Monthly Archives: April 2017

The ultimate musings of a Frisbee

I weigh only 175 grams and that was apparently the reason why folks found it easy to throw me around. Sometimes they would fail to catch me and I would end up in a heap of sand, a pile of grass or a barren ground. Nevertheless it was only a short moment of euphoria when I would get to fly in the air.

I resigned and accepted this as a part of my life. A bane for being made out of plastic I suppose. A bunch of 14 individuals were constantly after me, waiting to grasp me in their tight grip so that they could score a point and jump with joy. And what did I get in return? Just a grand pose with me as the centre of attention after which I would be placed in the darkness of a grubby bag along with the pointed cones until someone decided they wanted another game. They called it Ultimate!

This morning I was at Juhu beach. I caught the glimpse of the waves and the rising sun which was just at the horizon. A group of runners were still learning the nuances of throwing and the game.  I soon found myself as a guinea pig among these newbies who were struggling to get a firm grip on me.

I was partly amused and partly bored. I wanted to soar high up in the air, be amidst the clouds and kiss the sun. On the contrary, here I was, being dropped constantly on the dirt laden sand scaring away the tiny crabs hidden beneath. After what seemed like ages, the game commenced. I soon heard the familiar stalling counts, people trying to grab me and tap me. Boy! I seemed to be the star attraction here but didn’t feel like it one bit.

I looked longingly at the birds who were stationed on the sand for a brief period before they took off on their flight. They darted partly curious partly sympathetic glances towards me-a circular looking white object oscillating between the sand and air.

Finally after what seemed like hours, I was put to rest and the photo session began. After being in the ‘spotlight’ for some time, I was tucked away with the stone-cold cones in a bag. I could hear the merry chatter and chirpy laughs outside.

A few words caught my attention as I listened intently. “I had a blast playing today. There was a lot of team spirit and enthusiasm.”  said a voice.  I  agree. It was super fun today. Made me forget everything”, said another voice. True”, remarked another voice. “Been having a bad time at home with a lot illnesses in the family. Today was a real breather from the stress induced atmosphere back home.”

The conversation turned animated after a while and it was apparent that these newbies had bonded well in just their first session.

Having overheard this talk, I was amazed to hear about such turnovers (pun intended) and felt that there was more to humans than what meets the eye. I also realised that there was probably more to my plastic self than I gave credit for.  Apparently I was some sort of an icebreaker, a tool to tap the inner child in adults and relive the fond memories of those carefree days. Maybe a stress buster for a short period to disengage grownups from the web of woes.

I often wondered what it was like to be human and longed to be one amongst the clan- possess the ability to talk, cry and laugh out loud like those voices. Just being regarded as a circular plastic object led to feelings of exasperation many a time until today when I realised I was more than that.

I may be thrown, passed around, hurled high in the air but that was probably what held people together-at least the ones playing the game. I may be tucked away in a bag, but at least I wasn’t trapped by the several demons, complexities and troubles that humans were always running away from.

I realised that being made of plastic had its own power-that of being a stress buster tool which instilled a sense of joy, team spirit and togetherness. And that’s what ultimately mattered. No wonder- that’s probably the reason why I am called the Ultimate Frisbee!!

 

The Grand opening- on inaugural promo run of the IDBI Federal life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon

Thronging crowds and happy feet,

The mood was certainly upbeat.

All roads led to Bandra fort,

As a certain event held forth.

A Sunday much awaited by many,

Besides being Easter, the festive spirit was uncanny.

 

Zumba music filled the air,

As runners swayed without any care.

Being a year since it was born,

It was the inaugural promo run of the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon.

 

This was one such run,

Which was bordered on fun.

No stress, no fees

Only smiles and free tees.

 

Strides dominated the roads,

As the runner folks were in hoards.

Patter Patter they went in rhythm,

With a friendly shout or a song they would hymn.

 

Not being a race,

There was no pressure of pace.

One could pose in ease

An opportunity photographers could seize.

 

With adequate volunteers and water,

Humidity was ignored by bouts of laughter.

Reaching the venue as a happy thread,

They looked forward to breakfast which was a bountiful spread.

 

Wada Pav, poha and sheera,

A sweet considered by runners so dear.

Followed by cups of coffee and tea,

It was a morning filled with joy and glee.

 

What more could one ask for?

To make the spirits further soar?

This is just the start,

So runners needn’t lose heart.

 

Being just the beginning,

Folks can continue grinning.

As there will be many such promos which are a must

As a line up to the D day on 20th August!

 

The Bhim meets Hanuman moment

I was out on one of my usual training runs. It was a day of Hill repeats and I had retreated to the woods to get a good mileage on those ascents. As I went up and down the slopes, I noticed a middle aged man watching me intently. He looked quite fit for his age.

Now over the last 1 year, I prided on having mastered the hills compared to what I was earlier- a person who would stagger up those slopes gasping for breath. Regular training helped me overcome the phobia of hill running and here I was prancing up and down the ascents like an Impala in the wilderness of the savannas.

The hills repeats were going well and I got caught in the moment of sprinting downhill eager to show off my prowess to my ‘audience’.

The man continued watching as I glided down the slope. “Be careful. You will hurt yourself if you come down so fast.” I paused to take a sip of water and just shrugged.

“What does he know”, I thought.

I continued my repeats and as I came down again he remarked saying ” your form is not correct”

Now being a person who could not take instructions/ criticism from anyone other than my trainers, I began to feel slighted.

” So what did I do wrong”, I asked him.

” Here let me show you.” He said. He sprinted up and down the hill in a flawless and effortless manner.

” Lean back as you come down.” He stated firmly.

I just nodded numbly as I gaped at his perfect form.

Unable to contain myself I blurted out asking ” Sorry I don’t seem to have seen you around before. Are you a runner as well by any chance”.

” Yes I am”, he replied. “But I am not like you. ”

I began to feel puzzled and said. ” I don’t understand sir.”

He just smiled, lifted his track pants a little and pointed to his feet.

To my horror I saw that he was amputed.

” Don’t look so shocked”. He said. ” I used to be fast and furious once upon a time. But one day I tumbled down the hills and that accident cost me my limb. However thanks to advanced technology and will power I am still able to run and I am known as what you call an amputee runner.

I run long distances and take part in many marathons. So yes I am a runner but not like you. That’s why I kept telling you to be careful while coming down as I didn’t want you to go through what I did. ”

I stood there standing in awe as my respect for the man grew double fold. Ashamed and humbled at the same time, I regretted having misunderstood him as an interfering nosy parker. It turned out that he was only trying to caution me for my own well being.

” I must go. See you around. Make sure you don’t break that leg.” His eyes twinkled and I watched him walk away into the woods.

I learned that no matter how big you think you are, there is always someone bigger and better than you. So it’s important to be humble always.

It was a ‘Bhim meets Hanuman’ moment for me as I went home- a humbled soul.

( Bhim- a pandava prince finds a gigantic monkey’s tail in his way and gets infuriated when the monkey asks him to move his tail. Being a powerful warrior, Bhim was surprised to find that he was unable to lift a mere monkeys tail. It was then when he realised that this was no ordinary monkey but the mighty Hanuman himself. Bhim is humbled and seeks his forgiveness. Hanuman later tells Bhim to never underestimate his opponent.)

This is a humbling lesson not only for the Pandava prince but for all of us as well to have our feet firmly on the ground no matter how much success we attain in terms of popularity, accolades or awards.

As the saying goes ‘pride always comes before a fall.’

United V Run

United v stand Divided we fall,
Is a famous line that I recall.
Assembling in blue and white
We gathered with all our might
Ready to run as one,
Defying the scorching summer sun.
Darkness loomed the park,
With a faint sound of a dog’s bark.
At the stroke of six,
It was an eclectic mix.
Some from far some from near
Yet our vision was clear.
Age, caste, creed, gender or group
We firmly held together as a Troup
No difference no bias
Just a feeling of being pious.
Andheri, Bandra,  Navi Mumbai, Powai or town,
Our antics were no less than a clown,
We ran together with smiles,
Melting those egos with every mile.
As we ended the run,
We recalled the moments of  fun.
That’s how it should be
The feeling of oneness and Glee.
Runners are a carefree lot,
That’s how it was initially taught,
Pace, time, fast or slow
The ones who stride always glow.
Runners must strive to grow
And restrain from stooping low
Holding our heads always high
We must welcome all with glory and a hi five.

Truly Special: The awetism run experience

April being a month dedicated to autism, there were naturally a few videos with thought provoking messages floating around. I happened to watch one forwarded by my friend Mallika which stated about how each of us were different and unique in our own way. For instance a certain image is perceived differently by different people but it doesn’t necessarily mean that those who were different from us were ‘strange’, ‘peculiar’ or ‘weird’.

I had read somewhere that it takes all sorts to make a world. We all have our share of eccentricities and shortcomings but that’s probably what makes us so special. The same logic applies to individuals with special needs whether they are intellectually challenged, wheel chair bound or diagnosed with autism. All they need is that extra dose of care, acceptance and patience which isn’t too hard to bestow if we just awaken that humane side to us.

Being primarily a student of psychology, I had an opportunity to work with autistic kids as a part of my project during my post graduate days. They were an affectionate lot who resided in their unique world of creativity which many unfortunately misconstrued as ‘madness’.  Therefore when I got an opportunity to run the 4th edition of the awetism run, I embraced this opportunity to put my foot forward for a cause.

Sayuri-a runner friend and the organiser of this event conducted this event every year in the month of April. Her son Vihaan who is diagnosed with autism is an extremely talented young lad who possessed a flair for painting and weaving short stories as well.

It was a 10 k run which was conducted on the Eastern Express Highway-a scenic flat terrain frequented mostly by runners from Mulund, Powai, Ghatkopar and Thane.

We reached the venue at 5:40 am as the run was scheduled to begin at 6:00 am. The warm hugs, smiles and chatter set the tone for the short distance as we geared up to run 4 loops of the 2.5 km stretch. The race was flagged off sharp at 6:00 am.

Since I was following the Maffetone training program (a heart rate based run where one had to maintain pace within the heart rate and aerobic zone), I decided to go slow and enjoy the run for a change. The volunteers were stationed with hydration at regular intervals and earnest photographers stood in the by lanes clicking away merrily.

Not listening to music like I normally do during my runs, gave me an opportunity to enjoy the constant shouts of ‘good going’ by fellow runners and the noise of the planes above. Such runs also gave me ample time to let those thoughts flow as my thinking cap went on an active mode.

As I observed the several runners prancing up and down the road, I reflected back to the video which I had seen the previous day. There were some who were running fast, a few at a moderate pace and others in a relaxed manner. I realised how the same track was run by individuals of varying kinds and yet when it came to the camaraderie post the finish line, we were all equals posing gaily in front of the cameras, arm in arm with one another.

Nobody was differentiated based on speed or timing.  Each person possessed their own strengths and shortcomings which may make them sometimes ahead and sometimes fall behind others. Ultimately it was their spirit and earnestness that triumphed over these petty factors.

The awetism run further enhanced the fact that running is a free and equal sport, which meant embracing everyone despite the several differences, yes including those with special needs as well. It made me feel that aspects like speed, normalcy and madness were relative as what may be considered fast or normal for one may differ for another.

As I stood there basking in the jubilation around, I suddenly remembered the Cheshire cat’s line where he tells Alice “I’m mad. You’re mad. We’re all mad here. I realised how true it was. Underneath all that high spirited laughter lay those inner demons or turmoil that each of us were battling with and that which probably drove us to the brink of insanity at times.

The awetism run was truly ‘special’ in many ways besides being a well organised one, providing beautiful medals and a breakfast of delicious muffins, batata wadas and mango juice.

This event enabled me to look at running through a different lens this time. For once my focus was not on pace or timing, but on the larger things of life that we often miss out in the hullaballoo of the rat race.