This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Mahabs revisited

N,me and R are leaving for mahabs tomorrow morning by our usual mode of transport.

The schedule:
4:00 - wake up
4:30 - out of Insti
7:00 - Reach Mahabs(after 3 or 4 planned breaks)
7:00 - 7:30 - Thulp idlis and vadas
7:30 - 11:00 - Sightseeing
11:00 - start back
13:15 - Reach hostel and thulp again

Will be back with a detailed account of our trip and pictures soon.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Regular cycling

X and me went for another regular road rash inisde the campus, so to speak.
The route was simple: Gajendra circle to the main gate and back - a distance of 3.8 kms done 3 times. As my left thigh was giving me problems, I took the first two laps easy and was dead fast in the last lap. The splits were 7:15, 7:23 and 6:50 - a total of 21:30 for 11.4 kms - an average speed of 31kmph. Not a bad timing, but not good enough for the cycling race held every april. The rumour which has been passed down the generations is that the best time is 18 minutes. Hell, everyone believes that is true.
Lets see, 18 minutes for 11.4 kms would mean 38 kmph - Hmm, now if anyone can average that speed for this distance, he or she should be competing at the international level.
As for me, I would be happy to get my time down to 20 minutes.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Of planes and hills

I had reminded my friend, N again to recharge the camera and get it the next day. He seemed to have forgotten and so did I until it was too late to go back. We were headed to 'explore' some interesting places on the mountroad towards Tambaram. I had one place in mind....

Earlier, around two months back, I had gone on a long run from adyar to the top of st. thomas mount and back. From the top of the mount, I could see a lot of hills adjoining the mount road that looked tempting enough to be scaled at a later date...
We were scheduled to leave at 4:30 am and since I had gone to bed at 2:30 am, it was upto N to wake me up. It turned out that N had gotten up late himself at 5:30am, and I was having a horrible dream when he banged my door hard. It was surprisingly not too cold for comfort and I was ready in a jiffy to hit the road. We kept a good pace from the main gate until Guindy, where the traffic, which seemed too heavy for an early saturday morning, kept our speed in check. But once we crossed the kathipara junction, the traffic evened out, allowing us to pedal at a steady speed of around 30kmph. We slowed down as we approached the Trisulam station adjacent to the airport and wondered if it was worth climbing the hill adjoining the station. We discarded the idea and continued our ride towards tambaram, but the roads seemed to get worser and worser as we approached the pallavaram bus station. After some debating, we turned back and cycled on the wrong side of the road till we came across a level crossing beyond which was a path to the hill. Now, the hill which we were scaling was behind the one which we saw initially and definitely taller. The path soon became rugged, filled with loose stones and we had to stop riding and walk along with the cycles all the way to the top.

The view we got while traversing the long winding path around the hill was something which we hadn't expected and something which made this trip really worthwhile - Now I really wished that we had gotten the camera. There were three hills in the vicinity - the smaller one to the left, a steeper but smaller one diagonally across and another smaller one just infront of the hill we were on. And it being december, there was a dense fog that enveloped the houses below and beyond these houses was a vast open land, dotted ocassionaly with trees.To complete the picture was the sun, a crimson orange, rising in its glory in the distance over the large expanse of the ocean, at the far end. This was a scene straight from the Lord of the Rings(LOTR) and we just stood on the path transfixed and amazed at this picteresque scenery. Since this curve was winding along the hill, we also got a good view of the airport and it was a great moment to see a plane takeoff on the runway.

On top of the hill was a microwave repeater station(wonder what that means) and also
a small monument or a dome. We weren't allowed to go near the station, from where we could have gotten a better view of the LOTR setting. After having had our fill of visual treats, we headed back. On the way back, we passed a couple of runners running up the hill and they were doing a good job despite the steep grade of the path. The ride back was more or less uneventful, except that I had a punctured tyre when I hit the gate and somehow managed to get back by riding the cycle slowly. The rava dosas at the mess felt tastier than usual - wonder why.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The quest for truth

This post may be heavy on philosophy, but I have no qualms about discussing it, because unlike what I have heard from most of the junta, reading up more on philosophy, has only served to show me a more meaningful way to live life. Books that I have read up on philosophical texts throwing light on spirituality and religion, have not made things more fuzzy, rather they have only deepened my understanding on certain facets of life and death which I had never thought about or even if I had, they seemed like things which were better left unexplored.

'What is the purpose of life', 'Why are we born here', are age old questions which have attracted considerable discussions for probable answers and still do. These and many more such questions nagged me even during my schooling. 'Who is God?', is there some one out there above the clouds, much far away in some distant planet, so far away from earth that even the most sophisticated radio-telescopes currently available can't even dream of fathoming that distance? What about death? What happens to one after death? Is there something called after life? These are questions that have been dismissed by us at first sight as those riddles which are better left to be solved by philosophers and/or jobless people as we are busy playing the rat-race game.

But what if while trying to answer these very questions, knowing very well that we may not get any answers immediately or ever, our attitude and perspective towards life undergoes a sea of change that helps us deal with the fluctuations of life easily. Someone rightly said happiness is a state of mind. What is the use of being a CEO of a company, if you are always in a very perturbed state of mind, due to the inability to handle the pressures that accrue due to the huge responsibility that comes as a side-string to that position. You have the money, you have the status,
you have access to almost all material riches and comforts, but you don't enjoy any of them. This indeed is a very pathetic way of living life.

Coming to the questions themselves, one particular incident sticks out in my memory. I was in my 10th class and things weren't going too well then for me. I had to deal with the pressures of attending classes at a coaching centre which promised to grant me admission to another coaching center(yep 'ramiah' it is) which would finally see me through to the portals of IIT!!. Commuting to this coaching centre itself proved very stressful to me as we were then located in a place that was quite faraway from the city centre. As fate would have it, I dropped out of the coaching center, not able to juggle the school work and the tutorials from the coaching classes. As if this were not enough, I had to bear the brunt of facing my worst fear then - death. I don't rememeber how and why this phobia began, but it demanded serious attention. I somehow managed to comeover it after much struggle, but I needed some quick answers.
I laid my hands on a book by Swami Vivekanada,'The complete works', a quite heavy book in terms of content and depth of the subject(advaita and vedanta philosophy), but this served to only compound my misery. Not wishing to waste my time further on these books and focus on my school work, I left it at that.

That book proved to be the opening of a pandora's box for me, as I was bothered by a whole host of equally frightening questions. There began my quest for the answers to these puzzles of life, the beginning was a bumpy ride no doubt, but as I read many more texts over the past few years, I started getting a more or less lucid picture of the reality, so to speak. One may question the basis for this reality preached by the 'books', to which I would say, yes you don't know if it is the truth, but there is no harm in testing it out.

The reality as stated in the 'texts' could be understood easily if I drew a parallel to the funda behind the movie 'matrix'. Infact the movie matrix has derivations from oriental philosophy. The analogy of matrix being an artificial world can be applied with suitable modifications to the what we think of oursleves. Here, the question of 'Who am I' should be posed. Indeed who am I? If I were to think I am karthik, the body-mind complex, well the matrix has got you. If I were to believe that I am not the body-mind complex but 'the great soul' of which the body-mind is a sheath, then voila, you have come out of the matrix - you have come out of your ignorance of this truth. And if I were infer that while being in matrix, the matrix is just a master program, as Neo does at the end of the movie, I have attained Nirvana - That is, I now know for sure, rather than believe, that I am 'the great soul' or 'the Atman'( to bring in the vedic terminology), also known as the 'GOD'.

What about death? Death seems to be just a transition, that is your identity, for example 'I am karthik', will stay with me after death. That is to say, I don't have a form now, the body, but I am able to think, that is my intellect is carried forward.
The basic funda is that you keep evolving yourself(read soul) throughout the process of life and death. Even after the so called death,the process of learning and evolving doesn't stop.It may happen at some obscure place in the universe 'D(earth)', but after that happens, you are back on earth as a new-born one to lead another one of the innumerable lifes on earth.
This also explains why geniuses are born, their intellect had been carried forward from the previous lifes. It is not that they were born intelligent. Intelligence is a measure of one's hardwork over many lives could be a possible inference.

Now, you may ask, all this is theory and may be true but what relevance does it have to my life - right now. Well, hardwork always pays! That's one take-home lesson. Work hard this life and you may be better off in the next. Work hard now and you may be better off a little later in life - That's law of karma for you. The law of karma states that all actions shall bear fruit. It sometimes happens that, you work hard for a particular exam and don't do well there and it also happens that you aren't so prepared for some other exam, but do well there. The law of karma, does tell you that
'as shall yer actions, so shall yer fruits', but it doesn't say when these fruits will take birth, which explains the previous case of aberration in the exam results.

But if we were indeed to be perfect beings(the great soul) and not limited ones(mind-body complex) as we assume ourselves to be, why at all be born on this earth and be subject to the suffering here??, is a pretty good question.

Science and religion actually complement each other. Big-bang theory states that the universe we currently see now exploded out of a point mass. In religion, this point mass is referred(not literally)to as 'pralayam' - That is the dissolved world or universe. When there was no world, pure being existed. That is before big-bang, there was only 'the great soul'. This great soul, as you might have guessed, had no attributes, and was the only thing that existed - only thing. Both the subject and the object melted away in this existence. Now, the great soul wanted to know its greatness - To know one's greatness, one has to compare it with a reference greatness - But the great soul was all that existed - There was no reference to compare its greatness - What was the solution?? Create the world where you had subjects and objects for comparision. The subjects and the objects are us human beings - and we came out of the great soul( Nay we are all great souls), but we conveniently forgot that fact when we entered this world - And there starts our struggle for identity- - we seek to know our greatness, we seek to know the truth - The truth being our greatness - Is it really true that we are infact the great soul? That is the truth, my friend, the ultimate truth of life we seek!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Gave my last exam of my undergrad life today. Don't feel overjoyed about it , but its definitely a relief. Now I can focus on things that need urgent attention, without having to fear flunking an exam: Go on a long over-due outing, Ramp up my running mileage, and get a strong foothold on my project work.
The second thing is necessary for me to finish the bangalore half mary, the latter one is pretty critical as its got everything to do with my career.
The first one's a tentative plan to go to Pondicherry. Cycling. 148kms. Actually my friend and me were almost going to do it in the middle of the sem, but I backed out due to some reasons. Got to take care of a lot of constraints(food, highway robbery, water, shelter, stamina!, enthu!!) for this trip.
The other thing on my mind is sleep a lot..

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An attempt at short story writing

The following might be a very arbit non-choherent prose...use your discretion before you proceed. Comments or critiques are welcome.

"Where was I?" thought Madan as he got up with a jolt from a weird dream. The first week of training had been very hectic and as a result he had been sleeping heavily the past two days, trying to catch up on lost sleep and ended up being engulfed in the myriad world of dreams.Madan knew one thing, dreams don't predict any thing, they are a medium to acheive things that you can't or haven't in real life, a medium to vent out frustrations,yet these were the very reasons why he hated these dreams, because they reminded him of things that he was yet to do something about.


Life felt so boring, the enthusiasm that he used to effuse when he landed up in this place seemed to have slowly faded away. "I am visiting a new place and it will definitely be a great friends, new sights, new house, new everything...hell, I am in the place where are dreams are given shape and got to be good." So he had envisioned and so it was, atleast in the first week since he had joined the company.

Dinner at a three star hotel was a rare happenstance and when he got to know that they were to have dinner at "The windmill meadows" for whole of the week as a part of the orientation and acclimatisation program, he knew things couldn't have been better. The orientation program was a mix of fun and business and Madan despised the latter. The dinners were definitely fun for him, atleast the food served at the meadows was good. Though a teetotaller, he didn't mind the company of people who had good time with a drink, infact they sometimes were his source of amusement.

Ah, those were the days, gone are those days he thought as he recalled the 'sessions' when his friends would reveal amazing lesser known truths about themselves which made them instant legends. Hostel life was something he was definitely going to miss big time; the cosy room, the endless hours of surfing the net, debating for hours about some worthless topic, the ultra flexible routine that arouse out of the freedoom to do anything at any time and ofcourse the unlimited entertainment though countless movies that he had had ready access to.
Madan hadn't taken any intitiative to participate in extra-curricular activities at college, he was more of a bookworm, gobbling up books on science fiction and abstract stuff. Now, he hardly had time for any hobbies, work and sleep consumed most of his time..Ah those days, he thought again..

"Hey", said someone sitting next to him, snapping him back down to ground reality, "the food's up for grabs, let's go yaar". Thank heavens, that lecture was outright trash, he thought. The lecture was another one in the series of lectures that was meant to inculcate the company's vision and mission to the employees and drive home the point on why their work culture was superior. He headed out to a fast queuing up line for the variegated buffet spread out in a vast ballroom. A couple of girls caught his eye as he helped himself with servings of pulaov. He made a mental note to go talk to them later on.


The orientation week flew by quickly and Madan was yet to get acquainted with many of his coworkers during his first week of training. The company was paying him a decent buck and his work which concerned developing innovative software solutions to network optimisation problems, was an upcoming and demanding field. His undergraduate education according to him hadn't served any useful purpose and he knew he had a lot to catchup on during the ongoing training of three months. It hadn't been easy since the actual training had begun. Flooded with assignments to be completed and tests to be held every week, he could only think of his carefree hostel life. He knew he would take time before he would start accepting the current situtation for better or worse, but the past memories still haunted him. He wasn't sure if he had made the right choice, maybe he thought, maybe if I had...

Job had never been his first option, he had set his sights high at getting into the IIMs, but he had been careless during his preparation for its entrance exam. Too much of idle time and lack of focus didn't do him any good.Yahoo messenger is the worst thing that happened to mankind, he thought as he painfully recollected the many hours he had spent chatting with complete strangers. What irked him most was his attitude towards work which could be summed up to "Well begun is Half done".

Whenever he remincised on the past memories of his undergrad life, Madan would enter a trance like state and let the mind and its flow of thoughts take its own course. During these times, he was just an observer, he wasn't in the least affected by what was going on.He had been a character in his past life,now he wasn't, now he was a mere spectator,he had enjoyed his hostel life, now he had those memories, he had made mistakes,now he could only repent on his mistakes if he chose to.

His eyelids were dropping down, he let out a yawn, life, he thought, life is like that. Another night full of weird dreams, another day at the job tomorrow, this monotonous existence isn't enough. He was going to be one among the many people who couldn't comprehend any joy in working all day and working to a fixed schedule, what fun was there in that? I need to do something imaginative to spruce up this inspid life he thought and he very well knew he wasn't going to do that. The frustration just stays, may be I have to live with it, he thought, yeah life sucks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Anyone game for it?

Yeah, I am talking about the Bangalore half marathon to be held on December 18th.
Though I am nowhere near running shape, courtesy not running for the past one month, I might just wanna attempt it and if possible try completing it. Some amount of training is required you say, hmm, might start this month end or early next month. The first half marathon I had attempted was a lesson on why you shouldn't run a half with 10 days of training.
My concern right now is the status of my left knee, which will dictate whether I would be able to train properly and get the long runs(atleast one or two) before I hit the race.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Of dosas and long queues

Its been a long time since the hostel messes here have been contracted to a private caterer. Though they charge a good amount, the quality of the food served leaves us frustrated. When things get a lot worse as it happenend last week what we get served is diluted milk, white water(butter milk), yellow rice (read lemon rice) to name a few edibles, a pretty colourful menu actually. Inorder that the hostel management doesn't inflict any stringent action on the caterers, they hold a food fest once in a while as a precautionary measure. Today was one of those days and it was a great revelation that these people do know how to cook!
The menu was to state simply - 'dosas demystified' - Yep they had the colour, variety, taste and appeal that would leave a stranger to southie food flabbergasted.
As far as I can recall from my poor short term memory, there were atleast 5 varities of chutnies to go with the dosas - mint, onion, coconut, methi, pudina and tomato . As for the dosas themselves, you could chose from plain dosa, onion dosa, podi dosa, spl masala dosa(!), rava dosa, upma uttapam (hearing for the first time), tomato pesarratu, panner and gobi dosas, ghee dosa and a few more which I forgot to memorise. Naturally there was a long queue for each variety of dosa. I must have spent atleast an hour and a quarter going around and collecting my share of the spoils and to economise on time, I had most of my grub while waiting in line for the next variety, a neat strategy I must say.
I finally managed to gobble in close to 6.5 dosas after which I had to call it a day for fear of any digestive repurcussions.

Monday, November 07, 2005

It's 4 am in the morning
I can hear the birds start chirping

It's definitely going to be fun
If I am gonna go for a run

Oh! hear my plight
I haven't slept through the night

Even if I summoned up all my might
My leg doesn't feel all that right

There shall be soon someday
when I will have my way

Till then shall I make do
With enjoying the fresh morning dew

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Life..what do I seek in life? Is mere existence enough? That I will anyway do, oneway or the other. What is it that I want to do in life..? Looking at things as of now, my plan's to get a doctoral degree, but what after that? May be a job in a company or a prof in some univ...What after that?..This question can be asked n number of times till I reach the time when I look back on all things I have done at my death-bed and maybe have one or two regrets about things I could have done, before passing away!...
My point is, is there any meaning to any of the choices we make in life ,or is it more meaningful to analyse what is it that we do once the choice is made.For example, I think it wouldn't matter to me whether I were to live a life as a farmer or a scientist, provided 'I like what I do and I do what I like'. I have always wanted be an astronomer, but having entered an engineering stream , it might be difficult now to revert back to my initial interest. Now, whether what I am doing right now interests me is the question to be asked and to that I answer a resounding yes.Why? - Why not? My other interest has been trains - Every year during summer vacations, we would travel from hyd to chennai to my uncle's place. I used to simply get awed looking at the train, the engine chugging in to the station, the sounds and ofcourse the sights from the "window seat".Though I never fancied being a train driver, I wanted my work to be associated someway to trains.
Coming back to the original question, even if I were to take up a career that were related to my interests, is that enough? Isn't what you do after having made that choice more important. Taking up work that I like will only help me get into the 'thick and thin' of things quicker, but to sustain it is an altogether another task, which I think is what is I should be aiming at.

Let's take an example: You have two tasks A and B. A is something which you like to work on based on your exposure to the field to which the task A belongs and on the other hand B is a task which is not to your liking.
Whereas you might get a good start on A and maynot even start B, the sustenance of the work towards the two tasks is altogether another issue. In a work environment, a tough supervisor might do the trick, but what if there were to be no one to monitor your is it that you
ensure that you keep up the pace of your work and not end up in stagnation...? The only way I see this happening is through setting up goals...Not goals that are merely to be acheived as in a deadline, but goals which really serve to keep you motivated through your work...These goals boil down to the core things that we seek in life.They are mostly related to the improvement of self, either intellectually or spiritually or both.
Even the will to 'just do it' is a form of spiritual exercise, if the will is strong, you wouldn't have to look for just do it, no matter what.It is interseting to note that people of great acheivements are people with great will power and this is something that is developed over a period of time, and the best time to start is when you are really young. Unfortunately, the current education system does not emphasise development of these core values and are rather career oriented and competition rules here.Instead of just mugging up facts in history, if opinions were to be asked of students as to the analysis of a particular event , thier critical thinking skills would be enhanced.Courses in logic and problem solving would do a world of good in paving the path for a better life. Though it can be argued that children aren't that mature enough to start thinking logically at an early stage, we haven't really experimented to see if that is true.It is an irony that the need for these things are felt later on in life and nothing is being done about it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Psyche funda

This post contains a lot of gibberish, therefore use your discretion before taking a glance below:

Machan I am hazzar psyched da...I am must have said this many times as my friend and me proceeded towards quark(eat out in iit), so much so that, while returning back to the hostel, he told me that he was also psyched. I asked him why..He said,"Look, we both are apping abroad, that's our first priority, we both need good recos(recommendation letters), and we need to get some good groundwork in our project before approaching the prof for a reco. Then why is it that I am not psyched while you are."
Me: "What about the case where you are psyched but you should not be, then you will be psyched that you are not 'not psyched' ".

The only case we didn't discuss is where you are not psyched before and you should not be psyched, therefore you dont have to be psyched that you are not 'not psyched'.

If we were to quantify the psychedness of an individual through a psyche function, then by neglecting the last case because of its small probability, it can be seen that the psyche function would be continuous throughout with a defined maxima and minima (both of them global).The maxima would be my case, where I am psyched when I should be, and the minima would be my friends case when he is not psyched when he should be psyched.

P.S: If you have come this far and you are psyched then you are somewhere between the minima and maxima of the psyche function.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Running away from running

The last week was really hectic and the last post was about just one of the many incidents which kept me on my feet. After running the 5k race a few weeks back, I developed a knee injury unlike anyother I have ever experienced. Actually I had some pain around the left of the knee cap before the race, despite which I ran the race. I was fine for upto 2 hrs after the race and then the real pain set in. As it is I had great difficulty walking around, I virtually had to hop and I had to remind myself that I wasn't crippled!, now, to climb stairs was even more of a ordeal. The situation stayed the same for 2 days, after which, slowly the pain started subsiding all the while lingering around.

Its been 2 weeks since then. Today I got some respite from my schedule and it also being a weekend, I thought of trying out a run in the stadium. I started out slow,but since I had been away too long ,my feet were raring to go fast, so I pushed the pace soon. It seemed like I was crusising along steadily after 5 rounds and then I was back to reality..the pain hadn't really vaished, it was just dormant, waiting for me to make my move. I should have stopped right then and there, but it seemed there were three other guys from our hostel out there slogging, now I was already fast, it wouldn't be good to slow I pushed the pedal till finish.
When I came back to hostel, stair climbing never seemed so difficult..hell, I think I need a big break from running, atleast till this pain completely subsides, which I am not sure when....

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bad bad day

We all have our share of bad days..But this I consider close to the worst day I have ever had..
I had a self-study mid-sem exam on thursday..Just another quiz, all I had to do was get the required notes and mug through the night(last minute cramming) and I would ensure getting a score around the average of the class.
Now the time was 9:30 pm and I realised that I had to do something about getting the notes. The 'lost' series, which I was watching seemed too intersting to even think about the quiz...Also, the quiz was at 5pm the next day and common, I am in the 5th year..grades don't matter anymore..But still my conscience was hitting me...So I messaged one of my frnds and asked him about it..
Me: machan do you know wht to mug for tomorrow's's at 5pm rite?
R: yeah, Other than the text book, I have nothing else with me.
Me: Textbook, what textbook?
R: Oh, don't u have it....there is a shitload to mug man
Me: (psyched)..Do other junta have it? How much do we have to mug from it?
R: I guess so..There are relevant portions from each chapter dude..
Me: Macha..I need to xerox it da..can u give it to me..
R: Ok..but get it soon..come fast..

I hurried to R's hostel, got the book and as I approached the taramani gate, where I normally xerox stuff, ..I thought to myself, worst case scenario, the xerox shop would be closed.Well, it was about to getting closed..I asked the shop guy, why so and he replied that he had had a long day and was closing early due to 'ayudha puja'...But wasn't ayudha puja yesterday? It was but they were taking it easy today...I tried convincing the guy that it was urgent..but in vain.
I returned the book to R and asked him when he was going to sleep so that I could take it from him then. I got the book from R at 2am, man the book was huge...600 pages to browse through...and somehow managed to do some mugging till 5am after which I couldn't hold my sleep and hit the bed...
I woke up with a jolt at 9am..I remembered that I had to xerox the book now and return it to R asap. I hurried to the same shop and he promised me to get it done by 10:30am.
When I arrived at 10:30am , I saw the guy there repairing the xerox machine...Oh hell!!

Me: what happened...have you xeroxed the book?
Shopguy(SG): No, there is some problem with the machine..
Me: Why didn't you tell me before itself?
SG: I didn't know sir.
Me: (reality strikes) Ok how long will it take...This book is my friends', I have to return it asap.
SG: Don't worry sir, half-hour for the machine repair and 10 mins for your book.
Me: What??...Ok do it fast..I am waiting here..

Meanwhile I was getting tensed up, I had to mug, my friend had to mug and nothing seemed to be happening.
Finally, at 11 am the guy starts xeroxing the book and...'shriek'..the machine stops..I ask him, what's happening? The guy says nothing...opens the machine and takes out a crumpled paper..
After xeroxing every 3-4 pages the same thing keeps happening....I get frustrated and tell the SG to stop xeroxing so that I can get it done elsewhere..
As I leave the shop to go to an adjacent xerox shop...the power goes out..Great!! Now what do I do...It's 11:30am, I have a class at 12 noon, which I can't miss due to shortage of attendance..and what about R? One of the guys fagging there nonchalantly, suggested that I go to our own xerox shop inside IIT, 'technographix'..

Me: But won't it be crowded ?
Nonchalant guy: Don't worry machan, pass on an extra buck and your job will be done...

This is my last resort as there is no othe xerox shop within a 5km radius....I hurry to this place and is heavily crowded, so I frantically convince one of the guys that I need this book xeroxed urgently..He asks me to come at noon...I am like wow..That's real fast considering so many pending books to be xeroxed.
I go to technographix at noon on my way to the class and the guy has just started xeroxing...I curse myself..I tell him that I would get back to him at 1pm after the class...
After the class, R asks me for the book..I tell him that I will get it to him soon..Now R is a real cool fellow and he doesn't say anything, but obviously he is as pained as me...He just replies saying get it asap.
I rush to the the xerox shop and the guy has not yet done the spiral binding of the books..I had given up by then and waited till the guy finished spiral binding it. I cycle back to department, and return the book finally to R with a lot of apoligies...R just smiles and says, atleast you got the book xeroxed..
I get to back to hostel, have my lunch and go to my room..I am really tired after whatever happened today..Just no energy to even open the book..I lie down for half-hour..and by now its 2pm..Three more hours..I managed to do what was possible in those three hours...Get a broad idea of what is there for the quiz by quickly browsing through the whole book real quick...
The paper was for 50 marks and fortunately for me 2 of the questions were general which I answered from previous fundaes from courses and for the others, I used my imagination!!

This incident, I think is a lesson in procrastination..Even if I had gone to the tarams xerox at 8:30pm, I wouldn't have had to put myself through the trials and tribulations I went through..It was a series of worst-case scenarios resulting in an effect which was orders of magnitude more than the average case scenario.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Memories of a scenic loaction

If I find my reccuring visits to this heavenly place an ever refreshing experience, that's beacuse of it's unfathomable beauty...

Walking along the beach...far ahead is where the backwaters just fall short of
joining the sea

A little disheveled from a long but enjoyable ride

In the distance..The bridge(ECR road) on the muttukadu lake

The only bird I could spot!

Fishermen at the totally desolated beach

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

12.5 laps

That was the distance of today's race..
The seminar which started at 3:00 pm and was supposed to get over by 4:30 pm got extended thanks to one of the students presenting on 'Stochastic Linear programming' for a good one hour. I had to rush from the seminar room at 4:50 pm as the race was supposed to start by 5:15 pm. When I reached the stadium at 5:10pm, I got to know that the race was to happen at 6:00 pm(darn!). Anyway, that gave me enough time to warmup. Meanwhile pole-vault was going and many people were attempting it for the first time, which resulted in many getting injured due to lack of technique. I was actually enjoying the time before the start of the race...chatting with a few other participants....This time (unlike last 5k), I managed to water the bushes well before the race, thereby starting the race along with everyone!!
The start saw me in the lead pack...I was 4th..After 3 laps, the third guy gave up and stopped.But at the same time, another guy overtook me and took his place. I wasn't pushing hard, as I wanted to have enough energy to accelerate in the end. The leading guy was by now a good 100m ahead of me. With 6 laps to go, I was 5th and feeling good. Another two laps and I was sort of struggling, but so was the guy ahead(G) of me. My aim in this race was to come 4th no matter what..So when I was failing to cover the gap between G and me, I just kept telling myself to try, try hard...I imagined a rope tied around his waist and I was pulling that rope so that I came closer to him...that helped!!...Now, there were just two laps left..I was 4th and the third guy was far my plan was to just maintain the lead to finish.
As the last lap approached, I could hear G's breath nearby..I accelerated and it was very tough as he kept pushing the pace..The last 100m was an allout sprint to finish....I finished 4th and the third guy was from my hostel..Finally!!...Our hostel manages to get some points in athletics!!
My time came out to be 20:05 (previous best - 20:53)...My legs are really shot and I need some good(well deserved??) rest......

Saturday, October 01, 2005

5k update

Chennai weather is really suck. I have been observing the past three weeks, the following pattern:
It gets really hot and humid two - three days before it rains and before you finish whining about the hot weather...bam! - Heavy shower for 2 - 3 hrs that makes the track literally useless. Even today, all was fine and dandy till 2pm and then the rain-gods showed their wrath....So the 5k's been postponed to monday or tuesday...good thing in a way as my thighs are still sore from yesterday's race.

Friday, September 30, 2005


I ran a 1500m today. It was a great race..12 guys lined up at the start..I was joking with someone about competing for the last position....The race started off at a quick pace...There was a guy deliberately trying to get in my way..That was his job I he faded away after the first lap..
This event is part of the inter-hostel championships held every year and the competition between the hostels is really fierce. The hostel which I come from is very poor in athletics, and we rely for the shroyeter cup points from other events like football, hockey, etc..I am trying to change that trend but have been unsuccessful so far..Coming back to the race, there was one guy who was running close to me. I overtook him initally and I was fourth after 3 laps(300m to go), but he came back strong and I couldn't catch up after his surge..I finished fifth with a timing of 5:07(previous best- 5:20). This guy had finished ahead of me in the 800m race it was doubly bitter for me to have missed the 4th position(it carries points).

Tomorrow's the 5000m race(the toughest track race according to me) and the field lined up will have more or less the same participants as for the 1500m, but, there will be some specialist 5000m runners making an appearance. Believe me, the distance racing scene in iit madras has never been so good...It's going to be a tough race tomorrow as it requires a lot of focus and tactical moves, like, when to surge and when to holdback, and more importantly when to start kicking towards the end(say with 200m to finish,etc). I have a good finishing kick but I faltered in the 1500m today, as I ran a fast 1st lap(1:10) and hence had little energy left towards the end.
My previous pr in the 5000m is 20:53, but I believe I can go below 20 tomorrow, provided my gameplan works. As for my gameplan, it is going to be a steady and a little slow start and a gradual increase in speed through the race. The thing about 5k is that, the real battle starts at the 2.5km mark, when you are at your worst, especially if you have started out too fast...
Slow and steady wins the race!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Timeless jottings

Was sitting behind me
Looking tired and weary
Looked at her and thought
Looks good, does she not?

Stop, the bus did thither
To give us the much needed breather
Watching an ODI, were many
While I took in the scenery

Last to get down was she
Heading out to have some tea
Approached her, I did,
And talked a few words, we did

Slept badly through the night
'casuse of the bus shaking me outright
But thoughts flooded my mind
Making the misery a memorable kind

These events happen seldom so I thought
And departed Koyambedu with a heavy heart
The same day did I record the meeting
Through pen and paper to produce this reading....

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Going long

I hadn't run a long run since atleast a month.And all of my longruns so far haven't gone beyond 16 kms. So I decided all of a sudden yesterday, that I am going to do 20kms, no matter what. The 'no matter what' was responsible for my not so good experience during the run...

My normal long run of 16km is twice the road race(held every april) route. The road race route passes through some prominent landmarks in iit campus like football, hockey fields; computer centre(cc), Hospital, Vanavani, Gate, Gc and ends in the stadium. So for yesterday's run, I added another 10 laps in the stadium to make it a 20km run.
I usually carry two 250 ml bottles(the ones you get to flick on an IA flight) during the long run. This time I decided to mix some glucose in the water...which didn't turn out too good.
I started off well at around 9 min/mile pace and was comfortable until I completed 8kms(i.e. when I reached the stadium). From this point I was struggling, with my left calf really tight, for atleast another 10 mins, after which I felt a bit strong again till the 16km mark(stadium again).
My pace during the run so far had varied from 8min/mile to 12 min/mile depending on how I felt. But as I started off the remaining 10 laps of my run, I felt very weak and tired. I was just pushing myself, counting the number of laps remaining, trying to shake off the fatigue. My head started wobbling and my form had degraded, I was more shuffling than jogging. Since I was sipping glucose water rather than water, I felt a desire to drink pure water..I even imagined the coolness of water rushing from a spring somewhere in the hills...The thirst was becoming unbearable and I had to finish the run quick.
Somewhere around the 7th lap, I thought how could people be insane enoguh to run a marathon, when here, I am struggling to complete a 20 km run. I sort of decided that I wouldn't attempt a marathon or distances beyond the marathon, atleast not in the near future. Soon, there were only two laps remaining and I slowly picked up the pace and the last lap was run really fast..I just wanted to get it done. I was really relieved that I had accomplished the goal I had set for yesterday. It had taken me 1hr 59 mins to do it. The day before yesterday, I had done some speed workout and that might have made yesterday's run, a tad more miserable. After finishing the run and having cooled down, I headed to the hostel and I drank 1.5 litres of water straight, had my grub and slept soundly for a good 10 hrs.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Waking up

When do you sleep and when do you wake up(this tone reminds me of Godsmack - serenity lyrics)? Do you sleep regularly and do you need to sleep regularly?
When I sleep, atleast, when I am in the campus is completely variable. Depends on a lot of factors..
Do I have some deadline to be met tomorrow? Am I completely jobless(read idle)?
Take the example of reading a technical paper...
The time taken for finishing a paper, would be directly proportional:
1) to the number of pages.
2) The amount of technicality involved in the paper.
3) Any additional reading requirement to understand the paper.

Now most of the papers would take an average of 4 - 6 hours of reading time..Having said that, when is the best time to do the same..Again, you can list out the ideal conditions to do the same:

Period of time having :
1) the least average decibel level
2) Minimal external stimulii (someone knocking on door,etc).

I have found from experience that the time period 12 am - 7 am satisfies the above constraints..
But, ofcourse you wouldn't use the whole of the above time..You have two clear options now..
1) Sleep at 3 am(Having done the reading of paper).
2) Get up at 3 am and do the reading till you finish it.

Technically speaking, both of the above sub-timeperiods are equivalent or the same...But there is one difference..It's got to do with the natural biological cycle or rhythm which favours the latter.
Hence the saying 'Early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy,wealthy and wise' might actually do one a lot of good in terms of perfect compatibility with this natural cycle, and the associated benefits as the saying goes is manifold.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sleep Running

Somnambulism - Walking while you are sleeping a.k.a sleep walking

What is sleep running? My definition : Falling asleep while you are running.

In both cases, you won't know that you are doing two things simultaneously, only the order of sleeping is different.
So when do people sleep run? Most of the guys who 'sleep run' are people who are sleep deprived. One famous example is that of the ultra-runner, Dean Karnazes(author of the book - UltraMarathonMan), who works by the day and runs by the night and sometimes manages only 2 hrs of sleep. So it isn't unusual for Dean to suddenly wake up and narrowly avoid colliding with an approaching car.
I had my first experience of sleep-running yesterday. I had slept for less than 12 hrs, the previous 3 days and only 1.5 hrs the day before yesterday. The irony here is that, try as I might, I was simply unable to catch up on lost sleep yesterday afternoon. So as the clock ticked 5, I got out of my weary, pathetic state and headed out to the stadium. I normally warmup by stretching a bit before running. But as I started my warmup, my eyelids were shutting down and I was practically standing there in a trance, not knowing what to do for atleast a minute. I decided to pack the warmup and do some jogging/running /whatever I could manage. Now, I might have been an unusual sight to the fellow runners in the stadium, but for atleast 3 laps(1.2km), my eyelids were open ever so slightly , just to avoid colliding with anyone and I think I was kind of meandering on the track, but I couldn't help it. After the third lap, I felt a bit fresh(refreshed from this kutty nap) and I ran strongly with my eyes wide open for another 4 rounds before calling it a day!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Running in IITM , cycling on ECR and the transportation crisis

Back from a brief hiatus...The last two weeks were a little hectic and eventful too.

For starters, I managed two pb's(personal best) or pr's(personal records)...
One was in 400 metres - 1:02(previous best - 1:09) and 800 metres - 2:26 (previous best 2:39).

These events are a part of our venerable and much fought over, inter-hostel championships, a.k.a 'schroyeter'. Here's where it's held:

The stadium

Though I managed a good time in 400m and 800m it wasn't good enough for a position, but I will take a pr any day. The other events, 1500m and 5000m are postponed due to the stadium getting washed out last week.

Closer view..during the 100m dash in the inter-iit championships, last year

The stadium has taught me a lot..there was a time when I would struggle to run 10 rounds(4km) in the stadium, and when I completed it, it would be an achievement for me. And the speed workouts here are always a killer(e.g. 4 x 800m, with 3 min gap in between each 800m), but are essential for the adaptation of the body to the stresses subjected to the body at that speed and hence become more efficient. Sometimes, when I get injured and am unable to run, I go to the stadium simply to take in the ambience there, cheer a few runners and do some warm-up. But at the same time, it would be too monotonous to run all your runs in the stadium. A distance of 8km for example, would be run by me partly on the road and partly in the stadium.

The road run would typically start at the stadium side of the road and proceed towards the gate and I would take a diversion at the fork, from the road on the left(delhi avenue) to the road on the right(bonn avenue) as shown in the picture .

Delhi avenue and bonn avenue

My route back to the stadium passes through the famous 'gajendra circle', which is a big attraction during our tech-fest, 'Shaastra' and cul-fest 'Saarang', due it being studded with colourful lights.

Gajendra circle

My experience has been that running and cycling do not complement each other. You either run 4 days a week and cycle on one of the other days or you cycle regularly and run now and then. I belong to the former category and cycling gives me a lot of pleasure when I get to do it.
Inside iit, I generally cycle between gc(gajendra circle) to gate and back. But for real excitement, I head to the scenic and picteresque place called 'muttukadu lake' situated on the ECR (east coast road), 21 kms from Thiruvanmiyur. On my recent trip here(last sunday), I saw some people fishing, recreationally.

Muttukadu lake and Buckingham Canal(enroute to the lake)

The above pic was taken by my running friend, Jacob, who had first shown me this place, when we came running here through the buckingham canal(it stinks big time and hence I have never taken that path again) from Thiruvanmiyur. This pic shows the lake which is situated to the right of a bridge on the ECR. Equally scenic is the beach on the other side of the bridge. The beauty of this beach is that, the backwater(muttukadu lake) joins the sea here, and a thin strip of sand divides the lake from the sea providing a breath-taking view, when viewed from the bridge, especially early in the morning.

I might have gone there atleast 5 times by now, and every time, the experience has been new, refreshing, and out of the world. Many friends have accompanied me on these trips and they have always been raring to come back here. One of my friends, who now works in bangalore was inspired enough by this trip to regularly cycle to his work place from his residence, a distance of 12kms. Ofcourse, ECR has excellent roads and the damage caused to the thin tyre of the racing cycle is insignificant compared to that caused by cycling on the city roads.

I feel many people would be ready to commute by cycle if 'dedicated cycle lanes' are provided
and enforced. A classic example of this kind of initiative is the city of Toronto, where a sizeable population commute to work by cycles on these lanes. Ofcourse, the attitude of people there towards environmental-friendly transport did help towards this cause. Besides serving to reduce congestion on city roads, it would also improve the fitness and health of those take up this exciting sport.

America is now in a crisis as far as transportation is concerned with the number of autos(cars) simply too high. The vehicle occupancy of a car in america is 1.08. What does that mean? It means that if I were to substitute every 4 seater car with a 4 seater share-auto or an equivalent bus or train, for example, the number of vehicles on the road would just drop down by 4 times or even more orders of magnitude. If that isn't a way of reducing congestion, what is? These are known as demand side measures, as against supply-side measures like building more roads, widening them, flyovers, etc..which is what is being advocated even in India.Though the percentage of people using public transit(buses,etc) in India is higher(around 30%) than in America, the number is steadily declining, and heavy duty advertising by two-wheeler companies and cars is only compounding the problem. Unless the decision makers are well informed about this problem, congestion on roads is only bound to zoom up.ven the now underway, IT corridor, between Madhya Kailash and Kelambakkam in Chennai, could have a viable alternative in the form of a rapid bus or train transit. Delhi, which was hugely plagued by too many vehicles , has recovered a little due to the development of DMRC (delhi metro).

But the freed space on roads would soon be filled up with the ever growing vehicular traffic and hence the only reasonable solution is to go to the core of the problem and curtail the use of private vehicles by measures like congestion pricing(toll charged on vehicles during peak hours of travel in and around the city centre), high parking fees, etc and promote public transit in a big way.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Observing the observed from a bus-stop

Well, as a part of the data collection process, in which the demand during peakhours at bus-stops are to be noted in a form(for the proposed IT corridor along the old Mahabs road from Madhya-kailash to Kelambakkam), it was my turn to go to a bus-stop at Sathyabama 'deemed' university.
We were a group of 5 guys(4 guys actually) and we were each assigned one bus-stop to collect data from. As the peak hour starts around 7 am and the bus-stops were quite far away, we had to start early from the tharamani gate. The auto guy outside asked a ridiculous 150 rupees, his logic being that share auto from tiruvanmiyur charged 20 Rs/guy and since it was early morning time, he had factored in the additional Rs 50. As this was a bigger auto(it had the normal seat pushed a little up and back and an additional wooden seat added just behind the driver's seat), we conceeded.
The form which we were provided with had columns for arrival time, departure time, no. of passengers getting in and out. The only two buses which served my bus-stop were 21H and 19B. 21H was more frequent of the two and had an average frequency of 1 every 10 minutes.
As the auto approached my bus-stop, my friend who was to take care of navallur bus-stop commented that IIT-roorke had come. I didn't understand so I looked out and saw that the building in the distance resembled the main building of iit roorke..Well so much for that.

I was happy that the bus-stop was sheltered and I could have a seat and do my work(which wasn't much anyway). Soon, I got to see the first of the Joseph engg. college buses stream into the road that connected the main road to the university. The univ. buses kept coming..I counted around 10 in 5 minutes. As if that weren't enough, another set of 10 buses arrived barely 5 mins later. This process happened for another 15 minutes...I had lost track of the number of buses that went into that university. My friend mentioned later on that the combined fleet of sathyabama, joseph engg. college and Jeppiar college was around ...hold your breath..70.
Speaking of Jeppiar college buses, these buses slowed down as they approached the bus-stop and enabled me to have a decent view as they passed by.The other private buses I observed were, hindustan engg. college,vmrf college,lots of polaris buses. I also got to see some exotic things like horses being carried around in lorries, a drunk guy asking the guys sitting on a minivan to get down and stopping guys walking around. There were also a group of 4 students who had to go to Kelambakkam(the last bus-stop on 21H and 19B route). They were looking for an auto but couldn't get they approachd the bus-stop. Then suddenly one of the two girls, started waving the finger(both hands!) towards Sathyabama university...quite funny to watch.
I don't understand why this college has to impose restrictions on many - You have to come to the college only by the college bus, even if your house is just a furlong away.
Interaction between boys and girls is strictly prohibited and could lead to expulsion!...I'd say, a healthy interaction is necessary between the oppsite sexes, else we would have a lot of perverts(which is the case mostly). This isn't any school where you would have to worry about students falling for infatuation. The very fact that you have put in the efforts to get into a so called 'deemed' university, show that you are sufficiently motivated to study. What about all-round development of personality..I don't see it happening in such freedom-curtailing , closed environment that they have managed to enforce. On the other hand students would be frustrated and would have given up in life. These things could only happen in chennai..No wonder Chennai is given the tag of a conservative city.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Long run, hyderabad half marathon and art of living

Any distance above 5km, whether it be half marathon or marathon needs one essential ingredient in the preparation to it: Long run. This aspect of the training program is the one which will see you finish the distance. Saturday is the day I have designated for the long run, mostly because of convenience and also as a mode of stress release after a week's hard work(sometimes atleast!).
One of my friends had asked me a funny question as to whether I wouldn't get bored during a one and a half hours run!!!! I thought about the question yesterday during the run and found that I was concentrating on form and speed and that the scenery was changing every moment inside the campus - No time to get bored!! Yeah if I were to do 16kms in the stadium itself, that would be tantamount to doing 40 laps(400m each).. that
could be stressful...

33 days to go to the hyderabad half marathon and I feel I can comfortably finish it in 1hr 45 mins - 1hr 50 mins, with my current training program of around 40 kms a week, which also includes some speed work(interval training) and progression runs(start slowly at 11kmph and finish fast at 15kmph) which are mostly around 8kms. Progression runs are the best part of my training as every moment I am faster than I previously was and it is nice to finish
fast as if it were a race.

There is this concept called runner's high, where you get a real high (just like drinkers and drug abusers experience), which comes usually as a feeling of light footedness, just like you were floating or flying, and yeah, you feel invincible when that occurs. I have experienced this high ocassionally, especially when I feel my body can't take anymore, and then after some period of intense pain, all of a sudden my mind takes over the body and the body simply
obeys...ultrarunners experience this often..they go into transcendental states during hours of running or sometimes days, as the case may be..that's quite another story....
One of Patanjali's 8 yoga instructions, hatha yoga or simply yoga, as is commonly known, has a component called pranayama. Pranayama literally translated, means "the control or exercise of prana". Prana is believed to be the life-giving force or vital force that sustains all the living beings, the elements, etc and is present in the whole of universe. Every person has the ability to tap into this reservoir of life-force and pranyama uses this to full effect: The medium through which prana can be tapped by a person is simply 'breathing'..and hence the focus on various breathing patterns used in pranayama.
The asanas in yoga, also involve breathing out, breathing in and holding the breath(rechaka, puraka and kumbhaka respectively) which is done in sync. with the asana itself - that makes these yoga asanas more powerful than normal aerobic exercises.

Even during running it feels really good after sometime into the run, when the breathing has become even and everything feels calm and serene. Most of the runs which are run at a steady pace throughout, leave me refreshed at the end..attribute it to the workings of prana!!!

There were some guys who had come to give a talk on the 'youth empowerment service/programme ' (YES) in our hostel today. YES is an initiative by the founder of the 'Art of living' programme, "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar", which aims at bringing out leaders and inspired individuals to build a better India, a few years down the line - A noble cause I say. The course is 7 days, 4hrs a day, duration and revolves around effecting a change in an individual,
through a technique known as 'Sudarshan Kriya', which I suspect is more or less related to pranayama, but nonetheless a practical and doable path to acheiving the 7 qualities of a leader, that one of the guys had discoursed in length about. I haven't done the course, but I have watched a programme aired on one of the channels, which was a satsang by 'Sri Sri Ravi Shankar'. There was a question-answer session at the end of the programme and most of the
questions were what is usually asked such as,' How to acheive more happiness?'! and ' How to get peace of mind?' , very relevant to today's fast paced world - what appealed to me was the way the guru fielded these questions - His answers were always accompanied with a radiant smile, which gave an impression of him possesing the quality of a 'child's innocence' and the intellect of a 'wise man' - a deadly magnet for those who attend his sessions - Infact, a recent satsang given by him at the Anna University was a huge crowd puller, only matched or rivalled by a rock show!!!

Today's talk given in the common room of our hostel, has rekindled my enthusiasm for doing pranayama, which I learnt during yoga classes way back in 5th class and had conviently given up practising hence..More about it later.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Intro, fundaes, religion and materialistic pursuits.

This is the time of the year (odd semester) when first yearites aka 'freshies' are given a warm welcome by the ever helpful and knowledgeable seniors. This process, which we normally refer to as something else shall be referred to here as intro session. The process starts spontaneously, as the curious 'freshie' infringes into the wings( long corridors with adjoining rooms.) of the seniors and hence is causht for a session. These intro sessions are meant to sting the freshie a little, but are more to do with clearing many doubts he might have in mind and also to put some additional 'fundaes' about life in general and in iit. Though thoroughly entertaining to us, the freshie learns to be more expressive and creative and also expand his network of friends. He also gets guidance regarding academic life here and some strategies to better his performance. More than anything else, he is made to feel at home by familiarising the local lingo and other idiosyncrasies relevant to hostel life....At the end of it all, he gets an apt nickname based on his creative statements or answers to the questions posed, which shall stay with him for the 4 yrs of his life here.
So having had an intro session with one freshie and wishing him good luck, my friend and me indulged in another one of our numerous 'late night fart sessions'. The topic which was mundane initially, steered back to the subject of religion, materialistic life and spirituality. We were sighting numerous stories and instances, and remincising and reflecting on our past experiences in the spiritual realm. My friend was telling me, that of late, he was being drawn to spiritual stuff and that it scared him. On deeper questioning, he revealed to me that as a lot of people were skeptical of religious practices, he also felt like questioning them rather than just believe them...
One of the issues commonly raised is that of the existence of multiple gods in Hindu religion(It would be wrong to call Hindu a is a 'way of life' for many people) as against in other religions. Multiple gods are only to depict the multiple facets and qualities of the all-powerful single soul or 'atman'., i.e. they are different manifestations of a single life-force (analogy is that of the different forms of energy - light, sound, etc.).


Where does happiness lie? materialistic pursuits or somewhere else....The answer to that would make life really simpler.Vedas talk of "within and without"....
"Those who take refuge within, are within(full of) happiness and those who are after the 'without'(material pursuits) are 'without'(without happiness)". There is a story in this context which is oft repeated...There was a farmer in a village doing things a farmer would do normally. A businessman who was passing through the village, saw the farmer toiling in the fields in the hot sun. Taking pity on him, the businessman approached the farmer and struck up a conversation....
Businessman(B): You toil in the fields all day in the hot sun and all you get is pittance at the end of the day. Is this the life you seek?
Farmer(F): Yes, I am happy doing farming.
B: But you are young, you could go to the city and set up a business and lead a better life.
F: Ok, tell me, what would I do after setting up a business?
B: What a silly question is that..Ofcourse, you would have access to many things like a good house, vehicle, etc.. which can be bought by the profits you make.
F: Ok, what after buying them?
B: You use them to your benefit and keep expanding your business .
F: What after expanding my business?
B: You sell more goods and profit more and hence can afford great luxuries.
F: Ok, what after all that?
B: What do you mean? You save up enough money for use after retirement.
F: What after that?
B: You are beginning to irritate me..You will obviously lead a life of peace with the money saved to take care of your daily expenses and maybe pursue a hobby or two like farming or gardening in your backyard and be happy.
F: Isn't that what I am happily doing right now?

The essence of this dialogue is that, advancement in technology and the accompanying 'development' could improve the standards of living of a nation, but the question to be asked is would people be more happy than before due to this 'development'?
No one has ever claimed that he has been forever happy due to the riches he has accumulated and the luxuries he can afford, but time and again, saints have stated that eternal bliss is "within" and not "without".

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I haven't really been having a good time the last 2 days, especially taking rest all day in my room....But I have been able to avoid a few other things I would normally have to attend to....Classes, meeting my project guide, and a seminar too. The real irritating thing about the combination of cold, fever and dry throat is..You are feeling hot and stuffy, but can't increase the speed of the fan. You try to take rest during the day and fall asleep eventually but get up abruptly after some wierd dreams that don't make any sense......
As the condition of my throat worsened, I was forced to visit the famous Institute hospital for which we pay an insurance every semester(similar to CGHS)....The hospital is really large area wise, but only two storeys tall and is well camoflauged with all the greenery around. As I took my prescription booklet from the reception and sat down in the waiting lounge, I casually browsed through the booklet, and noticed that I had last visited the hospi 1 year back and that I had visited the same hospi atleast a 10 times during my 1st and 2nd year...whew!!... My room mate in the first year had asked me once as to why I fell ill so frequently..I had no answer(I didn't frequently run then??).....
The other day when I was having a casual discussion with my guide, I mentioned that I never fall ill these days..perhaps I was too over confident or maybe it was a sign that I was going to fall sick (what is commonly called 'nazar lagna'), but that's exactly what happened.

Falling sick is not a great thing, but atleast I get a warning when its coming... !

Friday, August 05, 2005

Carnatic music rocks!!!

My tryst with carnatic music has had an early beginning. My grandma would listen frequently to the songs by M.S. Subbalaksmi and the music slowly grew on me. Carnatic music is such a genre, where liking it initially is the tough part, but once you start liking it, you fall in love with it. Mandolin Srinivas's instrumental music cast a spell on me one day while I was studying in 11th with the music playing in the background. After coming here, I have been able to appreciate other instrumentals like violin(T.N. Krishnan), saarangi(Sultan Khan) , Vichitra veena, etc..but Mandolin still remains my favourite and I plan to learn the instrument one day.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Favourite movies in recent memory

These are some movies I have watched in the last year or so that have really had an impression on me or are simply awesome.....

1) Before sunrise
2) Before sunset
3) Forrest Gump
4) The Terminal (Brilliant direction..the movie grows on you as it progresses)
5) Scent of a woman (Fabulous acting by the old man)
6) Enter the new dragon (Great fight scenes and chases)
7) Butterfly Effect (Chaos al)
8) Anbe Sivam (Great camarderie between the two actors)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Home away from home

Having stayed at IITM for atleast 4 years, home is synonymous with my room, comp and the ever comfortable bed. Ofcourse, the one thing lacking here is good food for which I had to take recourse through a short break to Hyderabad.
The one good thing about my dwelling at hyderabad is that it is located in the outskirts and has a rustic, laidback feel to it. The added fact that it was monsoon time, transformed the place (as I saw it) into a lush green belt, comprising large expanses of fields and open grasslands all around . This could only mean one thing to me; my running experience would be enhanced with all the visual treats to distract me from the rigors of running and pave the way for enjoyable memories.
One of my runs has peculiarly stuck in my memory.....Transmission lines passing above , supported by towering transmission towers every few 100 metres, humming their own tune, threaten to snap at you; not a soul in sight and the path is undulating and strewn with cobblestones. Its getting dark and I am still a few miles from home, my shirt is soaked full of rain water accumulated over the last 45 minutes, and I hear rustlings in the nearby bushes. Dogs howl in the distance sending a chill up my spine...Good thing, I have been on this trail before, for if I were to stray from the path and get lost, spending a night here wouldn't be a great idea.
This once happenend the last time I was here and because I had chosen the wrong trail from the main road, I had to rely on my instincts, passing through fields and searching for used trails, keeping a look out for any signs of human life and most importantly not stopping from getting too tired running all through..That day I had reached a temple and I was really relieved. I soon saw some workers nearby and they directed me to the nearest main road. I reached home, albeit a little late - 1 hr to be precise.
Trail running is a unique experience as against running on roads or in the city and much more satisfying than the latter. I would be back in Hyderabad hopefully, for the proposed half marathon to be held on september 24th at the stroke of midnight..

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Astronomy.....a star............................

Everyone, I am sure have one or two favourite songs that you could listen any number of times, at any given time. I heard this song 'Astronomy', by 'Blue oyster Cult' , for the first time when I was in my friend's room. I asked him to play the song again, and this time I liked it even better. That was 1 year back - September 2004...and I still listen to this song and it's modified version by 'Metallica' daily - a countless number of times..Never get tired of it.
What intrigues me about the song is the lyrics, try as hard as I can I couldn't decipher the meaning out of it and the overall effect is that the song lends itself a mysterious and awe inspiring tone.

Here are the lyrics of the song:

Clock strikes twelve and moondrops burst
Out at you from their hiding place
Like acid and oil on a madman's face
Reason tends to fly away
Like lesser birds on the four winds
Like silver scraps in May
Now the sands become a crust
And most of you have gone away
Gone Away

Come Susie dear, let's take a walk
Just out there upon the beach
I know you'll soon be married
And you'll want to know where wind comes from
Well it's never said at all
On the map that Carrie reads
Behind the clock back there you know
At the Four Winds Bar


Four doors at the Four Winds Bar
Two doors locked and windows barred
One door's let to take you in
The other one just mirrors it


In hellish glare and inference
The other one's a duplicate
The Queenly flux, eternal light
Or the light that never warms
Yes a light that never, never warms
Yes a light that never, never warms
Never warms, never warms

The clock strikes twelve and moondrops burst
Out at you from their hiding place
Miss Carrie Nurse and Susie dear
Find themselves at Four Winds Bar

It's the nexus of the crisis
And the origin of storms
Just the place to hopelessly
Encounter time and then came me


Call me Desdinova
Eternal light
These gravely digs of mine
Will surely prove a sight
And don't forget my dog
Fixed and consequent

Astronomy - a star
Astronomy - a star
Astronomy - a star

If you ever get a chance to listen to this beautiful song, don't forego it.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Scaling the Mount

My cousin, who works at b'lore had come to my uncle's place. He runs often, getting in 3 runs/week including a longrun during the weekend. When I met him yesterday night, he was pretty excited about running to the St. Thomas mount and back, stating that it would be a great "hill" workout. The distance as measured by him, from Adayar to Mount and back was around 17kms. I wasn't as much worried about the distance as those 'killer' hills at the mount. My left knee was not in a good condition and I didn't want to risk a long-term injury by doing that workout. So I suggested that we do a flat course..We finally decided that depending on how I felt in the morning we would decide the route.

I had put a night-out the previous night and had trouble falling asleep yesterday night...I kept looking at the clock and the last time I saw it, it was around 1:30 am. I fell asleep but had nightmares about the run....I got up at 4:15 am, we did some warmup and we decided to go ahead with the original plan.

We walked around half kilometre, till we hit the main road. I set my stopwatch and off we went.
I had two small 200 ml bottles, one in each pocket, while my cousin had gotten a fuel belt which had 5 small bottles placed evenly around the belt so that when you wear the belt, it fit you snuggly and you wouldn't even notice it being there. I kept sipping water every 10 minutes.We were going at a moderately slow pace of 9 min/mile...My knees didn't give me much trouble at this pace.We were really surprised at the amount of traffic on the roads at this hour... We hit Kathipara Junction in 30 minutes..We had little trouble crossing over to the other side as the vehicles were moving at a pretty good pace.
We had to run single file from here on as there was no foot-path or side-walk to run on!!..Some corners were really dangerous and we had to be really cautious watching out for vehicles...
We soon reached the turning that lead to the Mount. Man, what a change in ambience...lots of greenery and birds chirping around and what a pleasant time of a day it was to be running in the military quarters.
My cousin warned me as we approached the start of the steep climb to the top. We just slowed down to a 12 min/mile pace and just slugged it out. The last 50 - 100 metres is pretty hard. I walked this stretch...We were finally at the summit. The view from here was simply fantastic. Only the Pallavaram hills stood taller than we were. We decided to do that hill when he returned to Madras again.
After a brief stop, we headed down the hill and believe me downhill is a lot tougher on the knees and I thought I would have to stop after a few minutes...But luckily I felt better once we got down the hill...It was 1 hr since we had started and I felt like I had just warmed up, but I am not sure my cousin felt the same.. The return was more or less eventful, I picked up speed as I approached the Anna University but my friend was wobbling a bit. He asked me to go ahead, so I kept increasing the pace till I reached my uncle's place..It had taken me a total of 1hr 45mins...
We had a post run discussion and reached a consensus that the run was simply great and out of the world and that we shall try out some of those hills in Pallavaram next time or run a flat stretch of 20 kms....

Friday, July 15, 2005

My lovely companion

The sleek and Beautiful BSA Mach.

There you go, that's the one on which I have gotten to see some real beautiful places in and around Chennai. Though it doesn't have gears (for easy pedalling on grades), it can zip through the East Coast Road at 40 Kmph....I got it last October, and I have never regretted that decision.Oh yeah..there's my shoes(dirty as a runner's shoes should be) in the background.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Badwater Ultra Marathon

Imagine running two of the hardest 100 miles races in the world (non stop ofcourse) in a span of two weeks.......That's what Scott Jurek(pronounced yurek) has managed to do....simply amazing.
Having won the Western states( ultra Marathon for the seventh consecutive time and having rolled seven times at the finish line as a gesture of that feat, the champion wanted more fun...So he decides to do what is considered the toughest foot race on earth - Badwater Ultra marathon (..., and top it all, he won it by setting a course record of 24:36:08...Hats off to you man!!!!.

The bad water ultra marathon is a 135 mile race which starts in the death valley (85.5 m below sea level) and ends in the great peak of Mt. Whitney. What makes it the toughest race is that the marathoners have to endure peak temperatures of 55 degrees celsius during the day, not to mention the elevation changes as they proceed towards the peak. As a result, all the runners have their own separate crew(ususally 4 people) who assist the runner throughout the run by driving beside him in a car. Typical stuff inside the car include, tons of food, water and tubs of ice(if the runner felt a need to cool off!). Not more than 100 people participate in this race( July 11th - 13th) and rightly so! The average age of the runners is around 45 and most of them have several ultras in their kitty.
Most of them aim only to finish the race(which by itself is a great achievement) and the average time of finish is around 45 hrs!!!!.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My first Half Marathon Experience - Thane Varsha

The marathon is considered to be a very 'tough', distance and that too only in the last 6miles of the 26.2 miles, when all the body's stored fat reserves get depleted and the body looks up at you and asks, "Are you insane, why do you subject me to such intense suffering?".

But for me, the half marathon was equivalent to running a marathon as shall be described below........

I was staying at Mumbai with my mom during the summer 'o3 and I heard 11 days before the actual date(14th July) that there would be a marathon in Mumbai.
I quickly found the registration procedures, which involved getting a medical certificate and proof of age (the half was only for men below age of 21 and ofcourse for women). I went to the registration site, Maharana prathap Chowk, two days before the half marathon and got myself registered.

On the same evening I went along with a few others for a tour of the route in a bus provided by the race organisers. I even mapped the route in my book, but when I think back, it didn't matter as the route was well marked and there was a negligible possibility of getting of course.
Now, my training for the half mary wasn't much as I had just 11 days of notice. So, I decided to run regularly for 11 days in IIT powai, where I was staying. I ran 5kms daily the first week and the next week I did one 12km, which was very tough since that was the maximum I had ever run at a stretch. I felt really dehydrated after the run, but I also felt a sense of achievement and the confidence that I could atleast do half the race distance.
I took a day's break and was ready the next day for the race. I had my lunch at around 10 am and went to Teen hath naka,Mahranaprathap chowk, the start of the event, near Thane. The race was at 1pm, but it didn't start till 3:30 pm. We were made to sit below a flyover there till the race started. But it was great fun,
as I made new friends and we were all hollering around and the atmosphere around had a festive look.

The race began, and it started raining. But I thought what the heck,it would be fun. Many of the runners started sprinting from the start line. I was really cautious to run slow and steady, lest I give up later. A few other races like boys 5k and 10k were also being parallelly held.
I took water at the water-stops meant for the 5k runners.....At around this time I caught up with one of the friends I had made..I asked him to run steadily with he looked tired. We must have run like this for around 5 km when he suggested that we stop as he was unable to breathe! I told him not to give up, and I was feeling allright, what the heck, we hadn't even covered 1/4th of the race...But he gave up and I was left to run on my own....The initial 10 kms is a loop which brings you back to the starting point and then takes a long route to finish.
It took me around 1 hr to cover the first 10kms (behind schedule) and I was feeling really tired just when the sun had started to show up from under the cloud cover..

People were egging me on as I passed through the slums and rural pockets..Some were outright rude to throw water on me and make comments like sathraa ho bathraa (my chest no. was 17) while others were lifted my spirits as I ran past them. The problem I faced at the 11km mark was that, there were some steep climbs and my legs were hurting so real bad that I had to slow down my pace to a walk and finally I stopped as I could proceed no more, despite wet sponges for the head and glasses of water. From here on it was a struggle unto finish. I walked/jogged and did the same over and over main aim was to finish the race no matter how long it took.
The funny thing was that I was struck up with a set of runners who were struggling like I was...I would keep looking back and front to see if the gap had narrowed down or widened...A couple of runners really annoyed me...Just as I passed them, trying my best to keep jogging, they would start spriniting all of a sudden and gain a good distance on me. I would again pass them and they would do the same thing again.I also adopted a few strategies like:
Walking a few steps and then running half that no. of steps, etc...
An auto guy, seeing my condition offered me a lift...I asked him to get lost, I knew that I had only 5 more kms to go....The last 1 km, I sprinted along to finish.

We were supposed to get some refreshments at the finish, but since it was already 2.5 hrs since the start, the organisers had long since packed and left, there were also no buses to take us back to the start. There were around 5 runners sitting on the floor when I finished and we all requested the security guy there to help us out. He lead us to a company canteen nearby and we were served some refreshments there.
We then reached the starting point, thanks to a traffic police guy who was kind enough to hire us an auto and pay for it .
I got my finisher's certificate which was ridiculously unfilled and having cursed the organisers, I left for my home.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Running Barefoot

Why use a spoon if you can have your food with 'god given' hands...
Why use toilet paper.................................................................................
Why run with shoes if you can do the same with your own feet.

Well, that's what I did today at the stadium here (3rd time though)....The grass on the edge of the ground did help a lot in cushioning the feet. When you run with shoes your feet do not feel the real impact due to the cushion provided in them..Hence when you transition to barefoot running, the first run would hit your calves hard as it happened to me 4 months back, and I had to take 2 weeks off from running.
But the real benefits of barefoot running are improved form or style of running...I notice that I naturally land more on my toes and midfoot as against landing on heels in the case of shoes.
Initially the stones and other sharp objects ( luckily I am running in a stadium) could cause a lot of trouble, but soon the feet would get adjusted to it and become more rougher and tougher...

There are people who run on the roads and that too in a
Hmm..It will take some time before I attempt running barefoot on the road.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Beasant Nagar beach

One of the coolest places in Chennai to hangout and also to run!

I went with my uncle to the beach at 4:30 am, 'cause that's his time for walking, which he does for 2 hrs!. So, I had to plan my run for the 2 hrs. I decided that I would be needing atleast 15 mins to warmup and warmdown..That still left me with 1.5 hrs to run.
I started out slowly, finding my rythm and completing each 1.6 km lap as I ran. The pavement on which the walkers did their walk was too hard on my knees, hence I had to partially run on the sandy track beside it. I noticed that when you proceed towards the church end of the beach, you have a cool breeze hitting your face but the route back from the church end makes you stuffy.

Anyway, I was having a sip from a 200 ml bottle (which I was carrying in my pocket) every 10 minutes and that helped in the last 40 minutes of my run. A few goodthings about the run:

> I got to see some good looking girls along the run.
> I was running after a 2 week break and still was feeling not so bad.
> I ran 15 kms in 1:18:18 - A good time.
> The sprint in the last lap along the beach road was awesome.

> I would be ready to hit the beach two days later, that is tomorrow morning...

Friday, June 24, 2005


Yes, finally I would be done with my program out here..and what a relief it is. My presentation got over today evening and I left immediately to my hangout..The computer Centre(cc) and hit upon my latest stress buster..SUDOKU..Ever since the game started showing up on the news-papers, I got hooked on to it. The one in "The Hindu" started out as an easy one and I guess it has maintained that tag, so I had to look for challenging.. .It displays the time of finish and even the relative position of all those who finished it that day. My position was around 350, not bad considering my friends finished a little later......
Now, the last one week I must have averaged 8 hrs of work on my presentation and that is heavy work..No wonder I am very much looking forward to running a lot in atleast the coming week.
But the irony is just when the weather started showing its better side, it's time to leave this place and face the heat at chennai. Hmm...Life's like that.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Auto cruise control

tik tak tik tak tik tak tik tak............................
That's not the clock's work but the rhythmic sound of my foot taping into which I got lost during my run today. Normally I run a long run ( a distance you would probably not run daily for fear of injury) during the weekends. Today's run was really great as I got into the auto cruise 10 minutes into the run i.e, I was looking around the campus absorbing the scenery while my legs were doing the hard work without complaining. This is essential during such long runs, as one need's to forget the working of the wheel of time to be able to confidently finish the run. This auto cruise is also very enjoyable and only when you come out of it,you realise you have had a good time so far. My long runs have gradually become more comfortable and the recovery from it has also become quicker.
Today for example, I dindn't feel the slightest discomfort till I hit 8kms (40 mins). Here, my knees started aching and I had to slow down, but this phase didn't last long as after 10 minutes I was running faster than my normal speed, feeling great. I finished my 16km run in 1:23:15.
During my run today, I saw a lot of walkers, both recreational and the serious ones, and maybe one or two runners. I wondered as to how the body could seemingly adapt to the demands posed by running (increased oxygen intake and shocks due to the constant pounding (more so when I run on the asphalt)) and if there was any limit to the distance one could run at a stretch. Two people, Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed , pros in ultra running, have already run 260 miles and 300 miles respectively non-stop and ofcourse without taking a nap!!!!.
The saying 'It's all in the mind', seems very applicable to this endurance sport of long distance running. There is a sect of monks on a hill close to kyoto, Japan, called 'Marathon Monks', who have to cover 40 kms a day, 100 days a year for 7 years to qualify as a monk there, failing which they commit suicide. The tough qualifier also has a 7 day period where, the monks have to sit erect in a cave(ensured by two people who watch the person), without water or incredible feat by itself.
I f a person comes out succesful through this ruthless test, he is considered to have achieved god-hood, and is given that acknowledgement by the king there. Only 46 people have completed this 1000 day challenge, started in the year 1885.
When I read this article,, I thought how tiny our ambitions are in life and how much we could achieve if only we were to put in the necessary effort and time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A practical joke.

Life can get too monotonous out here with the case-studies to be read daily..So I decided to pull one on this popular guy(we are a group of 10 here in IIMA) called KG.

We are provided with telephones in each room with an internal 4 digit number xxkg (where x,k,g belong to (0 - 9)). So I call this guy KG..xxkg..This is how the conversation goes...

Start time: 22:15.

Me: Is the number yyzz xxkg ( My tempo really slow to reflect the typical chennaivasi and the voice a little modulated) ??.
KG: No it is ylzz xxkg...(pause)..Is this amith*?
Me: No this is Neelakantan and I am a good friend of your father.I..(break)
KG: Yes sir, please tell me sir (very attentive)..
Me: So, I have come here on an official purpose and I shall be there here till tomorrow night.
KG: Yes sir, please continue...
Me: I am based in hyderabad working at DRDL, I had been to chennai briefly and your father had requested me to deliver you a package...
KG: Yes sir..
Me: So can we meet sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening...
KG: surely sir, where are you right now, sir?
Me: I amput up at a place called vastrapur, I believe it is close...(break)
KG: It is just 1 km away from IIMA, sir.
Me: So can we meet at say the IIMA gate at around..(break)
KG:..Can I have your cell phone number, sir?
Me: (pause)..Yeah..note down..
KG: Yes sir..
Me: 98932 43527
KG: Yes sir, I got the number..Your name again sir?..
Me: Neelakantan*
KG: I will surely contact you tomorrow..
Me: Good, So kannan*, you are doing a summer programme here I believe..
KG: That's right sir..
Me: And you are a part of the 5 year dual degree course at IITM or..?
KG: Yes sir.
Me: Yeah..your father had mentioned that..You see your father and me go a long way back..
KG: (cutting me short)...Sir, I will surely call you tomorrow sir...
Me: Ok Kannan*, good bye..
KG: Good night sir..

Finish time: 22:22

Now, I had mentioned this to a guy called SS* at around 1:00 am in the night..We had a good laugh. I asked him not to blurt this out until the next day's lunch..

Come the next day...

We have this presentation by 2 groups(including KG's group), the session get's over by 11:30..
But the lunch here starts only at 12:30 pm..So we decide to head to the library. Now I got involved in searching for some journals/books for my project and by the time knew it, it was 2 pm. Hmm..SS* might have revealed the true Neelakantan to KG and everyone would have had a good laugh.I didn't think about it till 5 pm, when one of the ten guys, NJ* told me what had happened....Man did I have a good laugh..

KG comes to the common room (Dressed to kill) at 2 pm. Every one is seated watching a movie..He says.."Machan, I have to go to MDC (the telephone booth) to make a call".

Now, SS* starts laughing..He blurts out in bits that it is me and not Neelakantan who had called him..KG tries in vain to explain to the others sitting out there that it couldn't be me..he tells out the details of the conversation...SS* is thoroughly enjoying the moment..but others don't seem to understand.
As everyone gets a hang of what's going on, there is an uproarious laughter..KG doesn't seem amused..He tries convincing SS* that this can't happen to him..But SS* by now is out control, rolling on the floor...Finally KG calls the number(after 15 minutes of denial) to prove that he was right..but alas..the number didn't exist...

Well..I met him in the evening, and he still claims, that it wasn't me who called, what a day! These are tales that shall be told for a long long time to come.....

( * - These names are used to protect the privacy of those concerned).

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'