Sunday, May 04, 2014

KumaraParvatha - II

Frequency of trekking has reduced a lot. More or less equal to the number of blog posts i manage to write in a year. So when an opportunity came up, could not resist it, even though it was mid April. Also, it was led by Captain Muthukumar, which meant most of logistics are already taken care and the only action that might be required is
walking during the trek. So trip was on, the place decided was Kokkebetta in Coorg. People joined, left, started for the trip and had to pull out at the last minute, eventually we were left with a gang of 4. Good crowd considering that it is getting difficult to get a good trekking crowd. Looks like Kokkebetta takes only 45 minutes to reach the peak, not worthy to be called a trek so on the last hour the place was changed to Kumaraparvatha. Kumaraparvatha is supposed to be tough, had experienced it once, doing it in a single day on summer looked like a self imposed punishment. The only reprieve was, we will be climbing via somwarpet route and climbing down to Kukke, and this route is supposed to be little easier.10261973_642393812481789_7551459377866756883_n

Got down at Kushal Nagar at 4.30AM and waited for the bus to Somwarpet. The first bus to somwarpet is operated by Swamy travels and starts at 6.00 AM sharp. From Somwarpet, you need to catch one more bus (Pushpagiri Travels) to Beedhalli. The trek started at 9.00AM. From Beedhalli, it is 4KM to forest guest house. First half of 4KM is tar road till a temple, and the next half one has to follow the jeep track to the forest guest house. The real trek starts from here. We reached the guest house at 9.45AM. After completing the registration at the forest guest house it is 7KM to the pushpagiri peak. Good part was the first 3-4KM is through dense forest, which protects you from sunlight and makes the trek a lot easier. Since it has rained on the day before, it was relatively cool and enjoyable. The only problem we faced under these conditions were the leeches.. We walked fast, and managed to escape without any bites. After the forest, there is a moderately steep climb, to reach the peak. We managed to reach the peak around 12.30PM and rested for a while, helping ourselves to the snacks and juices we carried.

Anyway could not spend much time on the peak, as the strenuous second half waited and also had to consider the time factor. The rains on the previous day, had made the weather a little pleasant and there was some mist at the peak, which did make it a little awesome. Started the climb down at around 1.15PM. Considering that the last part of the trek is in the forest again, wanted to complete it before 6.00PM or before we lose the sunlight. So walked fast with little breaks. Halted for around 15 minutes at Bhattar Mane, for the butter milk and continued the race against the sun. The sight of snake crossing the path and elephant dung on the path inside the forest, made us forget the breaks. Finally the trek ended at just after 6PM but was too tired to celebrate the fact that i had completed 25KM with less breaks in a trek on a single day. The journey back home was in the last seat of Karnataka Sarige bus, the only option that was available to us. The last seat factor went unnoticed as the tiredness took over and i slept like a log through out the journey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Auroville Marathon

It all started with our friend Vanniaperumal asking us to join him for a trip to Pondicherry. He had plans of participating in the Auroville marathon. He has taken up running as hobby for some reason and is spending good amount of time discovering the streets in his village. It was long since we went for a trip together. With the trekking gang disintegrated escaping out of bangalore on some trip was becoming a rare phenomenon. So decided to join him for the trip and for some reason registered for the the marathon as well. We had not given too much of thought on whether it was possible to complete, what sort of training it required etc.

The training started a month before the marathon with a 10K run in lalbagh. 10KM on the first day was not a good idea, we realized it the hard way completing it mostly by walking and taking 1 hour 40 minutes. That day it dawned upon us that 21KM is going to be a daunting task and requires a lot of practice. Tried running in the morning for sometime but sleep is more precious than these stuffs. So hit the gym @ office in the evening for the first time in life. I had decided never to visit a gym but to remain healthy by doing routine activities. But i had no other option this time and started running 3 to 4 KM daily.

Running was fun. Running 21KM was self imposed punishment. Realized that when we decided to try 21KM before the marathon day and tried the same in lalbagh. It took 3 hours 20 minutes, with some running and lot of walking. End result was a lot of pain and walking style like a duck after that. But we knew it was achievable. Few more days at the gym and a week of rest, we were ready for the marathon on Feb 9. Atleast we thought we were.

Went to Pondicherry on Feb 8. Visited Auroville and collected the BIB. Liked the atmosphere in Auroville and how organized they were. After some roaming around Pondicherry and enjoying the TN cuisines in their original taste, visited auroville in the night again as Vanni had registered the pasta dinner. That dinner helps in running better next day it seems :-) Mani and myself assumed idly and dosa does the same and had that for dinner. Came back to room and rested. Should say, i did relish the food in pondicherry.

Auroville was bustling with activity when we reached at 5.30AM.  This time there were more than 2000 participants for the half marathon alone so it was crowded. I was supposed to start in the first wave of 600 @ 6:15AM, while vanni and mani were in the wave that started at 6.25AM. The marathon started sharply at 6:15AM and i started running without much plan, with the only intention of finishing it without injuries. Soon i was running a decent pace, overtaking the slow runners and in sight of the leaders. Thanks to the gym, was able to maintain the pace for sometime but soon settled to the speed i am comfortable with, around 8-8.5KMPH. Was excited every time i crossed every KM mark, but as time progressed 1KM looked a little elongated. Could not stop thinking the organizers are playing some cruel trick and increased the distance. Anyway, at the end of an hour, i had completed 8KM. Was able to maintain the pace and completed 10KM in 1 hour 15 minutes.

10KM was a sign of achievement, soon a signal from the cerebrum asked me to slow down. I could see a lot of people from second, third and fourth wave overtaking and disappearing. Since it was expected didn't care much. But when girls overtook, there was a tight slap on the ego, but body and mind were in unison and made sure there was no increase in the speed. But no sign of Vanni and Mani. At the second hour i completed around 15KM and around here, Vanni crossed me, uttered few words hastily and ran ahead. Mani was nowhere in sight.

After 15KM, succumbed to the pressure of mind and started walking. Tried doing it at a reasonable pace, but dont think i achieved it. It was also turning hot, which was acting as a deterrent. Continued walking till 20KM in the next 50 or so minutes. After 20KM, not sure what motivated me, is that the crowd near the finishing line or the gal who was irritating me by overtaking me and then walking in front and doing the same once i crossed her, i suddenly got some energy to run again. When it was around 300 meters from the finishing line, found that there is a chance to complete the marathon within 3 hours. Was pumped up in seconds and started sprinting. It felt like sprinting, probably was running at a decent pace. Not sure where the energy had vanished after 15KM, and how it returned. Atlast the finish line was in sight, body ached, gasped a little for breath but completed the marathon at last in around 2 hours 59 minutes. Target achieved.

I am still not sure, how running 21KM is fun :-) But wont deny getting a medal and posing for a photo, though it is your own camera did give a momentary happiness. A sense of achievement and completion that is missing in this adult life. I was not comparing myself with others, nor did i find think about how will it help  in future, what i had was a childish joy of accomplishing something though it could be worthless. In that way, it was fun indeed.  Now i am running few KMs in gym daily. Looks like there is one marathon on the way, lets see if i run in that as well.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Dying Democracy

“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.” - George Bernard Shaw

Lets say, I have 100 Rs and i want to buy something. I go to a shop pay 100 and get it. The shop owner gets the 100 rupees, but is under the assumption that the product he sold me was given to me due to his great efforts and decides to remind me about his benevolence by printing his name, family name and his photo everywhere in the product. And the cost incurred to engrave them should also be paid from my pocket. I think it is right to feel irritated.

All this comes after buying a Rs.10 water bottle at the bus station, the famous "Amma Kudineer" water bottle that is sold at the bus stations in Tamilnadu. There is a green sticker with CM's smiling photo and the word "Amma Drinking Water". Above the sticker is a symbol of two big leaves. Everyone in Tamilnadu knows that is the symbol of AIADMK party. They can't have that. So on top of the two leaves there are two more smaller leaves. Now it is not a party symbol any more, but point delivered. Towards the bottom of the water bottle, once again it has the word "Amma" engraved in English on one side and in Tamil on the other side. The only mention about a government body involved was in "Processed & Packaged by State Express Transport Corporation Tamilnadu Ltd" in very small letters, which you can find only if you want to find. To me it looked a lot despotic.

The plan as such is a good move, was received with great acclaim, considering that earlier we ended up paying 15 - 20 Rs for sub-standard low quality water. Let us also assume that since India is a developing nation, all the tax money is spent in other activities and is not possible for government to give free and hygienic water at public places. Only problem is it is made to appear like a benevolent act for which I should be grateful, while it is nothing but a duty of the elected governemnt. A name and symbol related to the government might have left me satisfied something like "Rail Neer" as introduced by IRCTC which does not carry any officer's or ruler's photo.

No i do not support DMK, i despise the nepotism that exists in that party. I do not have high hopes on the so called secular congress that seems to be corrupt, and on Modi who has pledged to take country towards progress. I do agree, this is not an issue,  when compared to the blatant violation of democracy that we see in a lot of instances. This is just another reminder of what our rulers are. And when i see people happy about atleast something happening, it reminds that we have brought democracy to a very low level with our ignorance. As a kid, I believed a lot when leaders talked about the country becoming super power,  but it looks more like many many assumptions that vanished into thin year when i started becoming older. The current situation looks exactly similar to the story in "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, a revolution followed by a constitution that aims at equality which eventually ends in despotism and nepotism and slavery. Recommend you to read, if you haven't done so, and you will realize that we are no different than the horses and donkeys of the "Animal Farm" :-)