Tuesday, August 22, 2017

AHM 2017: To a modest lifestyle

Piket Kendriya Vidyalaya (Secunderabad) 1st Std 1st day. A rainy one. 
My first day in primary school, I did not know a word of Hindi or English. I was taught Marathi in my K.G. Half of my class was busy weeping. I felt like a ‘kati patang’ after my father left me.

The lessons began. The first chapter said.. John, Mary, Mr Bell Mrs Bell. (Why was the “H” needed in John. Why Mr. instead of mister? These were the takeaways of a more confused mind. 
The school ended early on the first day. My Father did not know and I faintly remembered the way to the MES office from my school. My Classmate and I started the walk, trying to find our way to the MES office, where my father worked as a Draftsman.

I remember the guard room, where my Classmate and I were blocked and detained. I had waited for an Hour. My Classmate was a girl and she made me as uncomfortable, as any other girl. It was raining outside and our faces also rained with tears. The guard was trying an earnest consolation. Finally, father arrived on his Lamberetta and sanity returned.

Hyderabad holds a special place in my heart. The place where I began my kindergarten, was also the place I got lost, first. 
Later in my life it is also the place, where I ran my first Barefoot Marathon in 2012. I ran along Tankbund, via Secunderabad..My KV school and MES area  was reduced to a jogging distance from People’s Plaza.

I have crossed 51 years this July. Hopefully, more wisdom was gained by virtue of the aging process. Money relates to extravagance and I took upon myself to aim for a more modest lifestyle. I have been running for 6 years now, but it has never benefitted Weight loss. After a chat with my friend , Parag Dongre , on  an evening run at racecourse, I started accounting for everything I ate. 
I cut down free sugar, almost completely. All this is not needed, as there is no bad news in my medical reports. It is an experiment, where I try to eliminate, what is not really needed. 
It is a learning, to be able to give up “desire”/ “Yearning”. Maybe, I can understand Master Oogway a little better. I walk away from “Demanding” and “overwhelming” people. Live Free and happy.

The painful part? I have done it before 3 years ago, when I quit smoking, the cold turkey way. So why not Alcohol? I cut down this ‘unnecessary thing’ as well for 2 months. Green Tea 1.2 lt per day. Black coffee. Anything that leaves an aftertaste of sugar is avoided. No Bakery. New addition: Raisins/ nuts/ Plums/ dates/ Dry figs.. I realize, I am all set to reduce. I am still occasionally eat non veg and I have not felt the need of giving this up completely. (yet)

I am glad, when I achieved my BMI limit after many many years. It has been a 5kg loss and I realize, I now reduce even without exercise. But then , I make a mistake. I have stopped workouts and I am engrossed in my Paintings. The mind is not cheerful. The frozen shoulder is back after just 9 km run.

A weekend run of 9 km on Sat Sun is All I do for last 1.5 months. A pathetic shape for any serious marathon. I have not done any 30 km run. Worse, I have not even crossed 12 km for 1.5 months. 
It has been 2 pathetic runs a week! Situation is bad and I decide to pull out of the marathon.

Sujit and Umesh try to talk me out of my shell. I consider. If my mind 'feels good', I may attempt. Since I am not keen on finish, I may go straight with the half marathon crowd and do just 30km.. I don’t need the medal junk anyway.

My intent of this write-up is not to glorify my run. The run is a state of meditation that I have not much to write about. I should jot down things that made my run good.
The day earlier, I had a nice Hyderabad riceplate. The train journey with my friends gave me a positive frame of mind. Bhardwaj had collected all the stuff earlier so we got more time to rest  pre race day. I drank enerzal  two days before race, a packet a day.

During the run, A constant pace of ~ 6:30 was maintained by me till 30 km mark. Electrolyte (couple of glasses whenever I felt) and banana+ salt. Shoulder stretches/ ran with raised arms/ shrugged shoulders etc..I did not have a frozen shoulder through out the run.

The 5 hr bus was ahead of me. I used this to retain constant pace.
Switched on music at km15..full blast.  I was in my own world..The crowd  was just like hinderance traffic and I was on autopilot
Km 30.. The road started biting the barefeet. I focused on music..I realize I like the music company to switch off and be alone. Continuous music helped me. The “buses” came and went but I was distant in my own world. The biting road is ignored, as music heals the wounds.

Entered the university and I saw Umesh.. It meant that I was doing good time. 
The music connection in my phone is mostly hard rock music and few pop songs. This is the only stuff I listen to, when I run. Then, a very strange thing happened. It was 3 km to go and a Bhajan played on my phone.

Imagine a Bhajan after Def Leppard number. So out of place! But I did not fast forward.
It was a Ganapati bhajan. Must have been some Whatsapp forward that got added to the playlist. 
Is it a message from God? Can I use it as a Commandment? Just like the last few warnings I received from Him when I gave up smoking?

I confess: It has been a very rough and tough time in my life. I believe that faith and trust work, but there is always a doubt; What if they do not? What if trust is betrayed? Can you re-trust? Can I be calm and simple and not be prey to politics?
I don’t cling to god, as I plan to remain strong, to believe in myself. If life has been giving me lemons, but it’s up to me to claw and rise again, consume the lemonade. I must believe in myself. 
Tears well in my eyes, I realize my family is with me on my run. I must message them my time, as soon as I complete. The Vighnaharta bhajan paves the path for me to conquer myself. 
A girl overtakes me with increased pace. If she can so can I. I use the positivity of others. I remember all the outstretched hands from the crowd. The small hands that I grazed to grab power they lent. "Touch here for power"..

I enter the stadium. The 5 hr bus is waiting outside.. so I must be well within time.
I hit the stadium mat..Bit of confusion as half marathon and full marathon have a division. I steer to my right and go ahead full steam gallop. A medal around my neck I stop my runkeeper. Its 4:56.
My Personal best.. That too in Hyderabad. I realize that I can easily run 10 more kms with this splendid weather..All this when I thought of a finish time of 5:30- 6 hrs.
Running a 30km is not a prerequisite.. Nor is a 20km.

As a friend says- It is all in the mind.

This event has been very special for me and I have jotted down few habit changes that I made in my life. Wish you all very best. Believe in yourself, when the chips are down.

It has been a long Chautauqua from the Piket Kendriya Vidyalaya to Gachibowli stadium. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The notion of "Truth" and "Hard facts"


Still confused about the period of Ramayana- Mahabharat while reading Devdutt Patnaik, Buddhism and Jainism started well before?!  I thought Mahabharat as 2000BC. There is an aspect of Time bloating when we search in past + there are no hard facts.

We relish, when we find an older carbon dated specimen. It is like a time travel. The question is are you malleable enough, to accept a radically different thought than you have so far believed (or led to believe) OR you prefer to bury your finding and let the earth be at peace.

I do not believe in a grapevine that suggests the centuries that built The intelligence such as Vedas, could not develop a script to write it down.
I believe that the ancient way of passing knowledge by word of mouth, allowed ambiguity. Perhaps Vedas were passed verbally for a reason? to suggest improvement/addenda  by intellectuals challenge current theories and embrace better ones?
NOT for strict obedience to pass info without error. This is my hypothesis. Lay down rules and you stick to the dictum.
Einsteins, Edisons thrown out of the class for not 'obeying'. Challenging status quo is as good as a rebellion.

Perhaps, Ambiguity is a chalice that holds everyone in awe and confusion, there is a give and take of ideas between different cultures, experimentation, acceptance and develop a truly high potential lifestyle (continuous refinement of what works in current state).

Perhaps Search for originality/ asking for proof of what was earlier, develops cracks. (This is the  Western scientific research that we all have embraced)
Written scriptures that suggest a "different" truth can cause a holocaust, if unearthed,  if the current belief is different.

This article stops here. It is not complete as Sanatan dharma believes in continuity. It suggests that people talk more and adapt, write less  :) ; avoid being judgmental.
I would search for new stories that show different light, not believe on a single one as my religion. There is a lot more that was historically adopted but I still see room for improvement.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Smoking out the desire to Smoke



As a boy I used a glass of milk and Tea was never my choice till Grade 10.
As a trainee in a factory, I got introduced to Tea. Tea was something that I never liked but it got into the system and became a part of it. Coffee creeped in too but my fav has always been a glass of Cocoa all these years. I find that these beverages are taken by many, few take it to a degree of addiction that they cannot do without many a cups. 
On the flipside I have a friend, who still does not take any of the caffeine drinks, perfectly pure! Perfectly sane and in control of his body and mind. He should, as he is a surgeon. (Note that this article is written by a 50+ year old who has observed the after effects over time. My friend is not perfectly a Vandame, but he is close. I know, there are many such and I see few of them as good runners during marathons.)
Let me now get into worse evils. I feel, I should spell out this darker secret in my life for benefit to others, who it might help.
 At 18, after I started earning, I started with occasional Beer, then graduated to Gin and later to Whiskey. Fortunately, drink habits depended on Money and I did not have too many till mid 40s.
A change of Job and I got into Smoking..Occasional 2 per day..Sometimes 3. I was very sure that it does not hurt. I do not remember how and when I got into more but..I did. More addiction is NEVER as per plan. Humans tend to slip away. 
It had gone upto 5 cigs everyday..occasionally more. I have smoked for 14 years and it may have done damage that I never cared about. 
But then, in the company where I work, many VPs and directors suddenly stopped smoking. When I was dillydallying with the idea, a DVP mentioned to me that I may realize the side effects later, not now..but perhaps after 50s.

A car accident http://papendha.blogspot.in/2014/11/a-date-quite-accidental.html gave me the needed jolt. I had survived so far, in spite of all the wrongs I did to my Body,by grace of god. 
Yet it had not salvaged me and I continued my abuse. I lost control of my car on a straight road! Much worse, I could have done away with my entire family at the cost of my negligence.
I gave up smoking after that day. God wants me to live and prosper. What right do I have to damage my body? My reflexes have died over the years. If others have faith in me, I need to rejuvenate myself so that the faith is intact. I will not be a rock climber again, as I live with a Frozen shoulder.
But I may be able to be a better runner perhaps, where lungs are everything.
 
Giving up is not easy and it brings in reactions. The first 3 days were toughest. My wife was supportive and another friend who gave up a year, before me were the people I looked up to. The effort was earnest. With my age, I knew exactly what goes wrong with the body. My Boss had mentioned drooling, saliva dripping in sleep etc very graphically and I respect his age for telling it much ahead, before I age. I was aware of my loss of control and slowdown of reaction.

When one decides to give up, the sole drive/ determination is from within self. No amount of external advice helps. It has to be a self suggestion. You must be a super hero to yourself. There are no awards or merit certs here. A cleanup drive will show you the light , with time.

You can give up right now, if you make up your mind DO NOT take a stepped approach to give up. It has high failure rate. 
The key things that helped.
  • I joined a no-smoking forum. It helped me count days I did without smoke. (I gave up counting after 6 months as I had no desire to blacken my lungs again. Passive smoke became a irritation.)
  • When irritated or a desire for smoke, I chewed ajwain to clear my tongue OR Ate a chocolate
  • Climbed the stairs of my office. Counted the repeatitions
  • Went out in the traffic for a walk where my mind would be distracted.
  • Most imp: Be with people who do not Smoke. Look around for role models. There are MANY.
  • Reward yourself on achieving a milestone in your goal.
  • Be the superman. Be your own role model.
  • The time i spent in smoking was later spent in doing quick sketches. 'Create' something that you will look back upon. Create many such small things. These are actual wins that use the mind positively, rather than a drugged state of nothingness.
A couple of months later, you face the mirror which has a younger self, positive, determined who can do without and stay perfectly natural.
The real macho is the one who can face reality, forge a destiny by taking steps, in a positive state of mind.

A salute to all who quit and a challenge to others who want to make up their minds!

My Next challenge is quit drinks totally. I dare myself.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fear gives wings

A pigeon adamantly lay eggs in one of the empty Garden pots in my balcony, after many efforts to shoo it. We did not have the heart to throw the eggs away ,so we let it live and make a mess.
We risked the germs/ infection and let them coo.
Two young birds emerged..The mother fed, the father ran away as soon as anyone ventured into the balcony. The mother was, perhaps, sure that we would not go against her. Her kids began to exercise the legs to take the body weight. No! they could not fly or hop.
The vessel of water used to get dirty and it was replaced every day. It has been a 40deg+ Celcius everyday.

One day disaster strikes. As Ila ventured into the balcony, one of the chicks was slaughtered to deeath by a crow. The other one could not be seen but it stood underneath the iron frame, shit scared.Would not even chirp.
The dead sibling was dispersed. We kept a watch on the crows to avert the fate of the remaining one in our maternity home. Law of nature..Human intervention..We pitied the poor remnant.
Its parents came and went every now and then. To move the kid from its place meant sure death.

The kid started moving around the balcony. It tried to hop to the ledge, but was not strong enough. it probably forgot the peril or maybe it learned a lesson..Its hiding place was not safe.

One evening, I went to the balcony and the kid was not in the usual place. Ila told me that he had flown.
It was a great relief ..not to witness another massacre. God spared one, via Fear. Fear gave wings. The chick developed rapidly in 4-5 days to make the dared flight.

The mess was cleaned and we removed all empty pots. The guano was used to plant another sapling. No empty pots!  The mother came to have a look and I could see the surprise on her  face. She could not believe the transformation.

Few days ago, I looked at the parapet and there was a smaller bird peeking at me. Its feathers, were more fresh than others, not the strange black hair anymore.
It then showed off its flight.

Fear does give wings..The chick worked on it to be strong like the parents, it would not live otherwise.

The pot of water attracts birds. And yesterday a strange thing happened.

The crow was croaking with its legs at odd angles to the balcony grill. I was within a meter, but it did not budge. It looked at me with neck turned and again croaked. I was spell bound and I asked " if all was well. I have kept water for you."
The crow took flight..perhaps it had conveyed all that was there to talk about.

Perhaps, it is the same crow who warned me once of a Orange Fruit bat sucking flower nectar on one of the tall trees.
At least, it was as talkative and trying to get a dialog with me. yes .. This guy does try to connect!