Monday, July 20, 2015

Why Do I Run?

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.” 


Now that I have been running for exactly a year, I think it's a good time to try justify a few questions which has always clouded my mind. - Why do I run? Why do I have to put myself through a 3-4 hour long suffering? What do I get out of it?

I don't have direct answers to any of these questions. Truth is a I enjoy having pizzas and beer with friends much more than I enjoy running. I always loved sports growing up but hated running. Running without a purpose disgusted me, and it was just something that had to be got over with everyday, so that I could start playing as soon as possible. Nevertheless, having run 1523 Kilometers for the past year, I think I have had plenty of time to ponder over these questions.



Why do I run?

We as human beings always look for ways to validate ourselves in this world. Even if my life is going absolutely nowhere, after a three hour run, I tell myself, I am in control of this, so maybe I can control other things in life too. Believe it or not, we are all control freaks, to varying degrees. Does that help in life? Mostly no, you can only control so much in life. But for those fifteen minutes when your are warming down, dripping with sweat,you feel you have it in you to make it through. A decent food habit and fitness are bonus cards which come with it. It's a fair trade off.

What when we figure things out in life? I don't think people ever reach a stage where they figure things out totally, unless of course you are a Gautam Buddha. It's a fact of life you have to become friends with. Running gives me strength. Not strength to my calves or quadriceps, but to my soul.

Why the suffering?

We get our answers through suffering. I don't introspect when I am happy. The last five miles in a three hour long run, when your lungs scream for air, joints are creaky, that is when you start getting different perspectives. At that point, you can almost think of anything else than the voice inside you that urges you to quit. Sometimes, we don't want to accept truths in life and we look for all biased reasons to prove ourselves correct. Suffering cuts straight through that.

What do I get out of it?

Nothing. And that is the whole point. Life is not profit and loss statement. You have to do something which gives you nothing in return. No long distance runner runs to stay fit. You could do much less and live out your life healthily. You put on your running shoes, watch the overcast sky, impeding rain, and you know its going to be a thankless suffering for the next two hours. Without caring about anything, you set off. There is strange sense of freedom in that.


“There's something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run when we're scared, we run when we're ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time.” 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sound of Mountains



"I am going to write about this.", I told myself countless times.Staring at the outer Himalayan Range while moving along on another snow clad peak on a surreal day with brilliant blue sky, I was simply mesmerized. Mostly moments pass us by,but there are some,where you stop thinking about any particular thing and reach an absolute void.All of a sudden you get the perspectives,you realize your purpose,you are thankful for the love you get and so on.Then the moment disappears and you're right back into the rat race that life is. Standing atop the peak,looking at an incredible view, it seemed the fleeting moment would go on forever.It was partly funny too. On most other days of the year I would be staring at a wallpaper imagining myself in places, only for someone to break my reverie. The world is not a wish granting factory. Well, not always. 

It was sub zero temperatures outside. We were tired bodies sitting on planks in a small abandoned hut some on top of a peak discussing life mostly while gulping down Old Monk. Most of them were strangers to me until earlier that morning,yet here we were discussing our lives, weaknesses, fears. We discussed about how mountains teach you humility.The vastness captures you. In the end love is all that there is, love for your family, for yourself, for nature, for everything. Everyone discussed about things or people they cared about.We came outside, and it seemed I could almost touch the stars. My mouth fell open. It was the purest moment in my mind where I simply could not have anything but positive thoughts. Almost everything seemed fair. I realized how lucky I have been to have the people I have had. Family, my closest friends. It wasn't a full moon  but I looked around and I imagined myself standing in a mountain of silver, or was I? "I am going to write about this" , I thought to myself.

Aritra Majumder and Shisagnee Banerjee, thank you for being such a constant rock in my life. I have never done this much, but in those moments where the only thing interrupting my thoughts was the sound of mountains,I made up my mind to let you two know how thankful I am to have you in my life. One requires constancy in life, and I would not be the person I am without family and you people behind me. Thank you for everything.I hope I don't fail you, ever.      

I have never had the opportunity to travel much. Yet the graph has seen a somewhat rise in the past couple of years.I have read travelling gives you perspective.Indeed it does.This blog serves as the pensive of my own thoughts.I can only hope I turn out to be a better person than yesterday.  
        
This is not a travel blog, yet, for information's sake we had gone for a snow trek at Parashar Lake. It is on top of a peak some 50 kms from Mandi from where the famous Dhauladhar Outer Himalayan Range starts.  


Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Antique mind

I've been meaning to write for quite time now. Months, actually. Yet I haven't been able to bring myself up to the task. So much so, it topped my list of action items for consecutive weeks, until i saw the funnier side of it .I have been busy, not that much though.

I am not the sort of person who misses people everyday or hangs on to things for too long.I seem to have a world class formula for these sort of things. Some days, though the formula doesn't work.Those days, it's like cold turkey. It rips you apart,rends you heart.bares your mind to your feelings of fear, passion and of course no denying, love itself.But then the formula itself is too strong, there is no getting out of it. Even on one of these days, it controls you, like an invisible force. What do I make of these days?

There are so many things I want to write about, things which I care about, socially, personally, in some ways, professionally too. There are changes about these things,which,of course I am incapable of bringing about.The helplessness kills you.Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I had a smaller head.

I have read books,watched,heard true stories.My heroes have inspired me to carry on with my life.I am guessing their biggest quality has been to hang in there. Stick to your shit, work on your principles, make a difference and hang in there.It does more than you think.Then maybe you got a fable, which can be told in the end. In an antique land.

In the meantime, scribbling about it, just feeds your ego, makes no fucking difference. And that's why I loathe to write.



Friday, May 9, 2014

Somethings gotta give

I was reading the interview of this top, top tennis player few days back. I don't remember the exact quotes but it was something like, " What drives you, year after year, season after season, when you know you have nothing else left to prove? "

"Nothing, just that I enjoy doing what I do. One morning i might wake up, thinking this isn't exactly what i am enjoying right now. A few of such mornings and you know that sooner or later something's gotta give. And yes, you always have something to prove, if not anybody, then yourself."

The only constant thing in my little life has been the fact that I love to play. I am not even half decent, yet everyday in my life till now, I would go out to the field or a court with an aim, to prove myself to myself. There would be bad , bad days, but even then the sense of fulfillment would consume me. I'd wake up looking forward to something every time.  

You don't have to be a champion to be passionate. Yes I'm talking about Jay Barauchel in Million Dollar Baby. What matters is if you're true to yourself and if it matters to you.


 I have been very very fortunate to have had so many different kinds of people around me who have shared my passion. I never gave much thought to it before, but every one of them have helped me grow as a person. So I guess they deserve a big Thank You.

It's been more than eight months now, for so many reasons, this portion of my life has been almost taken away. There's waking up with nothing to prove, nothing to look forward to for which you cannot wait.

Something's gotta give        

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Moments


" Don't take risks when you the last man with the ball !! " -  I shouted to Siddharth Bhaiya , also known more as 'Mata' due to his allegiance to Chelsea and mostly his admiration for Juan Mata. Juan might have changed colors but the name remained. The ball was duly passed back to me and I cleared it, following the trajectory of the ball. Ideally, you should be following the ball to where it lands finally. However while it was in mid air something else caught my attention...

We were in certain village called Golapally, some fifty kilometers away from my residence here in Hyderabad. The Infosys Football team was participating in a tournament as a preparation for ITSAP, which, as I have been told was easily the most prestigious sports event in the corporate calendar. We were playing against Microsoft. The ground was situated right beside the runaway of the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. It was lush green all around. Seemed to be right off the face of earth.

.......it was an Emirates Aircraft. I drifted away. An overflow of emotions. Dreams. The sunny mornings at St. Patrick's. People you love. Life ahead. Journey till now. Mistakes made. A different world. Unfulfilled wishes. Dreams again. It was a fleeting moment. It's difficult to articulate all the emotions at one go. Don't get me me wrong. I don't have a thing with the middle east. It could have been almost anything else. Anyway...

We played extremely well and won comfortably. Turned out to be more of an uncomfortable bike trip with heavy kits and all than anything else. Life is all about moments to be savored. Good or bad. Appropriate or inappropriate. Relevant or irrelevant. The good ones stimulate you so that you end up with more like them. Ideally, The bad ones 'should' too, for their own reasons. Then there are moments, which are just moments. You have a hard time figuring out if it falls under any of the categories. Face covered in soot, ready to collapse as I returned home, I was glad I had another one of those.


...Oh, we can be heroes just for one day....



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yusuf

The Saturday was turning out to be as predictable as it could have been. Rains lashed the city and the clouds seemed to have taken the sky captive while sending the sun to an unending exile. It is exactly the kind of weather you don't wish for on the day of a table tennis tournament, especially if you are participating in one after ages. Quite normally, I lost after a couple of rounds. Refusing to trust logic, I was being too harsh with myself, grumbling and cussing myself. The usual sequence. Drenched and dripping, I boarded an auto to reach the St. Paul's Stag Table Tennis Academy, where I hoped they would let me practice on weekends. The rain pouring down over the vast stretch of the Hussain Sagar lake made an incredible view. Oblivious about the day till then, I gazed outside thinking about a million things, yet nothing in particular. " Ye St. Paul's school kahan hain bhaiya? ", the bearded old auto driver asked me. My reverie was broken. I had agreed to pay him a hundred and fifty bucks, and he did even know where the damned place was. Sighing heavily and wondering just how bad the rest of the day could have been, I informed him I wasn't a local and and that it was his duty to take me to my destination. 

The place was not hard to find. It was located in a well known area in Himayatnagar. As I paid him the fare, 
I suddenly realized my cell phone was missing. Fumbling with my belongings, for some reason, I grew hysterical. Always a schemer and trying keep things within my control is a side of me I have found out over the years. Probably I was just not to ready to let things spiral so much out of control on a single day. Seeing me in such a mess, Yusuf ( the name of the auto driver as I later found out ) tried calming me down. "Pareshan mat hona bhaiya...."Now when I think about it, I think he said it a million times. I asked him politely, summoning all my patience, if I could just sit in his vehicle for a while and search for my phone. He told me to take all the time I needed. Needless to mention, I found my cellphone at the bottom most pit of my kit bag. Relief swept over me. I sat down breathing heavily. I took out a packet of biscuits from my bag and asked Yusuf, if he wanted to had some. He was all for it, and we were sitting inside his vehicle chatting for almost twenty minutes while rain poured outside. He asked me about what I did, then he went on to talk about his time in Saudi Arabia, where he spent a few years when he was young. He told me how he was almost drowning once, and there was not a chance in the world that he would live again, except that Allah saved him. That nothing was truly our own, so naturally worrying is pointless. He duly passed on his experiences about life. And at the end of every sentence of his, he would say," Jo bhi ho jaye, pareshan mat hona bhaiya.."

The rain subsided after a while and I had to leave. I bid him goodbye and asked him if he had a phone number. He did not. This guy's old school, of course. And off he went. After that I did what I did and during the hour long bus ride back home, I wondered how simple life would be if I could just follow his mantra. My grandma always says, you can find God wherever you want to find God. I think I am slowly beginning to understand what she means. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Version 2.0

So, I was at St.Xavier's,Kolkata and I was giving this speech on poverty. It was an impeccable speech and I was acknowledged with a rapturous applause once I was done. As I was coming down,a thin man dressed in an over sized coat and a briefcase walked towards me. I excused myself from others and walked to him, excited and upbeat. " Sajal !! Good Speech, but have you ever watched a poor man for more than fifteen minutes? "  Now, I must mention I belonged to a pretty well to do family so I never really had to struggle too much in life for anything. I replied,slightly confused, " No Sir!" He went on, " Have you ever eaten with a poor man?" .." Not really, Sir". " Okay, Sajal tell me, have you ever slept with a poor man?? " Now, beginning to feel a little humiliated I said, " No Sir, I've not." He replied with a few words which would stay with me forever, " Then you know nothing about poverty.Get that thing straight."

I felt as if I was slapped. For a couple of months I left home taking nothing with me, and lived on the streets.I ate and slept with the less privileged.At the end of it, I was a much richer person. You know who that great person was in that over sized coat? It was Amartya Sen.

These were the words of a certain Sajal Sir, who was among our faculty members for my weekend management entrance coaching classes. I was baffled with resemblance this story had with a portion of one of my most favorite novels. Anyhow, It's an unshakable truth. The world would be a much saner place if people were less judgmental about things they haven't done or experienced. Now, that I would be starting version 2.0 ( hopefully new an improved ) of my life finally, as inconsequential as it is, I would try being as neutral and open as I can. As this would be my last post for quite some time I would just sign off sharing a few lines with my non existent readers from one of my favorite novels.

Afraid to look too long into his wife's beautiful eyes, I turned back to Fazil and asked him whether he knew now what he might want to say to my readers if I ever was to write a book set in Kars.

" Nothing. " His voice was determined. When he saw my face fall, he relented." I did think of something, but if you don't like it....." he said. " If you write a book set in Kars and put me in it, I'd like to tell your readers not to believe anything you say about me,anything you say about any of us.No one could understand us from so far away."

" But no one believes everything they read in a novel",I said.

"Oh, yes, they do believe it," he cried. " If only to see themselves as wise and superior and humanistic,they need to think of us as sweet and funny,and convince themselves that they sympathize with the way we are and even love us. But if you would put in what I have just said, at least your readers will keep a little room for doubt in their minds."