Monday, February 20, 2012

Long flights

I'm as guilty as the next guy when it comes to taking the good stuff in life for granted and focusing too much on what's not going well. However, if there's one thing that never stops piquing my sense of wonder it is a take-off. Even in my most ragged states - deprived of sleep and with the circadian rhythm anything but rhythmic- I perk up for just the minute that it takes for liftoff and never fail to feel that momentary "I can't believe that that happened" feeling.

My second favorite thing about flying, and this applies only to long flights and the inevitable waiting in transit lounges, is the time I get to catch up on reading and watching the latest movies. Here's the list from last week's flights
  • Books
    1. Foundation - Isaac Asimov
    2. Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Movies
    1. Adventures of Tintin
    2. 50/50
    3. Ides of March
    4. Madagascar
    5. One day
    6. Moneyball
The consequence, of course, is to be a zombie for at least a couple of days after the journey. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Auroville Marathon - 2012

The tropical cyclone Thane that hit the east coast in Dec-2011 has taken a toll on the vegetation in Auroville, and the thousands of trees that lay flattened all along the Marathon trail wasn't a pretty sight. That little detail aside, personally for me, everything else was better in this edition compared to the last one. I knocked off more than a minute and a half from my time from last year to finish in 2:07:55. I even recovered quickly enough to take a 16hr flight to the US the very next day without major discomfort.

Thanks to my fancy GPS phone, I could even pace myself well, resisting the temptation to go faster when the legs were fresh.This is how I did in each of the 21 odd kms

The standout memory from this trip was the initiation of several of my ex-colleagues into running, thanks to my friend, Rosie. I will never forgot how Arunski running his first half marathon, cantered across the finish, assumed the Usain 'lightning' Bolt pose, and asked "When's the next Marathon?".

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Art of Fielding

There are a gazillion movies based on the theme of an underdog sports team overcoming odds to make it big. Invariably tucked in that narrative is usually an errant protagonist who finds redemption at the very end. I'm a sucker for those plots when it comes to movies, but I never thought I'd fall for it in a book too until I read Chad Harbach's Art of Fielding.

The novel was gripping from start to finish, all along making me reflect on my own sports obsessions. Here's my background; I went from being a sports fanatic who followed Cricket, NBA, Formula 1, EPL and everything in between to one who almost watched no sport in a very short time. I remember I had already tipped over to this conclusion even before I read this bit in Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent " sports -- that's another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view... it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance... keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about." Anyway, I was cured of all sports addiction except the one called Test Cricket. I've wondered often why that one has been so hard to shake off and this little text from Art of Fielding sums up why sports-viewing can be so compelling "The Human Condition being basically, that we're alive and have access to beauty,can even erratically create it, but will someday be dead and will not." While I know nothing of baseball, I could relate several pieces of the book to my own joy of watching cricket. In some oblique way I could also relate it to the travails of three fading stars in our own cricket team; Dravid who seems to have lost his sense of timing, as much in his shot-making as in his retirement planning, Laxman, whose insistence on sticking to his place has finally made it legal to use "unaesthetic" and "Laxman" in the same sentence, and that genius called Tendulkar, who seems to be selling his soul in the pursuit of some arbitrary numbers. I'm not sure if these protagonists will find their redemption and finish on a high, but right now they are effectively de-addicting me from test cricket.