Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nandi Hills redeems itself

The annual school trip to Nandi Hills was my groundhog day. Every nandi hills trip was like every other nandi hills trip. The only detail that ever changed in the 6 trips I made to that place was that when I was in the 7th class I wore shorts, but the year after I wore trousers.

The trip would begin with the assembly in the school grounds. It was then followed by the bus trip on which we were allowed to loosen our ties but were warned using not-so-subtle clues that we were being carefully watched. They always fed us apples on the journey. As soon as we arrived there, Peetappa herded us out and made us count ourselves. It was then time for breakfast, which invariably was uppittu and kesaribath. I have no recollection of what we did for the next 5 hours, which is a good indication that we never did anything fun. All I remember is that some of us who were in the boy-scout and NCC troops reminisced our own grander getaways. At dusk, we used to be served tea and biscuits before being packed off back to the school where irritated parents waited to pick us up.

As you can see, I don't have too favorable an impression of Nandi Hills. However, I agreed to go there a couple of weeks ago, mostly because it is really difficult to say 'No' to the S-man. And boy was I in for a surprise! It probably made a difference that we left at an unearthly hour, reached there just before sunrise and were treated to some gorgeous sights of low flying clouds. Take a look at these pics.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Jon Culshaw wonders on Commercial Breakdown "Why isn't women's football more popular? It has everything a man ever needs; women and football". It doesn't always happen that you bring two great ideas together and there's magic! But last weekend, I did stumble upon two (or three) individually good ideas that have been brought together to some remarkable effect. I've always enjoyed the woods, I freak out on running and I can't always say no to a cold beer. Last Sunday, I went out with a group (Hash: "Drinkers with a running problem" or something) that does these three together on a regular basis. We found a completely deserted place near Bannerughatta, ran like crazy (10 kms cross coutnry), reached a hilltop and then drank cold beer while watching a gorgeous sunset. wow! As part of the initiation ceremony, we first-timers had to sit on ice, kneel in dirty water, and drink beer out of pisspots, but it was all worth it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

1056 words

I like this little afterthought in which the quack realized at the end of his promo that he can cure brain problems too.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The anandrao circle newspapaperman

We bangaloreans are given to a lot of nostalgia constipation. We just cannot stop ranting about how Bangalore has changed so unrecognizably. As a consequence we really cling on to those few things that have remained constant. For instance, even the rudeness of the waiter at MTR makes us all emotional. One character who has stayed on unchanged continuously for at least the last 25 years is our newspaperman on Anandrao circle. He still insists on calling out the "breaking news" in his high-pitch excited voice. He has lost all his teeth and you can bearly understand his words, but he still manages to evoke curiosity. He's probably the last of his kind.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The 10 km run

Reading the Selfish Gene (and the Origins of Virtue after that) screws up the way you think, at least for a while. You stop participating in human experiences normally. Instead, now when you watch people do something, you step out and think what's making them do it? or What's the evolutionary advantage that this behaviour gave us as a species? So this morning while I was running the 10k event in bangalore, I was noticing that there were twice as many people facilitating this event as there were running. Even I did my altruistic bit by egging on the stragglers. There were people on the pavements who had come there just to cheer the runners. And I felt this overwhelming sense of bonhomie towards everybody; the runners, the cheerers, the organisers and even all the people inconvenienced by this event. I could see that everybody was experiencing that feeling too. And naturally, I am wondering what evolutionary plot is behind this feeling. I didn't get the answer but I managed to finish the race in 55 minutes, 5 minutes lesser than I had initially targeted. I felt incredibly proud, despite knowing that those absolutely gorgeous running machines that drop in from Kenya and Ethiopia and other godforsaken places run this stretch in roughly half that time. Anyway, one of the best things about running is the way you enjoy everything else you do immediately after that. The water down your throat never felt better, Masala Dosas were never more satisfying, and I don't even have words to describe the cold shower.

All in all, it felt great to be in that sea of humanity, coming together for a seemingly inane activity, but nevertheless feeling that warm fuzzy sense of togetherness. At the parking lot, trying to get our cars out of the almighty mess, though, we were all back to hating each other.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New folks

Like my last post revealed I'm having a lot of conversations, mostly with myself, about age in general, mine in particular. One of the reasons, I figured, is the amount of time I've spent with a couple of new sets of friends who are all from such diverse age groups. For example in the last week I've sat at the same table with A.jr, who is a decade younger then me and I've also had a drink with Chief, who is a full twenty years older than I am. It's striking how similar all these people are in their joie-de-vivre. On the one end I sat there admiring A for how well-adjusted, confident and comfortable she was in her skin and so un-overwhelmed by the new place and people and on the other I was in awe of the Chief for how much and how easily he smiled, and how meanly he bent his harmonica during that absolutely unforgettable virtuoso performance.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Marathon kit

There's something about turning thirty. I imagine this giant ominous odometer on which the units wheel goes from 9 to 0 goading the adjacent wheel to skip to the next numeral. Although I know 30 is just one more than 29, just like 29 was one more than 28, it just feels a lot more momentuous. There's suddenly more evaluations; "Is this where I wanted to be at this point in my life?" and "What next?". There is a lot of paranoia. A good indicator of that is the list I have of things I want to do before I turn thirty. Most of the things on that list are pretty cool and diverse but they all have something in common; they all reveal a fear of ageing and all of them have the theme of proving something to this youth-obsessed world. Item no. 14 was to run the half marathon. Since there's no half marathon happening in the near future, I settled for the 10k run that's happening tomorrow.

Yesterday I collected my marathon kit. Although I know I paid for more than what I got, I still can't stop getting excited about "freebies". The kit has some really useful things such as a water bottle, some biscuits and candy. But some things in that bag are bizarre. There is a packet of instant pasta. Ok, maybe pasta makes you fasta, but what's sugar-free doing there, robbing you of the carbs when you so badly need them? And most weird of all, there's a packet of chilli powder. R had the last word "I can think of 18 ways in which you can employ chilli powder to make ANYBODY run the full marathon!". Makes sense.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A little less...

I'm dead tired and ready to plunge into deep slumber if I as much as blink. I've driven half way around town, spent an eternity in the sun and managed to get a lot of work done; I've earned my rest. Yet I'm forcing myself awake. I'm rolling the memories from the day over my tongue one last time before I swallow them. Suddenly I remember two separate incidents from the day. In the morning I had almost driven past a left turn that I was supposed to take, realized it rather late and chose to give my wheel a tug and made that turn; the kind of turn that emits a screech and leaves a generous deposit of rubber on the road. I am now thinking of what could have been. There could have been pedestrians in the path. There could have been vehicles in my blindspot that I may have taken down. I am thinking of everything that could have gone wrong and my palms are sweating uncontrollably.

Another incident elicited a different kind of fear but very similar bodily reactions. RR asked me if I want to join his startup. I don't know the future there, I don't know the pay and I don't know the work so I gave him a courteous but phoney 'I'll give it a thought'. Now lying on my bed I'm actually giving it a thought and I can sense all my organs starting to malfunction.

I'm going to be awake for a long time now.