broadband which has a file named lillyflash.wmv being downloaded and a family in front of a pc! The above mentioned abominable friend of ours went bonkers after seeing this! So I guess it was worth Rs 8.

Another rendezvous with someone went missing from our schedule as did a chance at seeing the proshow at Saarang!

Another day, another result.

The title is a tribute to 'the complete and unabridged' books that we read when we were young and impressionable!


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music

Stephen Fry's book is a romp through thousands of years of human evolution till present day in his own style, tracing the evolution of western classical music.

Fry is incredibly insane while he describes his favourite composers Bach & Wagner, describing their compositions, lifestyles, successes & failures, condos and condoms, etc. (Ok Ok, everything except condos & condoms in the above list is there!) He uses different icons to describe downright absurd creations that he has embedded in and different font sizes & typefaces for impact. For ex, Wagner is in a larger font size right thru the book for his larger than life compositions. I can quite imagine the printer repeatedly cursing while typesetting for the book!

I am already in love with Bach since our man loved coffee so much that he composed The Coffee Cantata as an ode to the divine beverage. There is even a mock one line review at the back of the book on what each of the composers would have said had they seen this work. Fry's attempts at self deprecation is matched by the broad sweep of classical music that he covers and his work is brought to life by his rich language and unmatched sense of wicked humour. My favourite is his remark on collective noons. He says they are rather like polar regions & mountains! Whoever gets there first gets to name them!

This is my first Fry, although I have one other book of my own, The Liar, which I shall start right away. The experience has been rewarding to say the least. I now know what a semi breve is, among other things!


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oz Open.. settlement day results

Ljubicic lost :( We will have to wait another year. He made 57 unforced errors and only 71% on 1st serve.

Federer gave a master class. Guess he might get a kangaroo this time, since he has 2 cows already! But Haas showed why Roger has lost to him. He matched him stroke for stroke and with speed. Frequently Federer dazzles since he makes incredible shots and at angles which just whoosh past his rivals, more than demoralizing them. Haas does not belong there.

Leander won and won again. So now he and Damm are in the semis. While Mahesh opts for glamour, Leander refuses to believe he is on the wrong side of 30.

The Radio Interview

This morning I was at the studio of Radio City for the interview. I met Vasanthi, the host and the producer, Preeti. They asked me if I wanted coffee or tea or badam milk! I politely refused saying my mom had made some awesome filter coffee and I did not want to ruin the taste. Vasanthi remarked that maybe I knew about their vending machine! I said that even my office had the same lousy contraption.

Since I did not start right away, I waited for sometime and chatted with Preeti about Manju in particular and life in general, about running, etc. I did get Preeti to read Manju's profile in IIMPRINTS, the batch memoir. She was fairly touched herself and mentioned the encounter of a friend of hers with adulteration in Rajasthan.

And then the ebullient Vasanthi said I could go into the recording studio. The first thing that hits you when you enter is, is that it is so bloody small for something that produces so much music! We started off with an introduction to Manju as I knew him. I also talked about what the idea behind my message on the bandanna was . I had a list of songs we knew Manju liked and had taken it. Sadly 2 of the 5 were in Tamil and the 5th, Kandisa by Indian Ocean was not available. So we could play only 2 of the 5, I would have wanted. The good thing is that I had carried IIMPRINTS. So when Vasanthi asked me what Manju was like, I did manage to read out an excerpt from what was written against Manju's entry. We closed out with a song.

Vasanthi managed to record the entire interview and gave me a tape. I shall try and convert that to mp3 soon and get it uploaded somewhere. It should be 10 MB, since the interview was about 10 mins, although I was in the studio for about 30 mins. And when
I left, Vasanthi made one valiant attempt to be the gracious hostess and get me drink the output of the vending machine. Today was not the day for the machine. I met Cindu, the hostess of the matinee show, on my way out. Also witnessed some yuppie talk between Vasanti and someone outside the studio, during the show, when they were comparing the color of their denim and what not (until today, I had only heard this high energy exchange every morning on radio)! I guess the energy level is needed to run a 4 hr show.

My mom cannot stop calling me Dharmendra after hearing it close to a dozen times on radio today! It sounds so weird! Somebody stop her. Its driving me nuts.

I am really happy that this went well and the entire interview was about Manju. Thanks to Radio City once again and all involved in making this possible, incl. Sweety who painted my bandanna in the 1st place.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Going Bananas

Actually more like peeling bananas.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oz Open.. settlement day

Sample this.

Tommy Haas has beaten Federer this year, one of the minority to have ever beaten Federer. Ljubicic meets Marcos Baghdatis, who beat him last yr at the same tournament! And everyone thought that it was going to be Roddick vs Ljubicic.

As if that was not enough Leander meets Mahesh!

I am going to be so split on loyalties that I shall try and not watch. Another titbit, Jim Courier in his TV avatar continued asking questions, which were rather silly to ask post match - He asked Ivan how it was growing up in Croatia, due to his troubled past. I loved Ivan's reply, his past included being born in Bosnia, moving to Italy as a refugee, etc as a 13 yr old. He answered that he does not remember much since he was a kid. I found that oddly oriental in a philosophical sense! But in response to another question about whether his Davis Cup involvement has contributed to his performance this yr (Ivan is yet to lose this yr) and this is his best performance at a major, 4th round and all! And he is seeded 7th. Ivan went back further in his life saying that Mario Ancic and him had won at Athens and that is where it started. I think some of my love for Goran, the boy from Split, has rubbed off on Ivan. And I did see Croatia win the Davis Cup, after a longish yr.

Hence the love for underdog continues.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

New Arrivals on the teapoy & other things that go whoopie on a Sunday!

I bought the paperback version of The Argumentative Indian which is now available for about Rs 295. Also bought a 3 VCD set of Woodstock, a movie covering 3 days of peace, love and music, as those 3 days in August 1969 are known. Thanks to a lot of money I owe to my credit card provider and the points I have piled up, therefore!

Currently reading Stephen Fry's Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music, based on a column he wrote for the Classic FM magazine, of which we are happy to have one issue.

Overall, totally excited and content with filter coffee, a lovely run in the morning, a book in hand, Daler singing Rang de in the background...

What Need I have for this, What Need I have for that,
I am dancing at the feet of my lord, All is Bliss...

(From Shakti)

Underdog Day

Marcos Baghdatis just beat Andy Roddick in 4 sets. I watch mostly underdog matches, these days. Not much fun watching the top seeds. The post match interview with Jim Courier was fun. Jim asks Marcos among other things how long he has been with his girlfriend. Marcos refused to answer that. Then Jim, much like a TV host brought up on voyeuristic programming persisted and looking at her in the crowd, asked the same question and held up his fingers, asking one, two, three...
It went unanswered, thankfully.

Now the best part. Marcos now plays the winner of Ljubicic or Johansson. So Jim asked Marcos what he would be doing later in the day, partying or watching the match. Marcos said he would be sleeping. He said his coach would be watching! And then he added he would be sleeping with his girlfriend! The crowds went crazy! Apparently, he bought tickets for some of them. Jim hoped that Marcos would do well enough, to earn a lot of money and buy tickets for all of them. For those in the unknown, Marcos is a Cypriot.

Radio City Interview Rescheduled

My program has been rescheduled to Tuesday 24th Jan at the same time as earlier i.e. 945 am to about 1015 am.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Interview on Radio City

I have been approached for an interview on Radio City, Bangalore for a
segment called Bangalore Inspires. This is expected to be aired on
Monday 23rd Jan 2006, on 91 FM from 945 am to 1015 am, during the show, Good Morning Bangalore done by Vasanthi, an RJ.

The topic for discussion would be my interaction with Manju on campus and my marathon experience this year.

I had run with a bandanna with a message saying Remembering Manju
during this year's Mumbai Marathon. Indian Express did an interview
with me
after the marathon which was published this Monday.

One of the encouraging takeaways for me, in the matter is that Vasanthi got my blog details from Prof. Rajeev Gowda of IIMB(thanks to him), when she was unable to trace my contact details, after reading the article in IE. Good for inter IIM bonding.

Thanks to Vasanthi & Radio City. More when I come back from the programme.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Mumbai Marathon 2006

4 hr 42 min!

Almost a year of waiting to break the 4 hr barrier and attempting to wrest the family record from bada bhai, but quite a humbling failure. Those were my thoughts during the race.

First the guys from Indian Express approached me after spotting me finish and seeing my bandanna. Atleast they knew who Manju was and were curious. This was one of the major motivations for the run. That alone washed away any misgivings I had had during the race. They listened to me patiently and made notes. I only saw the article this morning and noticed just one inaccuracy. I did tell them that my own football record was largely unillustrious and I just ran around mostly, which is why I only run these days. They did laugh at it, but the article doesn’t reflect that. But then they gave Manju more than 2 columns, without anyone asking and they stuck to the right facts about Manju (his uprightness, his nature and the fact that his family and us want justice to be done. So THANK YOU INDIAN EXPRESS for this. THANK YOU SANDEEP, SUDHIR and the photographer.

Now for the run!
The day began very early, since Ravikiran was running in the half marathon. So we decided to skimp on our own taxi money and join them. Saw a lot of young people this time and more people for the marathon than perhaps last year. There were also the mandatory pretty young things, but this time we were out for timing and honestly did not pay attention to any such thing.

There were the assorted army guys, the athletes, but not too many people from the Sappers or we did not see them. We do recognize a few of the those fleet footed gentlemen. Then there were the navymen with INS VIRAT caps, the army men from the ASI, the yuppies from MUMBAI, lots of sportspeople from various institutes, etc. One ragpicker called out for me and said, Hey Uncle, aaj ke racing match me na, first aane ka. Best of luck! We said thank you and thought that it is a good sign. This time, they almost had a running start. We promptly took off. 1km in 3 min 55 secs, 2nd km in 7 min 57 secs, 3rd km in 12 mins 45 secs, 4th in 17 mins. We thought we should slow down a little. Didn’t know whom to tag. Did shout and wave to all RFLers who were running like they do. Steadily. We have a style difference. Finally when I made the turn off Marine Drive, I had done 6 km in 28 mins. That is a good pace by my own standards.

Since I had already done the Peddar Road stretch on Friday, I did not have much trouble negotiating the incline, which is a frequent undoer of most runners. At the halfway mark, I had taken less than a hr. In fact at 12 km, I had taken 58 mins. My split timings as on the cert are

14.1 km 1 hr 10 mins
23.2 km 2 hr 3 mins
32.5 km 3 hr 17
Finish or 42.1 4 hr 42

Pace 8.98 km per hr

What it does not say is that I did 31 km in 3 hrs. That by the time I returned from the Bandra reclamation, I was well on my way to giving up, since the heat was unbearable. Bhasker, one of those kind souls urged me on while he was still making his way to the last stretch before the U turn, saying that I know this is the toughest part, Don’t give up. Keep running. But my man for the day is Deepak, Vijay's pal, who simply stuck to me from kms 26 or so till about 32, ensuring that I didn’t stop, dropping his pace for me and being a true runner. Thanks to him, I did finish.

There were some very touching memories. There were some angelic kids along the road in Prabha Devi who were extending their hands out to me and asking me to touch their hands as if I were some star athlete. I was almost falling off, but then how can you deny these kids. If I had had the energy, I would have hugged each one of them. They were so kicked and exclaimed in Marathi, Gujarati. Hindi & English when I did. I felt like the man who wears his red underwear outside. There were the rare few who did read my bandanna and exclaimed, Arre Manju kaun hai! There were the tourists from England along Worli Seaface in front of the Worli Milk Dairy, who exclaimed keep it up, yeah! Then there were the dignified Mumbai high society complete with purple scarf around the straw hat and dark sunglasses who were applauding, till I crossed them. All this makes ascending flyovers easy. There were several families out on Peddar Road who cheered my number along. There were people who brought their own juices and sealed plastic water glasses along and were handing them out. There was even the occasional policeman who applauded. There were fellow participants from other countries in the opposite direction, who still had more miles to go than I did and cheerfully urged me on. There was this cute girl of about 5 or 6 years, who was screaming from the balcony of her 7th floor house just after Peddar road, Keep it up, Well done. First I only looked up and when she waved, she was delight personified when I waved back. I hope they put kids only on the route next year. I will definitely cut my timing by 15 mins!

Mumbai Rocks.

A sore point this yr was that in the last 6 km, there were hardly any water stops except for a medical tent on Chowpatty. But then Mumbai being itself, a Malayali auntie had taken it upon herself to refill two 1.5 l bottles with nice, cool water from her home and was supplying them to runners. Her husband was refilling them, darting in and out of the house, while she stood in the sun, holding them out. Since I was going real slow, I had a lot of time to notice all this. Then there the guys who handed out bananas and water. I had a load of glucose, water and electral, but nothing helped, not even a toilet break. And I had never taken one in my entire running history, during a race. Hope the organizers return to the original timings next year.

Deepak and myself had resorted to walking till the last 2 km from about the 36th km or so, till Bhasker and Vijay caught up. They gently prodded us and boy, we took off. All of us finished within minutes of each other around 4 hr 42 mins. While I tried to regain my breath by sitting on the road divider, the IE guys caught up and that is how the above article happened.

The best Indian men were at 2 hr 12 min or so. Sunita Godara who is a famous Indian marathon runner was behind me at the 23.2 km mark, running with another guy. But she ran with the pace of a professional. She finished in 4 hr 2 min, the 6th woman amongst Indians. The best Indian woman was 3 hrs and 2 min.

I was 143rd overall and 61st in my age group for men (215th & 180th for the same, last yr). My guess is that roughly 25% of the 142 above me, were not Indians. And then there were the strong women finishers, mostly professionals. There were a few seasoned Indian runners, who could easily be spotted by their pace and style. I did see the women finishers. So I know that the future can only get better. I am getting there, but not as fast as I would want.

Next yr, since I expect to train in Madras, maybe I will do better. Will keep hoping & running, till then.

Two thoughts before I close. One, the idea of the bandanna was born out of a desire to keep the memory of Manju alive and not let it fade away. Second, I had planned to raise funds for Parivaar and mailed a group of like minded friends to contribute to it. We have managed to do better than we planned on both counts.

Thanks to Sweety, Thangam, RFL.

Manju RIP

Thanks to everyone involved.

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Vini Vidi…Journey to Mumbai

Try and avoid Air Deccan atleast till they sort out their scheduling on winter flights. They sent me 3 sms on the 12th and one on the 11th. The first stated that my flight was rescheduled to 950 AM (never mind the fact that my flight was actually at 950 AM!) and then the next 3 progressively stated that my flight was rescheduled to a different time 4 hrs later, etc and then finally cancelled! I had the option of either waiting to take their next flight at 5 pm or stop being at their mercy. Thank god for free markets. Jet Airways has 8 flights to Mumbai daily from Bangalore. After some initial panic about whether my vacation could go waste, I moved to Jet and cancelled even my return flight by Air Deccan. Note that I had booked 45 days in advance. So much for discount fares. And I paid just 500 bucks more. And you do get free food, water and coffee, as much as you want.

Like I have said before, auto drivers are an integral part of my travelogues. After getting down at Mumbai airport and taking detailed instructions from a friend, I took an auto. I asked the driver what it would cost to reach a place in Bandra, from where I could take a rick To Whom It May concern Prabha Devi. He said that it should take about 50 bucks, but he wanted 20 bucks more. I had already haggled with 3 other auto guys who were not on with my proposal for jut 10 over the meter. They felt that standing in the prepaid line for over 2 hrs justified a premium. Anyways, my driver took some unfamiliar routes and about 5 minutes later, we found ourselves opposite Vile Parle station. When I asked him what we were doing there, since Vile Parle wasn’t exactly Bandra, he said that I had said I would not pay above 10! Then after a violent outburst from my incredulous self, we took off again and this time, my driver dropped me off at the bottom of a flyover in Bandra. We moved on and then took a taxi to Prabha Devi where our dear friend Ravikiran who had a large role to play in this trip, had keys to the house.

First thing was to get some filter coffee. So we went to neighbourhood hotel to grab some coffee. How are we supposed to live otherwise?! It cost Rs 7. About an hr later, we thought we will try out the coffee at one of those neighbourhood stalls which mainly serves taxi drivers. I would have expected tastier and cheaper stuff. But then the owner turned out some stuff worthy of being spat out for Rs 6! Besides the vile thing he called NesCoffee was just milk mixed with a Re 1 sachet. Sometime it helps to be conservative.

We had planned to do a practice run on the Worli seaface in the night, but our buddy was under the pressure of a usual weekday at the office. So we took off next morning from the beginning of Marine Drive till Haji Ali. Took about 38 mins. Considering that we ran the first two at a deliberately slower pace than usual (since our host was also running with us) we thought we were in good shape to take on Peddar Road on Sunday.

Did another practice run all by myself on Saturday, on the Worli seaface taking about 9 mins 23 sec for the 2 km stretch. Good we thought. We also gorged on some superhuman banana with cream stuff sold at the Haji Ali juice stall. Quite expensive at Rs 90, but almost like Jet Airways. Real Good.

We were also treated to some assorted entertainment and inspiration at the place of another friend who seems to have been cruelly separated from us in the Kumbh Mela. Watched Chariots of Fire for the nth time. In the movie, the woman who Harold Abrahams is smitten with, utters some unforgettable lines. HA after losing to Eric Liddel says, that he doesn’t want to run, if he can’t win. She counters him saying that you cant win if you don’t run! We shall come back to this in our next blog. Managed to go to the CrossWord at Shivaji Park and read Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong in one sitting. When you need adrenalin, read the book. The LLB above also gifted us a LIVESTRONG band. So we are now feeling warm, yellow and fuzzy. Now,that reminds me of a tennis ball! Hey now, that is not what I meant to say... Whatever!

I had planned to wear a bandanna with a message dedicated to Manju during my run. Almost didn’t do so, since we didn’t get paint in time. Finally in the night, we stopped by a shop (Welcome Stationery in Worli, which is open at 10 pm in the night). Thank God for the city that never sleeps.

The good man known as Ravikiran painted my bandanna for me and we were done.

All set for the run on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mumbai Chalo

While I contemplate the challenge of overhauling last year's rather below modest performance, here is what I have been doing to psyche myself up

Testing myself on my knowledge of bananas!

Found out that I may be almost an ageplast and that several of my friends may be deipnophobic...

Also managed to raise some funds for Parivaar through some generous friends, but more on that later.

Also Vetcha boy has gotten me to commit that if I see LIW this year, I must atleast talk to her! I swear I was out of salts and on the verge of fainting when I nodded. Hope that she is not around ;)

7 of us from RFL are Bombay bound, including 1 couple.

I am in Bombay till 16th. More when I am back.
Mumbai Chalo.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Start of the New Year

I finished reading Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, saw Truffaut's Jules et Jim on my new year and was trying to sleep to be woken up by friends with sms and calls.

Also saw Das Boot, apparently the pre-eminent WWII movie on U Boats. A friend had said that if I liked U 571, I should love this one. I did like it, except that the version I saw, was the director's cut and ran for about 3.5 hrs!

Hotel Dwarka, one of the best places to eat in Bangalore is no longer at its original location. It used to be one of the landmarks in Basavanagudi as I knew it. I hope it does revive in some form. But Bull Temple Road will never be the same again.

I also indulged in some self-flagellation in KQA's first quiz of the year. Scored very little, but a tweety japanese bird in yellow suit, complete with black stripes enhanced our final score!