Monday, November 27, 2006

2 hr 11 min 35 sec

I have completed the first half-marathon of my life. Through the blisters on my feet and the extreme pain in the knees while climbing down stairs and the walk of a geriatric; the unchanging, invariate and triumphant news is that I prevailed and completed the Seattle half-marathon in the aforementioned time.

Some highlights of the race:
1. Made infinitely worse the by the one thing you definitely don't want to see the morning of a marathon, especially when it happens once a year in Seattle: snow!!
2. Made fractionally easier and more irritating by the rain that the snow trascended into and which remained from the start of the race to the end. Made tougher by the fact that there are uphills and more uphills in the course making it tough tough tough. A stretch of flat land was like an oasis in a desert.
3. Made interesting by the 7000 people who ran and warmed up the place by their competitiveness and enthusiasm. At no stage of the race was I running alone. There was a crowd to wade through and I was grateful for that.
4. Made uplifiting by people who came out on the streets to cheer the runners through the cold. The best exhorting statement came from the lady who said:"This run is your bitch" :-)
5. Made possible by the mad rush I had in the last three miles, which were run on pure adrenalin and reserves of energy I did not know existed. In the last mile, I gave it everything I had and overtook 30-40 people. Discovered that pain has its own beauty and is as pure as love can be. Through the excruciating pain came the urge to overcome it and get to the finish line as soon as I could.
6. Made quirkier by thoughts like: this is easy; there are only 5 miles to go; what about a full marathon?
7. Made beautiful by running by the waterfront and through different vistas from which the beauty of Seattle was revealed. Passed by the house of Cobain and wondered why he would need to kill himself when he could be running up and down the stretch all the time.
8. Made raising my arms at the finishing line a very deserving and satisfying action. Then the arms fell down to the ground and so did I.

There I have it: my first prize in athletics in my life, a medal for completing the race, the tag of being a half-marathoner.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rounding Up The Usual Suspects

I was late on posting my review of Casino Royale. There was so much to say about the Bond movie and my experiences as a Bond fan while growing up, but I just lost the enthusiasm to go ahead with that after reading a few other blog posts on the same. Clearly, being first to market has its advantage. Nonetheless, here are some things that come to my mind right now which I haven't read about recently in other blogs, so here goes:

1. Dhoom again?
I saw the D2 movie first day first show today (ya, baby - Thursday 3 pm show). I actually thought it was decent. Hrithik stole the thunder, and made Abhishek look inept in the looks, dance and fights department. The women in the movie were a study in contrast too, with Aishwarya 'like' (you'll get this joke when you see the move) getting to the nerves. At least, Bipasha mainly concentrated on looking good, and did well at that. The story had not much to offer and one could see traces of Ocean's twelve and Bourne identity. The music was a step down from the original Dhoom. I actually thought that the background music too could have been used better. The action was neat in parts, and Hrithik's get ups were pretty cool. Aah, and one more point: the last bastion of Indian conversatism in movies fell. Aishwarya kissed!! After going on in interviews and articles about how Indians don't kiss and she won't kiss, she went ahead anyway (for those willing to debate, the kiss in kyon ho gaya na was a camera trick). Is this the setup for the Hollywood career? In any case, she couldn't pull off all the skimpy clothes in her quota. Desi clothes for her please.

2. Guru no more?
Dil Se was the seminal work of Rehman. I didn't think highly of the music of Roja (again, debaters welcome) and the music of Bombay was also not the making of Rehman (kuchi kuchi rakkama brought it down). Dil Se was pathbreaking, in the sounds and the compositions and the moods. And a big big factor were the lyrics, by Gulzar. After Saathiya being another fine hit, I was waiting to see how they'd team up here. Results are mixed and I am suffering for my own high expectations. The one song that stays in the head though is Ai Hairat-e-aashiqui. The album, as one reviewer mentioned, is typical Rehman. Jaage Hain reminds me of the same music arrangement as So gaye hain from Zubeida. There are numerous such similarities that can be pointed out. Yet, good music overall. Just not what I was looking for. On a side note, what is Gulzar upto? I still can't get over his trite lyrics: "mom maani nahin, dad naraaz tha" from Jaan-e-man. I was dying to get hold of the new Jaggu-Gulzar album online and when I did, I really wasn't impacted as much. Is it just too much to ask for repeat successes?

3. Prote-ass?
We got a drubbing in the first ODI. All out for 91. It really shouldn't have come as a surprise. The problem isn't that we are a good team. I think we are off on our selection lately. It happened in champions trophy and it has happened again. No surprise that barring Tendulkar and to an extent Dravid, no one really settled in. Tendulkar has now been warned. At the fag end of their careers, the Lara vs. Tendulkar battle is in full flow. Lara has thrown the gauntlet, and Tendulkar has to respond. Ponting will in due time overtake them both. It does look very possible the way he is batting right now. But Ponting is just a great batsman, not a genius. Plus, he doesn't have to face the Australian attack :-) I am looking forward to some significant contributions from Tendulkar for the rest of this trip, and of course the world cup.

4. No inheritance lost?
I got a chance to read the Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. I booked it in the library the day the news of her Booker victory came out, and so didn't have to wait too long to get it. I liked the book. At least more than I did reading Arundhati Roy's work. I like her sense of prose, and the insights that pop out of her writing on an average once every chapter. On the flipside, can't Indian authors provide anything other than immigrant stories? How about a story set in Texas with cowboys and no trace of Asians?

5. Maha-thorn?
Some of you may have read a blog post long ago about running a 5 mile race. I had hinted at the possibility of madness taking over and considering running a half-marathon. 13.1 miles of it. Well, I am happy to tell you that I have gone insane, at least in that matter. I am gunning for this run this weekend. Been training for it for a month or more, and while not complete in my preparations, am willing to bet limb and well, more limbs for it. Look at the bright side. They give you a medal for just finishing the race :-) Look at the flip side. That's the distance from Andheri to Churchgate if I were to run on the railway tracks. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Protagonist

The city is me, he thought, and nodded as if affirming that thought. Vibrant yet composed, changing yet constant, and occasionally man enough to live upto the accusations that fly its way. There’s also something about that glass of smoothie he just drank. Something about looking askance and slurping the last two sips, even though there would be a noise that could not be kept down. There’s something about the smile at that little triumph, an act so public, a thought so private. As the face contorts with wrinkles, the smile still remains. The same smile, he reminisced, that came to him when finishing up the cream on the biscuit and throwing the rest away. And never getting caught. Triumph. He jogged through the rain with that little smile of his. Next to him on the bus, someone was carrying ‘The brief history of time’. What about the protracted histories of mankind, he thought? The million universes that exist simultaneously within each second? Like a star born, to die. What about them? What about the little triumphs, and the smiles and the strange sensations that would fill up those universes? What about the music we create and the songs we write, all contributing to the symphony that would never be heard? Every man is a universe by himself. Every man's life is a full length stage production, with all the drama and the music and the tragedy that Shakespeare could never imagine. This is a blockbuster that unfurls every second. And you are a part of it. You are a part of my drama, pretending not to follow the plot at times. But there you are, reading a book next to me, staring out the window, cajoling your kid, eyeing the pretty girl next to you. Your life is a subplot of mine. Look, we even have theories like six degrees of separation to give you hints that in fact, we are connected. So, thank you for playing your part, even though I can’t tell you in as many words and you will never understand if I did. The smile plastered to his face, the superstar got up and exited the bus to a downpour. Life is one long ‘take’, he thought, till the director gives the command to ‘cut’ the scene. In that moment that he saw the whole universe revolve around him, he spread his arms and let the drops envelope him, sheathing him in reflections and refractions. A spotlight, if there was one. Then, with a mix of humility and pride, he bowed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The voices sound altered
Like in the commercials
A bit too happy, a bit too loud
Resonating to a constant hum

A child wails in his mother’s arm
Solitaire being played on a work laptop

Plastic smiles on the face of the hostess
A Sudoku puzzle someone abandoned midway

The microcosm travels with its inmates
On two wings and jet fuel
Six hundred and thirty eight
Frequent flier miles away