Monday, November 10, 2014
Sunday, April 27, 2014
“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
Last fortnight, I stepped on the basketball court at my alma mater, the Deccan Gymkhana club. An opportunity to participate in the 2nd edition of the Master's Basketball League. 81 men & women of age ranging from 35 to 65 were put in 9 different teams. Quite a few of them, including me, were stepping on the court after at least a decade.
When I first heard about the league, I was quite excited to play.
On second thoughts, I wondered if I would be any good.
Then, I asked myself - what would I regret more - not having played at all because I wouldnt be any good; or having played and maybe played not good at all.
And I decided to play.
Stepping on the court, dribbling the ball, taking the layups, shooting a few baskets, playing a couple of practice games - it all seemed surreal.
Before I stood on the court at the start of the first game. My wife observed that I appeared to be quite conscious while playing those 5 minutes in the first game.
Maybe I was nervous, maybe I felt a few butterflies in my stomach.
The second game was a little more relaxed. In the quarterfinals, I felt rattled since I caused a turnover that the opposition team converted into a basket. And in the semi-finals, I was determined to put in my best - defending as tough as I could.
In all, I played 20 minutes in 4 games, spread over 2 weekends.
Did I score any points? None. Did I attempt any shots? Just one. Did I get any rebounds - only a couple.
I would have been terribly unhappy with these statistics 15 or 20 years ago, when I represented school & college and played basketball almost everyday at the same Deccan Gymkhana club.
Today, I am so glad that I played. I had a chance to meet & greet old friends. Familiar faces looked a bit wrinkled; black hair has made way for the salt n pepper look or thinned out; and fit torsos now sport pot bellies.
What has not changed at all in these years is the love for the game.
And those ethereal moments of the game when you get to see the wizardry of some of the true "masters".
Like Shantanu Pawar controlling the ball and shooting a decisive 3-pointer to take the lead in a game.
Or Dheba Don giving a fake, or giving a perfect pass to Joel or Gopika under the ring; or himself shooting a really long 3-point shot that just caresses the net and doesn't event touch the ring - perfection at its best!
Or a Sandeep Nulkar who comes as 1st substitute and shoots 2 consecutive 3 pointers to give the winning lead to his team in the quarter-final, and another 2 consecutive 3 pointers in the semifinals to gain another lead.
There are many such "masters" who are wizards of this beautiful game, and it is unfair to name just a few.
In yester years, each of them were "angry young men" with their adrenaline pumping high.
Age has slowed a few; the bodies appear battered and bruised at the end of a game. Playing on 2 consecutive days for 20 minutes each is not everyone's cup of tea now.
And after every minute or so, players on court and off the court are asking the table for "time left".
But the spirit remains indomitable. Which is why during a timeout in the final game, the first thing that Joel asks before reaching out to the bottle of water is,
"Are we winning or losing?" And then steps back on the court to score a few baskets and win the final for his team.
Triumph and disaster are impostors to be treated just the same as Kipling once said. Everyone who participated in this tournament had smiles on their faces, despite the results, whether they won or lost.
Even after so many years, it remains a beautiful game.
To be played, and not just watched.
And to live like it's heaven on earth again.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
On Sunday, January 16, 2011, I will be running the half marathon (21km) at the Mumbai Marathon as part of my company's corporate team.
More than just running the marathon, I am supporting the NGO “Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Deafblind”.
I have decided to pledge to raise an amount of Rs10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand only) for this NGO.
I seek your support in this noble cause.
My running experience
So far, I have run 5 half marathons – having completed 3 half marathons at Mumbai in 2008, 2009 and 2010 along with 2 half marathons in Delhi in 2008 and 2010.
Recently, I completed my 5th half marathon in Delhi on Sunday, November 21, 2010 clocking a time of 2:44:47.
My aim is to complete the half marathon in Mumbai on January 16, 2011 in less than 2:30 hours.
As part of the company corporate team, I am supporting the NGO “Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Deafblind”.
My goal is to raise a pledge amount of Rs 10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand) in support of the NGO by December 15, 2010.
You can support my run by making a contribution by cheque in favour of “United Way of Mumbai” before December 15, 2010.
Your donation will be tax-deductible and you will receive a certificate under section 80G for the same.
If you wish to send your cheque and make a contribution, please drop me an email at email@example.com
In your email, please also send me your following details:
1. Full name
2. Complete postal address with pin code at which you would like to receive the certificate under section 80G
About the Helen Keller Institute
The Helen Keller Institute is engaged in the education of deaf and deafblind children. The Institute has helped educate and train 32 Deafblind children and 130 deaf children, since its inception in July 1977. At present, the Institute has 25 Deafblind and 64 deaf children on its roll. The institute is now recognized nationally and internationally and is aided by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, New Delhi and Women, Child and Handicapped Development Office, Maharashtra.
Click here to visit their website: http://helenkellerinstitutefordeafanddeafblind.org/
Hindustan Times had published this award winning photograph a few years ago.
22 year old Angad Dev Singh Dugal, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was inspired by the advertisements of the Mumbai Marathon, and after months of practice at Juhu beach, finally participated in the Dream Run on January 22, 2007. His mother & sister ran with him to support him all through the race.
When he used to get tired, he would sit on the plastic chair; armed with an unparalleled determination & courage, he finished the race.
If he can run, why can’t we?
Another inspiration is Dr Ashis Roy – I have seen him run personally at Mumbai marathon and at Delhi marathon in January 2010 and November 2010 respectively.
The back of his t-shirt said “Dr Roy – Born 1932” – it took me a while to figure out that I was running next to a 78-year old youngster.
Wikipedia told me that Dr Roy started running at the age of 52; has run 85 marathons till the age of 76; and has a target of 100 marathons before he turns 80 in 2012.
I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.
Monday, November 08, 2010
My alarm clock was set for 5.55am... however, I woke up almost 10-15 minutes before the alarm buzzed.. since I didn't get the wireless signal in my room, I moved downstairs with my laptop and occupied a comfortable seat on the sofa in the common area of the guesthouse.. a dear old friend caught me online, and asked "How come you are up so early?".. I retorted with my usual terse reply "work".. Nandu, the guest-house attendant, came along with my regular cup of steaming hot ginger tea with one spoonful of sugar..
That's when Ravindra walked in from outside..
"Arey Ketan! Just go outside on the lawn.. it is so beautiful & pleasant.."
Early in the morning, Ravindra looked quite different - almost unrecognizable, without his usual turban. He was a recent acquaintance of mine - we had met very just a few days ago at the client guest-house itself, and I wouldn't have spent more than 15-20 minutes during my entire life in conversation with him. But Sardars usually make good friends very quickly.
Introducing me to his colleague, he said -
"अजय, इनसे मिलो.. यह हैं केतन.. हमारे परम मित्र..." and then continued to inform Ajay about what I do, etc.
Since Ravindra insisted vehemently, I finally gave in and went outside on the lawn... it was around 6.45-7am..
across the pleasant morning sky that appeared a little cloudy, a flock of birds appeared to fly or dance merrily to the notes of a soft musical note..
a pink bougainvillea plant that separated the two adjacent bungalows, became the perfect playground for a couple of chirping sparrows' 'catch-me-if-you-can' game..
a pair of pigeons were engulfed in their morning conversation atop the roof of the opposite house, constantly moving their necks in acknowledgement to each other..
a squirrel jogged happily along the compound wall of the guest-house taking small jumps all along..
Taking off my slippers, I started walking on the lawn.. the bare feet happily enjoying the soft ticklish feel of the lush green grass beneath them.. I walked towards one end of the lawn, and then turned around..
Unknowingly, I stared at my own footprints created in the dew laden grass. I had thought that I was walking carefree in gay abandon. Little did I realize, that all this while I had walked in a straight line.
All my footprints so far, stared at me in a simple straight line..
It was the night of Janmasthami last year, as I left office at around 8.30-9pm. Bang opposite Shivsena Bhavan, was the venue of the "dahi-handi" at Shivaji Park, Dadar where I stood for more than an hour witnessing the 4-5 different groups that attempted to break the "dahi-handi". The entire atmosphere was electrifyingly chaotic.. the roaring sound of the drums, the deafeningly loud music..
Amongst the different groups that I witnessed, I couldnt help but remember Aditi. Every successful team was invited on the stage to receive their prize. Aditi belonged to one such successful team - she had reached the top of the human pyramid and broken the handi.
She was called on stage, and asked -
"Hi, little girl, what's your name?"
-"Aditi Nilesh Dhande!"
"In which class do you study?"
-"In class 2."
"How many days have you been training? For training, did you bunk your school? Which school do you go to?"
-"We have been training for the last one month. No, I didnt bunk school. My school is..."
"Aditi, you were atop a 7-storeyed human pyramid? Did you not have any fear at that height?"
-"Because my dad was at the 2nd level in our pyramid. If I had fallen, I knew he would catch me, so why should I be afraid."
Fear.. in absence of fear, is there any limit to what we can achieve.. and there again, each person has his or her own reason of not knowing fear..
And if for some reason, in event of the fear coming true, all you need is someone to take care of you.
It was a Sunday August afternoon when I heard Rishi's booming voice in the client office.
"Hey dude! Do you never go home and stay away from office?"
Rishi was part of the marketing team of our client. He was working on some assignment which is why even he was in office on a Sunday.-"Nothing much. You tell me, what do you need?"
Having given him what he wanted, I closed my shop for the day and headed back to the guest house.
The client office was located in one of the corporate parks in Gurgaon that housed more than 15 companies. It being a Sunday, there werent too many people around. It has been quite some time since I had left from office during daylight...
I walked outside the gate of the corporate park, towards an open ground that served as a parking lot for the corporate park. There was a cycle stand on one side, adjacent to which was the area for bikes. The rest of the parking was assigned for cars, and was almost empty.
Usually, you would find around three of four security guards manning this parking lot.. today, there were almost ten or twelve of them.. as I approached, all of them suddenly became conscious of my presence..
I smiled at Jatinder - daily he would wish me "Good morning Sir" as he handed me my visitors' card as I entered office in the morning.
"Hi Jatinder! What's happening here today? Anything special?"
-"कुछ नहीं सर! हम लोग तो बस ऐसे ही.. आप भी देखो.."
I stood aside, watching what these gentlemen were upto.
Around 25-30 yards away, there was a soliary black Atlas goldline cycle parked on its stand.
One of the security guards in his iron-clad uniform with thick heavy black boots, sprinted across the distance, and then jumped over the parked cycle in a nice, easy manner.
He sailed over the cycle, and landed on the other side, and looked behind with a beaming smile - he received a thunderous applause from all the other fellows watching him.
Coincidentally the Olympics were happening in Beijing, while these guys were enjoying their very own desi version of a high jump.
In their otherwise mundane lives, these guys were finding their own sweet little happiness. 'finding' doesnt exactly fit the description - these guys were not finding their happiness, they were 'living' it.
On the last Friday of September, I received an email confirming my registration for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2009. The half marathon was on January 18. And I was extremely happy to see that email. In my otherwise mundane, routine life, this was something different, something that I liked.
That day itself, I heard the advertisement of the Delhi Half Marathon on the radio,"बचपन में खुशी थी.. हर बात पर दौडने की..आओ.. दौडे.."
This marathon was scheduled on November 9.. and I immediately registered online for the same.
An adventurous thought then struck my mind. The Pune Marathon generally takes place in December.
November, December & January - 3 half marathons in 3 consecutive months!
Now, that would certainly be a challenge worth doing or trying!
I had never attempted anything like this ever before.
Infact, I was asking myself - what had I done before?
February 2007 - Tampa, Florida - 15 km - 96 minutes.
January 2008 - Mumbai, Maharashtra - 21km (half marathon) - 2 hours, 48 minutes.
3 half marathons in 3 consecutive half marathons - there was definitely no harm in trying, nevertheless it did prompt me to do a self SWOT analysis.
Strength: that would certainly be 'endurance'.
At Tampa, my friends, Anshuman, Praveen and Santanu used to call me ’दानव’.
Every evening, we used to go to Mcfarlin Park where we used to play cricket for 1-1.30 hours, followed by another 1-1.30 hours of tennis. And once in a while, I would also indulge in running 2-3 laps on the 1.1 mile jogging track in that community park.
Infact, when I ran the 15km at Tampa, the stamina was pretty good. However, when I had run in Mumbai this year, my 'endurance' had helped me in a big way to finish the 21km race.
Weaknesses: the ligament behind the right knee and stamina
The less said about my stamina, the better.
After the Mumbai half marathon in January, the ligament behind the right knee used to hurt for almost 3-4 months - not everyday, but only after climbing the Law college hill, and jogging on the hill for more than 30 minutes or so..
I was afraid that the ligament would hurt when I went on the Valley of Flowers trek in August, but thankfully, nothing like that happened.
Opportunity: motivation/challenge and timing improvement
I must complete at least 2 of the 3 half marathons.. rather, I must complete all three..
the last time in Mumbai, it took me almost 2 hours and 48 minutes.. this time around, I must complete at least one of them in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes..
Threats: laziness and recovery time
I have started jogging since Monday, September 29.. wake up at 6 every morning, and go for a daily jog.. I have missed only a few days in between when I had gone on vacation to Manali & Rohtang Pass.. its the 9th of October, and I have exactly 31 days left for Delhi Half Marathon.. every morning, it takes me a huge effort to actually wake up, get out of bed, and go for the daily run.. I need to shrug off my laziness, run everyday and increase my stamina.. and more importantly, I need to recover well in time, after completing one half marathon so that I can run the next one..
As I run, I look eastwards at the morning sun..
Every step that I run, I keep telling myself "no pain"..
आंधियों से झगड रही हैं लौ मेरी..
अब मशालों सी बढ रही हैं लौ मेरी..
नामो निशान.. रहे ना रहे..
यह कारवां.. रहे ना रहे..
उजाले मैं पी गया..
रौशन हुआ जी गया..
क्यों सहते रहे..
The next 31 days.. I need to practice everyday.. need to control my diet..
As the Australian cricketer Michael Clarke, once said,
"the pain of discipline is preferable to the pain of disappointment"..
There's a hell lot of fun and incredible pain when you run 21km.
After a while, you feel like stopping and quitting midway.
That's when, DJ says "after the body reaches its limit, the mind takes control over the body"..
When that happened while running in Mumbai, I remembered Sylvester Stallone from Rocky..
while preparing for his boxing match, he was running in the streets of Philadelphia, and had run atop the stairs of the Musuem of Art with the soundtrack playing "Gonna fly now" in the background..
The "Eye of the tiger" from the same Rocky had inspired me a great deal..
as much as I endured all the pain, I kept telling myself just like Rocky with every stride, "no pain.. no pain.."
A lot of times, I face self doubts.. will I be able to complete this.. that's when I remember the old Rocky telling his son who had lost his own confidence..
I'd hold you up to say to your mother, "this kid's gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid's gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew." And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilige. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you're no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain't gonna have a life. Don't forget to visit your mother.
I have 31 days left for me..
Like Aditi, I wish to have no fear and scale new heights..
Like the security guard, I want to 'live' my happiness..
Like Rocky, I want to keep telling myself 'no pain' and raise both my arms towards the sky as I cross the finish line of the marathon..
I wake every morning at 5.45 before the alarm thats supposed to go off at 5.55.. and I hit the ground.. listening to the music.. breathing the early morning fresh air.. watching the gardeners watering the flower beds.. smile at the kids waiting for their school bus.. and tell myself with every step..
तुझमें अगर प्यास हैं..
बारिश का घर भी पास हैं..
रोके तुझे कोई क्यों भला..
संग संग तेरे आकाश हैं..तु धूप हैं.. छम से बिखर..
तु हैं नदी.. ओ बेखबर..
बह चल कहीं.. उड चल कहीं..
दिल खुश जहां... तेरी तो मंज़िल हैं वहीं...
as the guitar strings hit the crescendo, my pace increases too..
and I keep telling myself with every breath that I take..
"No Pain"..."No Pain"...
~ I completed the Delhi half marathon on Sunday, November 9, 2008 in 3 hours, 6 mins.. i wish i had done it faster.. but i had plenty of excuses.. lack of practice (after writing this post, i jogged not more than 5 or 6 times in the remaining 31 days).. laziness.. sweets during Diwali :D
nevertheless, the recovery was much better than i expected it to be.. I then completed the 10km in Pune on Sunday, December 7, 2008 in 1 hour, 20 mins.. followed by Mumbai half marathon on Sunday, January 18, 2009 that was completed in 3 hours. You can read about my 2009 Mumbai half marathon here in marathi.
The threat of laziness still rules, but the desire and motivation to complete a half marathon in less than 2 hours, 30 minutes encourages me to attempt 3 half marathons in 3 consecutive months yet again.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
"Interstate 60" - the movie talks about a hypothetical & imaginary I-60 (Interstate is US equivalent of expressways).. a 22 year old guy called Neal finds himself driving on the I-60 to find answers to the Qs he has for himself in his life.. his experiences on the drive help him identify those answers as he awakens from the dream..
"Jakob the liar" - with a background similar to "Life is beautiful"and yet quite different.. it talks about a polish chap called Jakob living in a Jewish ghetto governed by the Germans during WW-II.. Jakob apparently gets caught in a world of lies about him having a radio & listening to the BBC news - something forbidden by the Germans - he fabricates news stories that the Allies (Russians) are advancing and will overthrow the Germans soon.. thus giving hope to the Polish Jews who are waiting to be sent to concentration camps where they'll eventually die..
Was just wondering if we continue to live in a "make believe" world .. we lead a life full of illusions, dreams, aspirations, hope.. and wake up rudely every morning to face reality day in & day out..
My wavering mind was fixated on the words "make believe".. when I remembered that sony uses these very words in its new tag line.. and I wondered why would they use a phrase that suggests something that they might not want to associate their brand with.. and then realized that they have put a "." in between "make" and "believe".
Read more about what they say officially about this tag line:
A single dot "." that unites those dreams, aspirations & hope with the action & realization.
I tell myself - just connect the dot - simple, isn't it?
Monday, March 30, 2009
कदाचित (if only.. perhaps..)
A Marathi movie.. I was watching one after a long time.. quite a different tale.. as opposed to the usual stuff dished out in the Marathi film industry.. and hopefully not lifted from any Hindi or English movie either..
The central character is a well established neuro-surgeon - an extremely intelligent and confident lady - who's aware of how good she is and makes no qualms in acknowledging it as well. Her self-confidence and strong belief in herself is what gives her immense strength.
All is well till the fateful day when her biological father comes back in her life. Years ago, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for his wife's murder - the testimony of the daughter being the evidence that tilted the judgement against him.
And the father comes back to reveal the truth - that the highly intelligent and razor sharp daughter had unusually faulted. And he was actually innocent.
Her life crumbles all around her, as she suspects her own judgement, her own intelligence. Was she wrong? Did her own father suffer because of her own mistake? As she gathers evidence, she realized that probably.. she indeed made a mistake...
The outcome is as expected - from the highs of confidence she falls into the depths of depression...
Ever observed your own shadow?
Your shadow is actually an image of your own personality - your belief system is the light shining behind you that creates that shadow.
As long as your belief is strong, the shadow is clear and full... and it stays with you always to keep you aware of your own presence..
As the light becomes weaker, the shadow fades away into an emptiness... an emptiness that dares to dissolve you into nothingness...
No wonder, the challenge for the lady remains.. can she revive that light of her own belief to keep her shadow alive...
If only.. perhaps.. she were right that fateful day as she had always been...
~ Quite ironically, I decided to write about a Marathi movie in English; while I have written about English movies on my Marathi blog...paradoxical, I say.. but then, c'est la vie..
Friday, January 30, 2009
Remember that last epic marathon match between these two?
The Wimbledon final of 2008, which many say has been the greatest final ever played on Center Court, and few or probably none would choose to disagree.
A lot of water has flown under the bridge since last July. The Emperor has been dethroned by the King. Call it fate or luck - but the two have not met since - neither at the US Open, nor at the season ending Shanghai Masters.
As the new year unfolds, as the first major of the year culminates tomorrow - the two gladiators wait behind the gates of the Colloseum, brandishing their swords, pumping their fists, getting ready for their first duel in seven months.
While Roger possibly faces self-doubts on whether he can beat Rafa who enjoys a 12-6 head-to-head advantage and more importantly, who beat him in that Wimbledon final; Nadal faces the enormous challenge of pulling himself up - physically as well as mentally - after that nerve sapping semi-final against Verdasco.
It is also the first time in the final of a major that Rafa is seeded first while Roger is seeded second. I am not sure but I am guessing that while all the 5 majors won by Rafa have come when he was seeded second, Roger has won all of his 13 majors while being seeded first (need to confirm this). But this would probably be the last thing on the minds of the two of them.
I for one, can hardly wait till tomorrow's final. Just putting together a few links to some interesting articles, posts on one of the greatest rivalries of all time in the world of tennis. Any guesses who I predict to win? - Well, none other than RF in 4 sets. Let's wait till tomorrow. Till then, enjoy reading these...
Peter Bodo, in TennisWorld on the rivalry
Sampras least expecting his record to be threatened
A Nadal fan predicting his win
Federer's tryst with the Australian Open
Complete head-to-head match summaries between the two rivals on the official ATP website http://www.atpworldtour.com/1/en/news/newsarticle_1967.asp
Can Federer regain the numero uno spot again?
In history, only one man called Ivan Lendl has been able to do that.