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..

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

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