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Showing posts from 2010

Gluttonous Overload

I watched Endhiran-Robot the other day and came away feeling exhausted. The relentless assault of grandeur and hyperbole for close to three hours had left me completely spent. There was nothing subtle or understated about the movie. Everything was exaggerated several times over to make a point. It wasn't enough to make the eponymous robot fly. He had to leap and swoop and be incomparably aerodynamic. The lead actress couldn't just be pretty. She had to be world class. The songs couldn't have been shot in any old mountain top. It had to be set against the stunning backdrop of Macchu Picchu. About ten minutes into the movie, I got used to such pointless display of excess. And learnt not to expect anything remotely resembling simple or straightforward.

The story is a familiar tale of Frankenstein's monster in which Rajinikanth's Dr. Vaseegaran creates a robot in his own image which turns evil and goes for world domination. Along the way, the robot terrorises spectacul…

The Inconvenience Of Charity

I understand all too well the awkwardness of asking friends to donate towards your charity campaign. I've received several such requests in the past and each as deserving as the last. But I only have limited resources and fewer friends still. And it is never easy to tell someone you like that you cannot afford to contribute towards their charitable effort because you have exhausted your charity coffers for the year. So I do the cowardly thing by ignoring such requests and wish them well in their attempts to climb Kilimanjaro or run a desert marathon or jump off a cliff in New Zealand.

That said, here I am asking you to remember your favourite charitable cause during the forthcoming festival season. This year, on Deepavali day I will be running the Marlow half marathon. It would be wonderful if you could spare a couple of pounds from your shopping budget towards a charity of your choice. It would be lovelier still if this could go towards supporting some of the wonderful work done …

To you, my man

In the first couple of years following our marriage, whenever someone would ask me how we met, I would tell them some fantastic story of how we came to be husband and wife. Some times, you were a family friend I'd known since I was a child. On other occasions, you would become my brother's classmate. Or a colleague. Or an aunt's neighbour. Back then I didn't want to appear like one of those sad people who had had an arranged marriage. One of those unlucky ones I'd myself clicked my tongue at in sympathy in the past, at their inability to find someone to fall in love with and be proposed to. I had placed an awful lot of emphasis on the means to finding a husband and not nearly enough on the end.

But in the following years, I've come to realise that how I met and married you is irrelevant. What matters is who I married. So these days I don't bother hiding it and often tell people, of my own volition even, that I had an arranged marriage. And I love the look o…

Sprint Triathlon Challenge - Part 4

It was as if all the drama had been exhausted in the first two legs that my running laps were delightfully devoid of any. By now I was resigned to the fact that I was indeed going to be bringing up the rear end of our group, so there were few surprises. But each time I spotted a fellow 500-numbered vest, I quickened my pace. Sadly, the 500s had all but gone and despondency weighed my legs down to a slow plod. Only the sight of my motley group of cheerleaders (husband, son, friends and their kids), lifted the spirits. As I turned in to go for the last lap, I promised them that I'd be back very soon.

But with over a kilometre left to go, I was overcome with inexplicable lethargy. Even the sight of the finish line in the distance did nothing to spur me on. I will finish in my own time, my mind seemed convinced. And I went back to a slow jog. Until I heard someone gaining ground on me. Funny that I could isolate a particular footfall among several hundreds. It grew louder as she drew …

Sprint Triathlon Challenge - Part 3

Of the three disciplines, cycling was the one I was least worried about. The pressure was off me to perform. I had an instrument, a vehicle at my disposal. I only had to pedal and pedal and wheels would take me around the 20 requisite kms. How utterly wrong! I had completely overlooked the crucial aspect of choosing a good instrument. You cannot give a butter knife to a butcher and ask him to carve out a fine cut of meat. You can't paint a masterpiece with a toothbrush.

My husband's mountain bike that I had been training on was probably designed for rougher, more demanding terrain. It was woefully inadequate for the flat, tarmacked surface of the race. Cyclist after cyclist over took me and all I could do was huff more, puff more and grow more dispirited with every turn of the wheel. It took me close to an hour to do the 4 laps around the lake. Coming in to the transition area, I saw all the other bikes from the group that had started with me already racked in place. When I l…

Sprint Triathlon Challenge - Part 2

I attempted my first open water swim back in March. I had been doing a fair number of laps at our local pool and reckoned that swimming in a lake would be no different. What I didn't know then was that open water swimming was similar to regular swimming in the same way as cycling was to boxing. A completely different kettle of fish! A realisation that dawned on me as I lowered myself into the freezing waters that cold, cold spring morning. But having ventured into the lake, I was not about to get out without giving it a proper go. Within seconds of being in the water, my limbs had grown stiff and my valiant attempts at breast stroke succeeded in moving me a few pitiful metres ahead.

I was now in deep waters of depth unknown and had to keep moving ahead as there was nowhere to pull up. But by now, there was no way of getting back and I had to necessarily complete the lap swimming. The last leg was sheer terror as I had to swim at least 150 metres non-stop and my arms were starting …

Sprint Triathlon Challenge - Part 1

The most telling moment of my Triathlon challenge occurred right at the beginning when I was still racking my bike on the allotted spot. A couple of bikes from me was a lady with short cropped hair trying to zip her wetsuit up. Earlier I'd assumed that wetsuits were banned by the organisers because the water temperature was over 22 degrees (the maximum allowed temperature for wearing one). So when I approached her and asked her about it, she pointed to her chest and told me that because of her 'special condition', she would have to wear a wetsuit but clarified that it was indeed allowed for other competitors to wear one too.

It was then that I noticed her chest. Her left breast was flat where once there must have been a mound. It was probably the look on my face. 'I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008', she volunteered, 'and underwent a surgery a few months ago to remove it. This is my first race this season. I have to be careful where they operated on me'. …

Dear Aaron Chanakya Balan

Dear Aaron Chanakya Balan

What a weirdly wonderful name your mother has chosen for you. No, don't ever blame your father for it. I don't for a minute believe he has any choice in the matter. In fact, your mother was told of your birth when she was a mere slip of a girl. So she must have been plotting your name for a while.

Aaron, you look gorgeous and are a spitting image of your mother. But I don't think you can ever match up to her in spirit or intelligence. You will never understand the odds that she has had to overcome to be where she is today. Learn to love her. Yes, she can be hard work at times. But give the devil its due. She has not had an easy time and she deserves all the affection that you can find inside you.

Aaron, you are very lucky to have been born to a wonderful mother and father and an absolute darling of a sister. You have completed the picture. Welcome aboard, little boy!

Enjoy the ride.