Prague International Half Marathon

7 months after moving to Brno on 7th April I ran my first international marathon outside my country (India), the 20th edition of Prague International Half Marathon.

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I liked their tag line!
Run

And on the bib “Today we Run”.
The weather was a mix with wind freezing me up mixed with hot sun and humid conditions. Except for chillness, heat and humidity is not to be scared of having run in Mumbai Marathon and Chennai Marathon!
During the run when I looked up front or behind there like hundreds of people. It was exciting and also I was amazed by the numbers. All the public cheering all through the route, musicians playing instruments, support stations (contains water, aerated water, gatorade, bananas, oranges, salt, sugar and sponge in water).
The run started on time and my goal was to just run. 2 weeks of training after a month of illness I was not in good shape. Few days prior to falling sick I was getting in shape with training and was looking for sub 1hr45mins finish.
A week before the run at a realistic estimate I knew I could finish at 2hrs +/- few minutes. I kept a steady pace through the run, hydrated myself sufficiently and enjoyed the route. The route was mix of up, down, up, down, flat and along the river just reminded me of running along Marine Drive in Mumbai! I followed few tips from Gladson Johnson:
1. Swing arm
2. Breathe from nose
3. Stay hydrated
In the end I had a comfortable finish.
IMG1

The run was important and special since it was to welcome my family who would be moving in with me this month!
Thanks to my employer SAP.
Personally irrespective of time, the excitement was similar to after I finished my first marathon in 2005!

PS: I don’t know who, there was a girl in bride’s dress with her man who finished the run! That’s a nice moment.

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Chicken curry – Recipe

This dish is a mix of different flavours to get an acceptable appropriate taste.

Ingredients:
1. Chicken boneless cut pieces
2. Potato – 2
3. Madras curry powder – 1 spoon
4. Tamarind paste – 1 spoon
5. Garam Masala – 1 spoon
6. Turmeric powder – 1/4 spoon
7. Coconut milk paste – 2 spoons
8. Onion – 2
9. Tomato – 2
10. Salt for taste
11. Garlic – 1
12. Ginger (if required)

Pre-Preparation:
Marinate the chicken in madras curry powder, turmeric, garam masala and little salt overnight.

Recipe:
Cut onions and tomatoes into mid size pieces. In a pan fry them both in little bit oil. Keep it aside to cool down. In the meantime in the pan with little oil fry marinated chicken and potatoes cut into small pieces.
Once the onion and tomatoes have cooled down, grind it into a paste. In the same pan, fry the grounded paste along with garlic and ginger. After couple of minutes add the fried chicken and potatoes.
Fry for additional minute and add a glass of water. Along with water add a spoon of tamarind paste. Allow it boil and add required salt.
Boil it for 5-10 minutes and make sure all spices are mixed well. Also make sure the chicken is boiled.
At this point add coconut milk paste (2 spoons). You could add a spoon or two more for better taste. Allow it boil once and remove from the cooktop.
To garnish add coriander leaves. Mint leaves could be added taste.

Note: Tamarind is added to reduce the spice level and give sugar & sour taste.

Rice Kheer/Payasam – Recipe

Rice kheer/payasam is high on energy and sugar. It is very easy to make.

Ingredients:

Basmati Rice (1/2 cup)
Milk 1/2lt
Sugar 2-3 spoons
Raisins – 10 pieces
Cashew nut – 10 pieces
Almond (Badam) – 5 pieces
Butter or ghee

Preparation:

Soak rice in water in one bowl. In another bowl soak almonds in hot water. Keep them soaked for around 30mins. After that peel the skin off from almonds. In the meantime break cashew nut into smaller pieces.
In a pan add butter/ghee, once hot add raisins and cashew  nuts. Fry till cashew nuts are golden brown and raisins become little bigger in size. Do not fry for longer time as they would taste bad.
In another pan add milk and allow it to boil. Now add the soaked rice after filtering out the water. Cook in less heat and keep stirring to prevent rice from getting stuck to bottom of the vessel.
Once the rice is cooked well, add sugar and stir it. If your taste buds need more sugar you could add more.  Make sure that sugar has dissolved.
Then add the almonds and fried raisins and cashew nuts.

Enjoy the kheer or payasam.

Transportation in Brno

If you are new to Brno or planning to come to Brno in near future there is one you need not worry about, that is transportation. I have not spent too much time in Brno either to be an expert in most recommendations. For sure one thing I do not have an issue here in Brno is with regard to travelling within the city.

Like in  other cities of Europe there is good connectivity, service run by DPMB. Tram lines and bus lines cut through all part of the city. One can take a ticket from the vending machine in many tram station or sending a SMS with a Cech Republic mobile operator SIM card or from the driver of tram or bus. Buying ticket could get expensive if you are frequent traveller/changing lines, so there is another option to purchase monthly/quarterly/half-yearly/annual pass.
To purchase a travel pass go to Hlinky 64/151, Pisárky, 603 00 BRNO with a photograph of yours and an id card. If you are an expat or tourist to Brno then carry your passport/resident permit.
If you are sceptical about going to office due to language issues do not worry. It is not difficult at all. At the office counter they will give you a form, you give your passport for verification and photograph, pay the amount corresponding to the travel pass duration and you are all set.
If you want to buy the pass online then go to the website of DPMB and register yourself. Keep a passport size photo ready on your computer and you would need a wireless enabled bank card for payment. Why a wireless enabled bank card is because when the ticket controller comes for checking during travel you just need to tap the bank card on the device for verification.
To know about the routes and the bus number or tram number to take you could install DPMBInfo app (if you are android phone user) on your mobile. It also contains latest information and many more details which would be useful.
The tram and bus service runs as per schedule so plan your journey accordingly. Don’t worry if it is late in the night, there is night service across (only buses) and there is no extra fare.
Apart from DPMB, you could use Liftago taxi service and many city taxi service. They are definitely expensive.
Brno is connected to major cities like Vienna and Prague via train service run by Ceske Drahy.

Happy touring across the city.

15yrs gone by (Office life) – Part 2

Did I leave from the comfort because of manager?

If I decide to leave I cannot blame my manager(s). They either enable or let me take the course. After deciding to leave to bargain is dangerous.

There is lot of study and statistics that “people leave managers”. This could be true in many cases, definitely not in my case. Am thankful to all my managers over the years who have stood by me when I made a mistake, appreciated me when I did a good job, sat together to share feedback.

In my opinion managers are enablers they are not God. If we are not sure what we want to do, I don’t think we can blame the managers. There are organisation goals which are also to be kept track of when pull out red, yellow or green card for you. A constructive discussion is always important and works beneficial for all.

In my tenure of profession I have not seen manager not enabling when one wanted to pursue other interests. I wanted to explore different opportunities, working in different places, different culture and at SAP this possibility does exist. I also felt it was time to take a new route and hence I moved out. I can say without my managers consent they would have been happy if I had not left but in every person’s chart there is something called as time.

You either grab the apple when it is ripe or see it falling down and later think that maybe you should have taken it. I did not repent when I let the apple fall down in the past. For personal reasons I did let go of few in the past and now I decided to grab it shaking everything and everyone from the zone of comfort with it.

In a change there are always new challenges, it would not be a smooth transition but it all depends on how we align ourselves. To end the series of posts with one last word “there is no secret ingredient”. (click on the below link)

The secret ingredient

Thanks to all those who read the series of 4 posts patiently.

 

 

15yrs gone by (Office life)

People ask me how did I manage to be in same company, same team working on same stuff for past 13.5yrs.

Life at SAP offers you plethora of opportunities both inside and outside. While I was working with same team I added work to my portfolio which would be beneficial for organisation and self. There are possibilities to explore new areas of work. Apart from that there are possibilities to contribute your service for other teams who would need an extra hand. If you don’t want to contribute elsewhere, you can always work on innovation. No one literally stops you from coming up with an idea and working on the same. The importance is in finding people of similar pulse. There are also other possibilities like contributing for social cause in the buckets of projects that come up especially during “Month of Service”. And lastly you can explore the world outside on your own. Given the number of vacation days is pretty much sufficient to take a break always and re-energize oneself. One can also dedicate 120% to work but I have seen this organisation being genuinely concerned if you do not take a break.

It all depends on the individual of how he/she wants to shape up. Work is always a priority, if there is a conflict of interest there is always the door to walk out. I personally explored all the options indulged in some. There are frustrations at times which is there everywhere when we do not see light even at the end of the tunnel. There is an internal satisfaction when you hear sounds of clap after a presentation or words of appreciation from stakeholders or a word of thanks from customer.

Sports is considered as a team event. Individual activities like running and cycling are considered leisure activities for personal interest. The management at SAP believed in us (the employees) and where ready to invest in this domain. This was at a time when no corporate was literally investing on employees in individual sports. There was a mutual benefit again for organisation and for employees. Today if SAPRoadies has a name outside or inside is because management decided to invest in this.

There are times when I felt proud of what I had done and there are times when I had let down. When I look back, am happy in whatever I did contribute and I could have done lot better than what I did in some areas. May not be 100% in all but definitely sufficient to have held on for 13yrs!

If everything was going good then why did I decide to move out? Is it managers? Is it conflict of interest? Any other reason?

 

15yrs gone by (Life outside office space) – Part 2 (Travel in India)

Travel is an opportunity created by oneself for self. While traveling with a big group is fun traveling with limited set teaches a lot if your eyes and ears are open.

Something that I learnt are:

1. Planning and contingency planning.

2. Managing with available resources which includes cash in hand.

3. Handling situations and people and stress.

4. Getting out of comfort zone.

5. Admire the knowledge of people around the world and the beauty that nature has to offer.

6. The memories.

While many don’t travel to places considering language as a barrier, I would not agree. I traveled from Shanghai to Xitang none of the people I met in that entire trip spoke English!

From the first trip when I traveled to Waynad via a old Tamil Nadu govt bus leaking of water due to rain spending the journey sitting on the steps, I had shed the comfort out of travel. It does not mean not to do a luxury travel, that helps too!

With 1000/- rupees in hand my friend and myself set out to tour South India. We traveled in night bus to avoid taking accommodation! I think the best was how we got away from cops with a straight face lie! That night the cops were beating everyone who was sleeping inside the bus stand.

Or the night when we landed in Bhopal railway station, every taxi driver wanted a piece of cake and lot of money. When you walk out without hiring a taxi it is not pleasant especially when there is a foreigner and a girl. In the end nobody has touched you or hurt you is a miracle!

Rum and ride, this was a glorious trip by cycle across Goa. It was one hell of trip.

The first ever time I sat on a motorbike as a rider was in 2005, it was RE Thunderbird (my brothers) and we rode to Yercaud from Bangalore. It was annual ride of RTMC. From then on I spinned off with a subgroup RKMC which later became big in Bangalore. I bought a RE STD Bullet for myself and rode through many parts of India, major long journeys were solo.

Bullet and myself rolled through hill stations in the South India during monsoon, trip to Kolkata and back, many trips on West coast, Delhi to Bangalore. Bullet is not bereft of problems. Some times it would stop for no reason, some welding would come off, something would fail. We face the problems together and you learn to fix.

One of those trip was to leh-ladakh from Delhi. It was not smooth sailing trip. I had a fall and limping, bullet was giving up and finally nature also stopped us from reaching the destination with cloud burst but we eased out all tensions for two days at Bathal.

The worst of the problem is when you meet with accident, two accidents both times broken bones! Inspite of many issues, Bullet is so special for me that it was in one of those rides I met a girl, lost my 💓 and we got married later.

Having lived with Bullet the next vehicle was Mahindra Thar. The climax of the trips was month long trip to leh ladakh across mid and western parts of India, driving all the way supported by my wife who sat through giving up on all comforts.

Both Bullet and Thar were used exhaustively but I never forgot Indian Railways or each individual State Bus Transport! If you want to experience a tough journey take the train which travels for 5days starting from southern part of India to Assam.

If I sit down to name some places I would not be doing justice to our country. Each place has something attached to it that pulls you. Some that you could try visiting: Malvan, Murud, Majuli, Srinagar, Kaaladi, Kollam, Tenkasi, Omkareshwar, Valparai, Chambal, Chilka, Rameshwaram, Sariska, Malnad, Daman, Diu, Dwaraka, Machilipatnam…..

India has so much to offer to feel, see and experience. The people, the cuisine…. When I look back I still feel is that all that I have seen.

All the travel across India cannot be written about in one post. Neither have I after so many years traveling through India have seen everything. I am satisfied having seen majority of India but there is still lots more to see. Some time in future I would continue my travel in India!

Athithi Devo Bhava.