Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rome-14th Sept 07- Part 1

The Day started with Basilica Di San Pietro- the world's largest church. Grand and opulent. The power and the wealth of the church left me awe-struck, but frankly, I felt it lacked the spiritual intimacy of St. Chapel or Notre Dame. The grandeur just felt...distracting.
For me religion amounts to a matter of personal faith and belief systems. I don't really think the architecture of the place of worship is going to play a tremendous role in how or how well I exercise my faith. And no-this isn't about churches. I'd say the same thing for big temples or huge mosques- the smaller and the more sparsely done up places just seem more inviting. I'd any day, choose a small corner temple over a thoroughly decked up temple with loudspeakers and light; the low key satya-narayan puja at home over a noisy display of devotion at a "jaagran"; or even a visit to local church on anyday except Sunday! I have nothing against a place being popular & crowded-The Lotus Temple in Delhi and the Golden Temple at Amritsar they do emit that precious feeling of tranquility,inspite of being on the tourist map.) I'm just against the pomp and show, the in-your-face demonstration of faith and the hyper activity of commercialization that grand places of worship tend to encourage, directly or indirectly. In some cases, scale is an advantage- in this case, it just distorts and distracts- the same way that a beautiful melody turns into an irritant if played at too loud a volume.

The other thing that made me frown was this prominent sign that informed visitors of the earlier held notion, that the Pope was answerable to no one except God. That didnt go down well with me. At the very least, each individual is accountable first to his or her own self- his/her conscience, his/her sense of right & wrong and then to others, who have played a role in shaping those thoughts and actions or bear the consequences of those thoughts/actions. Human beings are just congenitally imperfect and error prone. With time, rigour and experience, one can train to be of six-sigma quality, that too on a particular skill or task, but there's only so far that you can go. "Tends to" perfection can never equal flawless.
And I guess that's a lesson I'm learning in my life as well- I've always put up certain people on a pedestal-to me, they represent the sum total of all aspirational qualities with the benefit of experience and good judgement. Now that's a silly and a rather impractical expectation to begin with and needless to say, even a minor slip or lapse on their part had the potential to make me lose heart, feel disappointed and even, cheated. It's only off late that I've come to realize that they are not infallible-only as human and a little less error prone than me. So I expect and judge a little less and allow for more room to breathe.
So no matter how old or how revered, let humans be humans- with accountability- just don't expect them to live upto an impossibly exalted ideal.
To be continued...........................................
Bear with me...I know this hardly sounds like a merry travelogue but then it's no longer the singular heady rush of the travel memoirs-the experiences of the year that's passed between the trip and now, have also crept in. Uninvited but not unwelcome :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The day of the Sun is good for a Run.

Just when I thought I am beginning to show some promise in the fitness department....I go all out and deliver on that promise!! :) Woohoo ^10
Day 7-6 kms. 15 laps. 40 mins. followed by 1 km of walking.
Heck, this was my goal for 15th October. I love this feeling of surpassing a goal . All by myself. M's encouragement did play a minor role, I admit.

Now I don't mean to dissect my own "achievement" but since I have been accused of being overly introspective and compulsively connecting dots (by M, no less!) I will carry on in that vein. I've realized that I run best when I'm the only one on the track. When it happens to be a Sunday. And when the sun has set. All 3 conditions were fulfilled when I did 4 km previously.
I am fully cognizant of the fact that out of these, only one will remain valid for the Marathon- that of the calendar showing a Sunday!

Now, I'm a believer in equal opportunity and I don't really have the heart to disqualify the other 5000 odd earnest runners who deserve a "fun run" as much as yours truly. Nor can I sufficiently impress on the marathon organizers, the need to emulate the Singapore F1 (world's first night race) or the logic that a run without the sun can indeed be fun.
Oh well.
And you thought I was influential.
You didn't?
Just as well. Proves that you can be right once in a while.
Look what this blog does for your self esteem.
Now that smirk doesn't look very grateful to me!
Coming back to the my Sunday runs...(yeah, inspite of your smirks and dismissive head shakes, it does remain my blog and I can come back to the topic. just like that.)...The small sweaty selfish milestones that I miraculously touch on Sunday evenings are beginning to serve as the perfect antidote to the ultra-mild depression that used to let itself in , in anticipation of the Monday morning and the work week. My song for the week:
"Bhaagna meri jaan meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday
Jisse hanste gaante you can kick the butt of every Monday"
Let the week begin!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keeping Track

Error of omission. Forgot to update my running chart. This is just a running log. Go away. Actually, since you are 1 of the 10 people who read this blog, stay! :) I promise to not bore you too much.
Day 3- 10 laps. 4 kms.28 mins. My fledgling career best. I surprised myself. And the expression on M's face was somewhere betweeen delight and shock. I do realize I mentioned this in my earlier post, but what the heck- it's a glossy achievement as far as I'm concerned. Better be prepared to put up with it. For the next 10 years, at least.
Day4- 2.4 kms ( i was so disappointed with my horrible performance, i didnt even bother with the time)- though to my credit- it was blazing hot at 5 pm!! And the running track way too crowded. You could think of it as an excuse. But then what an excuse- look at what it inspired me to do!!
Day5- 11 laps. 4.4 kms. 28 mins 30s.+ 1.2 km of walking- So proud of myself. Though my family is a bit horrified at my registration at the marathon- they are very used to the idea of a seemingly "kamzor" creature who doesnt have the stamina to do a thing. (that I have become a fat blob escapes their notice. I love my family!) My mom was quite concerned and told me to take it easy or i'd be discovered "pada hua" on some road. My bro asked me whether i could manage 2 km and snorted off a very disbelieving "achcha" when i bragged about doing double the distance. But well, it's to be expected. Because it follows years of disinclination towards any physical activity. The cynicism actually makes me feels nice coz I'm doing something that's not expected from me. The rebel without a cause in me is most pleased.
Day6- 10 laps. 4 kms. 27 mins. + 1 km of walking. I'm glad about the consistency. Though a tad worried. Hope I havent reached a plateau. October shall have to give me the strength to run 15 laps at bare minimum!

Meanwhile, the boy who I live with has gone bonkers. He insists on taking protein supplements, popping vitamins, reading stuff on how to get a flat stomach by eating fibre and salads & pasta (for the record, he detested eating raw veggies and hated pasta) and brace yourself, is determined to cut down on coffee (which he easily guzzles litres of) and horror of horrors and has declared that he will have rice on rare occasions!! Yikes.
I'm finding it hard to recognize this person who is shedding all the traits that made him a Tam-brahm. The delicious irony is that he told me of his rice abandonment program just after I'd polished off a serving of sambhar rice!
How in the world am I going to explain these changes to my MIL? Gulp. Yelp. I mean, Help!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


....with the fact that I too can make good filter coffee (if the decoction has already been made).
....by my 4 km run (10 laps. nonstop.28 mins)
....by the new age Hindi movies that are so real- characters are not outlandish, no one's larger than life, the situations are something you can identify with and the issues gritty, thought-provoking and controversial. ( I watched Jaane Tu, Rock On, A wednesday, Khuda Kay Liye over the past few weeks). 
....by how last weekend totally revived lacklustre life- Danced till 4 am after a really long time and the company made it all worthwhile. Good friends, I've figured are the effortless panacea to all problems....they might not be able to solve a lot of the problems but they do end up making you feel as though those issues dont really matter in the larger scheme of things.
....with the evolution of tourism boards in des- try the Kerela Tourism's tour planner. I was completely enamored by the beautiful images and the ease with which I could plan a Kerela trip (that's saying something coz I've never been there). The Tour Planner feature even recommends improvements on your travel plan and has accomodation+ayurveda centres listings depending on which locations you selected. 
....with Mint- I never knew HT could produce such a superb newspaper. 
....by my new bar cabinet- it's gorgeous and at the throwaway price we got it, it just became even more endearing.
....by finally being able to redeem miles for an SQ ticket to Delhi. I feel quite accomplished now.
....with my new pulley system clothesline that helped kick the earlier grotesque eye level clothesline out of business. Boley toh, ekdum neat and clean.
....by Singapore's efficiency in delivering what you need, when you need it- gas cylinder delivered in 20 minutes flat. How do they do it?

......by how stupid & sans-common sense people at work can be. Do they not realize when things dont make sense and border on the plain ridiculous or do they realize and care not, simply because they have become conditioned to respect process and system more than simple logic?
....by existential angst that is surfacing a lot more and making me restless and uncomfortable. How long can escapism be my weapon of choice?
....by terrorism and how pointless this loss of lives is. I understand the kidnap and ransom mechanic-but dont quite get the objective being served by bringing death to ordinary people going about their daily lives?Yeah, okay maybe they want attention to their cause- but what the hell is the cause? Do they want land, money, moral supremacy...what? They are holding our security and sanity to ransom but havent really told us what they want. Or is the untimely snuffing out of lives, the price of misguided ideology and individual vendetta that ballooned into something monstrous? Is co-existence so tough? Restraint and tolerance so rare? Intelligent debates in living rooms are not the solution-but what is? I hate the vilification of one particular community or complete nonchalance, the standard response of people around us but know that merely having a strong opinion on this makes my response no better. Sigh. 

****Resuming the Europe diaries over this weeekend. Heck, it's time for the first anniversary of that trip :) Inertia needs to die.