Bangalore Intl Film Fest

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012


Pacha (Bolivian)
Found this as pointless meandering. Could not connect to what ever happened on screen, so much so that, I walked out of it!

Firingoti (Assamese)
T..o....o.... S...l...o.......w... A film critic once said, he felt his finger nails growing while watching a Hindi movie. I understood what he meant after watching this one.

Rust and Bone (French)
An out and out commercial movie. Delete those passionate love making scenes and add some songs generously, this could well be our own Bollywood movie. Loved the sleekness in entirety.

Noor (Pakistani)
The real Khusru who played the lead role Noor was deadpan. Nor the other actors seemed professional. The script seemed flawed and left me wondering what made the jury pick this one for the film fest.

Monsieur Lazhar (French)
Some movies have the warmth. This is one such movie. An illegal immigrant manages to get a job in a primary school in Montreal as a replacement to a teacher who would have committed suicide in the very classroom she teaches. The movie is about how the children cope up with the shocking death of their favourite teacher and how the protagonist learns to be a teacher! Though I felt the climax lacked the intended impact, as I said, it surely left me feeling warm. And I must mention, Mohamed Fellag who plays Lazhar is an awesome actor. Loved every bit of his acting in the movie.

Kauwboy (Dutch)
A toddler rescues a baby crow from the nearby tree and rears it in his home against his father’s wishes. The story is about how the baby crow plays a role in balancing the emotional equation between the father and the son. The actor who played the small boy is so natural, in places, it feels like the camera just followed the boy candidly everywhere he went. Pretty slow in pace, but the kid made me sit through till the end.

The Clown (Brazilian)
This was the last movie to be screened in the fest. And it was an awesome ending for the fest!
It is about the father son duo who run a mobile circus tent in Brazil, who also are the clowns in their shows. The nearly broke company and the monotony of the shows makes the son quit his father’s company and he starts searching for a new job which gives him a stable life, a Govt proof ID and social security number. But, after getting the ‘breath of fresh air’ in his new life, realizes it was natural for him to be a clown. ‘As cat drinks milk, rat eats cheese, he had to be a clown’. In his short stint outside his travelling circus company, he realizes there is no other better job than to bring smiles on the faces of the people. 
     We are shown in many of the shows the father and the son perform, the kids enjoy their shows the most [I believe those were candid shots]. The humour in the movie treats its audience also as kids – I did not mean it insults your sense of humour, it just teaches us to laugh like kids to some silly but genuine humour. 
Along with Monsieur Lazhar, this also is an official entry from their respective countries for the Best Foreign Film category in the 85th Oscars. I am not sure, how good are the other entrants, but my heart goes for The Clown.

Singapore Trip!

Posted by Anantha | Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012


At last, a vacation to Singapore with amma materialized. Was planning for this since August, ever since amma got her passport. As per the plan, my cousin and my uncle too were to accompany us. Since my cousin dropped out because of his tight project deadlines, only my uncle came with us.

Highlights of the trip:
  • Though the time of Christmas and New Year proves little expensive to visit Singapore, but to see the city all geared up for Christmas decorated with Christmas trees and with colorful lights was invaluable. 
  • Songs of the sea in Sentosa Island is just marvelous  The laser animation show projected on the screen of water(!) by the sea shore with the combination of air, water, fire and the perfect music made it unforgettable.
  •  Got to walk around the Singapore Flier – Singaporeans answer to London Eye, which also has Singapore Grand Prix track adjacent to it. FYI, Singapore conducts the F1 race on their roads, there is no special circuit for the race. It’s for you to think of Hemamalini’s cheeks now J
  • Happened to strike a conversation with a civil engineer from India, who was working on the construction sites of Jurong Island. Jurong Island is a man made island made by reclaiming the land from the sea. With a desperate need to increase the land area, with Malaysia to the north, this is how Singapore is expanding.
  • A locality called Little India which is the place for many Indians in Singapore has a very old Mariamma temple. Even Chinese consider this as lucky for them and participate in the annual fire walking festival in huge numbers!!
  • Mustafa Mall – There is nothing on earth that is not available in this mall! You name a product and Mustafa will have at least 5 varieties of brands of that product. 
  • I was awe struck by the Metro trains of Singapore which run mostly underground connecting all the major parts of the city. These trains do not have the concept of platform. People board the train using elevator like doors which open automatically only when the train arrives.
  • In our short vacation of 4 days, I went for a jog too on one of the mornings J Got to run on a jogging track on the shore of Singapore river which led to Singpore Flier. While returning to the hotel, was lost just near to our hotel as GPS wanted to test my sense of directions. Then managed to return to hotel with the help of local people J
  • Lights, Camera and Action show in Universal Studios is fabulous. With a short introductory video by Steven Speilberg, the show demonstrates the creation of a stormy weather and turbulent sea in New York city with all the special effects.
  • Took a foot massage in a parlor in China Town. It was worth the expense.
  • The pool on the 3rd Floor of a mall at Harbour Front is a serene place worth spending hours holding a book or a coffee mug or both. With the sprawling sea in front and a distant Sentosa island across the sea, the view is magnificent. 
Finally, the best part of the tour was none of the above but the wonder in amma’s eyes when she saw the white clouds from the window of the aircraft and said, ‘those clouds look like mounds of cotton’. 

Arun Bhardwaj - The Ultra Marathon Saint

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012


If it wasn’t for the enthusiasm of Dharani, my running mate of GKVK, I would not have met Arun Bharadwaj - the Super Duper Mega Ultra Marathoner who is on a mission to run from Kargil to Kanyakumari. Dharani gathered the info from net and kept in touch with Arun's crew about his schedule of reaching Bangalore.

Arun would reach Devanahalli by 20th Nov and he would start from Devanahalli on 21st early morning. Around 6AM, Dharani, Karuna and I reached his crew who had stayed in tents near Devanahalli overnight. His crew member Adiraj told us that, Arun insisted on starting his run from few kilometers before their camping site and he was 7-8kms away. Adiraj said he will drop us to Arun if we wanted to accompany him for few kilometers. We were eager to meet him. Adiraj also alerted us not to converse with him much, as too much of talking while running will make him more tired. The man is on road for 51days  - running at least two marathons every day. For all you know, we might be disturbing him.

On the edge of the highway, we saw a tanned frail man running with slow but steady pace. We got down from the car and walked towards him. With our running gear, Arun recognized that we had come to support him. How do you support a man who has run 3200 odd kms and is about to run 800 kms more to reach his goal, just by running few kms along with him...? Im sure we were about to get inspired but not sure if Arun wanted it. Arun shook hands and exchanged 'hi's and 'hello's with the three of us with a hesitant smile. I felt our presence jolted him from the trance he was in. Believe me, for 15 more minutes there was complete silence! He was running ahead and we three behind not knowing how to start the conversation. You can easily join the people when they are celebrating, you can even sit next to a person and console him when he is dejected but how do you start the conversation with a man who has run for 51 days all alone... Then the ice-breaker came from the man himself. He said, 'lazy running lag raha hoga aapko', referring to his slow pace. Karuna pitched in, 'not at all sir, 3000 kms run karne ke baad kaisa hota hai hum soch bhi nahi sakte hai'. Arun smiled modestly in reply.

Somehow, the conversation picked up and Arun made us feel comfortable rather than we making him feel so. After few kms, 7-8 other runners who were waiting for Arun on the highway, greeted him and started clicking photographs. Arun might have expected it; he seemed more comfortable looking at people this time. With so many runners around him, our huddle was running on the edge of NH-7 highway.

As people started asking him some of the obvious questions about his motivation, the pain, the endurance, the determination, the conversation got more candid. Below are some of his answers.

'shuru se, kuchch alag karne ka iraada tha. Gangotri se Bay of Bengal tak along the river daudne ka plan tha... Woh ho nahi paya. Abhi to yeh kar raha hoon'

'yeh dard kya hai, maa hume paida karte waqt, woh jo dard sehti hai, uske aage yeh kuchch bhi nahi hai'

'kuchch khaas preparation nahi tha. Pehle se main regular runner tha. Bahut sara ultra marathon dauda tha. Utna hee..... Jaise kuchch bada kaam karne se pehle maa baabuji ke charan chhoote hai, waise hee karke shuru kiya. Jab kabhi pair dukne lagte hai, woh mujhe yaad aata hain aur usse shakti milti hai'

'baaki sports to animalistic hota hai. Doosron ko haraane ke liye, cheating, mind games aur thoda bahut maar peet bhee... Lekin yahaan bas apne aap se lado aur better and pure bante jao'

'prakruti main har ek cheez chalta rehta hai... hawa, paani, dharti... Sabhi planets..aur ye universe bhi. Rukna bahut unnatural hai. Rukne se balance bigaDta hai... Stagnate ho jaate hai'

As per the schedule, around 8:30AM, Adiraj would pick Arun and drop him to a famous health club on Residency Road. Arun was supposed to meet a gathering there and deliver a lecture. It was time to bid bye to Arun. We gave him a card and a small gift and wished him luck for his remaining 9 days of run. He patiently posed for the photograph with us. I am sure everyone was elated after meeting him.

For me the man looked very real.. No air of achievement, no gloss. Very down to earth and humble. Thousands of kilometers of running must have mellowed him down. Must have 'made him pure' in his own words. I call him Ultra Marathon Saint.

PS: Track Arun's run here.

Bangalore Ultra 2012 - I am an Ultra Marathoner now

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, November 16, 2012


The new venue of Bangalore Ultra was Hennur this time. After the successful and more importantly, very enjoyable Hyd Marathon, I had ambitiously registered for 50Kms category in Ultra. Few weeks before the event, stiffness in the left knee dithered my confidence. Sought help from my doc and religiously followed the recommended stretches for days that followed. It magically worked.

On the race day, on a new trail, knees did not bother much. But the hot and humid Sun posed a tough challenge. I maintained a pretty good pace till 32-33Kms after which my pace nosedived. Some how managed to finish my first ever Ultra Marathon of 50Kms in 5Hrs 47Mins. Still waiting for the official timing certificate and race day photos. Will update this post once I get it.

Tips for aspiring marathoners: Though, I am yet to figure out better and efficient running techniques to better my timing, I have to say this to people out there. Met few runners on the trail. When our pace was almost the same which allowed the conversation to go beyond 'great run brother!', I was shocked to hear at least from three runners that they were running an Ultra distance having never run a Full Marathon before! Running few Full Marathons is never a qualifying requirement for running an Ultra, but according to me, it surely conditions your body. It surely makes you better equipped to run 50Kms and beyond. It surely gives you a good idea of how good are you after completing the initial 30-32Kms. And as expected, all these guys struggled after the initial 24-25Kms - the distance to which their body is prepared for. After all, running a Full Marathon or an Ultra Marathon is not about crawling to the finish line and dropping dead there. It is about having enough reserve energy to run at least 5 Kms after breasting the tape!! Keep this in mind before you attempt your next big run. Never ever, leapfrog your distances and make your legs suffer for your over enthusiasm. Take it incremental, It is not a mandate to run a Full or Ultra within months of running your Half. Listen to your body and be sensible.

Timing Update:
The official timings are out. I have finished 50Kms in 5Hrs 45Mins 13Secs, holding 19th position of the 40 participants who did finish the race. Not bad eh..? ;)

Marathon Heroes

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2012


[Ok.. now that I have shrugged the inertia off, here I am publishing my account of the Hyderabad Marathon at last]

I sprawled on the soft green grass of JMC Balayogi stadium, Gachibowli - where the Airtel Hyderabad marathon route ended. Took off my wet shoes and socks to check the boils I had got between my toes. Thought I should wrap the little toes with tapes to avoid it in future runs. Stretched my calves and quadriceps savoring the sweet pain of the marathon.

Thanks to the drizzle and the cloudy weather on the race day, I had achieved my personal best of 4 Hrs 31 Mins to finish the arduous 42.2kms. Quite a disciplined training of three and a half months, pretty decent rest in the last week, proper hydration during the run had been fruitful.

Munching on the post-race snacks and sipping a bottle of water, I was waiting for my friend Karthik to finish his race. He must have been telling his mind not to listen to his aching legs, still a few kms away from the finish line. Every marathoner fights his own battle in every marathon he runs, the battle that is unique and unfamiliar to any of the battles he has fought in his previous marathons! My friend Karthik has asthma from a very early age. He says, he started running to see if running works as a cure to Asthma. The night before the race, he had told me that he had not practiced much for this marathon because of his asthmatic conditions. He had run his last marathon four years back! It is almost like running the first ever marathon for him.

The photographers near the finish line were clapping and cheering every runner approaching the finish line. Encouraged by the gesture, victorious smiles used to bloom on the sweaty and tired faces of the runners. Some old, some young, some limping, some sprinting to shave off few seconds from their finish time – were trickling to the finish line. The relatives and friends of the runners clapped aloud welcoming them near the finish line. I too contributed to the clapping noise. I clapped hard whenever a panting old lady/gentleman came running to the finish line. Yes, many senior citizens too take part actively in these events. Some of them beat young legs by a considerable margin also! A gentleman I know who is in his late sixties finishes every marathon around 3hrs 45 mins. As ChrisMcDougall says, probably marathon is the only sport where a 60 yr old can compete with a 19 year old with elan.

When one of the runners was approaching the finishing the line, something special happened. His wife was near the finish line holding their daughter eagerly waiting to welcome him. That kid must be of 4-5 yrs of age. He was few meters away from the finish line, he waved his hand at his family, heralding his achievement. His daughter ran towards him crying 'pappa.. pappa'. Emphatic father lifted the kid, kissed her and made her sit on his shoulders. When he crossed the finish line, I believe the loving father and the adorable kid got the loudest applause from people around. I am sure that father made his daughter feel, her dad is her hero.

Such inspirational stories are aplenty in every marathon. From people who run marathons for the pure passion for running to people who fight chronic diseases bravely and return to run marathons as if they mock at the disease... Every one is a hero here. Cheers to the spirit of running…

English Vinglish

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Dir: Gauri Shinde
Cast: Sridevi, Adil Hussian

The movie is just not about Shashi learning to speak English, it’s more than that. It’s about how a neglected, taken-for-granted housewife and mother of two re-establishes her identity and makes her family realize she and thousands of other women like her who undergo similar situations deserve a lot more respect from their family members. It’s about Shashi learning to love herself only to be loved back from her family members. It’s also about Shashi realizing that it’s OK to put one’s interest before her family’s to regain the lost self-esteem. It’s also about showing it’s never too late to learn anything... never too late to make friends [check out Shashi’s husband’s priceless expression when she introduces her spoken English tuition mates as her ‘khaas dost’ at the end of the movie].

From the very first scene where Shashi picks Navabharat Times in the morning to glance through for few minutes before she gets into the whirlwind of daily chores to the end wherein in a brief speech she expresses what exactly she wants from her kids and her husband, the director Gauri Shinde involves the audience very much into the movie, as if she is telling the story of our own mother/bhabhi/sister/aunt who would have been juggling all the thankless daily chores 24/7 without a moment to spare for herself. An awesome performance by Sirdevi. A must watch movie for all...

Ironically, my sis who was more than willing to join me for the movie, drew back at the last minute thinking people back at her home would not be able to manage her two kids in her absence of 3-4 hours!! :(

Hyderabad Marathon is around the corner

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2012


After running my first ever marathon in Auroville in Feb 2012, I was dying to run my next marathon at the earliest. Summer and the rainy season that follows is a lean period for most of the marathons in India. The ones that were held were not in the neighboring states. This made me register for Airtel Hyderabad Marathon.  My practice for this started soon after TCS 10K i.e., in June. Though I thought of taking a formal coaching from an experienced marathoner, I some how ditched the thought and decided to continue on my own for some more time. Started following a training program by Hal Higdon with difficulty of intermediate level-1 [the site has training programs for novices to expert runners]. This training was of 18 weeks. Since I did not have so many weeks to train after June, picked the training program from the midway till August 19th, keeping a week for rest before the marathon.

Before I started training, not ignoring the strain in my right shin which happened during the training for TCS 10K, I went to a physio who is also a marathon runner. I was relieved to hear from him that it was nothing serious. The shin stretches he suggested really worked and the pain subsided. After that, I started following this training. I kept taking enough breaks and rests in the middle of this training to avoid overkilling of my leg muscles. This regular running seems to have worked for me [otherwise, I was mostly a weekend runner]. My Personal Best Half Marathon timing has improved considerably. It used to be consistently around 2 Hrs 15 mins, has now come down to 2Hrs 05Mins. Also looks like I am more comfortable with my Half Marathon runs now, than ever before.

A practice marathon:
Ran a marathon on last Sunday. I wanted to run one before the actual race. I remember a fellow blogger and marathoner saying 'Marathon is such a sport, that the previously run marathons never guarantee a completion in the next marathon you are going to run'. Every marathon poses its own challenges un-encountered in our previous ones. After all it's bloody 42.2 kms :) Every marathon is going to be a Herculean achievement for all we mere mortals.

On Sunday morning, drove to GKVK, just to dump chocolates, bananas and enough water in my car. Started my run at 6:45AM. Should have started much earlier. The weather was very very pleasant till I completed 25Kms. Later it became quite sunny. My struggle had already begun around 25Kms. My mins/km reading was dropping kilometer after kilometer. When I completed 30Kms, I was clearly struggling. Kept pushing myself hard to complete the rest of daunting 12Kms. Did a lot of run-walk-run to reach 38Kms. This is when a thought of giving up occurred. As they say, the mind gives up long before the body. To curb the thought of giving up, I deliberately detoured from the path which was leading to the place where my car was parked. Good I did that. I am sure, I would have given up running at the sight of my car. After almost walking for last 2-2.5Kms, I finished what I can call as my 2nd marathon in 5 Hrs 08 Mins. 

Split Timings:
0-10kms - 59 Mins 30 Secs
10-20kms - 1Hr 1Min 31Secs
20-30kms - 1Hr 11Mins 48Secs
30-40kms - 1Hr 34Mins 47Secs
40 - 42.2kms - 21Mins 24Secs

Good things: Carrying enough water, bananas, chocolates, plastering my nipples to avoid chapping (the easy solution I learned after that torturous 25Kms in last year's Ultra Marathon) and most importantly NOT GIVING UP!

Not so good things: Two boils between the toes - I suspect the slightly tight socks I was wearing,  no fellow runners and supporters to cheer. That's the problem with running alone such long distances. It can bore you in the end.

Of styles and mannerisms...

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, July 21, 2012


Of all the news articles I have read about Rajesh Khanna recently, Avijit Ghosh's article in TOI seemed very candid. Talking about Rajesh Khanna's post glory days - Avijit says, "Rajesh Khanna's acting was defined by style. But in his later years, the style degenerated into a bundle of mannerisms. Like Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna too became his own parody".

I feel that is true with most the actors who were once crowned as superstars in Indian Cinema. Uff... the perils of stardom. In an effort to create their own niche, they create their own style. Their fans crave more of it. Then these styles and mannerisms sneak awkwardly into every character and every scene they play. While watching some old movies I have always sat back and said - 'Hey, wait.... there is too much of Rajesh Khanna/Dev Anand/Dilip Kumar/Shammi Kapoor in this character.. where is Gopal or Shyam or Raju in this!!'. 

With multitude of stories being told and diverse characters etched out, I am glad many of current actors are not getting repetitive. I am glad that presently in Hindi Cinema, there is no scope for an actor to become a superstar! Thanks to the new breed of screen writers and directors for that. Kudos to the courage of the actors too.

The 17th one...

Posted by Anantha | Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2012


Federer wins this Grandslam after a gap of little more than two years. When every great sports person goes through a lean patch of their career, it is common for media to despise him. It gets worse if that person is nearing 30. But, greatest players are those who never let such criticism get into their heads, just the way they never let success get into their heads in their prime time. Me being a devotee of Federer, waited patiently for him to lift up another Grandslam during all this time. In these matters I was as convinced as Federer or his clan could be. As Murray said, I totally believed that Federer at 30 is still better than most of the players out there.

Like the way Tendulkar took his time to reach his 100th ton, Federer might take a little while to reach his 20th Grandslam! Lets patiently wait till that happens :)

Gangs of Wasseypur

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Dir: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Piyush Pishra, Richa Chadda

Movie viewing is a personal experience. A person likes or dislikes a movie based on his/her own reasons. The more the valid reasons are, so genuine will be the like/dislike. Having said that, I do not personally like these kinds of subjects for a movie or a story - to be precise - for my own reasons, which I have tried to elaborate below. Also want to accentuate, that Gangs of Wasseypur is certainly a well made movie, I have a personal liking for Anurag Kashyap, have always liked the distinct quirks in his earlier movies.

The movie is the story of Sardar Khan [Manoj Bajpai] who runs coal, scrap, ‘machchi’, fruit mafia and what not in Dhanbad/Wasseypur with his chacha Farhan [Piyush Mishra] and et al. Besides running  all these mafia, Sardar Khan has a clear motive of killing Ramadhir Singh [Tigmanshu Dhulia], an ex mafia don who is busy making his career in politics now, to avenge for his father’s murder. What seems to be a revenge drama set in the socio-political backdrop of Dhanbad is equally the story of chacha Farhan [who narrates the story to audience throughout the movie], and Nagma – Sardar’s wife, Durga – Sardar’s keep, Ramadhir Singh and coal, sand, scrap mafia and rivalry between different local ethnic groups. I think it’s the brilliance of scriptwriters to make this movie a story of all these people and places and also a handful of other characters which I have not mentioned here. The focus of narration shifts among these characters without audience feeling the jerk. Anurag seems to be very sure of this premise and is in complete command over the story.

Ok, now let me state why I do not like these types of stories. Often, the stories of gang wars stride in the labyrinth of revenge, jealousy, greed for power and plenty of double crosses. Then there are merciless murders, people getting swatted like worms, bodies lying lifeless in the pool of blood, remorseless murderers, toothless police men, lustful romances, myriad of sidekicks and plenty of maderch**, behench**, chut*** and many such cuss words. Actually that’s not entirely the problem I have with these stories, if these elements add to the starkness of the film, I am okay with it. My problem is, why these characters wait so long to kill each other when anybody can get rid of anybody at any place at any moment! Did you get my point..? When the story is aplenty with so many opportunities for the characters to kill each other, when the end of the story can never be just to any single character in it... Why not have a bang-bang climax much before..?! Most of all, with such movies, Ill not be left with anything to carry back home when leaving the theater. It’s for this reason; I do not think I am waiting for Gangs of Wasseypur II in which Sardar Khan’s second son Faizal Khan completes the revenge against Ramadheer Singh. No point waiting for the sequel, as there are no secrets to be busted, no questions are left unanswered and not enough interest generated...

Gautham Menon on working with Ilayaraja

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, June 22, 2012


Found this interview of Gautham Menon about Ilayaraja here. Nice to read about how The Legend makes his music, his preferences, his style of working etc. There's something very genuine about this whole conversation...

Summertime by J M Coetzee

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, June 07, 2012


I came across this novel from my favorite Kannada blogger and profound literary critic, Narendra Pai in one of his blogposts.

I am sure every mortal has spared a thought about how would world remember him after his death. This novel is entirely a collection of interviews of people who were once close to J M Coetzee in the 1970s – a period, an English interviewer Vincent considers to be a very important phase in the life of the character J M Coetzee after latter’s death! The character J M Coetzee in the novel is also a writer sharing great similarities with the real life novelist himself. The boundary between real Coetzee and the character in the novel is blurry.

The novel starts with some interesting fragments from the diary of J M Coetzee, some of them ending with a curious footnote reading “to be expanded later”. Then the interviews begin of Julia – a married woman with whom Coetzee had an illicit affair, Margot – Coetzee’s cousin, Adrina – Brazilian dancer who claims Coetzee almost stalked her and her daughter, Martin – Coetzee’s once colleague and Sophie – Coetzee’s another colleague with whom Coetzee had an affair. Quite predictably there are more women who opines about Coetzee than men, as woman could bring out the best and also the worst in a man. Also it’s always interesting to know Venusian retrospect of a Martian and vice versa. Moreover, all these interviews are not sequential, as in Vincent did not interview these in the same order as narrated in the book.

With some of these interviewees ready to bare all to Vincent, while some judiciously revealing the bits and pieces about Coetzee – as a loner, not a man of great character, surely not charming, incompetent, introverted, highly opinionated, who always carried this mysterious aura around – the reader tries to complete the jigsaw puzzle from the pieces collected from these interviews. As mentioned in Narendra Pai’s blog, if we do not read the interviews as narrated in the book and pick them up randomly, there are chances that we get a different image of Coetzee. A slightly different man, than we perceived him to be. That’s really an amazing technique in the narration, to play with the minds of the readers.

But why try to understand a writer from interviews of some people, and why not his novels, writings, letters and memoirs. When the same question is asked by one of the interviewees, Vincent justifies by saying it would not be right to trust Coetzee from his memoirs and letters as he was a fictioneer. From the interviews of Margot and Julia, it was evident that Coetzee wanted to be remembered even after his death for the generations to come, if not for time immemorial. Hence Vincent could be right in saying that Coetzee being a fictioneer could have projected an altered self in his memoirs and letters. That raises a very interesting question of how do you describe the true self of a man? It is understandable and natural too if there is a gap between what we think we are and what we actually are, but from the above lines of Vincent, what we get to know about a person is always an opinion or is it a version of him or an interpretation. Is objective review almost an improbable thing… That's a pretty interesting thought.
Summertime is actually the third book in the trilogy by J M Coetzee. It’s time for me to pick up the first two – Boyhood and Youth soon.

TCS Open 10K run

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Monday, May 28, 2012


Some times, even after accomplishing some things - though it comes out the way you plan it - it does not satisfy you. Yesterday's TCS 10K was one such thing for me! 
The run began at 8AM from Kantheerava stadium. I finished the run around 8:58AM. That's exactly how I want to sum up my experience! I do not have any thing to mention in between. I can't particularly point to a thing and say why was it so. Was it because I was skeptical about my strained right shin or was it the previous day's junk food intake or was it because my Endomondo did not catch GPS signal during the race or was it because I did not have enough time to use the rest rooms after reaching Kantheerava or was it some thing else... I am sure some thing was not right about the whole run. I basically did not enjoy the run. Mind you, it is not the finish timing, I have nothing much to complain there. 56 mins - 58 mins  has always been my 10Kms timing. 

This TCS 10K was more like my engineering studies, All I know is I finished it, I neither enjoyed it nor  I remember anything about it.

Update at 3PM:
OK... the official timing is out now. My net finish time is 56 mins 49 secs. My overall ranking is 771 out of some 7000 odd people who finished the race in my category. More stats can be found here.


Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Cast: Rajat Barmecha, Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor, Aayan Boradia

I am not going to write this post like my earlier movie reco posts. As there is lot to say and I am finding it tough to connect the dots. Just to be really really brief about the plot, Udaan is about the relationship of this teenager Rohan [Rajat Barmecha] with his disciplinarian father Bhairav Singh [Ronit Roy] and also with his step brother Arjun [Aayan Boradia].

I am in a mood to say too much, this post would contain many plot spoilers, but if you have not seen Udaandon't worry too much about it. Because in this movie how it happens is more important than what exactly happens.

  • The city of Jemshedpur looked really beautiful in the movie. I have never been to Jemshedpur. The city which I had imagined to be a dusty and rusty city through my myopic imagination, actually looks lusciously green and 'beautifully wet' in the rainy season. It has become a cliche for writers and directors to say the city or town they are using as a backdrop for the film is supposedly a character in the film and not a mere locale. But in Udaan, Jemshedpur and Shimla, both the places where the movie is shot, come across alive as any other character in the movie. When Bhairav Singh [Ronit Roy] and Rohan [Rajat Barmecha] were running across the city, I really felt like running in that city! Any marathons in Jemshedpur? ;)
  • Loved many of the symbolism used in the movie. The beating of hot iron by a huge piston kinda in Bhairav Singh’s factory when Rohan works as an apprentice there by equating Bhairav befitting Rohan into a mold he wants him to be in, then Jimmy [chachoo, Bhairav’s younger bro] seeing Rohan catching up with Bhairav Singh in one of their early morning jogs symbolizing the grown up Rohan who no longer wants to follow his father’s footsteps and is ready to take on the world. It is very unfortunate that Jimmy sees it, the audience sees it but Bhairav would not.
  • Rohan's friends Vikram, Maninder n Benoy are introduced to the audience at the beginning and not shown at all after they get expelled from school and return to their respective hometowns. Even when we are shown Rohan speaking to Maninder on phone twice in the movie, we just get to hear the voice of Maninder. This trick works great, as an audience we miss to see Rohan's friends as he misses them after their boarding school. Thus we are made to feel what Rohan feels, we are made to miss what Rohan misses. Basically, the director has made sure that we travel with Rohan in his emotional journey.
  • Loved the way Arjun, the step brother of Rohan played by Ayan Boradia, points his finger at defeated Rohan and says 'disgraceful' repeating their father Bhairav Singh :-)
  • Watched director Vikramaditya Motwane's commentary on the movie where he talks about some of the scenes in the movie which he liked shooting, which he disliked for the way it has come out, where he confesses about some small little bloopers in smoking continuities, hair and make up continuity, some justifications for why the things are the way they were in the movie, scenes which were absolute pain to shoot purely because of the logistical and monetary constraints, scenes where things have fallen in place very very unexpectedly (when Rohan comes to live with his father after a gap of 8 years, the quote - Love Happiness on his Tee appears as Lose Happiness because of a crease when he sits on the bed) and have made them look beautiful. I personally love these kind of commentaries which tell the process of a draft manifesting into a fine final product. Another reason to buy original DVDs :) And I must thank Tess for lending me this DVD.
  • The childhood photos of Rohan and his mother which appear in a photo album in the movie are actually of Vikramaditya Motwane's wife Ishika's and her nephew's. And those were the still photos taken by Vikramaditya himself. The photos are very candid and the lady in the photo Ishika is very very gracious!
  • Another special thing about the movie is, the narration does not appear to be in hurry to reveal everything to the audience at once. It takes its time to sufficiently build the aura of every character and create the projection of image in audience's mind and judiciously reveals the details a bit here and a little there.
  • A word about the acting department. Rajat Barmecha is just fine as a teenager with simmering anger against his upbringing. He shows his vulnerable side too when he is reciting stories, poems and during his lately built camaraderie with his step brother. Ram Kapoor is brilliant in his small yet strong role. Manjoth Singh instantly strikes a chord with the audience. According to me, the best was Ronit Roy as Bhairav Singh. Basically it is a well etched multi-layered character. A gray character that is going to stay in my mind for a long time.

Last but not the least, this is the poem Rohan recites to Maninder when both of them – along with other two friends Vikram and Benoy – get expelled from their boarding school and would have to part ways for getting caught watching an adult film in a theater in Shimla.

choti choti chhitrai yaadein
bichhi hui hain lamho ki lawn pe
nange pair unpar chalte chalte
itni dur chalein aaye hain
ki ab bhool gaye joote kaha utare the

aidi komal thi jab aaye the
thodi si nazuk hai abhi bhi
aur nazuk hi rahegi
in khatti meethi yadon ki shararat
jab tak inhe gudgudati rahe

sach, bhool gaye hain
ki joote kahan utare the
par lagta hai
ab unki jarurat nahi..

Note: chhitrai means sprinkled

I found this poem very close to my heart. Want to dedicate this to my close buddies – Basu, Byre, Prashi and Bhai. Neither did we study together in boarding school nor were we caught watching an adult film in theater, but this is to our share of bullshit and mess and fun we were part of :)

Naina baan paDi by Nandini Srikar

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Wednesday, May 02, 2012


The song, "Dil mera muft ka..." from Agent Vinod got added to my playlist little late. I must say, much after the Pungi song. "Dil mera muft ka..." has been played in endless loops during my long runs. Though the tune is catchy, it is the singing which I loved the most. On spending little time on net, I found out the singer's name is Nandini Srikar. She is the one who had sung 'Bhare Naina..' from Ra.One. It also led me to some of the non-filmi compositions by this amazingly talented woman. 'Naina baan paDi' is a song composed and sung By Nandini Srikar for her private album Beete Pal which was released in 2011. It is originally written by Meera, which also has a version sung by legendary Asha Bhosle.

For now, check this soulful composition and rendition by Nandini Srikar... Ever since, I listened to this song, I have become a huge fan of hers. Let me know if you like it or not...

PS: Can you believe that 'very Indian sounding' piece of stuff from 3 Mins 29 Secs is actually Electric Guitar..!?!! That's by guitarist Prasanna

PPS: Sunidhi Chauhan, Richa Sharma, Harshdeep Kaur and now Nandini Srikar... not sure how many more such names get added to this list in future. Bring it on Bolly Music, I have kept this list open... :)

Milind Soman and team are on Greenathon Run of 1500Kms from Delhi to Mumbai

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Greenathon is an NDTV-Toyota initiative to address environmental issues and spread awareness about usage of alternative sources of energy, wild life conservation, restoring forests and also whole lot of things. This year's Greenathon is a 4th annual event which kicked off on Earth Day on 20th of April. Model cum Actor cum Ultra Marathon runner Milind Soman has been actively taking part in this initiative every year. This year with a team of 4 runners he has started his run of 1500 Kms from Delhi to Mumbai in a span of 30 days!!! That means the team has to run a Ultra Marathon of 50 Kms at least everyday for a month...!!!!! Along the route, he would be meeting school students, social workers and other common people who have worked towards the cause. Some of the local runners too could join the team on and off.

The updates by Milind on his run and videos from NDTV team could be tracked here on daily basis. Today is the 6th day of their run. They must have covered over 300Kms already. Some of the videos in the site shows the team running mostly during the night to avoid the scorching summer Sun of Delhi and Rajasthan. Guys, running a marathon itself is not easy. For 2 days after running my first ever marathon, I did not feel like getting up from my seat for a  sip of water. That's the level of fitness we common people have. Now imagine running an Ultra Marathon everyday for a month in peak summer. It is just superhuman! Kudos to Milind and his team members - Sajjan Dabas, Apurba Kumar Dass, Raj Vadgama and Sumedha Mahajan. I wish them all the best and pray for their health.

Masoom (1983)

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Sunday, April 22, 2012


Dir: Shekhar Kapoor
Screenplay, Dialogues, Lyrics: Gulzar
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi
Music Composer: R D Burman

I just wonder how could I miss such a wonderful movie for all these years. The movie I am talking about is Masoom, directed by Shekhar Kapoor and written by Gulzar saab. D K Malhotra and Indu [played by Naseeruddin Shah and Sabana Azmi to utmost perfection] is a happy and loving couple living in Delhi with their kid daughters Pinky and Mini [adorably cute Urmila and Aradhana]. This perfectly happy family gets devastated when Naseeruddin Shah gets to hear the news that he has an illegitimate son from his once classmate Bhavana [played by Supriya Pathak] out of their brief affair they had in one of the school reunions in Nainital, that too when his wife would be expecting their first child back home in Delhi. Bhavana would have concealed this news from Naseer to save his marriage with Shabana. After Bhavana's untimely death, Bhavana  and Naseer's masterji would be the caretaker of their illegitimate kid Rahul [played by Jugal Hansraj]. Eventually, when masterji dies, Naseer would be left with no option but to bring Rahul to his home in Delhi. Further, the story delves into how Shabana initially hates to accept other woman's child in her life, how Naseer is torn between his dutifulness to his illegitimate kid and regaining the trust of his loving wife, how Rahul gets to know that Naseer himself is his father.

One of my observations in the movie was - how could the scenes and the dialogues can look so real. For instance, check the scene where Shabana Azmi talks to Naseer in the bedroom. She speaks so incoherently finishing her chores for the day- "Main bol rahi hoon, main us kutte ko nahin rehne doongi (referring to the puppy Naseer would have brought home)", "Yeh Bela bhi nahin aayi aaj(must be the maid)", "Maine kitni baar kahaan ke woh cheshma utaar ke phenk do", "peet ka dard kaisa hain tumhaara" all interlaced with Naseer's brief answers. Though it seems so incoherent, it comes across as a very real private conversation of a husband and wife. I read in Shekhar Kapoor's blog that he used to insist the cast of the film to have lunch/dinner together so they bond together as a family. And the result is very evident from the on-screen chemistry. It was even mentioned by one of the members the cast that, he used to curiously observe the kid actors on the sets and incorporate some of their playful tricks, rhymes recitals and interpolated them intelligently in the script. No wonder, their fights, their incessant questions, their dance, their pillow fights look so perfect as done by toddlers of that age. It's so rare to see kids in movies appearing the way they are and not as how an adult director would conceive they would be. It is for this reason, the kids immensely contribute to many of the lump-in-throat moments in the movie.

The characters of Indu and  D K Malhotra are made to look of flesh and blood by monsters of the actors Naseer Saab and Sabana ji. Check the way Shabanaji emotes when Naseer breaks open the secret about his affair.. check the scene where Naseer confides about the same to his buddy Suri [Saeed Jaffrey], his very posture on the chair says volumes about  his acting prowess. All the three kids are adorable and cute. How can this movie reco be complete if I do not mention about Pancham Da's music. Almost all the songs in the movie are very very melodious. 'Huzoor is kadar..' jointly sung by Bhupinder Singh and Suresh Wadekar is my favourite of them all. I liked the playfulness of the lyrics and amazing renditions by both the singers.

One of the beginning scenes in the movie where the puppy at home drops the photoframe of the family contaning pics of Naseer, Shabana and their daughters to the last scene, where the camera focusses on the new family pic with Rahul sitting along, the movie is surely going to remain close to my heart.

PS: Not a complaint, but just an observation about Naseer Saab's acting in drunken scenes! I feel he is "caught acting" when he overdoes some little things when he has to act drunken. Observed this in "Huzoor is kadar.." song, I had the same feeling when I watched him swaying at the last ever scene in "Ibn-e-batoota.." song from Ishqiyan!!

Tad more on superstitions, particularly in Cricket

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012


In my last post I had mentioned few of the superstitions the sports persons follow, as quoted by Mathew Syed in the book Bounce. Incidentally, Ed Smith - one of my favorite Cricket columnists whom I regularly follow, has written about What makes cricketers superstitious?

An excerpt from this column:
"...But cricket, surely, remains the most superstitious of all sports. Why? Partly because there is more time to observe - well, invent - correlations between patterns of behaviour and runs scored. The Indian psychologist Ashish Nandy has a different theory: superstition is built into the structure of the game because there is such a high degree of luck. Nandy explores the theory in his left-field book The Tao of Cricket: "It is a game of chance and skill which has to be played as if it is wholly a game of skill… Cricket is nearly impossible to predict, control or prognosticate. There are too many variables and many of the relationships among the variables are determined by chance.""

Now, don't try to rationalize these things. Enjoy these quirks along with the game :)
This book, Tao of Cricket by Ashish Nandy seems very interesting. I think I am going to pick this up soon...

Bounce by Matthew Syed

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, April 13, 2012


I must say, this is one of the most impressive sports books I have read. Sometime back, in one of my blogposts - Sports and Genes, I had mentioned about my assumptions - mostly assimilated by generalizations, about the impact of genes on sports. Why do always Kenyans or Ethiopians win Long Distance running  events, why Asians are better in Badminton, Gymnastics and Table Tennis, why we do not see many black swimmers qualifying for major Swimming events? When I had written about it, they perfectly seemed like valid questions to me. After reading Bounce, I feel the questions were really vague. In this book, Mathew mentions about fallacies of these generalizations. When the research says, the gene pool of people in Eldoret, Kenya (the cradle of long distance runners) itself is so diverse, I realize how wrong it is to say 'Asians are good at Badminton' :)

Matthew Syed is a British journalist and was the No. 1 Table Tennis player in UK for almost a decade. In the book, ‘Bounce – How Champions are made’ Matthew Syed discusses about environmental influences, motivational sparks, the social strata of sports persons, child prodigies, superstition in sports, choking of sports persons at crunch moments, performance enhancing drugs and most importantly about ‘the myth of talent and the power of practice’. A hardcore believer of practice, mentions that it was possible for him to become No.1 TT player of UK only because he had put in thousands of hours of practice under supreme coaches with special and efficient techniques and it had absolutely nothing to do with his superior ‘genes for TT’ (if such thing exists), as both his parents had never ever wielded a TT racquet in their entire life, nor did he have any maternal or paternal relatives who were good at TT. 

Many of the first few sections of the book emphasize the concept of 10,000 hours of practice - a theory by Malcolm Gladwell. The author gives some contemporary examples from Tiger Woods to Williams Sisters to few skating champions who would not have reached the pinnacle of success if they had not practiced hard. With many case studies proving this and quoting from many scientific researches Matthew lays his argument open to the readers. With no substitute to hard work, the author breaks our assumptions about in born talent too. Also sneaks into the childhood of Mozart and disproves why Mozart is not a child prodigy - for that matter, according to the author, child prodigiousness is a myth. With a strict father who was musically inclined, Mozart had already practiced for thousands of hours of music before even reaching the age of 10-11. But to the world, he was a child prodigy. Matthew also cites the example of Hungarian Chess teacher Laszlo Polgar, who challenged the world to raise all the three of his daughters as the best chess players in the history. The youngest of the daughters being Judit Polgar, the most successful of the three and also who was in news for beating our own Vishwanathan Anand and Anatoli Karpov and the likes.

To accentuate, when author mentions thousands of hours of practice, he means effective practice and not just hours spent aimlessly on any skill. The book also cites from a research that why Brazilians were once so invincible in Football. The secret behind their success being their superior practice technique called Futsal. When a player like Ronaldinho himself says, any player who masters the art of tackling and passing with the smaller and heavier ball in Futsal can never ever fail in the game of Football, there certainly must be truth in this practicing technique. 

Superstition of sports persons is seriously debatable and at times equally amusing topic. It seems Serena Williams carries her shower slippers in her Tennis Kit for every match and most of the tennis players pitch the ball certain number of times before each service. Matthew jokes, sometimes it makes him wonder whether Wimbledon is a contest of Tennis or a contest of superstitions. It is really funny to think that the color of the shoes or whether the batsman steps into the ground with his right or left foot in, influences his performance on field that day. Mathew says, as long as their beliefs are harmless and it helps them to give their best, who are we to tell them not to do it. By the way, did you know even pigeons are superstitious, and superstitions could have descended to humans through evolution..?!

Apart from all these interesting topics, the obvious undertone of the book comes across very effectively, that practice makes us perfect. It is a must read for all those who give up mid-way of achieving, thinking that they do not have it in them to achieve. I would like to end with a quote from Malcolm Gladwell - “Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”

Dravid calls it a day

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, March 09, 2012


I was in my high school when Dravid made his Test debut at much coveted Lord’s. I remember discussing with my friends about the century made by Ganguly – the other legend and the then debutant in the same game and a nearly missed century by Dravid. This episode made me like Dravid, like the way I love any underdog! In later games and tours, I realized, I was loving Dravid for all the wrong reasons! After all, he was not an underdog; he was a silent giant with unmatchable patience and determination, always masked by his modesty. 

We choose our heroes. Dravid could be a very unlikely hero. He was not termed a genius like Sachin, he seriously lacked aggression that Ganguly showed on and off the pitch, most of his good performances were often overshadowed by other legends in the team. I have cringed many times, when the match was actually saved by Dravid, but he ended up being the 2nd top scorer of the side. Dravid was never an attacking batsman [I had jumped off my seat when he had scored a six off Allan Donald, that went like a rocket propelled parallel to the ground and very few such handful of moments I remember and cherish], his strength was his solid defense, his perseverance, his ability to take back seat and let his partner at the other end attack. I am sure, when The Wall was at the other end of the wicket; batsmen have swung their bat freely without any inhibitions. Ravi Shastri once rightly said, it is not the number of centuries of half centuries that measures the greatness of players like Dravid. It is his number of double and triple century partnerships he has produced with his teammates. Yes, he was such a player. He was the damage controller of our team, when we lost wickets in quick succession, when our openers could not stand against the pace attacks on foreign pitches, Mr dependable at No.3 would take over. 

Sometimes when India used to lose badly in tests on foreign pitches, ignoring the team’s performance, I remember glancing through the scorecards hoping to see Dravid as the lead scorer of the team. Such was and still is my loyalty for Dravid. 

I am bad at statistics. Ask me the best centuries by Dravid, I would surely fumble. But I do remember things like how Jonathan Trott wished Dravid after latter’s last ODI innings in England in last September. I am sure Indians would want to forget this tour of England where we were beaten black and blue in test series. Then selectors threw a surprise to Dravid and his fans by selecting him for the ODI side after many years. Soon Dravid announced his retirement and said, that ODI series would be his last which left BCCI red faced. So in September 2011, Dravid was to play his last ODI international, the last of the 5 match series. India batted first. After scoring a half century and sharing a good partnership with Kohli, Dravid was bowled out by Swann. Dravid, being a true gentleman, started to walk towards the pavilion. Then most of the English players came to Dravid and shook his hand wishing him on his last ODI. But, Jonathan Trott did something unusual. He took his cap off before shaking Dravid’s hand. Now, that’s the respect Dravid had earned from his opponents. That’s greatness of Dravid, to be respected by his teammates as well as by his opponents. It’s easy and very natural to be disliked by the opponents, but it requires true character to be respected by the opponents. Well, it was nice of Trott too to gesticulate that way. That’s how Dravid played Cricket. That’s what he meant when he said, it is important to be respected in the dressing room as well as on field by opponents in Sir Bradman Oration speech he delivered recently in Australia.  

Well, retirement in sports is tricky. It has to come at the right moment, before you are made to feel your services are no longer required for the team. Not all get a heroic farewell. Dravid too did not get. Even if he had got big scores in the last tour of Australia, I doubt it would have fit into Dravid’s scheme of things. He made a silent entry; he has now made a silent exit. In the midst, he has scored a whopping 24000+ runs collectively in both the forms of the game. I think this figure speaks volumes about this man.

To end my tribute to my hero, I would like to quote from my favorite cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle from this column about Dravid – “He will be missed, as the great always are. He will see his children grow, take them to school, imbibe in them the reading habit (for he read more than most people I know and couldn't understand why others didn't), but from time to time he must tell the new flowers that will inevitably bloom in our cricket of the need to put grit over beauty, team over self, challenge before rejection, humility before arrogance, for that is what he stood for.”

Good bye Dravid, you will always be my hero…….

Auroville Marathon 2012 - Part 2

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Get Set, Go
I had told Jitendran that that was my first Full Marathon. An excellent runner by himself, he asked me if I have set any timing goal to finish. Being too ambitious in setting my goals, I said I have set 5 Hours in my mind as target. 5 Hours is a good time to finish a marathon.

Amol and Akshita wished Romel and me for the race. Few minutes before the race, there was an announcement about having a group warm-up session. An old white lady was giving us the demonstration of various stretching postures. We all followed her. We were all given a torch as, there were no lights on the way of trail.

At 5AM sharp, the whistle was blown. I started my first ever marathon with hundreds of other runners. The bunch was really diverse, from few college students to 60 year olds. Yes, marathon running is indeed a sport for all ages.

The spilt timing and the ‘complete surrender’
Though I found it tough to make way and run carefully on the mud trail with just the light spot emitted by my torch, few minutes into running, I got adjusted to it. Fair amount of moonlight too helped us.

I finished my 10Kms in 1Hr 06 mins. I do not think I could have run better in dark on an unfamiliar mud trail. After 10Kms the fair amount of sunlight made us run without torches. I finished my 20Kms in 2Hrs 14Mins. Not bad either. I had not lost much of pace. Some seasoned runners say marathon running is like meditation, some say experiencing Runner’s High is a joy incomparable. I felt a tad philosophical too while running. Osho says, a real disciple should completely surrender to his master. There should be no element of doubt in his mind about his master or master’s teachings. Though my heart agrees to it, my mind has often raised the finger like an inquisitive student who is disliked by the teacher. But I was an obedient student on this trail. The tired legs were directed towards the destination by the signboards always. I never questioned it, I was damn sure that the trail will surely lead me to my destination. There was the complete surrender Osho referred to, I had completely surrendered myself to the trail.

The tough part and the ‘spirited’ last lap
To reach 30Kms, I seriously struggled. I had lost my pace. I did a bit of walk-run-walk. I drank more and more of electrolyte and water at the aid stations. Had few bananas and orange slices too. Different aid stations gave us runners different food supplements. Some supplied dates, some chocolates, some groundnut chikkis. But, all of them had bananas and oranges in common.

I reached 30Kms mark in 3Hrs and 35Mins. The run between 32-33Kms to 38Kms was the toughest for me. The Sun was blazing already; the humid weather of Pondicherry had squeezed every drop out of my body. I walked a lot and ran intermittently. I dropped my ambitious target of 5Hours to finish the marathon and stuck to the realistic target of 5hours 30Mins.

When the signboard read 38Kms, I know I was not very far from my first marathon. I am not sure, where that reserve energy was all that while, I attained a good speed. When some of the runners who had overtaken me were walking, I overtook them as if some spirit had gotten into my body.

The much awaited finish
When I was done with 42Kms and it was the last 200 mts left for the completion, A thought came across my mind whether to celebrate the finish with a swear-all jig like Virat Kohli does or a gentle acknowledgment like my idol Dravid does after his every century. The people near the finish line started clapping loud and cheering me. I can’t believe myself that I was almost into tears! Remember the scene in ZNMD where Hrithik gets teary eyed after finishing his deep sea diving? I had totally empathised with his character while watching it, but now after finishing the marathon, I experienced it. Finishing a marathon gives you a great sense of achievement; it makes u feel humble and strong at the same time. It makes you thank your own body, that we always take for granted. As a fellow runner told me before the start of the race, the joy of finishing a marathon is simply inexplicable, it can only be experienced.

Auroville Marathon 2012 - My first ever Full Marathon

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Garibrath Express – the unofficial carrier of marathoners and my new friends

The Garibrath Express from Yeshvanthpur was at 11:30PM on 10th Feb. As soon as I got into my designated bogie it was obviously evident that my bogie was full of marathoners. After the formal exchange of ‘Hi’s’ ‘Hello’s’, the topic of conversation turned to Auroville Marathon.

I met Romel, a passionate photographer and a marathon runner from Arunachal Pradesh working in Bangalore. We had an instant connection because Romel too had never run a Full Marathon before. He often said how he was feeling the butterflies in his stomach. Romel introduced me to his college mate and fellow photographer Arindham, who was in the same bogie with his family for marathon. Romel later gave me his website’s URL. Visit their site NOB-Photography, I must say Romel and his friends are indeed a talented bunch of photographers. Ask Romel, what does NOB mean, he jokingly says, None Of your Business? 

Taking part in these marathons is more fun because of the interesting people you get to meet. After getting down in Pondicherry station, Romel introduced me to two more of his friends Amol and Akshita who were taking part in Half Marathon and were in another bogie. Incidentally all the 3 of them had booked room in Anandham Residency, the hotel where I had booked my room. Instead of taking an extra bed in Amol and Akshita’s room, since Romel knew I was alone in my room, he asked me if I was willing to share my room. I had no problems at all.

The night before the D-Day
On the day we reached Pondicherry [11th Feb], we had to collect our BIBs from Auroville Visitor’s Centre. I left my hotel room soon after refreshing. I had plans to hire a bicycle and roam around Pondicherry. Then eventually I decided to cycle to Auroville to collect my BIB. I was little sceptical about straining my legs on the previous day of the marathon, but I decided to go anyway. Romel, Akshita and Amol took a wise decision of going to Auroville by bus/auto and collect their BIBs.

I was little tired after cycling for nearly 40 Kms to collect my BIBs. I had an early dinner and returned to room. Romel, Amol and Akshita were out for roaming around the city. 

Auroville Full Marathon would start at 5AM and Half Marathon at 6AM. The organizers had arranged for the pickup from major hotels in Pondicherry quite early. The bus would come close to our hotel at 2:45AM. So Romel and I decided to sleep early. But like the night before a major exam, both of us did not get sleep at all. We kept discussing a lot of stuff about running, running events, practice tips etc. At last we dozed off around 11:30. That means we effectively slept for 2.5 hours that night.

The official carrier of marathoners
Romel wanted to take shower before leaving. The idea of wetting my body at 2AM in the night did not enthuse me. I just brushed my teeth and got ready. Amol and Akshita too joined us though they were running half marathons and their pickup was another hour later. They accompanied us just to cheer for us before the race. That was really nice of them.

Raja Talkies signal was the exact pickup point for us. The four of us stood waiting at the signal. The very idea of standing on a stranded street in an unfamiliar city at 2:30 in the night is insane. These are the insane things we would cherish for a long time. Jitendran Nair, an ex-commander in Indian Navy too joined us at the pickup point. It was only when we got to know that he is retired from Navy, we could guess he would be around 45 years of age. Otherwise he was looking like a guy in his thirties. He was damn fit. See, what running does to the external appearance of a person.

The Swaraj Mazda arrived to our place at 2:50. It picked up lot of guys on the way to Auroville from other major hotels of the city. The atmosphere was electric. We all felt like soldiers in an army truck heading towards the warfield.
                                                                                                                             (to be contd...)

Preparing for Auroville Marathon

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Monday, January 23, 2012


On 12th Feb is the 5th edition of Auroville Marathon, an annual event held in the Auroville campus. If everything goes as I expected, I would be running my first ever Full Marathon [42.195 Kms] there. Having bitten by this long distance running bug since 1.5 yrs, I have run many half marathons [which includes many practice sessions]. A Full Marathon is going to be a big challenge for me. For many novice runners, running a marathon is a dream, for some, it is one of the entrants in the wish list of their lives! Frankly speaking, I am not feeling any such thing about it. I am pretty anxious about finishing it that’s all. Neither Auroville Marathon is a timing event,  nor I have an earlier timing to improve in Full Marathon. Hence I have nothing to lose, as long as I manage to complete the distance.

I have been practicing hard for the event from last 1.5 months. Sad to say, I was never able to run a Full Marathon in my practice sessions. I can run a Half Marathon comfortably. I have pushed my limits to 33-35 Kms once. The thought of last to last weekend practice session demotivates me! I had run Half Marathon and then ran for some 20-25 mins more. I had reached the farthest end of GKVK campus. I stopped for a sip of water and just did not feel like running after that! I wasn’t really tired; I could have surely run for another hour or so. But I just got bored! There was no company of fellow runners that day. Usually I do not carry any music players while running, so though I was capable of running few more kilometers, but damn.. I just got bored running. It took me 30 minutes to reach the place where I had parked my bicycle. This very thought of boredom while running scares me. I think it is high time I accept running too needs a motivating partner like in gymming. I am sure this problem will never occur in an actual event. With so many fellow runners, with runners motivating each other, with some music and dhol played at frequent intervals, I am sure, the milieu will be as exciting as ever.

Rajendra, an interesting person and my new friend from my cab, suggested me this website by Hal Higdon, a marathon runner and a coach. It is a very useful site for Marathon enthusiasts with many training programs under different categories.  All the training programs Hal Higdon suggests are of 4.5 months duration. I do not have so much time left to take this training up. I better stick to my learn-from-mistakes-regime for rest of the days and perform well in the event.