Sunday, January 18, 2009

Have Mobile Phones Killed Our Initiative?

According to me, people just don't want to spend some time figuring out stuff anymore. Everything is or should be a phone call away. Why can't folks take a minute out and use their brains? No sirree, you gotta call the other guy and pump him for information.

The reason why I am so pissed off is because recently I had a function at my place. There were four cars coming to my flat. I had given each of them the complete postal address plus the landmarks to navigate. Now, I agree my flat is not in an apartment as prominent as the Raj Bhavan or UB City but it is definitely not in the sticks. All of these guys called me for directions even when they were so close. Earlier, they would have just stopped at a shop or asked somebody and kept coming. There are so many other instances
- Can't find the keys after a 10 second search! Call up your husband or brother or...
- Waiting downstairs for two minutes for someone to come down. Call up asking where are you?
- Driving down the highway and an SMS comes. You just have to take your eyes off and reply

Don't get me wrong. Mobiles are convenient. They are very useful in an emergency. They are also an intrusion. They disturb (especially during the noon siesta on the weekend) and sometimes cause anxiety. So think twice before you make that call for something so stupid and unimportant that you go - Uhhh, why did I call you????

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's Dangerous To Drive At Night In Bangalore

Around a week back, Dad and I were driving back to my place at around 1.30 am. The traffic obviously was very light and we were happily chatting away. I was approaching Cubbon Park from the Hudson Circle side. Normally, both the gates (next to each other) are open and I was surprised to see one closed. I slowed down to take the slight curve and I noticed that there was a man standing outside the gate. His head and torso were covered in a blanket and I was thinking that it was strange for a watchman to stand there. As I came closer, he suddenly pulled out a stick. I slowed down a it more and as I was passing him, he slammed the stick on the car!! Luckily it missed the windscreen and the side window. Both Dad and me let out surprised noises and I managed to bite back some abuses.

I continued to drive off thinking what to do next. I kept watching him in the rear view mirror but he was motionless.
I asked Dad "Is he a cop?"
He said that he was not sure.
I said "Not likely though as he was alone and normally cops are usually at least in twos. Anyway, why would he try and stop us in such a violent fashion?"

As I kept driving I kept thinking that if Dad was not here, I would have probably stepped out to see what the **** this guy was up to. Anyway, I didn't want to worry him and so I kept quiet. We got out of the park uneventfully and reached home. On checking the car, I was relieved to see that there was hardly a scratch. As I walked in home, I suddenly realised - Muggers!! Shit, if I would have stopped and stepped out, probably two more guys would have stepped out of the trees and stolen my money or worse. Wow, thank God Dad was there because of which I kept driving.

So I am putting this one up to make you guys aware of the dangers of driving in a lonely place even in the heart of the city. Couple of other gimmicks I have heard of are
- Someone hidden throws a stone at your car. As your attention is distracted and you take your eyes of the road, another person jumps in front of the car. You probably have already slowed down but this person pretends like he got badly hit. His accomplices join in and start demanding that you pay up money.
- Another car bumps you from behind. You are pissed, you stop the car and get out to yell. You get mugged.
- I would also advise that you do not stop to answer that call of nature.

Here are a few sites that give you lots of tips on how to be safe, on the road or off it. I read it because before this incident happened, I too never thought it could happen to me

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Completing the TOI Bangalore Midnight Marathon

Vini, vici, vidi baby. As I said, it is a great feeling to complete the run. However, I nearly gave up a couple of times before the run. Here's the lowdown on what happened...

The reporting time given was 7.30 pm. Since I don't travel to Whitefield often, I was a bit apprehensive about finding the venue. It would have been helpful if they put some markers on the way. Anyway, I reached just after 7.00 pm. The race seemed well organised with stall outside for registrations. Inside the school grounds, there was a stage set up and chairs were laid out. Water was provided but there were no stalls serving food or drinks (I mean Gatorade kind of drinks). People started trickling in slowly. I think there were lots of spot registrations, very few people must have registered in advance.

At around 8.00 pm, I started warming up as the 5km run was to start half an hour later. It was a bit worrying to see that there was no activity at all from the organisers end. Finally, at 8.15 pm, an irritating lady MC came on stage. She announced that the race would start in a 'few minutes'. By the time it became 8.30 pm, the crowd became restive. Finally, close to 9.00 pm the inauguration ceremony started after some minister arrived. I was in no mood to listen as I was feeling pretty hungry and irritated with the delay and the cold. After a couple of crowd pulling gimmicks from the MC, two short speeches by Rotarians, 'The Minister' came on stage. However, RK Mishra (who was part of the gig) announced that after the minister spoke, we would start the race and people would have to start walking to the starting point 300 metres away. That's it - everyone started walking immediately.

As I was walking with the rest of the public, I started feeling good. People were all excited, chatting away, giving gyan and energy off. We reached the starting point. I was in the fifth row, looking at the minister who was to flag off the race. As he was preparing himself, people in front just took off!!! It was almost like people were saying that you guys delayed it but we are not going to stand for it any further. I also took off. The first 2 kms were fine but then I started to chant silently - where is the halfway mark, where is the halfway mark? I started slowing down as well and a couple of girls overtook me!! Nothing to do but to put one foot in front of the other. By the time, I completed three kms I was going pretty slow. My left shoe lace had come undone and a couple of people pointed this out. I just couldn't stop as I was scared I might not be able to start again. The only encouraging thing was that there was a pretty girl in white who would overtake me and then I would race her and then she would overtake me and so on.. Twice I mistook some poles to be the finishing point and when I saw it was not I almost gave up. And then the girl would overtake me. We did exchange a few remarks but nothing very significant. Finally the finish was in sight and I am happy to say that I finished with a burst of speed and my hands held high (no, I have not featured in the newspapers). I felt euphoric. I had a bit of pain in my thigh muscles and today my ankles and back are paining a little but it gives me complete satisfaction to know I have another run under my belt.

A couple of things I learnt
- In cold weather it is good to wear a bandanna especially to cover your ears. Also, I wore a sweatshirt (over a T-Shirt) which was good as it kept me warm before the race. However, the material was heavy and it started chafing my forearms so I had to roll it up. A long sleeved T-shirt would have been better. I was thinking that an old one could even be discarded if one was feeling too hot.
- I went alone and hence had to run with my car keys in my pocket. Also I don't have an iPod grip so that too went into my pocket. All the time I was distracted thinking either may fall out. I saw a lady wearing a money belt kind of pouch and realised that would ideal to hold these things.
- To keep your laces coming undone, I have come up with an idea. Stick Band-aids, that ought to hold them. I read on the net that flat laces help, its the round ones that screw up.
- Lots of good looking women turned up. Hmmm, gotta explore this angle further.
- Have a back-up plan in case your run is delayed. I still have to think that one through.

I hope the organisers too learn their lesson and improve things next year. Maybe then more people would stay back and enjoy the rock show and other activities they had planned.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Midnight Marathon on 10th Jan, Bangalore

I have registered for the TOI Midnight Marathon. It is being held on 10th Jan. My friends tell me - Dude, it is a Saturday night. You should be chilling out. Why would you want to run at that time??? Trust me, the temptation to not run is very strong especially since I haven't trained at all. Anyway, I am going for the 5km IT City Run so I don't think it will be much of an effort. Also, I feel a bit guilty about not participating in the Kaveri Trail Marathon. Plus hey, there is a great feeling of satisfaction after completing a run so here goes...

The site is fairly comprehensive and gives all details. A few key details are

Full Marathon - 42.195 kms (12 : 30 AM)
Half Marathon - 21.95 kms (12 : 00 AM)
IT City Run - 5 kms (08 : 30 PM)
CIPSA Corporate Relay - 8 X 5 kms (01 : 00 AM)
CISCO Women's Relay - 8 X 5 kms (01 : 00 AM)

The race is in Whitefield. WHY? Because it is being organised by Rotary Club, IT Corridor. The starting point is Ujjval School which is ahead of ITPL (you have to take a left at the junction ahead). The important thing is that I heard on the radio that there is parking available so it should be convenient.

A few other things- The main cause is to show that Indians and especially Bangalore folks are not fazed by the Mumbai terrorist attacks and are united against them. I don't see how this run will cause terrorists to back down (assuming they are tracking this marathon from their hideout). There are other causes as well but there are no details
- Registration is through Cafe Coffee Day outlets. This is painful because it is not online and hence you have to go to one of the CCDs that have the forms (list on site). The people there don't know how to fill the form or issue bibs. It took the person 20 minutes to complete my formalities. Thankfully, he called his supervisor halfway through and that helped. The fee is Rs 200/-.
- There is a prize money but not for the IT City Run.
- Manual timings are being done but not for the IT City Run (I am still going)

Apart from all this, before the main midnight marathon there will be a rock show and entertainment from folk performers. I have no details on this but I quote from the site - "Apart form various shorter runs, as mentioned below, culminating into Midnight Marathon, we will also have lots of entertainment and fun events including rock bands, folk art performers and entertainer along with food stalls to make this a family & fun evening. The route will be will lit, traffic free and decorated with various different kinds of lights." So come one come all, I am sure it will be fun.