Chennai Marathon – Docs dont turn up

After my auroville run I changed/cancelled all my other plans and decided to run the half @ Chennai Marathon to be conducted tomorrow 21st Feb 2010. Organised SDAT it is mandatory for medical examination of Full & Half marathoners. They have a team of docs and it was supposed to start by 9:00am today morning at jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
We (bro, shyam & myself) got tokens for our turn and it was numbers 73 & 74. We waited till 11:15am and there was no signs of doctors. We went out to finish our other activities. When we called by 1:00pm there was still no indication that doctors would turn up. Last heard doctors went on some other duty (not emergency).
We are not eligible to run tomorrow since we don’t have our BIB’s and I believe its better that I don’t run.

In such situation am very much sure how the event would be tomorrow. Its better not to conduct a marathon rather than call for it and make money out of it with poor organising. Its clear that organisers do not understand what long distance running is all about. Complete lack of professionalism is another reason.

Its better not to sign up again for Chennai Marathon.

7 States

December 24th 2009 – January 10th 2010, thats the number of states I went through during my East Coast Ride. Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Orissa, WestBengal, Andhra Pradesh, TamilNadu. As the kms in the speedometer increase and as I cross one village to another and into cities and again into villages, crossing the state borders, people’s excitement changes. The behavior changes, some help you in any way possible, some try to con you, some just are happy to shake hands with you, some wave at you, some treat you with tea/coffee. The road pattern also changes, from neat tarred roads to pot hole filled roads to roads where there is no iota of tar to cemented roads to only rocks.
Stretches of roads where truck drivers respect you, honk & wave & give a smile. Other stretches where truck drivers throw you out of the road. Speeding cars slow down to have a look at me & bike, some of them even take a snap or two of me from inside their cars. At some other parts, some stop me to take a photo with me.

On the first day after a ride through good roads and muddy roads I reach Bijapur. It was getting late and decided to halt for the night. I was supposed to have gone till Sholapur but thanks to the roads. A distance of 550kms. Infact I went into Hosapete town and later turned around to get back into the main.
A small lodge near the bus stand was a real nightmare. They charged me Rs.100/- but gave a bug free bed. I was unable to sleep the night and later shifted to the floor using my riding jacket as mat and put my legs on top of chair. It was not comfortable by any means. In this ride I met a guy about 60years of age walking all the way to Tirupathi from Pune. Everyday he walks about 40kms and takes rest for the night in a temple or whoever gives him space. He had a diary full of contacts of people he had met and who offered him food & bed.
Next day morning I wake up very early and start off. Not that I had slept much. I was feeling sleepy but once I kick started the motorbike all sleep was beyond me. Now it was only me and the roads. At the checkpost of Karnataka-Maharastra the truck drivers who saw me stood in attention and saluted saying loudly “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. The main highway gets boring so I get onto state highway roads and thru the villages. The roads are pretty good and empty with people sitting at tea shops and discussing or working in the fields. When crossing one village late in the evening there was herd of cattle walking all over the road getting back home after grazing. They had surrounded me and I just stood for them without honking nor moving forward. Later at another village in the darkness at a tea shop one guy wanted me to come with him to his place. Of course he wanted to knock me down and rob me when there were none around. I push him off and quite dark I drop the plan of reaching Nagpur and stay put in Wardah. Rs.150/- for the night, its a comfortable stay. There was a restaurant with the lodge and food was not an issue. A distance of about 680kms.
Early next day am again back on the road. When near Nagpur I decide that I will take round around town on my motorbike and keep thumping inside the city till I decide to get back into highway and towards Raipur. After Nagpur starts the pain in another about 50kms. There is expansion of National Highway into 6lane so everywhere there is a diversion to be take almost at every 500mts. Its so tiring and boring. And also an entry into the next state, Chattisgarh. Post lunch there is a group of media men who chase me on their motorbike. They stop me and take an interview. I oblige them, just that my hindi was far behind in terms of required vocabulary. I managed somehow. Few kms before Raipur at a junction when stopping for a signal a driver of an delivery auto gets down comes to me extends hand for a shake and says he cycled all over India sometime in 1998. A distance of about 400kms and a hotel room rent of Rs.150/-. Raipur is a congested city and many vehicles on the road. But got good restaurants for dinner.
Day 4, am not staying in Raipur. After much struggle I manage to wake up the guy to open the gate and un-chain my motorbike. Just 2kms from the hotel I see that my bike is wobbling with a puncture and rear tyre needs to be fixed. Luckily the shop is just on the other side of the road. Slowly I ride outside his shop, it aint easy to push. Now, it was still early enough and the guy was sleeping hard. I thought I should allow him to sleep but other guys in the area banged on his door, made him get up to fix my bike. It was just about 6:30am. All done I get back to riding. Bad roads and now my luggage carrier is breaking off. Orrisa is the state I get into. At Sambalpur I decide to go to Rourkela maybe its easier to reach Gangtok. On the way the two cars from Ford stop me. They are testing their vehicle with a drive all over India. They take pictures with me. My luggage carrier is now almost crashing off. I reduce the speed all the more especially at every speed breaker. Finally I reach Rourkela and my luggage carrier is hanging down. Lucky for me again, the welding repair works shop is next door to the hotel. Rs.200/- for a night stay. 460kms in all. I walk around the main area of the town and get into a big restaurant over there. In the meantime I also start a conversation with the welding works guys Harpeet Singh & Co. They agree to fix the bike first thing in the morning.
The day dawns and I see the news on TV that at Shiliguri the roads are being blocked demanding for seperate statehood. I decide that its not the best time to go through. Change the plan slightly and decide to head towards Kolkata. All iz well. I wait & wait for the welding shop to open up. Finally by 8:30am they start working on my motorbike. While they are fixing the luggage carrier we again start talking on the normal topics, why travel, why alone, what about safety. Later another guy by name Mishra joins us. All nice guys. No charges for fixing the carrier, infact Harpeet Singh got offended. When the job gets over and we finish talking its about 11:30am. They advise me not to travel after 6:00pm due to naxalites. I reduce my travel distance now and reach Barakot. A distance of about 120kms. A relaxed ride. The lodge here was expensive charging about Rs.250/-. I eat at road side shops and I had reached here well before 4:00pm. I did not look for hotels. The roadside shops gave everything you wanted.
Day 6, I leave not very early in the morning. These guys are pretty lazy & the chillness makes them even more. I cant start from these places before 7:30am. The stretch is so very beautiful especially through Simlipal National Park. Hard to find animals but its lush green. At Baharagora you enter the state of West Bengal. It was not best of sights entering the state. There were burnt buses & trucks on the sides. Whatever the reasons, whatever they are fighting for burning property and killing people is not the means. Gandhiji achieved everything through peace and non-violence. 80kms before Kolkata when having lunch two guys join me. Now they are crooks. They laugh with me, try to cajol me to come with them to their house. To make chicken out of me. When it was getting too much a signal to other guys and everyone stood around blocking the paths. They drove away the two guys out of the place. If I had gone with them I would not have been writing these stories, someone else would be in memory of me.
Enter Kolkata, I think of going to Youth Hostel but there are no free space. Enquiring for directions I get up & down the Vidyasagar Sethu bridge thrice. Luckily they did not stop me and start questioning. I had riden about 520kms on this day. Next few days in Kolkata was a stay in Queens Mansion @ Park Street in family friend place. He was kind enough to allow me to stay there and also give me food in morning & night. I went around town not much just a visit to India Museum & Victoria Memorial and the life in Kolkata. And of course New Year night over there. Read my earlier posts on life in Kolkata, here & here.

Few days in Kolkata & I was on my way to Puri. No incidents. Few guys in the car wanted to take photo with me and I obliged. They also told me about Puri & what to do. 580kms. A comfortable stay for Rs.250/-. I did not mind. I was relaxed by now. Anyway I was not going towards Himalayas so it was fine to not hurry. Any restaurant I went in I tipped them Rs.10/- & they were very happy. 570kms was the distance to Puri. Next day I wanted to go to Konark. My bike was giving some trouble by stopping after every few kms. The petrol was blocking, so I cleaned up a little and went off. Having the tool kit did help once. At Konark I was almost cynosure of all eyes. One guy from a family walked towards me, extended his hand for a shake, introduced himself. Apparently he saw me when I was crossing his car showroom in Raipur. Wow. The marine drive from Puri to Konark was not actually a marine drive. I was disappointed a little. But I get to ride close to the seas. Very high tides water could be on the roads. Konark (Sun temple) is a piece of architecture.
The beach in Puri was an eyesore with so many water bottles & plastic cover lying by the shore. And there are lot of pushcarts serving bhelpuri, all kinds of chaats, fish fry, and what not. Visit to the temple was one kind of experience. Maybe I might never go in again. Read my post here.
A brief visit to Chilka lake, and I was there around noon. It was damn hot that it did not make sense to venture into the sea on a boat ride. Spotting dolphins wouldnt be easy. Lazied around, eating & drinking water.

All set, I embarked on my southward ride towards Machilipatnam. Its quite a distance and shouldnt hurry up. What with roads not there at many places due to expansion work & some stretches due to road construction work. Finally I entered Andhra Pradesh state. The roads were real good. But it was all empty. Later I learnt it was state bandh for Unified Andhra Pradesh, not to split into Telangana & Andhra. I reached Vishakapatnam by 6:00pm and got a lodge for Rs.200/- close to bus stand. Which meant no problem for finding food. Since bandh is only till 6:00pm, shops opened up and I could get my dinner without hassles. 480kms I stopped.
400kms was waiting for me to be riden before reaching Machilipatnam from Vishakapatnam. Now I was riding into the heart of Telangana. Nothing happened. Early in the morning, I made a visit to Royal Enfield showroom to clean the carburettor and add distilled water to battery. All done & ok. Enroute there was another guy who was passing by on his motorbike. He stopped and came and offered. I accepted & we rode together till Vijayawada. Real nice guy. By 8:00pm I was in Machilipatnam. The lodge guy was little funny, he charged Rs.100/- for the room and parking of the bike was to be in central parking area & not in the lodge.
The cops were nice. They talked with me for more than 30mins before going on their duty. They were appreciative of my courage to travel all alone through most troubled areas across the states. Nothing happened. Later next day I also chatted with Marine cops who were real nice guys. In Machilipatnam try food in push carts, like dosa. Real tasty. I also bought Kalamkari bedsheets.
A day later, it was time to reach my home 530kms away, Chennai. Went into the villages away from highway and finally later after doing many kms here not to loose on time got back to highway. Cool ride, minimal stops and there I was into the state of TamilNadu and into Chennai. Just sitting and eating for few days. Not much impact on the body. Lost weight was almost regained but the body shape had come down eating in all kinds of places and at improper schedules.
Chennai to Bangalore, the route am so familiar with. 370kms never seemed a big thing. The flag remained on my motorbike till I reached my house in Bangalore.

For all photos of the trip, click here.

Auroville

Gharib Rath, the train from Bangalore to Pondicherry on friday 12th February 2010. The concept of Gharib Rath is to make A/C travel for all affordable. Slightly costlier than 2nd Class Sleeper, but less priced than 3rd Class A/C. The entire train is air conditioned. But they charge Rs.25/- for the blankets & pillows. Makes sense.
6 of us colleagues, boarded the train @ Yeswantpur station. We spent quite a long time making fun of the other and having good laughs. The basic is that no one should take it offensively. Finally we decided to get some sleep. There were quite a lot of other runners also travelling in the same train.
Why were we travelling? To run @ Auroville Marathon. I was planning to do the full marathon. Next day morning @ 9:30am when the train reached Pondicherry there were buses from Auroville waiting to pick us up. At Visitors Center we had to wait for some time since we were early. Finally the organisers came to give us the bib’s and allot the dorm’s.
Auroville is a very huge and vast area. They got a water treatment plant, organic plantations, wind mill. Filled with tree cover is a respite from the heat. To know more about Auroville, click here.
Mitra dorm was allocated for Full Marathoners. It was very comfortable with lockers, bed’s, pillows & blankets. After nice shower we headed for lunch @ the canteen in Auroville Visitors Center.
Then I met Anita, Sandeep, Jacob, association started in marathons. Later my bro came in and we went for a drive. A quick dinner with Jacob & Co.
Feb 14th early in the morning 5:00am the Full Marathon was flagged off. We were provided with torch lights. And it was real cool at the time of the morning. But it was humid. The water points were not at standard spots and guys there did not know the kilometer mark. That was little sad.
The best part was there were guys on the cycle and at that time of morning. They had headlight and directed the runners on the correct path. The markings on the route were excellent of where to turn and where not to head into.
Slowly the sun started coming out and when I was completing the half way mark I was bathing on sweat. My shirt & shorts were drenched. After another km, I started to feel little lazy and started contemplating whether I should continue and finish the rest of 21.1kms or turn back. I could also feel pain behind my left knee as always. Finally I decided to stop and be relaxed. It was at the 25kms mark though. I walked almost 3-5kms back to Certitude, the Start & Finish point.
And again back to water point from where it was 6.5kms to the finish line. I came back to give company to my friend. With him I ran the 6.5kms except that last 200mts where I allowed him to run alone to glory.

I would go again to Auroville not for running but to spend time without doing any normal work.

Why do I travel

why do I travel?

Most reference is for travelling within India.
There are many ways one can travel around. I typically prefer to travel on a low budget. There has hardly been a time when I have travelled luxuriously except the cruiser I had taken years back. Even in that I took a deck ticket which did not cost me much.
Why a low budget? It connects me with the local people. I feel am one of them when I sit in local transportation or when I sit at a road-side tea shop talking with them. When you become part of them its easier to share lot of information. You dont feel the fear factor. There are lots to learn from crooks and people who try to con you.

1. Travelling is a way realising myself. Can I do it. What is my endurance level. Would I succumb to situations. Who am I. How fast can I think and how quickly can I implement it under circumstances.
2. There are certain times in certain situations when you got to take a decision. These are like real-time situations and not hypothetical. The decision at these points would change the next entire course.
3. It is to see places, admire the beauty within India and outside.
4. Each city/village is unique in its own way. Talking to people, moving around with them, there are so many things that one can learn.
5. Traveling is pretty much safe in India. There are troubles in lot of cities and towns but isnt it the same in other parts of world too? Yes, there have been incidents across lot of regions within India which has brought in fear among not only foreigners but also Indians.
There have been incidents which I have seen with my own eyes and some which I have experienced. I definitely do not have convincing reasons to say its even 80% safe. Somethings which you see directly also has an impact.
6. Lot of us are still afraid to travel by road for long distances. Bad road conditions, no restaurants enroute. What if people stop you and rob you. What if we meet with an accident. How will the people be.
a. There are lot of stretches where the roads have been laid and where they are being laid. There is tremendous amount of improvement in the road conditions over the years.
b. There are restaurants in almost every town or city that you cross.
c. People will top and rob you. Don’t travel in night time, its unsafe. Day time there are no issues.
d. Accidents happen everywhere not only on the highways.
7. For many families in villages and towns travel means a visit to temples or a pilgrimage tour. Many who travel from big cities also do not get to have a conversation with villagers.
8. Its to taste cuisines of different cities. There is a rich food culture across India. Each city has its own specialty.

In my East Coast ride I had flag tied to my motorbike. Why? Almost everyone who talked to me wanted to know this.
1. My nationality is India.
2. India gives me identity. Later comes my identity of being Tamilian.
3. This tour is part of my travel over India in the next few years and the flag is a way to signify the same.
4. Everyone respects you.

Vangi Bath (Brinjal rice)

Vangi bath is a famous kannadiga dish. This is cooking procedure for 1 person. Can be extended for more.
There are many ways of preparing vangi bath, I found this not only an easy method but also tasty to eat.

Ingredients:
1. 150gms of brinjal
2. 3 green chillies
3. 2 red chillies
4. Urad dal
5. 1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
6. Red chilli powder
7. 1tsp Garam masala powder
8. 4tsp Oil
9. 3/4th cup rice
10. 3/4th tsp salt
11. 1/4tsp mustard seeds

Preparation:
Wash the rice and cook in oven or pressure cooker.
Cut green chillies and red chillies into small pieces. Also, cut brinjal into medium sized pieces
Heat oil in pan with mustard seeds. When mustard seeds get heated add urad dal, green chillies, red chillies and fre till dal becomes golden brown in colour.
To this add ginger garlic paste and mix it. Then add the brinjal pieces. Mix the contents. Add garam masala and pinch of red chilli powder. After mixing them add salt and stir the contents. Allow it to fry for sometime till brinjal becomes soft enough.
Now added the boiled rice and little bit of youghurt (curd). Mix them properly. Switch off the fire and allow the rice to cool down. When hot add coriander leaves for smell and taste.

Eat the rice with pickle and curd. Alternatively, raitha is also a good combination.

Google Buzz

Am still figuring out the new feature of Buzz from Google integrated in GMail. This looks a feature very similar to Facebook and Twitter.
Is Google under a threat with rising popularity of these two and reducing popularity of Orkut. Lot of people in recent times have stopped “Orkutting” including myself.
The feature to “Follow” others is same as twitter. To share photos & videos looks similar to facebook.
The one thing I hate is how does Google decide by itself automatically whom I should follow.
Buzz is allowed for usage only by users with GMail id.

Google wave did not create enough waves.
Will this create a buzz??

Pearl Valley

Morning cycle ride to Pearl Valley, Muthyala Maduvu ended in disappointment as there was no water to see the beauty as this place is described to be.
Around 5:45am I started from my place in Koramangala towards BTM Layout to pick up friend of mine who was joining for the ride. Together we went to Jayanagar to another friends house to pick up the helmet. After which it was a long ride. Via Jayadeva hospital, IIM Bangalore wit full mist surrounding us and my glasses getting smudged it was real pleasant for cycling. After Bannerghatta Police Station there is a left turn (SH87) which would go towards Jigani Industrial Area. It was also time to stop for a tea break. After nice hot tea we continued on our journey. Proceeding few kms later there is this nice lake in Banerghatta. So we decide to go through the narrow mud & rocky path towards the lake. There is also mango grove here only that there are no mangoes. At Jigani there are two routes. One is a bye-pass and another normal route. The bye-pass is longer so better avoid it. Finally we reached Anekal. Breakfast of idllis was better than having dosa’s here.
There was a wedding procession for a visit to temple and I noticed a lady playing nadaswaram. I havent seen ladies playing this instrument so far and being part of music band in a wedding.

3kms from this place is where Pearl Valley is located. There is small stream of water but nothing more. One got to go down towards water that would mean leaving the cycles on top. With locks not really a lock it was risky to leave them behind. We decide to head back towards city.
I always believe that routes should not be same in onward & return journey. Now we head towards Attibele which is a village almost close to the border of bangalore – hosur. Not without stopping 2-3 time enquiring for directions and another halt for coconut water.
Two options are possible here one is to head towards Sarjapur or continue towards Electronic City. Having cycled before on Sarjapur route we ditch that idea. Cycling on Hosur Road was pretty easy and no difficulties.
At Electronic City we stopped again for Nandini Kesar Badam milk. Never forget to try this. We thought of getting on to Elevated Highway which would also mean no shops for emergency or any other purpose. From EC to Bommanahalli was a quick and short ride. I rode till BTM with my friend and later proceeded towards my home.

Ride summary:
Distance: 96.45kms
Total time: 6hrs40mins (including all stoppages)
Route map: http://tinyurl.com/ybn4l49
Max speed: 41.8km/hr
Avg speed: 14.1km/hr
Burnt calories: 3123