Thursday, August 31, 2006

I had a comfortable 6 km run in the morning and did it in about 33minutes. I rested by legs during the first three days of the week along with some strengthening & stretching exercises, hope the shin problem now gets solved by Sunday. Failing which I might need to take some anti-inflammatory medicine next week.

Today is the fifth day of Ganpati Festival, it is the first big day of visarjan ( immersion) of the Ganesh Idol. The main visarjan day is the 11th day, when traffic in Bombay comes to a stand still. Most offices in Bombay declare an unofficial half day on the 11th day of the festival. Hope to capture some interesting pictures on my way home today.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ganesh Chaturthi - mega Mumbai festival

Ganesh Chaturthi festival the most popular festival in Bombay, in terms of mass participation its bigger than even Diwali or Christmas.

Ganesha (also called Ganpati) is a Hindu god. The story behind his creation is very interesting. One day godess Parvati; wife of Lord Shiva was applying sandalwood paste (its suppose to be very good for ones skin) before her bath. And with the leftover paste she created a small figure and then decided to breathe life into it. She then asked this young child (who was created from sandlewood putty) to stand guard at the door of the house, while she went for her bath. After a while Shiva returned, while Parvati was still taking her bath. Ganesha didn't know Shiva, so he did not allow him to enter the house. This upset Shiva and he decided to behead the child in a fit of rage and entered his house. But after releasing that he was responsible for his own son's death, Shiva decide to fix the head of the first living being that he found, and this happened to be a baby elephant. And this is why Ganesha has the head of an elephant instead of a human face.

Ganesh Chaturthi festival was not always as big as it is today in Bombay. Its all thanks to a gentleman called Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who wanted to unite lacs of citizens from Maharashtra, by having a common platform which would bind and unite all of them. And he initiated the practice (in 1892) of having Sarvajanic (public) Ganpati and this formed an important aspect of the freedom struggle Tilak used this platform to create and enhance the awareness about the Freedom movement in Mahrashtra. With each successive year the event has grown in stature and size, but over the last decade its become commercial and instead of being a common man's event its been high jacked by sponsor ship money of commercial enterprises and power of local political parties.

History behind the mass participation in Ganesh Chaturthi. This festival unites the entire city, across caste, creed and religion.

I have captured some pictures on my camphone - These pictures are of day one, when the idol is brought to homes & pandals (sarvajanic/public places). The immersion (the idols are immersed in the sea/river/lake) takes place after 1.5, 3, 5, 10 & 11 days.(its staggered over a period of time, the bigger public Ganpati immersions take place after 10 and 11 days, the home Ganpati immersions take place after 1.5 or 3 days)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cranium - a super board game......

I had a tough 15km run in the morning today, I had a tough time running continuously after the first 8 kms, I was feeling sapped of energy and this was in spite of me using Gatorade during the run. I could not understand why that was happening till later in the day. The reason – I had skipped dinner the previous day, as I was feeling lazy and tired and this had a direct impact on my run (though I did have some fruits in the night and in the morning before the run). So from now on I will ever skip a meal before a long run!

I had an eventful and action packed day. I also caught up on a new board game – Cranium (it’s not available in India), but its one of the best board gameI have every played. It’s a great game to play with friends (it’s a team game), its is a combination of pictionary, dumb charades, spellings, general knowledge, using a putty to create objects, sketching, plus lots more… I highly recommend this game. To know more about the the game visit - http://www.cranium.com/our_products/cranium.asp

And yes I was able to get through the Hutch Delhi marathon organizers on phone and they have confirmed my registration for the half marathon. They would be sending the acceptance letter in a couple of weeks. Now everything about the Delhi marathon is complete. I will now have to make my travel arrangements for the Singapore marathon. I hope to do that in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Delhi marathon organisers disappoint...

I have been running regularly this week, have done about 25kms this week and hope to complete the week with another 12-15kms tomorrow. Everything is going well, except for that old problem with my shin, just does not seem to go away. Might take some rest next week to find a permanent solution for it.

Am waiting to hear from the Hutch Delhi marathon guys (Procam International), they just don't seem to respond to my emails,( even after half a dozen reminders). I guess, I will have to use the good old method of calling up and checking on the status. Its really sad when a marathon which is marketed as the world's most prestigious & richest marathon is not organised properly. I have already made my travel and stay arrangements for the marathon, even without a confirmation. This is in direct contrast to the Singapore marathon registration process, where I was given an instant confirmation and I have already received three newsletters, for a marathon which takes place in Dec, 2006. Procam, the organiser of the Delhi and Mumbai marathon (it has already organised 4 marathons), has a lot to learn, to be able to manage and conduct an event at such level. They need to realise that organising a marathon does not end with getting big ticket sponsorship arrangement, that is just the beginning.

I just realised that I recently completed 100 posts....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Death of the cable operator

In Bombay and some parts of Maharashtra, we are having a facing a blackout on television. We are classified as a cable & Satellite (C&S) enabled home, which gets its feed of 100+ channels (incl. pay channels) delivered by a wide network of cable operators (many of the big cable operators are directly or indirectly owned/controlled by broadcasters).

The reason for the blackout - the local police is conducting raids across operators and sealing the decoders beaming movie channels, as almost all broadcasters are not adhering to a Bombay High court ruling which does not allow them to beam movies rated A (Adult) or U/A (universal/adult) - they are suppose to beam only U rated movies (or get A and U/A movies re-edited and to get a re-certification done by the censor board). So instead of getting relief from the courts, stating that they are just the carriers and that it should be the broadcasters who need to be hauled up, they have taken the easy and a very negative course of action. They have decided to blank out all the cable channels to protest against the move. Today is the second day of the blackout and this the final nail in the coffin for me to get rid of the cable guy.

I have decided to replace the cable guy with the newly launched Tata Sky DTH service. I hope to have the installation complete tomorrow, am keeping my figures crossed as the dish needs to face South or East. So, I hope I am able to catch the satellite signal from my window, as the other option of installing the dish on the terrace is not really available (the housing society does not allow residents to install any equipment on the terrace).

I am sure there are many more in Bombay who will be taking a similar step and this might be the finally provocation to embrace DTH and save ourselves from the clutches of the cable guy.....

Monday, August 21, 2006

North pole marathon: World's coolest marathon..

I had a good run in the morning, did my 6km run in about 34mins. My shins seem to be settling down but will take rest on Tuesday, as I don't want to push them.

I happened to read about the north pole marathon in a recent issue of Forbes magazine - print version (issue dated July 3, 2006). What I really liked about this marathon, other than the fact that it takes place on North pole, is that its an adventure of a lifetime, as the entire marathon takes place on water (ok frozen water - ice!!), which is 6-12feet thick. You are actually running on ice which is floating on water!

Things that make this marathon very special:-
- Certified 26.2 mile marathon distance (Association of International Marathons and Road Races) - The great Tibetan marathon is not certified by AIMS
- Only certified marathon that is run entirely 'on' water, the frozen water of the Arctic Ocean
- Recognised by 2006 Guinness World Records as the northernmost marathon on Earth
- Participants are eligible to join the exclusive North Pole Marathon Grand Slam Club by finishing a marathon on each of the seven continents and this race on the Arctic Ocean. - I have a long way to do the grand slam of marathon!!

Let me anticipate some obvious questions which most of us would have. I have picked up these two faqs from the official website of the marathon.

With little or no marathon experience, should I be able to finish the North Pole Marathon?
Yes. If you train properly and can run or walk a distance of 26.2 miles comfortably, then you should be able to complete the North Pole Marathon successfully. Some of the previous participants had never completed a marathon before: determination is the key ingredient to finishing. One of the priorities of the organiser is to have everybody finish the race and there is no cut-off time.

I have no prior extreme weather experience. Is it ok for me to run at the North Pole?
Yes. Proper clothing ensures the cold is not an overwhelming problem when running or walking this race. A large heated tent is also available every couple of miles. Most participants will never have encountered extremely cold conditions before travelling to the Pole. The average temperature during the marathon is about -25degree C.
This is very different from running on the South pole (Antarctica), which is run on snow covered rocks. The Southernmost marathon is a lot tougher than the North pole one, the temperatures are a lot worse and it costs four times as much plus a round trip airfare from Punta Arenas, Chile.

And its something that I would like to do, sometime during this lifetime. The only thing coming between me and the marathon is the price tag of Euro 9,300 plus a round-trip airfare to Spitsbergen (place in Norway about 1.5hr flight from Olso). So I better start looking for sponsors, the proposition - association with the first Indian to successfully complete the north pole marathon. Not a bad idea.

For more details visit - http://www.npmarathon.com/ and for the Southern most marathon visit http://icemarathon.com/

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I completed 12km in the morning in about 1hr12mins, could not do more as I was wearing my new shoes (silly me, wore it for a long run). I got a shoe bite and did not want to do more than 12kms, as I was planning to run on Monday as well. This week I did about 39kms (15+6+6+12), which is a good, I hope to do 40kms next week as well. The only thing that can stop me from completing that would be my right shin, its been holding well after todays run, hope it stays that way.

I am yet to get a confirmation from the organisers of Hutch Delhi Half marathon for my online registration. Not really sure what is taking them so long to respond. I guess the organisers, Procam are yet to put up a team to respond to registrations on the website. Hope the marathon this time is better organised than the previous one. Their advertising agency, O&M had done a great job last time with the Run Delhi Run campaign (an award winning campaign, they also won the Grand Emvie for Hutch Delhi Half Marathon, which included the now famous hoarding of a real model running on a treadmill), but the marathon organisation was not upto the mark. Emvies are organised by the Advertising club of Mumbai.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Online credit card purchases more secure....

This week has been quite good; I did about 15km on Tuesday and followed it with a 6km run on Wednesday and Thursday. I was hoping to do another 21km on Sunday by participating in the Andheri marathon, which I understand has now been cancelled. So, I will do my regular run today of about 15kms or so Tomorrow. Hope my shin problem does not flair up.

I recently discovered that I can't use my credit card for online purchases freely, it gets locked after three online transactions and the only way to get it to work after that is to register on the website of the bank issuing the card and to activate the visa secure or master secure. So till now I have been managed by using different cards, but now am forced to contact each of the banks to get the net banking password and to activate the Visa secure feature. I do a substantial number of my purchases online, but security has never been a concern area for me, it’s the shear convenience which makes it very attractive.

I believe that its a lot safer to use a credit card online than offline, its less prone to misuse and you get a charge back anytime its miss used online, almost immediately after you complain. I don't see much reason having a password protection feature for online purchases, it just makes the process difficult and inconvenient (difficult keeping a track of multiple alpha numeric passwords), especially with multiple credit cards. But, on the other hand I am sure it will make those skeptics take up online purchases with more peace of mind and reassurance!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Independence Day run...

I had a tough 15km run yesterday, as the weather was very humid (cloudy but no rain). Throughout my route I had cops at every 2kms. They were out in full force due to the high terror threat on Independence Day. I was sort of expecting them to stop me atleast a couple of times, as my waist pouch (which includes a sipper) which could appear very suspicious to them. After a lot of effort I did manage to complete my run (the minor change in route added to the misery)

As I wanted to pick up another pair of running shoes, I went to one malls located at Lower Parel (which is about 4kms from my regular cafe. The High Street Pheonix Mall, is the largest horizontal malls in Bombay (and maybe the country). So it gives one a sense of lot of free open space, quite unless the usual malls which try to cramp a lot of stores, by growing vertically. The security here was extremely high and I was frisked atleast 4 times, each time I entered a new wing. The threat in this particular mall was specifically high, as there is a store called Big Bazaar (which is the anchor tenant for the mall) and every Independence Day they have some ridiculously amazing deals on most products, which they publicize and ensure an overwhelming turnout. Last time they had to call the police to control the crowds. This time it could have been worse, as every visitor had to be frisked thoroughly, before entering the mall.

I have gone a step further and made by travel arrangements for the Hutch Delhi Half marathon, so in all probability I would be a part of it.

I also got to know that there is another small half marathon taking place this Sunday, August 19, 2006 at Andheri (a western suburb of Bombay), will use it as a substitute to my regular Sunday run. Am yet to get more details on it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Registration of Hutch Delhi half marathon 2006

I have decided to register for the Delhi Hutch half marathon. It takes place on October 15, 2006. Not sure if I will end up running for it, but decided to register for it anyways, to avoid disappointment later. The only problem with participating in it, is that its a little too close to the Singapore marathon (45days before), and even if I decide to run in the Delhi half marathon, I will not be able to push myself as there are chances of picking up injuries. I am already facing a small shin problem after the Thane one, so will not be taking any chances before the Singapore one. But running in more number of competitive races help prepare better and improve ones confidence and timings.

Race details
You can register online - http://reg.hdhm.indiatimes.com/marathon/marathon.jsp
The Half marathon starts at 7.30am on Sunday October 15, 2006.
You can collect your race bib and chip from October 11-14, 2006.
Registrations started on August 10, 2006 and they end on September 15, 2006.

I did manage to run in the evening today, had a good comfortable 6km run. Am looking forward to my Tuesday long run.

Uneventful week & a pleasant surprise...

I was pleasantly surprised with the way the police and state government had handled the situation after the recent Bombay blasts. It’s been almost a month since the blasts took place and I am very impressed with the way they have gone about things. The media has been giving them a hard time for not figuring out - who, how and why carried out the blasts and their inability to catch the culprits & the masterminds.

This is a first hand example of the urgency shown by the government authorities - I had a colleague of mine who has suffered partial hearing loss, who was given the promised compensation amount within 25days after the blasts. And this was without any speed money, the cops, hospitals and the bureaucracy was going out of their way to be helpful and supportive of the people who had suffered at the blasts. This was a welcome change from the usual response that one gets at many government institutions and bureaucracy.

This week has been an uneventful one (in terms of my preparation). I managed to run only twice during the week as have been facing some small problem with my right shin after the Thane run. Plus, I also had to skip my Sunday run today (can't remember the last time I missed it). Missing the Sunday run is something which is very difficult, but did not have a choice as I was not feeling right since yesterday evening and did not want to push my body. But, I might go for a short run today in the evening as am feeling much better after some good 12+hrs of sleep and rest.

I plan to makeup for my Sunday run by doing the long run on Tuesday, August 15, 2006, which is a holiday (Independence Day).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I did manage to run the planned 30+kms last week and also ran 5 days during the week. The four weekday runs of about 6kms each were similar with a consistent time of 32-32 1/2mins. But the best part was the Sunday run, it was one of the toughest ones I have done till date, it was on a day when it poured 250mm in Bombay (if I am not wrong the highest for this season!), so it was raining throughout the 12kms (well almost the entire day), it was raining very hard throughout the run, plus there was waterlogging in certain sections of the route, the traffic was so slow and sparse that I was running in the middle of the roads at certain streches to avoid running through accumulated water. I only wish I could have clicked some pictures on the way, only if the rain had taken a short break during my run. I hope to continue the effort again this week, starting off with today.
Its been raining, actually pouring continuously for the past three days, hope today is better, most part of Maharashtra (Bombay is the capital of the state) are flooded and the river levels of most rivers is above the danger level, and according to latest reports,the floods/heavy rains have now reached Gujarat.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Good start ....

Its been three days and I have managed to run about 6km on all three days with a time of about 32min30seconds. The ability to maintain the same pace is the best part of the whole deal. So am on target for the 30kms planned for the week, even if I dont manage the fourth weekday run, I should be able to get past the 30km mark with my sunday run. But running 5 times a week is a habbit that I need to follow.

Happened to catch this elephant on the streets of Bombay (trust me this is a rare occurance, I have seen elephants only four times in my lifetime on the streets of Bombay!!)